Network Rail News updates

Passengers reminded of major upgrade to lifts at Macclesfield station

Passengers are being advised about upcoming work to replace lifts at Macclesfield station.

A much-needed £400,000 investment as part of the Great North Rail Project will make step-free access more reliable to station platforms.

Work will start on Wednesday 20 January and take place until Wednesday 31 March 2021.

During the work, staff will be on hand at Macclesfield station to assist passengers.

Both lifts will be improved at the same time and will be out of use.

For passengers this means:

  • No step free access will be available at Macclesfield station between Wednesday 20 January and Wednesday 31 March.
  • Anyone who needs step-free access should book assisted travel with their specific train operator*.
  • During the lift upgrade work, tickets will be valid for passengers to travel via the nearest step-free stations**.
  • While the lifts are out of use, only Platform 1 will have step-free access. This platform is used for trains travelling north.

Tom Wadsworth, senior asset engineer for buildings at Network Rail, said: “This investment into the lifts at Macclesfield station is much-needed and will greatly improve reliability for passengers.

“We understand the upgrade will be disruptive for passengers and we are working closely with station operators to make everyone’s journey as easy as it can be during the work.

“I’d urge anyone planning to travel to or from Macclesfield during the ten-week project to plan ahead and book assisted travel with their specific train operator.”

Laura Harper, Avanti West Coast station manager at Macclesfield, said: “We’re working with Network Rail and industry partners to help customers as the works to upgrade the lifts at Macclesfield station take place.

“As always, our teams will be on hand to help customers travelling to and from Macclesfield during this time but we strongly recommend customers plan ahead, check before they travel and leave extra time for their journey.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience while Network Rail undertake this latest scheme for the Great North Rail Project.” 

John Robson, CrossCountry regional director West Midlands and North West, said: “We understand this work may cause some short term disruption for passengers. However, when complete it will mean better and more reliable step-free access, and an easier travel experience for everyone using the station lifts.”

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “We warmly welcome this significant investment at Macclesfield railway station which will improve access facilities for passengers and visitors to the town.

“I would like to thank rail users in advance for their patience while these works are undertaken and for any inconvenience experienced.

“I would also encourage any passenger with access needs or disability to contact their train operator’s passenger assistance service, in advance of their planned trip, to arrange support for their journey.

“The rail station is a key gateway for Macclesfield and it is great news that this investment will improve passenger facilities and help prepare the station for the expected increase in passengers once HS2 high-speed rail to Crewe and beyond is delivered. It is another vote of confidence in the future of Macclesfield.”

Passengers are being advised to allow extra time for their journeys and to plan in advance on the National Rail Enquiries journey planner at www.nationalrail.co.uk

Network Rail staff to begin a package of Christmas and New Year improvements for passengers in South West London and Hampshire

Network Rail staff will shortly begin a package of improvements for passengers in South West London and Hampshire between Christmas and New Year to maintain and upgrade the railway, and improve reliability for those essential workers still relying on the rail network every day.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area. If you need to travel, please continue following Government advice around the use of public transport – wear a face covering unless you are exempt, travel at quieter times and maintain a distance from other passengers wherever possible.

Between Friday 25 December 2020 and Monday 4 January 2021, engineers will carry out a major programme of work between Clapham Junction and Waterloo, which will see more reliable services and increased connectivity for passengers on the route.

Sections of track and switches and crossings (which allow trains to move between tracks) will be upgraded at Nine Elms Junction. Resignalling work, vegetation clearance and track and bridge inspections will also take place in the area to take advantage of the lower numbers of trains running.

While that work is completed there will be a reduced number of services between Clapham Junction and London Waterloo. At both stations, queuing systems are likely to be in place and platforms 12-20 at London Waterloo will be closed. Vauxhall and Queenstown Road stations will also be closed throughout.

On the same dates, the line between Basingstoke and Salisbury will be closed while engineers strengthen Millway Road bridge in Andover and clear vegetation between Whitchurch and Andover.

Buses will run between Basingstoke and Salisbury and there will be a revised train service between Salisbury and Exeter St Davids.

Some of the other improvement work to provide a more reliable railway includes:

  • Upgrades to the switches and crossings between Hook and Basingstoke and at Eastleigh West junction, which starts late in the evening on Christmas Eve and finishes on the morning of Sunday 27 December
  • Testing new signals as part of the Feltham resignalling scheme, set to take place between late in the evening on Christmas Eve and finish the morning of Sunday 27 December
  • New track will be laid and Cow Lane bridge near Cosham, Portsmouth will be rebuilt between Friday 1 and Sunday 3 January 2021 (plus 17 January).
  • Replacing timber structures on the bridge between Fratton and Portsmouth Harbour on Sunday 3 and Monday 4 January 2021

Passengers should only travel if they have to. A summary of the amended timetable and bus replacement services are available at www.southwesternrailway.com/christmas

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, said: “Later this week, our staff who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to maintain and upgrade the railway for those who need it, will once again carry out a number of essential upgrades to keep the railway running reliably and smoothly for many years to come.

