Monday news roundup – Bumper edition!

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

Credit – Network rail Air Operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cot Hill bridge in Plympton reopens following essential structural repairs

Cot Hill bridge following essential repairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network Rail thanks residents and motorists as Torbay Road bridge reopens

Torbay Road bridge has reopened this morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works to reopen Essex footbridge start today

Varde Bullers bridge works

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reston station welcomes first passenger services

Minister and Reston Primary children at Reston station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets Walk London maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First train runs on Midlands’ newest and longest railway bridge

First train over SAS 13 bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network Rail is working with CrossCountry to keep people informed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principality Stadium

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

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

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

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

Ed Sheeran map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ScotRail to introduce temporary timetable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

a man wearing a blue tie

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

a man smiling for the camera

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

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

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

Thursday news roundup

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

The Manchester Railway Operating centre (ROC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step-free footbridge to revitalise rail journeys in Selby

Step-free footbridge to revitalise rail journeys in Selby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rail volunteers join forces for Bere Alston station spring clean

Volunteers at Bere Alston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petts Wood access for All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TfL Image- Reed Halo 1

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

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

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

TfL Image- Global on escalators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Elizabeth line unveiled on latest London Tube map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First testing of retrofitted ETCS train at RIDC

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

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

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

First testing of retrofitted ETCS train at RIDC2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday’s “Other news”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ronin Hutchinson & Team

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

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

Mark Millar, Chair of the Wey Valley CRP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

PN-037

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

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

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

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

© Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping tags on freight to improve safety across the railway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track renewal London Anglia

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

Gospel Oak to Barking

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

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

Between London and Enfield and London and Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refurbished footbridge at Cramlington station

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

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

Wednesday News Roundup

Around the news rooms from the past couple of days.

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

Caledonian Sleeper names engine in honour of Railway Heritage Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMR launches real-time SMS alert service

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2022-05-06 095938

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rail industry welcomes Queen’s Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

New rail timetable from THIS SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

North West  

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

North East 

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

Yorkshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about how your journey could be affected. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Grant MP visits Levenmouth Rail Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Railway re-opens following train derailment at Coatbridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four-day railway closure to ready railway for Commonwealth Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ScotRail’s half price seat sale kicks off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP said:

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

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

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

Lesley Kane, ScotRail Commercial Director, said:

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

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

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

News Roundup

The following contains today’s releases from the railway industry.

Brighter Journeys campaign set to breathe life and joy into railway stations this May

Mental Health Awareness Week will see the Brighter Journeys campaign grace the concourses of Britain’s railway stations as a way of making them brighter, happier community hubs. The joint campaign between the rail industry and mental health charity, Chasing the Stigma, aims to support passengers’ wellbeing as people return to the railway since the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Jake Mills – Brighter Journeys campaign

The Brighter Journeys campaign will bring the outside to stations, with bursts of colourful flowers in bloom greeting passengers as they embark on their journeys. The aim is that these sensory installations act as a pleasant surprise which lift people’s spirits and put smiles on their faces as they head to work, or for days out with their family.

Research shows that interacting with nature puts people in a more positive mindset and makes them feel more grounded and calm. This campaign uses the power of nature to make people feel happier and more connected to their local railway station, while raising awareness of the Hub of Hope app, which signposts people to support services if they are struggling with their mental health.

The campaign comes as new data from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) reports nearly three quarters of UK adults (70%) say their mental health has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with nearly a fifth (19%) describing their mental health as poor*.

Rupert Lown, chief health and safety officer at Network Rail, said: “We recognise that life since the pandemic is difficult for many people, with many challenges yet to be overcome. We hope that by running this campaign, we are bringing happiness and cheer to many passengers as they go about their daily lives, reminding them to take a pause and have a moment to connect with nature. And if they are struggling, the Hub of Hope is a great resource which offers a range of support services in their local area.”

Jake Mills, founder of Chasing the Stigma and Hub of Hope app, added: “It is great to be working with Network Rail and the wider rail industry on the Brighter Journeys campaign. Nature is really important for mental health, so we hope commuters enjoy seeing these floral installations and they put a smile on people’s faces.

“We also hope that this acts as a reminder that no one is ever alone, and mental health support is available at any time, you don’t have to be in crisis to get help. If anyone is struggling or knows someone who needs help, please download the Hub of Hope app.”

Dr Lisa Marzano from Middlesex University works with the rail industry to support passengers’ wellbeing. She is an expert in mental health and is supporting the Brighter Journeys campaign. Dr Marzano said: “Interrupting someone’s routine with a vibrant, positive display could contribute to their wellbeing if they are having a tough day – especially something which centres around nature as research shows this can really lift someone’s mood. Although restrictions have been lifted, we are still dealing with the after-effects of the pandemic and the mental health of many people up and down the country will still be in a fragile place. This campaign aims to direct those who are in need to support services no matter where they are, while sparking some positivity among those travelling by train.”

Brighter Journeys will signpost people to share and download the Hub of Hope app if they, or someone they know, are struggling with their mental health. The Hub of Hope – provided by Chasing the Stigma – is a free app that connects people to more than 4,000+ mental health support services and groups across the UK.

The Brighter Journeys campaign is also being supported by station retailers (at Liverpool Street Station only). Pure will be providing vouchers for free coffee on Monday 9 May, and Neal’s Yard Remedies will be handing out free samples of some of their best-selling products on Tuesday 10 May, 4-6pm.  

The sensory installation will be available to visit on the following days:

London Liverpool Street, 9-11 May

Leeds, 13-15 May  

Edinburgh Waverley, 17-19 May

Birmingham New Street, 9-10 May

Stevenage, 12-13 May  

East Croydon, 15-16 May

Cardiff, 18-19 May  

Barrow Haven’s new £1.3m platform underway

A brand-new £1.3m platform is being built at a North Lincolnshire station as part of a significant project to reinvigorate passengers’ experience and make train travel more attractive.

