GBRf unveils new Intermodal Service in partnership with MSC

GB Railfreight are delighted to announce the start of an additional intermodal service, which began on 18 November.

The service, which operates to the Port of Liverpool from the East Midlands is in partnership with Mediterranean Shipping Company (UK) Ltd and will run five times a week.

Despite the economic turmoil brought about by COVID-19, GBRf have successfully continued making inroads into the Intermodal market with this being GBRf’s 21st Intermodal service to date. It also shows the resilience and flexibility of the GBRf business model which is built on robust relationships even in times of uncertainty.

In addition, with climate change front and centre of the political agenda, this announcement is further proof of GBRf’s commitment to moving more and more goods in a sustainable way. This is because GBRf are committed to increasing the amount of goods and materials transported via rail freight, reducing emissions and delivering a more sustainable logistics solution.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“We are delighted to have begun services between the East Midlands and the Port of Liverpool.  Despite the economic challenges we all face, GB Railfreight continues to grow as a business, and we are showing ourselves to be leaders in the field of innovation and a customer delivery. I couldn’t be prouder to unveil our newest intermodal service – proof we are the industry’s most trusted intermodal carrier.

“I cannot thank MSC enough for allowing us to establish and launch a new service for them. We look forward to developing this partnership even further in the months and years ahead.

“GBRf prides itself on being supportive and committed to long standing and inspiring partnerships. We like to be challenged.  We are delighted to be working with our customer MSC, Peel Ports and Maritime Transport in delivering a new intermodal service into the Port of Liverpool- one which will see 20,000 lorry journeys off our roads.”

Jonathan Burke, Operations Director at MSC UK said:

“We are very pleased to announce that, together with our partners, we have launched the first daily intermodal rail connection between the Port of Liverpool and the East Midlands. This new service enhances our nationwide port and intermodal network, further strengthening the breadth of our offering to clients whilst helping to reduce carbon emissions.”

HS2 launches 2021 graduate recruitment scheme

The opportunity to join one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, and play a role in levelling up Britain, will become a reality for the 17 people who secure a place on HS2’s coveted 2-year graduate programme.

With a major engineering programme ahead, HS2 is bolstering its infrastructure directorate by offering the opportunity for engineering graduates to join the teams charged with overseeing the delivery of the stations, tunnels and viaducts along the 140-mile section of the first phase of the railway between Birmingham and London.

Further graduate opportunities will be created in Project Management, Commercial, Design, Governance and Controls and Communications and Engagement.

Karen Davis, HS2 Ltd’s Future Talent Manager, said:

“We’re committed to ensuring that HS2 leaves a learning legacy and our annual investment in apprentices and graduates helps us to achieve this.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for 17 talented graduates who will be given the opportunity to begin their career working on a truly historic and innovative project”.

HS2 Ltd received over 1,000 applications for its 2020 graduate training programme, which informed the decision to increase the number of graduates it welcomed into the business in September this year. This year, the decision has been taken once again to increase the annual intake from nine to 17 for the 2021 cohort.

Karen added:

“This has been an incredibly difficult year for young people and we’re doing everything we can to support their career journeys. 

“In February we’ll open the recruitment window for our annual apprentice scheme and we’ve already increased the number of work experience placements and mentoring opportunities available”.   

Demand for the 2021 graduate programme is expected to be high and students are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible.

For more information about the graduate programme and the roles available, visit hs2.org.uk/careers/

New animation shows how Leeds’ new £38.5million park and ride will look once complete.

An animation has been released by Leeds City Council to show how the brand new park and ride in Stourton will look once complete in autumn 2021.

The £38.5 million project forms part of Connecting Leeds’ ambition to improve the bus network, provide better connectivity and reduce carbon emissions in the city.

The park and ride will have capacity for 1200 vehicles and will complement the Elland Road and Temple Green sites, catering for trips south-east of the city with access via Junction 7 of M621, A61S and A639. The Stourton site will take over £1.6m car kms off the network into Leeds City centre each year.

It is set to be the first fully solar powered park and ride site and will be served by an electric bus fleet which will run every day. The result of a solar powered site will result in the reduction of 471 tonnes of carbon each year, which is the equivalent of removing 203 cars from our roads. The solar panels will also power 26 electric car charging points and one bus capacity point, meaning electric vehicle users will benefit from a sustainable energy supply.

In addition to this, the bus priority measures along the new corridor linking the park and ride to the city will help to provide quicker and more reliable journey times on existing services. Modelling shows that at peak times, the measures along Hunslet Road and Low Road will provide a 10% journey time improvement for buses.

