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20-07-12 Network Rail announce £100 million investment in Nottingham area
The railway infrastructure in Nottingham stands on the brink of big changes, from new and refurbished station buildings, to a complete redesign of the tracks and signals. Network Rail is embarking on a £100m plan to completely renew the railway around the city, with the relaying of six miles of track, and the installation of more than 140 new signals. Also, this week the government announced plans to electrify the line to Nottingham. Three signal boxes and two footpath crossings will be closed, bringing greater efficiency and safety to the line, and two level crossings to the east will be renewed. Network Rail’s resignalling work will bring a faster and more reliable railway infrastructure – as well as a new platform created at the station. This will complement the Nottingham Hub Project which is set to start in September and will deliver better station facilities at Nottingham. Network Rail route managing director Martin Frobisher said: “This investment in Nottingham will bring a huge improvement for passengers. Nottingham is such an important city in the east midlands and the station improvements will create the gateway which the city deserves. The improvements to the railway infrastructure will improve the flexibility, speed and reliability of the services to and from the city." As a result of the scale and complexity of the works, there will be some major changes to East Midlands Trains services between 20 July 2013 and 26 August 2013. The full timetable for the period is currently being finalised, however the following changes are expected to take place: - no London services will be able to serve Nottingham station and will instead be starting and terminating at East Midlands Parkway station with connecting replacement bus services. - in addition, services between Nottingham and Skegness will be affected, with services starting and terminating at Grantham during part of the work - other services to/from Nottingham will be affected during the work and details will be confirmed at eastmidlandstrains.co.uk in advance of work starting. Mr Frobisher added: “We realise this will cause disruption to passengers and have made every effort to minimise the length of time our resignalling will take. As the summer is the quietest period for the railway, this is the best time to do the work. We have worked very closely with the cricket ground to make sure that the railway improvement work does not conflict with the Ashes test match. A full timetabled train service will operate throughout the test match.” When the signals are commissioned on August 24 and 25 2013, it will mark the end of Trent power signal box after 44 years of service. The area will come under the control the latest generation of signal control centres at Derby, delivering greater reliability and efficiency. David Horne, managing director of East Midlands Trains, said: “We are pleased that Network Rail will be making this investment in the railway at Nottingham. We will be working closely with them over the next year to prepare for the major work and keep our passengers informed about the changes they can expect to their service in Summer 2013 when this important improvement work will be carried out.”
20-07-12 £1 million investment in Manchester Victoria
Rail Passengers using Manchester Victoria are to benefit from a new lift and other facilities that will help increase access to the station as, Rail Minister Norman Baker has today announced. Under the Coalition Government’s Access for All scheme, £1 million will be used to provide a new lift to the footbridge, ensuring level access across the station. The money would also fund new handrails and landings on the existing footbridge. Rail Minister Norman Baker said: “We want everyone to be able to access public transport and that is why the Government has provided £1 million to make these vital changes which will benefit passengers using this busy station. We are determined to promote equality and fairness for all which is why this week, we have identified a further £100 million for the Access for All programme as a whole, to enable important accessibility work to be carried out at railway stations across the country.” Network Rail route managing director Jo Kaye, said: “We have a major scheme underway to completely transform the station over the next two years, making it almost unrecognisable to its regular users. This cash injection will go a long way towards making the station and its facilities even more accessible than they already are.” The work at Manchester Victoria is expected to start on site in January 2013 and will take around 16 months to complete. The work will help turn the station into a better transport interchange, which will benefit from increased patronage from the Metrolink extensions currently being constructed.
20-07-12 Enjoy the TransPennine Real Ale Trail with Northern Rail
Members of Northern Rail’s Rail Response team stood side-by-side with colleagues from the British Transport Police and First TransPennine Express recently as they took part in a pub crawl with a difference. Officers were keen to deliver a firm but fair message to remind everyone on the route, both regular passengers and Real Ale Trail patrons, to travel safely and sensibly. The Trail winds its way through several rural stations throughout the Northern and TransPennine Express network, including Slaithwaite, Marsden, Greenfield and Stalybridge, with pubs nearby serving top quality ales to visitors keen to drink in the atmosphere. Its growing popularity has made it well known to ale fans around the country and although many travel from local cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Huddersfield, visitors also make the trip from all over the United Kingdom. The Trail’s reputation draws crowds to these village pubs, providing valuable income to struggling local economies. Martyn Guiver, Head of Crime Management at Northern Rail was keen to stress the important role the trail plays in keeping these communities alive. “The majority of visitors on the Real Ale Trail are out to enjoy excellent ales in original surroundings. Unfortunately, there can be a small minority who forget the importance of showing respect for other passengers and being safe on the railways. We’re here to visibly offer reassurance to all passengers using the route and work towards a long term plan for ensuring everyone’s safety.” Billy Vickers, Police Liaison Officer for First TransPennine Express said, "The Real Ale Trail is a fantastic event that is enjoyed by many customers on a regular basis. Travelling by train is a safe and hassle way to enjoy the festivities in the villages and towns along the route. Unfortunately a very small number of people consume too much alcohol and their behaviour becomes threatening and anti-social. First TransPennine Express will not tolerate such behaviour and will work with British Transport Police, other rail operators and the local publicans to ensure that all rail customers and staff have a safe and comfortable travel experience."
20-07-12 London Mayor outlines plans to delivery 30% reduction in Tube delays
Far-reaching work to cut tube delays by 30 per cent by 2015 was highlighted on 20 July 2012 by Mayor Boris Johnson. The delay-busting plan will build on last year's best ever Tube performance results and was a key election manifesto commitment. Plans now being developed in detail involve TfL looking into every aspect of how the railway is operated, maintained and upgraded to see how things can be done differently to further improve reliability, and to reduce annual lost customer hours by a further 8.7 million hours between now and the end of 2015. The move follows the creation of the London Underground Reliability Programme in 2011, which led to the introduction of a range of initiatives to predict and prevent failures, respond more quickly to problems and roll out better equipment. As a result Tube performance reached its best ever levels, and since 2007/08 delays across the network have been reduced by over 40 per cent. Reliability improvements which contributed to that performance include: * The Tube’s Emergency Response Unit vehicles now responding to incidents under blue-light conditions. This has reduced average response times in central London by 40 per cent to 12 minutes. Staff numbers at the unit have been increased by 30 per cent, with the number of depots housing Emergency Response Unit crews increased from three to four. * Fitting of covers to Passenger Emergency Alarms on trains on the Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines, helping to prevent accidental and malicious use. * The establishment of two new signaling depots at Oxford Circus and Stratford, to optimise LU response to signal faults on key Olympic lines. * Investment of £1m to train British Transport Police officers in providing medical help quickly where customers are taken ill on the network, enabling services to resume quickly. * The development of an Automatic Track Monitoring System on in-service Tube trains, to monitor and identify where rails need remedial work or closer inspection. * Large-scale modifications to boost the reliability of components on doors, couplers, seats, and air systems on the Tube fleet. The additional 30 per cent reduction will be achieved in part through the enhanced performance anticipated from line upgrades, but also from introducing new approaches and technology, improving signals, trains and track, looking at how staff can be used most effectively, and working with customers. Initiatives now being developed by LU include: Using sophisticated analysis to identify the parts of the railway most important to improved reliability, classifying them as “golden assets” and developing dedicated asset management regimes to improve them and thereby drive up performance. Standardising the train fleet and signaling wherever possible. For the first time LU is able to commission the same trains and signaling on the four Sub-Surface Railway lines (the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines), which will lead to improved reliability as well as reduced costs. Launching the biggest track renewal programme in decades to deliver more reliable track and signaling performance. Reviewing the capital programme and the Underground's contracts with suppliers to ensure reliability is at the core of LU's capital investment and contracts. Utilising the latest Wi-Fi technology to communicate train performance to technicians in real time, allowing them to respond more swiftly to any problems. Providing further intensive training to equip frontline staff with the basic skills to respond to the most common problems as they happen, enabling a faster response. Increasing the number of apprentice places in key parts of the business by 50 per cent, in order to increase over time the number of skilled engineers looking after the network, improving incident response levels. More first aid training for frontline Tube staff to complement LU’s training of BTP officers up to medic level. By knowing how best to respond to someone who is ill on a train, staff can improve service reliability by taking the right action to get help for the individual while getting services moving again for the many thousands of customers on following trains. Setting, communicating and tracking annual 'lost customer hours' targets for each part of the business for the first time, including targets for each line. Setting up an ongoing communications campaign with passengers to help them understand the impact on delays of actions such as dropping litter and blocking doors. Conducting an in-depth review of track layout to increase reliability and reduce delays by, for example, reducing the number of individually-designed points and crossovers so that there are fewer parts with unique maintenance requirements. Working with suppliers to set out specifically the improved level of reliability we expect from a new piece of equipment or system. For the first time, suppliers will be required to demonstrate prior to installation on the network that the equipment will deliver that level of reliability. In addition, focus will be maintained and increased on specific initiatives for each Tube line, tailored to whether they have been recently upgraded or are using ageing equipment. For example, on the Victoria line, work has already been undertaken to fix teething problems with train doors and to enable maintenance staff to remotely monitor the trains’ systems using Wi-Fi. This allows staff to take real-time decisions on whether to take a train out of service to prevent more severe delays from occurring. A range of further improvements will be made to the Jubilee line fleet after the Games, including modifications to gear and brake systems, as well as the Northern and Piccadilly line fleets. Detailed plans are now being drawn up, with the full programme to be published in November. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “For the millions of Londoners, visitors, and businesses who rely on our Underground system every day it is imperative for us to employ every feasible technique to run the smoothest Tube operation possible. 'This means not just long term investment into the system, but an intelligent management approach delivering smart solutions. As a result we now expect to cut delays by nearly a third by 2015. Not only will this deliver a better ride for passengers, but it will safeguard the vital role of the Tube in London's prosperity and future growth.” Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “By building on the foundations of the reliability programme we instigated last year, my team and I are ready to rise to the challenge of reducing delays by a further 30 per cent. We’ll be focusing not only on those areas where we can do better, but also by thinking radically about how we can do things differently. We’ve already made fantastic inroads into greater reliability, even as we carry out the biggest Tube upgrade programme while keeping some of the oldest trains and signaling in Europe going until they too can be replaced. But I’m determined that we hit new heights of performance to make a Tube that is truly fit for London.”
20-07-12 Anglia join the Olympic spirit
Train operator, Greater Anglia, will be entering into the Olympic spirit from next week with a range of themed special offers and meal deals available from the on train buffets. From 23 July 2012, buffet cars on the mainline between Norwich and London Liverpool Street will take on a patriotic look with Union Jack bags and themed posters to promote five exciting meal deals. Passengers will also be able to take advantage of a specially produced booklet crammed with 10 different offers to save money on Greater Anglia catering services, as well as loyalty cards. The five meal deals on offer during the Games fortnight are: The ‘Gold’ deal featuring a slice of Sponge cake, any ‘themed’ sandwich, tea or coffee, and any crisps for £5.95. The ‘Silver’ deal which offers a large bottle of house wine with a large packet of Tyrell’s Sweet & Savoury Popcorn for £12.95 The ‘Bronze’ deal offers any snack box, with any can of soft drink for £4.50. Greater Anglia will also offer a Bacon roll with Tea or Coffee for just £4.70 and Shortbread with Tea or Coffee for just £2.50. Catering Manager, Charlotte Bindley, said, “As one of the main transport providers for the Games, we are pleased to offer some excellent deals to help passengers save money on their day out and show our support for Britain’s athletes by getting into the Olympic spirit on the trains.”
