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. 

Wednesday News Roundup

Around the news rooms from the past couple of days.

Apologies that this is a large amount but I have had a busy couple of days and thought this was easier than bombarding you. SD

Caledonian Sleeper names engine in honour of Railway Heritage Trust

(from left to right): Andy Savage, Deputy Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust; Kathryn Darbandi, Serco’s Managing Director for Caledonian Sleeper; Lady Judy McAlpine, Patron of the Railway Heritage Trust; John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight.

Caledonian Sleeper has today named one of the engines which powers its iconic cross border service in honour of the Railway Heritage Trust. Intended as a token of thanks for supporting the company’s major restoration project at Perth Station.

A listed building that dates back to 1848, Perth Station was designed on a grand scale in keeping with the Tudor Gothic style of the time. However, in 2018 the vast size of the station meant that many rooms were lying empty.

Caledonian Sleeper restored the interior décor of an unused waiting area to create a luxury guest lounge for its passengers as well as a staff training centre, breathing fresh life into the area and bringing it back into service. The Railway Heritage Trust provided a generous grant to help fund the refurbishment.

In recognition of this support, Caledonian Sleeper has teamed up with GB Railfreight, which operates the fleet of Class 92 engines that help power the company’s iconic overnight rail service, to name one of the engines in honour of the Trust. A plaque was unveiled on the engine at London Euston today to mark the occasion.

Kathryn Darbandi, Serco’s Managing Director for Caledonian Sleeper, said: “We’re honoured to be naming one of the Class 92’s after the Railway Heritage Trust and proud to have worked with the Trust on our restoration project at Perth Station.

“It’s incredibly important that we protect the heritage features of the UK’s iconic railway network, while also ensuring the network is fit for use in the 21st Century, so it can be enjoyed for many years to come.”

Andy Savage, Deputy Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust, added: ‘We are deeply grateful to Caledonian Sleeper and to GB Railfreight for allowing one of their Class 92 engines to carry the Railway Heritage Trust name.

“The Railway Heritage Trust operates across the whole of the Network Rail system, and it is appropriate that a locomotive that operates on the longest-distance services on the network carries our name to such a wide range of locations.”

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said: “We share the Railway Heritage Trust’s ambition to protect the UK’s historic railway network while modernising the vital infrastructure we all rely on.

“Given the cultural significance of Perth Station, we’re grateful for the support they’ve provided to Caledonian Sleeper and are proud to have one of our Class 92 locos carry the Trust’s nameplates.”

Transport for the North ‘ready and waiting’ to aid Government on rail reform plans outlined in Queen’s Speech

Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, has welcomed today’s Queen’s Speech, which included references to improving transport and delivering on the levelling up agenda. 

He said: “It is reassuring to hear clear mentions of the need for rail reform in today’s Queen’s Speech, something that we and our region’s political and business leaders have been calling for and contributing to. Combined with a focus on innovation and decarbonisation, and underpinned by the ongoing commitment to levelling up, this is a welcome commitment to enhancing connectivity.

Martin Tugwell (4)
Martin Tugwell Credit Transport for the North/David Oates

“We now need greater detail on the role of Sub-national Transport Bodies within the new Transport Bill, setting out how we can offer our regional insights and expertise to help deliver a new rail regulatory framework that puts passengers first. Transport for the North is ready and waiting to be at the forefront of the Government’s plans to make levelling up a reality and create a sustainable transport network across the North of England.” 

EMR launches real-time SMS alert service

EMR launches real-time SMS alert service: SMS Alert
  • SMS service allows customers to receive customised travel information
  • Designed for customers who don’t use social media, have a low data allowance or cannot access a strong signal 
  • SMS alert service part of EMR Messenger – which also offers more detailed updates via Facebook and WhatsApp

East Midlands Railway (EMR) customers with low data allowance, no social media accounts or without access to a strong mobile signal, can now receive customised travel information after the company launched a new SMS text service.

The SMS service, which is designed to be inclusive, provides customers with personalised journey updates, including platform information, as well as delayed and cancellation notifications.

Customers can opt-in to the service by visiting the live journey information page on EMR’s website and clicking ‘Keep Me Updated’, they will then be required to type in their mobile number.

The SMS alert function is part of EMR Messenger which was launched earlier this year. EMR Messenger also offers customers the option to receive detailed information via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp channels.

The SMS alert was introduced by EMR to make sure it is offering a inclusive service to customers. Allowing customers who live in areas with a poor signal, who don’t want to use social media, or have a low data allowance, access to up-to-date information to their mobiles.

Screenshot 2022-05-06 095938

Many SMS messages do not count towards mobile data allowances and many basic mobiles without a data plan can send and receive SMS messages. If in doubt, customers are advised to check with their mobile phone contract provider.

EMR Messenger is powered by revolutionary AI and data prediction technology developed by Midlands-based company Zipabout who has pioneered the use of personalised information services for rail passengers across the UK.

The service will provide EMR with unprecedented insight into the way people use its network, enabling the planning of smarter journeys.

Neil Grabham, Director of Customer Services at East Midlands Railway, said: “We understand that some customers do not use, or want to use, social media channels to be kept up to date with service disruptions. Likewise, some customers can only afford to use a phone with a low data allowance.