Leeds City Council’s executive board member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, Councillor Lisa Mulherin, said:

“The exciting development of Stourton park and ride builds on the obvious benefits of people switching to public transport use to reduce their impact on the environment. Solar panels and an innovative battery storage system, paid for with European Regional Development Funding, will provide energy for the whole park & ride site, which will be served by electric buses.”

Cllr Kim Groves, transport lead for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:

“I’m excited to see the development of Stourton Park & Ride and the positive environmental impact this will have on the local community. With the potential to take up to 1,200 cars off the road and offer improved journey times into Leeds city centre in a fleet of new all-electric buses, projects like this are an important milestone in our ambition to becoming a net-zero carbon region by 2038.”   

Martin Hirst, Commercial Director of First West Yorkshire, said:

“It is exciting to see the progress being made at the Stourton park and ride and we are delighted to have been selected by West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council to operate the service. This builds on our successful partnership with the existing park & ride network in the city and we’re looking forward to bringing the benefits of this bus connectivity to more people working in and visiting Leeds.

“The new buses will expand our all-electric vehicles in Leeds and are a continued demonstration of our strategy to move to a fully zero-emission fleet across the region in the years ahead. They also enable us to capitalise on the bus priority measures now rolling out across the city, helping to create cleaner air, reduce congestion and give customer reliable journey times in superior comfort.”

HS2 removes over 12,500 lorries from UK roads as first freight train rolls into Bucks site

  • Over 180 freight trains set to deliver material to HS2’s main compound in Buckinghamshire in next 12 months, equivalent to 12,670 HGVs that would otherwise be on Britain’s roads
  • Use of rail freight to this site will cut 30,150 tonnes of carbon – the equivalent of flying from London to Edinburgh 930 times!
HS2 removes over 12,500 lorries from UK roads as first freight train rolls into Bucks site: Calvert freight train

The first freight train has arrived at HS2’s main construction compound in Buckinghamshire, as work continues to prepare for the start of construction across the central section of Britain’s new high-speed railway.

Over the next year, more than 180 freight trains are set to deliver material to the site taking the equivalent of 12,670 trucks (HGVs) off the road and saving 30,150 tonnes of carbon – the equivalent of flying from London to Edinburgh 930 times.

The train – operated by DB Cargo UK and Hanson – delivered 1,650 tonnes of aggregate that will be used in the construction of the temporary Calvert Railhead.

Across the whole HS2 project, 15,000 freight trains are set to be used to haul 10 million tonnes of aggregate to construction sites – taking the equivalent of 1.5 million HGVs off the UK’s road.

The 26,200 sq/m Calvert Railhead site is roughly halfway between London and Birmingham and will be run by HS2’s main works contractor EKFB – a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial and Bam Nuttall. EKFB are delivering the 80km central section of the route, including 17 viaducts, 81 bridges and three ‘green tunnels’ and are set to create 4,000 jobs over the next two years.

HS2 Project Client Director, Ambrose McGuire said:

“We are serious about reducing the impact of construction on the local community and promoting sustainable construction methods. That’s why I’m so pleased to see the arrival of the first material into Calvert by rail instead of road.

“We’ve been working closely with Network Rail, EKFB and the Freight Operators for a number of years to make this possible, and to deliver not only low carbon journeys for our passengers, but also cut carbon in construction.”

EKFB Operations Director, Peter Bimson said:

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of carbon reduction in the construction industry, and bringing this aggregate into Calvert by train instead of road is not only more efficient, but significantly reduces our impact on the environment.

“Removing thousands of HGVs from the roads in the Calvert area also demonstrates our commitment to the local community in delivering EKFB’s section of the HS2 project with as little impact as possible.”

At the peak of construction, more than 650 people will work at the Calvert Railhead, stockpiling materials and managing the logistics and construction of the central section of the new railway. Once HS2 is complete, the railhead will be removed and the site landscaped, leaving only a small infrastructure maintenance depot.

The railhead is also next to a section of disused railway which is set to be brought back into local passenger use as part of the East-West rail project which will link Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge. The two teams are working closely together on their construction plans and a bridge will be installed to allow HS2 to pass under the reopened railway.

Upgrade to Avanti West Coast Voyager fleet now complete

Avanti West Coast partner with Bombardier to complete refresh of entire Voyager fleet 

  • All 20 Voyager trains have now undergone an extensive interior refresh
  • £8.3m programme delivered in less than six months by Bombardier
  • Time lapse video captures week long programme of works

Avanti West Coast rolled out its final upgraded Voyager train today (Friday, 17 December) marking the end of a six-month overhaul programme.

The £8.3m investment was completed at Bombardier’s depot in Ilford, east London, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with customers already benefitting from the trains’ revitalised interiors.

The refresh of the 20 trains includes new Standard Class seats covers and carpets as well as a revamped toilet area. All older lighting has been replaced with more energy efficient LEDs.