18-07-12 East Coast employ the UKs first Writer-in-Residence on a train
East Coast has teamed up with crime author Julia Crouch to become the UK’s first writer-in-residence on-board a train. The train operator worked with Julia to create a short story, Strangeness On A Train, written on-board its train service between London and Harrogate, which will be published as a free e-book available to download from Apple or Amazon.co.uk on Thursday 19 July. The launch of Strangeness On A Train coincides with the start of the 10th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, which runs from 19 to 20 July, and is sponsored by East Coast. Strangeness On A Train, published by Headline Publishing Group, is a dark compelling story, which reveals what happens when one passenger pushes a fellow female traveller beyond her limits. As well as the journey itself, Julia was heavily influenced by the rich heritage of crime fiction set on trains including Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, and 4.50 From Paddington. East Coast Writer-In-Residence Julia Crouch said: “When I was offered the opportunity of being the first writer in residence on an East Coast Train, I jumped at it. There's something wonderful about writing on trains, in that I was able to fully immerse myself in my work, which I can rarely do at home. Working on-board the train seemed like being in a bubble of concentration as I moved through time and space, only being distracted when eavesdropping on the dramas of my fellow passengers as swathes of the countryside flashed past the windows, which were useful distractions. Thanks to the spacious First Cass accommodation, the words flowed, and my story quickly took shape. Some of it was inspired by things I saw and heard on the journey, other parts by the effect a train carriage has on the twisted mind of a crime writer. Over the journey from London to Harrogate, I wrote the entire first draft, whilst also managing quite a bit of window-gazing, tea-drinking, and even the odd complimentary glass of wine or two.” East Coast Media and Communications Manager Paul Williams said: “We’re really excited to work with Julia to publish our first e-book, Strangeness On A Train, which was written on board our services between London and Harrogate. Having Julia travel with us as the UK’s first writer-in-residence on board a train is something that we are really proud of, and, once published, we hope that the story will capture both passengers and the public’s imagination with its gripping tale. Travelling to Harrogate has never been easier thanks to our direct return London to Harrogate services, which operates seven days as week. These were introduced for the first time on this route in more than 20 years, as part of our major timetable change last May, at the same time as we introduced our new First Class complimentary food and drink service.” Julia, will appear at this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival on Sunday 21 July as part of a panel discussion entitled Deadlier Than The Male. This will consider whether women in crime fiction are more graphically violent. Julia will publish her second novel Every Vow You Break on 2 August. For further information about travelling to Harrogate with East Coast, visit: www.eastcoast.co.uk.
18-07-12 RAIB report into fatal accident at Needham Market published
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into a fatal accident which occurred at Gipsy Lane footpath crossing, Needham Market, Suffolk, on 24 August 2011. A full copy of the report is available here
Summary: At about 13.52 hrs on 24 August 2011, an elderly pedestrian was struck and fatally injured by a train on Gipsy Lane footpath crossing, near Needham Market in Suffolk. The train driver said that he had seen a person on the crossing, but not on the line on which the train was approaching, and that when he sounded the train’s warning horn the pedestrian continued to cross and was struck. Although it is not possible to be certain why the pedestrian continued to cross into the path of the approaching train, the RAIB considers that she either did not see it, misjudged the speed of the approaching train, or was unclear about which line the train was approaching on.
During its investigation the RAIB observed that: for elderly and other vulnerable users, the warning of an approaching train was not sufficient to enable them to use the crossing safely; in the period up to May 2011, no action was taken to address the risk to vulnerable users, mainly because data on level crossing usage and measurements taken as an input to risk assessments were often inaccurate; no short-term mitigation measures were implemented when it was identified in May 2011 that the whistle board was not providing adequate warning to vulnerable users of the crossing, or in June 2011 and August 2011 when further visits by Network Rail staff confirmed that there was insufficient warning; and Network Rail’s guidance to staff making decisions about applying short-term mitigation at level crossings where warning times were insufficient sometimes had the effect of discouraging those involved from taking action.
Recommendations: As a consequence of this incident, the RAIB has made four recommendations to Network Rail. These cover: improving the safety of pedestrians crossing the railway at Gipsy Lane; making sure level crossing data is collected accurately and consistently; developing guidance on short-term mitigation measures at level crossings that have insufficient sighting or warning of trains; and making enhancements to the cost-benefit tool that is used to assess level crossing risk mitigation measures.
18-07-12 FGW to trial on train WiFi
First Great Western has announced it will trial free Wifi on trains running between Paddington and the Cotswolds, allowing passengers to check emails and browse the internet on their own Wifi-enabled devices. The technology will be installed on five Class 180 trains, 25 vehicles, which will upgrade the current fleet running on the line, as part of a series of reliability and comfort modifications. First Great Western Managing Director, Mark Hopwood said the company had been looking for an opportunity to introduce the technology for some time: “The refresh of these trains has given us the opportunity to address modern work and entertainment needs. I am delighted that within the year customers will be able to read their emails, browse the web, or simply catch friends while on the move. As well as reliability improvements each of the trains has been extensively refurbished, allowing us to include the technology required to offer Wifi free of charge to passengers.” Wifi is also available at a number of FGW stations through the public provider The Cloud.
18-07-12 Hat-trick for West Highland Line station adopter
A West Highland woman has become the first person in Scotland to have single-handedly transformed three stations as part of ScotRail’s Adopt a Station community project. Sonia Cameron has installed six half-barrel planters at Morar, adding to the floral displays she plants and maintains at Mallaig and Arisaig. ScotRail has paid tribute to the Mallaig resident’s success in enhancing the stations on the world-famous West Highland Line. John Yellowlees, ScotRail’s external relations manager, said: “It is testament to Sonia's dedication that she is our only station adopter to have single-handedly adopted three stations. “The stations' picturesque locations, at the end of the line voted the world’s top rail journey three years in a row, make this a very special hat-trick indeed.” Sonia’s planters and hanging baskets helped Mallaig station win gold accreditation in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Tidy Station Standards awards last year. She also looks after the station building at Britain’s most westerly mainland station at Arisaig for HITRANS, which uses it as an office and meeting-room. Sonia said: “I like to think that the improved appearance of these stations heightens the sense of anticipation for passengers as West Highland Line trains approach their journey’s end.” Sonia is also the rail correspondent for monthly magazine West Word, which is based in an office at Morar station.
18-07-12 ScotRail marks North Berwick railway history
ScotRail has unveiled a new poster at North Berwick station recalling the ups and downs of the area’s railway history. The poster describes how the North Berwick Line has evolved from a Victorian steam railway to a modern commuter and leisure route. It has been designed by North Berwick in Bloom, which cares for the station’s award-winning garden as part of ScotRail’s Adopt a Station project. Sheila Sinclair, of North Berwick in Bloom, said: "The station is very special to us, and we wanted to tell the story of our railway to visitors who arrive by train." John Yellowlees, ScotRail’s external relations manager, said: "North Berwick in Bloom does a great job keeping the station looking good for everyone who uses it. “We are delighted to be able to display its poster telling the area’s eventful railway history." Passenger steam trains were launched on the North Berwick line in 1850, but were replaced just four years later with a horse-drawn single-carriage tram to cut costs. By the 1920s, railway was booming as the town’s reputation grew as a scenic golfing and seaside holiday destination. However, a successful campaign was needed to save the line from closure in the 1960s and, even then, only limited services ran during the 1970s. The North Berwick line has enjoyed a revival in the last few decades, including electrification and – last year – the introduction of Britain's newest type of train, the Class 380. The poster draws on research by Edinburgh historian Andrew Hajducki QC, author of The North Berwick and Gullane Branch Lines.
18-07-12 New LUL information screens on Anglia route
New information screens at Greater Anglia rail stations in London are helping to integrate train and tube travel. Passengers at four stations - Seven Sisters, Walthamstow Central, Tottenham Hale and Stratford – now receive up to the minute information about their onward journey by tube. The five screens (two at Stratford and one at Seven Sisters, Tottenham Hale and Walthamstow Central) have been installed in partnership with Transport for London. The screens provide customers with up-to date information on London Underground Line arrivals, departures and service updates. Andrew Goodrum, Customer Services Director, said, “The new screens demonstrate our commitment to providing up-to-date and accurate information and joined up transport services to passengers in London. The screens show information in an easy to read, user friendly format and represent a welcome improvement for our customers.”
18-07-12 New look Thorpe Bay
National Express train operator c2c completes the refurbishment of Thorpe Bay station, with the new-look station officially reopened by local MP James Duddridge on 18 July 2012. Thorpe Bay is c2c’s first ‘smart station’ and the refurbishment, which cost approximately £500k, included: * A significantly improved ticket hall, with a more open design to make customers feel welcome and an open counter that is suitable for wheelchair users * Extra information screens and video screens for customers, including a dedicated board shaped like a smartphone with travel information on London Underground services for commuters * Two additional new ticket machines, which enable customers to buy tickets for the following day and collect pre-booked tickets in addition to tickets for immediate travel, and smart-ticket compatible ready for future improvements * A refurbished waiting room, with direct access from the ticket hall introduced * A brighter station with new lighting installed and all the glass panes replaced in the canopy above the station entrance * Improved heating and air conditioning within the ticket hall * Redecoration and repainting of the station c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: “Thorpe Bay is the first of what I hope will be many c2c smart stations – a new concept for the rail industry that breaks down the barriers between customers and staff, and gives passengers more freedom to serve themselves while retaining the traditional booking office option for those who wish to use it. This station has more customer information, more ticket machines, and is ready for smart ticketing when it is introduced, and I hope local residents will be very pleased with the results.” James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “It’s an enormous privilege to re-open this, my home station. It looks gorgeous inside – airy, light and bright. One of the great things about c2c is they listen to what the community want, and it makes a great first impression for Thorpe Bay.” Julian and James were joined at the opening by local resident Jim Snelling, 81, who had worked at Thorpe Bay in 1946 and was wearing his old British Rail uniform to mark the occasion. Jim said: “This new look station is absolutely excellent and makes a real change, it’s certainly very different from what I’m used to. We didn’t have moving posters like that in my day, and I wish we had.” c2c’s consultants for the redesign work were Lambert Smith Hampton, the scheme was designed by BPR Architects, and the work was delivered by Consortia.
