Monday news roundup – Bumper edition!

Chepstow residents invited to find out more ahead of £25m summer resilience upgrade on Newport-Gloucester line

Credit – Network rail Air Operations

Buses will replace trains from Monday 18 July – Saturday 3 September while major work to upgrade the line is delivered.

Communities in Chepstow are being invited to a drop-in event to find out more about plans to improve resilience and upgrade the track on the railway between Newport and Gloucester. The drop-in session takes place next Wednesday 25 May, between 5.30pm and 8.00pm at the Drill Hall, Lower Church Street, Chepstow. 

Connecting South Wales with the Midlands, west of England and north of England, the Gloucester-Newport line is a vital passenger and freight link, but its position alongside the Severn Estuary means it’s exposed to rain, wind and sea. 

Climate change and more frequent extreme weather events have led to five major landslips in the last two years alone. This has devastated the line with extended closures of the railway and speed restrictions – estimated to have impacted more than 200,000 trains.

The £25m upgrade will include the removal of approximately 30,000 tonnes of material from the cliff face along a three-mile stretch of railway near Lydney, in the Forest of Dean. A state-of-the-art mesh and bolt system will then be installed to protect the railway from falling debris. 

The railway will be closed between Lydney and Gloucester from Monday 18 July to Saturday 3 September. From Monday 18 July to Saturday 30 July, the closure will extend to Severn Tunnel Junction, as work will also be undertaken to renew the railway track over Chepstow Viaduct, on the River Wye.

Network Rail is working with Transport for Wales and CrossCountry to keep passengers moving while work is underway. Buses will run every hour between Gloucester and Newport, stopping at all stations. A bus service will also operate between Gloucester and Severn Tunnel Junction, during the two-week closure of that section of the line. 

Cross Country train services will run Nottingham – Birmingham New Street – Gloucester. Customers travelling between the Midlands and Cardiff Central can travel on GWR train services via Bristol Parkway. 

Residents and passengers with any questions about the work can drop into the Chepstow event any time between 5.30pm and 8pm, where members of the Network Rail project team will be on hand with more information. 

Passengers are advised to check before they travel at nationalrail.co.uk

Bill Kelly, Wales & Borders route director at Network Rail said: “This is a vital passenger and freight link so we must act now to protect the line from extreme weather events and our changing climate. 

“We’ve carefully planned this work to take place during the summer holidays to minimise disruption for those who rely on the line for work and education. I’d like to thank everyone for their patience as we work to protect this important stretch of railway and make passengers’ journeys more reliable.”

Jan Chaudhry van der Velde, Managing Director of Transport for Wales, said: “Work on the rail infrastructure to improve weather resilience has become more urgent, as climate change effects and severe weather have disrupted train services on several occasions in recent years.

“We will be providing buses in place of trains during this work to keep passengers moving, and thank passenger in advance for their patience.  The long- term benefits will bring more reliable train services.  During the works, we ask customers to check before setting off at https://www.journeycheck.com/tfwrail/.” 

CrossCountry’s Regional Director, Tom Birch, said: “This line is crucial for both local rail journeys and connectivity between Wales and England, so ensuring its resilience against weather-related events is important for everyone.  We’d like to thank customers for their patience while the works are completed and look forward to the quick return of our regular train services.”

Cot Hill bridge in Plympton reopens following essential structural repairs

Cot Hill bridge following essential repairs

Network Rail has reopened Cot Hill bridge in Plympton, Devon, today (Friday 20 May) following essential maintenance and repair work.

The century-old bridge was strengthened to allow for use by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) with repairs made to the structure and a protective coat of paint added to the steelwork.

Network Rail’s engineers began work on Sunday 3 January, working throughout the night during weekends and all day during the week.

A succession of named storms in February caused extensive damage to a protective plastic shell covering the work site, unfortunately delaying the completion of this work with engineers working extra weekend shifts to finish the project as quickly as possible

Dawn Welsh, Network Rail project manager, said: “This vital maintenance and strengthening work will allow for HGVs to make safe use of the bridge without the need for a diversionary route, while improving traffic flow in the area.

“I’d like to thank local residents for their patience, especially given the difficulties encountered during storms Eunice and Franklin. The understanding of the local community has been very much appreciated.”

Multi-million-pound upgrade begins on Hope Valley railway line

Multi -million-pound upgrade begins on Hope Valley railway line

Ground-breaking work on a £145m rail reliability upgrade between Manchester and Sheffield will start later this month.

This essential work will remove several bottlenecks on the Hope Valley line to allow passenger trains to overtake slower freight trains and improve reliability, helping people get to their destinations on time.

On Sunday 29 May, and every weekend throughout July, Dore & Totley, Grindleford, Bamford and Hathersage stations will be closed to allow Network Rail and contractor VolkerRailStory Joint Venture to begin building an additional railway line and make key station improvements.

Passengers are being urged to plan ahead with National Rail to keep their journeys on track.

The work is part of a £145m package of improvement and includes:

  • A new platform and accessible footbridge with lifts at Dore & Totley station 
  • A railway loop between Bamford and Hathersage 
  • A new overbridge at Hathersage West, replacing the current foot crossing to improve safety 
  • Signalling improvements along the line to improve reliability 
  • Platform extensions to allow for more carriages on services 

Dore & Totley station car park will also be partially and fully closed at different periods over the next three months. Alternative parking spaces will be available at Abbeydale Sports Club and local businesses will remain open and accessible throughout.

Hannah Lomas, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said“We’re so pleased to see this major work begin – it’ll make Hope Valley stations and train services better, and improve reliability for passengers in the future.

“There will be some changes to services and car park closures while our work takes place, so I’d like to thank passengers for bearing with us and apologise for any inconvenience.”

Tony Baxter, Regional Director at Northern, said: “This work will improve Hope Valley stations and services and we are delighted to be working with our partners on this project.

“We are sorry for any disruption during the improvements and our customers can be assured that both Northern and Network Rail will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the work and deliver alternatives that keep people on the move.

Chris Nutton, Major Projects Director for TransPennine Express, said: “These works are a vital step towards delivering better services across the Pennines between Sheffield and Manchester, improving the infrastructure to help make our customers journeys more reliable and upgrading stations we serve.

“While these engineering works take place on the Hope Valley line, there will be a number of changes to TransPennine Express services, and we’d advise our customers to check carefully for the latest advice before they travel.”

Darren Lockwood, Project Director from VRSJV, said: “We thank the local community for their patience and understanding while we carry out these essential upgrade works on the Hope Valley line. The work plays an important part in facilitating this important investment in Northern travel infrastructure.”

Network Rail thanks residents and motorists as Torbay Road bridge reopens

Torbay Road bridge has reopened this morning

Network Rail is thanking the community of Torbay, Devon, for their patience and understanding following the delayed reopening of the road over Torbay Road bridge this morning (Monday 23 May).

Work to replace the life-expired bridge which provides a link for pedestrians and vehicles from the communities of Torquay and Paignton to cross over the railway via Torbay Road, was originally planned to be completed in March. However, supply chain issues and difficulties working around the existing BT cables pushed the completion date back to May.

The bridge has this morning reopened to two-way traffic and at the end of the week a temporary pedestrian walkway on the south side of the bridge with protective barriers will open to allow pedestrians to cross the bridge. This will remain in place for the entire duration of the English Riviera Airshow in Torbay over the Jubilee weekend.

Following the Jubilee weekend, the temporary walkway will then close on the evening of Sunday 5 June to allow Network Rail’s contractors, Dyer & Butler, to install the new permanent walkways. During this time, a pedestrian diversion route will be in place.

From Monday evening, the bridge will be closed overnight to both traffic and pedestrians to allow Dyer & Butler to complete the construction of the bridge parapets and install the new permanent pedestrian walkways. The installation of the permanent walkways and construction of the bridge parapets is expected to be completed by the start of August.

Stuart Calvert, Network Rail Capital Delivery Director, said: “I would like to firstly apologise for the delay in completing this work to replace Torbay Road bridge and extend our sincere thanks to the local community for their patience and understanding during this time, which we know has caused disruption for longer than anticipated.

“We pride ourselves on our punctuality and efficiency when undertaking complex projects such as this, however on this occasion we regrettably have not maintained these high standards owing to a number of unforeseen challenges which resulted in delays to the project. We’ll be working closely with our contractors to review the difficulties we faced, taking these lessons on board and working to ensure we don’t face similar issues in the future.”

Kevin Foster, Member of Parliament for Torbay, said: “It is a relief all round to hear these works are now coming to an end and one of Torbay’s key roads will be re-opened in time for the Jubilee Weekend and Airshow. I have appreciated the weekly updates from the Network Rail team as they brought this job to a belated close and now look forward, like many other constituents to being able to travel across the new bridge from Monday.”

Councillor Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture at Torbay Council, said: “This project has taken a lot longer than expected and I am sure like us, residents who have been living around these works and who travel between Torquay and Paignton, are breathing a sigh of relief that this main and popular road is now opening to vehicles. The Leader, myself and the local Ward Councillors will continue to meet with Network Rail to receive updates and push for the remainder of the work to be finished as quickly as possible.”

With the road now open to traffic, pedestrians are able to use a temporary footpath on the south side of the bridge until Monday 30 May, when the new footpath will be open for public access.

Works to reopen Essex footbridge start today

Varde Bullers bridge works

Works to repair a footbridge that connects Durham Road in Langdon and Mandeville Way in Laindon Hills, Basildon, start today (Monday 23 May).

The bridge, which carries pedestrians over the rail line between London and Fenchurch Street, was closed in October 2020 after inspections carried out by Network Rail showed it was deteriorating quickly and no longer safe for people to use. Both the age of the structure and the local geology has caused the bridge to move and fracture, making it unsafe for pedestrians.

Emergency remedial work was completed shortly after the bridge was closed but permanent repairs are required in order to safely re-open the bridge.

The work is expected to take eight weeks and the bridge will reopen in the summer. The rail line will not be affected by the work.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “This bridge has been closed for much longer than anyone wanted, or expected, for which we’re sorry. The condition of the bridge means complex repairs are required and these types of repairs take time to plan and complete.

“I am pleased to be able to say that the work has started today and this will enable us to reopen the bridge in the summer. I’d like to thank residents for their patience while we carry out these repairs.”

Reston station welcomes first passenger services

Minister and Reston Primary children at Reston station

Passengers services today called at Reston station for the first time in almost six decades.

The reconnection of the Berwickshire village to the national rail network follows completion of work to construct the station as part of a £20m of investment from the Scottish Government to boost the local transport network.

The first passenger service since 1964 – the 05.29 TransPennine Express (TPE) from Edinburgh Waverly called at Reston at 06.16 completing the Village’s return to the railway.  