“This is about delivering consistent information across a range of platforms, in ways customers tell us they want to receive their updates. Some customers clearly prefer not to use their phone data allowance for travel information. In that instance, SMS messaging presents an alternative and convenient way to be kept up to date with key personal journey information.

“The SMS service will provide the core functions needed by customers to receive the latest information when they take a journey with us and we hope they will find it useful.”

Alex Froom, CEO at Zipabout, said: “SMS is reliable, user-friendly and a seamless way of communicating even in areas with poor signal. Offering SMS as another choice in how passengers receive personalised journey information shows the importance EMR places on the individual needs of their passengers.

“Despite the popularity of WhatsApp and Messenger, there are many passengers who choose not to use messaging apps for reasons including simplicity, privacy and accessibility and the launch of SMS updates ensures that they can still be kept in the loop about their journeys.”

Rail industry welcomes Queen’s Speech

Rail industry welcomes Queen's Speech: Parliament (c) Shutterstock

The Railway Industry Association, the voice of the UK rail supply community, has welcomed the Transport Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech, which includes plans to “improve” the railway industry.

His Royal Highness Prince Charles said: “Her Majesty’s Government will improve transport across the United Kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovation. Legislation will be introduced to modernise rail services and improve reliability for passengers.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “The railway industry will welcome the inclusion of a new Transport Bill in the Queen’s Speech today. However, it would have been good to see Great British Railways specifically mentioned in the Speech, to ensure we can make progress.

“With the introduction of rail legislation, RIA has set out ‘five tests’ for GBR as it is established. These include the need to ensure there is no hiatus in rail work as the restructure takes place, that the new organisation is transparent, open and accessible, and that it supports a sustainable rail supply sector which encourages private investment. The ultimate challenge is to ensure GBR leaves a positive legacy, when it comes to safety, decarbonisation, exports and the economy.

“RIA and our members now look forward to working with the Government, Parliamentarians, rail clients and stakeholders, as the Bill moves forward, ensuring UK rail delivers not just for passengers and freight users, but also the wider economy too.”

New rail timetable from THIS SUNDAY

Train operator, Northern’s new timetable comes into effect this Sunday (15 May).

The new schedules are designed to deliver better reliability and punctuality for customers.

On the majority of routes, Northern will maintain service levels established in December 2021 and some routes will see increased seat capacity and service uplifts. 

Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern said: “Customers are at the heart of everything we do, and the new timetables are designed to deliver high levels of reliability.

“We’ve made decisions about our timetables based on the levels of resource we have available and prioritising the routes with the highest customer demand, and which support the region’s economic growth.”

As part of the new schedule, these are the changes that will be introduced:

North West  

  • Improved calling patterns at Adlington and Blackrod 
  • Additional services to Blackpool and Cumbria from July 
  • Additional services on the Hope Valley line
  • Slightly reduced number of services on the Manchester Piccadilly-New Mills Central route
  • Increased seat capacity on the Settle and Carlisle line  

North East 

  • A small number of services removed on the Whitby – Middlesbrough line 
  • Additional services added between Darlington and Saltburn 

Yorkshire

  • Significant uplift on Yorkshire Wolds Coast line, between Bridlington and Hull
  • Increased seat capacity on the Settle and Carlisle line  

A small number of services have been removed on the following routes:

Ilkley – Leeds / Bradford 
Skipton – Leeds / Bradford 
York – Harrogate – Leeds 
Hull – Leeds – Halifax 
Leeds – Sheffield – Nottingham  
Leeds – Sheffield via Dearne  

Tricia added: “We fully understand the role we play in keeping people on the move and I am asking our customers to familiarise themselves with the new timetables ahead of the changes this Sunday, and to check carefully before any journeys to ensure their journeys go as smoothly as possible.”

Northern is the UK’s second largest train operator, with nearly 2,000 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

Don’t get caught out: Train times to change this Sunday

Train operator GWR is today reminding passengers that its timetables are changing from this Sunday. 

On Sunday 15 and Monday 16 May, the GWR summer timetable will begin, with services specifically designed to support changes in travel behaviour over the summer months. The vast majority of changes are minor timing alterations, and the train operator is urging passengers to check before travelling to avoid getting caught out.

Find out more about how your journey could be affected. 

The new timetable will see the doubling of services on the popular Dartmoor Line, following its successful reopening last November. The line reopened last November, restoring a regular, year-round GWR service for the first time in almost 50 years as the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway scheme, made possible to thanks to over £40 million of Government investment. 

Responding to changes in seasonal demand, GWR is to operate direct services between London Paddington and Newquay, providing a direct rail link to this ever-popular seaside town from May until September. More carriages have been added to Weymouth trains for the summer, with four-car formations wherever possible on Saturdays, which is the maximum that currently operate with the current station infrastructure. 

To cater for this weekend’s St Ives Food Festival, GWR is set to support the train service by running an extra bus shuttle service from 1000 on Saturday and Sunday and has even managed to be able to double parking capacity at St Erth. 

As well as the improvements between Exeter and Okehampton, the Exmouth to Paignton service has had provision made for the new station at Marsh Barton, with calls factored passively into this timetable. Axminster in Devon will also join the GWR network. While it is only one service a day to begin with, if demands warrants this could be the start of more frequent stops.   