17-07-12 Waterloo Balcony opens to reduce station congestion in time for Olympic Games
A new 220m balcony has opened at one of Britain’s busiest stations to help reduce congestion in time for the Olympic Games. The new balcony at London Waterloo – the longest at any British rail station – is part of Network Rail’s £25m improvement project to transform the station and smooth the journey for the 300,000 passengers who pass through each day. This has been achieved by installing escalators and repositioning retail outlets previously located in the middle of the main concourse onto the balcony. With new escalators and lifts, installed earlier in May, Waterloo station now has step-free access to Waterloo East. The new balcony will provide passengers with a wider choice of places to eat and shop with an extra 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The new brands opening at the station are Yo! Sushi, Fat Face, Hotel Chocolat, Oliver Bonas, Links of London, Thomas Pink and new-to-station brand Joules. Further additions will include Italian eatery, Carluccio's, Kiehl’s Sports Bar & Grill, Benugo and Corney & Barrow’s new concept bar The Cabin, which will be opening soon. Once all the new units are open, the retail capacity within the station will total 55,000 sq ft across 38 stores. The rejuvenation of Waterloo station is part of Network Rail’s on-going programme of investment in key stations across the country to provide more space, reduce congestion and improve the facilities for passengers. The opening follows on from the successful launch of the new Western Concourse at King’s Cross, which opened back in March with record-breaking trading figures, mirroring the trend of growing sales coming from stations. Network Rail’s retail and commercial activities generate vital funds that are reinvested directly back into the railway, limiting costs to taxpayers. David Biggs, director of property at Network Rail, comments: “We are dedicated to improving the facilities, layout and retail experiences for millions of commuters nationwide through various station expansion projects within Britain’s major cities. As with the new western concourse at King’s Cross earlier this year, the Waterloo balcony project forms part of our wider retail strategy to create ‘destination’ stations for both rail passengers and non-travelling customers. It also provides a crucial, sustainable source of income for the station, which can be reinvested directly into the rail network to continuously improve our services to passengers.” Tim Shoveller, managing director of the Network Rail/South West Trains alliance said: “Waterloo, as many of our customers know, is a very busy station. We have over 90m passengers passing through every year and there is 30% growth predicted by 2030 . Our challenge is to deliver extra capacity so our passengers can get the rail services they rely on. We needed to find a radical solution to improve the space and facilities at Waterloo. The opening of the balcony, with the removal of retail units from the concourse, crucially reduces congestion while still providing the facilities expected at a modern station. Passengers will now find it easier to get to and from their trains. The next crucial stage is to extend the platforms so we can run longer trains with more capacity, to cater for the predicted growth in passenger numbers.” London Waterloo has become an important gateway to some of the best cultural institutions the city has to offer – from the Old Vic and The National Theatre to Shakespeare’s Globe. And with an increased number of visitors expected for the summer holidays, this redevelopment will help ease congestion on the main concourse during this busy period. Waterloo station is one of the UK's major transport hubs connecting London to popular destinations such as Bournemouth, Poole, Southampton, Portsmouth, Reading and Windsor.
17-07-12 Original Manchester Trams to get the chop
All of Metrolink's oldest trams will be replaced with new vehicles by 2014, in a move that will lead to significant improvements for passengers. Transport leaders agreed to replace 12 of the 32 original 'T68' trams with the M5000 vehicles in September last year - and they have now agreed to replace the rest. An order for 20 new M5000s will now be placed with a consortium of tram manufacturer Bombardier and propulsion supplier Vossloh Kiepe. The decision, approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, means that, when the order is complete in 2014, all services on the Metrolink network will be served by brand new vehicles. The Transport for Greater Manchester Committee will oversee the investment on behalf GMCA. Bombardier and Vossloh Kiepe are already supplying 74 new M5000 trams to serve the existing and expanding network - with new lines to Rochdale train station, Droylsden & Ashton-under-Lyne, East Didsbury, Oldham and Rochdale town centres and Manchester Airport & Wythenshawe all well underway - and to replace 12 of the T68s. Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: "This decision signals the end of one chapter for Metrolink and the start of a new one. Our T68 vehicles were the first of their kind in the UK and served the first modern light rail network of its kind in the country. "The arrival into service of our first new vehicles in December 2009 demonstrated just how far the industry has come in that time and it is clear that our T68s no longer live up to the standards that passengers expect. The time has now come for them to enter a well-earned retirement. The new Bombardier trams have delivered significant improvements for passengers and I'm sure regular users of the network will welcome this announcement and the benefits it will bring to the services they depend upon." A total of 26 T68s served the original line - Altrincham to Bury - and a further six came into service in 2000 when the Eccles line opened, taking the total fleet to 32. The first new M5000 entered service in December 2009. Following the launch of the South Manchester line to Chorlton and the expansion to Oldham Mumps, around 25 M5000s are now in service on the network every day - just over half the in-service fleet. Once all the new lines are in operation, the network will be served from a pool of 94 new M5000 trams. The M5000s are up to four times less likely to develop a disruptive fault than the T68s, which reduces maintenance costs. As they are 10 tonnes lighter, they will also reduce energy costs and prolong the life of existing rails by several years, which will reduce the long-term costs of track renewals and prevent greater disruption for passengers. The phased 'retirement' of the T68s began in September 2011, with the order to replace an initial 12 vehicles. This initial phase should be complete by the end of summer this year. A plan to phase out the remaining T68s and introduce the new M5000s will now be developed with the operator, MRDL.
17-07-12 First Capital Connect introduce cashless payment for taxis
From Friday 8 June 2012. First Capital Connect (FCC) customers have been able to pay for taxi fares through their mobile phone using dash taxi. The scheme, which will be launched in partnership with payment provider Adaptis Solutions Ltd, promotes FCC’s continuing efforts to provide innovative technology and a safe and secure environment for its customers. To use the dash taxi service customers will be able to pay for fares by making a call to 0333 123 1985 sending an SMS text or by using an iPhone or Android app. Registration for the service occurs as part of the first transaction and is quick and seamless. You can also register and pay on-line at www.dashtaxi.com David Burns, FCC’s Commercial Manager, said: “People are relying more and more on cashless payment systems these days and the ability to pay for a taxi whilst on the move to continue a journey is a fantastic benefit to our customers.” More information on the service can be found at firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/dashtaxi
17-07-12 Step-free at St Neots a step closer
Plans for a new footbridge to give people with wheelchairs, pushchairs and luggage easy access to St Neots railway station have come one step closer to fruition. First Capital Connect (FCC), Network Rail and Huntingdonshire District Council have developed an early outline design which they recently shared with local councillors and invited members of the public including representatives from the Loves Farm housing development, local police and commuters. The new east-west footbridge would be built just north of the station buildings and connect the new housing development at Loves Farm with the town centre via ramps and stairs. Stairs and lifts would connect the footbridge with the platforms below and the old footbridge would be taken down. Network Rail is designing the scheme to a remit developed with First Capital Connect, Huntingdonshire District Council and Gallagher Estates who are behind the Loves Farm development. The Department for Transport is part-funding the initiative through its Access For All scheme. The scheme will also include improved security through better CCTV and lighting and extra cycle parking. It is proposed that work starts on site in late spring 2013 and is completed in spring 2014. First Capital Connect Customer Service Director Keith Jipps said: “The people we spoke to locally really welcomed the scheme. They recognise the real benefits it's going to bring people with mobility difficulties wanting to travel to and from St Neots by train. Our aim now is to work up detailed plans that can be taken forward.” Network Rail route managing director Phil Verster said: “Work like this is vital to help all our passengers to use the rail network as easily as possible. When it's complete, the new access it will help people with heavy luggage and families with buggies access their trains, as well as those with impaired mobility. Equally, by improving the security and the cycle facilities, we can make people's journeys smoother and safer, and help the environment.” Councillor Nick Guyatt, Deputy Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council said: “We have been working extremely hard with a range of partners over a long period of time to bring this project to fruition. There have been a number of difficult constraints to overcome to get to the stage now reached but we can now look forward to the delivery of this project on the ground starting in August 2013. This will undoubtedly deliver significant improvements to users of the station as well as providing improved connection across the railway for the residents of Loves Farm.”
17-07-12 Alstom to deliver ERTMS-based train control solution to Banedanmark
Alstom has signed a contract with Banedanmark - the Danish railway infrastructure owner - to deliver on-board equipment to railway operators in Denmark and equip 503 of their trains with Atlas ERTMS1 signalling solution. This contract worth €61 million is part of a framework agreement signed between Alstom and Banedanmark on 14 March 14, 2012. The former contract worth €140 million featured the deployment of Atlas on up to 789 trains operated by 41 operators on the Fjernbane Danish Network2. Atlas will enable Banedanmark as well as Danish operators, to increase their operational performances, improve traffic flow and optimize trains frequencies. ERTMS is a system for the management and control of the rail traffic on the lines of the Trans-European Networks. The ETCS3, one of the components of the ERTMS, is designed to enable trains to quickly cross borders, ensuring the safety of rail traffic. “Alstom is pleased to partner with Banedanmark and enable Danish operators to increase the fluidity and efficiency of their trains thanks to its latest train control technology" said Christian Algreen-Ussing, Alstom Denmark and Norway Representative and Customer Director. It will take about eight years to develop and deploy the Atlas solution on Danish railways, with two years dedicated on its design. During this phase, Alstom and Banedanmark teams will jointly work in Copenhagen (Denmark) in cooperation with Alstom’s teams based in the site of Charleroi (Belgium). “This contract will be a milestone for train operation in Denmark as the whole country will be operating with On-Board equipment at baseline 18.104.22.168 level. I see this as a step into more a safe and efficient future for train operation”, said Morten Soendergaard, Program Director of Banedanmark The on-board ERTMS contract signed between Alstom and Banedanmark is part of a €2.4 billion programme decided by the Danish Parliament in January 2009 to renew the complete Danish Railways signalling by 2021.
16-07-12 Biggest investment in the rail industry announced since Victorian times - including electrification of Midland Main Line and overhead electrification of Reading-Southampton
More than £9 billion of growth-boosting railway upgrades across England and Wales – representing faster journey times, more reliable services and capacity for 140,000 extra daily commutes by train – have been announced by Transport Secretary Justine Greening. The full £9.4bn programme of improvements to the rail network published today will meet the needs of intercity passengers, commuters and freight up to the end of this decade while the Government continues to work on High Speed 2 to deliver rail capacity for the British economy in the decades to come. This High Level Output Specification (HLOS) programme for 2014-2019 was be discussed at today’s meeting of the Cabinet which the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in Birmingham. Crossrail, Thameslink, and electrification between London and Cardiff, Manchester to Liverpool and Preston, and across the Pennines, are among £5.2bn of projects already committed to during 2014-2019. New schemes totalling £4.2bn unveiled today include: * Upgrades to stations and tracks creating enough capacity around cities for an additional 140,000 daily rail commutes at peak times. In addition to Crossrail and Thameslink, announced previously, today’s enhancements include the £350m lengthening of platforms at London Waterloo station – providing capacity for 120,000 more daily commutes in and out of London and 20,100 extra daily commutes across Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and other cities. * Faster journeys and more train capacity from £240m of improvements along the East Coast Main Line from the North East down through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to London. * The creation of a high-capacity “electric spine” running from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to South Coast ports of Southampton allowing more reliable electric trains to cut journey times and boost capacity for passengers and freight. This comprises an £800m electrification and upgrade from Sheffield – through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester – to Bedford, completing the full electrification of the Midland Main Line out of London St Pancras; and electrification of the lines from Nuneaton and Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton. * The landmark decision to take electric rail beyond Cardiff to Swansea, completing the full electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington at a total cost of more than £600m, and electrifying the Welsh Valley lines, including Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and the Vale of Glamorgan. These will give two-thirds of the Welsh population access to new fleets of electric trains helping to generate Welsh jobs and growth by slashing journey times and boosting passenger and freight capacity. * Completion in full of the “Northern Hub” cluster of rail enhancements with the approval of £322m of outstanding track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool. These are in addition to £477m of Northern Hub schemes already approved across the North of England such as electrification of the North Trans Pennine route between York and Manchester. * A new £500m rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow allowing direct services to the airport for passengers from the West Country, the Thames Valley and Wales. The HLOS package will be funded in part from fare rises already announced in 2010 and also from the substantial efficiency savings which projects like electrification will have on the long term operating costs of the railways. Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “Investment on this scale, in every region of the country, shows how this coalition government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and faster railway network that drives jobs and growth. These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times on intercity, commuter and freight services are, alongside our plans for high speed rail, absolutely key to securing our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead.” The investment was also hailed by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “From Crossrail, high speed rail and now the billions of pounds of investment we are announcing today, this government is committed to taking the long term decisions to deliver growth and jobs. In what is the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era this investment will mean faster journeys, more seats, better access to stations, greater freight links and a truly world class rail network.” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “This is the biggest expansion in railways in over 150 years, with more than £9bn of investment across the country. Whilst we inherited a deficit greater than any in our nation’s peacetime history, we knew that we had to give the country the boost it needs, to build great railways and make journeys better for the millions of hard working people who use the train every day. The ‘Electric Spine’ will make a significant difference for passengers linking London, the Midlands and Yorkshire in a much more efficient rail line, connecting the South and North more effectively than ever before. As someone who cares deeply about the environment, the opportunity to dramatically expand rail, a greener form of transport than aviation or road is very exciting indeed. This investment will help people to choose trains over cars, reduce carbon emissions and provide a rail system that is faster, more reliable and greener.” Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “I am pleased that the Northern Hub will be funded in full as part of the Government’s plans, which is a significant boost for the major towns and cities of the North, helping to rebalance the UK economy and enabling growth and regeneration throughout the regions. This Government is making more funds available to invest in rail projects than at any time since the Victorian era, and shows that the Government is committed to delivering on its promises to support investment in public infrastructure that will support economic growth.”
