Today’s look around the newsrooms, articles by kind permission of TOCS and NR.
LNER SELECTS STARTUPS TO HELP SET NEW STANDARDS FOR RAIL TRAVEL London North Eastern Railway (LNER) will be working with five of the most innovative startups around the world to accelerate new projects to improve rail travel in the UK. The accelerator projects are part of LNER’s ground-breaking innovation programme, LNER FutureLabs. Startups were invited to pitch their pioneering ideas in three key areas;More Journeys, More Often, Personalised Customer Experience and Responsible Business. Following two consecutive pitch days with startups from around the world – all held via Microsoft Teams – the panel selected five successful start-upsto take forward:
QikServe, from Edinburgh, will be using their experience of digital self-service technology to help deliver an ‘at seat’ personalised customer experience
Skignz, a global leader in augmented reality based in Middlesbrough, will be looking at how to create a personalised mapping and information experience for customers at and nearby LNER stations
iomob, based in Barcelona, will aim to encourage more people to travel by train through the use of technology that supports better mobility
Green City Solutions,from Berlin, will be working to provide clean air and healthy spaces for customers as part of LNER’s Responsible Business plan
Sirenumwill also be looking at the area of Responsible Business through advanced systems management from their headquarters in London. Danny Gonzalez, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at LNER, said: “It was fantastic to hear from startups from as far away as North America and the Middle East about how they would apply their innovative approaches to the UK rail industry. “There was tough competition, but we have selected five startups that will nowmove onto the next stage of the accelerator programme and to see some of the ideas start to come to life. They certainly have the potential to make a real difference to the lives of our customers, communities and colleagues.” From next week the five successful start-ups will receive unprecedented access to LNER’s live operational environments and one-to-one mentoring from senior team members as they develop their proof of concepts. A Demo Day will then be held in Central London in September. To find out more about LNER FutureLabs, visit www.lnerfuturelabs.co.uk
A video featuring Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Danny Gonzalez, announcing the startups can be found at: https://youtu.be/vMs0euA0HmE
Govia Thameslink Railway Railway colleagues clock up the miles in aid of NHS heroes Govia Thameslink Railway colleagues have been raising money for NHS Charities Together. A team of Govia Thameslink Railway colleagues have cycled, walked and jogged more than 800 miles to raise cash for NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients. The eight Train Presentation colleagues came up with the idea of covering the distance from the most northern depots on the GTR network in Bedford and Peterborough, down to the depots in Littlehampton and Bognor Regis in the south west and Brighton and Eastbourne in the south east – a total of 349 miles. Adhering to Government guidelines at the time, each colleague exercised in their local area and logged their distance on running application, Strava. However, in just two weeks they far exceeded 349 miles and instead covered an impressive 838.5 miles – the equivalent of travelling from Land’s End in Penzance to John O’Groats in the far north of Scotland. They also smashed their fundraising target of £1,000 for the NHS Charities Together by raising £1,880. The team consisted of Anthony Dowsett, based at the Brighton and Eastbourne depots, James Canty, based at Littlehampton and Bognor Regis depots, Janine Foulger and Daniel Odgers at Bedford, Simon Beal at Littlehampton, Emilia Zawisza at Cricklewood, and Allison Welsh and Arun James, who are both based at the Selhurst depot. Train presentation manager, Anthony, 48, said: “We are full of admiration for the amazing work everyone at the NHS is doing, and as fellow key workers we wanted to show our support for them.”Covering hundreds of miles has been both challenging and great fun. It’s spurred us on to up our fitness levels and it’s been incredibly rewarding to have smashed our fundraising target for NHS Charities Together.” To donate, visit their JustGiving page at https://tinyurl.com/ybgr3hj3
Overnight overhauls to overhead power lines at Euston station
Overhead electric power lines are being overhauled on the approach to London Euston station to reduce delays for passengers during hot weather.
Over the next four weeks, overnight work to renew and replace the 25,000v cables which power trains will take place in Camden.
During extremely hot weather, overhead wires can sag. The wires can then catch on passing trains and be torn down.
When this happens, the line must be closed for repairs, trains can become stranded and passengers are disrupted.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast Main Line South route director, said: “With extremes in temperature now becoming more common in Britain it’s necessary for us to make sure our railway equipment can withstand the changing climate.
“This overnight work will help stop sagging of the cables, reducing the risk of them coming down and making the West Coast main line more reliable for tens of thousands of passengers travelling into Euston every day.”
