Goring-by-Sea footbridge in West Sussex to be refurbished thanks to £511,000 investment from Network Rail

Work is well under way to refurbish the footbridge at Goring-by-Sea station and provide a safer way of crossing the railway as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.

Repairs include the renewing of staircase coverings, treads and metalwork to maintain the footbridge structure along with repainting and application of other protective coatings.

Goring-by-Sea train station was opened in 1846 in West Sussex and all services running through the station are operated by Southern.

Regular trains running from here include an hourly service to Brighton, a 2-hourly service to London Victoria, and an hourly service to Southampton Central. Trains from Goring-by-Sea can reach London Victoria in about 1.5 hours.

Passengers at Goring-by-Sea can also get on and off the full length of longer Southern trains thanks to platform extensions built by Network Rail and funded by the Department for Transport.

Built to support a new timetable during the construction of the £150m upgrade of Gatwick Airport station, longer trains are now opening their doors at Goring-by-Sea station.

Construction work on the platforms was completed earlier this year, allowing passengers to access the full length of the trains. This also means level crossings at Goring will be closed for much shorter times, cutting traffic congestion.

Shaun King, Sussex route director for Network Rail, said:

“When the work is finished, this footbridge will provide station users with a much safer way of crossing the railway at Goring-by-Sea. Work to replace the footbridge has been carefully planned to not disrupt trains while the new bridge will serve the station and passengers for decades to come.”

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said:

“On behalf of our Goring-by-Sea customers we welcome Network Rail’s major investments to improve services and safety here. This work will be complemented by our own network-wide station improvement programme, making Goring-by-Sea better for our passengers with new information screens, benches, a platform shelter and a ticket machine canopy.

“If you need to travel by train, rest assured we are working hard behind the scenes to keep trains and stations clean and safe. At all times please remember – hands, face, space. Wash your hands before and after each trip, wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from other passengers.”

The project is due to be completed in March 2021.

Network Rail Update. 8 news stories today.

King’s Cross station lights up purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

Rays of purple light are beaming from King’s Cross railway station today (Thursday, 3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

As well as King’s Cross station, some of Britain’s other iconic stations, such as London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street, Bristol Temple Meads, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly are lit up in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year, the Coronavirus pandemic has bought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Mask wearing and social distancing have made travelling more challenging especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities.

Network Rail has introduced a range of measures to help everyone to travel safely and with confidence during the pandemic, including taking part in the sunflower lanyard scheme to help recognise those with a non-visible disability or those who are unable to wear a face covering. The organisation has also provided hand sanitiser in its stations, installed at various heights.

Laura Murphy, Station Manager for Network Rail at King’s Cross, said: “We’re really happy to be supporting this initiative and we continue to strive to create a railway which is suitable for everyone.

“We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges, and we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.”

Network Rail employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for its autism recruitment programme.

To find out more, visit: networkrail.co.uk/purple     

Birmingham New Street’s Christmas Eve meal returns as take-away for 2020

Birmingham New Street’s highly successful Christmas Eve meal for the city’s homeless is returning this year – but with a difference.

For the third year running Network Rail is teaming up with award-winning charity Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) to provide hot food and festive cheer for those who are struggling in the city centre this Christmas.

Since 2018, 550 people have enjoyed a three-course sit down meal and party on Birmingham New Street’s concourse.

However, holding an indoor event is not possible this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Network Rail and MLSS were determined for 2020 not to be missed, so today (3 December) the alternative plans to provide 250 take-away meals and gifts are being revealed.

Patrick Power, Birmingham New Street station manager, said: “We know holding the Christmas Eve meal for those who need help in the city centre is a highlight for them so the station team and MLSS have pulled out the stops to make sure Covid doesn’t cancel Christmas this year. 

“Because of social distancing we can’t hold the meal inside in the warm as we would like, so we’ve had to think about how to do things in a different way. We’re sure we’ll be back inside for Christmas 2021 even bigger and better than before.”

The food and gifts will be given out on the Eastern plaza between 5pm and 7pm on Thursday December 24.

A queuing system will be set up to ensure people keep at a safe distance from one another to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Volunteers from Network Rail, the rail industry and Midland Langar Seva Society will work throughout the evening to cater for up to 250 people.

This year’s Christmas Eve meal is being sponsored by Quinn Infrastructure services.

Randhir Singh, Midland Langar Seva Society co-founder, said: “Our homeless Christmas meal has been special for our service users for over seven years, with a sit down three-course meal at the Birmingham New Street station for the last two – it has been a highlight for them. Every year they look forward to it and for many months they have been asking whether the party is still going ahead due to the pandemic.

“This year will be different due to the social distancing restrictions, however we will still make it special for them by spoiling them with presents, if they are lucky, they will get a chance to have a photo with Santa.”

Neil Shearwood, managing director from Quinn Infrastructure Services, said: “We are delighted to play are part in the ‘Christmas Eve Meal for the Homeless’ for a second year now. This year, more importantly, as so many charities have really felt the effect of covid-19 on contributions.

“We hope this can bring some Christmas cheer to those who need it most and support our client Network Rail in this fantastic effort.”

Any journalists wishing to cover the Christmas Eve meal must contact Network Rail media manager Chris Halpin on 0330 854 0100 or chris.halpin@networkrail.co.uk by no later than 3.00pm on Wednesday 23 December, as spaces for media will be limited.

More reliable journeys for rail passengers following £4m upgrade

Passengers will now benefit from smoother, quieter and more reliable train journeys following a £4million investment to renew the track between Bourne End and Marlow.

Over a 16-day period, Network Rail engineers completed the multi-million-pound project to replace old, worn track with more than two miles of new railway track and sleepers, with eight level crossing surfaces also being replaced.

Several improvements were also made to the platform at Marlow station to improve passengers’ experience of using the station, including replacing the coping stones and improving the surface at the platform. 

This essential work will ensure the continued use the Marlow section of the branch line and reduce the need for multiple weekend closures in the future.

Paul Armitage, Network Rail’s project manager, said: “We are delighted to have completed this significant upgrade to the railway between Bourne End and Marlow. 

“GWR will now be able to run a more reliable train service which will be smoother for passengers and quieter for those that live next to the railway. The work also means there will be fewer disruptions for maintenance in the years ahead as the track has been substantially replaced.

“We’d like to thank passengers and those living next to the railway for their patience while we completed the work.”

GWR Station Manager for Slough and Maidenhead, Alison Hanscomb, added: “This work enables us to continue to provide vital rail services for the local community.

“We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.      

“Please do, however, plan ahead, reserve a seat and be considerate of others.”

Chairman of Little Marlow Parish Council, Councillor Valerie Brownridge, commented: “The local community welcomes the huge investment which Network Rail has made in the railway line between Bourne End and Marlow, and that both passengers and those who live by the railway will benefit greatly from the upgrade.”

