From Sunday 27th September to Saturday 3rd October Network Rail will be working day and night to renew track in order to improve line speed between Taunton and Exeter St Davids
Currently, there is an emergency speed restriction between Taunton and Exeter St Davids due to newer trains running on older sections of track.
The work will involve engineers taking out and replacing old track and ballast to restore the original 100mph line speed, prevent delays and to provide more reliable journeys for passengers.
Network Rail urges passengers to check before they travel as there will be a replacement bus service running between Taunton and Exeter St Davids.
Jason Pankhurst, Network Rail Project Manager said:
“We are carrying out major track renewal and enhancements to the railway line between Tiverton Parkway and Exeter. Once completed we will not need to return to the area to replace the track for at least 25 years. At the same time we have other projects being carried out both at Hele and Bradninch level crossing as well as Tonedale near Wellington.”
Nestled away in the Arun district of West Sussex is a workplace home to hundreds of dedicated railway workers – and today marks the 25th anniversary of the site’s operations.
From train drivers and conductors, to on-board supervisors, driver managers and station teams, Southern’s Barnham depot is one of Govia Thameslink Railway’s biggest bases and is steeped in local family history.
Formed in 1995 with the amalgamation of the company’s legacy depots including Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and West Worthing, the depot was created at Barnham to provide a base for drivers when the Bournemouth service launched in the mid-90s.
Richard Yardley, 39, is a Driver Manager at Barnham who swapped the skylines of Dubai for suburban Sussex in 2016 and hasn’t looked back since. “The Barnham depot is a very special part of the local community. There is a real sense of family here, helped by the fact that many of our people have had parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents all working on the railway and at Barnham depot itself. When I joined over four and a half years ago, I realised that it’s the best job I’ve ever had. There’s a sense of comradery and togetherness in the railway that you just don’t get anywhere else.”
Although previously working for airlines, a career on the railway was destined for Richard with both his grandad and great-uncle former train drivers. It seems this trend is very much still alive at Barnham – with different generations of the same family all working under one roof.
Terry, 58, Lee, 38 and 35-year-old Adam are all members of the Laird family who work as train drivers at the Barnham depot. Terry Laird started his career at Barnham on the day the depot opened and says the best part of the job is working within the community. He says: “I joined the railway when I was just 17 and worked in various roles in the north of the UK. Unfortunately, the company I was with at the time were going through a part-closure, so I had to look for work elsewhere and that’s when I found the opportunity with Southern.
“It’s amazing to have both of my sons follow in my footsteps to become train drivers and even better that we’re now all part of an even bigger family at Barnham. The depot is a huge part of the local community and we’re really pleased to be celebrating 25 years of history here.” said Terry.
Richard had grand plans for the 25th anniversary of Barnham depot including inviting back retired staff for the celebrations, but this has unfortunately been postponed by Covid-19. However, the occasion won’t go amiss as decorations and historical memoires will adorn the depot for all staff to enjoy.
Opened in September 1995, the Barnham depot is now home to a total of 156 drivers, 90 onboard supervisors and 36 conductors and is led by the area operations manager, Tom Guiney. The depot even has its own football team called The Windmills, who run fundraising matches and events to raise money for Children with Cancer UK. It continues to be a vital part of the community, employing many generations of Sussex families past and present.
Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates has written to Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, citing significant concerns about the recent announcement of an “additional” £343m of funding for railways in Wales.
In his letter, Ken Skates breaks down the different elements of funding listed in the recent package. He explains how, despite their talk of ‘levelling up’, this offer falls short of fair funding from the UK Government, and why the underinvestment of rail in Wales, together with the fragmented way in which infrastructure is planned, will not achieve the UK Government’s own ambitions.
“It appears very little of this funding package is actually ‘new’. Many projects in the announcement have already previously been announced, the £58m for Cardiff Central station, for example. In fact, some of this package, such as the funding for valleys electrification, dates back to 2014.
“A disparate collection of ad hoc projects across Wales does not constitute an ‘ambitious programme’. Our plan for Metro systems across Wales give us the ability to move towards genuinely integrated public transport systems, but sadly the announcements in this package were made without reference to, or join up with, this overarching vision.
“Some of this announcement does not qualify as investment at all. £76m of the package accounts for cost-overruns on the south Wales mainline electrification programme. This is money that didn’t lead to anything extra for Wales, but merely reflects the poor management of that particular project.
“Finally, and most importantly, in the context of the many billions of pounds of investment going into the rest of the UK network, this package does nothing to address the significant and ongoing underinvestment in Welsh rail infrastructure.