The new timetable has been designed to support the south west’s economy and leading destinations; and to reduce costs where appropriate which is particularly important when considering the taxpayer support the rail industry continues to receive to run services. 

This means that GWR will not be able to retain all the current direct services to London that start at Bedwyn. Customers can still change at Newbury for onward travel. Direct services remain in place during peak hours.

To avoid duplication of Southern Railway services, the two GWR weekday trains that operate beyond Portsmouth to Brighton are also being removed. The services will still run to Warminster or Westbury. Very few people make the full journey from the Gloucester area where the services start, and making this change means GWR can strengthen the busy, hourly Cardiff to Portsmouth service to five carriages. Customers will be able to use these trains to make connections through to Brighton, which is already well served by other operators.

Limited access to Dawlish beach and promenade proposed this summer as Network Rail starts final phase of construction on new sea wall

The Town Gateway/Colonnade underpass in Dawlish is due to temporarily close next month as Network Rail begins a key stage of its construction on the second section of the new, bigger sea wall that is being built to protect the coastal railway and town from storms and rising sea levels.

From Monday 13 June for up to 12 weeks, the Town Gateway/Colonnade underpass is proposed to be closed for safety reasons while engineers install the foundations for a new bridge that will connect the two sections of new accessible public promenade and for the box culvert through which Dawlish Water will flow into the sea.

Engineers will be operating large and heavy machinery to install 20-metre-long foundations, required due to the poor ground conditions in this area. Safety is Network Rail’s number one priority, and the size and location of this machinery means the underpass therefore needs to be closed during construction.

During this time, the beach and Kings Walk promenade (opposite Marine Parade) will remain open and access will be via the stepped footbridge at Kennaway Tunnel. Upon crossing the footbridge, the beach can be accessed from Boat Cove slipway and Coryton Cove via its usual ramped or stepped access.

Every effort will be made to complete this work sooner where it is safe and possible to do so. If there are times during the construction when the underpass can be safely reopened, it will be, and this will be publicised on a weekly basis using local signage and via the South West Rail Resilience Programme (SWRRP) Facebook and Twitter pages.

This is the final critical aspect of this work to protect the railway and historic station. Delaying it until after the summer months is not possible due to the extreme weather that the Dawlish coastline can experience. Postponing this work would also prevent the second section of sea wall reopening to the public in September as planned.

Once complete it will link up with the first section of sea wall and mean residents and visitors alike will be able to walk along a wider and safer promenade from Boat Cove, south of Dawlish station, nearly a kilometre to Coastguard breakwater to the north before continuing uninterrupted to Dawlish Warren along the original sea wall. They will also enjoy step free access to the beaches and station.

Accessibility remains a core focus of this project and a number of improvements have already been made at Dawlish station for passengers with reduced mobility. The platforms have been refurbished making it safer and easier for passengers to step onto and off trains, and the installation of tactile paving on the edge of the platforms will improve accessibility for people with a visual impairment.

The design for the new fully accessible station footbridge with lifts has also now received prior approval from Teignbridge District Council with work to start later this year and the footbridge expected to open in 2023.

Julie Gregory, Network Rail Senior Sponsor, said: “I would like to apologise for any disruption the closure of the Town Gateway/Colonnade underpass may cause and sincerely thank residents, businesses and visitors for their patience and understanding while we complete this critical, final stage of construction.

“I appreciate this closure will be disappointing for the community, especially for people with accessibility needs or those with pushchairs and particularly during the busier summer months.

“However, we will never compromise on the safety of the public or our colleagues, and to ensure we remain on course to complete the second section of sea wall and open the entire promenade and both beaches in September, it is imperative this work is completed now.”

Work on the second stage of this £80m Department for Transport-funded project began in November 2020 and once compete this project will protect the town and railway from extreme weather and rising sea levels for generations to come.

For more information about this project, please visit the Dawlish sea wall – section two webpages; or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

For any additional questions or concerns about the work taking place, please call Network Rail’s dedicated 24-hour National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41, visit https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/contact-us/ or e-mail crwest@networkrail.co.uk.

Peter Grant MP visits Levenmouth Rail Link

As work continues to deliver the £116m Levenmouth Rail Link, Peter Grant, Member of Parliament (MP) for Glenrothes and Central Fife visited site to see first-hand progress that has been made on the project.

The plans for the Rail Link will see the construction of two new stations and the reinstatement of 19 single track kilometres of electrified railway which will reconnect Leven to the national rail network for the first time in more than half a century.

The local MP visited the site of what will be the new Cameron Bridge station and walked along the track bed to get a different perspective on the infrastructure that will be built, and the scale of the task to gain a better insight on what will be built and the scale of the challenge ahead for the project team.

Early progress has seen the reinstatement of the first section of rail to the west of the route at Thornton junction with significant work ongoing at a number of bridges along the six-mile corridor.

The team onsite is also currently working to finalise creation of the compound sites which will support the delivery of work over the next two years and preparing for the next phase of track works. 

It is also anticipated that work to strengthen the Leven Rail (Bawbee) bridge on behalf of Fife Council will get underway later this year – subject to planning permission for the diversionary route being agreed.

Completion of the branch line in Spring 2024 will see trains call at Cameron Bridge and Leven stations for the first time since 1969.