London Liverpool Street station to go purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

Rays of purple light will beam from London Liverpool Street station today (Thursday 3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

London Liverpool Street station will light up along with some of Network Rail’s other iconic stations, including London Waterloo, Bristol Temple Meads, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly, in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year the Coronavirus pandemic has bought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Mask wearing and social distancing have made travelling more challenging especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities. Network Rail has introduced measures to ensure everyone can travel safely and with confidence throughout the pandemic. These have included:

  • The sunflower lanyard scheme, a discrete way of recognising those with a non-visible disability, or who may be unable to wear a face-covering. More than 10,000 lanyards and exemption cards have been issued to Network Rail managed stations.
  • Hand sanitiser has been provided at varying heights in stations
  • Throughout the pandemic Network Rail has continued to provide assistance to those who need extra support. Partitions have been put up on mobility buggies to keep passengers safe.
  • For Network Rail employees who’ve had to adjust to working at home, the company launched a neurodiversity pack which includes coping strategies and webinars on a range of topics, managing stress, fatigue and balancing home-schooling children while managing workloads.

Network Rail employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for their autism recruitment programme.

Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion at Network Rail said: “We’ve made some progress towards creating a railway that is a suitable environment for everyone. We are passionate about having an inclusive culture, so that every single passenger can travel confidently and independently and get the right assistance when needed.  And we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.

“We know there is still more to do which is why we have set ourselves some ambitious targets that we will be working towards between now and 2024.”

Emma Watson, station manager at London Liverpool Street, said: “We do everything we can to help all our passengers get to where they need to be. My team have worked hard over the course of the pandemic to continue to provide assistance to those who need it, in a safe manner. We have lit the station in purple to celebrate the global #PurpleLightUp movement.”

#PurpleLightUp is a simple, powerful declaration of solidarity by, and with, disabled people.

To find out more, visit: networkrail.co.uk/purple     

Passengers asked to plan ahead as rail companies work hard to support Christmas journeys

Rail companies are working together to deliver their plan for the government’s Christmas travel window, between 23 and 27 December. This includes maximising space by running more and longer services where possible, providing improved travel information and travel alerts, and extra staff on hand at busy locations to help people with their journeys. 

With all long-distance train companies now selling tickets for the Christmas travel window, passengers are being asked to plan ahead, avoid busier times and make reservations for both their outward and return journeys, where these are offered. Elsewhere, the impact of the pandemic means services on some routes are currently being finalised and people are being asked to check their train operator’s website for the latest information.  

Although the vast majority of the network will be open for business in the run up to Christmas, planning ahead is particularly important for those travelling on Boxing Day when there will be a limited service. London King’s Cross station will be closed between Christmas Day and 30 December and passengers are being told not to travel to and from the station.  

The government has also waived change of journey admin fees for advance tickets purchased before new Covid-19 tiers were announced on 26 November, enabling fee free changes and ensuring passengers are not left out of pocket for complying with the new restrictions.

As part of the industry’s safer travel pledge, rail companies are taking steps so that passengers using the network can travel with confidence, including cleaning more frequently and using powerful, long lasting, anti-viral products. Passengers should also wash their hands regularly and wear a face covering, unless exempt.  

Over £2.8bn has already been invested to improve the rail network during the pandemic when passenger numbers were lower, to minimise disruption while still keeping communities connected.  Whilst many Christmas works have been postponed, some are necessary and will need to go ahead. However all efforts have been made to organise replacement transport in the form of buses and coaches so people can still reach their final destination safely. 

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said:  

“Our frontline workers have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to maintain and upgrade the railway for those who need it and this festive period will be no different, with thousands of workers out delivering significant improvements across our infrastructure. 

“It is vital that we drive improved rail performance through targeted investment work so that the railway can continue to play its part in Britain building back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group said:  

“Christmas will be unusual for many and rail companies are doing all they can to bring people together during the government’s travel window, but this year more than ever we’re asking people not to turn up at a station and hope for the best. If people follow the advice to plan ahead and book outward and return reservations for longer journeys, alongside the extra cleaning, better information and additional carriages that are part of our safer travel pledge, everyone should be able to travel with confidence.” 

While the vast majority of the rail network will be unaffected by engineering works over the Christmas and New Year period, some upgrade projects are taking place, including: 

  • Significant works on the East Coast Main Line as part of the East Coast Upgrade, which will improve reliability for passengers and boost connectivity between London, the North of England and Scotland. The work is now scheduled to start later than originally planned to ensure extra Christmas Eve services can run out of King’s Cross
  • Upgrades on the West Coast Main Line that will now be completed earlier than planned – on 27 December – to enable a full Sunday service to operate from 10am rather than midday, making it easier for passengers to travel home from their Christmas bubbles. 
  • Remodelling and roof repair work at Bristol Temple Meads which will see amended timetables in operation from London Paddington, with some trains at peak times not running at all between 28 December and 1 January. From 28 December until 11 January, timetables will be amended because platforms 3-6 at Bristol Temple Meads will be out of use. 
  • Switches and crosses renewals at London Waterloo that will provide a more reliable railway for passengers in future. Platforms 12-20 at Waterloo will be closed between 27 December and 3 January, with a reduced timetable in place between Waterloo and Clapham Junction. There will also be a reduced service between Woking, Basingstoke, Guildford, Portsmouth, Southampton, Weymouth and Salisbury over the festive period. 
  • Maintenance and track renewal works at Charing Cross/Cannon Street to London Bridge and New Cross to improve passenger safety and the journey experience. Southeastern services will operate from London Bridge, and there will be a bus replacement service between Lewisham and Hayes from 27-29 December. Between 1-3 January buses will replace trains between Lewisham and Hayes and between Lewisham and Charlton via New Cross. 
  • Vital maintenance to the Great Eastern Main Line around Colchester will improve the reliability of services in the region. Engineering work will be taking place between 25 December and 3 January with rail replacement bus services running on several routes. 

Passengers can find out how their Christmas journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter. 

International Day of Disabled Persons marked in Network Rail’s Southern region with new mobility buggies and Changing Place facility

Network Rail’s Southern region is marking the International Day of the Disabled Person today with the introduction of new accessibility features at three of its largest London stations.

New state-of-the-art mobility buggies have been introduced at London’s Victoria and Waterloo stations this month.

Meanwhile, a new ‘Changing Place’ facility, specially designed for passengers who are disabled, has opened at London Bridge station this week. 

The Changing Place is reserved for passengers who are disabled, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, who can use the facilities assisted by their family members or carers.

They include features such as a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, a hoist system plus a curtain for privacy from family members or carers, and specially designed toilets and sinks.

Nicole Cohen-Wray, Stations Director for Network Rail’s Southern region, said: “Our stations need to be a space where all passengers feel comfortable and confident to enter. I’m delighted by the inclusion of the new Changing Place at London Bridge, as well as the mobility buggies at Waterloo and Victoria stations. Just two of the most recent initiatives we’ve introduced to make stations open and accessible for all.” 

To access the facility, customers will need to request access when they arrive at the station and be escorted to and from the facility by a member of the station team.

