Passengers travelling between Crewe and Chester are being advised to check before they travel this August during the next phase of a multi-million-pound railway bridge renewal.
Network Rail is investing £5.7m as part of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan to completely replace ‘Boulderstones bridge’ in Crewe.
The original bridge carrying the A530 Middlewich Road over the railway was removed in June.
Now the railway must be closed for nine days between Saturday 15 and Monday 24 August while the new bridge is built.
The closure will mean changes to journeys, with diversions and rail replacement buses in operation.
So people know what to expect in advance, Network Rail is urging passengers to plan ahead by visiting www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Oluwole Osunneye, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “This essential Railway Upgrade Plan work will bring the crossing over the railway up to modern standards making it safe and reliable for both traffic above and rail passengers below.
“This next important phase involves building the new bridge and can only be done safely by entirely closing the railway. I’d urge anyone planning to travel between Chester and Crewe between 15-24 August to plan their journey now at National Rail Enquiries.
“We are very grateful for the patience of rail passengers and road users in Crewe while we completely renew this bridge – reducing traffic and train delays in the years to come”
Gus Dunster, executive director of operations at Avanti West Coast, said: “As Network Rail carry out vital works between Crewe and Chester, there will be alterations to our services to and from Chester and Holyhead between 15 – 23 August. During this time some journeys may take longer or involve a rail replacement service.
“We strongly recommend you make a reservation, plan your journey in advance and check the National Rail Enquiries and Avanti West Coast websites before travelling.”
Diversions and rail replacement buses will be in place during the nine-day railway closure, including:
Avanti West Coast services to and from Holyhead being diverted between Chester and Crewe, extending journey times
Fewer services than normal running between Chester and Crewe. Rail replacement services will also operate in both directions between Crewe and Chester
James Price, CEO Transport for Wales, said: “We’re pleased that our colleagues in Network Rail are making network infrastructure improvements.
“Please could all our customers ensure that they check online for any changes in services and timetable adjustments. We’ll be providing rail replacement buses and we’re sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.”
This major bridge replacement follows the successful £11m bridge refurbishment scheme of another railway bridge in Crewe at Sydney Road in September last year.
Meanwhile, passengers are asked to continue following Government guidance around the use of public transport.
Travellers must wear a face covering on train services and any replacement bus services. Those who fail to do so risk being fined £100.
However, some people are exempt, including young children and people with hidden disabilities or breathing difficulties.
A multi-million-pound transformation of Tring station in Hertfordshire is now complete making it more accessible for passengers.
Network Rail has completed the £5.8 million ‘Access for All’ upgrade, which included new lifts, ramps and new footbridge to provide step-free access to all five of Tring station’s platforms for the very first time.
The investment has come directly from the Department for Transport’s ‘Access for All’ programme, which was launched in 2006 to improve accessibility at railway stations nationwide.
London Northwestern Railway passengers can now benefit from the improvements, which it’s hoped will encourage more people in the area to travel by rail.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director was joined by the rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, local MP Gagan Mohindra, Lawrence Bowman from London Northwestern Railway and local councillors and residents at a socially distanced opening ceremony today (Thursday 30 July).
It forms part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, which is the biggest investment in the railway since Victorian times.
James Dean, director for Network Rail’s West Coast Main Line South route, said: “The new lifts, ramps and footbridge at Tring station will be a game-changer for passengers and the local community.
“Delivering this project has been tough, with the pandemic changing how we work and it’s thanks to the hard work of our of engineers and partners that we can now have step-free access to the platforms for those who need it.”
Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry and rail minister, said: “As we gradually welcome more passengers back onto trains, we are pressing ahead with our ambition to make the railway accessible for everyone who uses it.
“The new lifts, ramps, and footbridge at Tring are just one example of how our “Access for All” investment is delivering on that commitment, providing easier, more accessible rail journeys for passengers.”
Gagan Mohindra, MP for South West Hertfordshire, said: “I am delighted to see that the Department for Transport’s “Access for All” program’s budget has been used to provide step free access to all platforms at Tring station. Travelling to and from the beautiful town of Tring, one of the gems of South West Hertfordshire, has never been so easy. I hope as many people as possible take advantage of the new facilities.”
Lawrence Bowman, customer experience director for London Northwestern Railway, said: “Making sure the railway is accessible for all is a key priority and I am delighted these superb new facilities will benefit our customers at Tring for many years to come.
