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UK railway news round-up

05 Jul 2018

The government announced on July 4 that the High Speed 2 Phase 2b eastern leg rolling stock depot would be close to Junction 45 of the M1 motorway in the Aire Valley to the east of Leeds, rather than at Crofton near Wakefield as previously proposed.

Greater Anglia has announced a £3m deal to store its new Stadler trainsets on the Mid-Norfolk Railway in 2019-20 ahead of their entry into passenger service. This will include laying new tracks on the heritage line. 'Not only is the location convenient for our Crown Point Depot in Norwich, where the new Stadler trains will be based, but it’s great to be able to work with a local heritage railway in our region and deliver a scheme which will result in a legacy benefit of additional facilities for the MNR and the local community', said Franchising & Programmes Director Mike Kean.

'I am disappointed to be reporting significant exceptional costs in respect of Virgin Trains East Coast but I am pleased that there is now clarity for both customers and shareholders', said Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths on June 28 when presenting the group's preliminary results for the year to April 28. These included £85·6m of net exceptional expenses in respect of VTEC.  'We have made significant progress elsewhere in our rail portfolio and continue to see value and opportunities’, he said. ‘We welcome the positive changes by the Department for Transport to ensure a more balanced share of revenue risk between the Department and UK train operators.  We are continuing work on bids for new South Eastern, West Coast Partnership and East Midlands rail franchises and we will maintain a disciplined approach to all rail bids.'

Network Rail has invited industry input into a review of point operating equipment it is undertaking with a view to redefining specifications to improve reliability, availability and safety.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority is seeking feedback on proposals for new stations at White Rose and Thorpe Park. 'These stations are planned to meet the needs of people travelling to and from two areas of employment growth', said Leeds Councillor Richard Lewis. 'Thorpe Park will provide a park-and-ride for the east of the city as a whole and a rapid public transport link into the city for the planned population growth around it'.

On July 4 Transport Focus published a review of passenger information during the cold spell in March. The Passenger information during the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma report recommends that operators advising passengers not to travel should make it clear which routes are included and their refund rights, that operators suggesting passengers use other companies’ services should provide information if these are also disrupted, and that websites should be able to cope with high volumes of traffic. ‘We have made some recommendations and are working with operators to ensure they take them on board, especially during current timetable and heat-related disruption‘, said Head of Strategy Guy Dangerfield.

The Office of Rail & Road has granted type authorisation enabling passengers to be carried on ScotRail's Hitachi Class 385 EMUs. This includes formal acceptance of the new flat windscreens for the trains, replacing the curved windscreens which had resulted in drivers seeing 'ghost' aspects when approaching signals in poor light. The flat windscreens will be installed on new units at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory and retrofitted to already completed units at Springburn. On July 4 ScotRail said there was as yet no date for entry into service.

Transport for London has awarded GB Railfreight the Crossrail 'Yellow Plant' contract, covering the operation of on-track plant for five years from September with the potential for a three-year extension. GBRf said this would see the company diversify from its traditional ‘hook and haul’ activities to a more varied business model.

On July 6 work will begin to lengthen platforms at Hebden Bridge station and upgrade track and signalling. This is part of a wider improvement scheme which includes the installation of lifts and the creation of a further 46 car parking spaces.