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UK railway news round-up

15 Feb 2018

Following modernisation work to be undertaken by contractor Cleary, Belfast Central station is to be renamed Lanyon Place with effect from September. ‘This work will provide a new modern, more welcoming frontage to replace the current “blast wall”, enhancements to the ticketing area, improved retail/café offerings and the provision of a new Belfast Bike dock’, said Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway. The Lanyon name is being adopted by neighbouring businesses, and the change ‘made sense in order to provide more clarity on where the station is geographically located within the city’, he added.

The Office of Rail & Road has announced its intention to modify the licences of train operators to require them to participate in an ombudsman scheme being developed by the Rail Delivery Group in response to discussions led by the Department for Transport. The scheme is expected to begin later in 2018. 'An ombudsman scheme will give passengers real certainty, consistency and clarity in how their complaints are handled; that is why we want every rail company to be required to join it;', said Stephanie Tobyn, ORR Deputy Director of Consumers, on February 8.

To increase capacity on the Manchester – Sheffield Hope Valley route, the Secretary of State for Transport has approved a Transport & Works Act order authorising the construction of a 1 km passing loop at Bamford; replacing the Hathersage West foot crossing with a footbridge; extending the Dore South Curve; and laying a second track at Dore & Totley station.

The Transport Select Committee has announced an inquiry into 'the imminent failure of the InterCity East Coast rail franchise, and the best options to maintain services in the interests of passengers and taxpayers'. Chair Lilian Greenwood said 'there are serious questions to be asked of the train operator, Network Rail and ministers, and the Transport Committee intends to ask them. The failure of the East Coast franchise has wider implications for rail franchising and the competitiveness of the current system’. Written submissions should be made by March 26.

The Office of Rail & Road has invited views by March 6 on ‘any high-level and material issues’ relating to Network Rail's strategic business plans for Control Period 6. Responses will inform the draft determination to be published in June.

Network Rail has extended into the first two years of Control Period 6 Story Contracting’s CP5 LNW North Renewals framework contract covering earthworks & drainage, structures and property. ‘This provides our team with the continuity to deliver high quality and safe solutions for our client’, said Story Rail Director Ian Purdham on February 13.

BemroseBooth Paragon's Paragon ID business has been awarded a 'multi-six figure' warehousing and distribution contract for ScotRail timetables. 'We are now seen by train operators such as ScotRail as much more than a ticket supplier', said Paragon ID Sales & Marketing Director Richard Farmer. 

Network Rail has awarded Echo Managed Services a seven-year contract to manage its 24 h helpline, helpdesk and out-of-hours media services across channels including voice, e-mail, web chat and social media. ‘We have a wealth of experience in delivering incident and issue management, resolution and communication as well as being the face of our clients’ operations’, said Karen Banfield, Contact Centre Director at EMS.

To coincide with school half-term holidays, the Scout Association and Arriva CrossCountry have launched a film which highlights safely near railways 'in a bright infographic style using colour and animation in a format that will be familiar to a school-age audience'.

Network Rail is to call tenders to appoint a new legal panel from April 1 2019. It currently uses a panel of four full-service and two specialist firms, and said it would be ‘essential for prospective partners to demonstrate an innovative approach, focused on continuous improvement and committed to driving value for money.’

London’s Friday/Saturday and Saturday/Sunday Night Overground services will be extended to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington stations from February 23, linking to the Night Tube network on the Victoria Line.

Professor Clive Roberts from the University of Birmingham has been named Chair of the Digital Connectivity workstream for the West Midlands Combined Authority's HS2 programme team. 

Responding to Transport Minister Jo Johnson’s February 12 statement that he would like to see ‘all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040’, Gary Cooper, director of Planning, Engineering & Operations at the Rail Delivery Group, said ‘decarbonising the railway will require the adoption of new technologies like hydrogen and battery powered trains, both of which the industry is looking at carefully and the electrification of more lines. The industry will work closely with government to explore what needs to be done to realise its vision.’

Cheshire East Borough Council has directly awarded Network Rail a contract to undertake the Crewe Hub Station Campus Integrated Study as part of the HS2 project.

Network Rail is to provide a drinking water fountain enabling passengers to refill bottles at London Charing Cross, as part of its ambitions to reduce the impact of plastic waste. Rollout across all Network Rail’s managed stations is planned for later in the year.

Following a three month test programme at the Rail Innovation & Development Centre at Melton Mowbray using two Bombardier Transportation Class 387 EMUs loaned by Great Western Railway, RSSB has published research showing that the use of variable rate sanders, which automatically apply more sand when braking at higher speeds, can dramatically reduce braking distances.

High Speed 2 has become the UK’s first infrastructure project to be awarded a BREEAM Infrastructure (pilot) scheme certificate for its sustainability strategy for Phase 1 of the project.

London Bridge is now the second Network Rail managed station to offer free wi-fi, after London Euston. Telent provided the infrastructure and C3 the wi-fi portal.