“Passengers at Tring can also look forward to the introduction of brand new electric trains on the West Coast Main Line as part of our £1billion investment into the rail network.”
Tring station is on the busy West Coast main line, with important commuter links to London, Birmingham and Crewe.
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is today launching the latest design in a collection of regionally-inspired face masks with a striking blue and white Yorkshire Rose pattern to celebrate Yorkshire Day 2020.
The Yorkshire inspired face mask is the fourth design in the LNER face masks collection, which includes a Tyne Bridge, London Eye and Edinburgh thistle style. The Yorkshire Rose design features a hand-illustration of the white rose emblem which has been recognised as a symbol for the region since the 14th century.
The reusable face masks will be available for customers to purchase online from tomorrow, for use when travelling on train services where face coverings are now mandatory in England and Scotland. Proceeds from the sale of the masks go to the official LNER charity partner, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
The masks have been hand-sewn in Harrogate and distributed from Yorkshire as LNER continues to support communities and businesses on the East Coast.
LNER Communications Director, Kate McFerran, said: “We know how passionate our customers and colleagues are about the great towns and cities of the LNER route. Following the launch of the first three designs, we were inundated with feedback from people keen to see their region represented in the collection. Yorkshire was a popular theme and we are excited to see how our Yorkshire communities respond to the latest design.”
In addition to the regionally inspired masks, LNER is also launching an exciting new online video series to celebrate Yorkshire Day. After more than 75,000 views in just two months on time-lapse driver’s cab footage hosted on the LNER YouTube Channel, LNER has answered the eager calls of fans to launch a new series of real time cab ride footage. The series will start in the heartland of the East Coast route – Yorkshire – and feature some of the region’s most spectacular scenery from a unique perspective.
LNER Managing Director, David Horne, said: “Following the launch of time-lapse driver’s cab footage of our route earlier this year, we received an unbelievably positive response along with many requests for a real-time view. To celebrate Yorkshire Day 2020, we’re delighted to be sharing some of the most stunning views from our route, and where better to start than with our heartland, Yorkshire, on Yorkshire Day.
“We’d like to encourage our customers to sit back and enjoy rolling hills, historic towns, cities and famous bridges and ultimately feel inspired to visit some of the many beautiful destinations on our Yorkshire routes.”
The LNER Real Time Routes series will launch with Yorkshire routes including Skipton to Leeds, Hull to Doncaster and Harrogate to Leeds. Customers will be able to experience the view from the driver’s seat and enjoy a unique perspective of some of the most breath taking landscape on the LNER route.
Remembered by former members, the Rail Riders travel vouchers which gained them discounted travel on the British Rail network between 1981 and 1991 are returning.
Since its relaunch back in February this year, Rail Riders has steadily grown and can now offer members discounted travel on 49 heritage and mini railways alongside 35 railway themed outlets from model shops to online businesses and in March this year DB Cargo named 66175 Rail Riders Express.
The latest development in the growth of Rail Riders is the partnership with Bishop Trains, a National Rail ticket retailer based at Bishop Auckland railway station. This has led to the introduction to Rail Riders members the unique opportunity to have discounted Rail travel vouchers again.
One person members will receive 3 £5 vouchers totalling £15 and the Family members will receive a total of 5 £5 vouchers totalling £25 for their annual membership, on renewal of the membership a new batch of vouchers will be issued.
These vouchers can be used against all National Rail tickets including Advance fares, Railcards (Family, Senior, 16-25, Two Together), London Transport Day Travelcards, Some London Underground point to point single & return tickets, Sleeper reservations, Rail Rover & Ranger tickets and Rail-Sail tickets through to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands & Isle of Man.
The vouchers can only be used with Bishop Trains via their website www.ba-rail.co.uk/railriders or by phone 01388 661394 quoting their membership number and the unique voucher number or visiting Bishop Auckland Railway station. There is a minimum spend of £70 per transaction before a voucher can be used.
Simon Buxton, Director of Rail Riders said “Its been amazing the response we have received since bringing back this iconic club, including support we have gained from the industry. We never thought we would have the opportunity to bring this integral part of the former club back. We thank Bishop Trains for giving our members the chance to use these vouchers. Our goal is to encourage more usage of all railways and this is a great step to achieve this”
David Million, Business owner of Bishop Trains, Bishop Auckland said “Bishop Trains are extremely proud to be working with the new Rail Riders Club. Many of us of a certain age, will remember with fondness the original Rail Riders Club back in British Rail days and the excitement of going to the station, vouchers in hand, for a day out by train. The new partnership between Bishop Trains and Rail Riders brings back an important part of the club format and we hope it will help ignite a new passion for rail travel in the UK after what has been a challenging year for us all”.