Speaking about the new Changing Place at London Bridge, Antony Merlyn, Accessibility Manager for GTR, which runs Thameslink and Southern services through the station, said: “This will be a real game-changer for the many people who need it; it will make a huge difference to our disabled customers.”

Meanwhile new mobility buggies are being introduced to help disabled passengers, enabling them to have a comfortable and spacious ride through the stations’ concourse and platforms.

They replace buggies that were over 20 years old and are part of Network Rail’s mission to help passengers with accessibility needs to navigate around the station.

The new buggies have even better accessibility features such as more flexible body panels, six seats and fully opening rear doors with large grab handles.

Meanwhile, rays of purple light are beaming from London Waterloo and railway stations across the country as the rail industry joined the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

Network Rail completes vital restoration work to Grade II listed feature at Scarborough railway station

Network Rail has completed work to protect the heritage of a Grade II listed bench at Scarborough railway station, which will make sure that it can be enjoyed by passengers for years to come. 

The unique bench, reported to be the longest in the world, is 139 metres long and is fixed to a retaining wall at Scarborough railway station, which is managed by TransPennine Express. The construction of the bench is thought to date back to 1883 when the Grade II excursion station was constructed by William Bell for the North Eastern Railway to accommodate high numbers of tourists visiting the coastal town.

The £14,500 project saw Network Rail workers replace all of the nuts and bolts which keep the bench together, as well as painting all of the cast iron supports. Work also took place to replace the timbers in the seat and backrest of the bench. The replacement timber is a specialist type of pine timber, called Accoya, which is sustainably sourced and gives a life span of 50 years.

All of the work was carried out carefully to make sure the heritage was preserved, and listed building consent was sought and accepted.

Craig Hall, Programme Manager for Network Rail, said: “This is a unique bench and we really wanted our restoration work to do it justice, so that it can continue to be enjoyed by visitors and residents for years to come. 

“We’re really happy with the results, which is testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams who carried this out.”

Mike Drewery, TransPennine Express’ Station Manager for Scarborough commented: “Scarborough railway station is steeped in history and we are very proud to be the home of the longest railway bench in the world.”

Leeds station lights up purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

Rays of purple light will beam from Leeds railway station’s historic Dark Arches today (Thursday, 3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

As well as Leeds station, some of Britain’s other iconic stations, such as London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street, Bristol Temple Meads, King’s Cross and Manchester Piccadilly will be lit up in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year the Coronavirus pandemic has bought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Mask wearing and social distancing have made travelling more challenging especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities.

Network Rail has introduced a range of measures to help everyone to travel safely and with confidence during the pandemic, including taking part in the sunflower lanyard scheme to help recognise those with a non-visible disability or those who are unable to wear a face covering. The organisation has also provided hand sanitiser in its stations, installed at various heights.

Nick Cooper, Station Manager for Network Rail at Leeds, said: “We’re really happy to be supporting this initiative and we continue to strive to create a railway which is suitable for everyone.

“We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges, and we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.”

Network Rail employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for its autism recruitment programme.

To find out more, visit: networkrail.co.uk/purple     

HS2 construction progresses at Euston as towers reach ground level

Preparations for London’s high speed rail terminus at Euston has reached a new milestone as the two office towers outside the existing station are now at ground level. Grant Thornton House and One Euston Square – designed by prolific and divisive modernist architect Richard Seifert – have made way for the new high speed station, with more space for passengers and better links to the London Underground.

HS2’s enabling works contractor, Costain Skanska joint venture (CSJV), has completed two years’ worth of demolition work, taking the 1970s towers to ground level. The site has now been handed over to the station construction partner, Mace Dragados joint venture (MDJV), who will complete the demolition of the basement below in preparation for the new HS2 station construction works.

To enable the demolition to be carried out, the buildings were encapsulated within an acoustic wrap  as the agreed methodology to mitigate noise and dust in the local area. Excavators with breaking and munching attachments were then lifted to the roof using the site tower crane and then worked down the building demolishing floor by floor. Over 35000t of reinforced concrete was demolished and processed on site for re-use on the HS2 Euston scheme. The re-processing works removed approximately 3,000 lorry movements from the local roads, and 99.75% of waste was diverted from landfill.

The final stage of the works, was to demolish the huge 2.7m thick One Euston Square first floor slab. This was completed in two stages. Firstly two 45t excavators with breaking attachments were lifted on to the slab with a 450t mobile crane. These machines removed 60% of the slab working from the top. Once complete they were lifted down and the works were completed using a 45t and 60t excavator from ground level.

Laurence Whitbourn, HS2’s Euston Area Director said:

“We are really making significant progress at Euston to make way for the capital’s new high speed railway terminus. The successful demolition of these buildings to ground level has made a significant difference to the Euston skyline and is paving the way for the new station and oversite development. I want to thank Costain Skanska JV for their work to date to reach this stage.”

Dan Hunt, Costain Skanska JV’s Programme Director said:

“Of over 150 buildings we have demolished, these were some of the most complex to deliver due to the proximity to other buildings, location next to Euston station and the large reinforced concrete pedestal at One Euston Square. I want to thank the whole team who worked together to deliver this piece of work safely using a revised methodology due to the global pandemic.”

Demolition

 The progress has already changed the landscape around Euston, as almost all the buildings required for HS2 have been demolished. HS2 is designed to more than double capacity at Euston – one of the busiest stations in the UK – releasing space on the existing mainline for extra commuter services into the capital. As a result, commuters from places like Milton Keynes could see a 76% increase in the number of seats into Euston during peak hours.

First Minister announces latest coronavirus travel restrictions

Travel between Wales and areas of the UK with high rates of coronavirus will not be allowed from 6pm tomorrow (Friday 4 December), First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.

Wales’ coronavirus regulations will be amended to prohibit travel to and from tier three areas in England; level three and four areas in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland, which is currently in lockdown.

New travel guidance will be issued strongly advising people in Wales not to travel to other parts of the UK with lower levels of coronavirus – tier one and two areas in England or level one and two areas in Scotland – to help control the spread of the virus.

People from Wales will be required to follow any legal restrictions, including relating to travel, which are in place in other parts of the UK.

All travel restrictions within the UK will be suspended between 23 and 27 December to allow people to meet members of their Christmas bubble. People travelling to and from Northern Ireland will be able to travel the day before this period starts and the day after.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“There will be no restrictions on travel within Wales but we need to have some restrictions on travel across the border to those parts of the UK where infection rates are high to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We are also advising people in Wales not to travel into those parts of England and Scotland where the infection rate is lower, to help prevent them taking coronavirus with them.

“Coronavirus doesn’t respect borders – we all have a part to play in keeping Wales and the UK safe. Please think carefully about where you are going and what you are doing. This virus thrives wherever we come together with others. 

“Taken together with our other measures, these travel restrictions will help to keep us all safe.”

The travel restrictions are likely to remain in place until at least January 2021 but will be kept under constant review.