Barrow Haven station’s existing platform will be stripped out and replaced with a new, 60-metre-long structure, which will revitalise the station and make sure that people living in the area remain connected to the railway for many years to come.

Ground-breaking work began over the weekend (Sunday 8 May) and will continue until Monday 8 August. As a single platform station, no trains can call while the work is carried out. Passengers heading off along the Barton-on-Humber route should travel to the nearest stations (New Holland or Barton-on-Humber) to keep their journeys on track.

Matt Rice, North & East Route Director for Network Rail, said: “We’re giving Barrow Haven station a much-needed update, which I hope will encourage more people in the area to travel by train. It’ll bring a more modern, practical station with better amenities, and I’m excited to see the work now underway.

“We’ve worked closely with East Midlands Railway to keep the impact as low as possible, for passengers as well as those living nearby. I’d like to thank people for their support and apologise for any inconvenience our work causes.”

Raised tactile pavings will be also added along the length of the platform to help visually impaired passengers know when they’re close to the edge, making the station much safer for everybody.

East Midlands Railway are contributing a further £26,000 to fund additional station upgrades, including a new waiting shelter, cycle racks and station signage as well as a solar-powered help point.

Lisa Angus, Transition and Projects Director for EMR said: “We’re delighted to see this significant set of customer improvement works improving Barrow Haven station on our Barton-on-Humber route.

“As the station will be closed during this time, we’re encouraging passengers to travel to the nearest stations, New Holland (2 miles away) and Barton-on-Humber (4 miles away) if possible. Taxis will be provided for any passengers unable to do so.

“We would like to thank our passengers for their patience whilst the works are taking place.”

Passengers urged to plan ahead when using Lichfield Trent Valley station

Passengers using Lichfield Trent Valley station should plan ahead as journeys are impacted by a platform closure.

Platform 3 at Lichfield Trent Valley on the Cross City line, which also links platforms 1 and 2 on the West Coast main line, has been temporarily closed for safety reasons. The closure means Cross City line trains are currently unable to call at Lichfield Trent Valley and passengers cannot interchange between platforms 1 and 2.

West Midlands Trains is providing a regular bus service between Lichfield Trent Valley and Lichfield City to allow passengers to connect to Cross City line services. A bus is also running between platforms 1 and 2, which has a long alternative walking route.

Network Rail is working on plans to reopen the platform by installing a temporary support structure. It is expected this will take several weeks to install. The platform was due to be replaced in 2023 and plans are now being reviewed to bring that work forward.

Denise Wetton, Central route managing director, said: “I am sorry for the inconvenience caused but we had to reduce any risk to passengers and put safety first. We are working as quickly as possible to reopen the platform so normal service can resume. Thank you to passengers for their ongoing patience.”

Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director for West Midlands Trains, said: “I would like to thank our passengers for their patience while this important safety work is completed on platform 3 at Lichfield Trent Valley. The platform closure affects both Cross City line trains and access to West Coast Main Line services so I would urge passengers to plan ahead and allow extra time.”

Passengers can plan their journeys and check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.westmidlandsrailway.co.uk.  

Winnie the Wellbeing Piano to help promote mental health and wellbeing at Reading station

Winnie the Wellbeing Piano will burst into life tomorrow (Tuesday 10 May) when colleagues from Great Western Railway and Network Rail hit the high notes at Reading station.

Railway chaplain John Roe will be tinkling the ivories from 1000 as a piano designed to promote mental health and wellbeing is officially unveiled during Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘Winnie’ is located before the gate-line on the north side of the station, meaning you don’t have to travel and can just rock up and play a tune.

John will be accompanied by the newly-formed 13-strong GWR Wellbeing Choir and colleagues from Network Rail as he plays the ABBA classics Mamma Mia! and I Have A Dream, plus Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

‘Winnie’ was sourced by GWR Train Manager and Wellbeing Champion Beth Witney, who found it listed for free on Facebook Marketplace.

Beth said: “We were discussing lots of ideas in a wellbeing meeting and when a piano was suggested I thought I’d grab the bull by the horns and find one.

“I found one listed for free on Facebook 10 minutes from my home in Tilehurst. It was being given away by a lady who’d had it since she was a little girl. If we hadn’t turned up it was going to be sent to landfill.”

Network Rail Station Operations Manager at Reading station, Harry Smith, said: “We are delighted to welcome Winnie the Wellbeing Piano to Reading station, which I am sure will be a welcome addition and something passengers and visitors alike will enjoy playing.

“The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is something we take really seriously and we’re committed to doing all that we can to make the time people spend on the railway and in our stations as pleasant and enjoyable as possible, and this piano will undoubtedly help with that.

“I look forward to having a play on the piano myself, not that I expect my playing will warrant an audience!”

GWR Wellbeing Manager, Lucy Shephard, added: “Music is a great way of boosting mental health and we think this will be a popular addition. Several of our Wellbeing Champions and Mental Health First Aiders will be at Reading to provide some musical cheer for customers. We’re also delighted that our colleagues from Network Rail have been so supportive and will be joining us on the day.”

Glasgow’s Argyle line reopens on time for passengers

The route between Rutherglen and Exhibition Centre has re-opened following a £32m improvement project.

Network Rail has successfully completed work to the Argyle line, which will reopen as planned this Monday (May 9) following an eight-week programme of extensive engineering works.

The line closed on March 13 to allow engineers to deliver a £32m investment in repairing and renewing tunnels, bridges and tracks between Rutherglen and Exhibition Centre

It was the most significant piece of engineering on the line in a generation and was all designed to improve punctuality and reliability for passengers for years to come.

Engineers removed 500 tonnes of concrete encasement from the tunnels, with 700 structural beams repainted and more than 1,000 square metres of waterproofing applied.