The interior bodyside and ceiling panels in Vestibules, toilets and Standard Class saloons have also been refinished in either paint or vinyl wraps. The door grab handles have been coated with an anti-microbial finish.

The full programme of work was captured in a unique time lapse video which can be downloaded here:

Avanti West Coast Senior Project Manager, Adrian Bullock, explained: “This investment has delivered a step change to the Voyager’s onboard environment. Our customers will really notice the difference.”

“It’s given the trains a new lease of life, and they will continue to serve our customers   for the next two years with great distinction.”

The 20 Voyagers operate over the non-electrified sections of the West Coast Main Line in addition to running from London to Scotland, via the West Midlands. They will remain in service until 2022 when Avanti West Coast will introduce a fleet of new Hitachi Class 805 and 807 trains.

Eric Holmes, Head of UK Services, Bombardier Transportation said; “We are very pleased to have completed this project for our friends at Avanti West Coast. The team at our Ilford facility have performed exceptionally well, despite the challenge of COVID-19, and have delivered a high-quality product on time and on budget. We are all proud of what we have delivered to our customer.”

Cleanliness at the forefront as Aurora interiors are designed to be easy to clean

East Midlands Railway (EMR) has been working closely with specialist designers to make sure the interiors of its new Aurora fleet can be kept as clean as possible.

Working with Derby-based designers DGDESIGN, EMR has paid particular attention to the issue of cleanliness when finalising materials and designs for the interiors of its new bi-mode Aurora fleet which will enter service in 2023.

Ensuring public areas are clean has never been more important and issues such as making sure material choices and regular touchpoints are easy to clean have been closely considered and scrutinised. This includes ensuring there are  minimal gaps or ledges in the carriage where dust or dirt can build up. Longevity has also been thought about and the team has gone to great lengths to make sure hard-wearing surfaces were also included in the final design choices – perfect for keeping the interiors fresh looking for years to come.

Rachel Turner, Head of New Trains at East Midlands Railway, said cleanliness had been an mini-obsession of the team designing the new trains – even before the pandemic struck.

She said: “Customers deserve to travel in the cleanest possible environment and of course when everything feels calm and clean people find it easier to relax. Keeping trains clean is a challenge but without doubt design can play a massive part. That is why right at the start of this project, cleanliness was a key priority for us and the team at DGDESIGN. Since then the issue has become even more important to our customers and we have met that challenge using great materials and clever design.

“We are confident that our new Aurora fleet interiors will be easy to clean and maintain, and also long lasting – which is great news for customers who will be travelling on these brand new trains for many years.”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=feMN_qJoASw%3Ffeature%3Dyoutu

Andy Sykes, Senior Designer at DGDESIGN, said: “One of our guiding principles in this project has been to ‘Do the Basics Beautifully’ – that may sound simple, but in reality even brand new trains often fall short of this ambition, especially when it comes to cleaning. We continually learn from existing interiors, identify areas that are difficult to clean, places which allow dirt to build-up, and focus on designing those out.

“This has included more visible decisions, such as developing colours and materials which are hard-wearing, but a lot of effort has gone into finessing the very smallest details. Throughout the train we have designed-out tight corners, small gaps and ledges which can be tough or time-consuming to clean; details which the passenger may never notice if well-executed.

“Consider the army of night-time cleaners and maintainers working around the clock to deliver trains into service; when the train is fundamentally easy to clean, they are able to focus on the areas that matter most to the passenger. To ensure EMR can continue to deliver day-one cleanliness through the life of the train, every detail matters.”

EMR’s new Intercity fleet, which will be able to run on electricity and diesel, will be built by Hitachi Rail in County Durham and financed by Rock Rail East Midlands. Aurora will offer significant advances on the existing fleet, with passengers benefiting from more seats and modern interiors. The trains will also include features that passengers have said they want to see, including air conditioning, free WiFi throughout, plug sockets and better passenger information screens.

Avanti West Coast auction items raise over £2,000 for Rail Aid

Avanti West Coast auctions off items of railway memorabilia to raise over £2000 for Railway Children as part of the charity’s Rail Aid fundraiser

  • Rail enthusiasts snap up much sought after Crewe Station signs
  • Crewe photobook goes under the hammer in gala auction
  • Railway Children’s Rail Aid campaign raises over £½ million

Avanti West Coast has helped raise over £2,000 for Railway Children by donating a number of items to the charity’s week long Rail Aid fundraiser.

Eight station signs from Crewe Station were snapped up by rail enthusiasts, eager to get their hands on a piece of railway history. A photobook, which captured the experience of the railway during COVID-19, also went under the hammer, fetching £255.

