Grand Central announces traincrew hub in Blackpool

Cllr Mark Smith and Garry Clark of Grand Central celebrate the lease of the new traincrew hub with Grand Central’s first batch of new recruits for its North West route outside No1 Bickerstaffe Square.
© Grand Central

Grand Central has announced it has signed a lease with Blackpool Council and work has now started on the 2,500sq ft site at No. 1 Bickerstaffe Square. The space will be Grand Central’s flagship traincrew hub to service its new North West to London Euston route.


The ground floor unit, next to Blackpool North railway station, will house 50 Grand Central staff and is part of the 1.1 million sq ft mixed-use flagship Talbot Gateway regeneration development. The first batch of new recruits for the rail operator has already begun training in a temporary space at Bickerstaffe Square.


The traincrew hub, which has been leased until 2026, will be the base for Grand Central employees – including train drivers, senior conductors, customer services assistants and management.


When it opens next month, facilities will include office space, a training room, briefing room, quiet room, booking on point, kitchen, toilets and breakout area. 


There will also be an internal garden with outdoor seating for staff to use and the building also boasts a communal bike park allowing employees to cycle to work, a drying room and shower facilities. 


A number of car parking spaces have also been leased from the Talbot Road car park directly opposite the depot for the use of staff.


Garry Clark, depot manager for  Grand Central, said: “Bickerstaffe Square is a fantastic space and it’s really exciting to see our staff facilities taking shape. We can’t wait to move into our new home and it’s brilliant to know that we are playing a part in regenerating the area around the railway station and Talbot Road.


“We have a track record of supporting local communities in and around our network and we believe the launch of our new route from the North West to London Euston in 2020 will prove to be a major boost to the local economy.”


Cllr Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, said: “We are delighted to welcome Grand Central Rail to Bickerstaffe and wish the team every success in their new hub.


“The Talbot Gateway project represents a wonderful opportunity for businesses to develop and thrive in Blackpool town centre. The new unit, along with Grand Central’s upcoming route from Blackpool North to London Euston, will provide a great boost to the local infrastructure.”


In a move which is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the North West – including a boost to tourism, Grand Central announced a new route from Blackpool North to London Euston last June.


From later in 2020, Grand Central will operate up to five new direct train services to run every day of the week between Blackpool North and London Euston. Blackpool will gain direct services to London on Sundays, as well as later trains to and from the capital Monday to Saturday.


Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham will each have new direct London services throughout the day, seven days a week. All trains will also call at Preston and Nuneaton, with most also stopping additionally at Milton Keynes, connecting leisure and business travellers to the capital and offering a choice of operator and great value fares.


Grand Central is in the final stages of recruiting the onboard staff it needs for its Blackpool traincrew hub, including drivers and customer service advisors. For more information and to apply visit www.grandcentralrail.com/careers


More information about the new Blackpool services is available to view at www.grandcentralrail.com/blackpool
To find out more about Grand Central, please visit www.grandcentralrail.com, or follow the railway company on Twitter @GC_Rail, Facebook or LinkedIn.

New MD will lead Northern under public ownership

Northern Trains Limited has today announced that a new Managing Director will be at the helm of the company as it moves into public ownership.

From today, senior rail executive, Nick Donovan, joins Northern Trains as Managing Director. Mr Donovan is the independent Chair of the Network Performance Board and successfully led TransPennine Express from 2011-2015.

For the last two years, Nick has been advising the ScotRail Alliance on train service performance and before that worked on making the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail.  He was interim Engineering Director at Arriva Rail North in 2016.

Robin Gisby, Chairman of Northern Trains and CEO of the public sector operator, DOHL, said: “Nick’s widespread experience, leadership of TPE and his role as Chair of the industry’s National Performance Board has given him a first-class insight into all the issues and challenges we face, not just as Northern but for all operators across the Northern region.

“Given the current circumstances and environment we are operating in, I am very confident that Nick is the right person to lead the business going forward.

“David Brown has faced some very difficult challenges during his time leading the Northern business. I have now asked David to move across to our holding company where we can explore other senior level opportunities and retain his skills and experience. We should all take this opportunity to acknowledge David’s significant contribution to the Northern Franchise over the last two and a half years.

“Our priority over the coming weeks will be to stabilise performance whilst continuing to deliver existing projects including the introduction of new trains. Over the next 100 days, we will push forward with a widespread review of the business and its operations to ensure that we can and will deliver the improvements that Northern’s passengers deserve.”