Peter Grant MP said: “While I was Leader of Fife Council the Council accepted my recommendation that restoring the Levenmouth Rail Link was our number one public transport priority. It’s taken a long time but with cross party support from MSPs, Councillors and MPs, as well as vital support from the people of Levenmouth, the Scottish Government confirmed in 2019 that the rail link would reopen.

“It is great to get an early opportunity to come on-site and see first-hand the work that has been happening since the start of the year and meet the project team who will make this line a reality for the local community.

“Providing low-carbon transport options will make this area more attractive for inward investment and will support growth in tourism, which will both, in turn, support communities and boost the local economy.

Martin McKinlay, Network Rail sponsor for the Levenmouth Rail Link said: “The new line will improve social and economic opportunities for people in the surrounding communities and we are working hard with local partners to maximise the positive impact the project will have right across the area.

“We appreciate that the project has been a long time coming for local people but the start of the delivery phase is an exciting development and shows that the Rail Link is well on its way to becoming a reality.

“It is great being part of a project that that has the potential to be massively positive for the area and to deliver something that will transform the lives of local people and the communities the railway will serve.”

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

Railway re-opens following train derailment at Coatbridge

Rail services have resumed after the route through Coatbridge Sunnyside was closed following the incident last Friday.

Network Rail re-opened the railway through Coatbridge Sunnyside this morning following a train derailment last week.

Normal service has resumed after engineers worked around-the-clock throughout the weekend to rerail the train and repair significant damage to the track.

Our team replaced four half switches – moveable sections of track which move trains from one line to another – while specialist ‘tamping’ equipment was also used to re-align other parts of the track.

No-one was injured during the derailment, which happened at around 21:30 on Friday 6 May, when the train was out of service and travelling at a low speed.

Liam Sumpter, Route Director, Scotland’s Railway, said: “Our team has worked tirelessly to carry out the necessary repairs to the track and signalling system, so that normal service could resume today.

“This was an incredibly complex and demanding recovery process that had to be carried out very carefully.

“The vehicle was removed without further damaging the railway infrastructure, which helped us re-open the route as quickly as possible.

“My thanks go to our passengers and the people of the nearby community for their understanding and patience while we worked to re-open the route.”

Four-day railway closure to ready railway for Commonwealth Games

Crucial parts of the railway are being replaced over a four-day railway closure between Birmingham Moor Street and Solihull next month.

Network Rail is investing £3m to overhaul switches and crossings – moving parts of track which allow trains from the Tyseley maintenance depot to get on and off the rail network.

It’s a key site for three key train operators – West Midlands Railway, CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways.

Any issues at the depot during the Commonwealth Games could cause major delays across the region, including risking overcrowding at key stations serving sports venues.

Replacing the complex equipment now will help train services run smoothly during this summer’s Games, which are expected to see more than one million extra passenger journeys across the West Midlands rail network.

The essential upgrades will mean there will be no through train services between Solihull, Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June.

Rail replacement buses will be in operation and people are advised to plan ahead at www.nationalrail.co.uk.

It’s the first time in a generation this part of the Chiltern main line will be completely shut for large scale work.

Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “We know there’s never an ideal time to close the railway and a mid-week closure for work like this is rare, but post-pandemic passenger numbers show weekdays are now the least disruptive time to close the railway for vital work.

“This programme of upgrades will improve the network not only at Tyseley but across the wider West Midlands, providing passengers with a cleaner, fresher, more reliable railway throughout our major summer of sport. It will also help to reduce the risk of platforms becoming overcrowded as a result of the predicted one million extra passenger journeys during the Commonwealth Games.”

Eleni Jordan, commercial & customer strategy director for Chiltern Railways, said: “Network Rail’s crucial track replacement work between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June will ensure that we can continue to provide a safe and reliable service for our customers across what is expected to be a busy summer on the railways in the West Midlands.

“We will be regularly communicating plans for rail replacement transport in and out of Birmingham. We advise that customers travelling during the closure check their journey on the Chiltern website or app before travelling.”

Jonny Wiseman, West Midlands Railway customer experience director, said: “These essential works will make a real, long-term difference to passengers by improving access to Tyseley depot where trains are cared for and refuelled.

“I would like to thank our customers for their patience while this work is carried out and I urge passengers travelling during this period to plan their journeys carefully as revised timetables and rail replacement buses will be in operation.”

Engineers and planners will make the most of the four-day railway closure to carry out a host of work, including:

  • Installing new rails, sleepers and ballast (railway foundation stone)
  • Stressing rails to cope better with hot weather
  • Removing overgrown plants and graffiti
  • Carrying out a deep clean of Birmingham Moor Street station itself

Doing this work further reduces future disruption to passengers and provides a more reliable rail network not only during the Games but for many years to come.  

It will also save millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money as doing this work outside of a full railway closure would normally take place over multiple weekends over an entire summer.

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

ScotRail’s half price seat sale kicks off

From Monday, 9 May until Sunday, 15 May, ScotRail will slash 50 per cent off all Off-Peak tickets, Monday to Friday, to encourage people across the country to return to Scotland’s Railway.

This fares offer, funded by the Scottish Government, is the latest ‘Yours to Use’ initiative from the newly publicly owned train operator, and is focused on welcoming customers back to rail as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.

Customers can book their discounted tickets between 9 and 15 May 2022 inclusive, with travel valid between 9 and 31 May 2022 inclusive.