The signs will not have far to travel to their new homes, with five of the winning bids coming from people who live in or around Crewe. The remaining three will be spending their retirement in Milton Keynes, Wigan and Leicestershire.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response and the amount raised,” said Karen Grimshaw, Station Manager for Avanti West Coast at Crewe. “So a big thank you to everyone, especially the winners who clearly have such fond memories of their time spent at the station.”

Crewe resident Rachel Cope (pictured), who successfully bid for a sign, added: “I couldn’t believe when I heard that I’d won one of the signs. I’m a regular visitor to the station, and the sign will be the perfect back drop to the model railway that I’m building, which is based on the layout at Crewe.”

Rail Aid, led by charity Railway Children, raised over £½ million in 2020, bringing the best of the UK rail community together to raise money and help vulnerable children whose lives have been impacted by coronavirus. 

Network Rail update – Another 8 news stories to read!

Multi-million-pound platform access improvements for Euston passengers

Passenger access is being improved to four of London Euston station’s busiest platforms as part of a multi-million-pound improvement programme.

The current layout of the ramp to platforms 8-11 acts a bottleneck resulting in an uncomfortable experience for passengers.

The £11.7m investment will see the access widened allowing more space for passengers to move from the concourse to their train.

The work coincides with other Euston station upgrades due in 2021, including new information screens and improvements to the announcement system.

The platform access improvements will start this Christmas and are expected to last until summer 2021.

During the work there will be no disruption to passengers.

Joe Hendry, station manager at London Euston said: “Over the last couple of years, passengers will have seen Euston in various states of construction as we’ve worked to improve our facilities and pave the way for HS2.

“Though we can’t make the station building bigger, this work will help us get passengers to where they need to be more effectively and efficiently. I’m confident our ongoing work to improve information systems, signage, widening the concourse and access to platforms, along with better facilities and retail offering, will make journeys through the station much smoother, easier and pleasant.

“I really care about our passengers and I’ve listened to what they have to say. I’ve been using the feedback I’ve received through Twitter and our national helpline to help shape this project.”

As the country continues to control the spread of Covid-19, Euston station is continuing its enhanced deep cleaning programme to keep passengers safe.

Hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens in offices, on buggies and at information podiums have also been installed across the station.

Passengers are asked to follow Government guidance around the use of public transport this Christmas.

Travellers must wear a face covering on train services and any replacement bus services. Those who fail to do so risk being fined £200.

However, some people are exempt, including young children and people with hidden disabilities or breathing difficulties.

For more information on the best times to travel this Christmas and work taking place to upgrade the railway on the West Coast main line click here.

Massive investment in Glasgow’s railway this Christmas

Passengers in Scotland’s biggest city are set to benefit from improved journeys in 2021 as Network Rail delivers projects to upgrade and renew infrastructure around Glasgow this festive period.

Engineers will be working on key rail lines in and around the city, relaying tracks, renewing junctions and upgrading signalling systems as part of a £16m investment in Scotland’s Railway over Christmas.

From late on Christmas Eve until the early hours of Saturday, January 2, work will be taking place at Cadder to the north of the city to replace over 1km of track and renew or refurbish 12 sets of points (rails that move to allow trains to switch from one track to another).

The team at Cadder will also be renewing signalling and overhead power equipment and upgrading points heaters, which will help stop rails from freezing during the coming winter months.

Also to the north of the city, at Greenhill Junction, work will take place over Christmas to upgrade signalling systems to make the railway more resilient and reduce delays for passengers.

These projects will have an impact on some services in and out of Glasgow Queen Street, but alternative routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be available.

To the south of Glasgow city centre, engineers will be working from New Year’s Day until the early hours of January 4 to renew junctions and life-expired tracks.

This will include work to renew equipment at Muirhouse junction, replace and refurbish track and other infrastructure on the approaches to Glasgow Central – near Bridge Street on the south side of the river – and within the station itself.

These works will affect some services into Glasgow Central over the New Year period.

Passengers who need to travel over the festive period are being urged to check their journey in advance. More details on services within Scotland can be found at: 2020 Christmas and New Year train times | ScotRail.

Those travelling are also reminded to continue following the Government’s COVID-19 travel guidance and if you must use public transport wear a face covering, travel at quieter times and maintain a distance from other passengers wherever possible.

Kris Kinnear, Network Rail Scotland’s capital delivery director, said: “The work we are undertaking over the festive period is vital for passengers and freight relying on Scotland’s Railway.  It is part of a £4bn investment being made in Scotland’s rail infrastructure between now and 2024.

“These projects will help make our railway more resilient, more reliable and more sustainable, but such complex infrastructure improvements cannot be delivered without some short-term closures of the railway.

“We’re urging passengers who need to travel over the festive period to plan ahead and check how these works may affect their journey this December and early January.”