“This means some journeys may be different, so please travel safely, follow the latest public health advice and only travel if you absolutely have to.”

Alan Penlington, director of customer services at South Western Railway, said: “The work being carried out by Network Rail this festive period is vital to ensure the future reliability of the network.

“We’re asking all customers who have to travel to visit our dedicated webpage; southwesternrailway.com/Christmas.”

Level crossing in Cheltenham to close for emergency works until April 2021

Network Rail has had to close the level crossing on Brockhampton Lane until 7 April 2021 to undertake vital works.

The level crossing was closed on Friday and will now remain closed until next April to allow Network Rail engineers to carry out essential repair work on the equipment that controls the level crossing.

The scale of work was originally expected to only result in the level crossing closing over two weekends, however, the most recent inspection has revealed that the condition of the wiring that controls the level crossing barriers has unexpectedly deteriorated.

As a result of this essential work, the level crossing will remain closed 24/7 to both pedestrians and vehicles until 7 April, subject to authorisation from the local highways authority.

A signed diversion route for vehicles has been put in place via Hyde Lane and letters have been sent to local residents providing further details of this work including a map of the diversion route.

Network Rail project manager, Spencer Hobbs, said: “We recognise this is a lengthy closure and are sorry for any inconvenience this emergency closure may cause the community.

“The safety of our passengers and crossing users is of the utmost importance to us so we have taken the difficult decision to fully close the crossing whilst we undertake this vital repair work.

“We are aware of instances of trespassing on level crossings and urge people to not put their lives at risk by attempting to cross the railway line while the crossing is closed. Trespassing on the railway is illegal and dangerous and we urge people to follow the diversions that have been put in place.

“We would like to sincerely thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Engineering works bring New Year improvements for passengers in the South East

Engineering works at South East London’s busiest rail junctions are set to bring more reliable journeys in the New Year.

Engineering works at south east London’s busiest rail junctions are set to bring more reliable journeys in the New Year.

Network Rail staff will be working between Christmas and new year to improve the reliability of a crucial stretch of railway in south east London, used by thousands of essential workers every day.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area.

The upgrades will keep passengers moving safely and reliably and future proof the railway for the long-term, which is part of the South East Upgrade, a record £1.25bn investment to modernise this part of the network.

The lines through Lewisham and St John’s are some of the most heavily-congested in the country, used by services from both the London suburbs and the Kent coast, and are in need of improvement.

Teams of track workers will be upgrading two key railway junctions there from Christmas day through to Tuesday 29 December, and from 1 January to Sunday 3 January.

The Lewisham upgrade will see the replacement of nearly two miles of track which will be laid on 7,500 tonnes of ballast and 1,460 sleepers. A number of sets of points (which help trains cross from one track to another) will also be renewed as part of an investment programme to replace ageing 1970s infrastructure with more reliable equipment.

During the work there will be no trains between Lewisham and Hayes. There will also be changes to some services on the January dates between Cannon Street and Lewisham, and via Greenwich to Dartford.

To keep essential workers moving when lines are closed replacement buses are in operation and tickets will be accepted via alternative TfL routes. Passengers should also wash their hands often and wear face-coverings, unless exempt.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route director for Kent, said: “We are carrying out a number of major engineering projects this Christmas and New Year in order to provide better journeys for our passengers in 2021.

“Our works at Lewisham are particularly key being on the main artery from Kent to London for hundreds of services a day. If you are an essential worker and plan to travel over Christmas, consistent with the Government’s advice, please check your journeys between now and the New Year.

“We know there is never a good time to carry out major works, so I would like to thank passengers for their patience while we make these vital improvements to the railway.”

Scott Brightwell, Southeastern train services director, said: “Over Christmas and early January there are going to be some changes to our services while Network Rail carry out vital improvements at two of our busiest junctions near Lewisham. This will help improve reliability and reduce delays for our passengers.”

Passengers can visit the following places for more information: https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ www.networkrail.co.uk/LewishamUpgrade or https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/

Final reminder to passengers of major service changes on the East Coast Main Line as £1.2billion upgrade continues over Christmas

Network Rail, Great Northern and Thameslink are reminding passengers who need to travel over the Christmas period to check their journeys to avoid disappointment, as major work takes place on the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade, including a six-day closure at London King’s Cross and altered services up to and including Sunday 3 January.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area. 

Those who must travel on the East Coast Main Line should allow plenty of time as services which are running are expected to be busy, queuing systems may be in place at stations, and passengers may not be able to board the first train. Passengers can check how their journeys will be affected by visiting eastcoastupgrade.co.uk, www.thameslinkrailway.com or www.greatnorthernrail.com.

Once complete, the East Coast Upgrade will transform journeys between London, Peterborough and Cambridge, as well as with the North of England and Scotland. It will bring a more modern, reliable railway for passengers and ensure the route has more capacity to deal with future passenger volumes.