Jenny Gilruth, Scottish Government Minister for Transport travelled to the Scottish Borders village aboard the 09.33 TransPennine Express service to Reston.  The train’s arrival was greeted by a piper and Ms. Gilruth was met by a party of children from Reston Primary school.

To mark the first day of service, pupils from Reston Primary then travelled to Edinburgh courtesy of TPE to experience travelling by train for the first time from their home station.

Reston will be served by eight trains per weekday in each direction mainly operating between Edinburgh and Newcastle.  Seven services will be offered by TransPennine Express with the other being offered by London North Eastern Railways.

The new station, which sits on the East Coast Mainline, boasts 270m platforms which cater for 10 carriage trains and is fully accessible with step free access from ground level onto platform 1 and across the railway via a footbridge with lifts.

It will serve the village and wider Berwickshire area and will enable easy access to Edinburgh and Newcastle and onwards across the national rail network. As well as improving transport connectivity, it will help transform the economic outlook of the area it will serve.

Jenny Gilruth, Scottish Government Minister for Transport said, “I am delighted that work to construct the new Reston station is now complete ahead of services calling at the station for the first time today.

“Our Programme for Government made a commitment to decarbonising Scotland’s Railway and growth in rail use is an essential part of decarbonising the total transport mix. 

“The £20m investment provided by the Scottish Government for Reston station and investment in other new stations is one way to make travelling by rail an easier option and enable more people to choose the sustainable transport option as an alternative to using the car. 

“The new Reston station will provide a step-change in provision of public transport in the area and will help transform Reston and the surrounding communities that will benefit from the transport interchange and the improved connectivity it delivers”.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway said, “It is part of our commitment, alongside the Scottish Government, to expand the rail network and open-up Scotland’s Railway to new communities.

“The opening of the new station at Reston is an exciting development that has the potential to transform life for local people and the communities it will serve.”

“This station will create new social and economic opportunities for people in the Village and in the surrounding area and we look forward to seeing the positive impact the railway will have in years to come.”

Matthew Golton, Managing Director at TransPennine Express, said, “We are honoured that our 6.16am service from Edinburgh was the first service to stop at Reston Station in more than 50 years and we’re delighted that this service, has boosted connectivity across communities in the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.

“It’s fantastic to see that hundreds of customers have already bought advanced tickets to travel from Reston Station and we can’t wait to welcome them on-board so they can experience travelling on our modern Nova trains.

“Our customers – and their communities – are at the heart of everything we do and we’re delighted to be able to connect so many of those communities by rail for the first time in more than 50 years.”

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “We’re proud to be introducing our revolutionary Azuma services at Reston as it becomes the newest destination along our iconic 956-mile East Coast route. The arrival of our services will transform travel for residents and generate further economic opportunities for the area, with our world-class services making business and leisure travel simpler, smarter and greener.

“Our Azuma trains offer customers greater comfort and space, keeping people connected with free onboard WiFi and sockets at every seat. Our superb at-seat catering offers in both Standard and First Class further enhance our customer experience.”

Sam Smith, Chief Officer for Economic Development at Scottish Borders Council said, “The completion and opening of the new Reston station is a momentous occasion for communities across Berwickshire and I am delighted to welcome a train service to the village again after a gap of almost six decades.

“Easy access to services on the East coast mainline services opens up a world of opportunity for local people but also provides a platform to attract people to Berwickshire and capitalise on its fantastic leisure and tourism potential.

Network Rail is encouraging anyone with any questions about the project to email restonstation@networkrail.co.uk or call our 24-hr helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

Let’s Walk: Free walking maps at Network Rail stations in London to get more people walking this summer

Lets Walk London maps

10,000 free copies of a new walking map that charts a network of quiet and interesting streets in central London is now available at Network Rail’s London stations. 

A new edition of a beautifully illustrated walking map has today been released by Footways, plotting hundreds of kilometres of scenic, safe and pedestrian-friendly walking routes in central London. The paper map – also available as a digital copy with geolocation – encourages Londoners to choose walking to get around their city, just in time for summer, London’s Platinum Jubilee and the opening of the Elizabeth Line. 

The vibrant map also features a ‘Quick Connections’ tool on the back, making it easy for people to incorporate walking into A-to-B journeys. Whether on their own, with friends or as a family, Londoners and visitors can take 15 minutes to stretch their legs between a railway or Crossrail station and many of London’s most iconic attractions such as museums, galleries and green spaces, while getting their step count up.

The Footways network has been designed to connect major places with London’s most appealing, accessible and interesting streets. The printed and digital maps also reveal hundreds of interesting features which can only be explored when travelling on foot. This means walkers get a glimpse into London’s diverse culture and long history when choosing London’s most enjoyable form of transport.

The second edition of Central London Footways is a collaborative initiative made possible thanks to key sponsors Network Rail, London North Eastern Railway, King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, the Northbank BID, Urban Partners for King’s Cross, Euston & St Pancras, Central District Alliance BID, City of London Corporation, with support from Transport for London, London boroughs and Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. 

Susan Holden, stations customer experience manager, Network Rail, said:

“Network Rail is pleased to have worked with Footways London in the development of this walking map, which highlights safe and accessible walking routes across London for locals and visitors. We know that our customer journeys do not begin and end at stations, so to connect rail – the best long-distance, low-carbon travel – with walking – the easiest, most accessible and enjoyable form of transport on short distances – creates the ultimate integrated, sustainable transport. Ten thousand initial copies of this map will be made freely available across our Managed Stations in London, for the benefit of our customers and people in our communities.”

David Harrison, co-founder of Footways and transport historian said:

“We’re incredibly proud of the second edition of Central London Footways, launching in time for Living Streets’ National Walking Month. London boasts such an interesting history, so what better way to discover this and all its hidden gems than by foot? Londoners are often surprised to discover just how close destinations are to stations; many are within a 15-minute walk.

“This summer we want to see more people walking, particularly families with their kids. That’s why our definition of ‘walking’ covers all uses of the ‘footway’, including feet, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and kids on bikes. Although we want everyone to use these walking routes to experience the city, walking infrastructure must be improved to make the city truly accessible to all Londoners.”

Michael Richardson, Project Director, Urban Partners for London King’s Cross, Euston and St Pancras, said: “Urban Partners is delighted to have sponsored Footways’ updated walking map of London. We have been working for 10 years to encourage people to take an alternative, lower-carbon walking route through King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston. Partnering with Footways on the latest iteration of their map not only means we can encourage active travel by those visiting, working in and living in our area, but also support this across London

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said:

“Walking is a fantastic way to get around and explore our wonderful capital. We’re making London a city where walking is the most obvious, enjoyable and attractive means of travel for all short trips. This map is a great tool for exploring quiet and interesting streets across central London. I hope Londoners and those visiting enjoy using it this summer. I know I will.”

Roberta Fusco, Director of Policy, Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, said:

“Walking for just 20 minutes a day can have fantastic health benefits, reducing the risk of long-term health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, depression and certain cancers. The Footways maps will help make walking and wheeling an easier option for people living, working and visiting the capital, improving people’s connectivity to the people and places around them.”

First train runs on Midlands’ newest and longest railway bridge

First train over SAS 13 bridge

The Midlands’ newest and longest railway bridge is now fully functional after carrying its first freight train.

Tracks reopened today (Monday 23 May) on the Stechford to Aston freight line in Birmingham following the installation of a massive 2,600-tonne bridge* built by Network Rail in partnership with HS2.

At 92 metres long, the steel and concrete structure becomes the longest single-span railway bridge in the Midlands.

It needs that clearance underneath so future tracks for Britain’s new zero-carbon railway can be built below for HS2 trains to access its Washwood Heath depot.

The demolition of the old railway viaduct and installation of the new bridge has closed this connection to Birmingham rail freight terminal for 23 days.

But today the first train passed over the new structure, reopening the important rail freight route and marking a huge milestone for project contractor Skanska.

Patrick Cawley, director for ‘On Network Works’ for Network Rail and HS2, said: “Seeing the first train pass over this iconic structure is a proud moment for the hundreds of people who’ve worked throughout the pandemic to make this new bridge a reality.

“It’s also a key part of the jigsaw to ensure the existing railway network works in harmony with HS2. I’m conscious this work has disrupted some passenger journeys over recent weeks and I’d like to thank CrossCountry customers for their patience while we carried out this major project.”

Rosario Barcena, Skanska Rail programme director, said: “Installing a railway bridge over an existing railway line is a complex engineering project that requires a huge amount of skill and dedication from all those involved. To have delivered this on time and despite of Covid-19 restrictions is a fantastic achievement and testament to the team involved.”

Building and installing the bridge, known as SAS 13, involved precision planning and engineering and the use of some heavy-duty equipment.

Earlier this month the structure was driven into place by remote-controlled vehicles after being pre-assembled on site in a civil engineering project which has taken over two years.

Building it on site reduced carbon emissions and cut the number of lorry movements on local roads, minimising impacts on the local community.

CrossCountry passengers are being given advanced notice of future work later in the summer on the same Birmingham New Street to Coleshill Parkway route.

Journeys will be impacted by more work to ready the railway for HS2 at weekends in August and early September.

Over four consecutive weekends from 13 August to 4 September, work will take place to:

  • Upgrade railway signals at Washwood Heath
  • Install piles in preparation for a new underbridge at Duddeston
  • Engineering work on a bridge at Heartlands Park
  • Carry out maintenance activity on this section of railway to make it more reliable.

To carry out the work safely, CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Coleshill Parkway will be replaced with rail replacement buses.

Some long-distance services will also be diverted which means journeys will take longer.

Network Rail is working with CrossCountry to keep people informed.

Passengers should plan their journeys in advance at www.nationalrail.co.uk

London’s Schoolchildren turn Paddington to Abbey Wood purple to celebrate the opening of Elizabeth line

TfL Press Release - London’s Schoolchildren turn Paddington to Abbey Wood purple to celebrate the opening of Elizabeth line: Artwork by Marylebone Boys School at Paddington Elizabeth Line station
Artwork by Marylebone Boys School at Paddington Elizabeth Line station

  • Local schools have created purple decorations and artwork at landmarks near the new stations to mark one day to go before opening
  • The transformational Elizabeth line will open to customers on Tuesday 24 May

With one day to go until the opening of the Elizabeth line, landmarks across the central section are today (May 23) turning purple with a little help from local schoolchildren.

A school close to each of the nine new stations has created purple decorations and artwork – inspired by the colour of the new line – which will be available to view between 10am and 4pm.