On 1st March 2020, the government operator took over the running of services across the Northern network. Yesterday it was also announced that a new stakeholder panel will be put in place to provide ongoing strategic advice on the issues that impact on the operator. Political leaders, including Andy Burnham from Manchester and Judith Blake from Leeds, will be joined by regional leaders, passenger representatives and industry leaders on the panel.

Further plans and announcements from the new Managing Director of Northern will be made over the next 100 days as the leadership prepares its ambitious plans to improve the service for passengers of Northern and the North of England.

Northern franchise enters new future

  • Government operator takes over running of services on Northern network today, Sunday 1 March
  • Northern leaders from Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley and Yorkshire will join panel to advise new operator on priorities for new Northern franchise
  • Operator will work with local leaders, industry and passenger representatives to deliver a plan for improvements after first 100 days

Today (Sunday 1 March), the Government has taken over the running of services across the Northern network, marking a new start for the future of the franchise.  

Demonstrating the Government’s commitment to rebuild passenger confidence, and put their priorities first, the government operator has launched a new panel to provide ongoing advice on how services will be run. Political leaders, including Andy Burnham from Manchester and Judith Blake from Leeds, will be joined by regional leaders, passenger representatives and industry leaders on the panel, which will be led by Richard George, the chairman of the operator.

The Government has also announced that overcrowding on Northern’s network will be a priority focus for improvement, with new technology being trialled to identify crowding pinch points. Work is underway to extend platforms at 30 stations across the network to allow for longer trains and improve journeys for passengers.

Capacity will be further boosted with the roll-out of more electric trains across the network next year, in addition to the extra capacity already being delivered by the new fleet. A major deep cleaning program has also commenced today, along with an overhaul of on-board cleanliness, to make sure carriages meet the high standards passengers deserve.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: 

“This is new era for rail in the North, but there will be no quick fix for the network as we build solutions for the future.

“Today marks the beginning of rebuilding of trust in these services, and voices from the region will be essential as we work together to understand and deliver the improvements passengers need.

“Our aim is to give the North of England more powers over their railways, restoring the confidence of passengers and delivering a network they can truly rely on.”

Chairman of the government’s operator, Richard George said: 

“The panel announced today will play a crucial strategic role as we look to transform services across Northern’s network, putting the needs of passengers first.

“By collaborating with local leaders, we’re taking a step towards reconnecting the railways with the people of the North. We need to improve performance and also provide passengers and their elected representatives with the confidence that their concerns are being addressed.”  

The Transport Secretary has tasked the operator with delivering a new vision for the North’s railways, restoring confidence for passengers and delivering tangible improvements, but has made clear that the complexity of the challenge means transformation will not take place overnight.

The leadership of the government operator will be using the first 100 days running services to prepare an ambitious plan, consulting with passengers and leaders across the North to understand their priorities, and leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to improve the service for passengers.

Grand Central Class 90 Driver Training…..?

Credit to @JosephJJolly on Twitter for bringing these to our attention for the week commencing 02/03/20.

© @JosephJJolly via Twitter

Monday 2nd March

0Z97 Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site to Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973142

16:34 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

16:42 – Crewe Camera 4

18:34 – Crewe Camera 4

18:36 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

Tuesday 3rd – Friday 6th March

3P50 Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site to Preston

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973614

08:50 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

08:52 – Crewe Camera 4

09:50 – Leyland Camera

09:54 – Farington Junction Camera

3K87 Preston to Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973613

10:31 – Farington Junction Camera

10:33 – Leyland Camera

11:34 – Crewe Camera 4

11:36 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

3P51 Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site to Blackpool North

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973615

09:24 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

09:26 – Crewe Camera 4

10:08 – Leyland Camera

10:11 – Farington Junction Camera

3K83 Blackpool North to Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973611

12:24 – Farington Junction Camera

12:26 – Leyland Camera

13:02 – Crewe camera 4

13:05 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

3P58 Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site to Blackpool North

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973610

14:28 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

14:29 – Crewe Camera 4

15:00 – Leyland Camera

15:03 – Farington Junction Camera

3K84 Blackpool North to Crewe Carriage Sidings L&nwr Site

https://railcam.uk/rcdata/RCData2_detail.php?r=S&sid=13973610

16:23 – Farington Junction Camera

16:25 – Leyland Camera

17:01 – Crewe camera 4

17:03 – Crewe Cameras 2 & 3

Rail Delivery Group comment on Northern franchise change

©Rail Delivery Group

As announced by the Secretary of State for Transport in January, the Northern franchise will change on Sunday 1 March.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“The Northern franchise change is an opportunity for all parts of the industry to work differently to deliver the services people need and want. Urgent reform is needed to make sure different parts of the railway aren’t pulled in different directions again. Our proposals to the government’s review would boost accountability, ensure all parts of the railway are joined up and better deliver for passengers in the long term. The industry is looking forward to the proposed white paper to reform the railway and we stand ready to facilitate smooth implementation with a clear focus on customers.”