The work on the approach to Euston will see the installation of 2,000 metres of new cable, renewal of essential overhead line equipment, and use of special on-track machines to ensure the new wires are at the correct tension.
Passengers are being advised there will be changes to some trains when the work takes place:
Between 8pm and 8am on Monday 25 May – Friday 4 June (Monday to Friday only)
Overnight on Thursday 4 June to Friday 5 June (passengers making essential journeys are advised not to travel after 9pm with some changes to services before 8am the following morning)
Between 8pm and 8am on Monday 15 – Friday 19 June 2020
Gus Dunster, executive director of operations at Avanti West Coast, said: “As Network Rail carry out upgrade works on the overhead lines at Camden, there will be alterations to our weekday services to and from London Euston.
“On Monday to Friday, between 8pm and 8am, arrival and departure times at London Euston will change. On Thursday 4 June, there will be significant changes after 8pm – with some services starting from and terminating at Watford Junction.
“If customers are making an essential journey during this time, we strongly recommend they check before they travel, plan their journey in advance and make a reservation. For journeys on Thursday 4 June, we strongly advise travelling before 8pm.”
Passengers should continue following Government guidelines around the use of public transport.
Railway safety programme to continue in schools and communities across Anglia as lockdown measures are eased
Network Rail has developed a safety video to bring its safety education programme to schools and communities across Anglia as lockdown measures begin to ease.
This is a busy time of year for Network Rail’s safety team to get important safety messages out to schools across the region, ahead of the summer months when trespass incidents typically increase. Becky Crocker, community safety manager for Anglia, would usually visit schools in person, however, the current restrictions prevent this from happening, and schools are unlikely to ease restrictions on visitors when they reopen.
In order to continue to get important safety messages across, Becky now stars in a video which will be shown to students at schools across Anglia until it is safe for her to visit again.
Becky Crocker, Network Rail’s community safety manager for Anglia, said: “The safety of people on and around the railway is our priority and those who deliberately trespass fail to understand the real dangers. That’s why its so important that our safety messages get out to schools and communities across Anglia, especially ahead of the summer when we see more incidents. While I can’t do this in person right now, this video is the next best thing to warn people to stay off the tracks and stay safe.”
Inspector Stephen Webster from British Transport Police, said: “The railway is the safest way to travel in the UK and we welcome all our young travellers. The BTP supports Network Rail in making sure that people stay safe when using the railway and at crossings and stations. Every year sadly there are too many incidents involving young people which can end up with them hurting themselves and my officers never want to have to attend these. Trespassing and taking shortcuts are never worth it, the risks are too high. Let’s keep the railway safe for everyone.”
Keep behind the yellow line
Follow all safety signs
Never trespass or go on the tracks
Keep away from all the power lines and rails
Although trespassing on the railway is illegal, there has been over 1,000 incidents of trespass across the country since the lockdown began. When Network Rail is notified of trespassers, all trains in the area are stopped to ensure that everyone is kept safe. This causes delays and cancellations which can have a knock-on effect for hours after the train service is reinstated. Trespass on the railway is also a criminal offence and can lead to a fine or imprisonment.
The video also features messages from the uncompromising You vs Train campaign, on which Network Rail has worked in partnership with British Transport Police since 2018. Initially targeting young people and their parents, the campaign aims to educate on the devastating and wide-reaching consequences of trespass.
The campaign has proven to be a catalyst for positive behaviour change in young people, with youth trespass levels showing an encouraging decline of 30% in high priority locations.
The public can also help to keep the railway safe by contacting Network Rail’s 24-hour helpline on 03457 114141 to report any locations where trespassers are gaining access to the tracks.
Stations floored by support for our NHS heroes
Network Rail, Scotland has installed floor vinyls on the concourses at Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central in a show of support for our NHS and key workers.
The five-metre graphics in NHS blue, convey a simple but heartfelt message of thanks to all of our health service and key workers who have been at the forefront in the battle against coronavirus.
The floor vinyls are in prominent locations on both concourses and will remain in situ as we begin to take small steps out of lock-down. They will be visible to those who have an essential need to travel on Scotland’s Railway – which will mean very limited numbers initially.
Vinyls on concourses is one of the activities undertaken over the last few weeks to acknowledge the fantastic service of those on the front-line protecting and supporting everyone in our communities.