The full list of schools and locations – and the Elizabeth line station that they are close to – are as follows:

  • Departures Road (Paddington) – Marylebone Boys School
  • Phoenix Gardens (Tottenham Court Road) – Soho Parish Primary School
  • Charterhouse (Farringdon) – St Mary Magdalene Academy
  • Whitechapel market (Whitechapel) – Kobi Nazrul Primary School
  • Spitalfields market (Liverpool Street) – Swanlea School
  • Konstantin Grcic’s Six Public Clocks (Canary Wharf) – New City College
  • Cable car ticket hall (Custom House) – Royal Docks Academy
  • General Gordon Square (Woolwich) – Royal Greenwich Trust School
  • Lesnes Abbey Wood (Abbey Wood) – London South East College (Bexley campus)
Artwork by Marylebone Boys School at Paddington Elizabeth line station 2
Artwork by Marylebone Boys School at Paddington Elizabeth Line station

Ann Gavaghan, Customer Experience Manager at Transport for London’s People and Places Programme, said: “TfL has a long legacy of collaborating with local communities both within our stations and beyond. With just one day until the Elizabeth line launches, it has been fantastic to drum up excitement within the local community using the railway’s eye-catching new colour.   

“The new line will transform travel across London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity, and transforming accessibility with spacious new stations and walk-through trains. It will serve Londoners and beyond for many decades to come.”  

The first Elizabeth line services will depart Paddington and Abbey Wood Elizabeth line stations from 06:30 on 24 May. Trains will run every five minutes between 06:30 – 23:00 Monday to Saturday.

All Elizabeth line stations will be staffed from first to the last train, with a ‘turn up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance. Step-free access is in place from street to train across all Elizabeth line stations between Paddington and Woolwich.

The north’s biggest train operator given special recognition for improving gender balance, equality, diversity and inclusion

Northern is delighted to have received special recognition at the Women in Rail awards. 

The north of England train operator, which employs close to 7,000 people, including c.1400 women, was recognised by judges for its work in improving Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the rail industry. 

Northern was picked out of 300 nominations and shortlisted entries in the awards ceremony dedicated to celebrating the contribution of women to the UK rail industry. 

The Women in Rail Awards aim to showcase and reward individuals and companies (large and small) who have made a significant contribution to improving gender balance, equality, diversity and inclusion within the UK railway industry. 

Northern launched a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy in 2020 with the aim of creating a culture where everyone who works for us or travels with us feels included and valued. 

Judges from the Women in Rail Awards were pleased to see that EDI in Northern is not just a HR task but that it involves commitments from everyone within the business.  

50 colleagues volunteer from across the business to advise on how equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything Northern does and the group have spearheaded continuous EDI based learning and development, raised awareness of key issues and helped to introduced workplace policies on Menopause, Domestic Violence Support, Becoming a Parent and Transgender Support.   

Northern also has a blind sifting policy, meaning information on CVs that could indicate a person’s background or gender is removed to ensure there is no potential unconscious bias. This has led to an increase in new recruits into Northern from ethnic backgrounds. 

Emma Yates, Northern’s Programme Director commented: “The Women in Rail Awards is a very important occasion that celebrates the contribution and opportunities for women across the UK rail industry. 

“We have worked extremely hard to make sure that we are an equal, diverse and inclusive business for both our customers and our colleagues, and it is fantastic news that the judges gave us special recognition for our work in this area. 

“We are continually working on our strategy to attract the best and most diverse people into Northern and we will work with all our communities to let everyone know that Northern and the rail industry is a great place to be with opportunities for all.” 

The Women in Rail event is attended by a cross section of the UK rail sector, including key stakeholders and decision makers, infrastructure providers, operators, manufacturers, rolling stock companies, technical consultancy companies and suppliers, to name only a few. 
 
Northern was also shortlisted for the Women in Rail Social Inclusion award for its work with young and diverse communities in West Yorkshire and in particular Bradford, which has the youngest population in Europe. Northern have worked with the National Citizen Service to educate communities on the benefits and huge variety of opportunities working within the rail industry.  

Northern’s commitment to Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Mobility was one of the reasons that attracted Tahira Bibi, the UK’s first female Pakistani train driver to the industry.

She commented:  “Representation in any industry matters because it shapes how people from minority backgrounds are viewed by wider society and how they view themselves. Representation allows people to feel validated and create a team environment where ideas are diverse, perspectives are varied, and everyone feels different.”  

GWR to provide 40 trains for fans heading home from Ed Sheeran concerts

Principality Stadium

Great Western Railway will provide 40 trains and nearly 20,000 seats for music fans leaving Cardiff following this week’s Ed Sheeran concerts.

GWR will operate 15 services from Cardiff Central after 22.45 on both Thursday and Friday night, and a further 10 services on Saturday night.

Trains are however expected to be very busy, with thousands of concert goers walking the short distance from the Principality Stadium to Cardiff Central station following the gigs.

In a repeat of the queueing system in place for this year’s Six Nations fixtures, people travelling to Newport after the game will be asked to queue on the square in front of Cardiff Central station, rather than from Riverside Car Park.

Ed Sheeran map

Customers are advised to keep checking social media for the latest information on queuing times.

On Thursday and Friday, GWR will run six services to Swansea from 22.53, two IET services to Newport at 22.56 and 23.25, plus seven services to either Bristol Temple Meads or Bristol Parkway from 23.13.

On Saturday it will operate four services to Swansea from 23.00, two services to Newport at 22.58 and 23.09, and four services to both Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads from 23.22.

My Chemical Romance are playing at Sophia Gardens Cricket Ground on Saturday night, increasing demand for services from Cardiff Central.

GWR Customer Service & Operations Director, Richard Rowland, said:

“We’re doing all we can to help customers home following these concerts and we are pleased to be able to provide these additional services.

“But Cardiff Central is going to be especially busy after the gigs and we would encourage customers to check journey times and allow sufficient time to queue to board trains safely.”

Transport for Wales Planning and Performance Director, Colin Lea, said:

“With more than 50,000 people expected at the Principality Stadium each night, services in and around Cardiff will be very busy, so we kindly ask people plan ahead, check the latest timetables and leave plenty of time for journeys.

“We’ve paused evening improvement works on the Valleys lines to help more customers to get home by train after the event and we are strengthening services where we have trains and crew available.

“Colleagues will be working hard to assist everyone to get home safely and we would advise customers to familiarise themselves with the post-event queuing system and make sure they are prepared for the possibility of extended waiting times.”

For more information, or to check your journey, please visit GWR.com.

ScotRail to introduce temporary timetable

From Monday, 23 May, ScotRail will introduce a temporary timetable to provide greater certainty and reliability for customers.

This is a result of the ongoing impact of a significant number of drivers declining to make themselves available for overtime or rest day working, following an announcement by the drivers’ union ASLEF that it will ballot for industrial action over pay.

The temporary timetable for Monday – Friday can be viewed online at scotrail.co.uk/timetable-update

ScotRail is currently working on temporary timetables for Saturdays, which will be broadly similar to the Monday to Friday timetable, as well as timetables for Sundays, and will update customers in the coming days.

The train operator said it’s right to make these changes to provide greater certainty for customers as the current level of cancellations is not sustainable for customers and colleagues.

Like many train operators across Britain, ScotRail has relied on drivers working overtime or on their rest days. In 2019, ScotRail committed to employing more drivers to phase out the reliance on this practice, however, the pandemic meant that driver training was significantly delayed.

ScotRail is still awaiting formal notification from ASLEF and the RMT on the details of the ballots of its members for industrial action.

ScotRail is disappointed to find itself at this stage with both trade unions, despite a very good offer being made. ScotRail has made a good pay offer that recognises the hard work of our colleagues and the cost-of-living challenges faced by families across the country, while delivering value for the taxpayer.

The details of the 2022/23 offer are as follows:

  • A 2.2 per cent increase in pay, consistent with the October 2021 agreement reached with other grades.
  • A top-up revenue sharing arrangement that could potentially deliver up to an extra £195 for all staff per period. The full package would apply where revenue targets are exceeded.

ScotRail remains open to further talks to engage in a meaningful conversation with ASLEF and the RMT.

David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said:

“We are very sorry to customers for the disruption of recent days. We know what customers want more than anything is certainty and reliability, which is why we are introducing a temporary timetable.

“We want to resolve this dispute with the trade unions and move forward together to provide the safest, greenest, and most reliable railway we can for Scotland. We remain open to further talks with the trade unions.

“We’re asking customers to check their journey on our website, mobile app, and through our social media channels as train times will have changed.”

CrossCountry appoints Regional Directors for North East and Scotland and Wales and West

Britain’s largest long-distance operator, CrossCountry, has announced the appointments of two Regional Directors in a bid to further embed its regional structure. They will be responsible for the operational and financial performance for their regions, helping to instigate change to benefit the customer.

Ben Simkin, who has been covering the role for an interim basis, has been appointed Regional Director for North East and Scotland. Ben has a wealth of experience both from a commercial perspective, having held the position of Commercial Director, but also operationally, in his role as Regional Customer Service Manager for the East Midlands and East Anglia.

a man wearing a blue tie

Huw Margetts will join CrossCountry as Regional Director for Wales and West in the summer.  Huw has almost ten years’ railway experience, having joined the sector as a graduate at Network Rail. He has held numerous operational roles including Head of Performance and most recently Head of On-Train Service at South Western Railway while his knowledge of managing operational colleagues and the importance of developing strong stakeholder relationships will be invaluable in his new role at CrossCountry.

a man smiling for the camera

On his appointment, Ben Simkin said: “I have been lucky to gain a broad spectrum of experience at CrossCountry, both from a commercial and operational perspective. This has helped to give me a strong understanding of the complexities of our business which will be hugely beneficial in my role as Regional Director.”

Huw Margetts commented: “CrossCountry is unique in that it runs services across the length and breadth of Great Britain. I am looking forward to building on the great work that has taken place in the region so that we have long-lasting relationships with the communities we serve and shape the business to benefit existing and future customers.”

Tom Joyner, Managing Director at CrossCountry added: “We are seeing lots of interest in our leadership positions at CrossCountry both internally and externally. This is incredibly positive as we evolve our business to tackle the challenges of tomorrow and position ourselves as a customer-focused long-distance business.”

Thursday news roundup

Manchester to get 21st Century signalling overhaul over Queen’s Jubilee weekend

The Manchester Railway Operating centre (ROC)

Over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday, Network Rail will complete a major signalling overhaul in Manchester to modernise journeys into the city.

A 132-year-old signal box near Philips Park will be removed, with control of the signalling equipment moving to Manchester’s state-of-the-art rail operating centre. Signals are like traffic lights for trains and bringing them into the 21st Century will help more trains to run on time between Manchester and Stalybridge.