  • Thursday 24 December 2020 – There will be a near normal service to and from London King’s Cross as Network Rail has postponed the start time of major work, although services will finish earlier in the evening, which is normal for Christmas Eve. Trains are expected to be very busy.
  • Friday 25 and Saturday 26 December 2020 – As usual on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, there will be no services running on the East Coast Main Line, and no alternative services will be provided.
  • Sunday 27 December 2020 – There will be no trains in or out of London King’s Cross and those Great Northern trains will start and finish at Finsbury Park instead. People who need to travel are advised to use London Underground services to and from Finsbury Park or alternative services in and out of Moorgate. Thameslink services to and from Cambridge will continue to serve St Pancras International.

Long-distance trains to and from the north will start and finish at Peterborough or Stevenage instead, and connecting Great Northern or Thameslink trains will run to and from Finsbury Park, St Pancras International or Moorgate. London Underground services will be available between central London and Finsbury Park on the Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Long distance passengers travelling north from London are advised to start their journey from either St Pancras International or Finsbury Park, which is expected to be very busy.

  • Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 December 2020 – There will be no trains in or out of London King’s Cross and those Great Northern trains will start and finish at Finsbury Park instead. People who need to travel are advised to use alternative services in or out of St Pancras International or Moorgate, or to use London Underground services to and from Finsbury Park.

Long distance services to and from the north will start and finish at Peterborough or Stevenage instead, and connecting Thameslink trains will run to and from St Pancras International. Long distance passengers travelling north from London are advised to start their journey from St Pancras International.

  • Thursday 31 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021 – There will be a reduced service to and from London King’s Cross. Trains are expected to be very busy.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, said: “This six-day closure from Christmas Day is essential so we can reach a major milestone on the East Coast Upgrade, which once complete, will bring a more reliable railway for passengers and help meet future demand.

“We know people will want to spend time with their families if they can, but it’s essential that people follow the Government guidance and stay at home or stay local. If you have to travel over Christmas, please check your journey and plan ahead where possible to avoid disappointment.

“We want to thank passengers for their continued patience and understanding whist this essential work is carried out.”

Thameslink and Great Northern Managing Director Tom Moran said: “With most of our network now under Tier 4 restrictions, people are being urged to stay at home. Those who have to travel should check carefully online before deciding to head for the train station. Our service will be affected throughout the Christmas period, returning to normal on Monday, 4 January. We’ll be busier too, helping LNER passengers connect with their trains at Stevenage and Peterborough.

“We’ve worked closely with our colleagues at Network Rail and the other train companies to prepare for this. Together, we’ve also advertised the changes widely on radio, social media, at our stations and in the press. Extra staff will be on hand to help people along the way and we have robust contingency plans in place.”

Between Christmas Day and Wednesday 30 December (inclusive), Network Rail teams will be reconstructing, strengthening and diverting Camden Sewer, which runs beneath the railway just outside King’s Cross. This complex part of the project, which involves lifting a large section of all the tracks that serve the station, can only be carried out safely when there are no trains running in the area for six days. New overhead line equipment will also be installed, as well as work to renew some of the tracks.

Engineering works over Christmas and New Year bring improvements for passengers in Sussex

Passengers who need to make essential journeys should check before they travel as there will be changes to services on a few routes due to engineering works including the Gatwick Airport station upgrade project. Details on individual journeys, including the times of trains will be available in journey planners and on National Rail Enquiries.

People are asked to follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of Hastings, Rother, Havant, Portsmouth, Kent, Surrey or London, which are now Tier 4 areas. 

If you need to travel, please continue following Government advice around the use of public transport – wear a face covering unless you are exempt, travel at quieter times and maintain a distance from other passengers wherever possible.

At stations, we will be deploying extra staff, announcements will make the guidance clear, and additional BTP officers are in place to help keep people safe. An enhanced and rigorous cleaning regime is also in place across stations and trains in Sussex, enabling passengers to make essential journeys in confidence and safety.

Shaun King, route director, Sussex said: “The work we are doing this Christmas and New Year will mean a better, more reliable railway for passengers. We are delivering a vital £150m upgrade to Gatwick Airport station to increase capacity, improve accessibility and transform the experience for more passengers, than ever before.

“Please continue to wear a face covering unless you are exempt, and plan your journey in advance”.

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said: “There will be some changes from the usual festive-period timetable, so please plan well ahead by checking a journey planner, and avoid busy periods if you can.

“If you need to make an essential journey over Christmas or New Year, rest assured we have been working hard behind the scenes to keep trains and stations clean and safe. At all times please remember the three golden rules – hands, face, space: wash or sanitise your hands before and after each trip, wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from other passengers.”