13-07-12 Transport fund agrees money for vital rail infrastructure projects
Three projects to improve vital freight and passenger links on the railway network are to receive €14m (£11m) from the European Commission. The successful bid to the TEN-T Agency brought funding to the following projects: €5m (£4m) towards the work to electrify the line between Liverpool and Manchester €5m (£4m) to increase capacity and train lengths on the Southampton to West Coast main line route, and investing in new cranes at the port. €4m (£3m) to build freight loops near Ely, as part of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton freight route Network Rail’s director of freight, Tim Robinson, said: “Freight haulage is the lifeblood of our economy and this investment will give a boost to our efforts to encourage more of it onto the railway. As well as being the most environmentally-friendly way of transporting cargo, by moving more freight onto our rail network we can free capacity on other transport modes and keep the UK moving. “ The TEN-T Agency works to improve transport links across Europe, to increase economic and social growth. The Department for Transport apply to the agency each year for funding to improve the rail network, supported by Network Rail. The North West electrification project will see 25kv overhead power delivered to the routes between Liverpool and Manchester, Huyton to Wigan, Preston to Blackpool and Manchester to Preston via Bolton. The work complements the lines that are already electrified in the region – notably the key freight route of the West Coast Main Line, the busiest mixed use railway in Europe. The route from Southampton to the West Coast main line is being improved to offer gauge clearance for large 9ft 6 containers, longer loops to allow longer trains, and new cranes. The TEN-T money has been invested to increase train lengths. Felixstowe to Nuneaton is one of the UK’s busiest freight routes and the area around Ely is recognised as one of the major pinch-points. Installing the 775 metre freight loops will increase capacity, improve reliability and allow longer trains to be run. * It follows previous successful TEN-T bids worth €14m to improve other parts of the route.
13-07-12 Network Rail releases new aerial photography of London stations
Network Rail has released new photographs from the air of many of its biggest projects in London which have undergone or are undergoing major redevelopments. They include views rarely seen by the general public of the stunning new concourse roof at King’s Cross, the development of Farringdon where Thameslink and Crossrail services will meet the tube, and the changes at Stratford in the shadow of the Olympic stadium. The newly completed Shard also looms large over London Bridge and Borough viaduct which is being redeveloped as part of the Thameslink project. Images taken last month were captured by the Network Rail helicopter which flies daily to monitor the network checking for faults or potential issues before they arise. Here it also enabled engineering and architectural teams on the London stations see project development from a unique perspective. Simon Kirby, managing director for infrastructure projects for Network Rail said: “London’s stations are changing massively both on the ground and from the sky, and there’s more to come. King’s Cross is a great example of retaining the grandeur of original Victorian architecture but bringing new and modern facilities for the 21st century passenger and Stratford has changed remarkably ahead of the Games. As well as providing some spectacular images which we are happy to share, aerial photography is extremely useful to us to see these complex developments from a bird’s eye view.”
What’s new?: Blackfriars: Half of the photovoltaic roof panels have now been installed on the first station to span The Thames Stratford: Massive redevelopment by Olympic Delivery Authority, Transport for London, Westfield and Network Rail including new station entrance at Westfield shopping centre and platforms lengthened Farringdon: A new ticket hall for Thameslink passengers, future proofed for Crossrail passengers is nearly complete. From the air you can see its brown roof which provides a new habitat for the redstart bird King’s Cross: The new concourse is the size of three Olympic swimming pools. From the air you can see some of the 1,200 triangular panels which make up this new structure. Borough viaduct: A new viaduct, over Borough Market has been built providing an extra two tracks to unlock the bottleneck at London Bridge. This section of track will link into London Bridge station once it is complete. London Bridge: Is the country’s fourth busiest station and it is full. Today 50m passengers use the station a year. When completed, the redeveloped station will see more than 90m passengers travel through each year.
13-07-12 Alstom begins dynamic testing on the Coradia Polyvalent
Alstom has begun its dynamic test campaign on the Coradia Polyvalent - the latest addition to its range of regional trains. The tests are taking place at the Vélim test centre in the Czech Republic and, in France, at the Railway Testing Centres (CEF) at Valenciennes and Bar-le-Duc and on a section of the RFF line between Wissembourg and Hoffen. Approximately 50 engineers and specialist technicians from Alstom will be relayed on board ten pre-series Coradia Polyvalent trains until early 2013 in order to carry out the work needed to meet 3,000 contractual requirements. The certifications and approvals required to obtain the EPSF’s1 authorisation to operate will involve 10 regional trains undertaking a total of 1,400 days of testing and will directly or indirectly engage up to 200 people from 20 different bodies (Alstom's own sites, suppliers, test centres, drivers, etc.). The campaign will eventually generate 1,500 documents, including test specifications, procedures and reports. Three trains have been operating at Vélim since late April; the site, which belongs to the Czech Railways Research Institute, boasts two independent circuits: a 4 km circuit with a maximum authorised speed of 90 km/h, a 13 km circuit with a maximum authorised speed of 210 km/h. These test rings, which are electrified in accordance with European standards, make it possible to set up the Coradia Polyvalent's eclectic traction system in all power modes – diesel, 1500V and 25kV. The tests also help to qualify and certify the main functions of the train: electric or diesel braking and traction, air-operated braking system, noise emissions, acoustic comfort and electro-magnetic compatibility. At the same time, two Coradia Polyvalent trains have been undergoing comfort tests in diesel mode in France since May 22 on the section of line between the towns of Hoffen and Wissembourg. The test runs are operated at a maximum speed of 100 km/h and make it possible to set up the diesel traction system in different power-pack configurations2 , ranging from maximum power to degraded mode. The vibrations made by the train and its equipment are measured using sensors positioned along the entire length of the train. All the tests are carried out at night in order to avoid disrupting commercial traffic. In addition, validation tests are being carried out on six of the ten trains at the Valenciennes and Bar-le-Duc CEFs with the aim of configuring the Coradia Polyvalent's various instruments and functionalities (traction/braking). Finally, the certification trials will begin on the RFF3 tracks in July 2012. Nine sections of RFF4 track with specific configurations (bends, track quality, etc.) will host the Coradia Polyvalent trains. The tests are being carried out as part of the contract, financed by the French regions, signed on October 27, 2009 between Alstom and SNCF. The initial contract included a firm order of 800 million euros for the delivery of 100 Coradia Polyvalent trains. Up to now 171 trains in total have been ordered by the following French regions: Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Lower Normandy, Upper Normandy, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrénées, Pays de la Loire, Picardy, Poitou-Charentes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The framework contract should in time reach a volume of 1,000 trains for a total of more than seven billion euros. The delivery of the first of the 171 trains should take place in March 2013, with subsequent deliveries being staggered until mid-2015. 1 EPSF: French Railway Safety Authority (Etablissement Public de Sécurité Ferroviaire). 2 Power-pack: the power-pack supplies DC current to the traction chain from a diesel source; it may be likened to a generating set. 3 Réseau Ferré de France. 4 Aubrais-Vierzon (Centre), Epernay-Vitry Le François (Champagne), Toul-Culmont (Lorraine), Moûtiers-Bourg St Maurice (Rhône – Alpes), Caen-Cherbourg (Normandy), Plouaret (Brittany), Epernay-Meaux (Champagne), Tours-Les Aubrais (Centre) and Millau-Bédarieux (Midi-Pyrénées).
About Coradia Polyvalent The Coradia Polyvalent is a regional train with a high degree of modularity that offers several different types of technical configurations and passenger amenities. It can travel at a speed of 160 km/hr in electric or bi-mode version and at two voltages (25 kV and 1500 V). The Coradia Polyvalent is also available in a cross-border version that can operate on the German and Swiss networks at a voltage of 15 kV. Its low, integrated floor means that passengers can enjoy maximum accessibility and complete visibility for all-round added safety. The motor bogies positioned at the two ends of the train limit vibrations and sound levels.
12-07-12 RAIB report into Haslemere engineering run-away
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into an incident involving a runaway track maintenance trolley near Haslemere on 10 September 2011. A full copy of the report is available here:
Summary At approximately 03.00 on Saturday 10 September 2011, a hand trolley which was being used by a track maintenance gang to transport small tools, ran unattended for a distance of 2.9 miles (4.6 km) along the Portsmouth main line near Haslemere. The incident occurred within an overnight engineering possession. The trolley reached an estimated maximum speed of 10.5 mph (16.8 km/h) and ran past a site where a gang had just finished rail grinding work in the path of the runaway trolley, before it stopped on an uphill gradient. There were no casualties. The RAIB investigation identified that the trolley operator did not know he was on a long falling gradient when he let go of the trolley and the brakes on the trolley failed to apply automatically (as designed). The brake mechanism probably jammed with the brakes in the ‘off’ position due to a combination of factors including inadequacies in the design and in the risk assessment and acceptance processes for trolleys to be used on Network Rail infrastructure, as well as inadequacies in the maintenance of the trolley. The RAIB investigation also identified that attempts to alert other members of staff to the runaway trolley were hampered by poor mobile phone reception in the area, and that the RAIB had previously made a relevant recommendation about trolley management in an investigation into a similar incident on London Underground infrastructure. Since the incident, Network Rail has withdrawn all of the trolleys of the type involved in the runaway from use on its infrastructure. It is also making use of the incident to reinforce its national initiatives to improve safety culture within the organisation. The maintainer of the trolley (Torrent Trackside) has taken steps to make sure that its fitters are properly supported and appropriately supervised.
Recommendations As a consequence of this incident, the RAIB has made five recommendations to Network Rail. These cover: the training and competence of trolley operators; the product acceptance process; reviewing actions it has taken since the incident; the need for alternative means of communication in areas of poor mobile phone reception; and the process for reviewing RAIB recommendations made to other operators.