Welsh stations miss out on UK Government investment/Llywodraeth y DU yn penderfynu peidio â buddsoddi yng ngorsafoedd Cymru

The Welsh Government has expressed its disappointment after stations on the Wales & Borders network have missed out on UK Government funding, describing it as “the UK Government’s failure to deliver the investment they are responsible for.”

The Welsh Government has also said it is in the early stages of considering alternative funding arrangements for stations that have not been selected.

On 26th February the UK Government confirmed investment in accessibility improvements in rail stations in Great Britain. Ruabon, Haverfordwest and Whitchurch (Shropshire) were all endorsed by the Welsh Government, but have not been selected by the UK Government in the final funding allocations.

Additional regional accessibility improvements at a further 30 stations were endorsed by the Welsh Government but declined by the UK Government.

The schemes selected were lift additions at Grangetown, Llantwit Major (2), Pontypool and Neath, all through joint funding from the Department for Transport, Transport for Wales, and third party funding (for example local authorities).

Part of Transport for Wales’ funding offer could be used to help schemes that have not been selected, though it may have to meet additional costs from approved schemes. The Welsh Government and Transport for Wales are in discussions over this issue.

Ken Skates, Economy, Transport and North Wales Minister, commented:

“It is disappointing that the UK Government has decided to invest in just 4 of the 7 projects we had promoted and offered to match fund.

“I have therefore asked Transport for Wales and rail industry partners to urgently consider the scope for using the matched funding commitment we offered to progress step free access at the excluded stations, under our own direct investment. This is because of the U.K. Government’s failure to deliver the investment they are responsible for.

“Stations with strong community support for step free upgrades have been excluded from funding. Unfortunately it is another example where passengers are set feel the effect of the UK Government’s continuing underinvestment in Welsh railways.”

“Meanwhile, I am pleased that work will go ahead at the four successful stations.”

©Llywodraeth Cymru/Welsh Government

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi mynegi ei siom ar ôl i Lywodraeth y DU benderfynu peidio â rhoi arian i orsafoedd ar rwydwaith Cymru a’r Gororau, gan ei ddisgrifio fel “methiant Llywodraeth y DU i ddarparu’r buddsoddiad y maent yn gyfrifol amdano.”

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi mynegi ei siom ar ôl i Lywodraeth y DU benderfynu peidio â rhoi arian i orsafoedd ar rwydwaith Cymru a’r Gororau, gan ei ddisgrifio fel “methiant Llywodraeth y DU i ddarparu’r buddsoddiad y maent yn gyfrifol amdano.”

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru hefyd wedi dweud ei bod yn y camau cynnar o ystyried trefniadau ariannu gwahanol ar gyfer gorsafoedd nad ydynt wedi’u dewis.

Ar 26 Chwefror, cadarnhaodd Llywodraeth y DU y byddai’n buddsoddi mewn gwelliannau hygyrchedd mewn gorsafoedd rheilffordd ym Mhrydain Fawr. Cafodd Rhiwabon, Hwlffordd a’r Eglwys Wen (Swydd Amwythig) eu cymeradwyo gan Lywodraeth Cymru, ond nid yw Llywodraeth y DU wedi’u dewis yn y dyraniadau cyllid terfynol.

Cafodd gwelliannau rhanbarthol ychwanegol o ran hygyrchedd mewn 30 o orsafoedd eraill eu cymeradwyo gan Lywodraeth Cymru ond fe’u gwrthodwyd gan Lywodraeth y DU.

Ymysg y cynlluniau a ddewiswyd oedd ychwanegu lifft yn Grangetown, Llanilltud Fawr (2), Pont-y-pŵl a Chastell-nedd, y cyfan drwy gyllid ar y cyd gan yr Adran Drafnidiaeth, Trafnidiaeth Cymru a chyllid trydydd parti (er enghraifft, awdurdodau lleol).