On Thursdays throughout April and May, to coincide with the 8pm applause for the NHS and carers, Network Rail, Scotland has lit up stations and structures in NHS blue as a gesture of solidarity with, and support for, key workers. Dundee, Wemyss Bay, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central stations, and Glenfinnan, Findhorn and Coatdyke viaducts, have all featured over the past couple of months.
Alex Hynes, Managing Director at Scotland’s Railway said: “We continue to be humbled on a daily basis by the incredible dedication shown by NHS staff and carers, and we are grateful to all key workers across the country, including our railway family, who are playing a massive role in supporting the country at this time.
“Many key workers who are serving and supporting the community in so many different ways use our largest stations so the floor vinyls are a fitting and lasting way to thank them for everything they have done from everyone at Scotland’s Railway.”
The following items are by kind permission of the relevant media teams.
West Coast main line upgrades completed over late May Bank Holiday.
Passengers are being thanked for their patience after critical work on the West Coast main line was completed over the late May Bank Holiday weekend.
Hundreds of railway engineers carried out vital maintenance to track, bridges and railway equipment in Cumbria, Lancashire, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and London as part of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
The completed West Coast main line work includes:
A major junction being replaced at Euxton near Chorley
Track improvements in Wembley, Camden, Carlisle, Wolverhampton and Preston
A large signalling gantry being installed in Preston
A footbridge being replaced in Stockport
Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West & Central region, said: “The schemes we carried out in May were all must-do work which was carefully planned to minimise disruption to freight and those who needed to travel. It will help to ensure the railway is at its best when Britain emerges from this coronavirus pandemic.
“Our mission-critical frontline colleagues, including railway upgrade engineers, signallers, maintenance, control room and operations staff, are Britain’s hidden heroes, helping to keep Britain connected in this time of need. And I’m proud of them.”
Meanwhile passengers are reminded about changes to journeys while overnight work takes place at London Euston to make overhead electric power cables more reliable.
During extremely hot weather, overhead wires can sag and then catch on passing trains, resulting in them being torn down. When this happens, the line must be closed for repairs, trains can become stranded and passengers’ journeys are disrupted.
The work on the approach to Euston will see the installation 2,000 metres of new cable, renewing of essential overhead line equipment, and use of special on-track machines to ensure the new wires are at the correct tension.
Passengers are being advised there will be changes to some trains when the work will take place:
Between 8pm and 8am on Monday 25 May – Friday 4 June
Overnight on Thursday 4 June to Friday 5 June (passengers are advised not to travel after 9pm with some changes to services before 8am the following morning)
Between 8pm and 8am on Monday 15 – Friday 19 June 2020
Passengers should continue following Government guidelines around the use of public transport, and only travel if they have to.
Major railway upgrade work completed in Kent, Sussex and Wessex over the Late May Bank Holiday
Network Rail engineers worked around the clock over the Late May Bank Holiday to deliver vital rail upgrades across Kent, Sussex and Wessex.
Supported by a large fleet of engineering trains, road-rail vehicles and specialist machinery, teams completed essential upgrades to track and improvements to stations.
This programme of work across the Network Rail Southern Region will deliver a more reliable and safer railway with improved facilities for people who have to travel by rail and for freight services.
John Halsall, managing director for Network Rail Southern region, said:
“I would like to thank all of our staff who worked tirelessly over the late bank holiday. I’m also delighted that there has been no overrunning engineering works, meaning lines were ready for passengers who needed to travel this morning.
“We need to continue with these upgrades as they are critical to keeping people and freight supplies moving and once again ask passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary.”
The work carried out between Saturday 23 May and Monday 25 May included:
Tunnel maintenance at Oxted, Edenbridge and Riddlesdown
Switches and crossings upgraded at Lingfield and Woldingham along with track renewal at Oxted
Maintenance and renewals work between Ashford to Rye and Hastings with more work also taking place between Dartford and Maidstone, and Bromley North branch
At Brixton Junction where trains switch track on the approaches to London Victoria, we replaced old and worn switches, crossings, points, track, sleepers and ballast with new kit, helping to reduce faults and make the railway more reliable for passengers
Track renewal between Eastleigh and Fareham with nearly a mile of track replaced. As planned, work on this part of the railway completes on Friday 29 May
In line with Government advice, Network Rail will continue with engineering work that is required to maintain a safe and operational railway. These upgrades and repairs will help keep passengers who must travel, moving on a safe and reliable railway.