Elsewhere in Scotland over Christmas, engineers will be relaying track and refurbishing structures in Edinburgh, Stirling and Inverness.

Major upgrade works taking place early in 2021 on the Great Eastern Main line

Photo by Phil Adams

Essential upgrade works will be taking place on the Great Eastern main line in January and February between London Liverpool Street station and Shenfield and on the Southend Victoria line to improve reliability for passengers.

Major renewals works will continue to replace the overhead line electrification system between Stratford and Maryland to install a new auto tension system that allows the overhead wires to adapt to temperature changes, meaning fewer delays and cancellations for passengers.

Other maintenance works will be taking place along the line at the same time on several footbridge structures at Seven Kings, Goodmayes and Brentwood as well track maintenance at Ilford and Shenfield. Works on the Southend Victoria line include track refurbishment, earthworks and removal of redundant overhead line structures.

These works will take place over the following weekends in January and February:

• Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 January 2021
• Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2021
• Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January 2021
• Saturday 06 and Sunday 07 February 2021
• Sunday 14 February 2021*
• Sunday 21 February 2021

The works will affect TfL Rail and Greater Anglia services between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield and Great Anglia services between Shenfield, and Southend Victoria/Southminster.

*Separately, track works are also taking place between Colchester and Ipswich on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February which will also affect service on the Great Eastern main line.

Passengers expecting to travel on the Great Eastern main line to/from London Liverpool Street and on the Southend Victoria line on these dates are advised to check before travelling with www.nationalrail.co.uk, www.tfl.gov.uk or www.greateranglia.co.uk and continue to follow guidance to stay COVID safe while using public transport.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia said: “We’re planning to do a lot of work early in the new year which means we have to close a large section of the main line for several weekends for which I apologise.

‘We are planning to complete the major overhead line renewals work at Stratford by Easter 2021 so that the new systems are in place for the warmer summer months, improving reliability for passengers and reducing the risk of cancellations and delays from heat related speed restrictions.’

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “A rail replacement bus service will operate while the work takes place. Passengers should allow more time for their journey and check before they travel. We would like to thank customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“We are already seeing the benefits of major improvement work which was carried out on the Southend Victoria line. The infrastructure is more resilient in the summer months meaning more trains are running on time. This work is the final part of the upgrade project and while there is never an ideal time for engineering work to take place, we are pleased it will be finished in time for the spring.

“We are working with Network Rail to modernise the railway in East Anglia. As part of this, we are replacing every single train in our fleet with a brand new one. The first new train on the Southend line came into service in November 2020 and we will continue with the roll out next year.

“We’d like to reassure customers that they can travel safely with us whether it be by train or bus and remind people to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth for all of their journey, including on buses, trains or stations.”

More information can be found by visiting our project webpage here: www.networkrail.co.uk/anglia-ole-renewals

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Time for the 100th mural in Network Rail’s Southern region – featuring Waterloo’s iconic clock

Waterloo station’s iconic clock takes centre stage in the one hundredth community artwork project that has taken place in Network Rail’s Southern region

The mural on Station Approach Road sits outside Britain’s busiest station and features the time of 6.48pm. On a 24 hour clock that would be 1848 – the year the station opened.

Network Rail has once again teamed up with celebrated street artist Lionel Stanhope on this creation – his fiftieth for the region – who has been turning railway arches, bridges and community spaces across Kent, Surrey, Sussex and South London into stunning pieces of artwork since 2016.

His work in 2020 has included a mural for Millwall football club one for the community near Barnes Bridge and an NHS inspired mural in Southwark

Nicole Cohen-Wray, stations director for Network Rail’s Southern region, said: “It’s a fitting tribute for Waterloo station – our busiest – to be the location of our one hundredth mural.

“We own bridges and other structures across the South, Kent and Sussex and we work with community groups to turn these spaces into works of art as the murals are much nicer to look at and they also encourage people to respect and look after them.

“We’re always open to creative ways to make our railway look better and more welcoming for the neighbourhood.”

Eddie Burton, community manager for Network Rail Southern region, said: “It’s been a real privilege to be involved in some brilliant pieces of community artwork, particularly working with Lionel Stanhope, across the South of England.

“We’re looking forward to working with communities during 2021 to bring more colour to their neighbourhoods.”

Replacing the first terminus of the London and Southampton Railway at Nine Elms, Waterloo Station was opened in 1848 by the London and South Western Railway as part of extending the line two miles to be nearer the city. This original station, known as ‘central station’, had six platforms.

Network Rail to reduce level crossing risk across Suffolk

As part of plans to reduce the risks for those using level crossings and to create a safer, more reliable railway, Network Rail today announced it has been granted the powers to close or modify nine level crossings across Suffolk.

