Rail strike news

Although most of these press releases will repeat information, I thought it best to include all and allow you to find those operators relevant to your area.

Railway prepares for network-wide RMT strike

The railway in Scotland is preparing for network-wide strike action by the RMT union on 21, 23 and 25 June which will severely limit the number of services operating for passengers and freight.

RMT members from Network Rail Scotland and cross-border train operators LNER, CrossCounty, Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express will be taking part in the industrial action.

ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper staff are not participating in the strike, but their services will also be disrupted.

The rail industry is working hard to put plans in place to run as many trains as possible for customers on strike days.

The strike will mean a very limited train service will be running as a reduction in available staff, including signallers, will mean many rail lines cannot operate.

The railway will only operate for part of the day on strike dates, with services running from around 07:30 to around 18:30.

Services on the days following strike action will also start later in the morning due to the knock-on impact of industrial action on shift patterns.

On strike days, services in Scotland will be running on some Central Belt and cross-border routes only, including:

  • West Coast Mainline
  • East Coast Mainline
  • Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High
  • Edinburgh – Bathgate
  • Glasgow – Hamilton/Larkhall
  • Glasgow – Lanark
  • Edinburgh – Glasgow via Shotts.

Passengers can find more information about their journey by visiting National Rail Enquiries or checking with their individual operator.

Avanti West Coast
CrossCountry Trains
LNER
Transpennine Express

ScotRail
Caledonian Sleeper
Lumo
West Coast Railways (The Jacobite).

If you’re unsure who your train operator is, or if you’d like to find out more general information, visit National Rail Enquiries for more details. 

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland route director, said: “We understand the disruption this strike will cause and apologise to passengers for the impact on their journeys.

“We are continuing talks with our trade unions to seek a compromise that would avoid this damaging strike action.

“Our industry has been deeply affected by the pandemic, with passenger numbers still at only 75% of pre-covid levels. We must modernise to put our railway on a sound financial footing for the future and reduce the burden on taxpayers.

“We are working hard to run as many trains as possible on strike days for our passengers and freight customers to keep as many people moving as we possibly can.”

Digital-Industrial Action CBYT 1000x1000px

Rail ‘strike day’ timetables outlined as passengers urged to plan ahead and only travel by rail if necessary

  • Coordinated industry contingency plan will see very limited timetable available on strike days with around 20% of services running
  • Trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual, between 7.30am and 6.30pm
  • Passengers asked to plan ahead, check before they travel, to expect disruption and only travel if necessary

The finishing touches are being made to a special railway timetable that will be in operation across England, Scotland and Wales from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th June (inclusive). The special timetable, to be published on Friday, aims to offer the best service possible for passengers and freight users despite the unwarranted industrial action planned next week by the RMT union.

Thousands of specially trained and fully qualified back-up staff will step-in during the planned RMT walk-outs on 21st June, 23rd and 25th to keep vital services running, but as they are a fraction of the usual workforce, only a severely limited service will be available.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Talks have not progressed as far as I had hoped and so we must prepare for a needless national rail strike and the damaging impact it will have. We, and our train operating colleagues, are gearing up to run the best service we can for passengers and freight users next week despite the actions of the RMT.” 

Only around half of Britain’s rail network will be open on strike days with a very limited service running on lines that will only be open from around 7.30am until 6.30pm.

Passengers who must travel are urged to plan ahead to ensure that they can complete their journeys within this window, with last services from London to Scotland, for example, leaving in the early afternoon.

Steve Montgomery, Chair of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “These strikes will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and those attending important business and leisure events.

“Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times.

“Taxpayers have provided the equivalent of about £600 per household since covid and passenger numbers are still only at around 75% of pre pandemic levels. We need to bring rail up to date so that we attract more people back and take no more than our fair share from the public purse.

“We ask the RMT’s leadership to call off these damaging strikes and continue talks to reach a deal that is fair to staff and taxpayers, and which secures a bright, long-term future of our railways.”

On the days that follow the strikes (22nd, 24th and 26th June) the whole network will reopen but passengers should also expect disruption on these days as the strike days chosen have been designed to inflict as much disruption as possible, with not enough time between the strike days to fully recover to a normal service.

Further information for passengers is available on the National Rail website.

The special timetable will also ensure key freight services can continue to move around the country, minimising disruption for consumers and businesses and allowing vital goods to continue to be shipped where needed.

Avanti West Coast strongly advises customers to only travel if absolutely necessary on strike days

Avanti West Coast confirms issues travel advice ahead of national rail strikes. 

  • Avanti West Coast publishes amended timetable for national rail strike days
  • Customers who have to travel asked to expect disruption and plan ahead
  • Significantly reduced service means trains expected to be very busy, with shorter hours of operation, and less frequent services

Avanti West Coast is strongly advising customers to only travel if absolutely necessary on upcoming strike days as it prepares to operate a significantly reduced timetable.

The amended timetables for the first two strike days are being published today on Avanti West Coast’s website: https://www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/travel-information/plan-your-journey/strike. Further timetables will be published on that page in due course.

On strike days the intercity operator is running approximately 25% of its typical weekday timetable on Tuesday 21 and Thursday 23 June, and around a third of its typical Saturday timetable on 25 June, as part of the industry’s response to coordinated industrial action by the RMT union across train operators and Network Rail on those dates.

With fewer services running, trains are expected to be very busy, and customers are being strongly advised to only travel if absolutely necessary on a strike day. Customers are being advised to expect severe disruption and plan ahead if they do travel. The day after industrial action is also likely to be affected.

As part of its contingency plans, Avanti West Coast expects to run one train per hour from Euston to each of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Preston with a limited service to Glasgow.

These trains will operate during limited hours* – with the first train of the day departing Euston just before 8am and the last train of the day from Euston departing mid-afternoon.  

The significantly reduced timetable will mean North Wales, Shrewsbury, Blackpool and Edinburgh have no Avanti West Coast services on strike days (21, 23 and 25 June).

Customers who need to travel on strike days are advised to plan ahead, make a reservation when they are available and check the Avanti West Coast website and those of other train operators, before travelling.

Customers with tickets for travel from Tuesday 21 June to Sunday 26 June, can use those tickets anytime between now and Monday 27 June. Alternatively, a full refund can be claimed with no admin fees if you have tickets for Tuesday 21 June to Sunday 26 June.

Managing Director of Avanti West Coast, Phil Whittingham, said: “We are disappointed with the decision to go on strike, which we believe is premature and will cause untold misery for customers. We would urge the RMT not to press ahead with industrial action and to work with us on securing the long-term future for the rail service.

“We’ll be running an amended timetable on strike days with fully-trained staff onboard and at stations across our network for our customers, but we’ll be operating a significantly reduced service. As a result, our trains may be very busy and destinations will be served less frequently, if at all. We’re strongly advising customers to only travel where absolutely necessary on our route on strike days and instead make their journeys on alternative days or claim a full refund.

“We understand some people will have no choice but to travel and they should check our website for the latest updates before travelling. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our customers in advance for their patience.”

Due to the different signalling system in use on some parts of the West Coast Main Line, which is more resource-intensive to operate, the intercity operator is unable to stop trains at Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport, as well as Runcorn, on strike days and these stations will not be open.

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “We’re working hard with all train operators including Avanti West Coast to run the best service we can for passengers and freight users next week despite the actions of the RMT. If the damaging strikes go ahead as planned a special timetable will be in place.

“Thousands of trained and fully qualified back-up staff will step in during the planned RMT walk-outs. With a fraction of the usual workforce available, including signallers who safely move trains around the network, there will be a severely limited service, and many routes won’t be served at all. We’re asking passengers to plan ahead, follow the advice of their train operator and only consider travelling next week if it’s really necessary to do so.”

Avanti West Coast will also not serve Wilmslow due to operational reasons.

National Rail strike: Only travel if your journey is essential on Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink between 21 and 26 June

  • RMT members of Network Rail and other train operators are striking 21, 23 and 25 June
  • Very few trains every day throughout 21-26 June inclusive – crowding expected
  • No service at all on many lines on strike days, with late starts and early finishes throughout
  • Those who attempt to travel should check first and last trains for their specific station

Passengers should only travel if absolutely necessary on Gatwick Express, Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink during next week’s strike by RMT members of Network Rail and other train operators.

Operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) warns there will be very few trains every day from the start of the industrial action, on 21 June, until Sunday 26 June inclusive with crowding expected, particularly on last trains and possible delays.

There will be no service at all on many lines on strike days (21, 23 and 25 June) (see map) and there will be late starts and early finishes – as early as late afternoon – throughout the period. See notes to editors for more details.

GTR has been in touch with schools, colleges and hospitals to notify them of the impact of the RMT strike action.

Although RMT members at GTR voted only for action short of a strike, the operator depends on Network Rail signallers and engineers to keep its trains moving, and its services connect with many lines and stations managed by other operators whose staff are taking action.

Angie Doll, Chief Operating Officer, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: 

“We’re sorry to say that people should only travel by rail between 21 and 26 June if absolutely necessary due to strike action by RMT members at Network Rail and other train companies. Unfortunately, there will be very few train services and some routes will be closed altogether on strike days.

“Services will start much later than normal and finish early. All this may lead to very busy trains and possible delays. Passengers should plan ahead and think about travelling at another time.

“Strikes are terrible for passengers, especially as the country is starting to recover from the pandemic and return to rail. We urge the RMT to work with Network Rail and train operators to find a swift solution.”

Network Rail Route Director Mark Killick said:

“We’re so sorry for the disruption next week and we know how difficult this will be for our customers so soon after the pandemic. We’ve trained 250 staff so we can keep some of the busiest lines open, focusing our resources on the routes that can keep the largest numbers of customers and freight moving and serving vital locations such as hospitals. That said, we will not compromise on safety and the strike does mean that large parts of the network will be closed.

“We are continuing to work with unions to find a solution and will keep doing so. But we also have to be honest and accept that we have to change the way we work, to reflect the changes in society and travel patterns post pandemic. Again, I’d like to apologise to everyone who find their journeys disrupted next week and urge our customers to check before they travel.”

South Western Railway announces strike timetable

South Western Railway announces strike timetable: SWR logo-2
  • Due to the planned national strike, SWR customers are urged only to travel by rail if absolutely necessary between 21 and 26 June 
  • SWR will run a severely reduced timetable on strike days (21, 23, 25 June), with significant parts of the network closed 
  • A severely limited service will run between 07:15 and 18:30 on some routes for those who have no choice but to travel 
  • SWR will run a late-starting Sunday level of service across the network on 22, 24 and 26 June

South Western Railway (SWR) is urging customers only to travel by rail if absolutely necessary on the planned strike days – Tuesday 21, Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June – and throughout that week.  