Avanti West Coast serves up a treat for local communities
Avanti West Coast help lift spirits by delivering treats to local good causes
Excess stock donated to organisations in Greater Manchester, Glasgow, the West Midlands and London
Hundreds of treats have been donated by Avanti West Coast to good causes across the network during the COVID-19 crisis.
Raspberry crumble, cheese and onion crisps, chocolate brownies, coffee, soft drinks and black pudding are just some of the items that have been donated by the intercity operator since March across the United Kingdom.
The excess stock was delivered to organisations in London, Greater Manchester, Glasgow and the West Midlands.
Efforts in Greater Manchester, which has seen donations made to Clough Fold Children’s Home, Heartly Green Care Home have been led by Karen Gibbons who works in the HQ support team for Avanti West Coast.
“I’ve a number of friends who are key workers in frontline roles,” explained Karen. “I really wanted to help so when I found out we had excess stock it seemed like the right thing to do, and a great way to provide staff and those they are caring for with some treats.”
Karen has also donated goodies to the Stockport Spider-Men, two friends who have donned the guise of the webslinger and other superheroes to deliver food parcels to local charities and key workers.
Jason Baird, one of the Stockport Spider-Men, who with a friend can be seen running around the town in their outfits, has set up a Facebook page which has already attracted close to 10,000 members.
“A massive thank you to Avanti West Coast for their second donation of food,” Jason commented. “Their support, and that of the wider community, has been overwhelming. We will now pass on to local key workers including those at the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service and include some items in our Happy Boxes which we will be distributed to local families.”
In London and the West Midlands, donations have been made to Fareshare, the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, made up of 17 independent organisations. The items, donated by Avanti West Coast’s Food and Beverage team, included 222 black puddings, 414 blueberry muffins, 4260 hand wrapped fruit cakes and 5976 bottles of still water will be package with other items and redistributed to front charities and community groups.
Avanti West Coast has made a number of donations this year, the excess stock is made up of food items sold on board and in First Class lounges. But with the closure of the lounges and food no longer being served in the wake of the pandemic, additional deliveries could be made with the help of DHL, Avanti West Coast’s catering partner.
James Persad, Head of Marketing and Engagement at FareShare, said: “We’re enormously grateful to Avanti for their donation of drinks and snacks. We’re working harder than ever to get food out to the charities and community groups providing a lifeline for those in need during this crisis, and donations like these are crucial.”
Further deliveries were made to Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, whose fundraising has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. The treats included 320 chocolate brownies, 205 bags of cheese and onion crisps and 168 bottles Sprite.
Caledonian Sleeper reduces services and amends refund policy due to COVID-19 outbreak.
Caledonian Sleeper is introducing a special timetable from Sunday 22 March due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
The decision to reduce services has been taken in full cooperation with Transport Scotland and will allow Caledonian Sleeper to protect the service and staff while ensuring vital links remain in place.
Under the temporary timetable, the overnight rail operator will run an eight-carriage train from Glasgow Central and an eight-carriage train from Inverness. The two sections will join up at Edinburgh Waverley before making the journey southbound to London Euston.
Similarly, one 16-carriage train will leave London before splitting at Edinburgh to carry on the journey to Glasgow and Inverness respectively.
Services will not run between Fort William and London or Aberdeen and London while the special timetable is in place. Caledonian Sleeper’s refund policy is also being amended to reflect the special timetable.
Ryan Flaherty, Serco’s Managing Director for Caledonian Sleeper, said:“We are absolutely determined that we continue to provide vital services during this difficult period, while taking into account the welfare of guests, staff and industry partners.
“The reduced timetable will see trains run on both our Highland and Lowland lines, providing crucial links to London for those who need to travel. The decision, taken alongside Transport Scotland, will increase the resilience of Caledonian Sleeper and we look forward to returning to a full timetable in due course.”
Under the new timetable, trains will depart Inverness at 20:45 and Glasgow Central at 23:40 before joining at Edinburgh Waverley. Guests in Edinburgh can join the Glasgow portion of the train at 00:40.
Services from London Euston will depart at 21:15. Guests can disembark at Edinburgh Waverley prior to 06:00 before the trains carry on to Glasgow and Inverness.
All existing reservations with Caledonian Sleeper from 22 March until 30 May 2020 will be cancelled and refunded except for the Inverness route. Those due to travel to/from Inverness will be able to receive a refund should they choose not to travel.
