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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

London is paying for most of the Elizabeth line, with nearly 70 per cent of the total funding paid by London – made up of roughly 30 per cent is from London’s farepayers, around 40 per cent from London’s businesses – combined with 30 per cent from Government.

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

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

In the run up to opening, station staff are making final preparations at the nine new central section stations. Businesses from right around the UK have benefited from work connected to the Elizabeth line. Throughout its construction, the railway has had an extensive supply chain which has supported businesses of all sizes, and jobs and skills creation across the whole country. The Class 345 trains running on the Elizabeth line were built in Derby, roundels and signage for the line were supplied by a family-run business on the Isle of Wight, and a company based in Leeds strengthened and protected London’s Victorian sewer networks during construction.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday’s “Other news”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ronin Hutchinson & Team

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

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

Mark Millar, Chair of the Wey Valley CRP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

PN-037

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

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

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

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

© Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Caroline Teo- Bank Extension 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping tags on freight to improve safety across the railway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track renewal London Anglia

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

Gospel Oak to Barking

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

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

Between London and Enfield and London and Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

Elizabeth line to open on 24 May 2022

Transport for London (TfL) has today confirmed that, subject to final safety approvals, the Elizabeth line will open on Tuesday 24 May 2022. The Elizabeth 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. The Elizabeth line will initially operate as three separate railways, with services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield connecting with the central tunnels from autumn this year.

In the coming weeks, Elizabeth line signage will continue to be uncovered across the network in preparation for the start of customer service. The updated Tube and Rail map will also be released later showing the new central section stations connected with the rest of the TfL network for the first time.

TfL Image - Elizabeth line Paddington station platform

The new line is set to be crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options, supporting regeneration across the capital, and adding an estimated £42bn to the UK economy.

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

All services between Reading and Heathrow to Paddington and Shenfield to Liverpool Street, currently operating as TfL Rail, will be rebranded to the Elizabeth line. Customers travelling between Reading or Heathrow into London will need to change at Paddington for services into the central section of the route, and customers from Shenfield into London will need to change at Liverpool Street. Services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels in autumn when frequencies will also be increased to 22 trains per hour in the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel.

TfL Image - Elizabeth line train interior

Customers will be able to plan their journeys on the Elizabeth line using the TfL Go app and Journey Planner ahead of the railway opening. The new railway will connect stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes, transforming how Londoners and visitors navigate the capital. This journey currently takes more than 30 minutes to complete using the Tube.

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.

Andy Byford, Transport for London’s Commissioner, said: “I am delighted that we can now announce a date for the opening of the Elizabeth line in May. We are using these final few weeks to continue to build up reliability on the railway and get the Elizabeth line ready to welcome customers. The opening day is set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK, and we look forward to showcasing a simply stunning addition to our network.”

TfL Image - Elizabeth line map May 22

Work is ongoing at Bond Street Elizabeth line station, which means that it will not open with the other stations on 24 May. The station continues to make good progress and the team at Bond Street are working hard to open the station to customers later this year.

Changes will be made to 14 bus routes to improve links to Elizabeth line stations in east and south-east London, where many customers will use buses to get to and from stations. The changes will take effect from Saturday 14 and Saturday 21 May. This includes the new route 304, which will operate between Manor Park and Custom House stations from 21 May.