Safety boost as Network Rail completes £600k investment at quarry sidings in Derbyshire
Workers at Dove Holes Quarry rail sidings at Peak Forest in Derbyshire are benefitting from a £600k investment to improve safety at the site as part of Network Rail’s Freight Safety Improvement Portfolio (FSIP).
The two-year project saw the construction of a new 470 metre safe walking route between the sidings and the train crew facilities, including low level lighting and a new staircase on the embankment.
The FSIP is a £22m fund to deliver safety improvements during Control Period 6 (CP6), which has already enabled safe walking route improvements at Great Heck near Selby, Cliffe in Kent and Angerstein Wharf at the Port of London.
Oliver Paget, Network Rail’s lead route and freight manager for North West and Central (NW&C), said:
“This project has made great improvements to working conditions for the drivers and shunters at Peak Forest. Previously they were walking on uneven ballast and with over a quarter of a mile between the quarry and the long siding it could be tough going on the shunters’ and drivers’ feet and knees. There was a history of trips, slips and falls on the site.”
Dale Holford, a driver operator for Victa Railfreight, walks an average of 15 miles a day in his job. He said:
“Each train is a quarter of a mile long and my job entails me walking along each side of it, so that’s a lot of time spent on my feet. I lost one and a half stone in the first two months I came to work here.
“The new walking route is amazing; it has made things so much better. Walking on ballast is uncomfortable underfoot and you have to be careful that you don’t turn your ankle. Any improvements like the ones this project is delivering are always welcome.”
Operated by GB Rail freight (GBRf) and DB Cargo, 42 train services run each week from the quarry carrying things like mortar and aggregates for CEMEX – a global leader in the building materials industry.
Mark Grimshaw-Smith, rail and sea Manager at CEMEX, said:
“Safety is our number one priority, and we are focused on continual improvement at our locations to better protect our people and those we work with. Part of this means working collaboratively with our industry partners to identify what the issues are, along with the opportunities for development.
“Dove Holes is our largest quarry in the UK, with our busiest rail operation and multiple users on site at any time; making this project especially valuable. Moving forward, we are keen to roll out these safe working routes at our other railheads.”
Track upgrades to bring more reliable journeys for Yorkshire’s rail passengers
This weekend, hundreds of Network Rail workers will carry out key upgrades to the railway in Yorkshire in a boost to reliability.
The upgrade will see more than 420 metres of track renewed in South Elmsall and over 340 metres replaced in Adwick. Work will take place to replace the rail, sleepers and ballast, the stones which support the railway.
Once complete, passengers will benefit from a more modern and reliable railway with fewer instances of disruption, as well as smoother journeys.
To allow the work to take place safely, there will be changes to services on Sunday, 5 June, with passengers urged to plan ahead and check before travelling via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator.
On this date, bus replacement services will be in place between Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate, and diversion routes will also be in place.
This means journeys will take longer than usual, so passengers are urged to allow extra time for travelling.
Sarah Reid, Route Managing Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, said: “The work we’re doing this weekend will help provide smoother and more reliable journeys for passengers.
“The majority of the rail network is open for business over the Jubilee Weekend, but the work we’re doing in Adwick and South Elmsall will mean some changes to services, so we’re urging passengers to plan ahead via National Rail Enquiries.
“We’re really sorry for any inconvenience which this caused, and we’d like to thank all those impacted for their patience”
Railway open for passengers celebrating Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Passengers are being advised that rail routes between London, the Midlands and North West will be open as usual during the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend (2-5 June).
It’s after Network Rail engineers made the most of bank holidays earlier on in the year to carry out £41m of essential work to build a more efficient railway as part of Britain’s Rail Recovery.
This included major upgrades to tracks in Wembley and Watford to provide more reliable passenger and freight journeys.
When the Queen’s landmark celebrations begin on Thursday 2 June it means passengers can rely on rail to travel to the capital on the West Coast and Chiltern main lines.
With many thousands of people expected to join in with the landmark celebrations, people are reminded to plan their journeys in advance at www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s North West and Central region managing director, said: “We are really pleased to say that both main lines into London Euston and Marylebone stations will be open across the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend after we planned ahead and carried out our major engineering work earlier on in the year.
“We know that demand will be high as people travel into the capital to celebrate this special occasion and our station staff will be on hand to welcome passengers and help them with their journeys. As always our advice is to plan your journey using National Rail Enquiries.”
Passengers are being advised there will be changes to journeys across the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds between 2-5 June.
Signals – the traffic lights of the railway – are being upgraded as part of the ongoing Transpennine Route Upgrade.
There will be some rail replacement bus services in operation between Manchester, Stalybridge, Rochdale and Salford Central.
Northern encourages thanks as part of Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Northern, the biggest train operator in the North of England is celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by supporting the national themes of ‘thanks’ and ‘contribution’ with various activities taking place across its network.
Northern will be joining with the whole nation in celebrating Her Majesty’s reign with activities and events for customers, colleagues and the local community.
‘Thank you’ trees have been installed at Manchester Victoria and Shipley stations (between Monday 30th and Sunday 5th June) and customers, colleagues and local communities are encouraged to leave messages of thanks and hope on the branches.
Northern will be virtually dressing all its station (where digital facilities exist) with official jubilee branding and trains will also carry the royal emblem throughout the jubilee week and over the long bank holiday weekend.