All ScotRail services affected by the work resumed in time for the start of Monday morning service.

Jenny Gilruth, Transport Minister, said: “Passengers will undoubtedly welcome the news that this particular programme of work and its associated closures have come to an end. I’d like to thank them for their patience throughout, particularly users of Anderston station. I would also like to thank all of the staff at Network Rail and ScotRail who have facilitated these improvements, delivering them on time and within budget.

“The Scottish Government has provided £32m of funding for this work and will continue to significantly invest in rail infrastructure and services in Scotland which helps us to attract passengers back to rail. It is vital that we deliver reliable infrastructure and do so in a manner that minimises the impact of disruption to passengers and freight.

“Any project of this scale brings with it a number of challenges but at the same time also delivers significant improvements to Scotland’s Railway for passengers, including a reduction in the need for future disruption arising from any future works.

Jeremy Spence, programme manager, Network Rail, said: “I am pleased that this major programme of work to the Argyle line has been completed both on time and within budget.

“The complexity of a project that covers multiple work sites, involves a range of disciplines, not to mention the mobilisation of plant and equipment, is not without significant challenges. It’s a credit to the Network Rail project team, our contractors and supply chain partners that every element was delivered safely and on time.

“The outcome is a comprehensive programme of improvements and enhancements that futureproof Scotland’s Railway for passengers, as work on this scale will not be required for many years to come.

“Closing part of our infrastructure is something done rarely, as we fully appreciate the impact of this on our customers. Our decision was weighed against whether it was best to complete the work over an intense period of time by closing the line completely or prolong it over many months by only being able to undertake work at weekends.

“I would like to thank all the passengers whose travel plans have been affected for their patience and understanding over the past eight weeks.”

David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said“This was an ambitious programme of work and it’s great to see that it’s been completed on time, within budget, and with alternative transport arrangements working well for customers.

“The work has helped future proof the line and customers can look forward to a better journey experience.

“We’d ask them for a little bit more patience as we carry out further essential work at Anderston station over the next four weeks.

“We’ll be upgrading the entrance, booking office, concourse and platforms and installing a lift for better customer access.

“This is all part of our strategy to make ScotRail fit for the future with investment in infrastructure, more reliable timetables, and great offers like the half-price ticket sale which begins on 9 May.”

The Argyle line project includes improvements to Anderston station, with the closure of the station extended by four weeks until June 6. This is to allow engineers to complete critical work on the entrance, booking office, concourse and platforms.

By extending the closure, the most critical work will be finished earlier and reduces the overall time taken to renovate the station by 12 weeks, completing in the autumn instead of by December 2022.

Once complete, the station will feature a lift for better customer access, a remodelled booking office and modern finishes on the stairs, floors and ceilings. This also includes improving the outside area to the station, with a new-look glazed entrance and enhanced external lighting.

For up-to-date service information on the Argyle line, please visit https://www.scotrail.co.uk

If you have any questions about extending the closure of Anderston station, you can contact Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41. For the latest and progress updates follow on Twitter @NetworkRailScot and @ScotRail.

Boost for rail freight as industry joins forces to improve safety and performance

In a first for rail freight in Britain, Network Rail has joined with key industry partners to tackle delays and safety risks in a boost for the country’s thriving freight sector.

Data analysis by Network Rail, freight operators and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has shown that most delays on the freight network are due to wagon defects, including various brake faults, wheel faults, decoupling and door faults. If undetected, these defects have the potential to cause delays and safety risks to rail traffic.

The Condition of Freight Vehicles on the Network (CFVN) programme – funded by Network Rail’s £20m Freight Safety Improvement Portfolio (FSIP) – has developed processes for train preparation, wagon maintenance and the important role human factors play in performing safety critical tasks to reduce risk and improve performance across the network.

David Ethell, independent project manager for the National Freight Safety Group (NFSG), which oversees the CFVN programme, said:

“This is a sector wide project looking at learning and sharing good practice from across all the freight operating companies in Britain, to find where improvements can be made so we can introduce one common industry standard for the safe preparation of freight trains and vehicles.

“The maintenance of freight wagons to prescribed standards and the safe preparation of trains by qualified and competent staff are fundamental requirements of operating a safe freight railway. By resourcing the CFVN workstream the freight industry can collaborate and build better understanding of the factors impacting this risk.”

Speaking at the launch at DB Cargo’s Margam freight yard – one of the company’s busiest sites where on average around 40 freight trains arrive and depart the yard each day – Dougie Hill, from RSSB, spoke to the DB Cargo operations and engineering teams performing these safety critical duties and said:

“We need to hear your experiences. Your roles are of key importance in the safe operation of freight trains and fundamental to assisting the sector in improving and reducing derailment risk. Having such expertise on the ground every day is critical in the safe delivery of freight traffic. Sharing professional knowledge and understanding the challenges faced by the teams will be key in the development of CFVN risk mitigation action plans.

“I am delighted by how engaged, positive and motivated the ground staff and wagon fitters at Margam are in assisting us in this most important project.”

Marc Binney, head of safety for DB Cargo, said:

“This is very much a collaborative approach being taken by the freight sector. The project is incorporating all the rail freight operators where we will be looking at things collectively to find what we can do better together as an industry. When I look at the other freight operators, I see that we are all doing some train preparation and processes slightly differently so this project will look at how we can introduce a cohesive industry wide standard.”

SUNBELIEVABLE – Enough tickets sold in Rail Sale to reach the Sun

With more tickets sold than the entire population of Britain’s second largest city, Birmingham, the Great British Rail Sale has been a runaway success. Through this first-of-its-kind sale, this spring will see over 128 million miles of discounted journeys travelled on UK railways.