As well as this colossal signalling upgrade, which will see 29 new signals installed, the wider project will also see Network Rail replace almost 4000m of track and secure over 2800m of train-powering electric cable. This will all mean that the railway remains safe and reliable for years to come.

More than 450 engineers will work around the clock from Thursday 2 June, ready for the railway to reopen for passengers on Monday 6 June. People needing to travel between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge during this time should plan ahead and check their journey with National Rail Enquiries to keep their plans on track.

This is part of the multi-billion-pound Transpennine Route Upgrade which will bring faster, more reliable services for passengers travelling between York, Leeds and Manchester.​​

Neil Holm, Transpennine Route Upgrade Director for Network Rail, said: “This major investment will unlock more reliable journeys for rail passengers in Manchester, as well as the potential for faster trains in the future.

“I know that people will be travelling across the country to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, so I’m sorry if our work impacts their plans. We’ve worked with our train operating partners to plan alternative routes and bus replacements to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Chris Nutton, Major Projects Director for TransPennine Express, said: “This is another key step for the rail industry towards delivering a railway fit for the 21st Century and the work over the Jubilee Bank Holiday will help deliver better reliability for our customers. 

“Due to the major engineering work taking place, there will be a number of service alterations for TransPennine Express services. Our customers are advised to allow for additional time for journeys and to check carefully for the latest advice before they travel. Ongoing strike action by the RMT union will also affect services on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 June, and we are urging people to avoid travelling on our services on those dates and to travel either side of the weekend instead.”

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “This is another big milestone for the improvement of the railway in the north. Alongside this there are other projects taking place over the extended weekend and with large events and potentially nice weather taking place, we urge customers to check before they travel so they can plan their route.”

It comes as progress continues on a major scheme to raise the height of two bridges – Granville Street and Southampton Street – so that electric wires can eventually pass beneath them. Clearing the way for a fully electrified railway between Manchester and Stalybridge will ultimately give passengers a cleaner, greener way to travel.

Step-free footbridge to revitalise rail journeys in Selby

Step-free footbridge to revitalise rail journeys in Selby

An upgraded, step-free footbridge will make it easier for rail passengers in Selby to travel by train – Network Rail will begin work in August 2022.

Accessible lifts will be added to the Grade II listed footbridge – which will also be strengthened – allowing those with limited mobility, pushchairs or heavy luggage to comfortably catch a train from any of the station’s three platforms.

Passengers who need assistance can currently only access platforms 2 and 3 via a crossing over the tracks when station staff are available*. The upgraded footbridge will give travellers more independence and improve the overall experience.

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “When the new lifts are in place, rail passengers in Selby will have the freedom to access all platforms at all times and enjoy hassle-free journeys.

“While step-free access is a must-have for the future of the railway, we also know how important it is to preserve our heritage. Strengthening the footbridge will make sure the station’s iconic style is kept intact for years to come.”

The final designs for the Access for All scheme – which is funded by the Department for Transport – began in January after receiving listed building consent from Selby District Council.

Nigel Adams, Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty, said: “Improving access to Great Britain’s railway stations is a key priority for this Government; we want all passengers to be able to travel easily and confidently. 

“Having supported the application for funding to upgrade Selby station from the outset, I am delighted that work will start soon. The upgrade will be done sensitively and will incorporate the iconic footbridge. Selby station is one of the 73 stations that received funding in 2019 as part of the Access for All Programme.”

Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “Our amazing rail network is for everyone, so it is great to see these Access for All funded upgrades being rolled out at Selby, ensuring easy, comfortable journeys for all passengers.

“Locals will also welcome the fact that the work done by Network Rail means they will be able to enjoy this beautiful footbridge for years to come.”

Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director, said:  “The upgrade work at Selby station is fantastic news for our customers. 

“The accessibility of our services is very important to us, and I’m sure the step-free footbridge and accessible lifts will come as welcome news to those with additional mobility requirements and those travelling with young children and luggage.

“We will be working closely with Network Rail to keep disruption to a minimum when work begins in August 2022.”

A temporary footbridge will allow passengers continued access to all platforms throughout the project until its completion in April 2023, with no impact on train services.

Rail volunteers join forces for Bere Alston station spring clean

Volunteers at Bere Alston

Volunteers from Network Rail and GWR recently joined forces with Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and students from Plymouth University to give the disused platform and old signal box at Bere Alston station in west Devon, a much-needed spring clean.

The local Scout group will be using the platform to plant and grow flowers, making the station brighter and more welcoming for passengers while developing their gardening skills and learning about biodiversity. The old signal box will be used as a potting shed, and as the volunteers discovered, a good place to shelter from the rain.

The team braved the spring showers to spruce up the platform area and tidy up the old signal box, which closed in 1970 but had been used as a work space by a railway maintenance team until the 1990s.

The Community Rail Partnership has previously carried out renovations on the signal box, painting the exterior and taking old materials away. The volunteers removed unused furniture from the signal box and overgrown vegetation from the platform, ensuring that the site will be safe for the Scout group to start planting in the near future.

Máedóc Ellis, Network Rail customer support manager (community rail), said: “It was great to see representatives from the different organisations work together to make sure the unused areas of Bere Alston station were neatened up and ready for the arrival of the Scout group.

“Supporting community projects means that we can work alongside local residents to improve public spaces, creating a welcoming environment for our passengers.

“I can’t wait to see how the Scouts get on with their gardening projects and hope to continue supporting their endeavours.”

Rebecca Catterall from Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, who helped coordinate the volunteers, said: “It was a great day, albeit a wet one, but everyone pulled together and worked incredibly hard. I am sure users of Bere Alston station will notice a difference.”

Petts Wood station in South East London about to get a lift – four in fact – to make the station fully accessible for the first time

Petts Wood access for All

A major £10.8m scheme to make Petts Wood station, South East London, fully accessible for the first time is about to get underway.

The work, funded by the Department for Transport’s Access for All scheme and delivered by Network Rail and its partners BAM Nuttall, will start late May and should finish in autumn next year (2023).

Network Rail’s route director for Fiona Taylor said: “This is such an exciting project for us and a big one too. We know there’s a long way to go to make our railway accessible for everyone, but every one of these schemes helps us take a great step forward.
“There will be some changes to the way the station operates while we do the work, including the creation of a temporary staircase to access the ticket office, but it will continue to be open and trains will run throughout the work. I’m grateful to everyone’s patience while we’re working in their community and can’t wait to open the lifts next year!”

Southeastern’s Passenger Services director, David Wornham, said: “We’re always wanting to do more for our passengers and this investment at Petts Wood by the DfT will make a huge difference to people who use this key station on our network. When the four new lifts are fully installed next year, the station will be more accessible to a wider group of people, and we’re looking forward to seeing the project completed.”

The four new lifts will be built to serve the whole station, with one serving the main entrance in Station Square, one lift each on platforms 1/2 and 3/4 and the  fourth lift serving the Western Approach entrance. Passengers will also see platforms extended to create new space for them to access the lifts safely and with plenty of room.

There will be changes to the station car park during the project, with some spaces used for access and site compounds.

EMR refresh Intercity fleet: New seat covers, toilet interiors and special anti-bacterial protection

EMR refresh Intercity fleet: New seat covers, toilet interiors and special anti-bacterial protection: Screenshot 2022-04-25 101038
  • 5300 seat covers to be refreshed or replaced
  • Class 222 Intercity train toilets given new interiors 
  • First train operator to use new state-of-the-art anti-bacterial product

East Midlands Railway (EMR) has begun a project to refresh the interiors of its Intercity fleet – including replacing seats, toilet interiors and covering surfaces in a new special anti-bacterial cleaning product.

The work will be carried out at Derby’s Etches Park depot and will see 5300 seats being refreshed, including new back covers, seat cushions, headrests and arm rests – while a number of seat covers will also receive deep cleaning by a specialist company. 

The toilet refurbishment in all 27 of EMR’s Class 222 Meridian trains has already been completed, providing a series of improvements to give a better experience for customers.

These improvements include walls being painted, a new vinyl applied to door panels, the replacement of damaged fixtures, as well as the Call for Aid units and mirror surrounds being resprayed. Sinks have also been polished and buffed, while the baby changing areas have also been improved.

As part of this work, EMR will be the very first train operating company in the UK to use a new cleaning product which makes surfaces easier to keep clean and works continuously to reduce the growth of bacteria.

The Cotech Biosafe product, which includes a special technology called Microban antimicrobial protection, will be applied to toilet surfaces to enhance hygiene and bring peace of mind to customers.

Cotech Biosafe is the longest-lasting coating of its kind currently on the market, protecting a surface for around seven to 10 years and does not require monthly reapplications like other similar products.

The special product is supplementary to the regular cleaning programme that is already in place on the trains.

Neil Bamford, Fleet Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “As we await the introduction of our new Aurora fleet, we want to ensure our current Intercity trains offers customers a clean and inviting interior.

“Following an audit, we have identified a number of seats that fall below our standards, and we are working hard to replace them.

“Likewise, we wanted to refresh the toilets and make sure we are using the latest products available on the market to maintain cleanliness.”

Transport for London and Global reveal new advertising sites at landmark Elizabeth line stations

TfL Press Release - Transport for London and Global reveal new advertising sites at landmark Elizabeth line stations: TfL Image- Schweppes

As London prepares for the historic launch of the brand-new Elizabeth line on 24 May, Transport for London (TfL) and Global, the Media & Entertainment group, today reveal 329 new state-of-the-art advertising sites along the line – the largest launch of digital advertising assets at one time on the TfL network.

The transformative Elizabeth line service, stretching from Reading and Heathrow in the West to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East, provides advertisers with new opportunities to present campaigns in impactful and unique ways, within bright, spacious and accessible environments unlike any others on the network.   

Once open, the Elizabeth line will add ten per cent to central London’s rail capacity and have an estimated 170m passengers a year by 2026.

TfL Image- Reed Halo 1

At the heart of the new line are the central stations – Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich – all of which have been built with advertising embedded in their design.

Google, MoneySuperMarket, Reed.co.uk, Sage and Schweppes are the first brands to advertise on the new Elizabeth line.   

With a focus on creating extensive digital opportunities for advertisers, the new stations feature seven pairs of unmissable, full motion enabled Digital Ribbons and 16 new-format Digital Runways – made up of 234 platform edge screens – which are exclusive to the Elizabeth line.

TfL Image- Global on escalators

There are also four brand-new, high impact, ultra-HD Digital Gateway screens, including one that measures 28m² over the escalators at Tottenham Court Road, and 32 new digital billboards (D6s) which have been installed in high-visibility locations such as ticket halls and corridors.  

Mike Gordon, Chief Commercial Officer at Global said: “We’re delighted to be part of this historic launch with TfL and all our advertising partners. The Elizabeth line will transform the future of London’s transport and connect millions of people to the heart of the city faster than ever before.  