Stations at Barrow-in-Furness, Harrogate, Hartlepool, Leeds, Liverpool, Meadowhall, Manchester Victoria and Windermere will all be selling specially commission brochures that highlight, Northern’s and the rail industry’s contribution to our communities over the last 70 years.
The limited-edition brochures will be available for £5.00 and it is hoped that more than £175,000.00 can be raised across the country for The Railway Children, Save the Children, Railway Mission, The Railway Benefit Fund and Women in Rail.
Northern will also be working with a number of schools in Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle to reward pupils who have shown kindness and community spirit.
Depot tours, station visits and STEM education sessions will be provided at Heaton, Holbeck and Newton Heath train maintenance depots and at Leeds station where pupils will also be treated to a royal jubilee picnic on board specially decorated trains.
Station adopters and Community Rail Partnerships have also been hard at work with events, garden displays and station decorating taking place across the network.
Northern colleagues have also been looking back and contributing their royal memories to internal magazines and have put together a special video message to Her Majesty which will be released via Northern’s social media channels.
Nick Donovan, Northern’s managing director, commented: “It is going to be a fantastic week of national celebration in recognition of Her Majesty the Queen.
“We wanted to be part of those celebrations and have focused our efforts on acknowledging our communities, colleagues and customers for their contribution and that of the railway in the north over the last 70 years.
“We are hoping to raise money for some very worth charities, reward kindness and community spirit, support our local partners and give everyone the opportunity to say thank you.
“On behalf of everyone at Northern I want to thank Her Majesty for her continued service to our country.”
EMR to install lifesaving defibrillators at 22 stations across network
Defibs to be installed across Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire
Locations requested by community rail partnerships and station adopters
East Midlands Railway (EMR) is to install lifesaving defibrillators across 22 railway stations on its network.
Each defibrillator comes with step-by-step instructions built into the unit which explain how to use it should someone suffer a cardiac arrest.
The computers inside the defibrillators work by analysing people’s heart rhythms to find out whether an electric shock is needed. If required, electrodes then automatically deliver the shock.
Having a defibrillator close when someone suffers a cardiac arrest greatly improves their chances of survival. Indeed, according to the British Heart Foundation, for every minute it takes for a defibrillator to reach someone to deliver the shock needed, chances of survival reduce up to 10%.
The locations of the defibrillators were put forward by station adopters and local community rail partnerships.
Phil Thomas volunteers his time as a station adopter at Radcliffe Station. He said he was delighted that a defibrillator had been installed at his local station.
He said: “The importance of having a defibrillator readily accessible to help someone in an emergency situation is life saving. We are very grateful to EMR for placing a unit at our local station in Radcliffe on Trent adding to the network we have around the village.”
Donna Adams, Community Engagement Manager, said: “Each second counts when someone has a cardiac arrest, and with many thousands of people passing through our stations each day, they are ideal places to install a defibrillator.
“We are pleased to be able to contribute to such an important project and bring such vital equipment to communities right across the region we serve.”
The units are to be fitted at the following stations:
Burton On Trent
Tutbury and Hatton
Fans urged to plan ahead for Scotland v Ukraine
ScotRail is urging Scotland fans to plan ahead for the World Cup play-off match against Ukraine, with the temporary timetable still in place.
Customers travelling from Glasgow Central to Hampden Park on Wednesday, 1 June, will benefit from some additional services to and from Mount Florida, and extra carriages on trains to Mount Florida and Kings Park – the closest stations to the ground.
Visiting Ukraine fans who decide to travel by rail should use services to and from Mount Florida.
Supporters heading to the game are advised to allow additional time for travel as services will still be busy. Purchasing their return tickets to Mount Florida in advance will help to avoid additional queuing on the day.
Regular customers should be aware that trains from Glasgow Central to Mount Florida and Kings Park will be much busier than normal prior to the game.
To help everyone’s journey go smoothly, ScotRail will have extra staff on hand to help customers on both days.
The temporary timetable for Monday – Saturday Friday can be viewed online at scotrail.co.uk/timetable-update
The reduction in services will mean fewer options for fans making journeys to and from Glasgow, both before and after the match. For example, the last train to Edinburgh departing Glasgow Queen Street is 22.15, on which those attending the match will be unable to travel.
Customers are also reminded that the wearing of a face covering is recommended on trains and in stations, and the consumption of alcohol remains prohibited on ScotRail services.
Phil Campbell, ScotRail Head of Customer Operations, said:
“We know this is a massive match for the Scottish national team and we are looking forward to helping supporters travel to Hampden to play their part in the occasion. It’s an honour to welcome Ukraine fans to Glasgow.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to support fans travelling to the games by adding additional services where we can and more seats to trains where possible. The temporary timetable will still be in place, so it is important that fans plan ahead to make sure they are aware of their options for both getting into the city, and for completing their journey home.
“Regular commuters who travel home from Glasgow on the line via Mount Florida should be aware that services will be much busier than normal on Wednesday night with fans heading to the match.”
Transport for London (TfL) is issuing travel advice ahead of planned RMT action short of strike at Tube stations from Friday 3 June, and a planned station staff strike on Monday 6 June.
From Friday 3 June until Sunday 10 July, the RMT has planned action short of strike, meaning station staff might not work overtime or rest days. Journeys may be impacted by this and short notice station closures are possible, although TfL is doing everything it can to keep stations open. Interchange stations will be prioritised.