From Sunday 27 December 2020 until Sunday 3 January 2021, there will be changes to Southern and Thameslink services:

  • Southern services between London Victoria and Bognor Regis / Portsmouth & Southsea / Southampton will operate on diversion via Dorking. These services will not call at Gatwick Airport or nearby stations such as Crawley or Three Bridges.
  • Customers at Horsham or to the south that wish to travel to Gatwick Airport should plan to change trains at Horsham and to allow additional time for the connection. Thameslink services will operate on the route between Horsham, Gatwick Airport and London Bridge.
  • Southern / Gatwick Express services between London Victoria and Brighton will not operate Monday 28 December – Thursday 31 December or Saturday 2 January. Customers for Brighton to/from London or Gatwick Airport should plan to use Thameslink services to/from London Bridge.
  • The Thameslink Gatwick Airport to Bedford via Redhill service will start its journey at Three Bridges.

As usual, no trains will be in operation on Christmas Day, and there will be a limited Southern service on Boxing Day.

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.

Renewed appeals to drivers of tall vehicles to take care after December spike in Kent and South East London bridge bashes

The first half of December has seen bridge strikes in Kent and South East London occurring at nearly double the average rate, leading to renewed calls for drivers to know the heights of their vehicles.

Railway bridges in the county were hit at least 11 times over the first half of December, with incidents recorded at Chestfield, Headcorn, Herne Hill, Kent House, Rochester, Swalecliffe, Orpington, Petts Wood, Sole Street and West Malling.

December has seen almost double the average monthly number of bridge strikes in the county occurring and the rise in incidents reflects the highest number of strikes in the last 5 years.  

The incident at Herne Hill cost nearly a thousand delay minutes to passengers, and the Orpington incident costing 303. The sudden rise is a cause for concern among those managing the Kent Route on behalf of passengers and freight.

Bridge strikes are costly to the network, not just in financial terms, but the costs in delays to passengers and freight.

Nationally, almost six out of ten (59%) of the incidents are caused by HGV drivers, and Network Rail is reminding drivers they can face tough penalties including removing a person’s public service vehicle (PSV) licence.

Automatic camera alert systems have been installed on 6 bridges in Kent to monitor them for movement, as with some  bridge strikes not reported, it is imperative to make sure the bridges remain safe.

Daniel Matthews, Head of Operations for Kent, said: “The early part of December has seen a concerning increase in the rate of bridge strikes on our network. 

“There is no excuse to not know the height of your vehicle before starting your journey.

“As well as putting lives in danger on both road and rail and causing lengthy delays for passengers and road users, drivers who chance it at bridges are at risk of leaving their employers with a hefty bill for repairs and train delay costs, along with a strong threat to their own operator licence.”

To try and combat the number of bridge strikes, adverts are being placed at motorway service station petrol pumps across the country reminding drivers to “Wise Up, Size Up” as “Lorries Can’t Limbo” and drivers should know their vehicle height before they start their journey and to check their route for low bridges.

Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to carry out key work on Midland Main Line Upgrade

Around 50 Network Rail workers are giving up their Christmases to carry out vital work as part of the £1.5billion Midland Main Line Upgrade.

Between Christmas Day and Sunday, 27 December, Network Rail teams will carry out work to remove equipment which is no longer needed from the tracks between Wellingborough and Kettering. Over 300 units will be removed, which will create a more reliable railway through reducing the likelihood of track faults, which causes disruption for passengers.

The work will also see a disused building next to the railway demolished. The building is near overhead line equipment and removing it will make it safer and easier for workers to carry out inspections of the electric wires. This means they can fix any faults with this equipment more quickly, reducing delays for passengers. Demolishing the building will also mean Network Rail no longer has to maintain it, which will save taxpayers money.

The Midland Main Line Upgrade is the biggest investment into the line since its construction in the Victorian era and will bring significant benefits for passengers, such as access to faster journeys with more seats available on board more environmentally friendly trains. 

Tom Donnelly is a Project Manager for Network Rail and will be working on this project over Christmas. Tom is based in Derby and joined Network Rail five years ago as a Project Management Graduate.

He said: “Christmas is going to be quite different this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but I’ll still be able to spend some time with my family over the festive period.

“I’m happy to be working on this vital project over Christmas, which will help work on the Midland Main Line Upgrade to progress, as well as to create a more reliable railway for passengers.

“My role will be to manage the progress of the work and deal with any issues which arise to make sure that the work completes on time. I look forward to passengers benefitting from this work and I’m proud to be making a positive difference to their journeys.”

As there are no timetabled services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, Network Rail uses this opportunity to carry out major work and avoid disruption for passengers at busier times.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. Those who do have to travel over the festive period are strongly advised to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator.

Hundreds of Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to complete major upgrade at Leeds station

Hundreds of Network Rail workers are giving up their Christmases to complete a major £161million investment to build a new platform at Leeds station.

From late-night Christmas Eve until the morning of Sunday, 27 December, Network Rail teams will carry out the final piece of the project to build a new platform, Platform 0, at the station.

Work on this major investment began back in 2018. The new platform is a key upgrade which will boost reliability, allow trains to enter and exit the station more easily and mean more punctual journeys for passengers.