International travel restrictions will continue and are also likely to remain in place until at least January, but will be kept under constant review. 

Appointment of new Managing Director for South Western Railway

South western Railway are pleased to announce that Claire Mann has been appointed Managing Director of South Western Railway (‘SWR’) and will take up her post early in 2021.

Claire has more than two decades of experience in the transport sector and has held a number of senior leadership roles in the rail industry including Director for Docklands Light Railway (‘DLR’) at Transport for London (‘TfL’) where she led the DLR team; Operations and Safety Director at Arriva Trains Wales; General Manager East at the former First Great Western (now GWR) and Customer Service Director at London Overground. Most recently, she moved within TfL to become Director of Bus Operations, where she was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the capital’s 9,200-strong bus fleet.

Mark Hopwood, currently Interim Managing Director of SWR, will return to be Managing Director of GWR on 4 January 2021. The role of SWR Managing Director will be covered by Mike Houghton, Chief Operating Officer, from 4 January 2021 until Claire joins.

Claire Mann said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the SWR team. This is a railway close to my heart and one that is vital for connecting so many diverse communities. I am passionate about delivering an excellent customer experience and building on the great work already underway to transform this railway. People are the most important part of any successful operation and I am looking forward to meeting the teams and individuals across the SWR network.”

Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director, said: “With her experienced background in customer service and public transport, Claire is well-placed to lead South Western Railway as we continue our £1.2bn programme to transform the travelling experience for our customers. We are all looking forward to having her on the team. Although passenger numbers may be suppressed at the moment, people will want to travel again for work or leisure, and we are ready to play our part in helping the economic recovery across the network. I’d like to thank Mark Hopwood performing this important interim role over the past year and for his commitment to improving services for customers at SWR.”

Steve Murphy, Chief Executive Officer MTR UK, added: “I am delighted that Claire has agreed to join us as SWR’s Managing Director. Claire’s outstanding leadership qualities, along with her extensive experience across the transport sector, will be invaluable as we drive the business forward in line with our customers’ expectations. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Hopwood for the excellent job he has done as Interim Managing Director.” 

Mark Hopwood said: “It has been an honour to lead the team at SWR and I would like to thank all my colleagues for their professionalism, dedication and commitment in what has been a challenging year. I feel we have made real progress with our performance, our investment programme and improving our customer experience. I know that I head back to GWR leaving SWR in very capable hands.”

First reveal of HS2’s extensive Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site in Warwickshire

HS2 has revealed the first images of one of HS2’s largest construction sites in the Midlands, which is being prepared for the launch of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will dig under Long Itchington Wood, creating a 1 mile twin bore tunnel, before the route heads North and swings into Birmingham’s Curzon Street Station.

This key site on the Midlands section of the HS2 route is managed by the BBV Joint Venture (Balfour Beatty Group and VINCI Construction), who will be one of the biggest recruiters in the Midlands over the next two years, expecting to recruit 7,000 jobs to support the delivery of its HS2 programme of work.

There are currently 60 workers on site including student engineers and apprentices. BBV is also one of the first companies in the country to be supporting the delivery of the new T-Level Construction qualification. Twenty students from Walsall College will complete their 45-day industry placement with BBV working on the delivery of HS2.

Current work on the 1km sq site entails a large and deep excavation, with 250,000m3 of material being excavated in layers before being transported and deposited locally to form environmental embankments for the main line.

The 2,000 tonne tunnel boring machine, which has been manufactured in Germany by Herrenknecht, is due for delivery on site in early 2021, will be launched in Summer 2021 and completion of the boring will be mid 2022. The tunnel will be around 9-10 metres in diameter.

On this stretch of the route there are two tunnels being built by BBV – the other one is Bromford Tunnel. There are also 100 bridges, 35 viaducts, 36 cuttings and 70 bridge structures on this part of the route.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said:

“It’s exciting to see construction of HS2 underway. These works will not only deliver a world class high-speed railway improving connectivity across the Midlands and beyond, but will have a lasting impact on jobs, skills and businesses here in the UK as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

“The BBV joint venture will be one of the biggest recruiters in the region over the next two years, as the construction of HS2 Phase 1 creates 7,000 jobs across the Midlands. That underlines how vital HS2 is to levelling up prosperity and opportunity across the country, as we build back better from this pandemic.”

David Bennett, HS2’s Delivery Director said:

“The Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site is a key site on the Midlands section of the HS2 route, and it’s great to see work progressing well in preparation for the arrival of the tunnel boring machine next year.

“The tunnel in this location goes under Long Itchington Wood specifically to preserve a section of ancient woodland. This forms a key element in how we are managing environmental impacts through the design of the railway. Along with 32 miles of tunnel, HS2 will also be criss-crossed by over 150 bridges and underpasses on Phase One, including 16 specially designed ‘green bridges’ covered in planting, and a green corridor alongside the route will integrate HS2 into the landscape.”

Michael Dyke, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty VINCI said:

“In readiness for the arrival of the first tunnel boring machine, works have already commenced in earnest to prepare the Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site, with our expert team and valued supply chain partners excavating 250,000m3 of material before reusing it elsewhere across the route.

“Critical to the successful delivery of Europe’s largest infrastructure project – HS2, the 2,000 tonne tunnel boring machine will set off on its journey from the portal next Summer, travelling from North to South to create the twin bore Long Itchington Wood Tunnel.”

The TBM will take around 5 months to complete the first bore of the twin bore tunnel. Once the first bore is complete, the TBM will be extracted at the South Portal reception box before being transported by road back to the North Portal to commence the second bore. A large portion of the TBM support modules will be drawn back through the bored tunnel before being positioned on the cradle for the second bore.

Works on a Green Tunnel located south of the South Portal will commence later this year using the D-Wall rigs mobilised for the reception box. Excavation of the reception box will be undertaken in this period with the material being stockpiled locally.

There are a number of supply chain companies working on the site including Collins Earthworks who are undertaking bulk earthmoving. Collins, based in Derbyshire, has around 120 employees working on HS2 sites in the Midlands.

HS2 has continued to play a vital role in the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs to protect, support and create employment, which has helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families over the past eight months of the COVID-19 crisis.

Further supply chain companies working on the site include:

  • SB3, a joint venture between Soletanche Bachy and Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering, are undertaking the soil nailing and shotcrete at the North Portal plus the D-walls, Secant piles and Slurry Walls at the South Portal.
  • Balfour Beatty Plant and Fleet HUB providing the solutions for temporary cabins and the permanent modular buildings.
  • Rail Stone Solutions are the providers of aggregates and stone fills across the project
  • Tarmac will be providing the concrete for the majority of the works.

At the peak of construction on the whole of Phase One, ten tunnel boring machines – each a self-contained underground factory – will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Weighing up to 2,200 tonnes, each 160m long machine will bore and line the tunnels as they drive forward at speeds of up to 15 metres per day.