TfL expects to run a service during the 3 June to 10 July action, including the Platinum Jubilee weekend, and plans to keep all stations open, but customers should check before they travel and listen for announcements in case of short notice changes. Other modes of transport, including buses, DLR, London Overground and the newly opened Elizabeth line, will be running over the entire Bank Holiday weekend, although services could be busier than usual.
On Monday 6 June, RMT strike action will be taking place across London Underground stations. While train services will run, TfL expects severe disruption across the network from the start of service on Monday 6 June to 08:00 on Tuesday 7 June, with many stations – especially those in the centre – closed. Those stations that can be opened, may only open for limited periods and the situation is likely to change throughout the day depending on whether TfL has enough staff to safely keep stations open.
Customers are advised to avoid travelling on the Tube on Monday 6 June unless necessary. If Tube travel on Monday 6 June cannot be avoided, customers are advised to travel after 08:00 and to complete journeys by 18:00. On Tuesday 7 June, some stations may still be closed at the beginning of the day so it is advised to travel after 08:00. Please allow more time for journeys and check before travelling. For the latest information on how services are operating please use TfL’s real-time travel tools, including status updates, Journey Planner and TfL Go.
This action comes as part of a dispute over pensions, jobs and conditions – despite the fact nobody has or will lose their jobs as a result of the proposals TfL has set out and there are no proposals on pension changes.
This strike action comes at a time when London’s businesses and cultural institutions are doing all they can to encourage people into the capital to make the most of the celebratory Jubilee weekend. The strike may also hamper the encouraging progress made to restore ridership, which is vital for TfL’s finances and the city’s recovery from the pandemic. Ridership on the Tube now regularly hits 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels with ridership exceeding 3 million journeys for the last two Thursdays. Ridership on weekends is also reaching around 85 to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels as people return to the city to experience all it has to offer.
London’s high-frequency bus services will continue to run throughout the planned industrial action. The newly opened Elizabeth line will run over the Jubilee weekend, with a special service operating on Sunday 5 June from approximately 08:00 – 22:00. Other TfL services, including buses, DLR, London Overground and Trams are not affected by the industrial action and will be running but will be busier than normal.
TfL expects London’s roads to be congested. Customers in central London are advised to walk, cycle or use a rental e-scooter for all or part of their journeys where possible if the planned action goes ahead.
Andy Lord, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are doing our utmost to make the Platinum Jubilee weekend one to remember and I can assure our customers we are working hard to minimise the impact of the RMT’s frustrating strike action. Our advice to Londoners and visitors is to check before they make their journeys in case of any short-notice closures.
“On Monday 6 June we advise anyone who needs to use the Tube to consider whether they are able to work from home and only travel if necessary on this day. We are expecting severe disruption which will continue into the morning of Tuesday 7 June too. I apologise to customers for this and understand they will be frustrated by this strike action but urge them not to take it out on those who are trying to help.
“We haven’t proposed any changes to pensions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals we have set out. We know our customers deserve better than this and that is why we’re urging the RMT to call off this action and work with us to find a resolution to this dispute, which is threatening London’s recovery from the pandemic.”
The RMT is encouraged to work with TfL rather than disrupting the country’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and London’s recovery. As part of previous funding agreements, the Government has required TfL to work towards achieving financial sustainability on its operations by April 2023. This means TfL must speed up its pre-pandemic savings programme. As part of this, TfL has been engaging with its trade unions and staff to seek their views on how it can make London Underground more efficient and financially sustainable, while continuing to deliver the highest standards of safety, reliability and customer service. TfL has committed to its staff and trade unions that the safety of staff and customers will always remain paramount and the changes will protect as many jobs as possible for the people who work for TfL today, allowing more flexibility to adapt to changing customer requirements.
Further information will be available ahead of, and during, the strikes on TfL’s website as well as on the free TfL Go app and Journey Planner.
Over one million journeys have been made on the new central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood so far
Following an opening day full of celebrations, more than one million passengers have used the new Elizabeth line in its first five days.
Since opening, the central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood has seen more than one million journeys. Across the whole line, which stretches from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, more than two million journeys have been made since Tuesday.
Businesses across the line have also welcomed the arrival of the Elizabeth line, and for many, the new railway marks an exciting new chapter in the capital. The Elizabeth line connects areas including world-leading financial centres in the Square Mile, and Canary Wharf, to key business and events hubs in the east including the Royal Docks, as well as London’s cultural and creative heart in the West End.
The railway received an incredible reception from Londoners and transport enthusiasts from around the world. In just five days more than a million customers used the Elizabeth line, taking advantage of the seamless journeys through the heart of London on the new central section. The Elizabeth line is a historic, once-in-a-generation addition to London’s transport network that will not only change how people travel in London but will support the creation of new jobs and economic growth throughout the country.
The railway has opened up new journey options, is supporting jobs and generating a huge economic boost, not only for London but for the whole country. The increase in central London’s rail capacity of 10 per cent is the largest single increase in decades and will support the capital’s regeneration and recovery from the pandemic. The new railway has cut journey times between Abbey Wood and Paddington by almost half, to approximately 29 minutes. Trips between Farringdon and Canary Wharf will now take around 10 minutes, instead of 24.