This first-ever industry wide sale saw more than one million rail tickets slashed by up to 50%, saving passengers over £7 million (or 15,000 years’ worth of takeaways*). The total distance of the journeys sold would create a rail trip from the Earth to the Sun and beyond, boldly going where no train has gone before. The Great British Rail Sale was launched to help ease some of the pressure on family finances at a time when the cost of living is increasing for people in the UK and across the wider world. 

The average price of tickets was around £7.50 during the sale, and the most popular routes have been:  

  • Newcastle to York 
  • London to Nottingham 
  • Oxford to London Paddington 
  • London to Sheffield 
  • Cambridge to London 

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: 

“The Great British Rail has been unprecedented in its scale, and equally unprecedented in its success.

“It has been fantastic to see so many of you jumping at the chance to head out on to our brilliant railway network, reconnecting with loved ones and exploring your favourite places across the country.  

“The whole rail family has come together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by saving hard working people millions on their journeys across Britain this spring” 

Jacqueline Starr, CEO of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“We are delighted that so many people have been able to take advantage of the Great British Rail Sale, and are exploring the fantastic locations that are accessible by rail for less at a time when we’re all feeling the squeeze. Customers who are planning to travel by train this summer can still make great savings on their next train journey by booking in advance, travelling off-peak or with a Railcard that provides 1/3 off most fares.”

The Government is listening to people’s concerns about rising living costs and is taking action with more than £22 billion of support in 2022-23 alone – which includes helping with the cost of energy bills and to efforts to ensure people keep more of their money. Offering half-price rail tickets is one of the ways the Government is further supporting families with the cost of living. 

Northern line Bank branch to re-open on schedule on Monday 16 May as TfL completes the current phase of vital upgrade work at Bank station

The Bank branch of the Northern line will re-open on schedule on Monday 16 May, after a 17-week planned closure as part of the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade project. Customers will be able to use Northern line services at all Bank branch stations between Kennington and Moorgate again from this date.

In addition, the new, wider southbound Northern line platform and spacious new customer concourse at Bank station will open to customers for the first time on the same day. Transport for London’s (TfL’s) project team have worked throughout the 17-week closure to safely finalise work on the brand-new Northern line tunnel and passenger concourse. They have also completed three new passageways, which will make moving around the station quicker and easier for Northern line customers, who should follow the new signage and directions from London Underground staff as they familiarise themselves with the new layout.

The last day of service for the Route 733 bus, which was introduced specifically for the Bank branch closure period, will be Friday 13 May.

The upgrade of Bank station will see its capacity increased by 40 per cent when work finishes later this year, with improvements still to come including step-free access to the Northern line and improved access to the DLR platforms, two new moving walkways, 12 new escalators and two new lifts. There will also be more direct routes within the station and a new station entrance on Cannon Street. Improving Bank station, at the heart of London’s financial district, by addressing long-standing capacity issues and making journeys through Bank safer, easier, quicker and more comfortable when fully complete later in 2022 is critical to supporting the growth and success of the City.

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

  • Connecting the new southbound Northern line tunnel to the existing railway
  • Converting the former southbound Northern line platform, which was built more than 100 years ago, into a new, spacious customer concourse
  • Installing all new track and railway systems within the new tunnel, followed by commissioning activities using multiple test trains
  • Fitting out the new station areas, which included installing flooring, wall coverings and signage on the new southbound Northern line platform

Stuart Harvey, Chief Capital Officer at Transport for London, said: “I’m delighted to confirm that we’re on schedule to fully re-open the Northern line on Monday 16 May after successfully completing the challenging next phase of vital upgrade works at Bank station. I’d like to thank our customers for their patience during this closure. The improvements we’re making at Bank station will be finished by the end of this year and will totally transform customer journeys through the station. Anyone who’s familiar with Bank station will know how its labyrinthian layout can be confusing and time-consuming to navigate.

“Northern line customers now have a new, wider southbound platform and spacious customer concourse. The countdown is on for completing the rest of this major upgrade which is one of the largest and most complicated subterranean railway complexes in the world.”

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

TfL image - Bank new southbound Northern line platform

The next phase of works at Bank station will now turn to the key interchange connections which includes the new escalators linking the Northern line to the DLR, and the two new moving walkways and three new escalators connecting the Northern and Central lines.

TfL is reminding customers to continue to check before they travel in the final week of the closure of the Bank branch between Kennington and Moorgate, as many lines and stations across central London are busier as a result. Customers can check how busy their station is before they travel, using the TfL website’s Journey Planner or via the TfL Go app.  

Full travel advice is available at tfl.gov.uk/northern-line-closure

All Aboard the Visitor Economy Express! Northern throws weight behind Newcastle Gateshead Initiative activity

Train operator, Northern, is set to partner with Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI) on a range of activity identified as crucial to the visitor economy.

The two organisations will focus on activity that will boost the city-region’s tourism offer, inward investment credentials and ease of access to the night-time economy.

The partnership comes ahead of a crucial year for the region, as it gets set to host the Rugby League World Cup, mark the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall and see the £300m redevelopment of Quayside.

Commenting on the planned activity, Kerry Peters, regional director for Northern, said: “Our services from Bishop Auckland, Carlisle, Chathill, Saltburn and Whitby have an important role to play in bringing people from across the North of England into both Newcastle and Gateshead.

“NGI has a great track record at both championing and delivering for the people and businesses of the region and we’re delighted to throw our weight behind their efforts.”

Sarah Green, chief executive of NGI said: “Our partnership with Northern is key in developing our offer and ability to promote our destination further afield.

“Transport partners are essential to NGI being able to show the ease and accessibility of public transport to NewcastleGateshead and we look forward to working together with Northern on a number of exciting projects in the future.”

Northern is the second-largest train operator in the country, with nearly 2,000 services a day across the length and breadth of its 500+ station network.