Over the 2.5 days of work, final work to the overhead lines, track and signalling systems will take place, as well as rigorous testing to make sure the platform is ready for train services. Whilst the platform won’t come into full use until the May 2021 timetable change, it will be available for trains to use during times of disruption, helping to minimise delays for passengers.

Adedayo Phillips is a Project Manager for Network Rail and has worked for the organisation for six years. Adedayo will be working on this project over the festive period.

He said: “I’ve worked a fair few Christmases since I joined Network Rail, however, this one is really exciting as it’s the final piece of the puzzle on a project which has been ongoing for the last two years.

“I’ll be out on site with my colleagues over the festive period, and my role will be to monitor and report on progress of this scheme, as well as others elsewhere in the region. This is an important job and will help to make sure that the project completes on time.

“I live in West Yorkshire myself, so I know first-hand the benefits which this project will bring, and I look forward to passengers reaping the benefits of a more modern and reliable railway, which will improve their journeys.”

There are no timetabled services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, so the work will not impact on train services.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. Those who do have to travel over the festive period are strongly advised to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator and allow plenty of time.

New line and platform promise improved services for passengers on Midland Main Line

Work to give passengers in the East Midlands and Bedfordshire access to faster journeys with more seats available on board more environmentally friendly trains has taken another step forward this week. 

On Sunday (20, December 2020) the new fourth track between Bedford and Kettering and the new platform at Wellingborough station were brought into use.  These are the latest completed improvements as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, which will deliver a brand new, improved timetable for passengers in 2021. 

Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands Route, said: “This is a really exciting time for all passengers using the Midland Main Line as we start to see the benefits of many years hard work by hundreds of people across the rail industry.

“We’re now working with our colleagues at East Midlands Railway to support driver training and the introduction of electric powered trains on the route, as well as carrying out final testing and assurance with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). We’re well on track to deliver significant improvements for passengers next year. We’ll also be able to transport even more freight by rail, keeping lorries off the roads and supporting our economy to ‘build back better’.”

At Wellingborough station as well as building platform 4, the existing platforms have been extended and improved to reduce stepping distance onto trains.  The canopies have been refurbished, new waiting shelters, lighting, CCTV and fencing has been installed and the footbridge has been extended to platform 4. Stanton Cross Developments LLP contributed to the footbridge extension as part of its Stanton Cross development.   

Lisa Angus, Transition and Projects Director at East Midlands Railway, added: “The Midland Main Line Upgrade has been made possible by the skill and hard work of so many people, right across the rail industry. As such, these latest milestones are an incredibly proud moment for all of us.

“However, we still have a huge amount of work in front of us to deliver on this investment and introduce the major timetable enhancements in 2021. Pleasingly, despite the huge challenges Covid has created for all of us, that is also on track and we look forward to achieving further milestones in the weeks and months to come.”

Lee Barrett, Operations Director for Bovis Homes and a representative of Stanton Cross Developments LLP, promoters of the Stanton Cross project, added: “Our investment in Wellingborough station is key to the strategic vision for Stanton Cross.  We are committed to creating a sustainable new community with the infrastructure in place to provide excellent connectivity.  The upgraded station stands to benefit all those who will live and work at Stanton Cross.”

Improved reliability following emergency railway works between Ely and Peterborough

Network Rail have replaced 57 pairs of wheel timbers across four bridges in the vicinity of Manea, between Ely and Peterborough.

Following inspections on railway bridges with softwood timbers, 53 pairs of wheel timbers were found to require urgent replacement. These timbers have been replaced to remove the risk of further deterioration which may have led to additional speed restrictions or the closure of the line, significantly disrupting train services.

In addition to replacing four more pairs of wheel timbers than initially planned, 2000 metres of power cabling, 1800 metres of rail and track across Stonea bridge has also been replaced.

To maintain a safe and reliable railway, Network Rail are working with freight and train operating companies to agree a plan to return to Manea to replace more wheel timbers in 2021. These timbers are in better condition so can remain in replace until we return to complete the timber replacement. An update will be published when this plan has been confirmed.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “We’ve successfully carried out important wheel timber renewals in the Manea area to improve the reliability of the train service for passengers between Ely and Peterborough.

“Running a safe railway is my absolute priority and this work was vital to running a safe and reliable railway network for our passengers. I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while we carried out this work.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “We understand that engineering works inconvenience passengers, but they are vital for the continued safety and reliability of our railway. Our longer modern state-of-the-art new trains, combined with continued improvement work by Network Rail are together improving our passengers’ journeys.”

As part of the work in the area Network Rail, working in partnership with Taziker, installed a defibrillator in Pymoor Village. The newly installed defibrillator is known as an Automated External Defibrillator. As the name suggests, an Automated External Defibrillator provides an automatic treatment that requires no training or special expertise. Using it cannot harm the victim, but it could save their life.

Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to work on major East Yorkshire bridge upgrade

Network Rail teams are spending their Christmases working on a £3.3million project to upgrade a road bridge near Gilberdyke station, instead of enjoying the festivities with their families.

From late-night on Christmas Eve until the morning of Sunday 27 December, major work will be carried out to completely remove the old bridge and put the new, stronger one in place. This will benefit residents and businesses in the area for years to come.

As usual, there are no timetabled train services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway. Network Rail has taken the opportunity to carry out this major project and avoid disruption at busier times.

In order for this work to take place safely, Staddlethorpe Broad Lane will be closed near Gilberdyke station between 12:00 on Thursday 24 December and 12:00 on Tuesday 29 December. There will be no access over the bridge during this time and a signposted diversion will be in place. 

Ann White is a Scheme Project Manager and has spent the last few months carefully planning the programme of work with the team. Over the Christmas period she will be out on site to oversee the work and make sure it is completed on time and within the budget. 

She said: “I live nearby and understand how important this work to replace the bridge near Gilberdyke station is for people in the community. I’m proud to work on the railway and I am looking forward to being out with the team to complete this major project.

“It will be difficult being away from my family over the Christmas period, but once this work is complete, I’ll still have chance to enjoy some of the festivities.”

Twelve companies chosen to help build a better railway for passengers

Twelve companies have been awarded contracts to deliver buildings and civils work across Network Rail’s Southern region, which spans Kent, Sussex and the South of England.

The three-year contracts which started at the end of November 2020 cover things such as upgrades to station canopies and platforms, footbridges, earthworks which includes drainage and repairs when there has been a landslip, rewiring at stations, lift and escalator renewals and station information.

The contracts have a combined estimated value of around £200m.

As part of the process, Network Rail selected companies which are leaders in innovation and sustainability and could demonstrate a proven track record of delivering social value across the communities in which they work.

The companies are:

General building and civils: Balfour Beatty Rail; VolkerFitzpatrick; Amalgamated construction

Mechanical and engineering specialist: B & M McHugh; Quinn Infrastructure Services

Fabric specialist: BCM Construction; Lundy Projects

Footbridges specialist: Nationwide Rail; Taziker Industrial

Metallic structures specialist: Dyer and Butler; Freyssinet

Earthworks specialist: Dyer and Butler; Taziker Industrial

Masonry and concrete specialist: Nationwide Rail; Kier Integrated Services

John Halsall, managing director, Network Rail Southern region, said: “We have chosen suppliers to allow us to deliver vital new infrastructure and support the overall aims of providing a safe, reliable and efficient railway for passengers.”

VIDEO: Warning to drivers after near miss at East Sussex level crossing

Drivers are being reminded to watch for and stop when red warning lights are displayed at automatic half barrier crossings. 

It comes after a near miss at a level crossing near East Guldeford in East Sussex last month.

The incident occurred during the day on 28th November on the A259 at Star crossing near Rye. 

A driver in a Volkswagen car ignored the flashing red lights stopping just short of the railway line from Rye to Ashford and within the level crossing boundary. 

The barriers then came down on the car and the driver decided not to proceed over the railway, or to exit the crossing area for his own safety. 

A freight train then came through the level crossing at speed with the driver and his vehicle just feet away.

There has been a spike in near misses at level crossings in East Sussex in recent months with this latest incident being the 10th since June. 

Most automatic half-barrier level crossings in Kent and Sussex have safety enforcement cameras fitted with the remaining crossings due to have cameras installed soon.

This is to improve safety and encourage drivers to obeying the red warning lights as required by the Highway Code.

Toby Broyad, Level Crossing Manager for Network Rail, said: “This is a sobering reminder of the dangers of drivers not being alert when driving, and not following the Highway Code. 

“We are investing heavily in ‘Red Light Safety Cameras’ and while luckily no-one was injured in this incident, the police will prosecute drivers who take a risk at level crossings, not just with their own lives but with the safety of our staff and passengers. 

“Many of our level crossings now have safety enforcement cameras and they risk a fine and points on their license should they ignore the warnings and safety of others.”

If members of the public see anyone misusing a level crossing they are asked contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40.

Big names say a big ‘thank you’ in festive film to railway workers

High-profile figures from showbiz, sport and politics today expressed their thanks to frontline railway workers for keeping Britain moving during Covid.

“Thank you to the unsung heroes who work in the railway industry,” says Eamonn Holmes, co-host of ITV’s This Morning, at the start of a festive film shared on Twitter by Network Rail.

Steve Rotherham, mayor of Liverpool City Region, says: “You quite simply have kept the country moving.”

“Getting us to where we need to be safely this Christmas,” says actor and TV presenter Shobna Gulati before Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, adds: “You don’t know how much it means.”

To passengers travelling on the railway this Christmas, their message was unanimous:

“Be safe. Be patient. Be kind.”