Customers should expect severe disruption and, if they have to travel, should seek to do so by other means.  

This comes as SWR published their strike day timetable, which will provide a very limited service on the routes Network Rail have made available. The reduced timetable will see significant parts of the network closed entirely and those trains that are running will be far less frequent compared to normal.   

Network Rail and more than 2,100 SWR RMT members are set to take strike action on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June, causing severe disruption. Network Rail will provide contingency cover for critical roles including electrical control room operators, signallers, maintenance and response teams, but will not be able to cover the whole day. 

SWR’s reduced timetable will run from 07:15 to 18:30 on the three strike days, and will consist of:  

  • Four trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Windsor via Hounslow 
  • Two semi-fast trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Basingstoke  
  • Four trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Woking 
  • Two fast trains per hour in each direction between Waterloo and Southampton 

NB – Trains will not stop at all stations on these routes. 

Island Line services will not be affected by the industrial action 

There will be no SWR services across the rest of the network. 

Significant disruption is also expected on Wednesday 22, Friday 24 and Sunday 26 June, when the network will not be operational before 07:30 and a Sunday level of service will operate throughout the day.  

South Western Railway’s Managing Director, Claire Mann, said:  

“The sheer scale of this planned industrial action severely limits the number of trains we can run and routes we can serve, which is reflected in the reduced timetable we have published today.  

“With this disruption set to be so considerable, I regretfully urge customers to only travel by rail if absolutely necessary between Tuesday 21 and Sunday 26 June.

“I am sorry these strikes will cause such disruption and am grateful to our customers for their patience and understanding as the rail industry works to bring this damaging nationwide action to an end.” 

Network Rail route director Mark Killick said:

“We’re so sorry for the disruption next week and we know how difficult this will be for our customers so soon after the pandemic. We’ve trained 250 staff so we can keep some of the busiest lines open, focussing our resources on the routes that can keep the largest numbers of customers and freight moving and serving vital locations such as hospitals. That said, we will not compromise on safety and the strike does mean that large parts of the network will be closed.

“We are continuing to work with unions to find a solution and will keep doing so. But we also have to be honest and accept that we have to change the way we work, to reflect the changes in society and travel patterns post pandemic. Again, I’d like to apologise to everyone who find their journeys disrupted next week and urge our customers to check before they travel.”

Customers are urged to check the SWR website for latest information at www.southwesternrailway.com/strike  

Northern advises customers DO NOT TRAVEL during the week of RMT industrial action

Northern Train 2022

Northern Trains is asking customers not to travel on its services between 21 – 26 June because of industrial action by the RMT

The whole of the rail network is affected by strikes, planned for Tuesday 21, Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June.

Northern is currently working with Network Rail to agree what services it can run with the industry prioritising essential routes on mainlines and routes in to major cities.

Therefore, the train operator is expecting to run a very limited timetable and is suggesting customers do not travel on the strike dates and, wherever possible, not to travel on those in-between as well. Customers should try to find alternative transport if their journey is essential.

Details of the services able to run will be released as soon as possible to customers. They are advised to visit northernrailway.co.uk/travel/strikes for the latest advice and information.

The timing of the strike action has a knock-on effect on the days in-between with disruption of operations, the displacement of their trains across the network and shift patterns.

In response to the RMT announcing strikes, Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, said: “Our ability to get customers where they want to be will be significantly impacted and our advice, regrettably, is simply not to travel during the week of strike action.

“We apologise in advance for the disruption and inconvenience that the RMT’s industrial action may cause. We continue to be keen to speak to the RMT to find a resolution and avoid any strikes.”

Northern usually runs nearly 2,000 services a day to 540 stations across the North of England.

Only travel if necessary and expect severe disruption, GWR warns as RMT strikes set to impact trains all week

Significantly reduced timetable announced, with only 30% of services operating on strike days

Train operator GWR has announced its planned timetable to operate next week as industrial action by the RMT union at train operators across the industry and Network Rail is expected to severely affect services from 21 to 25 June.

GWR is warning people to expect severe disruption and to only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.

GWR will operate as many trains as possible during the strike action however, most train services will be affected on the days announced. Due to the timing of the strike action, services in between strike days will also be affected.

On strike days the operator is aiming to provide about 30% of its usual timetabled services, and about 50% on non-strike days.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“We very much welcome the opportunity to continue to talk with the RMT to avert strike action. Any strike will impact on customers’ journeys and can only damage the post-covid recovery everyone at GWR has been working to win back, while at the same time making it more difficult to deliver the changes we need to secure jobs and services for the future. 

“I’m hopeful the RMT will step back, however colleagues have been working hard to put contingency plans in place and give certainty to customers who need to travel. The priority will be to keep trains running and customers moving safely, but changes will be needed to allow that to happen and customers may wish to alter their plans.” 

Where trains are able to run, they are expected to be extremely busy and replacement bus services are not able to be provided.

On the days of strike action, 21, 23 and 25 June, GWR expects to only be able to operate services along the following routes and stations:

GWR Strike services operating

On days when strike action is not taking place GWR expects to be able to operate the following reduced, service:

GWR Intermediate days strike services operating

Online journey checkers are expected to be updated with the latest timetable information on the following dates:

DateStrike/non-dayTimetable Publication Date
Monday 20 JuneNon-strike dayThursday 16 June
Tuesday 21 JuneStrike dayThursday 16 June
Wednesday 22 JuneNon-strike dayFriday 17 June
Thursday 23 JuneStrike dayThursday 16 June
Friday 24 JuneNon-strike dayFriday 17 June
Saturday 25 JuneStrike dayTuesday 21 June
Sunday 26 JuneNon-strike dayTuesday 21 June

Customers who have already purchased tickets can claim a full refund or can amend their ticket; those who travel and are delayed may be entitled to delay repay compensation if they are delayed by 15 mins or more. Season ticket holders can apply for compensation through the Delay Repay scheme.



To help customers, GWR is allowing people with tickets for travel on strike days to be able to travel on the day before and up to two days after. 





Our Refund and Book with Confidence policies will remain in place and we will update this page with more information if the current situation changes.

RMT CALLS FOR FACE TO FACE MEETING WITH SHAPPS

RMT calls for face to face meeting with Shapps

Rail union RMT has called for a face-to-face meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to avert strike action on the rail network next week.

The railways will be shut down for 3 days on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, when workers from Network Rail and 13 train operating companies take to picket lines across the country in a row over pay and job losses.

In a letter to Grant Shapps, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch says it has become clear that the Treasury is “calling the shots” and is not allowing rail employers to reach a negotiated settlement with the union.

Mr Lynch writes: “I am writing to seek an urgent meeting with the government, without any pre-conditions, to discuss the national rail disputes prior to the planned strike action next week and I would be grateful if this could be arranged without delay. As you will be aware both this year and last year, meetings have taken place under the Rail Industry Recovery Group (RIRG).

“…it has become obvious in our discussions with employers since the RMT ballot result that the government is retaining control over the conduct of negotiations with the RMT, and the Treasury in particular is calling the shots.”

“In effect in recent weeks the union has been negotiating with the government, but the government have not been in the room.

“I am now therefore calling for a meeting with you and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak. I also note the government have decided to have a parliamentary debate on the dispute today. So, as well as speaking at the despatch box about the dispute, I hope you will be able to speak to me directly about resolving the dispute.”

shappsletter150622

TransPennine Express asks customers only to make essential journeys during week of RMT strike action

TransPennine Express (TPE) is calling on its customers to think carefully about their travel options and to only make essential journeys during planned RMT strike action next week.

The union has announced industrial action on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23, and Saturday 25 June and, with an amended timetable in place, TPE is warning the very few services it is able to run each day will be extremely busy. There will also be significant disruption to services on days either side of the strike action.

Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director at TransPennine Express said: “Due to the RMT action we will only be able to operate around 10 per cent of our usual daily services. Alongside other operators, we simply won’t be able to provide journeys for the tens of thousands of customers who would normally rely on us and any services we are able to run will be extremely busy.

“Therefore, we’re asking our customers to think carefully about their travel across the whole of next week and to only make essential journeys by rail. People should, where possible, consider alternative modes of transport.”

On the days of RMT strike action, TPE will operate a small number of services on just four routes (Newcastle – Edinburgh, Sheffield – Cleethorpes, Manchester Airport – Preston and Manchester Piccadilly – York), with the vast majority of its managed stations closed with no rail or replacement service available for customers.

Kathryn added: “We will do all we can to provide the best possible service for our customers, but with the limited timetable and trains starting later and finishing earlier than usual we need all our customers to plan essential journeys carefully.

“It’s extremely disappointing that RMT has chosen to take strike action which will not only cause significant disruption for our customers, but will also damage the recovery of the rail industry.

“Like many other industries, rail is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and the latest strikes – which follow almost five months of industrial action by RMT – only serve to put this recovery at risk.

“We remain open for talks with the union, but any talks must be realistic, affordable and take into account the context of the environment in which the rail industry is now operating.”

Customers who need to make essential journeys should visit the TPE website (www.tpexpress.co.uk) or National Rail Enquiries for the latest timetables and information.

Anyone planning journeys should check carefully, up to the last minute, as there is potential for delays and further cancellations. Bikes will not be permitted onboard TPE services on strike days.

Customers strongly encouraged not to travel on 21 June, ahead of week of travel disruption across TfL and national rail services

TfL Press Release - Customers strongly encouraged not to travel on 21 June, ahead of week of travel disruption across TfL and national rail services: TfL Image - London Underground Roundel

  • On Tuesday 21 June, the RMT and Unite unions are planning 24-hours of strike actionTfL expects severe disruption or no service on all Underground lines
  • Customers are strongly encouraged not to travel on TfL services on 21 June and before mid-morning on Wednesday 22 June, unless absolutely necessary
  • Strike action on national rail services is also taking place on 21 June and will impact London Underground, Overground and Elizabeth line services from 21 to 26 June.
  • Further strike action will also impact national rail services until 26 June. Plan ahead and check before you travel
  • Strike action has been called despite there being no proposals to change pensions and no job losses

Transport for London (TfL) is strongly encouraging people not to travel on Tuesday 21 June and early on Wednesday 22 June, unless absolutely necessary, due to planned industrial action being taken by the RMT and Unite unions. This comes ahead of a week of travel disruption across the country, which will impact London Underground, Overground and Elizabeth line services between 21 and 26 June.

TfL expects severe disruption or no service on all London Underground lines on Tuesday 21 June if the strike action goes ahead, with no services running before 08:00 on Wednesday 22 June. Customers are encouraged to avoid making journeys on 22 June until mid-morning.

