Students who had already booked train tickets to travel home for Christmas before the announcement of the student travel window can now rebook their tickets to travel between 3-9 December without paying additional fees.
Students who bought an Advance ticket before 11 November for a date of travel after 9 December can now change their Advance tickets to travel during the window without paying a change of journey fee of up to £10.
Flexible tickets such as Off Peak or Anytime can already be rebooked to another date without payment of an admin fee.
The window from 3-9 December, coinciding with the end of the winter term, ensures that students can return home once the national lockdown restrictions have been lifted whilst minimising the risk of transmission of the virus to others.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“Students will be eager to be at home with their families after an unprecedented autumn term, and travelling during this window enables them to do so as safely as possible.
“By waiving change of journey fees, they can now rebook their tickets without being left out of pocket.”
Govia Thameslink Railway has announced it will be working with community and environmental charity Groundwork East to spruce up 19 stations across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
The projects will improve how the stations look and feel, and their sustainability credentials. A selection of stations will enjoy new landscaping including ‘pollinator areas’ to attract and protect bees. Local people will get the chance to be involved in the planting fun, with special ‘Community Days’ planned for passengers and residents.
At three of the stations – Bayford, Welham Green and Welwyn North – landscaping schemes will be carried out through Groundwork’s award-winning ‘Green Team’ training programme. This gives volunteers who are currently unemployed the opportunity to gain work experience, new skills and City & Guilds qualifications in both horticulture and employability.
Children at selected local schools will also be offered an exciting opportunity to create new artwork representing their area. Many of their creations will be permanently displayed at stations in the new year.
Future partnerships with other Groundwork regional teams are in the pipeline to freshen up a further 56 stations across the GTR network, making a total of 75.
Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, and James Newell, Groundwork East’s Executive Director, signed up to the partnership and launched the programme officially at Radlett station on Friday [20 November] by starting the planting of 100 crocus and daffodil bulbs.
Tom Moran said “We are delighted to be working with Groundwork to improve our stations and support our local communities. Our multimillion-pound station improvement programme includes landscaping or planting at 75 stations in total. Much of the work will be carried out by trainee landscapers recruited by Groundwork, who help support local people to develop their skills and ultimately find work.
“I’m looking forward to seeing our new landscaped areas in bloom next year as well as some of the fantastic new artwork we are commissioning to brighten up everyone’s journeys.”
James Newell said: “We’re delighted that GTR has engaged us to improve stations for their passengers. As a responsible business, GTR shares our mission to create stronger, healthier communities, and better prospects for local people.
“Our Green Team volunteers will transform spaces in and around stations while also receiving help with their employability. Local community groups will get involved in some landscaping work, including the creation of wildflower areas to support the nation’s bee population, which is under threat.”
Groundwork East start preparatory work this month, and passengers will see the artistic and horticultural results by early spring next year. The train operator is also discussing similar programmes to be carried out by Groundwork London and Groundwork South.
An exciting milestone is set to be passed as plans to develop a modern transport interchange and residential development in Stockport town centre begin to take shape.
From Monday 30 November, construction work will begin to develop Heaton Lane car park into a temporary bus station. This will allow services to run when work begins in early 2021 to transform the existing bus station into the modern facility.
This work will result in the temporary closure of the external section of the car park. The temporary facilities will include a travelshop on Mersey Square and some on-street stops to allow services to operate until the opening of the main interchange.
Alex Cropper, TfGM’s Head of Operations, said: “After the unprecedented situation faced by us all this year during the pandemic, I am delighted to be able to share some exciting news about progressing this transformational project.
“We’ve delivered an impressive array of modern interchanges over the last decade, but this is one of the most striking transport projects we’ve taken forward in a local town centre.
“It’s an exciting time for Stockport town centre and we’re determined to build the community a modern transport hub it can be proud of for many years to come.”
Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration at Stockport Council, said: “I’m so pleased that work is now pressing on with delivering a transport hub that’s fit for the 21st century and will contribute to Stockport ‘Building Back Better’ after the pandemic.