The two-minute film features the following people:

  • Eamonn Holmes – TV talk show host
  • Bhasker Patel – Emmerdale actor
  • Lewis Moody – England and British & Irish Lions rugby player
  • Simon Calder – travel writer and broadcaster
  • Pete Waterman – president of the Railway Benefit Fund
  • Shobna Gulati – actor and TV presenter
  • Rob Bell – TV presenter and adventurer
  • Alison McGovern – MP for Wirral South
  • Tim Dunn – railway historian
  • Emma Jesson – ITV weather presenter
  • Alex Payne – host of the Good, the Bad and the Rugby podcast
  • Rosie Cooper – MP for West Lancs
  • Andy Burnham – Mayor of Greater Manchester
  • Steve Rotheram – Mayor of Liverpool City Region
  • Andy Street – Mayor of the West Midlands
  • Richie Anderson – The One Show & BBC Radio 2 travel presenter
  • David Flatman – England rugby player turned commentator
  • Shakin’ Stevens – singer and songwriter

Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West & Central region, said: “I’m thrilled our frontline colleagues, including controllers, signallers, track workers and station staff, have been recognised in this lovely way. Merry Christmas from the railway family!”

The video has been release ahead of the government’s recommended Christmas travel window between 23 and 27 December.

People should reserve seats on long distance trains, travel at quieter times and follow all safety advice to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Click the following links for more information on how Network Rail upgrade work could impact your journey in the North West and Central region.

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.

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

Follow us on Twitter: @NetworkRailANG

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.

Building back better – Longer trains are delivering for freight customers

Trains of up to half a mile long are helping the rail freight industry deliver more goods for consumers and reduce UK carbon emissions.

Since the start of 2020, Network Rail and rail freight operators have collaborated to allow freight trains to move more goods each time they run, and to operate more efficiently on the network. The UK rail freight sector has played a vital role during the pandemic in moving critical goods such as food and medicine. With reduced demand for passenger travel, trains have been rescheduled to make better use of network capacity, unlocking benefits for rail freight customers and the UK economy.

Key highlights include:

  • Several trains have been temporarily lengthened to 775m (half a mile or over seven football pitches in length) long, allowing 12-14 more containers to be carried each time. This includes trains between Southampton and Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, and between Daventry and Grangemouth. Together, this saves an additional six million road miles (that’s 12 trips to the moon and back) and saves 12,600 tonnes of CO2e per year.
  • Eight trains conveying aggregates materials from the Peak District and Herefordshire into urban centres have been lengthened to allow them to carry 2200t increased from 2000t, saving 750,000 road miles and 1,400 tonnes of CO2e per year.
  • Steel trains between Scunthorpe and Teesport have been lengthened allowing up to 1000t (the equivalent of 250 Asian elephants) more to be moved on each train.
  • A daily service from Mossend to Daventry is temporarily benefiting from a one-hour reduction in journey time, enabling greater productivity. A sustainable solution would release 10 twin platform intermodal wagons through improved asset utilisation.

As well as the significant carbon savings from these initiatives there is a growing body of evidence of the benefits of more efficient freight schedules on air quality emissions. Recent analysis shows that trains which are frequently taken off the main rail network and put into loops, to allow other trains to pass, emit 14-20% more NOx and particulates than non-stop freight services.

Network Rail and the freight operators continue to work closely together to identify further priorities for train lengthening, as well as services that would benefit from improved journey time. These trains will form a package of service improvements, which will be included in the development of the December 2021 timetable. In the intervening period Network Rail and the freight operators will continue to identify short-term opportunities to run longer and heavier trains, and speed up schedules, using the additional capacity created as a result of the thinning out of services.

Maggie Simpson, RFG Director General said: “Rail freight is already acknowledged for its environmental performance, but there is never room for complacency. Allowing freight trains to carry more goods and operate more efficiently on the network is an important measure for decarbonisation and for UK productivity. Working together the industry has made significant progress this year, and we look forward to seeing more trains improved in the coming months.”

Charlene Wallace, interim Director of Freight and Director of National Passenger and Customer Experience at Network Rail said: “During the pandemic we’ve seen the crucial role that rail freight plays for our economy. That is why we’ve listened to what our customers and their end users have asked for and we’re committed to getting more goods onto Britain’s rail network over the next 12 months.”

Neil McNicholas, Managing Director of UK Rail Services of at Freightliner, said: “Freightliner welcomes the support Network Rail has provided to identify capacity to run a number of longer and heavier trains. Transporting more freight on each train and speeding up journey times supports both improvements to the productivity and efficiency of services and drives further environmental benefits, by reducing the carbon emissions of each tonne of freight moved. We welcome the cross-industry commitment to continue this programme and identify further opportunities to run longer trains and improve the average speed of services.”

Roger Neary, Head of Sales at DB Cargo UK, said: “We are delighted to be working with our customers and Network Rail to make the concept of jumbo freight trains become a reality. Such services have allowed us to increase capacity for our customers while making our operations more efficient through reduced train driver and terminal resources and increased wagon utilisation.”