Samaritans to lead new mental health study for rail industry

Suicide prevention charity Samaritans has been commissioned by train operator Great Western Railway and the Department for Transport to lead a new research study on mental health and wellbeing support for the rail industry, in partnership with Mental Health at Work.

With the impact of two years working in a pandemic and uncertainty and change on the horizon for the rail industry, the study comes at a crucial time; when support for the sector is needed now more than ever.

Working with Mental Health at Work, Samaritans’ study will provide good practise recommendations for mental health provision, so that the industry can raise awareness for their staff and support those experiencing mental illness. It will aim to highlight existing barriers, as well as encourage a culture shift to destigmatise conversations around mental health.

A recent Rail Safety and Standards Board survey found that railway employees experience 1.5 times higher rate of anxiety compared to the rates seen in the general population. The survey also found that 43% of rail workers have a mental health condition and more than half of those said they experienced psychological or mental health issues because of their work in the rail industry, but only half had sought help.*

This Mental Health Awareness Week, the charity is calling on rail staff across the sector to contribute to the study and have their voices heard by taking part in an industry-wide survey, interviews and group discussions.

The short online survey will ask staff about their own experiences, their understanding of available support and their thoughts on improvements in seeking help. Launching in June, rail staff are invited to take part within the next six months, with the final study report being available next year.

Samaritans Research Project Manager, Suzy Ludlow, said: “We’re excited to be delivering this important study to support the mental health and wellbeing of the rail industry, thanks to GWR and DfT’s commitment.

“We know the pandemic has had a huge impact on the rail industry and its staff and this is likely to be felt for some time, so it’s so important and timely that we delve into what support is currently available and see where we can recommend improvements, so that every single person in the industry feels comfortable to be open about their mental health and supported to get the help they need. 

“We really want to encourage rail staff from all areas to get involved in the survey – from the frontline to the managing directors – so everyone can have their say. Having worked with the rail industry for over 10 years in suicide prevention, Samaritans knows the traumas that rail staff can face, so we hope this study will make a huge difference to the industry.”

GWR HR Director, Ruth Busby, said: “We’ve been working closely with the DfT and colleagues from across the rail industry to develop a study which will help to promote and support positive mental health. 

“The wellbeing of our colleagues is so important and this study is a further sign of our commitment to promoting an environment that supports positive mental health and supports colleagues experiencing trauma or mental illness.

“We look forward to learning the results from the study. This cross-industry approach means we can share best practice, learn from one another and provide the best support we can.” 

Alison Pay, Managing Director for Mental Health at Work, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Samaritans on this important research initiative for the rail industry. Supporting organisations to build capability across the mental health agenda for all employees, is at the centre of our work.

“Understanding mental health and wellbeing, with consideration for the extremely challenging circumstances of recent years, is pivotal in destigmatising conversations and encouraging access to appropriate and timely support. This research project will provide leaders with the information to make informed decisions on the future mental health strategy and support across the rail industry.”

Samaritans has worked in partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry since 2010 to reduce suicide on the railway and support those affected by them. The charity has trained 25,000 rail and British Transport Police staff in suicide prevention, as well as providing trauma support courses and working with the charity’s 20,000 listening volunteers to provide emotional support to staff and customers when needed across the network.

CASE STUDIES

Darran Hickery

Darran Hickery, GWR Depot Engineering Manager Technician, knows the importance of looking after our mental health following his own experience with depression. Darran is a big advocate for inspiring others to be open in the workplace to destigmatise mental health.

Darran said: “I’ve worked in the rail industry for 31 years. When I look back, I was on a downward spiral from the end of 2017, but I didn’t realise it at the time. I was trying to keep up with work and there was so much pressure, but I was putting on a front. One day in April 2018, I’d been in a conference that morning, which hadn’t gone well. I came out of it and went outside and phoned a colleague for a chat and I just burst into tears. I went to see my boss and I said, ‘I’m not alright’. Being a man, and even in 2018, there wasn’t much talk about mental health – thankfully today there is a massive difference and things have moved along.

He added: “I was off work for 17 weeks in total and when I came back, I was open and honest about my experience. When I opened up it was absolutely amazing how many others then shared their experiences. It’s a cliché but I don’t want anyone else to go through what I did. I manage my own mental health now by talking and helping others – sometimes a simple smile and a chat can be enough. We’re all human beings at the end of the day. If we can be a bit more sociable and look out for each other, it will be a better place.”  

Carol Foster

GWR Lead Customer Host Carol Foster also uses her personal experience to help others at work now that she’s a Mental Health First Aider. Carol said: “My story started in my 20s, before I joined the railway. It started with anxiety – I started having palpitations and panic attacks. I remember calling the doctor the first time it happened thinking I was having a heart attack. I managed to get to a point where I had control of it, but then halfway through our marriage my husband got sick and that’s when things started going even further downhill. He became clinically depressed and his behaviour in turn made me depressed too. There was only so much I could take, and I had terrible thoughts.

Carol added: “Part of what happened has made me who I am now. I think what I’ve been through makes being a Mental Health First Aider better. Having been there, I can empathise better with people because I know what I needed to hear. Being part of the onboard crew, I’m always visible and people see me out and about if they need to chat to me. I do find that helps some people – they just want to offload. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ really does make a difference.”

For more information and to get involved in the study, please email the Research Project Manager Suzy Ludlow at s.ludlow@samaritans.org

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call for free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org

Local brewery helps transform disused spot at Lancaster station

Copyright Stuart Walker Photography 2022

Local brewery opens new pub at Lancaster station following transformation of disused space. 

  • Avanti West Coast, Lancaster Brewery and Network Rail restore former storeroom
  • Works to transform station’s Grade II Listed building into pub now complete
  • New venue at Lancaster station celebrates region’s railway heritage

A new pub has opened its doors at Lancaster station following works by a local brewery, Avanti West Coast and Network Rail to lovingly restore a space which remained unused for more than 40 years  

Tite & Locke, a cask and keg beer emporium owned by Lancaster Brewery, is located on platform three in what was previously the station’s old storeroom.