Gellid defnyddio rhan o gynnig cyllid Trafnidiaeth Cymru i helpu cynlluniau nad ydynt wedi’u dewis, er efallai y bydd yn rhaid cwrdd â chostau ychwanegol drwy’r cynlluniau a gymeradwywyd. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru a Trafnidiaeth Cymru yn trafod y mater hwn.

Dywedodd Ken Skates, Gweinidog yr Economi, Trafnidiaeth a Gogledd Cymru:

“Mae’n siomedig mai dim ond 4 o’r 7 prosiect y gwnaethom eu hyrwyddo a chynnig darparu arian cyfatebol ar eu cyfer y mae Llywodraeth y DU wedi penderfynu buddsoddi ynddynt.

“Felly, rwyf wedi gofyn i Drafnidiaeth Cymru a phartneriaid yn y diwydiant rheilffyrdd ystyried ar frys y posibilrwydd o ddefnyddio’r ymrwymiad arian cyfatebol rydym wedi’i gynnig i symud ymlaen i gynnig mynediad heb risiau yn y gorsafoedd nad ydynt wedi’u cynnwys, yn unol â’n buddsoddiad uniongyrchol ein hunain. Mae hyn oherwydd methiant Llywodraeth y DU i ddarparu’r buddsoddiad y maent yn gyfrifol amdano.

“Mae gorsafoedd sydd â chefnogaeth gref yn y gymuned ar gyfer gwaith uwchraddio heb risiau wedi’u heithrio o’r cyllid. Yn anffodus, mae hon yn enghraifft arall lle mae teithwyr yn teimlo effaith diffyg buddsoddiad parhaus Llywodraeth y DU yn rheilffyrdd Cymru.”

“Yn y cyfamser, rwy’n falch y bydd y gwaith yn mynd yn ei flaen yn y pedair gorsaf lwyddiannus.”

Rail stations across Great Britain receive £20m funding boost for accessibility improvements

  • 124 stations across Great Britain to benefit from a share of £20m for accessibility improvements
  • Latest in a series of improvements by the Transport Secretary to accelerate the pace of change for a more accessible transport network
  • Follows launch of new campaign to improve journeys for disabled people when using public transport 

Disabled passengers across Great Britain are set to benefit from accessibility improvements at 124 stations thanks to a £20m government fund.

The enhancements announced by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today (February 26) are funded through the Access for All programme and will include new lifts, accessible toilets and customer information screens.

It comes as a new Government campaign launched this week to improve the journeys of disabled passengers on public transport.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“The ability to travel easily from A to B is an essential factor for our day to day lives – but is not the reality for everyone.

“I recognise that we have much more to do, which is why we’re making 124 train stations across the country more accessible – a key part of levelling-up access for disabled people to transport and opening up opportunities for all.

“This is just the start of a much more ambitious agenda. My goal is to go much further in the years ahead to help ensure that our country’s transport system becomes one of the most accessible in the world.”

These improvements are being made through the Access for All programme which, since 2006, has already made more than 200 stations step free, as well as delivered smaller scale accessibility improvements at more than 1,500 others to improve passenger experience.

Today’s £20million is part of a £300million package announced last year which is already providing accessible, step free routes at 73 stations across Great Britain, making it easier for disabled people to travel on the UK’s rail network.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:

“Everyone using our rail network deserves platforms and toilets they can use and this £20million investment to improve 124 railway stations across the country will make a huge difference to disabled people.

“This Government is committed to levelling up the playing field and later this year we’ll launch a national strategy which will ensure disabled people have equal access to all spheres of life.”

This follows the launch of the ‘it’s everyone’s journey’ advertising campaign to highlight how we can all play a part in making public transport inclusive. The campaign is being supported by more than 100 partners, including First Group, WHSmith Travel and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Department for Transport research has shown that behaviours that make public transport a daunting place for disabled people are often unconscious, such as not looking out for a fellow passenger who might need a seat or be in distress.

‘it’s everyone’s journey’ will raise awareness about the needs of disabled people when using public transport, particularly people with non-visible impairments, and will also prompt members of the public to think and consider how their behaviour might impact others.

Alongside this, the Department has also launched its Inclusive Transport Leaders scheme, an accreditation scheme which will encourage, celebrate and promote best practice in inclusive transport.

Operators, such as bus and train companies, are encouraged to sign up to the Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme, where they will work towards one of three accreditation levels by demonstrating the steps they have taken to improve the travelling experiences of disabled passengers, older people, and those with reduced mobility.

