CrossCountry, part of the Arriva Group, has welcomed the opening of Worcestershire’s first new railway station for over 100 years.
On Sunday 23 February, Worcestershire Parkway station joins 118 stations already served by CrossCountry across Great Britain. With its large, secure car park, modern facilities and accessible platforms, the new station makes a fantastic gateway to the region.
With an hourly CrossCountry service throughout the day, southbound to Gloucester and Cardiff and northwards to Birmingham and Nottingham, onward connections will link the county to almost every part of the country. As well as CrossCountry, GWR services to the Cotswolds and London will extend the county’s reach. This enhanced connectivity to the rest of Britain will enable Worcestershire to continue growing its business and tourism links as the country becomes an even easier place to visit.
Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted that Worcestershire Parkway is now open for business. This new station and its excellent connections will benefit the regions’ rail users, and we look forward to working with the council and other stakeholders to promote its use.”
A Suffolk organisation aims to get more people walking this Spring with a series of free guided walks.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership will run a guided walk over five Saturdays from 29 February until 4 April with each one starting and ending at a Greater Anglia rail station on the Ipswich – Lowestoft and Felixstowe rail lines.
The Partnership’s Chairman, Aaron Taffera, says he hopes that because the walks start and end at the train station people will come from far and wide to enjoy them – and be able to leave the car at home.
He commented: “It means that people can discover our beautiful Suffolk countryside without the pollution of additional cars entering the county.”
The first walk, on Saturday 29 February, is a 5-mile circular walk from Westerfield station. More details about other walks in the programme can be found at www.eastsuffolkline.org.
They all start and end at a rail station, connecting in with train times.
Chairman of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Aaron Taffera, adds, “Studies have shown that walking is great for your health and the beautiful scenery of our part of Suffolk is positively good for the soul, so we encourage everyone to come and try one of our walks.
“With the added benefit of being able to travel on one of Greater Anglia’s brand new, more environmentally friendly trains, people can get out and about whilst reducing their carbon footprint.”
The Partnership has also produced a book of self-guided walks from rail stations which is free and available from most public buildings in Suffolk such as tourist information centres and libraries or online at http://www.eastsuffolkline.com/walks.
The booklet contains detailed maps and diagrams, duration of each walk, landmarks, details of the scenery along the way and places to stop for refreshments. All the walks are way-marked with the East Suffolk Line Walks logo.
The book of 22 walks – covering more than 160 miles – saw the Partnership nominated for an ‘Influencing Positive Change’ Award at last year’s Community Rail Awards.
Grand Central is investing more than £21 million in trains to operate on its new North West to London route, with the refurbishment of the first locomotive complete with its iconic livery.
The open access rail operator today revealed it has leased 24 coaches and 5 locomotives, to run daily direct services between Blackpool North and London Euston starting later this year.
Four sets of MK4 coaches in six-car formation have been leased from Eversholt Rail until December 2026. The coaches will be maintained at Alstom’s Wembley depot and serviced overnight at Arriva North’s Blackpool depot.
The coaches are currently undergoing a £1.5 million refurbishment at Alstom in Widnes, which will include Grand Central livery and a full interior refresh designed with the comfort of leisure and business passengers in mind.
Each of the trains running along the North West to London route will include First Class carriages, free Wi-Fi throughout, buffet, accessible toilets and baby changing facilities. There will also be wheelchair and priority seating available.
From next month (March), people living in the vicinity of stations along the new North West to London Euston route may spot three sets of coaches (MK4s), as driver training gets underway. These coaches have been secured under short-term lease from Eversholt Rail.
Grand Central has also hired a pool of five locomotives (Class 90s) from DB Cargo UK (pictured). Four of these will be in service at any one time, with one locomotive spare for maintenance purposes.
These electric, non-tilting trains, will run along the North West – London Euston route, as well as other cleared routes between Blackpool, Preston, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes and London when diversions are needed. The trains will be maintained by DB Cargo UK at Crewe Electric Maintenance Depot. Grand Central’s North West fleet is compliant with disability and accessibility standards (PRM).