If customers cannot avoid travelling on 21 June, they should expect severe disruption or no service on the Tube, and plan ahead and leave more time for journeys. Customers using any Underground services that are running are advised to complete their journey by 18:00. Bus services will be extremely busy. For the latest information on how TfL services are operating, please use TfL’s real-time travel tools, including status updates, Journey Planner and TfL Go. Travel advice for the strike action is available at tfl.gov.uk/tube-strike.

Services that are running on 21 June, including buses and DLR, are likely to be extremely busy with queues to board. Customers using DLR services from stations also served by London Underground are advised to check before they travel due to possible station closures for safety reasons. Walking or cycling may be quicker for some journeys and planning tools are available to plan walking journeys. Santander Cycles will be available, with teams ensuring that bikes are distributed at key locations according to demand. Rental e-scooters are also available to hire in some London boroughs.

The RMT and Unite’s action on Tuesday 21 June coincides with RMT strike action across national rail services on the same day, limiting alternative travel options. There are further strikes planned on national rail services on Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June, which will impact parts of the TfL network and mean customers connecting with national rail services should check before they travel. 

There will be a reduced service on the London Overground and Elizabeth line on the days when strike action is planned – 21, 23 and 25 June – due to the national rail strike and its impacts on shared track and assets. The London Overground will run a reduced service between 07:30-18:30 on these days. On Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June, London Underground will operate as much of the network as possible, However, disruption is expected from Queen’s Park to Harrow & Wealdstone on the Bakerloo line, on the Richmond and Wimbledon branches of the District line, on the Waterloo & City line, and on the Elizabeth line. There is also the potential for disruption due to the strike impacting London Underground staff availability, meaning customers should still check before they travel.

Disruption from the national rail strike will continue to affect customers on the mornings when no strike action is planned, so on Wednesday 22, Friday 24 and Sunday 26 June. London Underground customers using sections of lines affected by national rail strike action are encouraged to avoid making journeys until mid-morning on each of these days.

In addition, continued RMT strike action on Night Tube services is planned on the evening of 24 and 25 June. Despite this strike action, TfL is running a good service on the Victoria line and a regular service on the Jubilee line, with at least three trains per hour. There’s also a regular service on the Central line with at least two trains per hour through central London.

Andy Lord, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “I want to apologise to customers who will be impacted by the RMT and Unite’s strike action next week. The action on 21 June, taking place at the same time as the national rail strike, will have a severe impact on the London Underground network, resulting in very little to no service on all lines, which is why we’re encouraging people to avoid travel unless completely necessary, as the majority of Tube stations will be closed and services not running.

“Alternatives to the Tube are likely to be much busier than usual and we expect the severe disruption caused by this strike to continue into the morning of Wednesday 22 June. I’m very sorry for the impact this will have on people’s journeys.

“This strike is particularly frustrating as it comes so soon after industrial action earlier this month, no changes have been proposed to pensions and nobody has or will lose their job as a result of the proposals we have set out. We’re urging the RMT and Unite to call off this strike and to work with us to find a resolution and avoid the huge disruption this action will cause to people’s journeys and to our economic recovery.”

This disruptive action comes as part of separate disputes with both the RMT, over pensions, jobs and conditions, and with Unite over pay. This is despite the fact no proposals have been tabled on pensions or terms and conditions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals TfL has set out. TfL met the RMT and Unite unions at the conciliation service ACAS this morning and, although no resolution was reached, is keen to take part in further talks in the hope that this strike can be called off. Pay talks with Unite and other recognised unions in the area are due to start imminently.

As part of previous funding agreements, the Government has required TfL to work towards achieving financial sustainability on its operations by April 2023. This means TfL must speed up its pre-pandemic savings programme. As part of this, TfL has been engaging with its trade unions and staff to seek their views on how it can make London Underground more efficient and financially sustainable, while continuing to deliver the highest standards of safety, reliability and customer service. TfL has committed to its staff and trade unions that the safety of staff and customers will always remain paramount and the changes will protect as many jobs as possible for the people who work for TfL today, allowing more flexibility to adapt to changing customer requirements.

TfL has proposed not recruiting into around 500 to 600 posts as they become vacant – including 250 currently unfilled Tube station posts. London Underground stations will remain staffed at all times while trains are operating, with more than 4,500 station staff available across the network to assist customers and keep them safe, supplemented by enforcement teams and police. This will bring staffing levels in line with customer need while protecting as many jobs as possible. TfL is urging the RMT to work with it to find a resolution and avoid the disruption and damage another strike will cause to London and the economy.

Further information will be available ahead of, and during, the strikes on TfL’s website as well as on Journey Planner and TfL Go.  

News round-up

Some of these releases are from the past week as I have been unavailable.

Barking Riverside Extension to open this summer, ahead of schedule

TfL Press Release - Barking Riverside Extension to open this summer, ahead of schedule: TfL Image - BRE train entering station

PN-056

  • Customers will be able to reach Barking Riverside by train earlier than planned
  • Driver training and route testing continue to ensure customers have a reliable service from day one
  • Project supply chain has supported skills and jobs across the country

Local residents and visitors to Barking Riverside will soon benefit from quicker and easier journeys with the confirmation that Barking Riverside will become the capital’s newest railway station this summer, ahead of schedule. Transport for London (TfL) has been able to bring forward the launch of London Overground services to Barking Riverside, originally planned for the autumn, following good progress being made in the completion of the station commissioning and testing stages.

Residents can already see trains running between Barking and Barking Riverside while route testing and driver training takes place by Arriva Rail London, which operates the London Overground on TfL’s behalf. This is a major milestone for the project and one of the final steps ahead of welcoming customers for the first time. Barking Riverside station, which appeared on the Tube map for the first time in May, adds to London’s growing number of step free stations – helping to make the capital a more accessible city for everyone.    

TfL Image - BRE station nearing completion

Investment in transport benefits the whole country – from supporting jobs and businesses across the country to ensuring supply chains and manufacturers are able to retain the skill base and resources to easily and affordably satisfy transport projects in other regions. Businesses from around the UK have benefited from the Barking Riverside Extension. Throughout construction, the project’s supply chain has supported businesses of all sizes with skills and job creation seen across the whole country.  This includes steelwork from Scotland and the East of England, precast concrete from the North West and Northern Ireland and innovative slab track from the East Midlands.

The 4.5km extension, which extends the Gospel Oak to Barking London Overground route to a new step-free station at the heart of Barking Riverside, will drastically cut journey times from Barking to Barking Riverside, which currently takes around 25 minutes by bus. Operating four trains per hour, it will take just seven minutes to travel from Barking Riverside to Barking with easy interchange to both the District and Hammersmith & City lines into central London and c2c services.   

TfL Image - BRE platfom signage

The extension is an intrinsic part of the Barking Riverside development, which is being delivered by Barking Riverside Limited, a joint venture between L&Q and the Mayor of London. This 180-hectare brownfield site on the northern bank of the River Thames is set to be one of London fastest growing areas. The Barking Riverside Extension will help to enable the construction of more than 10,000 new homes along with a range of community, commercial and retail spaces along a 2km stretch of Thames River frontage.  Sitting at the heart of a new public square, the new Barking Riverside step-free station will provide a direct interchange with local bus services and will be a five-minute walk from the riverside, which is already served by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers River Bus services.

Stuart Harvey, TfL’s Chief Capital Officer, said: “Through fantastic collaboration with our partners working on this project, including the MSVF joint venture of Morgan Sindall Infrastructure and VolkerFitzpatrick, Network Rail and Arriva Rail London, I am pleased to confirm that the Barking Riverside Extension will open this summer. The extension will be a game changer for Barking Riverside – vastly improving transport connectivity, accessibility and helping to realise plans to deliver much needed housing.”

Matthew Carpen, Managing Director of Barking Riverside Limited, said: “Today’s news will be a cause of celebration for all residents, complementing the recent extension of the River Bus service and helping connect Barking Riverside to the rest of the capital.”

Paul Hutchings, Managing Director of Arriva Rail London, said: “We are delighted to be extending the London Overground network to Barking Riverside this summer and are working hard to get the station ready for customers. The commencement of our driver training programme on this brand-new stretch of railway takes us another step closer to operating a safe, reliable and punctual service for the local community.”

Steve Balliston, Project Director for MSVF (Morgan Sindall Infrastructure VolkerFitzpatrick) joint venture, said: “It has been a privilege to work on the Barking Riverside Extension, and we’re delighted that we have achieved this major milestone ahead of the targeted date, through our efficient, safety-conscious and collaborative efforts. The team, along with TfL and our supply chain, has worked extremely hard to meet every challenge and deliver a project that provides better connectivity and employment benefits for the local and wider community.”

Vicky Savage, Group Director of Development and Sales at L&Q said: “We’re proud that our vision for Barking Riverside is being realised with the impressive new facilities being delivered. The new Overground Station will have a huge impact on the existing and future community, cementing the status of this development as one of London’s most exciting emerging neighbourhoods.”

More eTicket readers help rail passengers breeze through Southern stations

Rail passengers with smartphone eTickets will find it easier to travel with Southern now that more barcode readers have been installed at stations.

Additional barcode readers – that allow passengers to scan eTickets on their smartphones – have just been added to ticket gates to achieve 100% coverage and cut queues of waiting passengers at the following stations:

  • Angmering, Ashtead, Barnham, Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Dorking, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Lancing, Leatherhead, Littlehampton, Polegate and Reigate.

It’s estimated that 50% of tickets now sold in the UK are digital. eTickets are convenient and popular because they can be bought instantly on the train firm’s OnTrack app or website.

They are ideal for advanced singles, peak and off-peak singles, and peak and off-peak day return tickets.

Customer Services Director Chris Fowler said: “Barcode eTickets are quick to buy and convenient to use so we’re steadily adding them to more and more ticket gates across our stations to make life easier for our customers.”

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive Officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We’re making it easier for people to buy train tickets with people rapidly switching to buying online and now using digital tickets for half of all journeys. Investment in smart ticketing across the network has made train travel quicker and easier as people can get their ticket straight to their phone.”

HS2 starts work on first pioneering ‘Green Tunnel’

HS2 today [Friday 10th June] announced the start of construction at the site of its first innovative ‘green tunnel’, designed to blend the high speed railway into the landscape and reduce disruption for communities.

Unlike a normal underground tunnel, the one-and-a-half mile (2.5km) Chipping Warden green tunnel in Northamptonshire is being built on the surface using a pioneering off-site manufacturing approach to speed up construction and improve efficiency.

This approach will see more than five thousand giant concrete tunnel segments made in a factory in Derbyshire before being assembled on site. The completed tunnel will then be covered by earth, with trees, shrubs and hedgerows planted to fit in with the surrounding countryside.