“Our priority is to build a transport network for Stockport that reduces the number of car journeys people make. With its rooftop park and the new housing delivered as part of the Mayoral Development Corporation, Stockport Interchange will be at the heart of delivering just that.
“From encouraging people to walk and cycle to use the new park, to those living nearby to use the bus, train and, in the future, Metrolink, Stockport Interchange will make sustainable transport an attractive and viable option for more people. It can’t come soon enough.”
In March this year, contractor Willmott Dixon was appointed to help develop first stage proposals for the multi-million-pound interchange development, which includes a striking rooftop park, and the cycle and foot-bridge.
A joint venture between Cityheart Limited and Rise Homes is the selected residential development partner for the project. They will play a leading role alongside public sector partners in taking forward a residential building off Daw Bank with up to 200 apartments and associated car parking, offering further attractive high-quality living space in the town centre.
Located alongside the A6 and Mersey Square, the scheme forms a key part of the wider £1 billion regeneration of the town centre.
The interchange will have twenty bus stands, a fully accessible, covered passenger concourse with seated waiting areas, real-time bus and train travel information screens, a Travelshop for tickets and travel advice, CCTV coverage, baby changing facilities and a ‘Changing Places’ toilet.
The transport hub will be connected to the A6 by a lift, which will also open out onto the new, two-acre public park on the roof of the interchange building, next to the residential block. Accessible directly from the A6, the park will bring much-needed green space to the town centre.
Construction of the new interchange scheme will start in early 2021, with completion estimated for 2023. The residential development is expected to open in 2024.
For more information on the project, visit tfgm.com/stockport-interchange
Unique road-to-rail vehicle to help emergency services reach emergencies faster
Emergency services will have a better chance of saving lives when responding to incidents in the Severn Tunnel thanks to a new innovative road-to-rail vehicle which has been provided by Network Rail.
The 7.25 tonne Mitsubishi Canter can travel by road before switching to rail in as little as three minutes and can then travel on the railway at speeds of up to 20 mph, enabling firefighter and ambulance crews to reach emergencies faster.
The vehicle will be stationed at Avon Fire & Rescue’s Technical Centre in Avonmouth while its Welsh ‘twin’ will be kept at Maindee fire station in Newport, allowing faster response times from both sides of the Severn Tunnel.
Network Rail has been working on the design with Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, G.O.S Tool & Engineering, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), to ensure the vehicle provides the quickest response times possible while carrying their life-saving equipment.
Robyn MacNamara, Network Rail’s Project Manager, said: “The safety of our passengers is our priority and these vehicles will allow for a faster and more effective multi-agency emergency response.
“The Severn Tunnel is over four miles long so should an emergency incident occur, quick access for emergency services is vital. That is why we have developed this bespoke vehicle which has dedicated provisions for both firefighters and ambulance crews onboard.
“We would like to thank our emergency services partners and our supplier G.O.S Tool & Engineering for their help in bringing this replacement incident response vehicle to life.”
Station Manager for Avon Fire and Rescue Service, Neil Stradling, commented: “Since the late 1990’s, Avon Fire and Rescue Service have continued to work in collaboration with Network Rail and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to provide a rescue capability within the Severn Tunnel.
“The fire service exercises emergency procedures, within the tunnel in the early hours of the morning, on a quarterly basis and are joined by multi-agency partners such as South Western Ambulance Service.
“The past few years has seen the collaborative development of a new road rail vehicle to provide a future proofed capability which is designed to work in conjunction with modern infrastructure such as electrification of the rail system.
“Avon Fire and Rescue Service are delighted to take receipt of the new vehicle to maintain and enhance our ability to access the length of the tunnel in an emergency.
“Training has already commenced for both operators and technicians, which will culminate in the operational readiness of the vehicle in the coming months.”
Ben Murley, SWASFT Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) Officer for BNSSG and Somerset, added: “We are most grateful to receive this new vehicle. It replaces a similar vehicle that is no longer fit for purpose, and has been specifically designed for use by our Trust and Avon Fire and Rescue Service.
