_Newcastle United football heroes John Beresford and Joe Allon sampled a very different form of training on 27 January 2012 – at the controls of a 125 mph East Coast express!
The popular duo tried their hand on a high-tech driving simulator at Newcastle Central Station, to kick off a drive to promote a wide variety of further education courses to rail staff in the city.
The event followed a successful open day for staff at Newcastle station, organised by East Coast in partnership with rail unions ASLEF, TSSA and RMT, to promote learning and educational opportunities both within and beyond the railway.
John said: “The simulator is very realistic – right down to the landmarks alongside the track leaving Newcastle. It’s a real eye-opener to see how quickly the train driver has to think ahead and react at the controls. Learning something new is always positive – that’s why Joe and myself are keen to help East Coast raise awareness of the learning opportunities for hundreds of rail staff based at Central Station.”
East Coast’s Driver Manager at Newcastle, Bob Howes, was an apprentice player with the Magpies in his youth. Bob said: “Both John and Joe enjoy the lifelong affection of United supporters – left-back John for his memorable performances in Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ team in the early 1990s, and striker Joe for his great goals across five years with the Toon from 1984 to 1988. When I was a young apprentice with Newcastle United, they still made sure I went along to North Tyneside College once a week to continue my education. We’re already planning a second event for rail staff and the support from two legends of St James’ Park is very encouraging. It was great to watch John and Joe enjoying the chance to swap the training ground for the train on our state-of-the-art driving simulator. Our simulator has the ability to reproduce real-life driving scenarios – right down to producing fog, rain or even snow on the line ahead.”
The driving simulator is one of four based at East Coast driver depots in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Leeds and London King’s Cross. Each features an exact replica complete with all the controls and gauges of the real thing. The simulator can be adapted in seconds to depict either of East Coast’s two types of motive power – the Class 91 electric locomotive or the Class 43 diesel High Speed Train.
In front of the simulator, a large full colour projector screen shows an accurate reproduction of key sections of the East Coast Main Line – with the Tyneside simulator showing the line between Newcastle and Alnmouth stations, complete with famous landmarks such as the city’s Castle Keep.
_On 24 January 2012, HRH The Prince of Wales renamed Class 7 4-6-0 No. 70000 Britannia in a special ceremony at Wakefield Kirkgate station.
As part of the Prince of Wales visit, primarily to Barnsley, he began his day by arriving at Wakefield Kirkgate station on the Royal Train, powered by steam locomotive No. 70000 Britannia. After arrival, The Prince renamed No. 70000 Britannia now in lined BR green livery at Wakefield Kirkgate station, which has recently received substantial funding to enable a much needed renovation to proceed.
The Prince arrived on the Royal Train hauled by Britannia from Preston and it is understood that he joined the footplate during part of the journey.
In the illustration above, the train is seen arriving at the station in appalling wet weather but that did not deter the enthusiasm of onlookers. Class 67 No. 67006 was coupled on the rear of the train, while No. 67005 Queens Messenger was at the station light loco and then followed the Royal Train empty stock to Milford Sidings. Here Britannia was removed with its support coach to run to York and the National Railway Museum.
The Royal Train stock then returned Class 67 powered to Wolverton.
On the right The Prince is seen waving to TRC viewers.
Both illustrations Peter Marsh
_ScotRail announced on 22 December 2011 that it is trialling the use of ‘3D’ graphics to brighten the look of train toilets.
The walls are being covered with laminated images featuring designs using a 'deceive the eye' technique to give the impression of being in 3D.
They have been introduced on a train serving key cities including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
The pilot programme will be rolled out on 32 toilets on 16 Class 170 sets.
A ScotRail spokesman said: “Although latest National Passenger Surveys show that customer ratings for our train toilets are five percentage points higher than the UK average, we accept there is more work to be done. We are determined to further improve and brighten the overall environment of our train toilets as well as ensure that faults are rectified quickly. If the application is further expanded, it is likely that we will include other designs throughout the toilet areas to enhance their overall appearance.”
The ‘3D’ wall covering is thought to be a first-ever in the UK rail industry, but has been used successfully abroad.