“For brands looking for a platform, the breath-taking, spacious, modern stations are unlike any other transport environment in the UK, providing an enormous digital canvas to truly stand out and reach vast audiences.”  

Chris Reader, Head of Commercial Media at Transport for London, said: “This is the most significant addition to London’s transport network in a generation and we are thrilled to be offering brands yet another exciting opportunity to reach new and existing audiences on our transport network. With a range of impressive formats available, we are excited to see how advertisers will use our new assets to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation with their campaigns.” 

Lis Blair, General Manager, Insurance, Marketing and Customer at MoneySuperMarket, comments: “As soon as we saw the unique and highly impactful digital opportunities the Elizabeth line offers, we knew it was the perfect environment to showcase our latest MoneySuperSeven campaign. We’re thrilled to be one of the very first brands to appear in this innovative space.” 

Adam Faquirbhai, Marketing Director at Reed.co.uk said: “To be part of the launch of the brand new Elizabeth line was really a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us. The exciting new ad placements will help showcase our bold new Platinum Jubilee-inspired creative in a fun and innovative way, and allow us to help people across the capital Love Mondays.”

Kirsty Waller, VP Customer Marketing, Sage, said: “We’ve chosen to showcase our refreshed branding via a sweeping digital campaign throughout the exciting new Elizabeth line stations in London. This will help bring to life our new brand, which shows the importance of removing friction so businesses can flow.”

Louise Maugest, Marketing Director at Coca-Cola Great Britain, added: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the opening of the Elizabeth line by being one of the first brands to advertise in this space. Our Schweppes campaign will appear on the digital screens, encouraging people to raise a toast to celebrate this exciting cultural moment.”

The new digital billboards located at all Elizabeth line stations will be added to Global’s outdoor inventory available on its digital advertising platform, DAX, allowing advertisers to buy data-driven campaigns across digital outdoor and digital audio.

Farewell tour for 40-year old train fleet raises £26,000 for mental health

The final run by a train in Southern’s now-retired 40-year-old Class 455 fleet has raised over £26,000 for the mental health charity Mind.

To round off a programme of activities in Mental Health Awareness week, Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) invited members of the public to buy tickets for a Farewell Tour on a specially-chartered 455, with proceeds going to the local Mind association for Croydon.

Representatives of the charity joined over 500 train enthusiasts on the day-long outing to promote their work to combat mental health issues and fill their collection buckets to support that work. A raffle, sales of books and badges and an auction of railway memorabilia further boosted the funds raised by ticket sales and cash collection.

The trip began and ended at London Victoria, meandering through South London, Surrey and Sussex for nearly ten hours. The itinerary took the train through more than 70 stations in South London, Surrey and included a lunch stop at Brighton.

Some three months ago, Phil Nacmanson and Antony Yandell of GTR’s train operations management team came up with the idea to give the fleet a substantial send-off that would recognise its outstanding years of service. The dedicated railwaymen sounded out other GTR teams, and with their enthusiastic support recruited the well-known rail enthusiasts’ tour operator ‘The Branch Line Society’ to market the tour as a charity fundraising event.

The Society also provided on-board stewards to look after passengers alongside the GTR staff on board. At least 25 individual GTR colleagues, from as far as York, Leeds, Birmingham and Portsmouth, pledged their time to plan and run the tour.

Southern chose Mind in Croydon as the charity beneficiary because the mental health and wellbeing it supports is one of the train company’s key priorities for community relations activity, and the two organisations have been working together at East Croydon station in recent years on successful partnership projects initiated by Station Manager Ramla Abshir-Slevin.

Chris Fowler, Southern’s Customer Services Director, said: “I’m very proud to have been part of this well-deserved send-off to mark the Class 455s’ four decades of service, and delighted that the money raised for Mind was way above all our expectations.

“Many people played vital roles and deserve a huge thank-you – Phil, Antony and their operations management team, the train planners, engineers, station teams, colleagues at Southeastern and Network Rail, the Branch Line Society, our charity partners, and the hundreds of enthusiasts who joined us to make it such a special, successful day.

“We hope this event will be a springboard to further partnership opportunities with Mind in Croydon, working together on our shared aim to combat mental health issues and promote the importance of wellbeing in our communities.”

Cara Cooper of Mind in Croydon said: “We’re extremely grateful to GTR and everyone who made the day such a joyful and successful event. This phenomenal total of £26,000 is a wonderful achievement and greatly appreciated. We’ll use the much-needed funds raised to innovate and create new and exciting projects and services supporting our mental health clients and their carers.”

The Elizabeth line unveiled on latest London Tube map

TfL Press Release - The Elizabeth line unveiled on latest London Tube map: TfL Image - Tube Map May 2022

  • New railway depicted on the map in purple for the first time with new stations and connections to the rest of the TfL network 
  • Existing TfL Rail services become part of the new Elizabeth line from opening day 
  • London Overground extension to new station at Barking Riverside included ahead of opening later this year 
  • Northern line Bank branch reopened on schedule on 16 May following a 17-week closure for complex upgrade work 

The latest Tube map has been unveiled with the biggest change in recent history – the addition of the Elizabeth line. Transport for London (TfL) has published the latest map that shows the new railway and its stations ahead of its launch on Tuesday 24 May. 

Services on the Elizabeth line’s new central section will run from Paddington to Abbey Wood through the tunnels beneath London constructed by Crossrail. This ground-breaking new route now appears on the iconic Tube map as a double purple line rather than a solid line to differentiate the Elizabeth line as a new railway as opposed to a London Underground line. 

The Elizabeth line will initially run 12 trains per hour between Paddington and Abbey Wood, Monday to Saturday. New stations are now in the final stages of preparations ahead of opening to customers including signage and customer information.  

To assist customers finding their way to or from the new stations, there have also been updates made to signage and wayfinding across London. The free TfL Go app will be updated to show the route as well as full accessibility information for users from launch day. Apps that use TfL’s open data feed will show new station locations and entrances. 

The existing TfL Rail lines from Paddington to Heathrow and Reading, and from Liverpool Street to Shenfield become rebranded as part of the Elizabeth line from day one of opening and are also displayed on the map in Elizabeth line purple. Customers will initially be required to change at Paddington and Liverpool Street to access Elizabeth line services in the new central section. 

All stations on the Elizabeth line will be step-free by the end of this year, with work continuing to provide lifts at Ilford and Romford stations. Stations from Paddington to Woolwich and at Heathrow provide level access from platforms to trains, which is reflected on the map. 

The new Barking Riverside station on London Overground has also been added to the map. The extension from Barking to Barking Riverside will provide the area with new public transport links, improving connectivity and accessibility in the area when it opens in autumn.  

Joy Labinjo, 'Twist Out', 2022. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary. Photo: GG Archard, 2022

Julie Dixon, Interim Customer and Revenue Director, said: “Our world-renowned map now has another iconic addition in the Elizabeth line, which will serve London and the south east for hundreds of years to come. When we open on Tuesday 24 May, the new Elizabeth line will begin providing greater connectivity and step-free access from Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood through the centre of London. 

“This latest Tube map is a real credit to the team who have put it together. It has been both a challenge and a privilege to update Harry Beck’s original design to literally put a new piece of transport history on the map. This latest version takes into account a number of wider changes to the transport network, but will ensure Londoners and visitors alike are able to navigate around our transport network with ease.” 

The Bank branch of the Northern line reopened on 16 May, this has been reflected on the map. The temporary closure enabled the completion of vital work on the new Northern line tunnel, platform and passenger concourse at Bank station as part of the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade. During this closure, work has also taken place on lifts and escalators, as well as refurbishment work at Borough and enabling works for the future Elephant & Castle Station upgrade. Harrow-on-the-Hill station, which became step-free in March 2022, has also been updated on the new map. 

The front cover of the updated pocket Tube map has been created by London-based artist, Joy Labinjo. Her original artwork, titled ‘Twist Out’, captures an intimate mother-daughter routine as a mother is seen preparing her daughter’s hair for a ‘twist out’ hairstyle, drawing on the artist’s life experiences and memories as a British-Nigerian woman. 

TfL Image - Tube Map May 2022 - Transport for London and IKEA

The new Tube map will also be sponsored by IKEA for the next 12 months, with markers showing the nearest public transport options to their stores. 

Michael Hawkins, London market area manager at IKEA, said: “As we create a more accessible and sustainable IKEA, we want to make it easier for our customers to visit us via public transport. Sponsoring the instantly recognisable design icon that is the Tube map will support customers in finding the easiest way to us.” 

Bond Street Elizabeth line station will open later this year. Work continues at Bond Street to complete the station for customers as soon as possible. There will be two entrances, one at Davies Street (providing interchanges with the Central and Jubilee lines) and one at Hanover Square. 

First testing of retrofitted ETCS train at RIDC

Network Rail’s state of the art Rail Innovation & Development Centre (RIDC) has carried out its first testing of a train retrofitted with onboard digital signalling equipment.

The Class 180 train, owned by Angel Trains and operated by Grand Central, has been retrofitted with European Train Control System (ETCS) equipment to enable operation with digital signalling.  This has been made possible by the recent upgrading of the RIDC facility in Melton Mowbray to enable testing of trains fitted with ETCS technology.

Following the upgrade, First in Class (FiC) ETCS trains can undergo dynamic testing to support the approval and authorisation process for operation on the GB rail network.  This will enable the readiness of all trains for the Government funded East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), which will ultimately see traditional signals removed from the tracks on the southern part of the East Coast Main Line.

First testing of retrofitted ETCS train at RIDC2

The Class 180 arrived at RIDC at the end of April.  Alstom supported by partners at Network Rail, Grand Central and Angel Trains completed FiC testing and accumulated endurance running to prove the reliability of the Alstom ATLAS 2 ETCS onboard system. The trackside ETCS system installed at RIDC has also been delivered by Alstom’s expert signalling team in the UK.

Alstom’s Onboard ETCS system fitted to the Class 180 is the first onboard system tested at RIDC that is compliant with ETCS standard Baseline 3 Release 2 (required standard for ECDP roll out). The onboard system is the first to support Packet 44, which enables operation with GB specifics such as miles per hour. This is a major milestone achievement by the project team.

The teams are currently reviewing the results from the testing and undertaking detailed planning for the next key project milestone which will be to commission the Class 180 into ETCS Level-NTC (National Train Control) operation later this year, the next step towards supporting full ETCS operation on the East Coast Main Line in the near future.

Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail’s Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, said: “The availability of RIDC to commence the testing of the first retrofitted train is a key corner stone in GB digital capability and the network master plan. It provided the proving ground for ETCS trains that will enable the migration to ETCS operations on the network.  This is a national capability for the industry that will serve the ECDP as the vanguard scheme and the broader application of digital signalling technology in this country”.