In 2017, Network Rail applied for a Transport and Works Act Order to obtain the powers to close or modify 22 level crossings in Suffolk. The Secretary of State for Transport has now granted Network Rail the powers to close or modify the following nine level crossings:

  • Island, IP9 2LP
  • Leggetts, IP14 4EY
  • Gooderhams, IP14 4HH
  • Paynes, IP23 8JE
  • Gislingham, IP14 4HX
  • Cowpasture Lane, IP23 8EF
  • Abbotts, IP23 8DN
  • Lords, IP30 9UD
  • Hawk End Lane, IP30 9ED

Gooderhams, Leggetts, and Abbotts crossings will be closed to the public once the Transport and Works Act Order comes into force. This date will be confirmed in the Order published by the Secretary of State. Users will be directed to use existing alternative routes. Signage will be provided where necessary.

Cowpasture Lane is being legally downgraded from a Byway Open to All Traffic to a Public Bridleway. Mounting blocks will be provided to assist equestrians.

Before we start work on the new alternative routes for the other five level crossings, Network Rail will work with landowners and Suffolk County Council to agree the final steps in the design process. An update will be published once designs have been confirmed. Full detail of the powers granted and a copy of the Secretary of State’s report can be found on GOV.UK.

Closing or modifying level crossings and diverting users to alternative routes will make the railway safer by reducing the number of points where people can come into contact with trains. The changes also support Network Rail in delivering a more efficient and reliable railway for the taxpayer, passengers and freight users, reducing ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and reducing delays to trains, pedestrians and other highway users.

Network Rail aims to keep disruption to a minimum while the works are completed.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “While we are disappointed to only receive the powers to close or modify nine level crossings, improving safety on the railway continues to be my top priority. As we begin work on these nine crossings, we will continue to focus on how we can further reduce the risk at level crossings across the network.

“This has been a long process and so I want to thank everyone that got involved from residents, crossing users, local businesses, politicians and the media, as together we will make the railway safer for everyone in Suffolk.”

Network Rail recently received the powers to close or modify 16 level crossings in Cambridgeshire and a similar proposal is underway covering Essex, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Hertfordshire, and the London Borough of Havering. 

As the project develops, the website will be updated to give further detail of each crossing closure or modification www.networkrail.co.uk/anglialevelcrossings.

Network Rail installs new, lifesaving defibrillator in rural Selby village

Network Rail has installed a new life saving defibrillator at Stubbs Walden North level crossing in the village of Walden Stubbs, Selby, following a request from the community.

In June 2019, Network Rail was asked if it would be possible to install a defibrillator at the level crossing so that it could be used by the community in the event of an emergency.

Villagers raised over £600 for the equipment, which has now been installed at the crossing, which sits on the line between Knottingley and Shaftholme. The line is predominantly used by freight services which are heading to the nearby Drax Power Station. Both Drax and freight operator DB Cargo contributed £500 each for the equipment. North Yorkshire County Councillor John McCartney put £1000 from his locality budget towards the project, which will be used for ongoing maintenance and running costs. The design of the installation was done free of charge by AGH Engineering Ltd.

Network Rail teams have carried out work to allow the device to be fitted, including installing a walkway, fencing and handrails and connecting the defibrillator to the power supply. The defibrillator is now ready to use if required.

Dawn Sweeting, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail, said: “We’re always happy to work with the community and we’re glad that we’ve enabled this life saving equipment to be installed.

“We’ve seen a real sense of community spirit here and we’ve worked with other rail industry partners and local businesses to bring this project to fruition. We hope the defibrillator never has to be used, but it’s good that it’s available if needed.”

Nina Jackson, the resident who approached Network Rail to install the lifesaving equipment, said: “I would like to thank Network Rail, Drax and DB Cargo for their outstanding community support in the village of Walden Stubbs. This together with the fundraising efforts of residents has enabled the installation of a defibrillator. This life saving equipment is invaluable, considering the remote nature of the village.”

Bruce Heppenstall, Drax Power Station Plant Director, said: “We’re proud to be able to support the communities in which we operate. Equipment like this can be life-saving, particularly for people in rural communities which are often further away from medical centres, so we’re delighted to have played a part in providing it.”

Kathryn Oldale, Head of Strategy, Policy and Communications at DB Cargo UK, said: “DB Cargo UK is delighted to have been able to contribute to this invaluable, lifesaving support for the people of Walden Stubbs, local communities and ultimately for our railway family who use the local lines.

“Having public access defibrillators in more rural settings give people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the community a chance of life because every second counts. Local residents and anyone in the area who may need immediate access to a defibrillator will now have peace of mind that one is set up and ready to go.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor, John McCartney, said: “I was delighted to facilitate a grant of £1,000 to help enable Stubbs Walden become the final community in the area to have its own lifesaving defibrillator in place. 