Lancaster Brewery, Avanti West Coast, Network Rail and The Railway Heritage Trust joined together to carefully transform part of the Grade II Listed building, which has remained empty since it was used as a storeroom more than four decades ago.

The pub’s name celebrates two men who played a key part in Lancaster’s railway – architect, William Tite, who designed Lancaster station in the 1800s; and engineer, Joseph Locke, whose greatest legacy is the West Coast Main Line.

Adorned with rail memorabilia and featuring an original fireplace and tiled floor, which have been hidden for many years, Tite & Locke gives a nod to Lancaster’s railway heritage.

Efforts to give the space a new lease of life is part of the intercity operator’s commitment to work with local SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and make its stations part of the communities they serve.

Tite & Locke is Lancaster Brewery’s latest venue to open in the region and is the first of its kind for the brewer – offering customers the chance to spot trains or catch a glimpse of the showcase beer cellar.  

Michael Byrne, Avanti West Coast Station Manager at Lancaster, said: “We want to champion local businesses, so it has been great to work with Lancaster Brewery who shared our aspiration to transform this beautiful building and celebrate the region’s railway heritage.

“We’re delighted to see Tite & Locke open its doors and are proud to have played our part in bringing a new lease of life to this area of the station. We’re sure this unique space will be enjoyed by the local community and those travelling to and from Lancaster by train for many years to come.”

Phil Simpson, Director of Lancaster Brewery, said: “It’s really been a long-haul involving years of discussion, work and worry but it’s clear all the pain has been worthwhile. It’s a beautiful little pub, in a fascinating location with a uniquely diverse customer base. Our thanks to Avanti West Coast and Network Rail who have proven to be insightful, encouraging, and inspirational partners.”

Rory Kingdon, Senior Sponsor at Network Rail, said: “The design of the new public house at Lancaster station is not only sympathetic to the historic nature of the building, but it also delivers a new leisure facility for passengers, making this key West Coast Main Line transport hub an even more welcoming place to be.

“With the rail network bustling again, we’re calling on businesses, health care providers, charities and community groups, to make use of the rooms within rail stations and the high footfall of people they bring, to develop their potential.”

Tim Hedley-Jones, Executive Director of the Railway Heritage Trust, said: “The Railway Heritage Trust has been pleased to support the Lancaster Brewery in the development of the Tite and Locke pub. We are very pleased with what has been created. It aligns well with our objective of bringing redundant space back into use at listed stations while at the same time creating a great new facility for customers.”

Welsh timber returns to the railway for carbon-cutting test run

For the first time since 2005, a freight train carrying Welsh timber left Aberystwyth as part of a trial that could see regular freight traffic return to the Cambrian line.

The successful trial, aimed at exploring the feasibility of transporting timber by rail to reduce carbon emissions, opens up the possibility of removing hundreds of large lorries from the rural roads of mid Wales.

Two Network Rail Class 37 locomotives were used for the trial

The timber, which came from the forests of Ceredigion and Powys, was loaded onto a Colas Rail freight service at Aberystwyth on Friday 29 April, ready to be transported to the Kronospan manufacturing plant in Chirk, north Wales. Kronospan makes and distributes timber products such as wood panelling for furniture and flooring and plays an important role in the timber supply chain.

Ten wagons of unfinished timber left Aberystwyth on Friday, pulled by a pair of Class 37 locomotives owned by Network Rail, thanks to a partnership with the freight operator Colas Rail. The Class 37s were handpicked for the job in order to haul the 700-tonne load over the steep gradients of parts of the line, which skirts the edge of the Snowdonia mountain range.

Transporting this much timber by rail removed upwards of 16 lorries from the roads, helping to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion. It’s estimated that a quarter of a tonne of carbon dioxide was saved by using the railway for this purpose, which equates to 30,411 charges of your smart phone or the carbon emissions per passenger taking a one-way flight from Amsterdam to Rome.

Timber ready to be transported to Chirk

Jess Lippett, Network Rail senior route freight manager, said: “Rail freight is a vital part of our infrastructure, providing a fast, green, safe and efficient way of transporting goods.

“This trial run shows how we can work together to have a positive impact on the environment and the economy, with the potential to remove hundreds of lorries from rural roads while supporting local businesses.”

Simon Metcalf, business delivery manager (North) for Colas Rail said: “Colas Rail Freight, Kronospan and Network Rail have worked in partnership for many years developing cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions for the continuing transportation of timber by rail. 

“Our latest venture combines minimal road transportation of timber from the forests of Ceredigion and Powys to the strategic Railfreight hub in Aberystwyth. From here, approximately 700 tonnes of material can be moved by Colas Rail Freight in one trainload to the Kronospan manufacturing plant in Chirk. 

“These new services are the first commercial freight trains to operate over the Cambrian rail route for over 25 years – aside from one journey in the early 2000s – and combine route specific traction with state-of-the-art European Rail Traffic Management Signalling (ERTMS).

“Both Colas Rail and Kronospan continue to strive to identify the reduction of CO2 emissions across their business portfolio.” 

Owing to the success of this first trial run, Network Rail hopes to work with Kronospan and Colas Rail on another test journey in the near future.

Midlands’ longest railway bridge to be installed this weekend

NR Press release 04/05/2022

Final preparations are underway to install a new landmark railway bridge in Birmingham which will become the longest single-span railway structure in the West Midlands.

The 92-metre-long bridge in Stechford is being built by Network Rail in partnership with HS2 so future tracks for Britain’s new zero-carbon railway can pass underneath it.

Over the Early May Bank Holiday, an old railway viaduct on the Stechford to Aston freight line above was demolished ready for the new structure to be driven into place this coming weekend (7-8 May).