Paul Batty, Fleet Project Manager for Grand Central, said: “We are incredibly proud of the work that has been done to bring our new fleet of rolling stock to fruition, starting with our first locomotive ready to begin driver training in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s taken a lot of planning and a considerable team effort to get to this stage and it’s fantastic that our customers will soon be able to see our refurbished Grand Central trains in operation.”
Dave Hatfield, Grand Central’s Fleet Director, said: “We’re delighted to reveal our rolling stock for our new North West to London route. These trains have been chosen because of their proven track record and suitability for the service that we will be operating.
“It’s exciting times ahead and we’re thrilled to be bringing our operational expertise and industry-leading customer service to this new route. We can’t wait to welcome our first passengers on board to experience travelling with Grand Central and look forward to offering more choice for existing rail users and new opportunities for people to travel by train.”
Steve Timothy, Stakeholder Director at Eversholt Rail said: “Eversholt Rail are delighted that Grand Central has chosen our MK4 coaches for its new North West to London rail service. We look forward to working with Grand Central and extending our successful working relationship with the Arriva Group.”
A spokesman for DB Cargo said: “We’re delighted to be working with our colleagues at Grand Central to provide such a range of valuable services for passengers in the North West.”
Grand Central’s North West to London services were approved in June 2018 by the Rail Regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.
Grand Central currently operates direct trains between towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East of England and London. The company has an industry-leading reputation for customer service and value for money and a track record of supporting and investing in local communities around its networks.
In a move which is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the North West, including a boost to tourism, Grand Central will operate up to five new direct train services between Blackpool North and London Euston every day of the week.
Blackpool will gain direct services to London on Sundays, as well as later trains to and from the capital on Mondays to Saturdays. Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham will each have new direct London services throughout the day, seven days a week.
All trains will also call at Preston and Nuneaton, with most stopping additionally at Milton Keynes, connecting leisure and business travellers to the capital and offering a choice of operator along with great value fares.
Grand Central has successfully recruited train drivers and is in the final stages of recruiting the onboard staff it needs for its Blackpool traincrew hub. More information can be found at www.grandcentralrail.com/careers
VTG Rail UK has agreed to supply the Cappagh Group of Companies with 100 new box wagons for the movement of construction materials. DCRail, the Cappagh Group’s rail freight operating company, is already using the first batch of wagons to convey recycled aggregates.
The new wagons have been designed specifically to optimise the movement of aggregates and construction spoil, with a design that maximises durability with a minimum tare weight. The design allows more material to be carried by each train and further improves the environmental performance of rail transport. Design features in the new wagons include a high impact floor that will reduce the risk of unloading damage and an integrated compact bogie braking system that minimises maintenance down time.
The wagons are key to providing efficient rail services for DCRail customers including those that will use a new freight hub being developed near Wembley in North London. With the capability to handle trains conveying over 2,200 tonnes of material, the new hub is set to become one of the most efficient rail terminals in the Capital. The use of rail will reduce the environmental impact of construction supply chains with each train carrying the equivalent of 110 lorry loads and saving significant CO2 emissions per tonne.
Ian Shaw, Sales & Marketing Director, VTG Rail UK, said: “We are delighted to be working on this project and look forward to seeing all the new wagons in operation. The construction sector is seeing significant activity right now and we anticipate 2020 to be a positive year for rail freight as more companies look to shift material away from the roads and onto rail.”
He went on to say: “These brand new, high-specification box wagons are optimised for the construction sector and are fitted with integrated brakes and track-friendly bogies. This means there is no vulnerable, and often less efficient, frame-mounted brake cylinders or rigging. This also helps us to implement our ‘bogie exchange’ maintenance regime which, using our float of spare bogies, minimises wagon downtime and maximises availability for our customers. As with all new VTG wagons, this fleet is fitted with our Connect GPS tracking system, allowing their location and condition to be monitored in real time. This purpose-designed system gives VTG and its customers a number of significant advantages in areas such as maintenance planning and resource utilisation.”