Chipping Warden is one of five ‘green tunnels’ that are being built on phase one of the HS2 project, which is designed to improve links between London, Birmingham and the north, help level-up the economy and provide a low carbon alternative to car and air travel.

Applying lessons from the construction of the latest French high speed lines, the off-site approach was developed by HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB – a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall. The tunnel segments are being made by Stanton Precast in Ilkeston Derbyshire as part of a contract which is set to create up to 100 local jobs.

HS2 Ltd’s Project Client Rohan Perin, said:

“The Chipping Warden green tunnel is a great example of what we’re doing to reduce disruption for people living close to the railway – and it’s fantastic to see the first arches in position.

 “Our trains will be powered by zero carbon electricity but it’s also important to reduce the amount of carbon embedded in construction. The off-site manufacturing techniques being used will help cutting the overall amount of carbon-intensive concrete and steel in the tunnel and make the whole process faster, more efficient and therefore less disruptive for the community.”

Designed as an m-shaped double arch, the tunnel will have separate halves for southbound and northbound trains – each one the height of two double-decker buses. Instead of casting the whole tunnel on site, five different concrete precast segments will be slotted together to achieve the double arch – one central pier, two side walls and two roof slabs. All 5,020 segments will be steel reinforced, with the largest weighing up to 43 tonnes.

Concrete and steel are some of the biggest sources of carbon emissions within the construction industry and by reducing the amount of both materials needed for the tunnel, this lighter-weight modular approach is expected to more than halve the amount of carbon embedded in the structure. It also requires less people and equipment on site, improving safety and reducing disruption for residents.

EKFB’s Project Manager, Jeremie Martin, said: 

“Seeing the first set of precast units being installed is a milestone that the whole team is very proud of. This three-year construction programme will benefit from off-site manufacturing making the green tunnel build more efficient than the traditional on-site building method. 

“The HS2 green tunnels are a first of its kind in the UK. We have designed them as a twin arch ‘M’ shape which is more efficient than the standard box structure, reducing the amount of concrete required, which is a great example of how innovative engineering design can reduce carbon impact.” 

The tunnel will be built in sections, with construction expected to be complete in 2024. A relief road has also recently been completed, which will take HS2 vehicles – and other local traffic – away from the centre of the village of Chipping Warden. This will later be extended, to take the A361 over the top of the green tunnel.

Similar green tunnels will also be built at nearby Greatworth as well as Wendover in Buckinghamshire and Burton Green in Warwickshire, stretching for a combined total of more than four miles. The tunnels will all have specially designed ‘porous portals’ at either end to reduce the noise of trains entering and exiting the tunnel, along with small portal buildings to house safety and electrical equipment.

Tailored landscaping design plans will be developed for each tunnel, with thousands of native trees and shrubs typical to the local area such as Silver Birch, Oak, Beech and Willow planted to create new woodland areas around the portals and recreate the hedgerows and field boundaries on top of the tunnel.

All 13,290 segments for Chipping Warden, Greatworth and Wendover are being made by Derbyshire-based Stanton Precast Ltd, in a deal that is set to create up to 100 jobs at their Ilkeston factory – an increase in their workforce of around 50%. New production sheds, casting and storage areas are also being built at the factory to accommodate the new work.

HS2 trials ‘first of a kind’ electric drilling rig in bid to cut carbon in construction

Bauer electric piling rig, BBV and SB3. Overview of whole rig and equipment.

HS2 Ltd’s construction partner Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture (BBV), is currently trialling the world’s first all-electric, high-capacity drilling rig on a construction site in Warwickshire, as the Joint Venture steps up its plans to meet HS2 Ltd’s ambition for diesel-free construction sites.

Andrea Davidson, HS2’s Air Quality Manager said:

“We are proud to be working with our supply chain and leading manufacturers to drive a step change in the UK construction industry, demonstrating the viability and benefits of emissions-free heavy electric plant.

“Being at the forefront of a ground-breaking trial like this is another step on our journey to achieving our target of all diesel-free construction sites by 2029, and net zero carbon from 2035 – helping HS2 to become the most sustainable infrastructure project ever delivered.”

The 100 tonne BAUER eBG33 drilling rig creates an overall reduction of 1292kg CO2 per day compared to a traditionally powered rig and also reduces noise by 50%. In terms of performance, the rig is able to carry out exactly the same tasks as a traditional rig.

This innovative new machine is being used by BBV’s deep foundations contractor SB3 (a Joint Venture between Bachy Soletanche & Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering), and works alongside a diesel-powered rig to construct large diameter piles, with the aim of demonstrating that heavy, electric-powered construction plant can perform the same tasks as traditional machines.

Dan Fawcett, Innovation Director at BBV said:

“We’re committed to driving real innovation across everything we do. That’s why we’re so excited to trial the world’s first all-electric, high capacity drilling rig at one of our HS2 sites in Warwickshire. This pioneering project marks a major step forward towards transitioning to all-electric powered plants, which is great news for the environment too.

“We’ll look to share what we learn from this trial and extend it across our other sites, as well as the wider industry.”

 Tim Laemmle from BAUER Maschinen GmbH, the rig’s developers and manufacturers, said:

“We’re thrilled to be leading the industry with this electric rig. It is great to be working with HS2, BBV and SB3, as the first UK specialist contractor to demonstrate the capabilities of the product. We’re fully committed to bringing emission-free equipment to the deep foundation sector. There is a strong desire to promote our new electrified equipment as a genuine, reliable alternative to fossil fuel driven machinery.”

Chris Merridew, SB3 JV Board Director said:

“Our team was eager to support Bauer as the first end user of the electric rig and its new technology.  It has the potential to be a massive game changer for the industry and the wider construction sector in our continued drive to reduce carbon, noise and emissions.” 

The BAUER eBG33 replaces the diesel engine drive with a powerful electric drive. The environmental benefits include reduced exhaust and noise emissions; high energy efficiency due to modern three-phase asynchronous motor; and flexibility through an integrated frequency converter. BAUER are also trialling different E-connection concepts and an innovative concept for set-up operation via an autonomous secondary drive which is independent of the power supply.

Network Rail issues reminder of critical repairs to railway bridge in Bath starting next week

Claverton Street railway bridge

Network Rail is reminding residents and motorists of critical repair work to Claverton Street railway bridge that is due to begin next week to ensure the continued safe and reliable running of the railway through the city of Bath.

Work on Claverton Street railway bridge – which sits above the A36 at Churchill Bridge roundabout to the south of Bath city centre – will begin on Monday 20 June, lasting until Sunday 16 October. To minimise disruption to road users and rail passengers, the refurbishment will take place at night.

Between the hours of 6am and 7pm daily, the road will be open as usual and train services will remain unaffected throughout.

The bridge, located just outside Bath Spa station, carries train services in and out of the city and needs extensive steel and brickwork repairs so that passengers can continue to experience safe and reliable journeys.

Around 17,500 tourists, commuters and visitors travel by train to Bath Spa station every day and once this work is complete, the lifespan of this vital bridge will be extended by at least 25 years.

As part of this £800,000 project, Network Rail’s team of engineers will be working throughout the night to grit blast the structure (a process which involves forcibly propelling abrasive material against a surface at high pressure), requiring access both beneath and on top of the bridge as well as alongside the railway tracks. Once the entire bridge has been grit blasted, the metalwork will be restored before a protective layer of paint is applied. The brickwork on the sides and support structures of the bridge will also be repaired.

To ensure that these repairs can be carried out while maintaining the safety of rail and road users as well as pedestrians, the A36 at Churchill Bridge roundabout will need to be closed to all eastbound and southbound traffic from 7pm to 6am between 20 June and 16 October, seven days a week. Between 20 August and 9 October, Network Rail’s engineers will only be working beside the railway tracks each Saturday evening, meaning the road closure on Saturdays will differ, lasting between midnight and 7am.

During this period of work, a diversion route, approved by Bath and North East Somerset Council, will be in place as follows:

  • All northbound traffic including access to the A4 London Road, A46 and M4 motorway will travel via Green Park Road and Charles Street to Queen Square, and then via Gay Street and George Street onto the A4 The Paragon.
  • All eastbound traffic including access to Bathwick, Bathampton and Warminster, will travel via the A3039 Dorchester Street and Manvers Street to North Parade before turning left onto the A36 Pulteney Road (South).
  • All southbound traffic including access to the A367 Wellsway to Radstock and Midsomer Norton will travel via the A3039 Dorchester Street and Manvers Street to North Parade before turning right onto the A36 Pulteney Road (South).
  • All Westbound traffic towards Keynsham and Bristol leaving the city centre will either follow the southbound diversion before travelling onwards via the A36 Lower Bristol Road, or travel out of Bath via the A4 Upper Bristol Road.

Network Rail has worked closely with the Council and other businesses and stakeholders in the city to identify any largescale events that would be significantly impacted by this work and has adapted its programme and agreed to stand down work on a number of dates to accommodate these events; including the Michael Bublé concert (15-16 July), Bath Boules (22-24 July), and the Fantastic Food Festival (29-31 July).

Michael Contopoulos, Network Rail’s Project Director, said: “The Claverton Street railway bridge is a significant piece of rail infrastructure that carries around 17,500 rail passengers in, out and through the city of Bath each day. Now it needs important repairs to extend its lifespan and structural integrity.

“To carry out this work safely, we will need to close the road underneath the bridge; I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for any disruption this will cause to road users.

“We are aware of the impact a traffic diversion will have in such a busy city centre location and have limited our working to overnight shifts to minimise disruption to road users as far as possible. Some of our work may be noisy at times; I apologise if any nearby residents are affected.

“We will be doing all we can to complete these repairs as quickly, quietly and safely as possible, and we would like to thank residents, businesses and road users in advance for their patience and understanding.”

To find out more about Network Rail’s work to maintain and repair Claverton Street bridge, please visit www.networkrail.co.uk/claverton

Local residents and businesses with any queries or concerns regarding the work taking place are encouraged to contact Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline (03457 11 41 41) or visit www.networkrail.co.uk/contactus

Reading station’s green credentials given boost thanks to ‘digital twin’

Reading train station (front)

An innovative project to improve carbon emissions and energy performance at Reading station is underway which has the potential to improve the station’s energy performance by around 20%.

Sensors are set to be installed across Reading station to capture live, real-time data on the station’s energy usage in a bid to help cut the station’s carbon emissions and improve its energy performance.

This innovative approach to understanding and improving the station’s energy performance is thanks to a specialist computer modelling platform that has developed a ‘digital twin’ of the station including a simulation of its current energy usage. Using existing, historical data and modelling, a number of opportunities have been identified that are predicted could result in around a 20% improvement on the station’s carbon emissions and energy performance.

