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UK railway news round-up

21 Sep 2017

Direct Rail Services has invited expressions of interest in a contract to design, supply, commission and potentially maintain 10 diesel-electric locomotives for operation on freight and passenger services from Q3 2019.

The first of 56 Pendolino trainsets which are to be repainted at Alstom’s new Widnes facility under a £28m contract awarded by leasing company Angel Trains has returned to passenger service with Virgin Trains. The operator said the 'flowing silk' livery was inspired by the wind.

The Secretary of State for Transport has decided to re-regulate North Pole International depot in London. It was deregulated from section 16A(2) of the Railways Act 1993 because it was built for the Eurostar fleet, but has been re-regulated because it is being redeveloped for the Intercity Express Programme to maintain trains for domestic services.

Network Rail has awarded contracts for the provision of lineside tree inspection services to RSK ASDA Ltd (Anglia, Scotland, LNE EM, South East) and Higg-Line Contractors SW Ltd (Wessex, Western, Wales).

Merseytravel has agreed to add £765 000 to the £4·32m allocated by Lancashire County Council to further build a case for a new station at Headbolt Lane in Knowsley and the construction of a line to Skelmersdale town centre. Studies will look at future timetables, the impact of a potential freight connection to the Knowsley Industrial Park and land use, ownership and geology. The cost of the scheme is estimated at £300m, with completion envisaged within 10 years.

Govia Thameslink Railway has fitted Perpetuum sensors to the wheel bearings and gearboxes of all 40 of its Class 365 EMUs. ‘If a defect is developing it will create a specific vibration signature which our technology can isolate and e-mail an alert to Great Northern’s engineers‘, said Perpetuum Chief Executive Steve Turley. ‘Looking at other train operators, we’ve never had a failure in service for the components our sensors monitor.‘

Work has begun to install information screens, public address systems, CCTV, help points and induction loops at 25 stations in Greater Mancheter. A second phase will see tactile paving installed on the platform edges of several stations. The £2·4m project is being funded by Transport for Greater Manchester with completion planned for early summer 2018.

With effect from September 18, all Thameslink services are being operated using Siemens Class 700 EMUs. So far, 16 of the 55 12-car EMUs which are on on order and 39 of the 60 eight-car units have entered service.

As part of the Department for Transport‘s Access for All programme, Network Rail is about to submit planning applications for the installation of lifts and other accessibility improvements costing a total of  £30m at Bexley, Canterbury East, Carshalton, Coulsdon South, Crawley, Plumstead, Selhurst and Shortlands stations.

Contractor Buckingham Group has begun site clearance for the construction of Maghull North station on the Ormskirk branch of Merseyrail’s Northern Line. The £13m station is being developed by Network Rail on behalf of local transport authority Merseytravel, with opening scheduled for May 2018.

Northern is introducing new uniforms for customer facing staff between September 19 and the end of November. Designed by Debbie Johnson and supplied by HR Dennes Ltd, the range includes a jacket, short or long-sleeved shirt, jumper, cardigan, dress top, skirt, trousers and polo shirt.

Transport for London and Arriva Rail London have announced plans to 'review and modernise customer service' on the London Overground network. ARL is considering increasing the number of staff it directly employs in permanent roles, reducing reliance on agencies. The new positions would be multifunctional, with staff working in different areas of customer service. Stations would continue to be staffed at all times while trains are running and there would be no compulsory redundancies, but there would be a 'review of the role of ticket offices on a station-by-station basis and upgrading ticket machine functionality'. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said the union was ‘deeply concerned about the proposals which in our view could see the elimination of ticket offices‘.

The first of 26 Angel Trains HSTs which will be used by ScotRail from 2018 has arrived in Aberdeen for driver training. 'Our refurbished HSTs will connect Scotland's seven cities, offering better connections for commuters, business travellers and an opportunity for tourists to get out and about', said ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes on September 14. 'The refurbished HSTs will mean more seats, better services and an improved experience for our customers'.