The London Transport Museum has launched a range of Elizabeth line merchandise to celebrate the line opening. The new Elizabeth line Moquette range features accessories like face coverings, socks, and bags, as well as furniture items including sofas and armchairs. Customers keen on celebrating the opening of the railway in style quickly snapped up the Elizabeth line merchandise on sale at London Transport Museum’s pop-up shop at Paddington station on opening day, with some ranges selling out within hours of the first train. The full range of items can be purchased from the museum’s shop in Covent Garden, or online. Brand new Elizabeth line merchandise, including mugs and limited edition t-shirts, will be on sale in the summer.
Railway enthusiasts have also been rapidly purchasing limited edition Oyster cards. The cards are currently being dispensed from machines at all stations opening on the line as well as stops in Zone 1.
Although Elizabeth line services will not run on Sundays until later this year, there will be a Sunday service across the route on Sunday 5 June between Paddington and Abbey Wood from approximately 08.00 to 22.00 for those out celebrating the Platinum Jubilee.
Howard Smith, TfL’s Director of the Elizabeth line, said: “It has been fantastic to see the Elizabeth line receive such a great reception. Customers have been flocking to the railway in the hundreds of thousands each day since opening to marvel at our beautiful new stations but also to experience drastically shorter journey times. It is already having a transformative impact on local businesses and opening up access to new areas of London.”
Laura Citron, CEO London & Partners said: “The Elizabeth line fundamentally changes London’s economic geography. As a global megacity, London is home to districts which are world-class destinations in their own right – the West End for shopping and entertainment; the City and Canary Wharf for financial and professional services; Royal Docks for huge events; and Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for sports and culture. The new Elizabeth line connects these exceptional places with each other, with 1.5 million people, and with the world via Heathrow Airport. We know that London’s growth has been driven by the breadth of our offer – commerce, culture, and government all in one place – and now, all on one green, accessible, and very beautiful train line.”
Charlotte Hogg, Chief Executive Officer, Visa Europe said: “The Elizabeth line is a welcome addition to London’s transport system, and is already having a positive effect on both commuting time and experience for many of our London based staff.”
London is paying for most of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid by London – made up of roughly 30 per cent from London’s farepayers, around 40 per cent from London’s businesses – combined with 30 per cent from Government. Businesses from right around the UK have benefited from work connected to the Elizabeth line.
Throughout its construction, the railway has had an extensive supply chain which has supported businesses of all sizes, and jobs and skills creation across the whole country. The Class 345 trains running on the Elizabeth line were built in Derby, roundels and signage for the line were supplied by a family-run business on the Isle of Wight, and a company based in Leeds strengthened and protected London’s Victorian sewer networks during construction.
My apologies for the lack of news this week but I have been dealing with a bereavement.
TfL releases initial ridership figures for the Elizabeth line
The transformational Elizabeth line opened on tuesday 24 May with tens of thousands of customers making fast and seamless journeys through the heart of London. The new railway, which is supporting faster journeys across London, and new jobs and economic growth throughout the country, is the most significant addition to the capital’s transport network for a generation.
On tuesday morning up until 10am, an estimated 130,000 journeys took place across the Elizabeth line, which runs between Reading, Heathrow, Abbey Wood and Shenfield. Of these, around half (65,000 journeys) involved the new central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
In terms of specific stations on the Elizabeth line:
The new Paddington Elizabeth line station has already seen 14,000 entries and exits up until 10am
The new Canary Wharf Elizabeth line station has already seen 9,000 entries and exits up until 10am
The new Woolwich Elizabeth line station has already seen 6,000 entries and exits up until 10am
The new railway will provide new journey options and support wider regeneration and recovery from the pandemic – creating jobs, business opportunities and a huge economic boost for the country. It will also connect London’s major employment centres and increase central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, the largest single increase in the capital’s transport capacity in more than 70 years.
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “It was fantastic to see thousands of excited customers waiting for the Elizabeth line to open this morning and board the first trains from Paddington and Abbey Wood. Tens of thousands of journeys have already been made on the new central section of the Elizabeth line since it opened this morning. This stunning addition to the transport network will transform life and travel in London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, adding capacity, transforming accessibility and supporting the economic recovery and growth throughout the country for years to come.”
Rail industry welcomes opening of “bold” Elizabeth line
On the day that the Elizabeth line opens, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) has welcomed it as a “bold” project which will boost rail’s future and drive economic growth for the entire country.
RIA represents over 300 rail businesses around the UK, many of whom were involved in the construction and operation of the new Elizabeth line.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), commented: “The Elizabeth line really is an exceptional achievement for TfL, Government and the UK railway industry. It is a bold project that will not only transform how passengers travel across London, but it will also boost economic growth for the capital and the country as a whole.
“Railway businesses from all over the UK have played a key role in making this landmark project happen, whether train manufacturing in Derby, station construction in the East Midlands, signalling expertise from Chippenham and Stockport, or telecoms in London. Furthermore, the scheme has supported thousands of skilled railway jobs and significant investment in other parts of the economy beyond rail.
“With passengers now returning there is a strong long-term future for rail, and the Elizabeth line will make that future even brighter.”
Image – Representatives from RIA, Alstom and Siemens Mobility at Paddington Elizabeth line Station
LNER urges customers to plan ahead for the jubilee bumper bank holiday weekend
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is urging customers to plan and book ahead to secure their seats as the nation prepares to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
LNER services during the four-day bank holiday from Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June 2022 are expected to be popular with celebrations taking place across the country to commemorate the Queen’s historic 70-year reign.