An £81m scheme by Network Rail to renew infrastructure in the Hither Green area of South London has reached halfway and is on track to hand back a much-improved railway for passengers, while also marking the end of London Bridge Area Signalling Centre as an operational location.
The project means the whole main line from Charing Cross and St Pancras International to Chislehurst is under the control of Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre near Gatwick in Sussex, signalled from modern WestCAD workstations.
Network Rail and its contractors have been on site at Hither Green since Saturday morning replacing the 1976-built signalling equipment, which was reaching the end of its life and increasingly difficult to maintain or operate reliably. Teams are installing 92 LED signal heads, and replacing almost 90 track circuits with 262 Frauscher axle counters, along with enhancing 86 sets of points and laying 24km of power cable and 19km of fibre telecoms cable.
In addition, the local power supply is being upgraded and made more resilient and turnback facilities are being put in place at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee.
Blockade Director Jon Ruch said: “This is a massive project and much-needed as we know passengers in South London have been suffering increasing disruption in this area. The move to axle counters will improve reliability as we won’t have to maintain insulated block joints and impedance bonds, and we’re also building in greater operational flexibility with new turn-backs at Lee, Hither Green and Grove Park. People often forget the impact of cable faults on reliability too, and relaying all the power supply and telecoms will have a massive positive impact.
“On top of all that, for many of us who worked on the Thameslink Programme, this is really the final part of the jigsaw we started many years ago and puts control of the busiest and most difficult to manage part of our network in a single location with modern technology.”
In addition to the new signalling equipment, a great deal of work is being undertaken at stations, from new drainage and platform edging at Chislehurst, to ongoing work at Hither Green station itself, which is getting new platforms and canopies.
London Bridge ASC was built in 1974 with an NX panel and first started signalling trains in 1975, absorbing a variety of smaller boxes, from the two-man level-frame Borough Market Junction, to the 1962-era panel at Hither Green. At its largest it was one of the busiest boxes on the whole railway, controlling trains from Charing Cross on the routes out to Kent through Greenwich, Lewisham, Grove Park, and the four tracks down to Norwood Junction.
Some of its equipment is being retained for use as spares elsewhere on the network and the building itself is being assessed to see what use it can be put to.
Three Bridges control centre now fringes with Ashford IECC and Victoria ASC at Chislehurst.
The railway is closed to trains on the main line through Hither Green, along with the Bromley North and Sidcup branches. Services resume on Monday, 3 August.
South Western Railway is looking for new homes for its soon to be retired Island Line fleet.
The 5 Class 483 trains, built in 1938 for the London Underground, have been serving the Isle of Wight since 1989. However, as announced in September 2019, following a £26m investment to secure the future of Island Line, the current fleet is due to be replaced by the Class 484 trains.
South Western Railway is looking for new homes for the trains as soon as possible, to make room for the arrival of the first Class 484s for testing this year. SWR has already received several expressions of interest from preservation groups, including the neighbouring Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
Organisations interested in adopting a soon to be former Island Line train will need to demonstrate the capacity and financial security to remove and look after the train, as well as a suitable long-term physical location for the train. They may also need to prepare a plan to manage potentially hazardous substances where these remain on the units, which will need to meet the satisfaction of the Office of Rail & Road and other statutory bodies.
The trains are also subject to a statutory Designation Notice following the decision of the Board of Trustees’ of the Science Museum on 4 March 2020. Prior to ownership transferring, SWR would need to ensure the future plans for some or all of the vehicles were acceptable to the Board of Trustees.
The trains are in varying states of repair, with two of them having been used largely for spares in recent years.
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director for South Western Railway said: “The Class 483 trains have been running for 82 years, serving passengers first on London Underground and most recently on the Isle of Wight. Despite their age our team at Ryde St John Depot has worked miracles keeping these trains going to provide a vital service for the island.
“With new trains arriving, now is the time for these trains to find new homes, for a well-deserved retirement.”.
Organisations interested in rehoming a former Island Line train should express their interest by emailing 484Project@swrailway.com. The deadline for expressing interest is Wednesday 12 August.