Network Rail has team up with Atkins – a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group – and Cardiff University to develop this ‘digital twin’ of Reading station, utilising Cardiff University’s Computational Urban Sustainability Platform (CUSP).

Using this data and computer modelling to create baselines for the station’s energy consumption and carbon emissions, CUSP has been used to map out ways of improving the station’s performance via energy efficiency measures whilst exploring further possible changes and the potential impact this could have on making additional energy savings.

A number of ways to reduce energy expenditure and carbon emissions with minimal costs have been identified, including:

  • Improved lighting controls such as dimming when an area of the station is not in use.
  • Turning off machinery such as escalators when not in use or overnight when train services aren’t in operation.

In addition to the data being collected by the sensors at the station, passenger numbers and research to understand passenger and station-user behaviour will also be recorded to understand how identified energy savings might impact their safety and experiences when in the station.

It is hoped, following the energy and carbon savings being realised at Reading station, this technology can be utilised across the rail network to support Network Rail in its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Adam De Benedictis, Network Rail’s Regional Energy & Carbon Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Atkins on this innovative project which will help us gain a better understanding of complex assets – such as Reading station – and their predicted performance, allowing us to confidently identify and deliver energy efficiency measures and ultimately manage our assets effectively.

“As an organisation, we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions and playing our part in helping combat global warming while ensuring passengers’ experiences in our stations and on our railways are safe, reliable and comfortable.”

Nick Tune, Technical & Technology Director at Atkins, said: “This is an important milestone as we look to harness data and technology to improve delivery at every stage of an asset’s life. 

“Digital twins are the centrepiece of this shift which is giving us the information needed to not only identify opportunities to improve an asset’s energy performance but to interrogate future scenarios, explore further recommendations and tell us how those interventions will work with an unprecedented degree of certainty.”

Levelling Up boost to transform Bristol Temple Quarter and Bristol Temple Meads station

Station approach vision

Thousands of new homes and jobs will be created through the regeneration of Bristol Temple Quarter, thanks to £95m in government funding, Levelling Up Minister Neil O’Brien MP announced today (Friday 10 June 2022).  

Bristol’s biggest ever regeneration project will deliver up to 10,000 homes and 22,000 jobs in a series of new sustainable and inclusive communities at the heart of one of the UK’s most productive and fast-growing city regions. The funding will unlock the first phase of this scheme, with future plans to develop 57 hectares of land across St Philip’s Marsh in phase two.

The scheme will help to address regional inequalities by focusing on a highly deprived area of Bristol, delivering new affordable homes, generating skills, training, and employment opportunities while improving transport, boosting regional productivity and economic growth.

The partnership between the West of England Combined Authority, Bristol City Council, Network Rail and Homes England will bring forward the regeneration of approximately 130 hectares – equivalent to about 182 football pitches – of brownfield land.

The £95m funding will be focused on areas immediately around Bristol Temple Meads station, unlocking approximately 2,500 new homes by 2032 and supporting around 2,200 jobs.

The funding will also support the creation of three new or significantly improved station entrances planned to the north, south and east of Bristol Temple Meads station. The new entrances will mean that the station no longer severs the connections between neighbouring areas but connects them instead. The new eastern entrance to Bristol Temple Meads will make it much easier to reach the station from surrounding neighbourhoods and creates a link to the new University of Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise campus.

There will also be a multi-storey car park and a new transport hub which will link up the railway with connections for pedestrians, cyclists and the local and citywide bus network, making it easier to travel around the city and to/from the region.

This latest funding announcement builds on the completion of last summer’s £132m track and signalling upgrade at Bristol East Junction and the ongoing renovation of the station’s historic train shed roof

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route and strategic operations director, said: “We welcome this funding announcement and look forward to continuing working with our partners to revitalise Bristol Temple Quarter, including transforming Bristol Temple Meads station into a world class transport hub with three new entrances, a multi-storey car park and new commercial and retail for the benefit of our passengers, the city of Bristol and wider West of England region.

“Our work to modernise the railway near Bristol Temple Meads and the renovation of the station itself is continuing to progress really well. Last summer we completed a £132m major track upgrade at Bristol East Junction resulting in a clever new track layout and state of the art signalling equipment, providing passengers with more reliable and better journeys to and from Bristol Temple Meads, while the next phase of our work to refurbish the station’s historic train shed roof is ongoing.”   

Levelling Up Minister, Neil O’Brien MP, said: “Building new homes in the places they are most needed and regenerating our towns and cities lies at the heart of the Government’s levelling up mission. 

“It’s fantastic to be in Bristol today to see this levelling up in action; central government working with local leaders and industry to grow the economy, delivering the high-quality new homes this country needs and breathing new life into neglected places.”

Peter Denton, Chief Executive of Homes England, said: “The Temple Quarter programme provides a step change in how regeneration can be delivered, with the public partnership steering the regeneration, inviting further investment and partnerships with world class regeneration partners. 

“We are committed to working with ambitious local authorities seeking to meet their local housing needs through delivery of key infrastructure. The multimillion-pound government funding will resolve much needed improvements to the infrastructure surrounding the station, unlocking critical housing sites and allowing the partnership between the Combined Authority, Bristol City Council, Network Rail and Homes England to deliver their vision for the local community and develop a sense of place.”   

The West of England Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, said: “I’m thrilled that the Combined Authority, that I lead, has been awarded £95m to invest in Temple Quarter one of the most exciting regeneration projects in Europe. Now we need to make sure that the buildings and infrastructure and the high skilled jobs we bring in, truly match our ambitions on tackling the climate emergency and use the skills of our amazingly talented workers to make this area something to be very proud of.   

“Combine this with the refurbishment of Brunel’s iconic station and we really will have, at long last, the jewel in the crown in the heart of our great city and fantastic region.” 

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “Temple Quarter creates the opportunity to make our city more sustainable and better connected, while providing the affordable homes, accessible jobs and training that our citizens want and need as we tackle the climate and ecological challenges.   

“This announcement is extremely welcome and is the result of a productive partnership between Bristol City Council, the West of England Combined Authority, Network Rail and Homes England that first met in 2017 to plan for the successful regeneration at the heart of the city region.  

“The partnership has brought forward a realistic, integrated vision to create a thriving new area of the city that will be key to Bristol’s and the city region’s journey to becoming an inclusive and sustainable economy, boosting Bristol’s role as a major driver of the city region and Western Gateway economies. This funding will unlock the infrastructure and public spaces needed to support further delivery on homes, jobs and inclusive growth and will underpin Bristol’s connectivity, sustainability and path to carbon neutrality.” 

Railway vegetation clearance planned between Evanton and Invergordon

Wick vegetation pre work

Network Rail will shortly begin overnight tree and vegetation management on the line between Evanton and Invergordon in the Scottish Highlands.

Between June and September work will be carried out along an 8 mile stretch of the Far North line to clear trees and vegetation from adjacent land within the railway boundary.  The work is needed to keep passengers safe and trains punctual and to reduce the risk for lineside neighbours.

From the 13th June for around 16 weeks and working both day and night, the team will clear a 3-metre strip from the outside rail to the boundary.  It will also treat any noxious and invasive non-native weeds within the railway corridor.

Other trees within falling distance of the railway will be selectively felled or cut-back to leave a well-balanced tree canopy. Any heritage, landscape specimen trees will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will be retained where it is safe to do so.

Ahead of the work, environmental surveys have been carried out and the area has been inspected for nesting birds and protected species. We have also worked with our ecologists to minimise the impact of the work on the environment.

Those living closest to the line have been advised about the work by letter with a FAQs section which anticipates and responds to many of the concerns people have raised when we have carried carry out this type of work in other areas.

Kirsty Armstrong, Scheme Project Manager for the vegetation clearance work said,

“Network Rail manages thousands of miles of trees and vegetation along the railway to ensure that everything which grows lineside is safe and does not cause delays to trains.

“Through the management of lineside trees and vegetation, Network Rail aims to protect the safety of the operational railway line. This keeps passengers safe and reduces risks for lineside neighbours.

“Elements of this work are unavoidably at night for safety reasons, however the teams are always mindful of the impact their work may have and do what they can to minimise this.  We want to apologise in advance if anyone is disturbed by the work.”

If anyone has any questions or concerns about this work they can contact Network Rail’s 24hr National helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

News catch-up

My apologies for the lack of news this week but I have been dealing with a bereavement.

TfL releases initial ridership figures for the Elizabeth line

TfL Media Briefing - TfL releases initial ridership figures for the Elizabeth line: TfL Image- Elizabeth line platform 1

The transformational Elizabeth line opened on tuesday 24 May with tens of thousands of customers making fast and seamless journeys through the heart of London. The new railway, which is supporting faster journeys across London, and new jobs and economic growth throughout the country, is the most significant addition to the capital’s transport network for a generation.

On tuesday morning up until 10am, an estimated 130,000 journeys took place across the Elizabeth line, which runs between Reading, Heathrow, Abbey Wood and Shenfield. Of these, around half (65,000 journeys) involved the new central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood.

In terms of specific stations on the Elizabeth line:

  • The new Paddington Elizabeth line station has already seen 14,000 entries and exits up until 10am
  • The new Canary Wharf Elizabeth line station has already seen 9,000 entries and exits up until 10am
  • The new Woolwich Elizabeth line station has already seen 6,000 entries and exits up until 10am

The new railway will provide new journey options and support wider regeneration and recovery from the pandemic – creating jobs, business opportunities and a huge economic boost for the country. It will also connect London’s major employment centres and increase central London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, the largest single increase in the capital’s transport capacity in more than 70 years.

Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “It was fantastic to see thousands of excited customers waiting for the Elizabeth line to open this morning and board the first trains from Paddington and Abbey Wood. Tens of thousands of journeys have already been made on the new central section of the Elizabeth line since it opened this morning. This stunning addition to the transport network will transform life and travel in London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, adding capacity, transforming accessibility and supporting the economic recovery and growth throughout the country for years to come.”

Rail industry welcomes opening of “bold” Elizabeth line

Rail industry welcomes opening of "bold" Elizabeth line: Crossrail 1 crop

On the day that the Elizabeth line opens, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) has welcomed it as a “bold” project which will boost rail’s future and drive economic growth for the entire country.

RIA represents over 300 rail businesses around the UK, many of whom were involved in the construction and operation of the new Elizabeth line. 

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), commented: “The Elizabeth line really is an exceptional achievement for TfL, Government and the UK railway industry. It is a bold project that will not only transform how passengers travel across London, but it will also boost economic growth for the capital and the country as a whole.

“Railway businesses from all over the UK have played a key role in making this landmark project happen, whether train manufacturing in Derby, station construction in the East Midlands, signalling expertise from Chippenham and Stockport, or telecoms in London. Furthermore, the scheme has supported thousands of skilled railway jobs and significant investment in other parts of the economy beyond rail.