Network Rail has awarded VolkerRail, an operating company of VolkerWessels UK, a £15.5m contract for works at Acton freight yard, West London as part of the Crossrail programme. VolkerRail will be jointly delivering the contract to remodel Acton freight yard, with the rail division of sister company VolkerFitzpatrick. This work includes plain line track renewals, installation of new switches and crossings, associated switch operating mechanisms and modification to the overhead line system on the main line. These advanced works will be completed by early 2013, with the remaining programme of work for Acton, including a diveunder, due for completion in 2016. When Crossrail services begin in 2018, even more trains will travel along the Great Western main line so work is needed to improve capacity in the area. Acton freight yard is a significant part of the network and an important railway asset. However, to enter and leave the yard, trains currently need to cross main line passenger tracks. The plans for these modifications to the yard and a new diveunder, which is currently out for tender, will enable freight trains to leave the yard without affecting passenger trains and provide increased capacity for freight. Jorge Mendonca, Crossrail programme director, Network Rail, said: “The work at Acton is an important step in delivering a more reliable service for passengers while providing more capacity in the Paddington approaches area. Network Rail is transforming the railway to make Crossrail a success and is working with many partners, including VolkerRail and VolkerFitzpatrick, to produce something that is safe, efficient and cost-effective.” Stuart Birch, major projects director for VolkerRail, said: “After completing the early works for Acton, we are delighted to have won this contract, which will result in our involvement to completion. This is a great opportunity for us to work together with our sister company VolkerFitzpatrick to demonstrate our complementary capabilities and experiences. Together VolkerRail and VolkerFitzpatrick are a strong force; which is further strengthened with the backing of our parent company, VolkerWessels UK. We are sure this strength enables us to deliver a successful project while working collaboratively with Network Rail.” Network Rail is responsible for the design, development and delivery of the parts of Crossrail that are on the existing network, covering 43 miles of track and 28 stations from Maidenhead in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.
12-07-12 SWT/Network Rail Alliance staff meet Transport Minister at Basingstoke
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers visited Basingstoke signalling centre on 11 July 2012 to meet staff from the South West Trains/Network Rail alliance. The signalling centre is responsible for controlling the movement of almost 600 passenger and freight trains, every day. It controls the strategic junction on the South West main line from London at Basingstoke with the key routes linking the West of England and Southampton to the Midlands. The alliance was formed in April to create one management team responsible for both trains and track in the south and south-west of England with the objective of delivering better rail services for passengers. Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of the South West Trains/Network Rail alliance, said: “I am pleased the Minister of State for Transport has been able to get a personal insight into how our staff are working together to deliver a better service to our customers on a daily basis. The alliance aims to cut delays for passengers, provide better customer service, deliver more effective management of disruption, and improve the efficiency of the railway through more collaborative working and better decision-making. By bringing together train and track we are also helping to improve the service for freight operators.” Jim Morgan, Infrastructure Director of the South West Trains/Network Rail alliance, added: “Looking ahead, all our customers will benefit by this close collaboration as we will be able to plan for the long term development of the route. We have already seen massive growth of freight and passenger users and this is predicted to continue. We have to be able to cater for this growth while minimising the disruption to our customers. This can only be done by working together and finding efficient and cost-effective ways of delivering a railway with more capacity.” Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: “The Wessex Alliance represents industry rising to the challenge of the Government's rail command paper, issued in March 2012, which called for closer co-operation between operations and infrastructure. Basingstoke is a really impressive example how on a practical level the creation of one management team can work to deliver a more efficient and a better railway with real benefits for both passengers and freight customers and the community in general."
12-07-12 South West Trains launches ticket purchasing from mobile website
Rail passengers can now buy their train tickets via their mobile phones using the enhanced mobile version of the South West Trains website. The updated version of the mobile website allows passengers to purchase tickets and receive tailored information on their journeys while on the move. Tickets can be bought quickly and easily through the South West Trains mobile website and then collected from one of a thousand stations across the south of England. South West Trains has responded to increasing demand from customers by revamping the design, content and functionality of its mobile website to make it even easier for passengers to book their tickets on the move. The enhanced South West Trains mobile website includes the following benefits: • Passengers can purchase tickets on their mobile phone while out and about; • A new GPS location search which locates the nearest station; • Upcoming journeys are remembered allowing customers to check ticket details on the go; • New Journey Check layout provides faster and clearer access to train service and journey information; • Customers are able to register and log in to personalised Journey Check Alerts which allow them to keep up to date with any disruption on their route. Maggie Banasiak, Marketing Manager for the South West Trains and Network Rail alliance, commented: “The public are increasingly using mobile devices to plan their busy lives and our new look mobile booking engine is packed with a raft of new functions that enhance ticketing and customer information and make it even easier for our passengers to buy tickets while they are on the go.” Providing real time disruption information and live departure and arrival boards to customers via their mobile phone, the new Journey Check Mobile facility is a mobile phone friendly view of South West Trains’ Journey Check. It provides real time updates on arrivals and departures, route disruption, delays, catering updates and Journey Check Alerts registration. Using Journey Check Mobile, customers can now select the train service they are interested in and see the calling pattern of that service, the expected time of arrival and the platform number where it is available. This development comes just weeks after parent company Stagecoach Group announced plans to transform the way consumers use tickets to travel on public transport by partnering with the UK’s biggest communications company, Everything Everywhere. The two companies have unveiled a trial of the UK’s first Government-standard commercial deployment of mobile contactless transport ticketing which is already underway on the Stagecoach bus network in Cambridgeshire and allows a small cross section of bus users to receive, store and validate their bus tickets using their mobile phone.
12-07-12 Flowers at Aberdeen
Volunteer gardeners have planted colourful floral displays at Aberdeen station as part of a ScotRail community project. Aberdeen in Bloom has installed three classic Edwardian-style tiered planters, supplied by Aberdeen City Council, as part of ScotRail’s Adopt a Station scheme. Mike Chalmers, of Aberdeen City Council, said: "We have been delighted to supply these planters, which make the concourse of Aberdeen Station a more welcoming place.” It brings the total number of ‘adopted’ stations in north-east Scotland to 11 – with volunteer gardeners tending to floral displays at Aberdeen, Dyce, Forres, Huntly, Insch, Inverurie, Keith, Laurencekirk, Montrose, Portlethen, and Stonehaven. Allan Jones, ScotRail’s business manager for the north-east, said: "It is very pleasing to see Aberdeen station benefitting from Aberdeen in Bloom’s hard work. The Adopt a Station scheme has proved very popular in the north-east of Scotland, which reflects the strong sense of community in this area.”
10-07-12 Kingsway Tram Tunnel get Crossrail role
The Kingsway Tram Tunnel in Holborn, a unique part of London’s transport history, will be temporarily re-used for Crossrail. Crossrail’s western tunnels contractor, BFK, is making use of the historic subway, closed since 1952, to build an 8 metre deep, 5 metre wide, grout shaft below the floor of the tunnel. Grout shafts allow engineers to pump grout (a cement-like substance) deep into the ground to firm it. This will protect nearby buildings from any potential ground movement when Crossrail’s tunnel boring machines reach the area in 2013. The tram tunnel underneath Kingsway once took passengers from Holborn to Waterloo Bridge, providing a link between the north and south London tram networks. For the past 60 years it has been all but abandoned, given over to several uses including local authority storage, and seldom opened to the public. Keith Sibley, Crossrail Area Director West, said: “The Kingsway Tram Tunnel has played a fascinating and unique role in London’s transport history. Now it will play a vital part in helping prepare the ground for the city’s most ambitious transport project to date. As the tunnel is a Grade II listed structure, Crossrail will return the Camden section of the tram tunnel to its prior condition when the works are completed.” Martin Harrison-Putnam, Head of Collections, London Transport Museum said: “The tram tunnel operated for less than 50 years and provided the only link between the north and south London tram networks. Opened in 1906, serving two subterranean stations at Holborn and Aldwych, the tunnel was enlarged in 1929 to accommodate double deck trams. The pioneering decision by London County Council to construct the country’s first tram tunnel was both innovative for its time and now of enduring historical importance.” The shaft will be completed later this summer before the arrival of Phyllis and Ada, Crossrail’s western tunnel boring machines, in 2013.
10-07-12 Workington station improvements complete
Passengers in Workington can now see the level of investment being made at their local station as a £200,000 refurbishment scheme is completed. Local MP Sir Tony Cunningham officially cut the ribbon on the station improvements and was joined by members of the Cumbrian Coast Community Rail Partnership and Northern Rail. Work has included refurbishing the booking hall and the waiting room on platform two, as well as additional seating and providing a new accessible ticket counter. A public announcement system has also been installed throughout the station. The project has been funded by the Department for Transport’s National Station Improvement Programme, delivered in partnership by Northern Rail and Network Rail. Lee Wasnidge, Area Director for Northern Rail, comments: “Evidence of successful partnerships are clear for all to see at Workington station today. Improvements on the Cumbrian coast line allowed over one million passengers to travel last year and the freshly completed work at Workington will help make each journey better for passengers using our services.” Sir Tony Cunningham, MP for Workington comments: “Last year a million people used the Cumbrian Coastal Railway. To keep those people visiting our area we need to provide welcoming facilities and that is what has happened with the newly refurbished Workington Station and in particular the comfortable waiting room and additional seating. I was delighted to be asked to cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the improvements.”
10-07-12 SouthEastern name Javelin Marc Woods
Southeastern honoured four- time Paralympic gold medallist, Marc Woods on 10 July 2012 by officially naming Class 395 Javelin® train No. 395026 after the prominent swimmer. The former Paralympian, European and World Champion is an ambassador for the London 2012 Games. Charles Horton, managing director for Southeastern said: “Marc Woods in his 17 years as a professional athlete won 12 Paralympic medals from five Games, and won gold four times. His contribution to the world of sport and his role as Ambassador for the London 2012 Games is an inspiration to us all and we’re proud of our association with Marc. As we approach the final countdown for the launch of the Javelin® service, it is only fitting that we recognise Marc’s incredible achievements and his work with Southeastern by naming a Javelin® train in his honour,” Mr Horton said. 12 of the 29 Javelin trains have been formally named. The first ever unit was named after Dame Kelly Holmes, who won two gold medals for her running in the 2004 Olympic Games. Marc Woods said, “This is truly a great honour. I’ve spent years swimming up and down the pool trying to be the best I could be and pursuing the path to gold, I never expected to see my name on the side of a Javelin® train.” As a veteran of five Games, Marc Woods has been holding sessions with Southeastern staff to impress-upon them the importance of transport for athletes competing in the Games. We all want the London 2012 Games to be the best ever and our transport networks will play a huge part in making this happen. As a former athlete, it’s comforting to know just exactly how much planning, preparation and testing has been underway and what the various transport companies such as Southeastern have been doing to help make the Games a success.” Charles Horton added: “We’ve been working closely in partnership with LOCOG, the ODA, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Transport for London and High Speed 1 to plan our service for what many call the greatest show on earth. We are expecting our services to be very busy during the Games, but we are well prepared. We are advising our passengers to plan their travel ahead, and to visit getaheadofthegames.com to see how their journey might be affected,” he said. Southeastern will operate the Javelin® service during the London 2012 Games. The first Javelin® service will commence on Friday 27 July. The Javelin® is by far the fastest way to the Olympic Park from Central London; providing up to 12 trains an hour at peak times and transporting 25,000 people to and from St Pancras International and Stratford every hour in just seven minutes. The service is expected to be very busy during the Games and special queuing arrangements will be in place.