Guests who still wish to travel on operating services from Glasgow and Edinburgh should re-book viasleeper.scotwhere fares have been lowered to ensure that those requiring essential travel can access services.
Earlier this week, Caledonian Sleeper took the decision to close its Club Car on all trains. No catering services are currently being offered in the evening and the breakfast service is simply a standard in-room offering.
Station Lounges at Dundee, Fort Williams, Inverness, Perth and Stirling have also been closed.
Cleaning arrangements have been extensively reviewed, with Caledonian Sleeper implementing a more robust anti-bacterial treatment of hard surfaces and key touch points, including hand rails and door buttons.
Due to expected demand on the Guest Service Centre, guests are requested to email email@example.com with enquiries to be processed as quickly as possible.
Grand Central extends temporary suspension of train services during COVID-19 restrictions.
GRAND Central will extend its current suspension of train services throughout June as company bosses continue to monitor Government advice on social distancing and plan a return of its train services later in the summer.
As UK rail passengers return under a new limited timetable and social distancing rules this week, Grand Central’s managing director said the company would continue to shape its return, while monitoring passenger demand elsewhere on the rail network throughout June.
Richard McClean said: “Being an Open Access train operator means, unlike franchised operators, we must sell enough tickets to cover our operating costs. The safety of our staff and passengers is essential but social distancing rules mean we cannot yet welcome the number of customers needed to run the service sustainably.
”I think over the coming month we’ll get a really informative picture of passenger attitude, Government intentions and how the industry is dealing with social distancing but for now the most sensible course of action for us is to monitor all this and use the time to plan our return.”
The majority of Grand Central staff have been told they will continue to be supported under the Government’s furlough scheme, while a skeleton team continues to finalise plans for services with parent company Arriva. Grand Central has been a rail industry success story since it was founded in 2007, initially running services between Sunderland and London Kings Cross. This year the company celebrates the tenth anniversary of its services between Bradford and London.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of support we are getting from our passengers,” said Mr McClean. “We recently conducted a survey of attitudes amongst our customers and social media followers. We enjoyed a huge response and it was heartening to see how many people and communities rely on us and can’t wait to be back on board.
“It also provided us with a really useful insight into what people expect from us in terms of social distancing, ticketing and how we deliver service on board. We will continue to check in with our customers in this way to ensure the timing of our return and the service we offer meets their needs.”
For details of ticket refunds and COVID-19 emergency restrictions, go to www.grandcentralrail.com
REVEALED: accessible area on board Greater Anglia’s new electric commuter trains
Greater Anglia has unveiled the accessible area and features on one of the company’s new electric commuter trains which will go into passenger service between Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Ipswich and London Liverpool Street.
The new trains, made by UK manufacturer Bombardier, will have two wheelchair spaces as well as 48 priority seats on five-carriage trains and three wheelchair spaces and 106 priority seats on ten-carriage trains.
The accessible area, which was designed with advice from accessibility and disabled rail users, includes plug points and USB sockets so wheelchair users can charge their mobile phones, tablets or laptops on the train.
There is also a universally accessible toilet with plenty of room to manoeuvre a wheelchair.
Greater Anglia is getting 111 five and ten-carriage electric trains from Bombardier in total
All of them will be longer than the trains they are replacing with more seats, plug and USB points, better passenger information screens and underfloor heating and air conditioning.
Rebecca Richardson, accessibility manager for Greater Anglia, said: “Our new trains will be much better for our disabled customers, every train has purpose-built spaces for wheelchair users, accessible toilet and more sophisticated passenger information systems.
“We are very grateful to rail users and experts who have given us invaluable advice to make sure our new trains meet the requirements of disabled rail users.
“Their advice ranged from suggestions about where emergency call buttons should be in the accessible toilet, and the colour contrast of the finishes within the train to most suit customers with visual impairments.”
Dominic Lund-Conlon, Rail Delivery Group accessibility and inclusion manager said: “It’s fantastic to see more accessible trains being delivered as train companies work to replace half the fleet new for old.
“With toilets on every train, power sockets and improved accessibility for customers living with sight loss and blindness, the trains will be a huge improvement for customers in the East of England.”
The new Bombardier trains are due to start entering passenger service later this year. Some of them are still being made, while others are on the Greater Anglia network undergoing safety and performance tests.