“With passengers now returning there is a strong long-term future for rail, and the Elizabeth line will make that future even brighter.”

Crossrail 6
Paddington Station Elizabeth line

Image – Representatives from RIA, Alstom and Siemens Mobility at Paddington Elizabeth line Station   

LNER urges customers to plan ahead for the jubilee bumper bank holiday weekend

Credit @leCorgi


London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is urging customers to plan and book ahead to secure their seats as the nation prepares to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.


LNER services during the four-day bank holiday from Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June 2022 are expected to be popular with celebrations taking place across the country to commemorate the Queen’s historic 70-year reign.


LNER is also entering the Jubilee spirit, adding special touches to surprise and delight customers at its stations, which will be dressed in Platinum Jubilee bunting. Delicious cream tea boxes will be available as part of the onboard selection of snacks and refreshments at the Café Bar in Standard across the long
weekend.

Customers travelling in First Class will be able to enjoy a complimentary range of locally sourced food featured in a new summer menu and there will be a special Strawberries and Cream popcorn treat to mark the occasion.


Claire Ansley, Director of People and Customer Experience at LNER, said:

“We’re proud to play our part in this historic occasion making sure customers enjoy the best possible experience as they make their journeys along the East Coast route. We are expecting LNER services to be very popular, so we’re advising people to plan ahead, reserve their seats and leave plenty of time to reach the station and make their way to the platform.”


For people travelling to London or looking for inspiration around royal connections across the LNER route, there’s a dedicated web page offering top tips and travel advice about places to visit :

https://www.lner.co.uk/our-destinations/queens-platinum-jubilee/


Customers can book direct, fee free and with ease using LNER’s mobile app and website, where they can register for live journey updates, select their own seat, and earn rewards by signing up to the LNER Perks loyalty scheme.


As part of this year’s Jubilee celebrations, LNER is proudly saluting colleagues in the rail industry who have worked on the Royal Train. The special video, shared on its social channels, features the stories of an LNER driver, British Transport Police Officer and Network Rail signaller sharing their sense of pride in helping to keep the Queen on the move for 70 years.


The video can be viewed here:


LNER is currently operating a 100 per cent timetable with tickets available for booking as far ahead as September.

Piccadilly line to serve South Kensington Tube station again from 1 June

TfL Press Release - Piccadilly line to serve South Kensington Tube station again from 1 June: TfL Image- South Kensington Escalators 1
  •  Vital work to replace the five escalators serving the Piccadilly line at South Kensington is near completion  
  • Piccadilly line trains will serve South Kensington station again from Wednesday 1 June, ahead of the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday

Essential work to replace the five escalators that serve the Piccadilly line at South Kensington is nearing completion, with Piccadilly line trains due to stop at the station again from Wednesday 1 June.   

The complex escalator replacement work started on 27 February 2021 and has seen all five Piccadilly line escalators at South Kensington station replaced. The escalators, which were installed in 1973 and were at the end of their lifespan, had become unreliable and were the highest priority escalators for replacement on the Tube network.    

South Kensington station remained open for Circle and District line customers for the duration of the works.  

The essential work means that the station, which prior to the pandemic saw almost 34 million customer journeys each year and provides an important gateway to the world-famous cultural attractions in the area, will have five new, high-performing escalators for decades to come. As well as being more energy efficient than their predecessors, the new escalators are also more reliable and less prone to failures, meaning a better experience for Londoners and visitors using the station.   

Esther Sharples, TfL’s Director of Asset Performance and Capital Delivery, said: “I’d like to thank our customers for their patience while Piccadilly line services have been non-stopping at South Kensington. Replacing the nearly 50-year-old escalators with new, high-performing machines will mean more reliable journeys for Piccadilly line customers for decades to come, whether they are using the station as a local resident, for work or to access the area’s world-famous cultural attractions. I’m delighted that the Piccadilly line will serve South Kensington again ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which will bring more visitors to the area as they seek to enjoy all that this vibrant area of London has to offer.”  

Before the Piccadilly line starts serving South Kensington station again on 1 June, TfL has taken the opportunity to deep clean the Piccadilly line platforms as well as all stairs and corridors leading to them, re-painted the arcade stairways, and replaced the tiles at the top and bottom of the new escalators. In addition, the customer areas between the escalators have been re-surfaced.  

The escalator replacement work at South Kensington took 15 months to complete due to the complexity of working with such historic assets, the access restrictions from the street through the arcade and station buildings (all of which are listed) and the extensive works that needed to be completed prior to the escalators being delivered and installed.  

Emily Candler, Executive Director of Exhibition Road Cultural Group, said: “I am delighted that South Kensington will have a full service again making it easier for people to come to all the exciting events and activities here. The Great Exhibition Road Festival returns on 18-19 June and we’re gearing up for a fantastic summer with free activities for all ages, great exhibitions, and unforgettable performances.  The station being fully open for the first time since the pandemic will make a huge difference to visitors, staff, students and residents and help us to welcome people back to London’s original cultural district.” 

London Underground’s escalators are heavy-duty machines and tend to be in operation in both directions for up to 20 hours a day. They weigh around 40 tonnes each and carry millions of people each year. A typical 15-metre rise escalator has approximately 15,000 moving components. Thirty-four of the new high-performing escalators of the same type that have been installed at South Kensington Tube station are already in operation at London Underground stations. Sixty-four of these high-performing escalators have also been installed on the Elizabeth line, which launched earlier this week.  

Those travelling to South Kensington will also be able to visit a range of new tenants on the TfL retail estate, which extends out of the station and along Pelham Street, Thurloe Street and the South Kensington Arcade. The new retailers, who have opened during these vital works, are bringing new, high-quality food and beverage options to one of London’s most popular visitor destinations. TfL’s investment in its retail estate is testament to its commitment to encouraging people back into London to enjoy all the capital has to offer.

Jubilee Weekend train travellers advised to allow extra time

Thameslink and Great Northern are advising people travelling to events by train over the Platinum Jubilee Weekend to plan their journey in advance, re-check before setting off, and allow extra time to get there and back.

Trains and stations will be exceptionally busy over the weekend because of the many events taking place, especially when crowds are leaving the bigger events. As well as the Jubilee celebrations in central London, these include concerts at Knebworth Park and the Emirates Stadium, and festivals at Bedford, Luton and Hatfield.

Rail travellers to and from the Liam Gallagher concerts at Knebworth Park are encouraged to use Stevenage station, which has a more frequent service than the much smaller Knebworth.

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “We’re going to run some trains with extra carriages, and event organisers are working with us to encourage visitors to plan their travel carefully and consider all their transport options and possible alternatives.

“There may be queues at some stations before and after the bigger events. We’ll be ready with additional staff and queuing systems, but you may not be able to board the first train. If you’re relying on the last train of the day, please make sure you know when it’s due to leave and allow plenty of extra time to catch it.”

All passengers should plan and re-check their Jubilee Weekend journeys at www.nationalrail.co.uk.

The north’s biggest train operator achieves Gold Standard from Investors in People

Northern is delighted to confirm that it has been awarded the Gold standard to the internationally recognised Investors in People scheme. 

The north of England train operator, which employs close to 7,000 people, has been assessed through a rigorous process to have made work better and has improved on its Silver accreditation from 2019. 

Investors in People (IiP) is an independent and non-profit making organisation that reviewed what it was like to work at Northern through an all-colleague survey and more than 120 staff interviews.  

The Gold standard is extremely difficult to achieve, and Northern accreditation puts it in the top 83% of organisations assessed across the globe. 

In their report, the IiP assessors recognised a number of highlights which they said Northern should be proud of.  

Northern was deemed to have a very clear vision and long-term business plan, allowing colleagues to understand expectations, targets and their contribution to operating a successful service providing more than 100 million passenger journeys a year. 

Assessors praised the collaborative internal approach and noted colleagues were encouraged to ‘go do their thing’ whilst Learning and Development within Northern was acknowledged as sector leading with fantastic opportunities for personal development and career progression. 

Northern has worked hard on and is extremely proud of its approach to equality, diversity and inclusion and the IiP experts agreed that significant progress has been made in these critical areas. 

Strong two-way colleague communication and the use of feedback within the workplace were also viewed as positive and making a difference to internal culture. 

Nick Donovan, Northern’s Managing Director commented: “This is fantastic news and everyone at Northern is proud of achieving the Gold standard accreditation. 

“Gold is not an easy thing to achieve, and the review process has been rigorous and detailed. I am delighted that Investors in People assess Northern to be one of the best performing people organisations in this country. 

“It’s our great people doing their thing day in and day out that have made the difference and I want to thank them for their continued hard work and commitment. 

“We won’t rest on our laurels, and we will continue to work together to make Northern a great place to work.” 

Over the last 30 years, Investors in People (IiP) have accredited more than 50,000 organisations and their accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management. 

Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, said:  “We’d like to congratulate Northern. Our Gold accreditation is a fantastic effort for any organisation, and places Northern in fine company with a host of organisations that understand the value of people.” 

Boston level crossing gets reliability upgrade next month

A level crossing in Boston, Lincolnshire is set to be upgraded next month (June) to improve reliability for key freight services travelling to and from the town’s port.

From 7pm on Saturday 11 June until 2pm on Sunday 12 June, a section of the A16 (Spalding Road) will be closed to allow engineers to safely replace over 140 metres of rail through Boston Bypass level crossing.

Teams will work through the night to get the road ready to reopen for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists as soon as the upgrade is complete. A signed diversion will be in place throughout to help people get to their destinations.

Vincent Briggs, East Midlands Route Level Crossing Manager for Network Rail, said: “This essential work will allow us to reliably transport vital freight goods to and from the town’s port for many years to come.

“We will need to close a major road into Boston to complete the upgrade safely, and I’m sorry for any inconvenience this causes. We’ll be doing the work overnight and have worked with Lincolnshire County Council to keep the impact as low as possible.”

Andy Lawrence, Port of Boston Director for Victoria Group, added: “The Port of Boston are delighted that the upgrade is taking place. It is great for the network connection we have from the Port of Boston and the 260,000 tonnes a year of cargo that we put over it. This enables us to keep lorries off the road and dramatically reducing our carbon footprint by utilising rail.

“Rail Freight was important for the Port in 1884, when it was built, and it remains equally, if not more important in 2022, and the future, as we strive to divert even more cargo to the rail mode of transport, direct from a seaport.”