Railway news updates so far this week

Spike in near misses at a level crossing in East Sussex prompts safety warning

Pedestrians in the Tidemills area are being reminded of the importance of obeying signals and signs at level crossings, following a spike in potentially dangerous incidents at the pedestrian level crossing near the site of the abandoned village of Tidemills in East Sussex.

There has been nine recorded near misses in only four months (between June and October 2020) where people have risked their lives by using the crossing in front of a train. The footpath crossing which takes people across the railway is regarded as the busiest pedestrian crossing in Sussex and has been identified as ‘very high risk’.

The dangerous behaviour at Tidemills include level crossing users filming the emergency stop of an oncoming train. In another incident, bike users narrowly missed a train while large groups of pedestrians have also experienced close calls by trying to beat approaching trains. Cameras have also captured a funeral procession using the crossing.

Each incident could have resulted in fatal or life changing consequences.

Local people and visitors are set to enjoy safer access across the railway at Tidemills in the South Downs National Park after Network Rail’s proposals for a stunning new footbridge were approved last year.

The footbridge, which has been designed to blend with the local landscape and heritage features of the old village of Tidemills, will provide safer access to Seaford beach and the surrounding landscape.

Once the new footbridge is in place, the footpath crossing will permanently close.

Tracy Partridge, East Sussex level crossing manager for Network Rail, said:

“I cannot stress enough the danger people are placing themselves and others in by not using crossings correctly. Pedestrians in Tidemills need to look in both directions and should not cross if they see a train approaching.

“Trying to save a couple of minutes is not worth the potentially devastating consequences.”

Jonathan Pine, British Transport Police Inspector, said:

“There is simply no excuse for not following safety procedures at level crossings. We have seen first-hand what the consequences of taking a shortcut over a level crossing can be, and we remind anyone using the pedestrian crossing near Tidemills to be patient and responsible when doing so.

“Education on using level crossings is essential, which is why we continue to work closely with Network Rail on improving knowledge on the dangers of misusing them. However, we will also prosecute anyone caught misusing level crossings in the hope this will make them think twice in future.

“If you see anyone misusing a level crossing, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40.”

Network Rail donates production fee from York TV filming to help vulnerable young people

Network Rail has chosen for its location fee from the filming of the popular drama series Gentleman Jack to be donated to Railway Children, a charity which supports vulnerable young people across the UK.

The cast of Gentleman Jack, which airs on BBC One, have been busy filming the second series of the show and have been using York railway station as one of the locations. The team needed a place to store vans and production equipment during filming and approached Network Rail about renting space in one of the organisation’s car parks, which is nearby.

The rental fee will be donated to one of Network Rail’s charity partners, Railway Children, which supports vulnerable young people across the UK who have been found at risk on the rail network.

Railway stations are a magnet to children who are running away from, or unknowingly towards, danger. Some are victims of child sexual exploitation, trafficking or abuse, and use trains to escape, run away or meet new people. Railway Children’s highly skilled project workers support these children and their families to tackle the issues that led them into danger and help to set them on the path to a brighter future.

George Drum, Infrastructure Maintenance Delivery Manager for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a very challenging year, particularly for those young people who are vulnerable to exploitation.

“We know that charities have been badly hit during the pandemic and, in the run up to Christmas, we wanted to do something which would enable Railway Children’s dedicated workers to help those who need it most.”

Mary McLaughlin, Corporate Partnerships Manager for Railway Children, said: “We are so touched that Network Rail chose to turn this payment into a donation to help support vulnerable children across the UK. At a time when fundraising activity has been hit hard, thoughtful ideas like this really do make all the difference and go a long way to ensuring that our vital work can continue throughout the pandemic and beyond.”

Reliability improvements on the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking line as vital upgrades complete

Track upgrades and bridge strengthening work has been completed on the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking line to keep services running smoothly and reliably for passengers.

Two miles of track has been replaced since the work began at the end of August and engineers have been working hard every weekend to ensure the work between Harringay Green Lanes and Upper Holloway stations was completed.

Vital strengthening work has also been completed at four bridges along the route to maintain the safety and reliability of the track and train services running over them. These include two bridges at Beaumont Road and Capworth Street between Leyton Midland Road and Walthamstow Queens Road and two at Sebert Road and Balmoral Road between Woodgrange Park and Wanstead Park.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “We have carried out as much work as possible during this time to improve reliability of the track and equipment. As a result, services will be more reliable, with fewer delays and cancellations. I’d like to thank both passengers and our railway neighbours for their patience while we carried out this important work.”

Rory O’Neill, TfL’s General Manager for London Overground, said: “We would like to thank our customers for their patience while Network Rail completed work on the Gospel Oak to Barking line.  The vital upgrade work will ensure services can run smoothly and reliably for customers for many years to come.”

Rail improvement works to take place in West Cornwall

Works to improve the railway in West Cornwall begin this Saturday (5 December 2020), with amended train services and replacement buses in operation to keep people moving.

Network Rail will undertake track work in Penzance on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December, affecting services between Penzance and St Erth. This will extend to include between Penzance and Truro, and the St Ives Bay line, from Monday 7 to Thursday 10 December.

GWR continues to operate over 90% of its pre-Covid train timetable, but to allow for train travellers to be able to socially distance with ease, the operator is asking those intending to do so to plan ahead and to check journey times before travelling.

Mark Chorley, GWR Regional Station Manager, West, said: “We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room, and replacement buses where trains cannot operate, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures. 

“This work is important to ensure we can continue to maintain and improve reliability and we thank customers for their patience in advance.”

Where the main line remains open, amended train services will operate through Cornwall towards Plymouth with roughly one train per hour in each direction.

Buses will replace trains from Penzance to St Erth (5/6 December) and from Penzance to Truro (7-10 December), with buses also running between St Erth and St Ives from 7 to 10 December. Services will still run on the Falmouth branch line but up to 10 minutes earlier than usual.

Long-distance services from London Paddington to Devon and most of Cornwall will continue to operate. Replacement buses will connect with trains, adding up to 50 minutes to journey times. Some train departure times will also be changed, and passengers are advised to check beforehand.

Lee Hildreth, Network Rail’s Project Manager, said: “We thank passengers in advance while we carry out these vital upgrades across Cornwall and remind them to check before they travel.

“The improvements will help provide passengers with more reliable journeys and represents further investment in the railway in Cornwall following recent signalling upgrades in the South West.”

GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible, such as restricting the number of reservations available. 

Levenmouth rail links to online public information sessions

The Fife public are being given a platform to share their views on the plans for the Levenmouth Rail link through online information sessions.

Network Rail has launched a new Levenmouth project site (ScotlandsRailway.com/projects) to host the sessions and is sharing more information on the proposals for recreating the link between Leven and the mainline rail network to enable direct train services to Edinburgh. 

Though focussed on the sites of the new stations, the project will welcome views on all aspects of the project such as active travel links, station facilities or integration with other transport modes.