“It was fantastic of Network Rail to site the defibrillator at one of their level crossings in the village as they have no public buildings in the village. Without their support there would be no defibrillator in Stubbs Walden.”

Andy Hughes, Managing Director for AGH Engineering, said: “When we were approached by Network Rail with the details of this scheme, I had no hesitation in saying that we would help and offer our services at no cost.

“We undertook a site survey and produced a detailed design for the provision of the power supply. The fast turnaround of the design and the physical installation has been a great example of collaborative working between ourselves, Network Rail, the community and other partners.”

Castleford Railway Station £2.8 Million Transformation Now Complete

A project to significantly improve Castleford railway station and provide a more attractive and welcoming gateway to the town has been completed.

The improvements include better connections to the town centre and improved facilities in a new station building and have been delivered by a partnership of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Northern, Network Rail and Wakefield Council.

Improved Passenger Experience

Passengers can now make use of high-quality waiting facilities in the new station building, which comprises a ticket vending machine, new seating area, a disabled toilet, and information and retail facilities.

The car park has been refurbished and includes 65 parking spaces (including 3 blue badge spaces), CCTV, and lighting, and an improved layout to allow for easier pedestrian, cycle, and non-motorised access. There is also sheltered cycle parking, accommodating up to 10 bikes, outside the station building.

Better Links

To create a more attractive link between the rail station and residential areas in the south of Castleford town centre, the footway in the subway underpass has been resurfaced, and wall cladding, lightning and CCTV added.

New footway treatments, landscaping and signage have been added to the areas around the station and on key walking routes between the railway station, town centre and the bus station.

Funded through investment from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, the £2.8 Million Castleford Rail Station Gateway scheme is a joint West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Northern, Network Rail and Wakefield Council initiative.

The West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund is supported through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“With over half a million people using it each year and that number forecast to grow, Castleford station is a key gateway to the town.

“With its improved passenger facilities and better links with the town centre and the nearby bus station, which the Combined Authority completely rebuilt in 2016, this joint scheme has turned Castleford Rail Station into the welcoming gateway the town deserves.

“Improving the station and the spaces for people to park and ride by train will also help to reduce the damaging economic and environmental costs of congestion in our towns and cities.”

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said:

“The station is hugely important for Castleford and this investment will provide the gateway the town deserves along with better facilities for passengers that will encourage more people to use the rail network.

“I am pleased that working with our partners we have been able to secure funding and deliver this project that provides a fitting gateway to the town.”

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said:

“We are really happy to have been involved in this project as it will make a huge difference to passengers.

“The new station building provides much needed facilities and will make travelling to and from Castleford more enjoyable, as well as more comfortable, and we look forward to passengers reaping the benefits.”

Tony Baxter, Regional Director at Northern, said:

“Our customers will see big improvements at Castleford station and it now offers so much more to the community.

“I am confident that the significant improvements made at Castleford will help to enhance the overall experience for passengers – whether that’s buying a ticket, waiting for a train or getting information about our services.”

“The refurbishment is part of a larger programme taking place across our network which includes installing more CCTV, switching to energy-saving LED bulbs in all stations and improving accessibility for all our customers.”

Graffiti hotspots targeted in major railway clean-up across Anglia’s rail network

Graffiti is being targeted across Anglia’s rail network to improve its appearance for passengers and people who live and work nearby.

The clean-up operation is supporting the Secretary of State Grant Shapps’ recent commitment to improve the look and feel of the railway as part of efforts to encourage people to travel by train.

Graffiti is a blight on the railway and Network Rail spends £3.5m every year cleaning offensive material.

Those who carry out graffiti vandalism are also reminded that trespassing on the railway and committing acts of vandalism with graffiti is a crime as well as being incredibly dangerous.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “The clean-up will improve the look and feel of the rail network and I hope this will help to restore confidence as we work to welcome passengers back to travelling by train. Our goal is to make sure that everyone travelling by train feels safe and comfortable to do so.”

Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Rail minister, said: “We’ve been clear that the blight of graffiti on our railways must be tackled, and I am delighted to see Network Rail focused on dealing with the problem.

“As we build back better, removing graffiti across Anglia will improve our railway and make stations and services more pleasant for passengers.”

Trespassing on the railway and committing acts of vandalism with graffiti is a crime. There are fines of up to £1,000 for trespassing on the railway. Incidents of graffiti can be reported to Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

GB Railfreight partner with Wascosa to supply innovative modular wagons for UK Rail Infrastructure services

GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Wascosa are today unveiling a new partnership to supply innovative modular wagons for UK Rail Infrastructure services. GBRf, one of the UK’s fastest growing transport companies, is joining forces with the Lucerne-based company Wascosa.