The 50 per cent off tickets can be purchased in the following ways:

  • Online at scotrail.co.uk/sale
  • By phone on 0344 811 0153
  • Via the ScotRail app, using the promo code SRSALE in the railcards/promotions field

Available on all Off-Peak tickets on valid routes, there are massive savings to be had on train trips across the country. Valid for return travel within a month, Off-Peak return tickets are ideal for those planning a spring getaway, while an Off-Peak Day Return is just the ticket for a fun day out.

Plus, ScotRail’s Kids for a Quid can be used in conjunction with this offer, which means up to four children can travel, for £1 return each, with each adult.

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP said:

“In February, I set out the Scottish Government’s vision for a publicly owned ScotRail as a rail service which is focussed on passengers’ needs and interests and provides value for money to the taxpayer. This offer is further demonstration of our commitment becoming a reality.

“The Scottish Government understands that people are struggling right now and that the costs of travelling have risen sharply. We want to show people that travelling by train might offer an alternative. Clearly there is more to do to make rail travel more affordable all year round and our fair fares review will look at the cost of travelling on all modes of public transport.

“Our National Conversation on rail services will also help shape what ScotRail services should look like in the long term – allowing the public, staff and our Trade Union partners to be part of that future vision. Public ownership should mean railways that work for the people and deliver for our communities and this Government remains committed to doing just that, working in partnership with ScotRail.”

Lesley Kane, ScotRail Commercial Director, said:

“This fantastic offer will mean more people can get out and enjoy Scotland throughout the month of May, whether for a day out or a holiday, so make sure you buy your tickets before 15 May.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people travel, and it is an absolute priority for ScotRail to do everything we can to attract customers to Scotland’s Railway. This offer is a reminder that Scotland’s Railway is ‘Yours to Use’.

“Travelling by train has many advantages over other modes of transport, and it’s crucial that we not only get our pre-pandemic customers back, but also encourage more people to use the low-carbon alternative for their journeys.”

EMR announces the return of Skegness Summer Specials

EMR Press release 25/04/2022

East Midlands Railway (EMR) will use Class 180 trains for its Skegness Summer Special service this year – offering customers more luggage space as they travel to the seaside town. 

Class 180 trains are typically used on EMR Intercity services to and from London St Pancras International and are designed with more luggage space than the Class 156 trains which operate the majority of the Poacher Line services.

The Summer Special services, which will begin at Derby, as opposed to Nottingham, are intended to provide additional capacity and options for customers who want to travel to the seaside town this summer. Services will run every Saturday from 23rd July through to 10th September at the following times:

  • 0758 Derby – Skegness
  • 0923 Derby – Skegness 
  • 1142 Skegness – Derby 
  • 1344 Skegness – Derby 

The new May timetable, which begins on the 15th, will also see the return of four services which were removed due to low winter demand last year. 

The returning services are:

  • 0846 Nottingham – Skegness
  • 1114 Skegness – Nottingham
  • 1346 Nottingham – Skegness
  • 1614 Skegness – Nottingham

Neil Grabham, Customer Services Director for East Midlands Railway, said: “Our Skegness route is very popular with our customers in the summer and every year we help thousands of families as they head to the coast to enjoy all the treats the seaside getaway can offer.

“The Class 180 Intercity style trains will offer customers more luggage room, while the increase of the summer services will also provide people more options of when to travel.”

Alex Saul, Resort Director at Butlin’s Skegness said: “It’s great news to see more services coming to Skegness in time for our busy summer season. Increasing the service gives guests more options when planning their journey to resort for their holiday.

“With the return of our popular day visits, we know many guests will be using the train to enjoy a fun filled day at Butlin’s Skegness.”

Eastcroft Depot upgrade: First phase complete and new lighting investment secured

EMR Press release 20/04/2022

The first phase of East Midland Railway’s (EMR) £2 million upgrade of Nottingham’s Eastcroft Depot has been successfully completed – while further investment for safety lighting has also been secured.

Eastcroft Depot is at the centre of EMR’s Regional operations and provides essential maintenance for trains which provide services right across the country; from Crewe to Cleethorpes and Norwich to Liverpool.

The investment in Eastcroft will further support the development of EMR Regional services, as well as provide more capacity to stable three-carriage trains.

The first phase of the upgrade involved improving the depot’s train cleaning facilities and increasing the ability of the depot to stable more trains.

Phase two, which is now underway and originally only included the installation of additional fuel pumps, will now also include the construction of a new £360,000 lighting system. 

The lighting system, which will help to improve safety across the depot, is being jointly funded by EMR and Network Rail (NR) – with NR contributing £190,000. 

Neil Bamford, Fleet Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “We are making excellent progress with the Eastcroft Depot project and its great news that phase one has already been completed. 

“The depot is at the very heart of the EMR Regional service and these works will not only increase the capacity of the depot – but it will also help to support the further development of services.

“We would like to thank Network Rail for supporting the project. Its contribution towards the new lighting system underlines our industry’s strong commitment to work together to priortise safety.”

Deborah Fairweather, Senior Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We’re pleased to be supporting our partners at East Midlands Railway in delivering this huge upgrade at Eastcroft Depot. Investing in new lighting will not only improve safety for workers at the essential facility, but it will make for a nicer, brighter environment. It’s brilliant to see the first stage complete and I look forward to seeing the further improvements over the next few months.”