Jason Baldock, Alstom Digital & Integrated Systems (D&IS) UK Managing Director said:  “This is a hugely important milestone not just for Alstom and our partners on the Class 180 project, but also the wider industry, as we have now tested in the UK the most up-to-date ETCS Onboard technology at the state-of-the-art RIDC Melton test track, which has also been delivered by an Alstom team. This is a huge step forward for the future roll-out of ETCS in the UK, and is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of the participating businesses in delivering this technologically challenging project”.

Richard Morris, ETCS Project Manager at Angel Trains, said: “This is an exciting milestone for Alstom, our Class 180 trains, and the future roll-out of ETCSs across the country. We are proud to have supported this project and look forward to working alongside our industry partners to continue to innovate the UK rail industry.”

Sean English, Chief Operating Officer, Grand Central Rail, said: “Grand Central Rail is delighted to have supported the development and testing of the ETCS System on the C180 FiC train as it represents a major milestone for the ECDP, bringing us a step closer to operating in ETCS Level 2 (L-2). The Grand Central team are looking forward to placing into use the FiC train in L-NTC later this year, which will allow us to understand the reliability of the system, thus paving the way for a smooth transition to ETCS L-2 operations.”

Her Majesty The Queen visits Paddington Elizabeth line station ahead of the transformational railway opening next week

Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, today (Tuesday 17 May), visited Paddington Elizabeth line station to mark the completion of the transformational new railway ahead of its opening to passengers on Tuesday 24 May.  

During the Royal visit, Her Majesty officially unveiled a plaque to celebrate the completion of the line named in Her honour. The plaque will be permanently mounted at Paddington station, celebrating The Queen’s connection with the railway for generations to come. 

Accompanied by HRH The Earl of Wessex, Her Majesty also met with staff who have been key to the Crossrail project, as well as Elizabeth line staff who will be running the railway – including apprentices, drivers, and station staff.  

TfL Image - HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Edward Earl of Wessex, Andy Byford London's Transport Commissioner

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were joined on the visit by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport for London’s Commissioner Andy Byford, the Transport Secretary the Right Hon. Grant Shapps, and the Crossrail Chief Executive Mark Wild.  

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 is from London’s farepayers, around 40 per cent from London’s businesses – combined with 30 per cent from Government.

The Elizabeth line is already supporting regeneration and new homes, jobs, and economic growth across the length of the route. The new railway is expected to support thousands of new homes and jobs and will boost the UK economy by an estimated £42bn. It will transform rail transport in London and the South East by increasing central London rail capacity by 10 per cent and relieving congestion on many existing rail and Tube lines. It will also transform the accessibility of the transport network by radically increasing the number of step-free stations and providing spacious trains. 

TfL Image - Andy Byford, Sadiq Khan, Grant Shapps and Boris Johnson with Hampden Gurney, Church of England Primary School Choir

In the run up to opening, station staff are making final preparations at the nine new central section stations. 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.  

To mark the name change from Crossrail to the Elizabeth line, The Queen came to see the railway during its construction in 2016. Today’s visit builds upon a long-held association between the Royal family and London’s Transport network. Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch to travel on the London Underground in 1969, when she opened the Victoria line. 

TfL Image - HM Queen Elizabeth II introduced to staff by andy Byford London Transport Commissioner

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted that Her Majesty The Queen and HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex have officially unveiled the new Elizabeth line station at Paddington today. The opening of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid for by London, is a landmark moment for our capital and our whole country, particularly in this special Platinum Jubilee year.   

“The Elizabeth line is the most significant addition to our transport network in decades and this new line will revolutionise travel across the capital and the south east and bring economic benefits to the whole country. There is now just one week to go until our world-class new railway will be open to passengers, and I can’t wait for everyone to experience it.”  

Andy Byford, Transport for London’s Commissioner, said: “Her Majesty The Queen has a long association with London’s transport network, and I am delighted that Her Majesty was able to visit our magnificent Paddington Elizabeth line station today. In a landmark year for Her Majesty, during the Platinum Jubilee, everyone at TfL is committed to ensuring this new railway will serve as a fitting tribute and will – by creating faster journeys, new jobs, and economic growth – become a vital part of London’s recovery.  

“What could be better for encouraging back on to public transport, and what better symbol could there be of London’s renaissance from the pandemic.” 

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Boasting the oldest underground network in the world, London has long been viewed as a pioneer in world leading transport systems and the Elizabeth Line is no exception. 

“Just one week from now, Londoners will have access to faster and cheaper travel on board these state-of-the-art trains and it’s an honour to have played a role in this through the Government’s £9bn investment.” 

Following its public opening next week, the Elizabeth line will initially operate as three separate railways as always planned. Customers travelling between Reading or Heathrow into London will initially need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from Shenfield into London will initially need to change at Liverpool Street. Bond Street station will open later this year, when the western and eastern sections of the railway are connected to the central section to enable through-travel.  

The Elizabeth line will operate 12 trains per hour between Paddington and Abbey Wood from Monday to Saturday 06:30 to 23:00. Work will continue in engineering hours and on Sundays to allow a series of testing and software updates in preparation for more intensive services from the autumn. 

Services from Reading, Heathrow, and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels in autumn when frequencies will also be increased to 22 trains per hour in the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel. There will be up to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel during the peak when the railway is fully open.  

At Paddington, the line contributes to the burgeoning transformation of the area and complements the station building created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel that opened in 1854. London Underground arrived at the station in 1863, with the opening of the original section between Paddington and Farringdon by the Metropolitan Railway. This legacy now continues with the addition of the new cavernous and architecturally stunning Elizabeth line station.  

During construction of the railway, eight giant tunnel boring machines burrowed below the streets of London to create 42km of new rail tunnels which cross the River Thames three times, and more than 3 million tonnes of excavated spoil contributed to the creation of Jubilee Marsh as part of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project.  

Monday’s “Other news”

South Western Railway welcomes new Community Rail Partnerships and Station Adopters to the ‘family’

South Western Railway welcomes new Community Rail Partnerships and Station Adopters to the ‘family’: South Western Railway logo
  • Two new Community Rail Partnerships announced – at Wey Valley and in the southern part of the London Borough of Kingston.
  • 12 recently added station adopters mean that more than 80 station adoption groups are helping communities to get the most from their stations.
  • Brings the number of CRPs and Station Adoption Groups to almost 100.

South Western Railway (SWR) has today announced the formation of two new Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) which will serve stations on the SWR network from Alton to Wanborough (including Ash Vale) and within the southern part of the London Borough of Kingston.

CRPs are not-for-profit organisations that help connect SWR with the communities it serves. Connecting people and communities is at the heart of SWR, and CRPs focus on a wide range of projects which aim to:

  • promote sustainable and healthy travel
  • bring communities together
  • support social and economic development

The new CRPs work with their local communities and community groups to build an understanding of the importance of local railways, whether it be improving mobility and sustainable travel or community cohesion and wellbeing or even social and economic development.  The funding from SWR is invested in both projects and employing an officer for each CRP, who delivers the community activity. SWR is actively involved with each CRP, working in partnership with them to deliver outcomes that benefit as many people as possible.

SWR also works closely with more than 80 Station Adoption Groups. Station adoption provides an opportunity for individuals to volunteer to make a difference to their local areas, helping communities to get the most from their stations. This could be through an established group taking on a new role, or like-minded locals coming together to do something specifically to improve their station with. Adoption groups have recently opened at Ashurst and Havant in Hampshire; Bookham, Effingham Junction, Egham, Milford and Witley in Surrey; St Margarets, Barnes, Putney and Richmond in London and Hamworthy in Dorset

Ronin Hutchinson & Team

Robin Hutchinson of The Community Brain, who will be overseeing the new CRP within the London Borough of Kingston said:

“The Community Brain has worked with our friends at South Western Railway since 2018 when we adopted Tolworth station as part of our SHEDx programme. We’re very pleased to be extending that relationship into a Community Rail Partnership, which will allow us to work together to provide community projects and social action across more of the south of Kingston Borough.”

Mark Millar, Chair of the Wey Valley CRP said:

“We are delighted to be working with South Western Railway to expand community rail in Hampshire with the forthcoming creation of the Wey Valley Community Rail Partnership between Alton and Guildford (including Ash Vale).  This will be the fourth Community Rail Partnership in Hampshire and it will seek to promote the beautiful Wey Valley, build volunteer groups around the stations, improve station environments and enhance opportunities to travel by train to and from local tourist attractions.  

“It is an exciting opportunity to develop our railways and design specific community projects which benefit the whole area. Should any resident, business, community group or organisation wish to become a partner with us, we would be pleased to hear from you!”

Paula Aldridge, Community Rail Manager, South Western Railway added:

“South Western Railway is delighted to be supporting two new Community Rail Partnerships, and 12 new Station Adoption Groups. We look forward to seeing them start to make a real difference in their communities, showing people what their local station has to offer and encouraging them to make full use of their facilities.”

Mayor re-opens Bank branch of Northern line and welcomes customers to new spacious Underground platform and concourse

TfL Press Release - Mayor re-opens Bank branch of Northern line and welcomes customers to new spacious Underground platform and concourse: © Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 1

PN-037

  • Bank station’s new, spacious southbound Northern line platform and concourse officially opened to customers this morning
  • The Bank branch of the Northern line has fully re-opened, as planned, following closure for upgrade works at Bank station
  • Final stages of work at Bank station will be completed by the end of the year, including step-free access to the Northern line, a new station entrance and new, more direct interchanges between the DLR, Northern and Central lines
  • Once complete, the vastly improved Bank station will have 40 per cent greater capacity, and customer journeys will be much quicker and easier

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (Monday 16 May) re-opened the Bank branch of the Northern line following a 17-week planned closure. The closure enabled around 550 construction staff to work around the clock to finish constructing a brand-new Northern line tunnel and passenger concourse at Bank Underground station. A new, wider southbound Northern line platform has also opened at Bank station – all key parts of this vital capacity upgrade project. Transport for London (TfL) also completed work on three new passageways, which will make moving around the station quicker and easier for Northern line customers.

Bank station will see its capacity increased by 40 per cent when upgrade work finishes later this year, with improvements still to come including step-free access to the Northern line, improved access to the DLR platforms, two new moving walkways, 12 new escalators and two new lifts. There will also be more direct routes within the station and a new station entrance on Cannon Street. These improvements to Bank station will support the recovery, growth and success of the City of London, addressing long-standing capacity issues and making journeys through Bank quicker, easier, and more comfortable when fully complete.

