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UK railway news round-up

27 Jul 2017

TransPennine Express and Eversholt Rail have returned to service the first of 51 Siemens Class 185 DMUs to be refurbished in a £32m programme. Changes include new seats with fabric from Camira in standard class and leather in first class, power sockets at each pair of seats, bigger tables for laptops and devices, refitted toilets, LED lighting and curtains from AW Hainsworth. When the full programme is completed in 2018 the DMUs will be fitted with information screens, free wi-fi and on-board entertainment. 

A 'new partnership' has been announced which will see the Rail Supply Group become a strategic board of the Rail Delivery Group, while maintaining its 'necessary independence' and remaining as one of the government's industrial councils to act as a thought leadership body. 'As one team working together we can give the railway and the rail supply chain a more powerful voice', said RDG chief executive Paul Plummer on July 24. 'By plugging into the resources, structures and expertise of the RDG, the RSG can do more to drive growth in the supply chain', said RSG Chair Gordon Wakeford.

The Office of Rail & Road has published Measuring Up, its annual report on train operators’ ticket retailing, passenger information, assistance, complaints and compensation. It found examples of good practice in providing help from train companies, but generally low levels of satisfaction with complaints handling.

Network Rail set out the revised timetable for completing electrification of the Gospel Oak – Barking line on July 26. Installation is now expected to be finished in January 2018, followed by testing and driver training before the start of electric services in ‘spring 2018‘. There will be weekend closures from July 29 to September 10, and longer closures are proposed from September 17 to October 22 and from November 27 to January 14.

The line between Walsall and Rugeley Trent Valley is to close from August 13 to 28 to enable works including track realignment, platform alterations, piling and the erection of stanchions ahead of the overhead electrification equipment being installed in 2018.

Innovate UK has awarded Vivarail an Accelerating Innovation in Rail grant to support the development of a battery powered variant of its D-Train multiple-unit. ‘Our EMU/battery hybrid train will be able to make use of existing overhead lines or sections of third rail for charging the battery during the journey, or a diesel-battery hybrid could use the engines as range extenders’, said Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter. ‘We are also working with other market-leading experts to develop charging points where the train can draw power to recharge the batteries whilst stopped.’

A Hitachi Class 800 trainset has been successfully tested at Network Rail's ERTMS National Integration Facility using onboard ETCS Baseline 3 equipment with Baseline 2 trackside equipment. ‘Passing digital signalling tests is a major breakthrough for the industry‘, said Andy Rogers, Programme Director at Hitachi Rail Europe.  

Govia Thameslink Railway has begun the roll-out of free Icomera wi-fi on Southern metro, West London Line and Thameslink services. 'We've had it on our new Gatwick Express fleet for 10 months; now it's been switched on across our new Great Northern trains', said Engineering Director Gerry McFadden on July 24. 'Steadily we'll be adding wi-fi to other trains in our fleet.'

Network Rail and South West Trains are publicising the major disruption during ‘the largest upgrade scheme at London Waterloo for decades’ which will see platforms 1 to 10  closed from August 5 to August 28 to enable modification to accommodate 10-car trains. Passengers are being warned they could face waiting times of up to 60 min at some stations.

On July 20 the Office of Rail & Road began seeking views on what Network Rail, ORR and the wider industry need to do differently to improve renewals efficiency in Control Period 6 (2019-2024). The outcome of this consultation will inform ORR’s approach to scrutinising Network Rail’s strategic business plans. Comments are sought by September 13.

The Women in Rail South Regional Group is to be launched in Reading on August 21.