Work is also progressing making depots and stations ready for the new trains, with work continuing despite the coronavirus lockdown.
Greater Anglia has already replaced every single diesel train with brand new bi-mode trains, powered by diesel and electricity.
The company’s intercity route, between Norwich and London, is also served entirely by brand new electric trains made by Swiss manufacturer, Stadler.
Phase One of new Wolverhampton Station opens to public
Phase one of Wolverhampton’s new railway station will open to the public on Monday 25 May.
Work on the first of two construction phases has been completed and the building has been handed over to West Midlands Railway, which runs the station.
The full benefits of the new facility will not be felt for some time with people currently being urged to follow the government’s coronavirus guidance and not travel by train unless absolutely essential.
The opening of the first phase is a major milestone in the city’s £150million Interchange development that will better connect train, tram and bus.
Station signage has been installed and a clear pedestrian access route to the new station entrance will be marked out around the phase two works, which will begin immediately.
Phase one includes six ticket vending machines, new British Transport Police, toilet, accessibility and baby changing facilities, three retail units ready to be fitted out and train crew accommodation.
Due to coronavirus social distancing measures a one-way system has been marked out at the station for people to follow and both West Midlands Railway and sister company London Northwestern Railway are urging customers to buy their tickets online in advance if possible.
Jonny Wiseman, head of customer experience for West Midlands Railway, said:
“This bright, modern building will bring huge benefits to our customers at Wolverhampton and the wider region.
“For now, the railway is reserved for only the most essential journeys but we can look forward with excitement to this superb facility serving the whole community for many decades to come.”
City of Wolverhampton Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said:
“A lot of hard work has been put in by all the partners on the Interchange scheme and I am looking forward to seeing our new railway station up and running from Monday.
“Of course, at this time it is vital that people follow the Government’s coronavirus guidance and do not use the train or pubic transport in general unless absolutely necessary.
“The new station building will make a huge difference to the passenger experience and, with the partners now cracking on with phase two of the development, it will ultimately provide a gateway to our city that we can all enjoy using – and be proud of.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“The new Wolverhampton Railway Station is a crucial part of public transport plans for the West Midlands and I am pleased the WMCA could help play its part in making it happen alongside City of Wolverhampton Council and other partners.
“Of course, at the moment we are urging people to follow the Government’s guidelines and only use public transport if it is absolutely essential, meaning we are not expecting many passengers to see the new station yet. But this will all change when restrictions ease further and we begin to encourage people back onto public transport.
“Not only that, soon Wolverhampton commuters will be able to travel seamlessly across the region, with the West Midlands Metro extension along Pipers Row set to link to this new station as well as the existing bus station. The new station is a brilliant development for the city, and yet another example of how partnership working is benefitting the West Midlands.”
Phase two of the programme will see the demolition of the remainder of the current station building and completion of the new build to house three more retail units, as well as a customer waiting room and help point.
The new station building to serve the city will be fully open in early 2021.
Wolverhampton Interchange Partnership consists of City of Wolverhampton Council (CWC), Ion, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), West Midlands Railway, Avanti West Coast, Network Rail, Midland Metro Alliance, Canal & River Trust, and Black Country LEP.
Today’s releases from the Network Rail Press Office.
Network Rail begins biggest restoration of Barmouth Viaduct in its history.
Barmouth Viaduct will undergo a £25m upgrade to protect it for local people and visitors in the future.
The work to the Grade II* listed structure will include replacing a large number of the timber and metal elements of the viaduct, as well as replacing the entire length of track.
Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Route Director for Wales and Borders, said:
“Barmouth Viaduct is one of the most celebrated and recognisable structures in Wales and is the only major timber-built bridge still in use.
“We are investing £25m to give Barmouth Viaduct the biggest upgrade in its history, protecting our industrial heritage and ensuring this vital transport link can continue to serve local people and visitors, when the time comes, for generations to come.
“We have been working closely with Cadw, Gwynedd County Council and other stakeholders over several years to develop our plans. I want to reassure the local community that we have adapted these plans to make sure we are following Government guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said:
“The Barmouth Viaduct is an iconic part of Wales’ railway heritage and I am pleased that it is benefitting from a portion of the £2 billion UK Government investment in the Wales and Borders network to preserve and upgrade it. The upgrades by Network Rail will secure the important link between Machynlleth and Pwllheli and protect a popular part of the Wales coastal route.