Around 650 train drivers and more than 100 station staff have taken part in exercises to familiarise themselves with the new tunnel and vastly improved station layout. Northern line customers using Bank station from today should follow the new signage and directions from London Underground staff. 

© Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 4

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today marks the first in a series of transport milestones for our city. The Northern line has fully reopened to customers, on-schedule and to budget, after the successful completion of the latest phase of vital upgrade works at Bank station.

“Bank Station is at the heart of the city and these improvements are the first step towards a modern, accessible, easy to navigate station fit for the twenty-first century. 

“We are at a pivotal moment in London’s recovery, and it’s clearer than ever the critical role TfL plays in boosting our economy. It is time that the Government finally accepts that a properly funded transport network in London is an issue of great national importance. Ministers must commit to a long-term funding deal that will protect the capital’s world class transport network and support jobs and growth in London and across the whole country.”

Stuart Harvey, Chief Capital Officer at Transport for London, said: “From today, Northern line customers at Bank station are able to use a new, 5m wide southbound platform and spacious concourse. The old layout was very constrained, leading to frequent congestion, but Northern line customers will now be able to make their journeys much more quickly and easily. I’d like to thank our customers for their patience while the Bank branch of the Northern line was closed, which was essential in enabling us to complete this work. Our construction teams were totally focused throughout the planned closure, which was in place for 120 days, on fully re-opening the Northern line on time. The countdown is now on for finishing the rest of this complex major upgrade later this year, transforming Bank into a modern, flagship station, fit to serve one of the world’s most important financial districts.” 

 Work that has been completed at Bank station during the closure period includes: 

  • Completing the excavation of the remaining 100m of new railway tunnel and lining it with sprayed concrete, in addition to the 1.5km that had already been tunnelled
  • Connecting the new southbound Northern line tunnel to the existing railway
  • Conversion of the former southbound Northern line platform, which was built more than 100 years ago, into a new, spacious customer concourse
  • Installing the remaining 185m of track in the tunnels, in addition to the 490m that had already been laid prior to the closure
  • Installation, testing and commissioning of all the signalling systems needed to operate trains into the new southbound platform
  • Fitting out all areas of the new station, including installing over 1,400m2 of terrazzo tile flooring and more than 1,000 wall panels
  • The installation, testing and commissioning of a new station communication and fire system along with new and improved lighting and signage throughout all the new station areas

The next phase of works at Bank station will now turn to the key interchange connections which includes the three new escalators linking the Northern line to the DLR, and the two new moving walkways and three new escalators connecting the Northern and Central lines. Bank already has 15 escalators so will have 27 escalators once the works are complete, the largest number on the Tube network.

Wayfinding at Bank station is being improved to make it easier and more intuitive to navigate around the station. Improvements include installing new signage and contrast cladding between interchange corridors and platforms. A new platform hump has been installed on the northbound Northern line platform and the newly constructed southbound Northern line platform has been raised to provide level access between the train and the platform.

© Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 3

Shravan Joshi, City of London Corporation Planning and Transportation Committee Chairman, said: “Today’s re-opening of the Northern line’s Bank branch is fantastic news for the Square Mile as our sustainable recovery from the pandemic continues with offices thriving alongside our cultural, retail and hospitality scene. It is encouraging to see commuter numbers continuing to pick up pace, demonstrating the City’s enduring power as a world-leading place to do business, as well as an attractive place to invest, work, live, learn and visit. We very much look forward to the completion of the transformation of Bank station which will see this vital City commuter hub renewed and made more accessible for workers, residents and visitors.”

Andrew Corrigan, General Manager, The Royal Exchange, said: “The Royal Exchange team is delighted that the Bank branch of the Northern line has re-opened today, and customers will benefit from the upgrades to Bank station as well. It has been exciting to see workers, residents and visitors enjoying the City once again after the lockdown restrictions, and this will make their journeys easier. The Royal Exchange is one of London’s most iconic buildings, located in the heart of the City, and home to some of the world’s most coveted brands that embody quality, style and heritage, so we are pleased that these upgrades will allow us to welcome more people through our doors to enjoy the landmark building.”

This re-opening comes at a pivotal moment for London’s recovery from the pandemic. Midweek Tube ridership is regularly reaching around 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with Thursday 12 May seeing the highest ridership since the start of the pandemic with 2.97m journeys made on the Tube. Tube ridership at stations defined as ‘City’ stations – including Bank – are now seeing ridership at 55-60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, up from around 33 per cent in January. Weekend Tube ridership is around 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels with around 2.3m journeys now made on Saturdays and nearly 2m on Sundays.

During the closure of the Bank branch of the Northern line, essential work was also carried out at other stations including London Bridge, Borough and Elephant & Castle so that future disruption to customers would be minimised. This included work on lifts and escalators, as well as refurbishment work at Borough, and enabling works for the future Elephant & Castle station upgrade.  

New cross-London train route offers more seats and journey choices for Herts and Northeast London commuters

Thameslink & Great Northern Railways Managing Director Tom Moran speaks with Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP at Welwyn Garden City railway station in front of one of the new services. Picture: DANNY LOO

Transport Secretary and MP for Welwyn Hatfield Grant Shapps joined passengers at Welwyn Garden City station today [16 May] to welcome the start of new cross-London train services between the Hertfordshire town and Sevenoaks in Kent.

The new Thameslink services run every half-hour during weekday peak times.

Opening up the new route provides an increase in services with 2,600 more seats to London for passengers using Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar, New Barnet, Oakleigh Park and New Southgate, as well as allowing their first direct through-London journeys.

Peak-time services from Finsbury Park to St Pancras International and through central-London are up from four to six trains per hour.

The new Herts-Kent route has been created by reinstating Welwyn-London services that were suspended in March 2020 and linking them, via St Pancras, to services between Blackfriars and Sevenoaks. The link forms the first-ever direct route across central London via Finsbury Park in the north and Elephant & Castle in the south.

Thameslink’s passengers benefit not only from the new direct journey opportunities to South London and Kent, but also from connections with the new Elizabeth line at Farringdon and easy changes at St Pancras or Blackfriars for trains to Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “We’re delighted we can now provide these extra seats and new journey opportunities for Hertfordshire and Northeast London commuters. The new route is a key part of the service uplift we’ve achieved for our passengers in the new summer timetable introduced this week.

“This timetable is the starting point for rebuilding our railway, working closely with our community and industry partners to support passengers and the economic recovery of both local and regional rail.”

Grant Shapps said: “Faster, more frequent services are what we all need. As our recovery from the pandemic continues, I’m delighted the Welwyn Garden City – Sevenoaks service is being introduced. This cross-London route will be vital to helping thousands of people travel across the region for work or play.”

Radcliffe Metrolink Park & Ride has reopened with 111 additional car parking spaces

The Metrolink Park & Ride facility at the Radcliffe stop has reopened today (Monday 16 May) following the completion of construction works which has added 111 extra car parking spaces.

The work has seen the installation of a new parking deck at the existing site, expanding the number of spaces from 369 to 480 in total, enabling more people to access the Metrolink network and use public transport for part of their journey.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Park & Ride schemes like this one are vital for the development of the Greater Manchester Bee Network vision by providing a truly integrated public transport system, making travel around our city-region easier, more accessible and affordable.

“This latest project means we have now created almost 600 new Park & Ride spaces at three different tram stops across the city-region in the past 18 months, in addition to the thousands of Park & Ride spaces already available across the Metrolink network.

“By getting people out of their vehicles and onto public transport – even if it’s only for part of their journey – we can help reduce traffic congestion and decrease harmful emissions that are damaging the quality of our air.”

Delivered earlier than the estimated completion date, the work at Radcliffe – which also features a new electric vehicle (EV) charging point – marks the completion of the broader Metrolink Park & Ride expansion works programme, which has also seen the construction of a new deck providing 123 additional spaces at Whitefield and the 360-space Park & Ride site at Parkway on the Trafford Park line.

There also further plans to build a brand-new Park & Ride site at Walkden rail station later this year with over 100 parking spaces, four motorcycle bays, EV charging provision and cycle storage.

Chris Barnes, Head of Projects Group at Transport for Greater Manchester, said: “We are delighted to have successfully completed the Metrolink Park & Ride expansion works, increasing car parking capacity at both the Radcliffe and Whitefield stops.

“Pre-pandemic, the car parks at both sites used to be at full capacity by 8am, so the additional spaces will enable even more people to travel sustainably across the 99-stop Metrolink network and all the many great locations it serves.”

For further information regarding Park & Ride, please visit the TfGM website at:  www.tfgm.com/park-and-ride

Keeping tags on freight to improve safety across the railway

Freightliner team working on fitting new RFID tags at Crewe Maintenance Facility

A new safety scheme has launched which will fit more than 15,000 of Britain’s freight locomotives and wagons with technology that enables the condition of wheelsets – a pair of wheels mounted on an axle – to be monitored in real-time.

Defective or worn wheelsets can cause broken rails and damage to wagons if left untreated and can lead to safety issues and delays on the railway for both passenger and freight trains.

The two-year project, part of the Freight Safety Improvement Portfolio’s (FSIP’s) £22m fund, will see 30,000 radio frequency identification (RFID) tags being fitted to both sides of freight locomotives and wagons. When the tagged train passes a reader on the side of the track – at one of 22 sites – information regarding each wheelset is captured. This is then sent to engineers via cloud-based technology to see if any maintenance work is needed.

Steve Rhymes, head of network management at Network Rail, said:

“This is a prime example of how the rail freight industry works together to continue to innovate and put safety first using technology.

“Each freight operator is fitting them to each side of their wagons and locomotives, which means we are harvesting data every time a train or vehicle operates – much of which has not been visible before. It’s a collaborative effort which delivers joint benefit.

“We are introducing improved systems and processes for data sharing with freight operators and freight customers to provide a cohesive approach to wagon maintenance leading to even further safety for our railway and ultimately less disruption and delays to passengers and freight trains.”

The scheme has been welcomed by freight operating companies and freight customers. Freightliner Group has already fitted 73 per cent of the tags, funded by FSIP, to locomotives and wagons.

Deanne Haseltine, the company’s head of engineering compliance, said:

“This scheme has already made a positive difference to the whole industry by helping us to accurately pinpoint and identify defects to individual wheelsets at the earliest opportunity.

“Having the ability to identify faults and plan repairs to wheelsets in advance means we can safely remove a wagon from service if needed and avoid unnecessary disruption on the network and to our customers.”

Package of rail works planned in East London to improve reliability passengers

Track renewal London Anglia

A package of rail works is planned from the end of the month (21 May) to reduce delays and improve reliability of rail services for passengers travelling across East London and between London, Enfield Town and Cambridge.