EMR launches personalised real-time Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp service for customers

©East Midlands Railway
  • Customers can access personalised real-time info over Messenger and WhatsApp
  • Service alerts customers to busy trains, platform changes and delays
  • Alternative travel route information a click away

East Midlands Railway (EMR) customers can now access customised travel information after the company launched its new messenger service.

EMR Messenger provides customers with personalised journey updates, including details of real-time disruption, alternative travel routes and busyness alerts, all delivered via the popular Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp channels. 
 
Customers can opt-in to the service on either channel by visiting the live journey information page on EMR’s website and clicking ‘Keep Me Updated’ or alternatively by searching for EMR directly on Facebook Messenger.

Personalised WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger alerts will then keep customers fully informed about their journey, including:

  • Real-time messaging, disruption alerts, alternative routes, platform changes, and delay repay messaging.
  • Journey planning and routing around disruption and predicted issues in real-time.
  • Busyness alerts, based on unique forecast demand data proven to be scientifically accurate by the University of Birmingham.
  • Journey watch: the option to select regular journeys and sign up for ‘push only’ updates, meaning customers will be informed if anything might affect their journey.

    Customers using the service on Facebook Messenger will also be able to access extra information, including:
  • Now & Next: a snapshot of the journey, on demand, including current arrival times, interchange details and multi-modal information all in one place.
  • Last mile support: welcome message before arriving at their destination offering onward journey support via all available transport modes (bus, e-scooters, taxi, walking, and cycling). 
  • Customer service support: quick access to EMR’s customer service team and station facilities information.
©East Midlands Railway

EMR Messenger is powered by revolutionary AI and data prediction technology developed by Midlands-based company Zipabout who has pioneered the use of personalised information services for rail passengers across the UK.

The service will provide EMR with unprecedented insight into the way people use its network, enabling the planning of smarter journeys.

©East Midlands Railway

Neil Grabham, Customer Services Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “We are always looking at better ways to keep our customers up-to-date with the latest travel information when they take a journey with us.

“This new service will enable customers to take control and get personalised details tailored to their needs, making sure they only get the information that is relevant and important to them.”

Alex Froom, Chief Executive of Zipabout, said: “Real-time information tailored to each individual is essential to improve customer experience and confidence when travelling by rail, and EMR Messenger delivers that straight to the hands of passengers. No need for yet another travel app, just personalised support at the right time and through the channels they trust.”

For more information please visit – https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/emr-messenger

5 minute read – Network Rail brightens up Nottinghamshire bridge to help tackle graffiti

©Network Rail

Network Rail has joined forces with an artist, East Midlands Railway and the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership to brighten up the road bridge at Netherfield station and help tackle graffiti near the railway.

Netherfield bridge – which carries Chaworth Road over the railway at Netherfield station – has been regularly targeted with graffiti.

Graffiti is illegal, often offensive and unpleasant for people in the community. Cleaning it costs millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and uses valuable time, which could be used making improvements to the railway.

After spending time covering and cleaning it, only to have to return to the site to do it all again, Network Rail teams worked with the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership, East Midlands Railway and Lincolnshire County Council to commission street artist, Lionel Stanhope, to brighten up the bridge.

The design is based on artwork by children from Netherfield Primary School and St John the Baptist Primary School.  

Bronnie Clarke, Programme Manager for Network Rail’s East Midlands Route, said: “The artwork on the bridge at Netherfield station looks fantastic. It has brightened up the area for passengers and people in the community – and welcomes visitors to the town.

“Network Rail is determined to tackle graffiti on and near the railway. We hope this work makes people think twice about targeting the area again.”

©Network Rail

Lionel Stanhope, artist, said: “It’s been a pleasure painting the walls at Netherfield Station this week. I think the design we all agreed on is a great mix of a strong Typography piece on one side ‘WELCOME TO NETHERFIELD’  and the local school children’s designs bringing vibrant colours and positive messages on the other side.”

Jo Andrews, Community Rail Officer, Poacher Line, said: “We were delighted to work with Network Rail and East Midlands Railway to improve the appearance of Netherfield station bridge. We engaged with the local community to create a vibrant mural which will enhance the station entrance and hopefully deter further instances of graffiti. This has been a lovely project to be involved with and a huge thank you to those who contributed to the design which included the children of Netherfield Primary School and St John the Baptist Primary School, Colwick.”

©Network Rail

Donna Adams, Community Engagement Manager for EMR said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Network Rail and the Poacher Line CRP to tackle the graffiti issues on Netherfield Station bridge. 

“The artwork from Lionel adds real flare and colour to a frequently tagged area and will be welcomed by the local community, it makes the entrance to the station much more pleasant.”

©Network Rail

Cllr Meredith Lawrence, Mayor of Gedling, said: “I’m delighted to see this project completed, as the bridge has suffered many unofficial graffiti over the years. It is good that local children can feel ownership in that they contributed to the design, and I am sure that they will be proud to see their work incorporated.

“The bridge spans the meeting of the Netherfield and Colwick wards, and as the local councillor for Colwick I am doubly delighted!”