09-07-12 New Look for Newquay
With the summer rush not far away, Newquay station presents a smarter face to visitors thanks to investment from Network Rail. In a £450,000 project, the former station canopies have been completely replaced with a light and airy modern structure, covering the café and travel centre and providing shelter in the previously-uncovered centre of the concourse. Network Rail contractors Murphy’s have also replaced the cracked and worn paving slabs on the concourse with fresh tarmac and installed new lighting. Network Rail route managing director Patrick Hallgate said: “Newquay is a classic holiday destination and more and more people are choosing to get there by train. This work will not only give those visitors a fine first impression of the town but also improve the journeys of people who use the railways of Cornwall day-in day-out.” A further £200,000 has been spent relaying the surface of the long platform, complete with tactile paving, ready to welcome the thousands of passengers who travel to Newquay from across the country every year.
09-07-12 Network Rail launches International Rail Consultancy Business
Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain’s railway infrastructure, has launched an international rail consultancy business. Network Rail Consulting will harness the vast range of skills and experience available within Network Rail to demonstrate British expertise overseas and be an international ambassador for Britain’s rail industry. It will also help channel innovation back into Network Rail’s core business, helping deliver a better value railway for Britain. The move is part of a wider reform agenda at Network Rail, which has seen the company move towards a devolved group structure to drive further efficiencies and demonstrate value through market competition. David Higgins, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Our vision is to be a world-class independent British-based infrastructure group that is internationally respected for providing rail services and solutions that deliver outstanding value, responsibly. Since the privatisation of the rail industry, Britain has not had a national rail champion operating in the international market. Network Rail has the depth and breadth of rail experience and knowledge to promote British expertise overseas and become a valuable international ambassador for our rail industry and for UK plc. By proving ourselves in the international market, Network Rail will be able to demonstrate that it is a modern, efficient and competitive company.” Network Rail Consulting has been created as a subsidiary of Network Rail. It will operate outside the UK, offering consultancy services across the full spectrum of Network Rail’s expertise: - Advisory - Strategic planning - Asset management - Operations and maintenance - Capital projects
Network Rail Consulting intends to form strategic alliances with two major international consultancies to pursue opportunities in its target markets, working with CH2M HILL and Atkins. The geographic focus of Network Rail Consulting centres on those countries, such as the USA and India, with large, aging rail infrastructure in need of modernisation – an area in which Network Rail has vast experience. In addition, there will also be opportunities to team with other consultants elsewhere. Markets where Network Rail Consulting would be able to carry out work as sub-consultant to alliance partners include Brazil, northern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Australia. Nigel Ash, managing director of Network Rail Consulting, said: “Network Rail has internationally-valuable experience in developing innovative and pioneering approaches in asset management, and the successful delivery of large and complex capital projects, such as the Kings Cross redevelopment and the first stage of Thameslink. In addition, we look after one of the most heavily used railways in the world, on largely Victorian infrastructure. Despite these challenges, our railway carries more people on more trains than ever before, with improving levels of punctuality. We believe we have much to offer international clients and look forward to working alongside our partners to demonstrate the best of British engineering and ingenuity overseas.” Mark Thurston, European transport business group director at CH2M HILL, said: “This collaboration brings together CH2M HILL's expertise in programme management and delivery of some of the world’s most complex projects with Network Rail’s extensive knowledge of developing and managing railway infrastructure, which offers clients an unrivalled partnership to deliver innovative and practical solutions for the asset management and enhancement of the railways in North America.” Douglas McCormick, managing director for Atkins’ UK rail division, said: “We have worked on countless projects with Network Rail to improve Britain’s railway and now we have an opportunity to take these experiences and the technical excellence of both organisations to offer an enhanced service to overseas markets.”
09-07-12 Voice warnings to improve safety at level crossings
Network Rail is installing spoken warning equipment at 63 level crossings across the country, alerting pedestrians and motorists that while one train has passed through that another train is coming from the other direction. It is hoped that these clearer instructions will reduce the risk of someone mistakenly believing that it is safe to cross after the first train has passed. The first few are being rolled out this week across the London North East route near York at Hunmanby Station, Nether Lane, Nafferton, Cranswick and Arram level crossings and near Selby at Wressle and Eastrington. Currently these crossings have a two-tone yodel, where the second sound is a more high pitched tone and frequency, warning those waiting that a second train is approaching from the opposite direction. However, research by RSSB, the industry safety body, has suggested that voice messages mixed with the standard tones are more likely to be understood and obeyed. The new alarm now says “warning, another train is approaching”. The spoken alarms will also be set to a lower volume at night so, whilst still audible, reduce the impact on anyone living or working near by. Martin Gallagher, Network Rail’s head of level crossings commented on the roll out of the spoken alarms: “We understand that waiting at a level crossing can be frustrating, particularly if one train has already passed and the barriers remain down or signals remain red, but by changing it from the yodel alarm to a spoken warning, we believe that it will make it much clearer to everyone that they should hang on and wait until it’s safe to cross.” Michael Woods, Head of Operations and Management Research at RSSB said: “This was very thorough research which considered many different types of warnings and alerts. Providing a spoken warning for the second train has been proven to provide an obvious message to people wanting to cross. RSSB is pleased to be supporting Network Rail in improving crossing safety through the research we have done together.” This technology is follows on from a successful trial at Scarrington level crossing in the East Midlands. Network Rail also has plans to install the technology to other crossings that do not have any audible alarm to enhance the safety warnings at these locations. This work is part of Network Rail’s £130m investment in reducing the risk at level crossings across Britain over the next couple of years. Other work includes closing more than 500 crossings since 2010, building footbridges to replace footpaths and rolling out 10 more level crossing enforcement vans to deter people from jumping the lights.
09-07-12 Farringdon is 66th step-free London Tube Station
London Underground’s Farringdon station is the 66th Tube station to become step-free from street to platform level, as London prepares to welcome millions of additional passengers on the network for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Five new lifts have been installed to provide direct access to all four platforms at the station both for wheelchair users and passengers with heavy luggage and buggies. The new lifts follow the opening of a brand new ticket hall in December 2011 and are the latest in a raft of improvements at Farringdon, part of a Network Rail redevelopment that has transformed the entire station. Howard Collins, LU’s Chief Operating Officer said: “This is tremendous news for our customers who have already benefited from additional entrances and a more spacious ticket hall. The lifts will make it far easier for customers with mobility impairments or heavy luggage or buggies to use the station.” Network Rail improvements have also provided 36 new ticket gates, 20 new staircases, one new footbridge, two new ticket offices and nine new ticket machines spread over the newly restored original entrance and two brand new entrances. Mike Brown, Network Rail’s Senior Project Manager said “Completion of these lifts marks a key milestone for us as we near the end of our work at Farringdon. The lifts allow for step-free access onto both London Underground and Thameslink platforms, two of the five lifts are also ready for the arrival of Crossrail in 2018.” Customers using the station will also have benefited from the new eight car air-conditioned Tube trains that are now operating on the Metropolitan line. A new fully walk-through train which allows better access for customers has begun to run between Hammersmith and Moorgate as a preview service. These seven car trains, which when delivered will form a total fleet of 191, will eventually roll out on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines.
06-07-12 RAIB report into LUL incident at Warren Street on 11 July 2011
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into the incident at Warren Street station, on the Victoria Line of London Underground on 11 July 2011. A full copy of the report is available here At 17.29 hrs on 11 July 2011, a loaded passenger train, consisting of new Victoria Line tube stock, started from Warren Street with all the passenger doors on the platform side open. No-one was hurt in the incident. When the train reached 8 km/h, a safety system on the train closed the doors, but not before the train had entered the tunnel with the leading set of doors open. The train is fitted with sensitive edge doors designed to apply the brakes if a thin object trapped by the doors is detected. The sensitive edge system was activated by the strap of a passenger’s bag when the train was stopped at the previous station, Oxford Circus. In attempting to resolve the activated sensitive edge system, the train operator disabled the train door interlock (a safety system that requires the doors to be closed before a train can start) while the train was at Warren Street station. The train operator then omitted to close the train doors before starting the train. The reasons were: the train operator did not take the train out of service in accordance with London Underground’s defective in-service instructions; the train operator’s actions following the routine event of the sensitive edge system being activated when the train was at Oxford Circus station; and the train operator was in a growing state of confusion as a result of the activated sensitive edge system which he was unable to reset. The RAIB investigation identified: that a recent modification to allow train operators to override an activated sensitive edge system had changed the operation of an indication light, which probably misled the train operator. The potential source of confusion had not been identified during the design and testing of the modification; and that the train operator lacked the competence to deal effectively with non-routine situations. Although raised as a possible issue during initial selection as a train operator, this deficiency was not identified during subsequent training.
Recommendations As a consequence of this this incident, the RAIB has made four recommendations to London Underground. These cover: a review of the guidance and instructions, and information provided by the train control management system, to train operators relating to resolving activated sensitive edge systems; the process of managing engineering change; the competence management of train operators; and the requesting of operational and technical support by train operators when having difficultly dealing with out-of-course events.
06-07-12 Network Rail introduce new Ultrasonic Test Unit UTU1
Network Rail has launched its fourth ultrasonic rail testing train into service, complete with ground penetrating radar, ultrasonics and rail profile laser scanner. The company’s test trains use ultrasonic equipment – the same technology used in medical situations – to detect minute flaws in the track. With the original three units being used at their full capacity to keep the track compliant, the addition of a fourth means one can be taken out of use for servicing, making the service more resilient and flexible. Network Rail's director of engineering Steve Yianni said: “Network Rail’s number one priority is safety and the addition of this unit to our fleet means we can measure the safety and quality of our railway to much higher standards. It also means we can keep our test trains running more reliably and at more times across the country. With this we can improve the quality of the ride for all our passengers, and make sure they reach their destination in complete safety.” The new train, or UTU 1 as it is known, has more accurate positioning systems and an improved ability to test the track. It can also be used at a higher speed, an important part of Network Rail’s plans for maintaining the network. Most testing currently takes place at night at speeds of up to 30 mph. With further development and UTU-1, it is hoped to be able to test the track at 45mph. The £700,000 UTU1’s systems can analyse many different aspects of the permanent way: Its two separate ground penetrating radar units can detect irregularities in the ballast and formation up to two metres deep, including voids; The ultrasonic test equipment on board can give early warning of any problems that could later occur with the track; The UTU’s rail profile scanner uses laser technology to compare the state of the railhead with a pre-programmed template to judge if the track is becoming worn out of shape, and in need of grinding. The Network Rail UTU trains do not replace traditional track walks by permanent way staff – although they do reduce the need for them. Instead, they direct the focus of track walks to areas needing inspection, saving time and money, and increasing the safety of the network.
06-07-12 New passenger lifts for Heworth and Four Lane Ends
Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising the Newcastle Metro, is starting work this week on the replacement of the passenger lifts at Heworth and Four Lane Ends interchanges. The work will see the passenger lift cars replaced with brighter, cleaner, quieter and more energy efficient technology. The work will be carried out in phases so that both of the interchanges will always have at least one passenger lift in operation. Nexus owns and manages the Heworth Interchange in Gateshead and the Four Lane Ends Interchange in North Tyneside. The lifts on platform one at both interchanges will be out of action from this week until September. The respective lifts that serve platform two will be replaced between September and November. The work forms part of the £385m Metro all change modernisation programme which will see the network transformed over the next 11 years, including new-look trains and refurbished stations. Director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, Ken Mackay, said: “The replacement of passenger lifts is a vital part of our £385m Metro modernisation programme. New lifts vastly improve the overall passenger experience. There will be some disruption at Heworth and Four Lane Ends while this work is carried out and I thank passengers for their patience while we get on with this project.” Monument and Central Metro stations in Newcastle city centre are both set to undergo escalator replacement work in the coming months. A total of eight new escalators are being installed with the work scheduled for completion in March 2013.