LNER is also entering the Jubilee spirit, adding special touches to surprise and delight customers at its stations, which will be dressed in Platinum Jubilee bunting. Delicious cream tea boxes will be available as part of the onboard selection of snacks and refreshments at the Café Bar in Standard across the long weekend.
Customers travelling in First Class will be able to enjoy a complimentary range of locally sourced food featured in a new summer menu and there will be a special Strawberries and Cream popcorn treat to mark the occasion.
Claire Ansley, Director of People and Customer Experience at LNER, said:
“We’re proud to play our part in this historic occasion making sure customers enjoy the best possible experience as they make their journeys along the East Coast route. We are expecting LNER services to be very popular, so we’re advising people to plan ahead, reserve their seats and leave plenty of time to reach the station and make their way to the platform.”
For people travelling to London or looking for inspiration around royal connections across the LNER route, there’s a dedicated web page offering top tips and travel advice about places to visit :
Customers can book direct, fee free and with ease using LNER’s mobile app and website, where they can register for live journey updates, select their own seat, and earn rewards by signing up to the LNER Perks loyalty scheme.
As part of this year’s Jubilee celebrations, LNER is proudly saluting colleagues in the rail industry who have worked on the Royal Train. The special video, shared on its social channels, features the stories of an LNER driver, British Transport Police Officer and Network Rail signaller sharing their sense of pride in helping to keep the Queen on the move for 70 years.
The video can be viewed here:
LNER is currently operating a 100 per cent timetable with tickets available for booking as far ahead as September.
Piccadilly line to serve South Kensington Tube station again from 1 June
Vital work to replace the five escalators serving the Piccadilly line at South Kensington is near completion
Piccadilly line trains will serve South Kensington station again from Wednesday 1 June, ahead of the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday
Essential work to replace the five escalators that serve the Piccadilly line at South Kensington is nearing completion, with Piccadilly line trains due to stop at the station again from Wednesday 1 June.
The complex escalator replacement work started on 27 February 2021 and has seen all five Piccadilly line escalators at South Kensington station replaced. The escalators, which were installed in 1973 and were at the end of their lifespan, had become unreliable and were the highest priority escalators for replacement on the Tube network.
South Kensington station remained open for Circle and District line customers for the duration of the works.
The essential work means that the station, which prior to the pandemic saw almost 34 million customer journeys each year and provides an important gateway to the world-famous cultural attractions in the area, will have five new, high-performing escalators for decades to come. As well as being more energy efficient than their predecessors, the new escalators are also more reliable and less prone to failures, meaning a better experience for Londoners and visitors using the station.
Esther Sharples, TfL’s Director of Asset Performance and Capital Delivery, said: “I’d like to thank our customers for their patience while Piccadilly line services have been non-stopping at South Kensington. Replacing the nearly 50-year-old escalators with new, high-performing machines will mean more reliable journeys for Piccadilly line customers for decades to come, whether they are using the station as a local resident, for work or to access the area’s world-famous cultural attractions. I’m delighted that the Piccadilly line will serve South Kensington again ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which will bring more visitors to the area as they seek to enjoy all that this vibrant area of London has to offer.”
Before the Piccadilly line starts serving South Kensington station again on 1 June, TfL has taken the opportunity to deep clean the Piccadilly line platforms as well as all stairs and corridors leading to them, re-painted the arcade stairways, and replaced the tiles at the top and bottom of the new escalators. In addition, the customer areas between the escalators have been re-surfaced.
The escalator replacement work at South Kensington took 15 months to complete due to the complexity of working with such historic assets, the access restrictions from the street through the arcade and station buildings (all of which are listed) and the extensive works that needed to be completed prior to the escalators being delivered and installed.
Emily Candler, Executive Director of Exhibition Road Cultural Group, said: “I am delighted that South Kensington will have a full service again making it easier for people to come to all the exciting events and activities here. The Great Exhibition Road Festival returns on 18-19 June and we’re gearing up for a fantastic summer with free activities for all ages, great exhibitions, and unforgettable performances. The station being fully open for the first time since the pandemic will make a huge difference to visitors, staff, students and residents and help us to welcome people back to London’s original cultural district.”
London Underground’s escalators are heavy-duty machines and tend to be in operation in both directions for up to 20 hours a day. They weigh around 40 tonnes each and carry millions of people each year. A typical 15-metre rise escalator has approximately 15,000 moving components. Thirty-four of the new high-performing escalators of the same type that have been installed at South Kensington Tube station are already in operation at London Underground stations. Sixty-four of these high-performing escalators have also been installed on the Elizabeth line, which launched earlier this week.
Those travelling to South Kensington will also be able to visit a range of new tenants on the TfL retail estate, which extends out of the station and along Pelham Street, Thurloe Street and the South Kensington Arcade. The new retailers, who have opened during these vital works, are bringing new, high-quality food and beverage options to one of London’s most popular visitor destinations. TfL’s investment in its retail estate is testament to its commitment to encouraging people back into London to enjoy all the capital has to offer.
Jubilee Weekend train travellers advised to allow extra time
Thameslink and Great Northern are advising people travelling to events by train over the Platinum Jubilee Weekend to plan their journey in advance, re-check before setting off, and allow extra time to get there and back.