Chris Connelly, Managing Director of Direct Rail Services said: “Throughout this challenging year, rail freight has proved that it is absolutely essential in keeping our supermarkets and shops stocked.

“Our Mossend to Daventry trains utilise the state-of-the-art Class 88 locomotive to carry the equivalent of 38 lorry loads of vital goods the 310-mile distance with zero exhaust emissions, making it the greenest way to transport goods by far. “The new timetabling allows these services to run the same route more quickly, with less time spent waiting in sidings. The extra time helps the entire supply chain, meaning goods are on shelves sooner – fantastic for consumers.”

Network Rail carries out major work in Whitby to keep trains running reliably and safely

Network Rail teams are on site in Whitby and carrying out vital work to a railway embankment in the seaside town to prevent a landslip and keep trains moving reliably and safely.

Over the past several months, Network Rail has been monitoring the embankment, which is on the west bank of the Esk and to the south of the A171 bridge, after minor movement was detected.  Network Rail are carrying out preventive work to stop this movement and to remove the risk of a landslip.

Landslips pose a safety risk to train services and cause major disruption to services, so it’s vital this work takes place now.

As part of the work, trees and plants have been cleared from the embankment. This is necessary as trees and their roots can cause movement which can lead to landslips. Teams have also removed impacted soil from the top half of the embankment, and this will be replaced with rock.

To allow the work to take place safely, a section of the Esk Valley Walk public footpath which passes through the caravan park has been closed. The footpath at the bottom of the embankment remains open. The work will not impact on train services.

Network Rail has been in touch with residents in the area to advise them of the work, which will complete before Christmas.

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “Keeping passengers moving safely and reliably is our top priority, and carrying out this preventive work will enable us to keep doing that.

“The work will mean some short-term changes to a public footpath in the area, but we plan to have it back open as soon as possible.”

Hundreds of Network Rail workers give up Christmas with their families to improve railway reliability in Doncaster

Over 200 Network Rail workers are giving up their Christmases to work on a £600,000 project to improve the railway in Doncaster.

From late-night Christmas Eve until the morning of Sunday, 27 December, major work will take place to renew 320 metres of track, which runs the full length of Platform 4 at Doncaster railway station. The project will see the old rail, sleepers and ballast removed and new ones installed. Work will also take place to upgrade signalling equipment and overhead electric wires. Once complete, the work will benefit passengers through creating a more modern, reliable and resilient railway with fewer delays.

As there are no timetabled services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, Network Rail uses this opportunity to carry out major work and avoid disruption for passengers at busier times. Passengers are advised to check before travelling as there are no timetabled services or bus replacement services on Christmas Day. Major work at King’s Cross station as part of a £1.2billion upgrade also means changes to and from London on the East Coast Main Line over the festive period. Passengers can see how they may be affected by visiting eastcoastupgrade.co.uk

Ricky Collins is from Doncaster and is a Works Delivery Supervisor for Network Rail. Ricky joined the company in 2008 and will be working on this project over the Christmas period.

He said: “Over the festive period, I’ll be out on site with the team and my role will be to manage and oversee the project and make sure that the work completes on time.

“Working over Christmas can be tricky as I do have children and I love to see them opening their presents. Even though it’s a bit of a balancing act, I always make sure that I get to spend this important time with them.

“I’m really proud to work on the railway and I know how important this project is and the benefits it will bring all those who travel on this route.”

Network Rail and Greater Anglia respond to RAIB report into Norwich Road Level Crossing Incident

Commenting on the RAIB report issued today, Ellie Burrows, Network Rail Anglia route director and Jamie Burles, managing director for Greater Anglia said:  

“Since the incident at Norwich Road level crossing, together with industry partners, we have worked tirelessly to understand how and why the incident occurred, and how we can make the railway safer for those working or travelling on trains or using level crossings.  

“The RAIB findings of contaminated tracks and their impact on the rail-wheel interface is consistent with our own detailed investigations, which have helped us understand how this incident occurred and led us to a series of actions in advance of any recommendations.  

“These actions include installing new track circuit treadles on the approach to the crossings that provide extra safety protection and enabled us to remove speed restrictions. We’re also cutting back trees and vegetation next to 26.5km of tracks to help prevent leaf fall that can lead to contaminated tracks and track circuit failures.    

“In addition, we have been proactive in increasing our cleaning regime for this autumn. From 18 November, we will run an extra treatment train across our rural routes.  These trains, which already operate on the route, use high powered water to help blast the rails clear of any contamination. We will also have a dedicated leaf fall maintenance team for the Cromer branch.   

As a further precaution, Greater Anglia will be actively monitoring train wheels for contamination and undertaking any cleaning necessary during the autumn season.

“We accept the RAIB recommendations, much of which we have already undertaken.  Any incident such as this is taken extremely seriously, and we understand the severe disruption and frustration that this caused many of our passengers last autumn. We are confident that the steps we have taken together and are continuing to take will prevent a further similar incident.”  

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     

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.”

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.