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UK railway news round-up

10 Aug 2017

Arriva Trains UK has invited expressions of interest in financing ‘self-propelled units’ and a fleet of trainsets for the proposed South Wales Metro should it win the next Wales & Borders franchise.

HS2 Ltd has awarded WSP UK an £8·3m contract to provide railway systems technical support services for four years, with the possibility of two one-year extensions.

RSSB is consulting on the introduction of a structured framework of standards intended to ensure that steam and diesel hauled heritage and tourist services such as the Fort William – Mallaig Jacobite can operate safely and reliably alongside conventional services. RSSB said the standards which could be published in December would replace obsolete ones which have failed to keep up with the growth of the heritage sector.

Chiltern Railways is offering a ‘Kids’ Coach‘ with family games, arts and crafts, music and on-board entertainers on the 10.55 service from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone on August 9-11. If successful, it may operate again.

The Rail Delivery Group is working with the Department for Transport, Office of Rail & Road, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch to develop proposals for an independent ombudsman with the power to resolve passenger disputes. The free service is expected to start in early 2018. ‘Train companies are drawing up and fully supporting plans for an independent ombudsman to make journeys better now and for the long term’, said RDG Managing Director of Customer Experience Jacqueline Starr on August 4. ‘A fair, friendly, strong and independent appeals service will help rail companies learn lessons as they continue to invest to better connect the country.’ 

Network Rail, Transport for London and HS2 Ltd have requested industry feedback on their plan to procure jointly an industry Health & Safety Passport System which would manage access to sites, staff competence, health exposure and the safety of lone workers.

PTM Calibration was the sole bidder for a £200 000 Northern Ireland Railways contract covering calibration of general engineering hand tools and equipment including torque wrenches, pressure gauges and micrometres as well as rail-specific equipment such as TPWS test apparatus.

The West Midlands Rail group of 16 councils welcomed the publication of Network Rail’s West Midlands & Chilterns Route Study on August 4, saying the projects ‘would bring significant benefits for passengers and businesses if implemented‘. The proposed Midlands Rail Hub includes a series of upgrades around central Birmingham which would allow up to 150 extra trains per day to operate in and out of the city.

The first of Great Western Railway’s Eversholt-financed Hitachi Class 802 electro-diesel trainsets for Devon and Cornwall services began test running between Bruton and Cogload in Somerset on August 8.  Five-car set 802 001 will be based at the Stoke Gifford depot whilst the test programme is carried out, and two more trainsets are due to arrive for testing in the southwest within the coming weeks. ‘This is an exciting milestone for our team as we ensure the trains are delivered on time and in top condition‘, said Berry Sas, Projects Director at Hitachi Rail Europe.

The Department for International Trade and the Railway Industry Association are organising a UK suppliers’ rolling stock trade mission to Barcelona on October 24 and Madrid on October 25, including meetings with Alstom, Stadler and Talgo.

With funding from Tees Valley Combined Authority and TransPennine Express, Middlesbrough Council has appointed consultancy BDP to undertake a study to support the development of a ‘long-term vision’ for Middlesbrough station and the surrounding area. 

Hitachi has awarded ISS a three-year contract to provided cleaning services for the Great Western IEP fleet.

Following a meeting with Babcock and Network Rail, RMT welcomed the contractor’s agreement to meet Welsh Government ministers to look at ‘all sensible and appropriate alternatives’ to the proposed closure of its Newport depot which has put 31 jobs at risk.

Network Rail replaced 15 km of rail, 10 150 sleepers and 16 500 tonnes of ballast between Ipswich and Halesworth between July 29 and August 6, and installed a geogrid at Westerfield.