“Network Rail allowed our Hazardous area response team (HART) involvement in the design stage of the project, which means we will be able to use it effectively for the benefit of our service to patients. For example, the vehicle has dedicated space for breathing apparatus and other equipment.
“Our people are already trained to use the vehicle, so we are prepared and drilled to deal with an incident in the tunnel if and when one happens.”
Passengers to benefit from new 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
Trespass film scoops prizes at EVCOM film awards
A film that highlights the dangers of rail trespass picked up two gongs at a prestigious awards show that showcases corporate films.
Tegan’s Story won a Silver in the health and safety category and a Bronze in the documentary category at the EVCOM London Film Awards on 19 November.
The film made by Network Rail and The Edge Picture Company tells the story of Tegan Stapleton, who was 16-years-old when she was badly hurt falling on the 750V live rail at Bournemouth station. She had jumped down onto the tracks to get to her friend on the opposite platform when the accident happened, the day after her school prom.
In the film which was made as part of the You Versus Train campaign, Tegan talks candidly about her horrific injuries following the electricity which passed through her left arm, crossed her heart and went through her right arm. She suffered a cardiac arrest, third-degree burns over 10% of her body and her heart stopped beating for seven minutes.
The film also details the quick and decisive action by members of South Western Railway station staff who pulled Tegan away from the tracks and resuscitated her on the platform.
Tracey Captick, head of safety for Network Rail Wessex, said: “We work tirelessly to educate young people about the risks associated with making the wrong choice around the rail network.
“I’d like to pay tribute to Tegan for telling her story through this powerful film that highlights the devastating and wide-reaching consequences that trespassing on the railway can have.
“Winning these prestigious awards will hopefully result in the film being seen even more widely and prevent others from making the same horrific mistake.”
Pete Stevenson, executive director at The Edge Picture Company, said: “We’re very proud of this film at The Edge and delighted that it has won further recognition from our peers.
“This was such a sensitive and difficult subject, so our all -female production team worked closely with Tegan to earn her trust. Tegan was given final approval to make sure that the film we produced told this amazing story in a way that felt right for her. “
£0.6m investment at Elmers End station to refurbish footbridge in south London
Engineers completed extensive steel work repairs on the structure as well as repairing and replacing timber panels and supporting beans and brick work. The deck walkway has been renewed with an anti-slip surface and the structure has been repainted.
Elmers End station is on the Hayes Line with three platforms. Platform 1 is used by the tram service while national rail trains use platform two and three. A footbridge links platform 2 and 3, which has been refurbished.
During the project, engineers:
Replaced footbridge canopy sheets
Installed and replaced mesh on the parapet wall
Repaired and replaced electrical items
Replaced all timber stair treads and decking with new GRP products
Repainted the entire footbridge
Repaired damaged steel work
Repaired tarmac at the bottom of the stairs
A temporary scaffold footbridge was also installed adjacent to the permanent footbridge during the works, which allowed the project to finish 10 weeks ahead of schedule. Final finishing works to the footbridge canopies will also be completed in the coming weeks.
Fiona Taylor, Kent route director for Network Rail, said:
“We are delighted to have completed this work at Elmers End which sees the station refreshed for the benefit of passengers and the local community.
“The upgrade at Elmers End will bring many benefits to all those who use the station, making the experience more pleasant for travellers.”
During Monday to Saturday daytime hours, trains from Elmers End depart every fifteen minutes towards Central London (heading either to Cannon Street or Charing Cross) and towards Hayes in the opposite direction. On Sundays, this schedule runs half-hourly.
Scott McMillan, Station Manager for Southeastern, said:
“We’re always wanting to do more for our passengers at Elmers End, and so work to refurbish and improve the footbridge by Network Rail will not only improve its appearance, but also improve the experience of everyone using the station to cross between platforms for trains on the Hayes line and on Tramlink.”
Grade II listed footbridge at Prudhoe station reopens after £500,000 refurbishment
Network Rail has reopened the Grade II listed footbridge at Prudhoe station for passengers after a major project to strengthen, clean and repaint it.