“Our research clearly shows that when one takes into account more than £50bn of investment planned for the English rail network over the next decade, a conservative estimate of the underfunding of Welsh railways between 2001 and 2029 is £2.4bn. This figure is even higher if one were to calculate it by the size of the Welsh network relative to the rest of the UK.
“That scale of underinvestment can be seen in the strained infrastructure in many parts of Wales, something that has undoubtedly impacted on our productivity and economic performance, as well as contributed to other transport bottlenecks, as the recent Burns Commission Interim report into congestion around the Brynglas Tunnels so clearly demonstrates.
“Wales has not seen the level of investment in infrastructure enhancements seen in other parts of the UK. I believe only through devolution of rail infrastructure powers to the Welsh Government with a full and fair funding settlement to go with it can this situation be addressed.”
Nathaly Oshodin, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “I’d urge passengers planning to travel between Saturday 24 and Wednesday 28 October to think ahead so they know what to expect from their journey while the railway must be closed for this essential bridge work.
“We thank local people and passengers for their patience while we carry out this £2m renewal as part of the Great North Rail Project, securing the future of the railway for passengers for decades to come.”
Steve Hopkinson, regional director at Northern, said: “The Settle and Carlisle Line is one the most picturesque across the whole rail network and the work being carried out by Network Rail will ensure future generations can continue to experience this beautiful part of the north of England.
“We are working closely with Network Rail to keep disruption to a minimum and will provide a good rail replacement service to make sure our customers can still get where they need to be.”
John Moorhouse, chairman of the Settle Carlisle Railway Development Company, said: “Whilst any temporary line closure causes inconvenience, especially during school half term holidays, such work is necessary to secure the future of this iconic railway line and benefit the many people who use it for a variety of purposes.”
The two bridges in Stainforth will be replaced as part of the Great North Rail Project – a rail industry effort to deliver better stations, track and trains across the North.
South Western Railway (SWR) customers are being asked to share their stories of individual staff members who have gone above and beyond to provide excellent customer service.
This comes as part of National Customer Service Week, which SWR is using as an opportunity to showcase how these customer service heroes have made a real difference.
SWR is committed to putting customers at the heart of everything it does and is looking to celebrate the hard work and dedication of colleagues who have helped made journeys easier, more enjoyable or safer during this difficult time.
Have a great story about a train guard recovering your phone? Has a member of station staff helped you or a loved one to get where you needed to go? Customers can submit any story, big or small, about frontline colleagues who have made a difference to them.
Shortlisted colleagues will be profiled and celebrated throughout National Customer Service Week on social media between Monday 5 – Friday 9 October. Customers can nominate their ‘hero’, including a brief description, here: southwesternrailway.com/ncsw.
The deadline for nominations is 2pm Friday 2 October.
Alan Penlington, Customer Experience Director, said:
“National Customer Service Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our frontline colleagues who have helped deliver excellent customer service.
“These have been difficult times, but our SWR team has been helping customers, including many key workers, to get where they need to be throughout the crisis.
“So, we’re giving customers the opportunity to say thank you to frontline staff who have made difference to them by nominating someone as a ‘Customer Service Hero’.”
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is proud to reveal the restored Zero Mile Post has returned to York Station.
Mile posts were a historic system used by railway companies to measure lines and calculate fares, with ‘Zero Posts’ marking the start of where each line was measured from.
Ten lines or routes shared a Zero Post located at the centre of York Station although it is thought that the original may have been melted down as part of the wartime drive for scrap metal.
A replica post which was installed in 2004 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The North Eastern Railway has now been reinstalled after being restored to reflect York’s rich railway heritage.
LNER Managing Director David Horne, said: “LNER is proud of our heritage in York, a city with a rich history steeped in the railways.
“It is wonderful to see the Zero Post return to its home in York station and looking so magnificent. Although distances between our destinations have not changed, the speed, comfort and service offered to our customers has been transformed. It is great York remains home to this important piece of history from the era of the North Eastern Railway.”
The North Eastern Railway was formed in 1854 and inherited all sorts of mile posts, sometimes measured from unlikely places. In 1905 it was decided to re-measure all North Eastern Railway lines using a standard system.
Chairman of the North Eastern Railway Association, Neil Mackay, said: “The post became a celebrity after it was installed, though many were puzzled by the line initials shown. Our association is delighted to have helped maintain the links between today’s railway and its predecessors.”
The Zero Post has been cleaned and repainted by the North Eastern Railway Association and is now displayed in the original location near the stairs between platforms 5 and 9.