Given the current situation, information will be published online on the Scotland’s Railway web site and the information events will be held via video call which will let people speak directly with the team developing the project, discuss the proposals and ask any questions.  

Anyone interested can book fifteen-minute slots with the team between 4pm and 7pm on Wednesday 9th Thursday 10th and Wednesday 16th December with more than 30 appointments available initially.

For those unable to access the online sessions, the web site will provide an opportunity to provide online submissions and an email address – LevenmouthReconnected@networkrail.co.uk – is also open for comments and questions.

Graeme Stewart, Network Rail’s sponsor for the Levenmouth project said: “The current restrictions means that we cannot engage with communities like we would in normal times, but we are still keen to share information about the project and get feedback from local people ahead of coming to any decisions. 

“Thankfully, technology gives us the opportunity to meet with people online and hear their views and concerns. It offers us the chance to talk about the project and the benefits it will bring to the local area.

“In reinstating the Leven line, we are looking at how we can get best value from this investment and are working with key stakeholders to develop proposals which positively impact on the local economy, communities and future opportunities for the whole area. 

“We would encourage anyone who is interested to take part and I am looking forward to meeting with you online and hearing your views on the proposals.” 

West Coast Partnership announce research collaboration with the University of Leeds

West Coast Partnership to invest £1m plus as part of The University of Leeds’ plans for The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, to drive High Speed rail advancements. 

  • £1 million plus investment to drive High Speed rail advancements
  • Partnership will help deliver a UK centre of excellence for rail engineering in the Leeds City Region.
  • Move intended to drive improved customer experience and operation of HS2

West Coast Partnership (WCP) has announced a research tie-in with the University of Leeds with an investment worth more than £1 million to deliver advancements in High Speed Rail.

The university and WCP will also collaborate on the launch of The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration.

When fully operational, the Institute will be capable of simulating the conditions found on busy rail networks, the findings of which will play a key part in the shaping of HS2 services.

The research will focus on:

  • Automatic Train Operation and European Train Control System – technologies, which include signalling, to keep trains operating safely.
  • Passenger movement on trains and in stations.
  • Full scale testing of rolling stock and their system integration.
  • Driver training and simulation
  • Passenger experience

Caroline Donaldson, Managing Director at West Coast Partnership Development, said: “We are at the start of a huge technological revolution on the West Coast Main Line, in addition to HS2 which will transform services between the nation’s biggest cities.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with the Institute for High-Speed Rail and System Integration. Their highly-skilled research engineers and scientists will be key to ensuring we make the very most of the very latest leading edge technology to drive a real step change in high speed rail operations.

The cutting-edge facilities at the Institute for High-Speed Rail and System Integration include:

  • A specially designed vehicle testing rig – in effect, a rolling track that can test trains and carriages at speeds up to 250 mph. Using a tilting platform, it will be able to simulate bends, ascents and descents.
  • An infrastructure testing facility that will be able to re-create the enormous forces that are generated on tracks, ballast and embankments by conventional and high-speed trains. It will allow engineers to significantly cut the time it takes to design and test new track and support structures.
  • A system-integration laboratory that will measure how well different railway technologies – power, track, signals and customer information services – operate as an integrated whole to reduce delays.

The Institute’s director, Professor Peter Woodward, said: “The Institute was designed to speed up the time it takes to get new innovative ideas introduced to the railway – and to ensure that when they are brought into service, they work as intended.

“Our founding philosophy is to work closely with the rail industry, and I am excited that we are forming a research partnership with a partnership that will be shaping the UK rail industry for decades to come.”

Work has started on building the Institute for High-Speed Rail and System Integration on a site next to the Leeds Enterprise Zone, on the south eastern edge of the city. The Institute will form a key part of a wider strategy involving Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority/ Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership to develop a UK centre of excellence for rail engineering in the Leeds City Region.

50% More Long Stay Parking for Customers at Durham Station

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has added fifty per cent extra car parking for customers using Durham Station from December 2020.


A total of 147 additional spaces have been created following the completion of a new two level car park at the station, which is just a short walk from Durham’s historic city centre. It takes the total number of long-stay spaces for customers using the station to 435.

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “Durham is one of the key destinations on the LNER route and we are delighted to be able to enhance the experience for customers using the station. The additional spaces mean more than 50 per cent extra parking will be available, making it easier for people wishing to make journeys from Durham Station, whether it be for business or leisure.”


LNER, which manages the station, has invested £3.7 million in the project. The new car park has improved, energy-efficient LED lighting and full CCTV coverage.


David Horne added: “As the car park stands within a conservation area and within sight of the World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral and Castle, great care has been taken with the aesthetic appearance of the structure. The upper deck of the car park has been fitted with aluminium beams that have been printed to give the appearance of Italian walnut timber to complement the backdrop of the woodland behind the station.”


It’s the latest in a series of improvements at the station, which dates from 1857 and has recently been recognised as ‘Highly Commended’ Large Station of the Year at this year’s prestigious National Rail Awards. Stonework has been restored and enhancements made to the subway connecting the station’s two platforms, including a new walkway and wall panels showcasing vibrant images of County Durham.


Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “The completion of LNER’s new two-storey car park at Durham Railway Station is very good news for County Durham. Providing additional long-stay spaces will boost parking capacity, while also enhancing facilities at the station for residents and visitors travelling across the region and beyond.


“Improving connectivity and transport infrastructure is a major part of our long-term regeneration plans for the county.”

Durham is also one of LNER’s managed car parks to benefit from a parking offer. Customers can currently park for £5 a day after 09.30 Monday to Friday, or for those having a long weekend, park anytime Friday to Monday for just £12.

E-tickets available at more Sussex and Surrey stations, helping Southern and Thameslink passengers socially distance

People can now travel using Southern and Thameslink smartphone e-tickets at 11 more railway stations in Sussex and Surrey, helping people socially distance, preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Barcode readers have just been installed on ticket gates at:

  • Hassocks
  • Burgess Hill
  • Haywards Heath
  • Three Bridges
  • Horsham
  • Crawley
  • Dorking
  • Leatherhead
  • Ashtead
  • East Grinstead
  • Oxted

They allow passengers to scan e-tickets bought via the Southern OnTrack app, Thameslink OnTrack app or online at southernrailway.com and thameslinkrailway.com and displayed on their smartphones or printed out at home.

Barcode e-ticket sales have increased in the UK from 25% of UK rail ticket revenues pre-Covid to 33% as people realise the benefits of non-contact travel. E-tickets can help passengers travel with confidence and are ideal for advanced singles, peak and off-peak singles, and peak and off-peak day return tickets.

Another 18 Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern stations will follow across the Govia Thameslink Railway network over the coming months, in addition to the 42 stations already fitted with the technology (see editor’s notes for a full list).

Season ticket holders looking for similar Covid-safe benefits are urged to use the free Key smartcard which is also now available over most ticket office counters and not just by ordering it online, a process that would otherwise take up to five days.

Southern Managing Director Angie Doll said: “Customers who need to travel can already do so with confidence thanks to our intensive cleaning regime and long-lasting viruscide.