‘Talk, not walk’ says Network Rail in response to RMT vote for industrial action

Responding to the RMT’s announcement that its members have voted in favour of industrial action, Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said:

“The RMT has jumped the gun here as everyone loses if there’s a strike. We know our people are concerned about job security and pay. As a public body we have been working on offering a pay increase that taxpayers can afford, and we continue to discuss this with our trades unions. We urge the RMT to sit down with us and continue to talk, not walk, so that we can find a compromise and avoid damaging industrial action.

“We are at a key point in the railway’s recovery from the pandemic. The taxpayer has provided the industry with £16bn worth of additional life support over the last two years and that cannot continue. Travel habits have changed forever and the railway has to change as well to adapt to this new reality. We believe that by modernising – creating safer jobs for our people and operating the railway more efficiently – we can build a sustainable future with a railway that delivers for passengers and taxpayers.

“Any industrial action now would be disastrous for our industry’s recovery and would hugely impact vital supply and freight chains. It would also serve to undermine our collective ability to afford the pay increases we want to make.”

Passengers reminded of railway closure ahead of Commonwealth Games

The Chiltern main line between Dorridge and Birmingham Moor Street will be closed for four days next month as work continues to improve passenger journeys for the Commonwealth Games.

Crucial parts of the railway will be replaced between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June as part of a £3m investment by Network Rail.

The work will overhaul switches and crossings – moving sections of track which allow trains to access and leave a critical train maintenance depot at Tyseley in Birmingham.

The depot is an important site for three train operators – West Midlands Railway, CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways.

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

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

The essential upgrades will impact the following routes and services between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 June:

  • On the Shakespeare line to Stratford-upon-Avon, there will be no trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Spring Road stations
  • On the Chiltern main line between London Marylebone and Birmingham, there will be no trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Dorridge

The four-day railway closure has been extended to Dorridge from Solihull – this allows better flexibility for the trains which will be running on the rest of the Chiltern main line.

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

Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “There’s never an ideal time to shut the railway and a mid-week closure for work like this is rare, but after carefully reviewing recent passenger numbers on this route we’ve found it’s the least disruptive time to make these essential improvements.

“These upgrades will benefit journeys across the wider West Midlands, providing passengers with an efficient, cleaner and more reliable railway throughout our major summer of sport. It will also help to reduce the risk of platforms becoming overcrowded as a result of the predicted one million extra passenger journeys during the Commonwealth Games.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network Rail staff deliver vital equipment for Ukrainian railway

Network Rail staff have come to the aid of rail colleagues in Ukraine after delivering a convoy of vehicles loaded with equipment to help keep the Ukrainian railway running. 

Ukrainian Railways, Ukrzaliznytsia, requested help from the international railway family via the International Union of Railways (UIC). They needed equipment and spares to help keep their railway running to provide vital evacuation routes and humanitarian aid following the invasion by Russia, all while facing significant damage to railway infrastructure and obvious safety risks for workers.

Helped by partners in the supply chain, Network Rail heeded the call and donated four vehicles, loaded with spares and railway tools including generators, drills, jacks and cutting equipment. They were delivered on 16 May.

Allan Spence, Network Rail’s director of regulator liaison, said: “We didn’t hesitate when the request for help came through. We often talk about the railway family here in Britain, but the family has international connections too. Anyone who has watched the news over the last few months has been moved by what they’ve seen and that spurred us into action. 

“We took the vehicles loaded with much needed equipment, to a depot near the Polish-Ukrainian border. We had lots of help along the way – like complimentary travel through the channel tunnel, radios loaned by High Motive and help to get back from Polish Railways (PKP). And the loads we took included lots of kit from our contractors.”

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “It’s inspiring that Network Rail have used their knowledge and expertise to help keep the Ukrainian railways moving by providing vital equipment and aid for their evacuation routes.

“Our fantastic transport network continues to demonstrate huge amounts of support and generosity to those fleeing Putin’s brutal invasion.”

Five Network Rail staff drove the four vehicles through six countries, covering some 2,000km in three days to Poland. However, the final part of the journey, across the border into Ukraine, is being managed by Polish Railways. 

This is not the first time that Britain’s railway industry has come to the aid of Ukraine. Earlier in the year UK Rail for Ukraine brought together a train-load of humanitarian aid donated from many businesses to help the many displaced and at-risk victims of the war.

Lime Street station passenger advice for Liverpool FC victory parade

Liverpool FC fans planning to travel to the city by rail for this weekend’s victory parade are being advised to check before they travel as Lime Street station will be extremely busy.

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the city centre to celebrate both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup titles, and potentially triumph in the Champions League too.

Whatever the outcome of Saturday night’s final, players will parade along a 13.5km route through the city centre starting at 4pm on Sunday 29 May.

Network Rail is advising people planning to travel by train of a number of factors which all add up to make rail journeys into Liverpool city centre challenging this weekend.

Ongoing strike action this Sunday (29 May) means there will be no Transpennine Express services to or from Lime Street station.

Added to this, railway improvement work elsewhere on the network means no East Midlands Train services will be serving the city either.

As a result Avanti West Coast says it expects its trains to be very busy and it will be prioritising passengers with reservations.

And further down the line in Warrington, Northern services are expected to be busy due to the Neighbourhood Weekender, with the train operator urging festival-goers to check their last trains home.

So Network Rail’s advice on Sunday 29 May is:

  • Plan your journey – especially how you will get home – at www.nationalrail.co.uk
  • Allow extra time – long queues to access platforms are expected
  • Don’t rely on later trains home – they will be limited and very busy
  • Remember Network Rail’s motto of ‘Be safe, be patient, be kind’ when travelling

Additional staff will be on hand at Liverpool Lime Street station to help passengers this weekend.

The station team has been preparing for the thousands of extra people expected with queuing systems in place to keep passengers safe.

Kyla Thomas, Liverpool Lime Street station manager, said: “While it’s great the city will come together in celebration of Liverpool FC’s incredible 2021/22 season, we need to let passengers know what to expect if they’re thinking of travelling through Lime Street station this weekend.

“Strike action and the sheer volume of people will mean the station will be extremely busy. Please plan ahead and know what train you want to catch there and back before the day of the parade. Secondly, allow more time than you might do usually to get on the train – there will be long queues. And thirdly, please respect each other and our staff while travelling – we want everyone to enjoy the victory celebrations free from any bad behaviour.”

To manage crowds during the busiest times Merseyrail is planning to close some city centre stations.

Due to the large numbers of people expected, the following stations will be closed all day on Sunday 29 May.

  • Lime Street Lower Level
  • James Street
  • Green Lane
  • Bromborough Rake
  • Capenhurst

Passengers are also being advised to buy their tickets in advance to avoid having to queue on the day.

For more information and latest passenger advice visit the Merseyrail website here.

To get full details of the parade route and advice from the football club, visit Liverpool FC’s website here.

GWR honours WWII codebreaker Alan Turing and unveils new ‘Trainbow’ livery

Great Western Railway (GWR) has honoured World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing by including his name on its popular ‘Trainbow’ Intercity Express Train.

Members of Alan’s family officially named the train at London Paddington station today (Thursday 26 May). The ceremony also saw the unveiling of GWR’s new ‘Trainbow’ livery celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.

Alan famously led a team in ‘Hut 8’ at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre during the war.

In 1942 he and his team cracked the vitally important and most difficult German Naval Enigma. His work in the field of computer science was groundbreaking and paved the way for modern computing.

Alan is also an admired role model within the LGBTQ+ community and his legacy has helped change social attitudes in Britain.

Although laws during the 1950s made it illegal for him to be openly gay, Alan did not shy away from his sexuality. He was arrested for gross indecency which resulted in a sentence of chemical castration.

Two years later Alan died of cyanide poisoning. Following the launch of an internet campaign in 2009, he was granted a posthumous royal pardon four years later. A subsequent legal amendment, known as ‘Turing’s Law’, pardoned 65,000 other convicted gay and bisexual men.

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‘Trainbow’ was first unveiled in 2018 to support Pride events across the network and demonstrate GWR’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Its livery has now been updated to include black, brown, light blue, light pink and white, bringing focus on inclusion for trans individuals, marginalised people of colour and those living with HIV/AIDS.

For B-roll footage of today’s ceremony please email john.carter1@gwr.com

Intercity Express Train 800008 also pays a nod to the World War Two codebreakers and their mastery of palindromes. And, as you might expect with something related to Alan Turing, there is more to the design of the new livery than first meets the eye.

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Alan’s niece, Inagh Payne, speaking on behalf of the family, said:

“Alan was very special to us and we are so incredibly proud of everything he did. Despite not being fond of neither fuss nor social occasions, he would have been delighted to have a train named after him.

“We have our own fond memories of him as a loving and caring uncle and it is wonderful to see this tribute to him, and that he is remembered, and his life celebrated by so many people.”

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GWR Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, said:

“It is an honour for us at GWR to name this Intercity Express Train after Alan Turing as we continue to remember those who gave so much during World War Two.

“We at Great Western Railway have a long history of naming trains after Great Westerners, the past and present heroes from across our network.

“It is also great to see this fabulous new Trainbow livery, celebrating not only Alan Turing but also the LGBTQ+ community across the GWR and indeed our colleagues within the rail industry.”

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Plymouth City Councillor for Compton, Cllr Dylan Tippetts, said:

“Thank you so much to GWR for always standing with the whole LGBTQ+ community and celebrating our diversity; the things that bring us together and not those that divide us.”

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Research Historian at Bletchley Park, Dr David Kenyon, said:

“It gives me great pleasure to add the endorsement of Bletchley Park Trust to the naming of this locomotive. We hope that it will remind travellers of Turing himself, but also of the thousands of others who worked alongside him to bring signals intelligence to Allied commanders and help bring victory in the Second World War.”

GCHQ Historian Dr David Abrutat said:  

“Turing’s scientific genius helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today. Today illustrates his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world.   

“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”

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. 

GTR cuts time to book assistance by two-thirds

GTR press release 25/04/2022

Passengers with Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express can now book assistance for their journey just two hours in advance of catching a train, at any time of the day.

Most disabled people and others who require the service, such as elderly people, simply ask for assistance when they arrive at the station. For others, however, pre-booking provides added reassurance and it can speed up their journey through the station.

Last year, as part of the nationwide improvement package, operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) staffed its helpline overnight, 24/7, to cut the time required to book from 10pm on the day before travel to six hours in advance. The latest change to two hours’ notice period cuts this by two-thirds and is part of an industry-wide initiative.

Carl Martin, Accessibility Lead at GTR, said: “Most people know what they are doing in the next couple of hours, so this reduced notice period should make a real difference. It will give customers who want the added reassurance of an arranged booking, greater flexibility and make our service more user-friendly.

“It’s all part of our commitment to improve the level of service we give people who need assistance to overcome the barriers that prevent independent travel on the railway.”