Through this partnership, GB Railfreight and Wascosa will undertake a wagon leasing contract with UK railway network owner and infrastructure manager, Network Rail, who will lease these wagons for 10 years, in a move that will modernise their existing systems. Wascosa will own and provide a total of 570 wagons, commissioned to be built by Greenbrier Europe, a high-end freight railcar manufacturer. The role of GB Railfreight will be to maintain the condition of the new wagons, while also owning and building the modules to be positioned on the newly developed structures.

Of the 570-strong fleet, there will be: 260 ‘Falcon’ box wagons, used for possession site work; 50 ‘Big Box’ wagons for bulk ballast transportation; and 260 ‘Flat Wagons’, a modular wagon developed by Wascosa for the carriage of track panels, sleepers, switches, rails and loose materials. The first of these wagons and superstructures will be in operation in late 2021.

The partnership was made possible by GB Railfreight’s provision of a range of innovative superstructures, which will be mounted on the fleet of 260 container flats. This ground-breaking solution for Network Rail embodies GB Railfreight’s fundamental commitment to creating innovation as the new standard, and this recent collaboration positions both companies perfectly for future resilience and growth in the UK.

Mark Wyborn who concluded the deal for GB Railfreight said:

“For GB Railfreight, being able to collaborate with the industry to offer a flexible wagon solution to Network Rail is crucial to be able to deal with supply chain demands for the future, especially during uncertain times. Equally as important is modernisation of infrastructure assets that will last for many years.

“GB Railfreight are delighted to have partnered with Wascosa to lead the way and now in a position to offer innovative wagon solution to Network Rail that achieves both modernisation and future wagon supply chain demands.”

Commenting on the successful outcome Mick Tinsley, Wascosa’s representative in the UK, said:

“This is an exciting development for Wascosa. We have worked closely with Network Rail and our partners to jointly develop a modern, flexible wagon solution that will support the UK rail infrastructure maintenance and renewals programmes for many years to come. This provides us with a sound platform from which to grow further in the UK.”

HS2 seeks switches and crossing suppliers for £150m contract

HS2 Ltd today began the search for suppliers to provide switches and crossings for the 280km of new high-speed track between London, Birmingham and the connection with the existing west coast mainline at Crewe.

The contract – worth up to £156m – will include the design, manufacture and delivery of around 180 switches and crossings for Phase 1 and 2a of the project, with options to extend for further equipment to cover Crewe to Manchester in phase 2b as well as the  maintenance depots.

Designed to operate smoothly, reliably and safely at speeds of up to 360km/h and diverging speeds up to 230km/h, the switches and crossings will be a vital component of the HS2 track systems. The contract also includes around 77 rail expansion devices for track on viaducts and bridges.

HS2 Ltd is running a separate procurement process to award four Track Systems contracts for the design and installation of the track and coordination of construction logistics. This will also include integration and installation of the switches and crossings.

HS2 Ltd’s Procurement and Commercial Director, David Poole, said:

“The switches and crossings supplier will play a vital role in delivering the high-tech rail systems that will allow HS2 to run some of the world’s most reliable, fast and efficient high speed trains.

“The launch of this new procurement contest is an important step towards appointing all the suppliers who will deliver the rail systems once the main civils work is complete. HS2 already supports more than 13,000 jobs across the UK and contracts like this will provide a real boost for employers across the supply chain, helping to support skills development and provide opportunities for years to come.”

In order to reduce long term costs and improve performance, the track will be set onto concrete slabs instead of the ballast commonly used on the UK rail network. This approach – known as slab track – is commonly used on metro systems and some international high speed rail lines, and will allow for a higher frequency of service with reduced maintenance requirements.

A contract to deliver the pre-cast slab track has recently been awarded to PORR UK Ltd which will see the slabs made at a new factory in Somerset.

The news comes days after the launch of another, separate procurement completion for the station building systems for the Phase One stations. This framework contract – worth up to £47m – covers components and systems that will be common to all four stations.

This includes:

  • Public Address / Voice Alarm (PAVA);
  • Fire Detection and Alarm System;
  • Building Energy Management System (BEMS);
  • Lighting Control System (LCS);
  • Customer Information System (CIS); and
  • Station Information Management System (SIMS).

The Framework Supplier will also be expected to work collaboratively with HS2 Ltd and Phase One Station Contractors. A shortlist is expected to be announced in summer 2021 with contract award in early 2022.

HS2 is running separate procurement competitions for the other elements of the rail systems, including overhead catenary, high voltage power supply, command and control systems, communications, mechanical and electrical systems, and the depot at Washwood Heath.

Bidders for the switches and crossings contract are expected to be shortlisted in summer 2021, with the contracts to be awarded in 2022.