Trains and stations will be exceptionally busy over the weekend because of the many events taking place, especially when crowds are leaving the bigger events. As well as the Jubilee celebrations in central London, these include concerts at Knebworth Park and the Emirates Stadium, and festivals at Bedford, Luton and Hatfield.
Rail travellers to and from the Liam Gallagher concerts at Knebworth Park are encouraged to use Stevenage station, which has a more frequent service than the much smaller Knebworth.
Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “We’re going to run some trains with extra carriages, and event organisers are working with us to encourage visitors to plan their travel carefully and consider all their transport options and possible alternatives.
“There may be queues at some stations before and after the bigger events. We’ll be ready with additional staff and queuing systems, but you may not be able to board the first train. If you’re relying on the last train of the day, please make sure you know when it’s due to leave and allow plenty of extra time to catch it.”
The north’s biggest train operator achieves Gold Standard from Investors in People
Northern is delighted to confirm that it has been awarded the Gold standard to the internationally recognised Investors in People scheme.
The north of England train operator, which employs close to 7,000 people, has been assessed through a rigorous process to have made work better and has improved on its Silver accreditation from 2019.
Investors in People (IiP) is an independent and non-profit making organisation that reviewed what it was like to work at Northern through an all-colleague survey and more than 120 staff interviews.
The Gold standard is extremely difficult to achieve, and Northern accreditation puts it in the top 83% of organisations assessed across the globe.
In their report, the IiP assessors recognised a number of highlights which they said Northern should be proud of.
Northern was deemed to have a very clear vision and long-term business plan, allowing colleagues to understand expectations, targets and their contribution to operating a successful service providing more than 100 million passenger journeys a year.
Assessors praised the collaborative internal approach and noted colleagues were encouraged to ‘go do their thing’ whilst Learning and Development within Northern was acknowledged as sector leading with fantastic opportunities for personal development and career progression.
Northern has worked hard on and is extremely proud of its approach to equality, diversity and inclusion and the IiP experts agreed that significant progress has been made in these critical areas.
Strong two-way colleague communication and the use of feedback within the workplace were also viewed as positive and making a difference to internal culture.
Nick Donovan, Northern’s Managing Director commented: “This is fantastic news and everyone at Northern is proud of achieving the Gold standard accreditation.
“Gold is not an easy thing to achieve, and the review process has been rigorous and detailed. I am delighted that Investors in People assess Northern to be one of the best performing people organisations in this country.
“It’s our great people doing their thing day in and day out that have made the difference and I want to thank them for their continued hard work and commitment.
“We won’t rest on our laurels, and we will continue to work together to make Northern a great place to work.”
Over the last 30 years, Investors in People (IiP) have accredited more than 50,000 organisations and their accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management.
Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, said: “We’d like to congratulate Northern. Our Gold accreditation is a fantastic effort for any organisation, and places Northern in fine company with a host of organisations that understand the value of people.”
Boston level crossing gets reliability upgrade next month
A level crossing in Boston, Lincolnshire is set to be upgraded next month (June) to improve reliability for key freight services travelling to and from the town’s port.
From 7pm on Saturday 11 June until 2pm on Sunday 12 June, a section of the A16 (Spalding Road) will be closed to allow engineers to safely replace over 140 metres of rail through Boston Bypass level crossing.
Teams will work through the night to get the road ready to reopen for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists as soon as the upgrade is complete. A signed diversion will be in place throughout to help people get to their destinations.
Vincent Briggs, East Midlands Route Level Crossing Manager for Network Rail, said: “This essential work will allow us to reliably transport vital freight goods to and from the town’s port for many years to come.
“We will need to close a major road into Boston to complete the upgrade safely, and I’m sorry for any inconvenience this causes. We’ll be doing the work overnight and have worked with Lincolnshire County Council to keep the impact as low as possible.”
Andy Lawrence, Port of Boston Director for Victoria Group, added: “The Port of Boston are delighted that the upgrade is taking place. It is great for the network connection we have from the Port of Boston and the 260,000 tonnes a year of cargo that we put over it. This enables us to keep lorries off the road and dramatically reducing our carbon footprint by utilising rail.
“Rail Freight was important for the Port in 1884, when it was built, and it remains equally, if not more important in 2022, and the future, as we strive to divert even more cargo to the rail mode of transport, direct from a seaport.”
‘Talk, not walk’ says Network Rail in response to RMT vote for industrial action
Responding to the RMT’s announcement that its members have voted in favour of industrial action, Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said:
“The RMT has jumped the gun here as everyone loses if there’s a strike. We know our people are concerned about job security and pay. As a public body we have been working on offering a pay increase that taxpayers can afford, and we continue to discuss this with our trades unions. We urge the RMT to sit down with us and continue to talk, not walk, so that we can find a compromise and avoid damaging industrial action.
“We are at a key point in the railway’s recovery from the pandemic. The taxpayer has provided the industry with £16bn worth of additional life support over the last two years and that cannot continue. Travel habits have changed forever and the railway has to change as well to adapt to this new reality. We believe that by modernising – creating safer jobs for our people and operating the railway more efficiently – we can build a sustainable future with a railway that delivers for passengers and taxpayers.
“Any industrial action now would be disastrous for our industry’s recovery and would hugely impact vital supply and freight chains. It would also serve to undermine our collective ability to afford the pay increases we want to make.”