Passengers can request assistance either by phoning 0800 138 1016 (Textphone 0800 138 1018), visiting the Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern or Gatwick Express websites (Assisted Travel tab) or by downloading the Passenger Assist app at National Rail Enquiries.

Driving Diversity: GTR Recruiting Now for New Drivers

  • More than 160 trainee driver roles available at Govia Thameslink Railway
  • Applications are open until 13th December
  • Roles available across central and south England

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has more than 160 train driver jobs up for grabs across its portfolio of brands including Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express.

Open to anyone above the age of 21, becoming a train driver is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to start their career, change paths, or simply pursue a childhood dream.

The operator’s 18-month trainee driver programme offers stability while training, with a starting salary of £31,000. The new recruits will join the company’s diverse team of drivers that deliver 3,600 journeys every day.

Successful candidates will be based at GTR’s depots across the 800-mile network in central, south and south east England. Locations include Barnham and Brighton, to London Bridge, Welwyn and Hornsey.

The push for new drivers builds on the success of previous recruitment campaigns, which most recently resulted in double the amount of applications from women for driver positions this year compared to 2019. The company hopes to continue to attract more women to the industry, as well as a diverse range of candidates from all ages and walks of life that may have never considered a career in rail before.

Zoey Hudson, Head of Talent, Diversity and Inclusion at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “This year has been tougher than ever for the job market but but we’re continuing to invest in attracting and recruiting new and diverse talent into our business. It’s really important that we have a highly-skilled and diverse workforce, which is why we’re encouraging people of all backgrounds to seriously consider a role as a train driver.

“We want to challenge the stereotypes that are associated with careers in the railway and we mean it when we say that these roles are open to anyone. Whether you’re just starting out or are looking for a new challenge having lost your job due to the pandemic – consider the railway and apply to our trainee driver programme.”

Applications for trainee drivers are open now and will close at 23:59 on Sunday 13th December. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, initial interviews will be held virtually. Interested applicants should visit GTR’s career portal, which launched last year and has helped to streamline the hiring process as well as getting successful candidates into roles more quickly.

Southern spruces up south London stations

Proud Southern Railway station managers Nathaniel Owen and Steve Fleming are welcoming passengers to their newly spruced-up south London stations. Improvements at North Dulwich and Streatham are among the first to be completed in the train company’s network-wide, multimillion-pound programme that’s making every station a better place for passengers.

At North Dulwich, Nathaniel is showing off the freshly refurbished ticket hall, restored with “heritage” colours and period features that befit its protected Grade II listed status as a building of special historic interest. The ‘Moss Green’ woodwork and contrasting cream walls match the original paintwork applied to all Southern Railway station interiors in the 1920s, and the “period” feel continues with dado rails, wood-effect flooring and repainting of the Victorian fire surround.

Nathaniel said: “I’m delighted that so much care has been taken to look after this popular historic building for the local community, while making it look and work better for our passengers. People travelling towards central London will also benefit from a new platform shelter being installed very soon.”

North Dulwich, opened in 1868 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway company, was designed by Charles Barry Jr, the architect of the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street station as well as several notable Dulwich landmarks including Dulwich Park, New College and St Steven’s Church. He was the son of Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Palace of Westminster.

The three stations serving Streatham – Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Streatham itself – are enjoying a host of enhancements, many suggested by local people including the Streatham Transport Action Transport Group (SATG).

Neil Salt, Chair of SATG, visited Streatham and Streatham Common, where station manager Steve Fleming showed him the transformation in progress.

Steve said: “We’ve brightened up the station by painting the dark platform walls along the tunnelled area, refurbishing the waiting room and WC, and the ramp up to the waiting room entrance. We’re also improving the platform lighting, and letting more light onto the footbridge by replacing the boarding on the windows with frosted laminate.”

Southern are installing new benches and refurbishing toilets at all three stations.

Neil said: “It is great to see this investment in improvements that will be to the benefit of all regular users of the stations, and that they are immediately apparent. In particular, the brightening-up from the repaint, alongside the LED lighting soon to be installed under the bridge at Streatham station, will no doubt help to raise morale amongst all passengers as life gradually returns to something like normality over the months ahead. On behalf of Streatham’s rail passengers, thank you Southern Railway.”

Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said; “While we’re keeping trains and stations clean and safe for travel, we’re also making every Southern station look and work better for our passengers and their local communities. Hundreds of improvements now under way are the results of local people telling us their priorities and getting actively involved, and I thank everyone for helping us to be a good neighbour.”

New partnership set to brighten up stations and help local people bloom

Govia Thameslink Railway has announced it will be working with community and environmental charity Groundwork East to spruce up 19 stations across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

The projects will improve how the stations look and feel, and their sustainability credentials. A selection of stations will enjoy new landscaping including ‘pollinator areas’ to attract and protect bees. Local people will get the chance to be involved in the planting fun, with special ‘Community Days’ planned for passengers and residents.

At three of the stations – Bayford, Welham Green and Welwyn North – landscaping schemes will be carried out through Groundwork’s award-winning ‘Green Team’ training programme. This gives volunteers who are currently unemployed the opportunity to gain work experience, new skills and City & Guilds qualifications in both horticulture and employability.

Children at selected local schools will also be offered an exciting opportunity to create new artwork representing their area. Many of their creations will be permanently displayed at stations in the new year.

Future partnerships with other Groundwork regional teams are in the pipeline to freshen up a further 56 stations across the GTR network, making a total of 75.

Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, and James Newell, Groundwork East’s Executive Director, signed up to the partnership and launched the programme officially at Radlett station on Friday [20 November] by starting the planting of 100 crocus and daffodil bulbs.

Tom Moran said “We are delighted to be working with Groundwork to improve our stations and support our local communities. Our multimillion-pound station improvement programme includes landscaping or planting at 75 stations in total. Much of the work will be carried out by trainee landscapers recruited by Groundwork, who help support local people to develop their skills and ultimately find work.

“I’m looking forward to seeing our new landscaped areas in bloom next year as well as some of the fantastic new artwork we are commissioning to brighten up everyone’s journeys.”

James Newell said: “We’re delighted that GTR has engaged us to improve stations for their passengers. As a responsible business, GTR shares our mission to create stronger, healthier communities, and better prospects for local people.

“Our Green Team volunteers will transform spaces in and around stations while also receiving help with their employability. Local community groups will get involved in some landscaping work, including the creation of wildflower areas to support the nation’s bee population, which is under threat.”

Groundwork East start preparatory work this month, and passengers will see the artistic and horticultural results by early spring next year. The train operator is also discussing similar programmes to be carried out by Groundwork London and Groundwork South.

Lab tests see Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern trains test negative for Covid

Independent laboratory results show that Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern trains are testing negative for Covid-19 over three weeks after being treated with a long-lasting viruscide.

Operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) randomly selected carriages from all eight of its train fleets up to 23 days after carriages were treated with the long-lasting viruscide.

Swabs were then taken from areas in the train carriages frequently touched by passengers and staff – such as grab rails, tables, toilet handles, door buttons and the driver’s power-brake controllers which are in constant use.

The laboratory microbiological tests showed there was no presence of Covid-19on any of the surfaces tested.

Chief Operating Officer Steve White said: “We are carrying out a comprehensive testing regime of our trains to ensure that our customers can travel with confidence. Passengers can be reassured that the long-lasting viruscide we’re using, more than 100 extra cleaners and hospital-grade cleaning products are working. Please follow the government advice and wear a face covering.”

GTR, since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been using Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing to prove that its intensive cleaning regime is working, keeping microorganisms at bay.

The long-lasting viruscide is part of a series of measures to keep passengers safe, that include, across trains and stations:

  • 100 extra cleaning staff at work: 40,000 extra labour hours in three months to enhance the cleanliness of our stations, trains and staff areas.
  • All 2,700 carriages across Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express are sanitised overnight using specially-procured short-term anti-viral sprays, with a focus on touchpoints
  • New techniques – high-pressure dry steam and microfibre units are used for enhanced cleaning. Bleach fogging is used for decontamination where someone has been confirmed as having Covid-19

GTR continues to offer support and reassurance for passengers travelling during lockdown as identified in this press release.

Rail teams honour Unknown Warrior at Victoria 100 years on

Govia Thameslink Railway, Southeastern and Network Rail colleagues at Victoria last night came together for a two minute silence to mark the 100-year anniversary of the British Unknown Warrior’s journey to the station before his burial at Westminster Abbey.

In 1920, the body of the British Unknown Warrior arrived on platform 8 at London Victoria Station from Dover at 20:32 on the 10th November and lay there overnight before internment at Westminster Abbey on 11th November.

Exactly 100 years later, colleagues from GTR’s Southern, Southeastern and Network Rail held a two minute silence while ceremonially guarding Southern’s Poppy train, which arrived on platform 8 at 20:32, with wreaths laid to mark the railway team’s respect.

Initial plans for a public event to mark the centenary were scaled back in order to adhere to current lockdown rules.

Chris Fowler, Customer Services Director for Southern, said, “While we couldn’t hold the memorial that was planned, we wanted to honour the Unknown Warrior to mark this important anniversary; it is a powerful reminder of the railway’s role in the First World War and the terrible impact of conflict. Colleagues on duty were able to pay their respects, while also adhering to the current rules.”

Edward Winter, Station Manager for Southeastern at Victoria, said: “While this year’s commemorative events have to be low key, we’re very proud to be able to commemorate the Unknown Warrior’s journey from Dover to Victoria in this way. Passengers travelling on trains into and out of Victoria are also welcome take in the special exhibition on the Unknown Warrior over the coming week.”

Nicole Cohen-Wray, Stations Director for Network Rail’s Southern region said, “The Unknown Warrior represents the selfless sacrifice of so many, who fought and lost their life in the war so that we could be free. I’m sorry we have not been able to mark this special occasion in the way we initially hoped, but proud that the railway family was able to come together to pay our respects to the Unknown Warrior, 100 years later at Victoria station.”

At 20:32 on 10th November 1920 the unidentified British soldier arrived at Victoria station in a special railway carriage. His body lay at the station overnight before he was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey the next day – the ‘Unknown Warrior’ has in the years since become an important reminder of the sacrifice that comes with conflict.

To this day, the soldier’s tombstone is the only one in the Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk. The grave is capped with a black Belgian marble stone featuring an inscription by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, and was engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition.

Southern operator, GTR, last year launched its commemorative train to remember railway workers’ wartime service. Train number 377101 was emblazoned with a poppy and entered service in November last year as part of Southern’s support for The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal. 

A pop-up exhibition commemorating the anniversary opened this week at the station, including a series of panels created with the National Army Museum, which tells the story of the Unknown Warrior. The exhibition will be open until 16 November. For more information, go to: https://gloo.to/6MB7