“Now, by rolling out e-tickets to even more stations in Sussex and Surrey, and making our free Key smartcard available over the counter, we’re making it even quicker and easier to book tickets online, speeding our passengers’ journeys through the station, minimising contact and helping everyone to socially distance.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Making public transport more modern and accessible is a top priority in all the work that we do. The roll-out of smartphone ticketing across the Southern and Thameslink network makes it quicker and faster for passengers to pass through stations, simplifying their journeys and delivering a more seamless experience.”

Travel as early as you can and book your space, says GWR

GWR continues to operate over 90% of its pre-Covid train timetable, but to allow for train travellers to be able to socially distance with ease, the operator is asking those intending to do so to plan ahead.

Book tickets in advance and remember and remember you must reserve a space before travelling*: help keep everyone safe and maintain social distancing. More information on what GWR is doing to support safe travel can be found here: www.gwr.com/safety

Avoid busy trains:

  • travel as early as you are able to. Services on Friday evening, at weekends, or as we approach the 23 to 27 December Christmas bubble are expected to be in demand. Please be aware that rail services will shut-down earlier on Christmas Eve
  • find out more about busy trains at GWR’s dedicated busy trains webpage: www.gwr.com/travel-updates/our-busy-trains

Use your mobile: Purchase tickets online to reduce unnecessary contact:

  • tickets do, however, need to be shown during travel. To help railway staff, charge your phone and keep railcards together for ease of checking

Do not take more luggage than you can carry:

  • there is space for luggage on board, however you can reduce unnecessary contact with others by not needing help to carry it

Hands. Face. Space:

  • hand sanitising equipment has been installed across the GWR network to help safe travel
  • face coverings must be worn in the station and on the train unless you are exempt
  • pay attention to station posters and floor markings and remember to reserve a seat to help maintain social distancing advice

GWR Head of Customer Experience Samyutha Bala said:

“We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.

“Please do, however, plan ahead, reserve a seat, and be considerate of others.”

From Sunday 13 December rail operators will introduce their December timetables and customers should check their journey before travelling, especially if they are used to taking a train at a particular time.

Network Rail engineering work in the Bristol area, and on the North Downs line between Reading and Gatwick may also affect the normal timetabled service between Christmas and the beginning of January and customers asked to check the details of their journey before travelling.

GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible, such as restricting the number of reservations available.

*: To help make sure everyone can travel safely, you must reserve a space before travelling on many of our trains. This helps us limit the number of people on these trains so it’s easier to socially distance. For reservable trains, we’ll automatically allocate you a space if one is available or ask you to try another service if not. Don’t worry, we always leave space on board for those with walk-up tickets, such as season tickets, or those who may have been disrupted.

Scotland’s Railway gives students Christmas tickets

Christmas is coming early this year for Scottish students, thanks to a massive 50 per cent discount on tickets from Scotland’s Railway.

University students will be able to take advantage of half price travel on any off-peak ScotRail service until 24 December.

And, the train operator is getting into the festive spirit even more by simplifying the process of buying the tickets.

All a student needs to do is turn up at a staffed ticket office with their ID, jump on board and head home to their loved ones.

The offer will be a huge boost to students who are worried about getting back to their families under the current coronavirus travel restrictions.

They need to record a negative Covid-19 test before they travel, but test appointments and the time taken to produce results mean students will find it almost impossible to book specific train services.

The off-peak half price offer will be a flexible, open-return ticket valid for one month after purchase, which will allow most students to return to their studies in January after another negative coronavirus test. The discount will be available on both off-peak day return and off-peak return tickets.

Students will be able to purchase the discounted tickets up until 24 December, which would mean they would have until 23 January to use the return portion of the journey.

Lesley Kane, ScotRail Commercial Director, said:

“Students are going through a hard enough time just now trying to keep up with their studies while worrying about catching coronavirus and balancing their finances.

“We think this half price deal on tickets is the best gift we can give them before Christmas and we’re sure it will be very popular amongst students who want to get home to see loved ones at this special family time of the year.

“We are confident ScotRail will be able to carry all passengers safely over the festive period by observing the five rules for safer travel, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing.”

New fogger, powerful disinfectants and record number of cleaners – EMR continues cleaning investment

East Midlands Railway (EMR) has further boosted its investment in measures to keep its trains and stations clean.

Throughout 2020, EMR has introduced enhanced cleaning and safety measures across all its depots, staff areas, trains, and stations – this has included more cleaning of all touch points, more staff and increased monitoring.

But as the railway gears up to exit the latest round of lockdown measures, it is going even further to make sure the services it runs can be as clean as possible and to help those customers returning to the railway to be confident that they can travel safely.

The new measures include employing the most cleaners in its history, sourcing powerful disinfectant products and purchasing new specialist cleaning equipment.

As well as buying a new piece of equipment called a Motorscrubber, which generates micro droplets for enhanced cleaning of touch points, EMR has also bought a specialist fog machine.

The new fog machine uses an antiviral disinfectant to sanitise large areas – making it perfect for the inside of carriages. The mist not only kills viruses on hard surfaces but also in the air.

It will be used across the network by cleaning staff who now number 577, the highest in the company’s history. EMR staff have been redeployed successfully from other areas of the business meaning there are now nearly a third more cleaners than before the pandemic. Customers want to visibly see staff engaged in cleaning and EMR has responded to that challenge.

Kay McCrindle, Cleaning Supervisor at Churchill Group, a contractor that EMR use, said: “Everyone in our team is so motivated, as we know how important our work is to customers and how vital it is in making sure EMR can run its services. It’s simple really, our hard work is helping to protect customers and staff, and its great that we have this new equipment to help us.

“There is a little army of us now, cleaning everything in sight and it feels good to be part of a team that can really make a difference to how safe passengers feel when they take a trip with EMR.”

Neil Grabham, Customer Services Director for East Midlands Railway, said: “Customers have repeatedly told us throughout the pandemic that Covid clean environments are their absolute priority and that is why throughout 2020 we have worked incredibly hard to make sure our trains and stations are as clean as possible. It is vital that customers returning to our network can travel with confidence.

“We have learnt a lot throughout the year and changed our approach to cleaning to embrace new systems and technology, particularly as the understanding of Covid has developed. We are always looking to invest in the best equipment possible to keep our customers safe.

“Our investment in unique specialist equipment and disinfectants, as well as having more than 500 people cleaning across our network, shows our commitment in this area and how passionate we are to make sure our passengers feel at ease when they use our services.

“We are so grateful for all the hard work by our cleaning team. It is clear to see how motivated they are, and we are all so thankful. They are doing a great job.”

Southern spruces up south London stations

Proud Southern Railway station managers Nathaniel Owen and Steve Fleming are welcoming passengers to their newly spruced-up south London stations. Improvements at North Dulwich and Streatham are among the first to be completed in the train company’s network-wide, multimillion-pound programme that’s making every station a better place for passengers.