Passengers reminded of railway closure ahead of Commonwealth Games
The Chiltern main line between Dorridge and Birmingham Moor Street will be closed for four days next month as work continues to improve passenger journeys for the Commonwealth Games.
Crucial parts of the railway will be replaced between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June as part of a £3m investment by Network Rail.
The work will overhaul switches and crossings – moving sections of track which allow trains to access and leave a critical train maintenance depot at Tyseley in Birmingham.
The depot is an important site for three train operators – West Midlands Railway, CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways.
Any issues there during the Commonwealth Games could cause delays across the region, including risking overcrowding at key stations serving sports venues.
Replacing the complex equipment now will help train services run smoothly during this summer’s Games, which are expected to see more than one million extra passenger journeys across the West Midlands rail network.
The essential upgrades will impact the following routes and services between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June:
On the Shakespeare line to Stratford-upon-Avon, there will be no trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Spring Road stations
On the Chiltern main line between London Marylebone and Birmingham, there will be no trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Dorridge
The four-day railway closure has been extended to Dorridge from Solihull – this allows better flexibility for the trains which will be running on the rest of the Chiltern main line.
Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “There’s never an ideal time to shut the railway and a mid-week closure for work like this is rare, but after carefully reviewing recent passenger numbers on this route we’ve found it’s the least disruptive time to make these essential improvements.
“These upgrades will benefit journeys across the wider West Midlands, providing passengers with an efficient, cleaner and more reliable railway throughout our major summer of sport. It will also help to reduce the risk of platforms becoming overcrowded as a result of the predicted one million extra passenger journeys during the Commonwealth Games.”
Eleni Jordan, commercial & customer strategy director for Chiltern Railways, said: “Network Rail’s crucial track replacement work between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June will ensure that we can continue to provide a safe and reliable service for our customers across what is expected to be a busy summer on the railways in the West Midlands.
“We will be regularly communicating plans for rail replacement transport in and out of Birmingham. We advise that customers travelling during the closure check their journey on the Chiltern website or app before travelling.”
Jonny Wiseman, West Midlands Trains customer experience director, said: “These essential works will make a real, long-term difference to passengers by improving access to Tyseley depot where trains are maintained, repaired and refuelled.
“I would like to thank our customers for their patience while this work is carried out and I urge passengers travelling during this period to plan their journeys carefully as revised timetables and rail replacement buses will be in operation.”
Engineers and planners will make the most of the four-day railway closure to carry out a host of other work, including:
Installing new rails, sleepers and ballast (railway foundation stone)
Stressing rails to cope better with hot weather
Removing overgrown plants and graffiti
Carrying out a deep clean of Birmingham Moor Street station itself
Doing this work further reduces future disruption to passengers and provides a more reliable rail network not only during the Games but for many years to come.
It will also save millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money as doing this work outside of a full railway closure would normally take place over multiple weekends over an entire summer.
Network Rail staff deliver vital equipment for Ukrainian railway
Network Rail staff have come to the aid of rail colleagues in Ukraine after delivering a convoy of vehicles loaded with equipment to help keep the Ukrainian railway running.
Ukrainian Railways, Ukrzaliznytsia, requested help from the international railway family via the International Union of Railways (UIC). They needed equipment and spares to help keep their railway running to provide vital evacuation routes and humanitarian aid following the invasion by Russia, all while facing significant damage to railway infrastructure and obvious safety risks for workers.
Helped by partners in the supply chain, Network Rail heeded the call and donated four vehicles, loaded with spares and railway tools including generators, drills, jacks and cutting equipment. They were delivered on 16 May.
Allan Spence, Network Rail’s director of regulator liaison, said: “We didn’t hesitate when the request for help came through. We often talk about the railway family here in Britain, but the family has international connections too. Anyone who has watched the news over the last few months has been moved by what they’ve seen and that spurred us into action.
“We took the vehicles loaded with much needed equipment, to a depot near the Polish-Ukrainian border. We had lots of help along the way – like complimentary travel through the channel tunnel, radios loaned by High Motive and help to get back from Polish Railways (PKP). And the loads we took included lots of kit from our contractors.”
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “It’s inspiring that Network Rail have used their knowledge and expertise to help keep the Ukrainian railways moving by providing vital equipment and aid for their evacuation routes.
“Our fantastic transport network continues to demonstrate huge amounts of support and generosity to those fleeing Putin’s brutal invasion.”
Five Network Rail staff drove the four vehicles through six countries, covering some 2,000km in three days to Poland. However, the final part of the journey, across the border into Ukraine, is being managed by Polish Railways.
This is not the first time that Britain’s railway industry has come to the aid of Ukraine. Earlier in the year UK Rail for Ukraine brought together a train-load of humanitarian aid donated from many businesses to help the many displaced and at-risk victims of the war.
Lime Street station passenger advice for Liverpool FC victory parade
Liverpool FC fans planning to travel to the city by rail for this weekend’s victory parade are being advised to check before they travel as Lime Street station will be extremely busy.
Thousands of people are expected to descend on the city centre to celebrate both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup titles, and potentially triumph in the Champions League too.
Whatever the outcome of Saturday night’s final, players will parade along a 13.5km route through the city centre starting at 4pm on Sunday 29 May.