“Together with the £8.5 billion investment in Great Western Rail’s Intercity Express trains and electrification between London Paddington and south Wales, and upgrades to North Wales railway lines, the UK Government is delivering improvements in rail infrastructure and improving journeys for passengers in every part of Wales.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said:
“I have seen for myself how important the viaduct is to the community so this is welcome investment. As well as being an important transport link it is historically significant infrastructure, and I look forward to seeing these plans taken forward.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said:
“I’m delighted that Network Rail are making this major investment in safeguarding the future of this iconic structure and the Cambrian Coast Line. This investment sits alongside our own investment in transforming services throughout the Wales and Borders network, including brand new trains and extra services for the Cambrian Coast Line in the years to come.
“We’re working collaboratively to ensure minimal disruption for our passengers while work takes place. As our services will be affected, it’s important for anyone travelling on the Cambrian Line to check before you travel, in case of any changes to our timetables. You can do this on the TfW Rail website www.tfwrail.wales or the TfW app.”
Liz Saville Roberts MPsaid:
“I am pleased Network Rail has set-out a firm timetable to restore this iconic structure, the only major timber railway bridge that is still in use today.
“This substantial investment will safeguard Barmouth Viaduct for future generations, strengthening ties among communities along the Cambrian coast and serving as a vital tourism link.
“None of this would have been possible without effective cooperation between partner agencies and local stakeholders. I look forward to seeing how the work progresses.”
To reduce the impact of the work, it has been carefully planned to take place over three years, with three shorter full closures of the 19th century viaduct, rather than one longer full closure. The first closure is planned for this autumn, when the restoration of the bridge’s timber elements begins. Preparation work will begin in June.
Network Rail has adapted the plans to make sure work can be delivered safely in line with Government guidance.
Members of the local community are invited to dial into a conference call with the project team to find out more about the work and ask questions. The call will take place on:
Wednesday 3 June at 6pmon Freephone0800 012 1325 (passcode: 591 166#)
Located on the Cambrian Coast line, between Pwllheli and Machynlleth, in Gwynedd County Council and Snowdonia National Park.
Built in 1864 across the Mawddach
Grade II* listed
Barmouth is the only major timber ‐built bridge still in use
820m in length: 700m timber/120m metallic
Originally built with a drawbridge on the northern end, but this was replaced with a steel swing bridge in 1900.
Reliability improvements completed on Clacton-on-Sea branch line over Late May Bank Holiday weekend
Essential rail works have been completed on the Clacton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze branch lines during the Late May Bank Holiday weekend to improve reliability for those who need to travel and for when more passengers return in the future.
Network Rail’s engineers replaced hundreds of components on the overhead wires on the Clacton-on-Sea branch line as part of a package of work to increase reliability, reducing delays and cancellations. Track maintenance was also completed along with the installation of bridge track supports between Thorpe-le-Soken and Clacton-on-Sea. New rails were installed at Weeley.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “This work is vital to keep our network running safely and smoothly while reducing the risk of delays and cancellations for those who need to travel. The benefits of this work will remain for years to come, ready for when we welcome back more passengers in the future.”
Passengers are reminded to only travel by train if their journey is absolutely necessary.
Network Rail worker donates PPE to Northumberland school so children with additional needs can safely continue vital education
A Network Rail worker in the North East has donated spare personal protective equipment (PPE) to Collingwood School in Morpeth so that vital education can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malcolm Tait is a Mobile Operations Manager based in Morpeth. His team work hard to respond to any issues on the railway, so services can continue to operate safely and efficiently. This means that critical workers who need to travel can get to their jobs and freight services can continue transporting food and medical supplies across the country.
As well as working on the railway, Malcolm wanted to support children with additional needs who are continuing to attend school throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The students at Collingwood School and Media Arts College usually have teachers and learning support staff around them, and access to specialist facilities, so it would be difficult for them to learn from home. Network Rail has provided over 200 PPE items to the school, including gloves and hand sanitiser, which means that lessons can take place in line with Government guidance.
Malcolm said: “The staff at Collingwood School and Media Arts College are doing an amazing job to keep it open for students who need specialist support during these challenging times.
“I’ve seen the hard work from teams across Network Rail to provide PPE for frontline NHS workers, and I suggested donating items to Collingwood School, so the students can safely continue with their lessons in an environment that they are familiar with.
“I’m proud of my colleagues at Network Rail for helping me gather the spare PPE so it could be taken to where it is needed.”
