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UK railway news round-up

21 Dec 2017

The Urban Transport Group of transport authorities has written to the Office of Rail & Road expressing concern that changes to infrastructure charging regimes could shift industry costs onto regional services ‘that don’t create the majority of that burden in the first place and which are least able to bear it’, according to UTG’s lead board member on rail issues, Ben Still. ‘This in turn will make regional railway services look far more expensive than they actually are, generating public subsidy per trip figures that are misleading but which can be used to undermine the case for continuing to support and invest in regional rail services’, he said.

The UFI Charitable Trust has awarded the National Skills Academy for Rail a grant to fund a project to encourage young unemployed adults to consider careers in digital rail. NSAR is to work with a specialist technology partner to develop Trax, a digital platform hosting videos exploring rail jobs which will be accessed via mobile devices and social media. The pilot is to focus on London and the southeast.

The Office of Rail & Road has published its economic enforcement policy and penalties statement relating to rail services in Northern Ireland.

Network Rail is reviewing its approach to managing its road vehicle fleet, and is seeking to understand options available in the market to ensure the best value over both the short-term and longer term. It is also seeking parties interested in the maintenance of road-rail vehicles. Expressions of interest should be submitted by January 12.

The Office of Rail & Road has begun consultation on options for amending notification factors in Schedule 4 of franchised passenger track access contracts, aiming to improve Network Rail’s incentives to plan possessions in accordance with passenger needs. Responses are invited by February 12.

Chiltern Railways is seeking volunteers to trial a smart phone ticketing system which would automatically determine journeys taken and then charge the best available rate at the end of the day. Participants must be iPhone users who travel from Oxford Parkway or Bicester Village to London Marylebone.

Transport for London is to call tenders in February to select six companies which would be granted 12 months of sector-exclusive advertising rights across the Elizabeth Line. ‘As the Elizabeth Line will redefine London, we are also redefining our approach to commercial partnerships’, said Graeme Craig, Director for Commercial Development. ‘We are seeking six exclusive partners who will work with us to work with us to launch the line, transforming how we work with leading brands to engage one of the most valuable and diverse audiences in the world.’

Sutton Council has approved Network Rail’s £2·5m proposal for new lifts and an underpass to provide step-free access at Carshalton station as part of the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme.

‘We are committed to this vision and we intend to present further growth proposals to ORR in the near future’, said Grand Central Managing Director Richard McClean after the Office of Rail & Road rejected an application for access rights to run an early morning Wakefield – London King’s Cross service, a return journey leaving London at 21.50, and to be able to call at Peterborough. The application did not reach the required ratio on ORR’s ‘Not Primarily Abstractive’ revenue test.

The Office of Rail & Road has published an update to its January 2017 financial framework consultation, outlining policy developments that have implications for Network Rail’s funding structure for CP6 and ORR’s route level approach to determining its revenue requirements. Comments are invited by January 18.

On December 18 the House of Lords approved regulations for Transport for the North to become the first statutory sub-national transport body in England. A motion will be considered in the House of Commons on January 10, which, if approved, would enable statutory status to be enacted for the new financial year.

From January 8 Greater Anglia is to close the ticket offices at Walton-on-the-Naze, Thorpe-le-Soken, Alresford, Great Bentley, Dovercourt, Harwich International and Great Chesterford. The TOC said sales at the stations ‘fall well below minimum sales thresholds set by the Department for Transport to consider an application to alter the statutory opening hours’, and no jobs would be lost as staff will be deployed as mobile ‘welcome hosts’ or to other ticket offices.

London Overground launched Night Overground services on December 15. A 24 h service operates between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate on weekends.