06-07-12 Additional trains on Chiltern for 'Global Gathering'
Chiltern Railways is adding carriages to its trains for music lovers heading to Global Gathering on 27 and 28 July 2012. The festival is taking place at Long Marston Airfield in Warwickshire. There will be additional carriages on the 09.10, 10.40, 12.40 and 15.10 services from London Marylebone to Stratford-Upon-Avon on both days. A shuttle train service will also run from Leamington Spa to Stratford-Upon-Avon at 11.32, 13.32, 15.32 and 17.27 for festival goers. The annual dance festival, which is in its 12th year, has taken place in countries from as far afield as Australia to Ukraine, attracting music lovers from across the globe. Malcolm Holmes, General Manager Mainline at Chiltern Railways said: “As Global Gathering is one of the major music events of the year and many visitors will be travelling by train, we have increased the number of carriages on our trains to Stratford-Upon-Avon. However, we do advise that passengers allow plenty of time for their journey particularly on Friday when London 2012 opens. We hope that the rain holds off for what will no doubt be a fantastic weekend of live music.”
06-07-12 Faster ticketing at Aberdeen
ScotRail has installed a touch-screen machine at Aberdeen station to speed up ticket collection for customers. Aberdeen was chosen as the first station to trial the fast ticket-printing machine as it issues more than 11,000 Tickets on Departure a month – more than any other station in Scotland. The easy-to-use machine, known as a ‘ToDler’, will be trialled for six months. Sean Duffy, ScotRail’s commercial director, said: “This touch-screen machine will make a real difference for our customers in Aberdeen by making it faster and easier to collect pre-booked tickets. It highlights our ongoing commitment to further enhancing Scotland’s railways.” The machine checks customers’ credit card details before printing tickets at up to three times the speed of conventional ticket vending machines.
05-07-12 Hitchin flyover in position
The most significant stage in a major project to improve services on one of Britain’s major rail routes took place over the weekend of 30 June - 1 July 2012, as the main span of a new rail overbridge was lifted into place. The Hitchin flyover will see trains for the line to Cambridge and Ely leave the East Coast Main Line on a new stretch of railway, avoiding the current flat junction just north of the town’s station. They will then cross the existing main line on a bridge and rejoin the old Cambridge route almost a mile to the east of the town. Network Rail succeeded in lifting the 300 tonne main span of this bridge into position early on Sunday morning, using a 1200-tonne crane for the purpose. Despite the weight and delicacy of the operation, it took just an hour and a half to drop the span and bolt it into place. Network Rail's route managing director Phil Verster said: "The Hitchin flyover will make a real difference to passengers who travel on the East Coast Main Line, as well as people travelling to Cambridge and beyond. Trains will run more reliably and punctually, and we will have cleared one of the major bottlenecks on the route. Lifting the main span into place is a milestone in the project and a sign that we are on track to deliver those benefits." Today, trains travelling from London King’s Cross have to cross three other lines to switch between the East Coast Main Line and the line to Cambridge. This reduces capacity for other services and makes the railway less reliable when delays occur. The new rail link will avoid these problems completely, cutting delays to train services by nearly 30,000 minutes every year and helping create the capacity to run more services when future timetables are developed. The total cost of the project, from the very earliest stages on the drawing board to completion, is expected to be £47m. Passengers can expect to travel on the new stretch of line by early 2014.
05-07-12 DB Schenker Rail to operate Telford International Railfreight Park
Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet has approved the appointment of Europe's largest rail freight company as the new operator of the town's International Railfreight Park. DB Schenker Rail has been appointed through formal EU procurement after Telford & Wrekin Council consulted with railfreight industry experts on the best way forward for the terminal. DB Schenker Rail has offered to operate the terminal and will pay connection charge, rates and operating costs. The company will market the terminal in order to increase volumes using the facility while DB Schenker Rail's traffic from the continent, which is normally hauled by road after it terminates at an international rail terminal, could be diverted to the Telford International Railfreight Park. Councillor Charles Smith, cabinet member for Housing, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: "DB Schenker Rail's appointment is a fantastic shot in the arm for the local business economy and we are delighted that they are committed to investing in Telford. This is the appointment of a major company to take the facility forward and is just one more example of Telford & Wrekin Council working co-operatively to kickstart the local economy. I look forward to the facility being used a lot more in the years to come as DB Schenker Rail develops a strategy that enables major local businesses to use the terminal effectively." David Legge, Business Manager Logistics for DB Schenker Rail UK, said: "Terminals are crucial for the development of rail freight services, and the facility at Telford is a unique opportunity to increase volumes moved by rail rather than road. DB Schenker Rail is proud to have been awarded the contract to operate and manage the terminal and by working with Telford & Wrekin Council we aim to make it a success. We will integrate the terminal at Telford into our existing terminal network throughout the UK, in order to maximise growth in volumes handled at the facility." Telford International Railfreight Park was opened in June 2009 and can load or unload up to four freight trains a day. It was funded by a combination of Telford & Wrekin Council, Advantage West Midlands, the Homes and Communities Agency and the European Regional Development Fund. DB Schenker Rail's appointment was confirmed by Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet in a closed session debate on Thursday night.
05-07-12 DB Schenker Rail announced London Gateway Services
DP World London Gateway and DB Schenker Rail have jointly announced an agreement to provide rail services from day one at the new deep-sea port and Europe's largest logistics park, which opens in Q4 2013. DB Schenker Rail will operate freight trains over 700 metres in length from London Gateway, amongst the longest in the UK. The new hub is likely to become the UK's busiest rail freight terminal. The agreement will see DB Schenker Rail introduce at least four rail freight services a day (four in, four out), subject to volumes, and will serve a range of inland terminals including potential new UK locations. Additional rail freight services will be introduced in the future. DB Schenker Rail will also pursue the development of rail freight services from London Gateway to mainland Europe using the Channel Tunnel. Carsten Hinne, Managing Director Logistics for DB Schenker Rail UK, said: "London Gateway is the most significant logistics project in the intermodal sector, and it will be home to the largest rail freight terminal in the UK. The services which we will launch at London Gateway will be the first of many freight trains that we will operate from the port, forming a strong rail freight network across the UK and mainland Europe for customers. In addition, DB Schenker is a truly multimodal operator using shipping, air, rail and land to deliver our services. The wider DB Schenker group is pursuing a range of shipping line options for its international clients through London Gateway, in the anticipation that they can have containers handled through the port during late 2013." DB Schenker Rail is committed to providing the rail freight capacity required to maximise volumes being transported by rail to and from the port. The trains will avoid over 4,000 lorry movements per week from the nation's roads making the future of logistics in the UK more sustainable. Simon Moore, Chief Executive Officer for DP World London Gateway, said: "We are delighted to announce this agreement with DB Schenker Rail. Rail freight services to and from London Gateway will provide a reliable, easy and efficient movement of goods between the port and the major population centres in the UK, while reducing the carbon footprint for cargo owners. We believe rail will be more competitive from London Gateway than any other UK port destination. The commitment of DB Schenker Rail to provide a range of rail freight services for London Gateway users ensures that we will have world class connections from day one of operations."
05-07-12 Bombardier signs technology licence agreement to take tram technology to China
Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation announced on 5 July 2012 that it has signed a Technology Licence Agreement with CSR Puzhen, a subsidiary of the largest player in the railway manufacturing sector in China – China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd (CSR). Under the agreement, Bombardier provides CSR Puzhen with a 10-year licence to manufacture and sell 100 per cent low-floor trams with Bombardier technology in China (including Hong Kong and Macao). The licensed product is a variant of the BOMBARDIER FLEXITY 2 platform of vehicles already operating in Blackpool, UK and being delivered to the Gold Coast, Australia. The agreement covers the preparation and delivery of documentation of the licensed product as well as training and assistance for CSR Puzhen’s employees to understand the documentation and enable them to successfully manufacture and sell the licensed product. Bombardier will not actively build vehicles in China, but comprehensively support its new Chinese partner. The vehicles will be equipped with the innovative BOMBARDIER FLEXX Urban 3000 bogies and the BOMBARDIER MITRAC 500 propulsion and control system. After recent significant achievements in China’s high speed train, locomotive, signaling and metro segments, Bombardier Transportation is now entering the tram market in China through a co-operation with CSR Puzhen. This move supports Bombardier’s strategic drive to grow strong “local roots” in key markets. “After many years of intense development of metros, Chinese cities are embracing low-floor trams to complement their urban transit systems. Bombardier is now bringing its state-of-the-art technology to this new and growing market,” said Jianwei Zhang, President of Bombardier China. Germar Wacker, President Light Rail Vehicles, Bombardier Transportation, added: “Our FLEXITY trams combine market-leading experience, proven parts and visionary engineering. We are proud to take this vehicle family to China. This will ensure that passengers in China can enjoy the highest standards in comfort and safety. By providing efficient and ecological transport solutions, Bombardier’s FLEXITY trams shape the identities of modern cities across the globe.” As the market leader in the tram and light rail vehicle (LRV) segment, Bombardier and its FLEXITY family offer modern mobility solutions to meet the requirements of any city. The most comprehensive portfolio of the industry ranges from 100 per cent low-floor trams and 70 per cent low-floor trams and LRVs to proven dual system solutions. More than 1,700 FLEXITY trams are already in successful revenue service, and Bombardier has sold more than 1,000 FLEXITY 100 per cent low-floor trams to date. A total of 3,500 trams and light rail vehicles from Bombardier are on order or operating in nearly 100 cities in more than 20 countries around the globe. Visitors to InnoTrans 2012 can experience the FLEXITY 2 tram, which Bombardier plans to display at the trade show in September in Berlin, Germany.
05-07-12 East Coast appoint 'Project Eagle' supplier
Train operator East Coast has appointed asset and maintenance management experts Vetasi as its chosen supplier to provide a new system to improve the performance of its trains. The appointment of Vetasi to implement a new engineering maintenance management system represents a £1.5 million investment by East Coast in its depots. The new system, called IBM Maximo, will provide more visible and readily-available maintenance and defect information through a windows-based platform that is easier to use and replaces current legacy systems RAVERS and IMACS that date back to the pre-privatisation British Rail era. Maximo forms a crucial part of East Coast’s “Project Eagle”, an initiative which aims to improve the management and control of engineering processes. It will complement East Coast’s web-based on-train remote control monitoring system, called Falcon. This provides information on locomotive conditioning and gives advance warning of train component failures ahead of actual faults occurring, thereby improving performance and leading to more reliable services for passengers. The Maximo system will provide a broad basis for all of East Coast’s train maintenance support functions, as well as offering a more cost-effective and efficient maintenance regime. It will ensure that optimum stock levels are maintained, warranty claims are managed, and access to vehicle maintenance history records and performance are improved, thereby supporting a regime where East Coast engineers are preventing faults rather than reacting to them. The new system will be installed and tested at East Coast’s maintenance depots at Bounds Green, in London, and Craigentinny, in Edinburgh, over the coming months. Training will be provided to East Coast’s engineering team, who will be use the system every day, and to industry partners, including the maintenance teams at Neville Hill, Heaton and Polmodie, as well as Wabtec, Unipart Rail, and Rolling Stock Owning Companies. East Coast Interim Technical Director Jim Hailstone said: “We are really pleased to have appointed Vetasi to install our new engineering maintenance management system, Maximo, which is set to revolutionise the way we manage our train maintenance. By using Vetasi, we know we are working with the best, and by using the tried and tested IBM Maximo system, we will be able to improve the management and control of engineering processes. This will boost our efficiency and effectiveness – and it will greatly improve our fleet performance, both financially and for our passengers, by reducing train faults. Maximo offers a host of benefits including the ability to interface with mobile devices to aid remote fault-finding and inspections, including via our remote monitoring system, Falcon, which over time will provide much more accurate trend data to track asset and maintenance performance. Using both systems will result in a fully joined-up and integrated approach covering all engineering core maintenance management systems that will allow us to move away from previous antiquated systems inherited from British Rail at privatisation.” Vetasi Projects Director Tony Turner said: “We are really excited at the opportunity to work together with the East Coast team to create the ultimate template solution for Train Operating Companies. We are using the latest release of Maximo 7.5, together with the Maximo Transportation Industry Solution, the CIM Visual Planner Suite and Maximo Mobile Work Manager to provide a totally integrated solution to East Coast’s Asset management requirements. There are some challenges in integrating to some of the old legacy BR systems but we are confident that this will provide the basis for a solid integrated solution that will make East Coast the industry leader in their IT Asset Management solution. The template will also meet the requirements of other TOC’s who still rely on obsolete or stand-alone solutions for their Asset Management. We really enjoyed working with the ECML team during the tender process and were impressed with their enthusiasm and industry knowledge. We look forward to working with them on this project.” Vetasi were chosen from the five bidders invited to tender for the contract back in January, from a total of 37 companies who initially expressed an interest.