At North Dulwich, Nathaniel is showing off the freshly refurbished ticket hall, restored with “heritage” colours and period features that befit its protected Grade II listed status as a building of special historic interest. The ‘Moss Green’ woodwork and contrasting cream walls match the original paintwork applied to all Southern Railway station interiors in the 1920s, and the “period” feel continues with dado rails, wood-effect flooring and repainting of the Victorian fire surround.

Nathaniel said: “I’m delighted that so much care has been taken to look after this popular historic building for the local community, while making it look and work better for our passengers. People travelling towards central London will also benefit from a new platform shelter being installed very soon.”

North Dulwich, opened in 1868 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway company, was designed by Charles Barry Jr, the architect of the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street station as well as several notable Dulwich landmarks including Dulwich Park, New College and St Steven’s Church. He was the son of Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Palace of Westminster.

The three stations serving Streatham – Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Streatham itself – are enjoying a host of enhancements, many suggested by local people including the Streatham Transport Action Transport Group (SATG).

Neil Salt, Chair of SATG, visited Streatham and Streatham Common, where station manager Steve Fleming showed him the transformation in progress.

Steve said: “We’ve brightened up the station by painting the dark platform walls along the tunnelled area, refurbishing the waiting room and WC, and the ramp up to the waiting room entrance. We’re also improving the platform lighting, and letting more light onto the footbridge by replacing the boarding on the windows with frosted laminate.”

Southern are installing new benches and refurbishing toilets at all three stations.

Neil said: “It is great to see this investment in improvements that will be to the benefit of all regular users of the stations, and that they are immediately apparent. In particular, the brightening-up from the repaint, alongside the LED lighting soon to be installed under the bridge at Streatham station, will no doubt help to raise morale amongst all passengers as life gradually returns to something like normality over the months ahead. On behalf of Streatham’s rail passengers, thank you Southern Railway.”

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said; “While we’re keeping trains and stations clean and safe for travel, we’re also making every Southern station look and work better for our passengers and their local communities. Hundreds of improvements now under way are the results of local people telling us their priorities and getting actively involved, and I thank everyone for helping us to be a good neighbour.”

Network Rail takes advantage of quieter period to make improvements to two of London’s busiest railways, in partnership with train operators

Network Rail engineers are getting extra time to make improvements to two of London’s busiest railway lines thanks to lower passenger numbers during the second national lockdown.

Working closely with operators Thameslink, Southern and London Overground, the company’s Southern region is working overnight to tackle the causes of some recent delays to trains on the core Thameslink central London route between St Pancras and London Blackfriars, and the Sydenham Corridor between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction.

Both those routes are crucial for the punctual operation of trains across South London and – thanks to Thameslink – even well into the north, on lines to Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough. However, they are also very busy 24 hours a day.

Network Rail Southern region director John Halsall said: “One of the challenges of running a busy railway is that the routes we most need to do work on are the routes where people need them to be running 24/7 and it’s hard to get the time to do the job. That means the big jobs get done but the smaller work – such as managing vegetation or even wildlife – is hard to fit in and the smaller problems build into big ones.

“Working closely with our colleagues at Thameslink, Southern and London Overground, we’ve been able to take advantage of this unusually quiet time on the railway to plan some ‘quick wins’ working overnight. It will also give the opportunity to properly look at the condition of some of the technology so we really know the state of the railway and what we might need to do in future.

“We’ve had some performance problems on these corridors recently and I know passengers will want to see improvements quickly, which this plan delivers.”

Thameslink Customer Services Director Jenny Saunders said: “These difficult times do at least give us an opportunity to improve the railway, to make it more reliable. This is why, with Southern, we have collaborated with our industry colleagues at Network Rail to make this time available for extra engineering work. Passengers should please check online at thameslinkrailway.com to plan their journeys.”

Rory O’Neill, TfL’s General Manager for London Overground, said: “We are always looking at ways we can reduce unnecessary delays for our customers and welcome this improvement work Network Rail is doing to help tackle these.  Some late-night London Overground services may finish early to allow this important work to take place safely and we recommend you check your journey before you travel.”

As a result of the work, there are changes to late-night train times between Loughborough Junction/London Bridge and Finsbury Park/Kentish Town as of Monday, 23 November – Friday 27 November, and between London Bridge/New Cross Gate and East/West Croydon and Crystal Palace from Monday 30 November until Friday, 4 December.

Work planned includes improvements to the quality of the track for a smoother ride, signalling improvements, removing and cutting back some trees and bushes from the trackside, clearing scrap rails and even bird-proofing structures and the former King’s Cross Thameslink station. 

Meet Barry: South Western Railway’s secret weapon in drive to boost performance

The customer now has a voice at the very heart of South Western Railway’s (SWR) control room and his name is Barry.

Based at the Wessex Integrated Control Centre (WICC), Barry Lemm is one of the seven new Duty Control Managers (DCM) being tasked with ensuring that the customer is at the centre of decisions taken during service disruption.

Barry and the other DCMs are on hand 24/7 to make sure the right decisions are made for passengers as well as for the railway. They help to ensure that service is recovered not just as quickly as possible, but in a way that impacts the smallest number of passengers.

Barry Lemm, Duty Control Manager, said:

“We can’t have our customers in the control room with us, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a say in how our network runs. My DCM colleagues and I are proud to represent the interests of our passengers and be their voice in the control room.

“Those of us who work on the railway do so because we are passionate about delivering the best journeys we can for our passengers. In this role, we DCMs are uniquely placed to really make a positive difference to the services we run”.   

Barry and his DCM colleagues kick into action as soon as disruption takes place on the network, working to mitigate its impact and ensure that passengers are given up-to-date and accurate information as quickly as possible.

To assist Barry and his colleagues in the control room is a new web based tool called Standard Operating Procedure Checklist. This tool helps to ensure that incidents are managed in a timely manner by checking off the required actions of everyone involved as the incident unfolds right up until it is closed.

Previously, management of the train service across the network was led by Network Rail alone, but this new arrangement sees the DCMs working in tandem with Network Rail’s Route Control Managers.

The move comes following a 2018 report on SWR performance by Sir Michael Holden which identified train service management during disruption and the resulting impact on customers as an area which required improvement. The introduction of DCMs is a response to this and signals a major shift towards improving customer experience.

The Holden Report was the catalyst for the creation of the Joint Performance Improvement Centre (JPIC) which has been in existence now for almost two years. The creation of the DCM role was made possible as a result of close collaboration between both SWR and Network Rail, via JPIC, as part of the Control Transformation Programme.

Commenting, Stefan Chybowski, SWR’s Train Service Delivery Manager, said:

“We strive to put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and this shakeup will put our passengers’ interests at centre stage when incidents and disruption occur on the network.

“We are determined to drive up the performance and punctuality of our network, and the Holden Report identified disruption management as an area which was key to bringing about improvements. This move is a direct response to this report, with the DCMs set to help deliver the changes our customers rightly want to see”.