The new 2,600-tonne structure, known as the SAS 13 bridge, has been pre-assembled by contractor Skanska over the last 22 months in a huge compound beside the existing railway lines.

This construction method reduces carbon emissions and cuts the number of lorry movements on local roads, minimising impacts on the local community.

In numbers, the SAS 13 bridge:

  • Weighs a total of 2,600 tonnes (equivalent to 940 Mini Cooper cars)
  • Spans a distance of 92 metres
  • Is held together by 26,715 bolts weighing a total of 25 tonnes
  • Is made from 3,601 cubic metres of concrete
  • And 1,118 tonnes of steel
  • Is an investment of £85m to ready the existing railway for HS2

End to end the new metal bridge is 92 metres long – four metres shorter than London’s Elizabeth Tower – the home of Big Ben.

This coming weekend 18 huge remote-controlled vehicles known as Self Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT) will drive the new 2,600 tonne metal and concrete bridge into place before tracks are re-laid so trains can run again on Monday 23 May.

Each SPMT has 24 wheels, meaning 432 wheels will carry the load when the bridge is driven into its final position.

Today (Wednesday 4 May) an animation created by contractor Skanska has been released showing just how the complex work will be done.

Patrick Cawley, director for ‘On Network Works’ for HS2 and Network Rail, said: “Moving this 2,600 tonne bridge into place is no mean feat and the new structure will ensure Britain’s new zero-carbon, high-speed railway HS2 works in harmony with the existing rail routes into the second city.

“As you’d expect from such a complex engineering project, CrossCountry passengers will see changes to their weekend journeys in May. I’d urge people to please check before they travel using the National Rail Enquiries website or app, and I thank everyone in advance for their patience while we help build this railway for the future.”

Rosario Barcena, Skanska Rail programme director, said: “We’re extremely excited to be working with Network Rail and HS2 to deliver the SAS 13 bridge replacement project. This project will deliver the largest single span railway bridge in the West Midlands, improving connectivity and paving the way for the HS2 route into Birmingham City Centre.

“We have designed and constructed the bridge to deliver value for money, reduce impact to the environment and disruption to the local community. The bridge has been fabricated on-site, cutting carbon emissions and reducing vehicle movements to and from site. We’re looking forward to seeing it in operation.”

To carry out the work safely, CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Coleshill Parkway are being replaced with rail replacement buses each weekend in May*.

Passengers are being urged to plan their journeys in advance at www.nationalrail.co.uk or visit CrossCountry’s dedicated webpage here.

Network Rail Bank Holiday projects

Press releases from NR 26/04/2022

Swing bridge upgrades will deliver more reliable journeys for passengers in East Anglia

Network Rail’s planned upgrade of the electrical and mechanical systems of three swing bridges at Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad will improve reliability for passengers and reduce disruption for boat users.

Oulton Broad swing Bridge

Thought to date back to around 1905, the internal components of the three swing bridges haven’t been replaced in over 100 years and need frequent and costly maintenance. Starting autumn this year, Network Rail’s engineers will be upgrading the internal components for each bridge which includes replacing :

  • the winch systems,
  • hydraulic jacks and pipework,
  • lighting and;
  • Installing new power systems.

This work will make the bridges less prone to faults, reducing the need for maintenance and will be able to operate more reliably throughout the year for passengers. It will also benefit river traffic by providing more reliable access to the local waterways and support the local economy, especially throughout the busy summer period when tourists are welcomed to the area.

The three bridges are an important part of Network Rail’s railway heritage and work to the internal elements of the bridges will be carried out whilst also maintaining the current look-and-feel and heritage of each bridge.

Video of drone flypast of the three swing bridges at Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad. 

Travel advice for rail passengers

Network Rail is planning to close the Wherry line between Reedham and Lowestoft and the East Suffolk line between Lowestoft and Beccles to allow engineers to complete the upgrade work to the swing mechanisms. The bridges will be closed on the following dates:

  • Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2022
  • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October 2022
  • Saturday 22 October to Sunday 6 November 2022 inclusive (16 days)
  • Sunday 20 November 2022

Greater Anglia will be running a rail replacement bus service so that rail passengers are able to complete their journeys. Details will be available closer to the time of the work taking place on www.greateranglia.co.uk and www.nationalrailenquiries.co.uk.

Advice for boat users

We have been working in coordination with the Broads Authority to plan this work after the busy summer tourist period to minimise disruption. River access for vessels will be limited while the work takes place but there will be short windows of opportunity to open the bridges during the 16-day period to allow river access which will be communicated by The Broads Authority to boat users prior to works commencing. 

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “These bridges are an important part of our railway heritage and also an important part of keeping both rail and boat traffic moving. Renewing the components will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and help keep services running safely, smoothly and reliably for our passengers, as well as maintaining access to the ports and marinas.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “This work will make our Norwich and Ipswich to Lowestoft lines even more reliable, which I know our customers will welcome. While the work is going on we will make sure customers can still complete their journeys with a rail replacement bus service.”

Rob Rogers, Broads Authority Director of Operations, commented: “This much-needed investment by Network Rail into the Broads’ swing bridges is very much welcomed by the Broads Authority and our boating communities.

It has been a challenging few years for our river users regarding the bridges and we are delighted to hear that work is progressing to allow them to reliably open for river traffic.

We urge the boating community to note the periods of closure above and to check our website as the works progress for any navigation updates.”

For more information, please visit our Anglia swing bridge renewals project page

You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest news in the Anglia region @NetworkRailANG using the hashtag #AngliaSwingBridges

Essential track works to affect Cambridge and Stansted rail passengers this May Bank Holiday

Passengers travelling to Stansted and between London and Cambridge are advised to check before they travel this May Bank Holiday as Network Rail carries out essential track works in the Bishops Stortford area.