Clare Tait, School Business Leader at Collingwood School and Media Arts College, said: “We are so thankful for the donation of the PPE equipment from Network Rail.
“It was extremely generous and a very welcomed surprise. It will enable us to follow government guidelines more safely.”
Network Rail safety film inspired by Northamptonshire pupils now available as downloadable comic.
A comic book produced by Network Rail which highlights the devastating consequences trespassing on the railway can have is now available to download online for free.
The comic book has been produced as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade and is based on Network Rail’s multi-award winning safety film ‘18’ which showcases just how dangerous trespassing on the railway is, particularly in areas where the railway is electrified.
The plot for the film and comic was devised through safety workshops which Network Rail ran with schools across Northamptonshire with more than 250 pupils ages 11-16 taking part and inputting their ideas. One idea, put forward by Kingswood Secondary Academy in Corby, was then chosen as the basis of the film.
Network Rail chose to produce the film and comic in this way way to make sure that it resonated with the target audience, as well as getting pupils in the area where the railway line is being electrified engaged with the message.
Network Rail is urging parents and carers to speak to their children about the dangers of trespassing on the railway, particularly as new figures show that there have been over 1000 trespass incidents* since lockdown began.
As part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, Network Rail is electrifying the line from London to Kettering and Corby via Bedford in a £1.5billion investment. It will bring a wide range of benefits to passengers including more seats, quieter trains, and a more reliable railway for passengers.
Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The comic is a great way to engage with young people about the dangers of trespassing on the railway and how this can, and does, have devastating, life changing and fatal consequences.
“We hope that being able to access the comic online will mean we can reach even more young people and really hammer the message home that they must stay off the tracks, as there is never any excuse to mess around on the railway.
“Although the Midland Main Line Upgrade will bring significant benefits to passengers, the electrification of the route from London to Kettering and Corby via Bedford does bring an additional danger to anyone trespassing on the tracks, so we need people to heed the warning and stay safe.”
Michelle Newman, Principal at Kingswood Secondary Academy, said: “I am incredibly proud of our pupils and their hard work that went into this creative project with Network Rail and the British Transport Police, to help ensure the safety of our wider community.
“As an Academy, we have been thrilled with the success of the short film and are excited to see our pupils’ ideas come to life in this new comic book.
“I would also like to thank Network Rail for this wonderful opportunity and their support and encouragement of our pupils throughout this project.”
All text and photographs reproduced courtesy of Network Rail
Govia Thameslink Railway’s entire fleet of Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains, plus stations and staff areas have been treated with a powerful new viruscide which sticks to surfaces, killing the Coronavirus for up to 30 days.
The product further improves GTR’s already-enhanced cleaning regime, in which stations and staff areas are treated with more short-term viruscides, and all 2,700 of its train carriages are sanitised every night.
While the current advice remains to only use public transport if you absolutely have to, the product provides another layer of protection for passengers who do need to travel such as key workers and staff who are valiantly supporting the national effort on the front line.
To help support everyone’s focus on keeping their hands clean, GTR has also ordered 1,000 no-touch hand sanitisers for staff and passengers which are being distributed to stations.
A specially-developed app also tells staff at-a-glance when each train carriage was last cleaned with the long-lasting viruscide.
Engineering Director Steve Lammin said: “Since the outbreak of this pandemic we have been doing all we can to protect our passengers and staff by ensuring our trains, and stations have enhanced cleaning regimes, and a switch in focus to high-touch areas and the increased use of anti-viral agents.
“We are now using a product that will kill Coronavirus for up to 30 days and we are applying this to surfaces across our network on a 21-day cycle. We want to do everything possible to work with passengers and staff to keep them safe and this will further protect everyone who is working so hard for this country.”
Electrostatic ‘wands’ have been used around stations and staff areas and GTR is deploying ‘Storm’ virus-killer backpacks which were used in NHS Nightingale Hospitals, as they cover large areas quickly. On trains, the new product needs to be applied traditionally with a microfibre cloth. In all locations, it is applied only after the entire surface area has been thoroughly cleaned and degreased.
Stations, trains and staff areas were already receiving enhanced cleans through additional extra staff, new 24-hour viruscide products and a switch to focus attention on passenger and staff touchpoints. Use of the 30-day viruscide will help GTR renew its focus on out of reach places to further improve the appearance of trains.