If you see someone graffitiing on the railway, please report it to the British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016. You can also call Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

5 minute read – EMR celebrates 175th anniversary of Castle Line

©East Midland Railway
  • Events held to mark milestone for route 
  • Entertainment on board trains and stations 
  • Restored Lowdham signal box opens to public 

East Midlands Railway (EMR) has marked the 175th anniversary of the Castle Line by holding a series of events up and down the route. 

The line, which runs between Nottingham and Lincoln through towns and villages alongside the River Trent, opened on the 4th August 1846 as a 33 mile extension to the Derby to Nottingham route. George Stephenson surveyed the area and avoided engineering difficulties simply by following the route of the river. 

To mark the anniversary, EMR held a week of celebrations on the line, including entertainment on board trains, and at stations, with singer Jayne Darling, and a group of reenactors, dancing for passengers. 

AV301104
©East Midlands Railway

The official reopening of Lowdham signal box, which has been lovingly restored by David Moore, was also held. The signal box is a fascinating piece of history and provides an educational hands-on trip down memory lane, with people able to try out the signal box for themselves.

Station adopters were also part of the fun, working hard to spruce up their stations so they were ready for the anniversary. This work included installing a brand new train planter at Burton Joyce, which was named by the local primary school children. 

AV107459
© East Midlands Railway

Kaye Robinson, Community Rail Ambassador for East Midlands Railway, said: “We were delighted to mark this anniversary and highlight the history of the Castle Line, as well as promote all the hidden gems that the route connects. 

“I would like to thank everyone who helped us organise all the events, especially our station adopters who gave up many hours to make the week possible. I would also like to say a special thanks to Friends of Burton Joyce & Lowdham, as they were very much the catalyst for the celebrations and also thank you to David Moore who lovingly restored the signal box.”

5 minute read – EMR opens Assisted Travel Lounge at Nottingham station

©East Midlands Railway
  • Lounge provides focal point for customers who require assistance
  • Designed to be spacious and relaxing
  • New tactile paving also fitted to station platforms

East Midlands Railway (EMR) has created a new area at Nottingham station designed to provide a welcoming space for passengers who require assistance or need a calm place to wait for their train.

The Assisted Travel Lounge, which has been installed on the dispersal bridge at the station, provides customers who have booked passenger assistance a designated waiting area and a clear meeting point.

A member of staff will be on hand at the lounge to provide support for customers, with special consideration given to passengers with developmental, physical or impairment disabilities. 

Seating of various heights has been chosen to meet the needs of different customers, while the lounge has also been designed to be spacious – providing easy access for wheelchair users, mobility scooters and those with walking frames or visual impairments. Indeed, the lounge was created working in a collaborative way with EMR’s Accessibility and Inclusion panel –  listening and acting on its advice.

The station team has also worked hard to make the aesthetic of the lounge as calm as possible – choosing relaxing vinyls, contrasting colours and plants.

The new lounge accompanies other work at the station to improve accessibility for disabled passengers, including tactile paving being fitted so all platforms now include it.

The paving is designed to help visually impaired people to travel safely and independently, while ensuring that important safety information, such as proximity to the platform edge, is conveyed in a non-visual way.

©East Midlands Railway

Liz Silver, from Nottinghamshire Disabled People’s Movement, has a visual impairment and uses a long cane to help her get around. Along with other members of the group, she was invited to tour the new lounge and provide her feedback to the station team.

She said: “It is great that access issues are being addressed and that disabled people are being consulted and action taken as a result. I was particularly pleased with the range of seating in the new lounge. Some of it was higher than standard and this means that the seating can accommodate a range of access needs for different people.

“It’s also really positive that all the platforms at the station now have tactile paving along the platform edge, it will really reduce my stress levels when catching a train.”

Neil Grabham, Customer Services Director for East Midlands Railway, said: “We are delighted to open this lounge and provide our customers who require assistance a clearer way to get support. 

“We understand that for some customers a station can be a very difficult place to navigate or visit. That’s why we have made sure to design the lounge so it provides a calm and reflective space, away from the hustle and bustle of the main booking hall.”

EMR celebrates the iconic HSTs with farewell documentary

  • EMR have collaborated with AV IT Media to share the HST story
  • Documentary features archive footage, stunning new imagery and interviews with numerous EMR colleagues who have worked on and with these iconic machines
  • HSTs will remain an iconic piece of British engineering and a much-loved part of the railway
  • One-off bespoke items to commemorate the HST will also shortly be available to purchase

For many people, HSTs are so much more than just trains – they’re part of the railway family, that’s why EMR have teamed up with AV IT Media to produce a one-off documentary, featuring a range of colleagues who have worked with these trains as well as telling the story of how they have changed over their decades of service.

These much-loved trains retired on Saturday 15th May after 39 years of service on the Midland Main Line. EMR was determined to recognise this historic moment and provide the opportunity for people to speak about what the HSTs mean to them, and how they impacted on their career and lives on the railway.

Click below to view the full documentary ‘End of the line – A HST story’ (approx. 24 minutes). It can also be viewed through the EMR YouTube channel from today (Monday 24th May).

Will Rogers, Managing Director for EMR, said: “To this day, the HST remains an iconic piece of British engineering and a much-loved part of the railway. We wanted to celebrate the HSTs, in tribute to the people who have worked on them and loved them throughout their career. A documentary is the perfect way for us at EMR to say goodbye and wish the trains a happy retirement, we hope our customers enjoy watching it too.”