A quarter of a mile of track and five sets of points have been renewed at Bishops Stortford to date, with remaining work scheduled through May and June. The work is part of a package of improvement and includes:

  • Renewal of eleven points, the pieces of track that enable trains to change from one track to another
  • Over half a mile of track renewal
  • Re-timber and re-rail over two bridges
  • Platform works at Bishops Stortford station
  • Drainage works to keep the track bed in good condition

Passengers are advised to check how their journey might be affected before they travel.

Track works like these are essential to prevent issues that cause delays. Just like road surfaces, track wears out from constant use from trains, even more so on busy main lines. Maintenance is carried out to keep the track in working order, but eventually a full replacement is required to prevent delays.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “This year, most of the network will be available for passengers to enjoy days out by rail throughout the Bank holiday. Those planning to travel on the West Anglia line and those planning to travel to Stansted should check how their journey might be affected by the works. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we carry out this important work to renew the track to improve reliability on this busy line.”

The railway is vital to Britain’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and passengers can play a key role in boosting that recovery as they return to the network for both work and leisure.

Major changes to train services on Hounslow line in May after engineering work moved forward 24-hours

Network Rail engineers changed their plans so the return of the much-loved Army vs Navy rugby match at Twickenham on Saturday 30 April can go ahead with a full train service.

It means work to install over 10km of new cables and new signalling equipment on the Hounslow Loop line – which connects London Waterloo with Chiswick, Richmond, Twickenham, Hounslow and Brentford – will happen over the Bank Holiday weekend from Sunday, 1 May, continuing until Wednesday, 4 May.

Network Rail’s managing director for Wessex route, Mark Killick, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Army Navy match back on after so long and I’m pleased we’ve been able to move our work so fans can travel to and from the game by train. It does mean that we are going to be doing our engineering work well into the working week though, and it’s important that customers work out their routes to their workplaces.
“There will be replacement buses running along with the usual buses in the area, and the main line via Twickenham is going to be open throughout.
“This is part of a massive £375m scheme to improve the railway in the area and reduce the delays caused by signalling faults. Resignalling schemes like this one, and the track work that goes with it, are one of the best ways we have of improving the reliability of our network, so it’s really important we do the job and I’m grateful to our customers for their patience.”

The £375m Feltham and Wokingham resignalling scheme covers more than 80 miles of railway and over 500 pieces of signalling equipment.
The programme, which will finish in 2024, is replacing 1970s signalling infrastructure – the traffic lights of the railway – with a modern equivalent that will be much more reliable.
Once all those renewals and upgrades are complete, we will move control of the signalling system from Feltham and Wokingham to the state-of-the-art Wessex Rail Operating Centre (ROC) in Basingstoke.
The programme reached the halfway stage last weekend when new signalling kit was switched on in the Ascot and Virginia Water area, with new signalling technology on the Hounslow Loop set to go live in August next year 2023, before the final phase in Wokingham is switched on in 2024.

Christian Neill, SWR’s Customer Experience Director, said: “The work Network Rail is carrying out is set to significantly boost the reliability and performance of the railway, making it easier to get our customers to where they need to be.
“Closing the railway for four days is never a decision taken lightly, especially when two of those days are during the working week. Whilst it is important that to be able to keep leisure travellers and thousands of rugby fans moving on the Saturday, we’re urging anyone traveling from Sunday to Wednesday to check before they travel as a range of alternative transport options are available in the area.
“We’d also like to thank anyone impacted by these works for their patience and understanding as we work to enhance our network.”

For more information see https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/wessex/feltham-and-wokingham-re-signalling-programme/

Passengers reminded to ‘travel either side’ of early May bank holiday

Passengers travelling between London Euston and Scotland over the early May bank holiday are being urged to travel either side of the long weekend.

At Easter Network Rail invested £22m to improve future journeys for passengers and freight on the West Coast main line and key routes in the Midlands and North West.

Now a further £19.1m is being spent to complete or continue many of those major upgrades to improve passenger and freight journeys for the future.

This work means Euston station will be closed to main line train and London Overground services between Saturday April 30 and Monday 2 May due to major track upgrades in Watford and Wembley, including work to build Britain’s new zero-carbon railway HS2.

Like over Easter, trains will start and finish at Milton Keynes.

Network Rail is advising that the best time to travel will be on Friday 29 April and Tuesday 3 May.

Passengers needing to travel on the days in between could have longer journeys, fewer available seats, and may need to use rail replacement buses.

To plan journeys and for the latest travel information visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/wcml.

Dave Penney, Network Rail passenger director for the North West and Central region, said: “We made great progress on major railway improvements over Easter and I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while we carry out more must-do work between April 30 and 2 May. We know there is never an ideal time to shut the railway but bank holidays continue to be the least disruptive time for us to carry out this essential maintenance.

“With Euston closed our advice is once again to travel either side of the bank holiday on Friday 29 April and Tuesday 3 May where possible, and to plan ahead by checking National Rail Enquiries to see how your journey could be impacted.”

The essential work which will require the railway to be closed for periods between 30 April and 2 May are*:

  • Major track upgrades at Watford and Wembley
  • Railway drainage improvements in Camden to protect tracks from future flooding
  • Demolition of an old railway bridge between Birmingham New Street and Coleshill
  • Signalling – the traffic lights of the railway – being upgraded in Macclesfield
  • Bridge upgrade work in Carlisle
  • Track foundation strengthening in Warrington and Carlisle
  • Track replacement on the West Coast main line in Carstairs in Scotland

Nationally Network Rail is investing £70m on 550 projects to upgrade the railway over the early May bank holiday.

Passengers are also being advised about RMT strike action which will affect TransPennine Express services across the north of England on both Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May**.

Passengers should plan ahead at www.networkrail.co.uk/wcml, check with their train operators or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest journey information