Work began on the £500,000 refurbishment to restore the bridge to its former glory in July. Network Rail teams lifted it out in sections so the improvements could be carried out off site, keeping disruption to passengers to a minimum.
Once the bridge was removed, sand was blasted at the bridge to remove the layers of old paint and strip it back to bare metal. This meant teams could carry out detailed inspections to find out where further strengthening and repair work was needed.
The work was done carefully to preserve the heritage of the footbridge and where possible, new material to strengthen the bridge was put over the original metal.
After new coats of paint, the fully refurbished bridge was put back in place at the station earlier this month. The final stages of the project involved installing the new floor surfacing on the bridge before it could open for passengers.
Whist the footbridge was having its transformation, passengers could access both platforms via the pedestrian footpath over the level crossing at the station.
Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, said: “The transformation of the footbridge at Prudhoe station is astounding and it’s great that this work has been completed in keeping with its heritage.
“It’s so much more than a fresh coat of the traditional red and white paint. Our teams have looked closely at every detail and restored the bridge back to its former glory.
“We want to thank passengers for their patience whilst temporary changes were made in the station. Now the footbridge is back in place, it can be used by passengers for years to come.”
Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, said: “I am delighted that the refurbishment of the footbridge at Prudhoe station is complete and that it is now open for use again. Continued investment in the rail network along the Tyne Valley is hugely welcome as it improves passengers’ experience and, in this case, also safeguards a part of Prudhoe’s rail heritage for future generations.”
Kerry Peters, Regional Director at Northern, said: “Improvements like these at Prudhoe are essential in delivering our long-term strategy for the rail network and is a great example of the rail industry working together to improve the network.
“The work on the footbridge looks fantastic and is part of our ongoing commitment to make our stations better for customers.”
Network Rail teams up with Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust to reduce flooding and restore historic waterway
Network Rail is investing £350,000 to help restore a section of the historic Draycott canal route in Derbyshire to reduce flooding on the railway, rebuild heritage and create new recreational facilities for locals and tourists alike.
The section to be restored, known locally as the Golden Mile, was infilled in the 1960’s after freight trade stopped using the waterway. In 1999, a drainage ditch was installed along the canal route to help to prevent flooding on the nearby Midland Main Line, which connects Derby and London. Whilst this did help, increased rainfall has seen the railway flooded 19 times in the past eight years, costing around £2million and causing over 357 hours, a massive 14 days, of delays for passengers.
Work on the scheme has now started and will see a 1.1km stretch of canal restored, as well as low points of the canal bank raised by 1 metre to reduce the chances of water overflowing onto the nearby rail route. This will help to create a more reliable railway and reduce train service disruption for passengers. This is a key step in reducing flooding in the area, but further work will also be required.
Network Rail’s contribution joins a £100,000 investment, which has been fundraised by the Canal Trust over the last three years. As well as reducing flooding, the project will create a new section of canal which can be used by boaters and will ultimately form part of the restored canal to Derby. New leisure facilities will also be created, providing provisions for angling, canoeing, paddle boarding and even outdoor swimming. Existing facilities for walkers, cyclists and horse riders will also be improved with the current footpath re-laid. An old mill, which was built in 1812, will also be restored and turned into a community hub, with toilets and a café for visitors.
The scheme will also bring significant environmental benefits. The reopening of the canal will improve biodiversity in the area through planting native plants to support insects and amphibians, which will encourage birds into hawthorn hedges, which the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust have already created. Water voles already live in the area and all work will be carefully managed to protect them on site until they can be released back into the canal when complete. The new arrangements will provide a much better habitat allowing them to thrive. The scheme is expected to complete in Summer 2021.
Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands Route, said: “This is a fantastic project and we are proud to be a part of it.
“We have seen issues with flooding at Draycott over the past few years and this work will help to reduce this. Whilst further work will be needed to solve the problem, this is an important step in reducing delays for passengers.
“We’re really proud to be working with the community on this and it’s great that we can play a part in a wider scheme, which will benefit both residents and visitors in Derbyshire, help to boost the economy and restore this section of the canal to its former glory, preserving vital heritage.”