Neil Bamford, Fleet Director for EMR, said: “We were incredibly sad to see the HSTs go, we know this is the “end of an era” not just for our colleagues, but for enthusiasts who have followed the journey of our HSTs through the years. For many, they are much more than just a train. They’ve become a fundamental part of people’s lives.”

The documentary will remain a permanent tribute to the HST and will be freely available online for everyone to view in their own time

EMR is also going further and producing a range of bespoke items for anyone to purchase over the coming weeks and months.

EMR have also teamed up with ‘Brixes’ to create a limited edition ‘build your own HST,’ exclusively EMR purple livery. These will be available to purchase by the general public from July 2021. There is a limited quantity of these items available so any HST fans will need to be quick to purchase.

EMR have also created limited-edition farewell pin badges that will also be available to purchase on the website soon https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/

The people who were unable to be part of the documentary shared their memories as part of a memorabilia book, which has been issued to EMR staff as a lasting memento of these iconic trains.

To view a copy of our memorabilia book in electronic form, please click here: https://issuu.com/emr_ic/docs/emr_hst_memorabilia_book_e-version

Introducing EMR Connect – more seats and a simpler timetable on our greenest ever fleet

©East Midlans Railway
  • EMR Connect – the new electric train service between Corby and London St Pancras
  • Provides more seats and services every 30 minutes
  • Electric trains are quieter and kinder to the environment
  • Launches Sunday, 16 May

East Midlands Railway (EMR) will launch its new all-electric service between Corby and London St Pancras later this month.

EMR Connect, is the company’s first electric route, reducing carbon emissions by 77% and lowering noise levels for lineside neighbours. It also provides EMR’s sixth train to and from London every hour, up from the current five.

The new timetable is made possible by the successful delivery of the £1.5 billion Midland Main Line Upgrade by Network Rail, which includes new overhead line equipment between Bedford and Corby, as well as an additional track between Kettering and Corby.  

EMR Connect will be comprised of eight carriage electric trains serving Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton & Luton Airport Parkway every 30 minutes on weekdays from 06:00.

Services on Sunday afternoon will also be significantly improved, with a full weekday timetable running after 14:00 – providing better access to and from London and the East Midlands.

It will provide more seats for passengers across the region – with further late night and early morning services – and will allow the reintroduction of peak services between Wellingborough and Bedford, meaning passengers will not need to use the replacement coach service.

The trains which will operate EMR Connect are known as Class 360’s. EMR had hoped to refurbish a number of these trains before they entered service. However, as a result of delays caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, that has unfortunately not been possible. EMR is fully committed to refurbish these trains as swiftly as possible and will share more information on this programme soon.

Passengers wanting to use EMR’s Intercity service north of Kettering will be able to make a northbound connection, twice an hour at the same times, every hour, and with coordinated interchange times, the total journey time to Leicester and Nottingham remain the same as today.

©East Midlands Railway

Will Rogers, Managing Director of East Midlands Railway, said: “We are delighted to be able to introduce our new all-electric EMR Connect service for our passengers travelling between Corby and London St Pancras.

“Not only will EMR Connect enable a significant reduction in carbon emissions and noise levels, it will also provide more seats, later services and more frequent journeys helping to support the communities and businesses of the region.”

EMR Connect will transform the services in the region including the following changes:

Corby

  • More than doubles the current number of services to and from London
  • Providing thousands of additional seats every day and increases the number of trains arriving into London before 9am from one to six
  • Last direct service back from London is now four hours later – making it easier to visit London or meet friends

Wellingborough

  • Average journey time remains comfortably under 60 minutes with a more consistent timetable with services in both directions every 30 minutes
  • First train arrives into London approximately 20 minutes earlier than today
  • A limited EMR Intercity service will operate in the morning and evening to provide direct journeys to and from Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield
  • Wellingborough passengers travelling to/from Nottingham at other times of the day will need to change at Kettering, however connection times are generally under 10 minutes, retaining current journey times in the vast majority of instances

Bedford

  • Reintroduced EMR peak time services and a consistent timetable with services in both directions every 30 minutes
  • Journeys to and from London will take approximately 41 minutes
  • Peak time bus between Wellingborough and Bedford replaced by train services every 30 minutes
  • A limited EMR Intercity service will operate in the morning and evening to provide direct journeys to Nottingham and Leicester
  • Bedford passengers travelling to/from Nottingham at other times of the day will need to change at Kettering, however connection times are generally under 10 minutes, retaining current journey times in the vast majority of instances

Luton

  • Reintroduction of EMR peak time services for Luton with services in both directions every 30 minutes
  • Journeys to and from London St Pancras will take approximately 25 minutes
  • Bedford passengers travelling to/from Nottingham will need to change at Kettering, however connection times are generally under 10 minutes, retaining current journey times in the vast majority of instances

Luton Airport Parkway

  • Non-stop services form London St Pancras International, every 30 minutes
  • A consistent timetable with services in both directions from 06:00 with journeys to and from London taking just over 20 minutes.
  • When complete, the new DART service will provide a rail link from Luton Airport Parkway to the airport terminal

Look out for the East Midlands Railway Class 360 on our Bedford and Flitwick cameras, let’s see your screen captures #SawItOnRailcam