04-07-12 Amey Railways wins Exeter area crossing upgrade contract
Amey Railways has added to its significant level crossings portfolio, after being appointed by Network Rail to deliver two modernisation schemes in Devon. Amey will upgrade the existing CCTV controlled level crossings at Red Cow at Exeter St David’s Station, and at Pinhoe Station in Exeter. This will involve renewing the existing barriers, operating equipment and signalling controls at both crossings. Mel Ewell, Chief Executive of Amey, said: “We are delighted to be awarded two new level crossings contracts by Network Rail. Our design and installation teams will be using level crossings experience gained over the last eight years to deliver the schemes safely and efficiently, with minimal disruption to the local communities.” Red Cow level crossing is situated on a busy route adjoining a complex road junction at the London end of Exeter St David’s station. To minimise disruption, Amey will keep the crossing open throughout the works to maintain traffic flow. The works are planned to be completed in time for commissioning over the Christmas holiday. At Pinhoe, traffic will be diverted around the site for two weeks, while teams install new equipment. Amey will be working closely with Network Rail and several local authorities on both schemes to minimise the impact of the works on the community. Amey is also investigating the possibilities of replacing the present copper-based signalling cables with new fibre optic cables which will improve reliability, as well as remove the need for expensive and scarce copper resources. Fibre optic cables will also remove the potential risk of theft. All materials being used for the new contracts will be securely stored or not kept on site in order to deter thieves.
04-07-12 SWT Desiro fleet to receive multi-million pound investment
Rail passengers on South West Trains, one of the busiest commuter networks in Europe, are to benefit from a multi-million-pound investment in Wi-Fi technology over the next 12 months. The £3.2 million project is being introduced by the South West Trains-Network Rail alliance and leading train manufacturer Siemens. South West Trains' fleet of 45 Class 444 Desiro trains will be fitted with the technology, which will allow passengers to access websites and email on the move. The trains operate on the mainline service from London Waterloo via Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth to Weymouth, used by 15 million passengers a year. New external cameras are also being installed on the 444 Desiro fleet, which will use the Wi-Fi technology to assist with track and conductor rail maintenance and monitoring to help improve punctuality. Within two years, the initiatives could provide a platform to deliver a sophisticated rail traffic management system on the South West Trains network to allow more trains to run in and out of London Waterloo. Nearly 1,700 trains already run in and out of Britain's busiest railway station every week day and more than 200 million journeys are made on South West Trains every year. The new engineering investment programme is the latest initiative by the South West Trains-Network Rail alliance, which was launched in April 2012 to improve services for customers, cut delays and deliver a more efficient railway. It also follows a £15 million investment by South West Trains in the past two years in pioneering engineering developments on its Desiro fleets to deliver better train performance for passengers. Christian Roth, Alliance Fleet Director for the South West Trains-Network Rail alliance, said: “We have already been at the leading edge of rail engineering improvements over the past two years, which are helping deliver a better, safer, more reliable and more efficient railway for our passengers. Moving forward, this new investment in Wi-Fi technology and other enhancements will provide more productive journeys for our customers and lay the foundation for other significant improvements.” Steve White, UK Service Director at Siemens Rail Systems, added: “We take a collaborative approach to our relationship with South West Trains, working closely together to continuously improve fleet performance. Ultimately this helps maximise efficiency, increase passenger comfort and drive down industry costs as well as introduce exciting innovative solutions into the UK rail industry. This is a partnership of which we are immensely proud.” South West Trains was the first UK train operator to use state-of-the-art track ‘listening’ technology, RailBAM®, and to introduce track-friendly hydraulic bushes which help reduce infrastructure damage. RailBAM® is acoustic monitoring technology, which employs sensitive microphones mounted at the side of the track to listen to every individual axle bearing on each train as it passes. It can detect axle defects or deterioration which can then be addressed more quickly. Hydraulic bushes wheel technology significantly reduces track damage, cuts infrastructure maintenance costs and provides smoother journeys for passengers. The innovative engineering design – which combines conventional elastomer bushes with a hydraulic system – reduces the force between the wheel and the rail, ensuring better movement on curved track at low speeds. South West Trains has also introduced coupler heating, which prevents ice forming on the coupler and reduces service disruption caused by freezing weather conditions. Earlier this year, South West Trains has completed a £2.2m investment programme to fit regenerative braking technology to more than 200 electric trains. It captures energy previously lost and returns electricity to the third rail system, allowing trains in close proximity to draw on the supply. The energy saved annually is enough to power more than 11,500 UK homes.
04-07-12 Upgraded passenger screens for ScotRail
Easy-to-read LED display screens are being installed at 19 ScotRail stations this year. The upgraded customer information displays – featuring orange-on-black text – are replacing conventional ‘tv-style’ cathode ray tube screens. The LED screens are being installed at Barrhead, Broughty Ferry, Camelon, Croy, Dunfermline Town, Falkirk Grahamston, Falkirk High, Kirkcaldy, Leuchars, Linlithgow, Musselburgh, Polmont, Rutherglen and West Calder, Cumbernauld, Dunblane, Glasgow Central Low Level, Lanark, and Mount Florida. More than £400,000 is being invested in the screens – with funding from ScotRail, Network Rail and Transport Scotland’s Access for All Small Schemes programme. Tactran has supported the Broughty Ferry improvements. Steve Montgomery, ScotRail’s managing director, said: “The roll-out of LED display screens at 19 stations across Scotland is part of our continued efforts to make it easier for customers to access live travel information.” Robert Samson, Passenger Focus’s link manager for Scotland, said: “This investment will be of particular benefit to customers with limited eyesight for whom reading the old television set-style displays could be difficult, particularly in bright sunshine.” Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "Providing passengers with live travel information is a key element of the efficient, passenger-focused railway that this Government is striving for, so I welcome the news that so many local stations are being fitted with these screens. I am particularly pleased to see modern technology being used to help passengers with impaired vision, as improving access to stations and passenger services for people with disabilities is a top priority."
04-07-12 Greater Anglia Vision for the Future
Train operator Greater Anglia is playing a pivotal role in building the case for regional rail investment in East Anglia. The company owned by Dutch operator Abellio which took over the main regional franchise in February, has been helping to coordinate and draft a new prospectus which sets out the case for greater investment in the region's rail network. Greater Anglia welcomed the launch of the prospectus on Monday 2 July 2012 by an influential and extensive alliance of MPs, local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chambers of Commerce, highlighting the economic case for investment and key priorities for the remainder of this decade, as well as a 20 year vision. It is the first time that such a region-wide approach to harness stakeholder support has been achieved for East Anglia and it aims to emulate the success of the "Northern Hub" scheme in the North of England where local authorities, politicians and business leaders in that region worked together to secure additional rail investment. The creation of this "manifesto" for investment is especially timely because a series of decisions on Government funding and objectives for the railways, Network Rail funding and investment plans for 2014-2019 and the specification/letting of the next Greater Anglia franchise will all be taken within the next 18 - 24 months.
Key aspirations being highlighted for the period to 2019 include: Great Eastern Main Line (Norwich - Ipswich - Colchester - London) Extra track capacity at Bow Junction near London, north of Chelmsford and other locations at the southern end of the route; Increased line speed to 110mph for the majority of the route; New InterCity trains (with full refurbishment of the existing trains in the meantime); Full refurbishment of all suburban trains. West Anglia route (Cambridge/Stansted Airport - Bishops Stortford - London) Increased track capacity at the southern end of the route; Increased line speed to 100mph on sections of the route; New trains for all West Anglia services except the Stansted Express (which has just received new trains) or full refurbishment if trains aren't replaced in that period; More frequent services to Stratford. Other routes Upgrade for the Felixstowe - Peterborough line to benefit freight and passenger train services; Specific upgrade for Ely North Junction to facilitate enhancements to services from Cambridge to Kings Lynn, Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich to Peterborough; Line speed improvements on some regional routes to 100mph and some local routes to 75mph; Hourly Ipswich to Peterborough trains; More frequent services on the Colchester - Clacton route.
Commenting on the launch of the prospectus, Ruud Haket, Managing Director for Greater Anglia said: “We’re passionate about playing our part in delivering major upgrades to train services in East Anglia in both the short and long term to meet customers and the region's aspirations. Many of the key decisions taken by the Government affecting rail investment - both via Network Rail and through the specification and funding of the next Greater Anglia franchise - will be taken in the next couple of years, so now is the time for all of us who care about the region's railways and its wider prosperity, to make the compelling case for rail investment in East Anglia. We have worked to help create a region-wide alliance of stakeholders and a prospectus which provides the priorities and justification for future rail upgrades. The joint launch by MPs, local authorities, LEPs, Chambers of Commerce of a rail manifesto, developed in partnership with Greater Anglia and Network Rail, and supported by rail user groups, is an important milestone, setting out key rail priorities, the economic benefits they offer and the overwhelming support for their implementation across our region. The prospectus can provide a focus for ongoing efforts to secure major rail enhancements for the region by influencing key decisions taken over the coming months. We look forward to continuing to work with regional stakeholders and Network Rail to secure the best deal for our railways.”
04-07-12 Greater Anglia provides free 'JourneyCheck' text service
Greater Anglia is offering customers the chance to sign up for a free ‘JourneyCheck’ text alert service providing real time train service information. The new sms text service will enable customers to receive up-to-the-minute information about the train services on their regular route. This free text service will complement a comprehensive range of real time information which Greater Anglia is providing for their customers, including the twitter feed, which now has over 7,000 followers; demonstrating the train operators commitment to improve information provision for their customers. To register for the new text service customers just need to visit: www.journeycheck.com/greateranglia where they will be able to set up alerts for their regular journey and will receive messages, alerting them to any service alterations which may affect them. It is also possible to receive these free service updates via e-mail too, should customers prefer this. Andrew Goodrum Greater Anglia’s Customer Service Director said: “One of our greatest priorities at Greater Anglia is to improve train service information for our customers. Introducing a free text alert service is one element in a range of measures we’ve taken to improve information provision, including our twitter feed, e-mail updates and via our website.”