Chris Madge, Chairman for Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust, said: “We’ve been working for many years to bring this project to fruition and we are delighted that work has been able to begin.
“We are very grateful to Network Rail for working with us and providing the final piece of funding which will mean we can prevent flooding on the railway, as well as bring about change which will have a lasting impact on the community.
“The fact that local supporters have donated over £100,000 demonstrates the groundswell to preserve heritage in the area. Our redevelopment of an old mill building adjacent to the canal section to provide a café, museum and housing, will attract many more people out to enjoy the wonderful countryside, wildlife and activities on offer.”
Laser and drone technology recreates Ribblehead viaduct like never before
Laser scanners and drones have been used to map every inch of the iconic Ribblehead viaduct as part of a major restoration project to secure its future for passengers and tourists.
An essential upgrade to brickwork and drainage is underway on the 144-year-old structure which carries the historic Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble valley.
As part the £2.1m Great North Rail Project investment, North Yorkshire’s most recognisable railway icon was 3D scanned and turned into a computer model by surveyors.
This detailed digital recreation will help engineers make repairs now and closely monitor areas needing any further attention in the future.
Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “We’re always looking to innovate on the railway and seeing drones and lasers being used to care for such an historic structure is really impressive.
“I was at Ribblehead viaduct when we started work a week ago and saw for myself the huge scaffolding platforms now in place so my team can improve brickwork, mortar and drainage. Great care and attention is going in to make sure our work is right from a heritage perspective. This digital model plays a major role in that as we secure the Grade II listed-structure’s future for passengers and tourists as part of the Great North Rail Project.”
Network Rail has today (Monday 23 November) released the impressive footage of the Victorian viaduct as realised by the 21st century technology.
A LiDAR survey* was carried out by contractor Commendium in conjunction with heritage consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong.
Ribblehead viaduct is the biggest man-made structure Commendium has ever scanned.
Drone flights also took place as part of the survey taking high definition photographs of the Grade II listed structure.
The data gathered was then used to build up the 3D computer model by Network Rail’s specialist computer aided design (CAD) team.
Richard Walters, chief executive officer for Commendium, said: “We have all known and loved this location for most of our lives, it is even part of our childrens’ cultural awareness with them learning songs about it at school. So to survey it has been a privilege. The resulting LiDAR scan not only shows areas which need repair, but also areas where water could damage the stonework in the future, so leading to other preservation works.”
The maintenance work on Ribblehead viaduct taking place between now and February 2021 involves:
removal of vegetation and repairing the damage caused by plants and weeds
upgrades to drainage across the viaduct’s 24 arches
repainting metal and pipework
No major disruption is expected for passengers using the Settle-Carlisle line during the viaduct’s 2020/21 maintenance.
Passengers are reminded to continue following government Covid safety advice and to check before travelling at www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator.
A new video is showcasing the work ScotRail staff have put in to keeping customers and colleagues safe and moving during the coronavirus pandemic.
It highlights the fact that since March, deep cleans on trains to prevent the spread of the virus have increased by 270 percentage points.
Cleaning staff are concentrating their efforts on all areas people frequently come into contact with, known as ‘touch points’. These include ticket machines, gates, handrails, lift surfaces, pay phones, and door handles.
During the pandemic almost one million disposable gloves and 19,000 litres of anti-viral cleaner have been used and more than 8,000 hours of additional cleaning has been carried out.
The video-diary style programme also shows ScotRail staff coming together each Thursday evening at eight o’clock to clap, and sound their train horns, for key workers.
The impact of the pandemic on ScotRail’s passenger numbers is also reflected in scenes featuring significantly less busy stations and trains, with passengers observing the train operator’s five rules for safer travel, which include wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing.
David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:
“This video has been made by ScotRail as a tribute to colleagues who have worked so hard to keep Scotland moving by rail.
“All of our staff have always gone the extra mile to make sure customers are able to use Scotland’s Railway safely and get to and from their destination with the minimum of fuss.
“I am so proud of the work that has been done and this video is a testament to ScotRail’s efforts during the pandemic.”