UK railway news round-up
ScotRail has revealed the interiors of the Class 385 EMUs which are being supplied by Hitachi Rail Europe. They feature at-seat power sockets, free wi-fi, cycle areas, space for prams and golf clubs, two wheelchair spaces and an accessible toilet with an ‘assist’ facility to allow companion access to the cubicle while maintaining privacy. ‘The finish of these trains will significantly improve the experience of customers travelling with us’, said ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes. ‘Their design has resulted in bright, spacious and accessible carriages, perfect for commuters, business customers and leisure travellers alike.‘
The Department for Transport has begun consultation on an update to its Community Rail Strategy for England and Wales, which it plans to finalise in spring 2018. The consultation focuses on four themes: connecting people to places and opportunities; supporting communities, diversity and inclusion; supporting local and regional economies; and suggesting innovative ways to improve the way the railway works.
On November 1 Transport for the North said it expects formal statutory status to be granted before the end of 2017. ‘Becoming a sub-national transport body will be a tremendous achievement enabling the north to legally inform transport investment priorities’, said Mobilisation Director Dawn Madin ‘We will have achieved 56 consents from authorities across the north including all 19 of our constituent authorities. Along with our 19 constituent authorities we have welcomed the powers that are contained within our draft regulations, and these are broadly in line with those which were envisioned when the organisation was formed in 2015.’
Govia Thameslink Railway began using Siemens Class 700 EMUs on two peak services between Peterborough and London King’s Cross on November 6. Some Great Northern route services are to scheduled to be extended onto the Thameslink route through London in May 2018.
A major project to upgrade the routes between Preston and Blackpool starts on November 11. The lines will be completely closed between Preston and Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations until January 28, when the line to Blackpool South will reopen. The line between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool North will remain closed until March 25.
Greater Anglia has introduced a Club 50 discount scheme for passengers aged 50 and over. The annual discount card costs £20 and offers a 20% saving on all Greater Anglia off-peak fares including Advance tickets purchased online, and a 10% saving on off-peak tickets purchased at Greater Anglia stations.
STM Group has been awarded a contract to provide security personnel to Govia Thameslink Railway.
Passengers on Virgin Atlantic airliners can use the onboard wi-fi supplied by Panasonic and Gogo to access the Heathrow Express website free of charge, enabling them to buy tickets for onward travel from the airport.
Leeds City Council’s executive board has approved a Leeds Integrated Station Masterplan developed with partners including Transport for the North, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, HS2 Ltd and Network Rail. This sets out proposals for an 'internationally significant gateway hub' which would integrate national, regional and local transport services including HS2.