Network Rail is advising people planning to travel by train of a number of factors which all add up to make rail journeys into Liverpool city centre challenging this weekend.
Allow extra time – long queues to access platforms are expected
Don’t rely on later trains home – they will be limited and very busy
Remember Network Rail’s motto of ‘Be safe, be patient, be kind’ when travelling
Additional staff will be on hand at Liverpool Lime Street station to help passengers this weekend.
The station team has been preparing for the thousands of extra people expected with queuing systems in place to keep passengers safe.
Kyla Thomas, Liverpool Lime Street station manager, said: “While it’s great the city will come together in celebration of Liverpool FC’s incredible 2021/22 season, we need to let passengers know what to expect if they’re thinking of travelling through Lime Street station this weekend.
“Strike action and the sheer volume of people will mean the station will be extremely busy. Please plan ahead and know what train you want to catch there and back before the day of the parade. Secondly, allow more time than you might do usually to get on the train – there will be long queues. And thirdly, please respect each other and our staff while travelling – we want everyone to enjoy the victory celebrations free from any bad behaviour.”
To manage crowds during the busiest times Merseyrail is planning to close some city centre stations.
Due to the large numbers of people expected, the following stations will be closed all day on Sunday 29 May.
Lime Street Lower Level
Passengers are also being advised to buy their tickets in advance to avoid having to queue on the day.
GWR honours WWII codebreaker Alan Turing and unveils new ‘Trainbow’ livery
Great Western Railway (GWR) has honoured World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing by including his name on its popular ‘Trainbow’ Intercity Express Train.
Members of Alan’s family officially named the train at London Paddington station today (Thursday 26 May). The ceremony also saw the unveiling of GWR’s new ‘Trainbow’ livery celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
Alan famously led a team in ‘Hut 8’ at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre during the war.
In 1942 he and his team cracked the vitally important and most difficult German Naval Enigma. His work in the field of computer science was groundbreaking and paved the way for modern computing.
Alan is also an admired role model within the LGBTQ+ community and his legacy has helped change social attitudes in Britain.
Although laws during the 1950s made it illegal for him to be openly gay, Alan did not shy away from his sexuality. He was arrested for gross indecency which resulted in a sentence of chemical castration.
Two years later Alan died of cyanide poisoning. Following the launch of an internet campaign in 2009, he was granted a posthumous royal pardon four years later. A subsequent legal amendment, known as ‘Turing’s Law’, pardoned 65,000 other convicted gay and bisexual men.
‘Trainbow’ was first unveiled in 2018 to support Pride events across the network and demonstrate GWR’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Its livery has now been updated to include black, brown, light blue, light pink and white, bringing focus on inclusion for trans individuals, marginalised people of colour and those living with HIV/AIDS.
For B-roll footage of today’s ceremony please email email@example.com
Intercity Express Train 800008 also pays a nod to the World War Two codebreakers and their mastery of palindromes. And, as you might expect with something related to Alan Turing, there is more to the design of the new livery than first meets the eye.
Alan’s niece, Inagh Payne, speaking on behalf of the family, said:
“Alan was very special to us and we are so incredibly proud of everything he did. Despite not being fond of neither fuss nor social occasions, he would have been delighted to have a train named after him.
“We have our own fond memories of him as a loving and caring uncle and it is wonderful to see this tribute to him, and that he is remembered, and his life celebrated by so many people.”
GWR Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, said:
“It is an honour for us at GWR to name this Intercity Express Train after Alan Turing as we continue to remember those who gave so much during World War Two.
“We at Great Western Railway have a long history of naming trains after Great Westerners, the past and present heroes from across our network.
“It is also great to see this fabulous new Trainbow livery, celebrating not only Alan Turing but also the LGBTQ+ community across the GWR and indeed our colleagues within the rail industry.”
Plymouth City Councillor for Compton, Cllr Dylan Tippetts, said:
“Thank you so much to GWR for always standing with the whole LGBTQ+ community and celebrating our diversity; the things that bring us together and not those that divide us.”
Research Historian at Bletchley Park, Dr David Kenyon, said:
“It gives me great pleasure to add the endorsement of Bletchley Park Trust to the naming of this locomotive. We hope that it will remind travellers of Turing himself, but also of the thousands of others who worked alongside him to bring signals intelligence to Allied commanders and help bring victory in the Second World War.”
GCHQ Historian Dr David Abrutat said:
“Turing’s scientific genius helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today. Today illustrates his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world.
“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”
Direct Rail Services (DRS) is making changes to its planned open day ticketing.
Due to a huge increase in demand, DRS has taken the decision to make their annual open day a ticket-only event.
In previous years, tickets have been available to purchase on the day but due to the increase in expected numbers all tickets must be pre-ordered.
Tickets are available from DRS’s website www.directrailservices.com and cost £5 for adults, with under 16s free, who will also need a ticket.
All proceeds are used to aid UK charities and other deserving community causes.
The event in their Gresty Bridge depot, Crewe will open at 10am on Saturday 16 July and close at 4pm.
Chris Connelly, Rail Director and NTS’s Deputy CEO, said: “We’re overwhelmed by the interest in our open day this year and it promises to be a great event but, as with our operations, safety must take priority so we’re introducing pre-ordered tickets for the first time.
“The team are working non-stop to make this year’s open day extra special and I cannot wait to see you all there in a few weeks’ time.”