David Fletcher, Director – Rail, Cappagh Group, added: “This is a hugely exciting time for DCRail. In 2020 we will complete the delivery of our fleet of Class 60 locomotives and construction work at the new North London freight hub is now underway. The Cappagh aquamarine blue livery is being seen across the country and we are very pleased with the support provided by VTG on this project. The innovations in wagon design and expected high availability will allow DCRail to meet the demand for efficient rail solutions for the construction industry. Since the introduction of the first batch of wagons payload on DCRail services has already been increased by 15% and we look forward to further increasing the amount of freight moved by rail.”
ScotRail has been officially recognised by the Top Employers Institute as a Top Employer 2020 in the United Kingdom.
Organisations certified as Top Employers dedicate themselves to providing the very best working environment for employees through their progressive ‘people-first’ HR practices.
Independent research from the Top Employers Institute found that ScotRail provides exceptional employee conditions, nurtures and develops talent throughout all levels of the organisation and has demonstrated its leadership status in the HR environment.
ScotRail is committed to developing a workforce as diverse as the communities it serves.
Throughout 2020, the train operator will run a number of dedicated recruitment programmes to encourage more women and people from ethnic minorities to consider a career in the railway.
Gerry Skelton, ScotRail HR Director, said:
“We’re thrilled to be recognised as a Top Employer 2020 in the United Kingdom.
“As one of the largest companies in Scotland, ScotRail prides itself on supporting equality and diversity in the workforce.
“Over the course of this year, we’re going to do even more to attract more women and ethnic minorities into our driver, engineering and technical roles across Scotland.
“The people we employee will help connect communities, support business, boost tourism, and deliver a railway Scotland can be proud of.”
David Plink, Top Employers Institute Chief Executive Officer, said:
“To become recognised as a Top Employer, an organisation had to prove that the implementation of their people strategies enriches the world of work of their employees.
“ScotRail is a shining example of dedication to people practices as they continuously commit to empowering their employees for a better world of work.”
Major changes planned for East Midlands Railway (EMR) services from December 2020
Includes thousands of extra seats and quicker journeys to and from London St Pancras International
Consultation runs for 12 weeks and closes 14th February 2020
The public consultation into EMR’s December 2020 timetable is now open to passengers, businesses, stakeholders and local communities across the East Midlands route.
December 2020 will see a significant change to EMR services, particularly those travelling to and from London St Pancras International. It includes the segregation of services between EMR Intercity and the introduction of a new service, EMR Electrics, which will run between Corby and London St Pancras International.
Combined, these changes will provide:
Up to 30 minutes’ quicker journey times for some EMR Intercity services
Up to 13,000 additional standard class seats to and from London St Pancras every week day
Earlier morning and later evening services
Simpler and more consistent timetable with a more even spread of departure times
Improved services for London Luton and East Midlands Airports
There are also proposals for improvements to EMR Regional services, including:
Extending Crewe to Derby services through to Newark Castle, providing additional service between Derby and Nottingham
Later evening services between Leicester and Nottingham
Services from Grimsby will extend to Leicester every two hours, providing the first direct service to Nottingham and Leicester for over a decade
There are further timetable improvements proposed which are a step towards a more substantial improvement for EMR Regional services in December 2021. A further consultation for these changes will take place towards the end of 2020.
The consultation document is split by line of route and includes a separate page for each station on the Midland Main Line. This is intended to help passengers and communities easily understand what the proposals will mean for them and their journeys.
Julian Edwards, Managing Director, East Midlands Railway, said: “Our proposals for the December 2020 timetable would deliver a step change in capacity, improve journey times and introduce a simpler and more consistent timetable.
“Although some of the changes, such as the introduction of electric services between London and Corby, are a requirement of our franchise there is still the opportunity to fine tune and improve our plans.
“We know how important a reliable and punctual railway is for the towns and cities we serve. December 2020 is a vitally important part of our promise to deliver more seats, more services and better journeys for our customers and we look forward to your feedback.”
To read the proposals and respond to the consultation, please visit www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/december2020