Gospel Oak to Barking

Work on the Gospel Oak to Barking line will be carried at weekends throughout May, June and July starting on the 21 May. The work includes:

  • Renewal of wheel timbers that help keep the track in place
  • Works to Upper Holloway footbridge

Between London and Enfield and London and Cambridge

Work begins on Saturday 11 June and at weekends throughout June and July. The work includes:

  • Renewal of a crossing unit and a turnout unit at Seven Sisters, these are pieces of track that allow trains to move from one line to another
  • Structure repairs to Seven Sisters Road (A503) will also be carried out during the closure.

Maintenance, structure examinations, drainage inspections and essential vegetation clearance will also take place on both lines while they are closed.

This work is essential to keep services running safely and reliably and to reduce delays on these busy rail lines. Passengers are advised to check how the work will affect their journeys.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “We’re committed to improving reliability and driving down delays and cancellations for our passengers across London and Anglia. This package work is essential to keep services running safely and on time.”

Passengers are advised to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk

LNER shares spectacular views of Teeside and County Durham from the train driver’s seat

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is sharing a rare insight into the spectacular views of Teesside and the Durham coast enjoyed from the driver’s cab of its world-class Azuma trains.


The short video is the latest in the award-winning LNER series ‘In the Driver’s Seat’, which takes viewers on virtual journeys along the East Coast route, with a selection of drivers sharing their own experiences and pointing out places of interest and the landmarks and destinations they pass. The series covers LNER’s 956-mile route and has been widely shared on LNER’s social channels, attracting more than 650,000 views, with audiences enjoying journeys including London to Yorkshire and Newcastle to Edinburgh.


What makes this episode even more special is that it features a temporary diversionary route not often seen by LNER customers to allow for weekend engineering works along the usual route. For three weekends earlier this year, LNER services between York and Newcastle were diverted along the striking
Durham coastline.

LNER Driver Dylan Leonard has taken viewers on a southbound journey from Tyneside through his native North East, with Sunderland, Seaham, Easington, Hartlepool and Yarm among the places featured. As well as virtual views from the cab, stunning drone images showcase the area.


Dylan Leonard said: “Middlesbrough is LNER’s latest destination and I’m one of the team of drivers working on our new weekday services to and from London King’s Cross but that’s where our route usually ends. The Durham coast diversions were particularly special for me as I have fond memories of this route.


As a child, I visited family who lived near the railway line and watched the trains pass by. It isn’t often that we get the opportunity to take our customers along the Durham coastline to enjoy the views and it’s great we’ve captured them to share in this special short film.”

Please allow time for video to load.


The latest video can be viewed alongside the existing routes already featured on LNER’s YouTube page:


https://youtu.be/C7rJmnFnEro

Northern to ‘FACT CHECK’ fare-evaders’ top excuse for travelling without a ticket as ‘Quick Buy’ feature rolled out

Northern has armed its conductors and revenue protection staff with new technology to better defend the train operator against one of the most common excuses given by fare-evaders’ for travelling without a ticket.

“The ticket machine wasn’t working” is often the ‘go to’ explanation for those unable to present a valid ticket for travel.

Now, staff will be able to check the status of over 600 self-service ticket machines on the network via an app designed in partnership with Flowbird and RADD Solutions.

The app, which can show staff if a machine is ‘active’ and issuing tickets, will be a crucial tool in Northern’s use of penalty fares as it seeks to minimise fare evasion across its nearly 2,000 services a day.

Mark Powles, customer and commercial director, said: “Self-service ticket machines are a key part of our infrastructure that ensures customers can always buy a ticket before they travel. They have, however, been a convenient scapegoat when people are challenged as to why they don’t have a valid ticket for travel.

“Until now, our frontline staff have been in a difficult position when faced with this excuse, as without being able to check, there was always the possibility a machine somewhere on the network was out of action. Now, our colleagues will be able to ‘fact check’ the status of the machine in question and issue a penalty fare if appropriate.”

The news comes as Northern has introduced a ‘Quick Buy’ feature on its ticket vending machines following customer feedback, which has halved the number of steps required to purchase a ticket. (Down from between seven and ten buttons previous to only four, assuming no discount card needs to be applied.) 

The ‘Quick Buy’ feature also shows customers the next train due and gives a countdown which helps customers determine if they have time to catch the train from when they buy the ticket.

More than 240,000 customers use Northern’s ticket vending machines every four weeks – and they are just one of the ways Northern is making it easier for customers to buy tickets, with digital tickets available for all journeys via their website and app, as well as over the counter at staffed stations.

Fare evaders are prosecuted under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000.

Major green milestone for HS2 as project announces first diesel-free construction site

HS2 Ltd – the company building Britain’s new high speed, low carbon railway – has today [Thursday 12 May] announced its first completely diesel-free site is the Canterbury Road Vent Shaft site in South Kilburn, where HS2’s civils contractor Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV) have introduced a range of diesel-free technologies and greener equipment.

Earlier this year, HS2 Ltd announced that the project aims to be net-zero carbon from 2035, with the target of achieving its first diesel-free construction site in 2022, and all of its construction sites being diesel-free by 2029.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said:

“HS2 is boosting transport across the UK, creating thousands of jobs and levelling up communities throughout the North and Midlands, all while leaving the environment better off than how we found it.

“This, the first of many diesel-free sites, is another example of how the country’s biggest infrastructure project not only delivers on its commitment to be Net Zero from 2035, but is a pioneer in leading the whole industry to cleaner, greener construction.”   

Innovations on this site include one of the UK’s first 160 tonne emissions-free fully electric crawler cranes; the use of biofuels (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil) to power plant and machinery on site; an electric compressor; and access to mains power on a 100% renewable energy tariff.

HS2’s Net Zero Carbon Plan sets out how HS2 will achieve new carbon reduction milestones, support the decarbonisation of the UK construction sector and reduce the carbon footprint of the programme. Other sites are set to follow suit, with innovations including retrofit technologies, biofuels, hydrogen and solar power helping to cut carbon across the whole of the route.

Peter Miller, HS2’s Environment Director said:

“We’re delighted to reach this key milestone in our Net Zero Carbon Plan. HS2 is playing a major role in the decarbonisation of the construction industry, collaborating with the industry and our supply chain to accelerate innovation in low-carbon technologies. Reducing emissions and improving air quality on HS2 construction sites is crucial for both the environment and surrounding communities.”

James Richardson, Managing Director of SCS said:

“We’re thrilled that Canterbury Road Vent Shaft has become the first diesel-free site on the HS2 project. We’re working hard with our supply chain to introduce renewable energy, green hydrogen and sustainable biofuels to help us remove diesel entirely from our sites by 2023.”

Innovations being trialled and introduced on other sites include:

  • Clean Air Gas Engine’ funded through Innovate UK and led by OakTec, which replaces diesel power with ultra-low (bio-LPG) emission engines in Advante Welfare units and standalone units.
  • ‘EcoNet’ developed by Invisible Systems, Balfour Beatty and Sunbelt which controls and reduces energy output from key appliances, reducing power demand by 30%.
  • Non-Road Mobile Machinery retrofit solutions which adds pollution control equipment onto older vehicles as an alternative to replacing the machine or the engine, reducing emissions.
  • CESAR Emissions Compliance Verification which is a resilient system to show the EU Stage engine emission class of all construction plant.
  • Proactive dust management solutions reducing impacts associated with on-site activities.
  • Fully Electric Renewable Energy using solar and wind to power noise and air quality monitors, site security cameras and site briefing areas and solar pods powering sites by combining solar PV, battery storage and a back-up generator.
  • Hydrogen Technology trials across sites considering both fuel-cell technology and combustible hydrogen solutions.

WATCH: Timelapse footage released as major upgrade at Cramlington station completes

Cramlington station’s revamped footbridge is now open for passengers after Network Rail completed a major £590,000 refurbishment.

The project began in November last year and saw the structure removed from the station to be inspected and repaired. Work took place to remove old rust and paint from the bridge, carry out repairs and then reinstall it at the station.

Teams from Network Rail have also improved drainage on the bridge and installed new handrails and stair treads, making it easier to use.

Newly released timelapse footage shows the bridge and staircases being lifted from the station by crane so that it could be cleaned, repaired and painted away from site before being reinstalled.

The project will make sure that the structure remains reliable, fit for purpose and in good condition for years to come.

Refurbished footbridge at Cramlington station

Sarah Reid, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: “We’re really happy that this project is now complete, and passengers using Cramlington railway station can use the footbridge once more.

“This work will make sure that the footbridge remains fit for purpose for years to come and the new handrails and stair treads will make it easier to use. We’ve worked hard to minimise the impact which this project has had and we’d like to thank all those who have been impacted for their patience.”

Crewe Heritage Centre unveils new look for our resident Class 87 Electric Locomotive ‘Robert Burns’

Crewe Heritage Centre unveils new look for our resident Class 87 Electric Locomotive ‘Robert Burns’.

Following an eight-month-long project by a small team of our volunteers, we are pleased to announce that the Heritage Centre’s resident Class 87 Electric Locomotive 87 035 can now be seen in the same livery in which it carried when it was withdrawn from service 22 years ago.

At a special event held on Tuesday 15th March 2022 in the Heritage Centre’s Exhibition Hall, the locomotive was rededicated with the Robert Burns nameplates and new crests. it was unveiled by Simon Kohler of Hornby Model Railways, and visitors to the event also included the Mayor of Crewe, Cllr Tom Dunlop, and representatives from Hornby Magazine.

The Heritage Centre would like to thank Virgin Group for their kind permission to use Virgin branding on this locomotive. We would also like to thank Durable Castings Ltd of Deeside for kindly donating the replica plaques.

A Brief History of 87 035 ‘Robert Burns’

The Class 87 is a type of electric locomotive constructed by British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) between 1973 and 1975 at Crewe Locomotive Works. Thirty-six of these locomotives were built to work passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between London and Glasgow. It was considered to be the flagship of British Rail’s electric locomotive fleet until the late 1980s.

The privatisation of British Rail saw all but one of the class transferred to Virgin Trains who continued to use the fleet until the advent of the new Class 390 ‘Pendolinos’. This particular locomotive entered service in October 1974, spending its entire working life based at Willesden Intercity Depot, London, working high speed services until December 2004, when it was withdrawn from service in and placed into storage. In September 2005 a deal was announced between the Crewe Heritage Centre and Porterbrook Leasing which would see 87035 preserved here at the Heritage Centre.

As the new Class 390 ‘Pendolinos’ were introduced, the demand for the Class 87s declined. Twelve members of the fleet were scrapped between 2002 and 2010. However, twenty-one members of the class were exported to Bulgaria. Two other examples, 87001 and 87002 are also preserved.