These improvements form part of the wider Inclusive Transport Strategy and supports the Government’s ambition of achieving equal access for all on public transport.

CrossCountry welcomes Worcestershire Parkway to its network

CrossCountry, part of the Arriva Group, has welcomed the opening of Worcestershire’s first new railway station for over 100 years.

On Sunday 23 February, Worcestershire Parkway station joins 118 stations already served by CrossCountry across Great Britain. With its large, secure car park, modern facilities and accessible platforms, the new station makes a fantastic gateway to the region.

With an hourly CrossCountry service throughout the day, southbound to Gloucester and Cardiff and northwards to Birmingham and Nottingham, onward connections will link the county to almost every part of the country. As well as CrossCountry, GWR services to the Cotswolds and London will extend the county’s reach. This enhanced connectivity to the rest of Britain will enable Worcestershire to continue growing its business and tourism links as the country becomes an even easier place to visit.

Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted that Worcestershire Parkway is now open for business. This new station and its excellent connections will benefit the regions’ rail users, and we look forward to working with the council and other stakeholders to promote its use.”

© Cross Country by Arriva

Step into Spring with series of free guided walks from Suffolk rail stations

A Suffolk organisation aims to get more people walking this Spring with a series of free guided walks.

The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership will run a guided walk over five Saturdays from 29 February until 4 April with each one starting and ending at a Greater Anglia rail station on the Ipswich – Lowestoft and Felixstowe rail lines.

The Partnership’s Chairman, Aaron Taffera, says he hopes that because the walks start and end at the train station people will come from far and wide to enjoy them – and be able to leave the car at home.

He commented: “It means that people can discover our beautiful Suffolk countryside without the pollution of additional cars entering the county.”

The first walk, on Saturday 29 February, is a 5-mile circular walk from Westerfield station. More details about other walks in the programme can be found at www.eastsuffolkline.org.

They all start and end at a rail station, connecting in with train times.

Chairman of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Aaron Taffera, adds, “Studies have shown that walking is great for your health and the beautiful scenery of our part of Suffolk is positively good for the soul, so we encourage everyone to come and try one of our walks.

“With the added benefit of being able to travel on one of Greater Anglia’s brand new, more environmentally friendly trains, people can get out and about whilst reducing their carbon footprint.”

The Partnership has also produced a book of self-guided walks from rail stations which is free and available from most public buildings in Suffolk such as tourist information centres and libraries or online at http://www.eastsuffolkline.com/walks

The booklet contains detailed maps and diagrams, duration of each walk, landmarks, details of the scenery along the way and places to stop for refreshments. All the walks are way-marked with the East Suffolk Line Walks logo.

The book of 22 walks – covering more than 160 miles – saw the Partnership nominated for an ‘Influencing Positive Change’ Award at last year’s Community Rail Awards.

Beautiful Wickham Market, one of the locations for the walks. © Greater Anglia
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership have made a video of the line to attract visitors

East Midlands Railway is offering one lucky person the opportunity to experience a cab ride on the South Yorkshireman HST

© East Midlands Railway
  • Unique experience to take in a view of the railway like you’ve never seen it before
  • Winner will sit next to the Driver, accompanied by a Driver Manager, from Sheffield to London St Pancras
  • First Class travel provided on return journey
  • All proceeds go to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

First Class rail travel will be provided back to Sheffield (or another EMR destination) at a time of the winner’s convenience that day. On your return journey, you will be treated to a meal in First Class and a free drink of your choice.

The winner will also receive a voucher for 2 people to have afternoon tea at Cocoa Wonderland in Sheffield.

To be in with a chance to win simply:

  • Visit the donations webpage here
  • You must be over the age of 16
  • Donate a minimum of £10, each £10 donation = 1 ticket into the draw
  • Leave us your full name when donating.

The chance to win this exciting opportunity will close on Friday 20th March 2020. 

The winner will be announced on EMR’s social media platforms on Monday 30th March 2020. The winner will then be contacted to arrange a suitable date in conjunction with one of our Driver Managers.

All proceeds raised will be going to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity. You can find out more about the work the vital work this organisation does by clicking here

Mark Evans, On Train Service Delivery Manager for EMR said “This is a once in a lifetime chance to sit in the cab from Sheffield to London St Pancras on one of our most loved trains, the HST which will sadly not be in service from the end of this year. I want to thank everyone who enters; it is greatly appreciated. This is helping us to raise a lot of money for this fantastic charity, the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity”.

Notes

· Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity licence number 5384
· Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.