UK railway news round-up
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee published a report into delays to the Crossrail project on April 3, saying a 'fixation' on a delivery deadline of December 2018 led to signs that the programme was in trouble being missed or ignored. 'It is clear that the delivery deadline of December 2018 had been unrealistic for some time', said Chair Meg Hillier. 'But the Department for Transport, Transport for London and Crossrail Ltd continued to put a positive face on the programme long after mounting evidence should have prompted changes. Wishful thinking is no basis for spending public money and there remain serious risks to delivering this programme, with a revised schedule and costings for completing the work still to be agreed.'
In a trading update for its financial year ending on April 27, Stagecoach Group said its UK rail division had seen ‘further strong trading and positive progress‘, with financial performance ahead of expectations and continued good underlying revenue trends. It had ‘continued to make progress in achieving favourable outcomes from concluding industry charges and contractual matters associated with the expired South West Trains franchise, resulting in additional profit being recognised in the current financial year.‘
The allocation of £300m of Access for All funding for enhancements at 73 stations over the next five years was announced by the Department for Transport on April 4. Stations were selected by criteria including footfall weighted by disability in the area, value for money, local factors such as proximity to a hospital and a 'fair geographical spread'.
South Western Railway has launched a Station Watch Scheme to tackle anti-social behaviour and low-level crime at 10 stations. Subject to a review this autumn, SWR plans to extend it to other stations. The initial stations covered are Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Clapham Junction, Guildford, Richmond, Southampton Central, Staines, Surbiton, Wimbledon and Woking. Each station will have a tailored plan that will include patrols by SWR’s Rail Community Officers, security awareness sessions for passengers twice a year and partnership arrangements with Network Rail and British Transport Police.
Greater Anglia has decided not to proceed with a proposal to stop selling advance purchase tickets at booking offices.
Network Rail has started work to repair extensive damage to the Conwy Valley line which was closed on March 16 owing to significant flood damage caused by Storm Gareth. Detailed inspections including the use of drones found that 10 km of track, two stations, and eight level crossings require significant repair. The line is expected to reopen this summer.
Following enforcement action taken in November, on April 3 the Office of Rail & Road approved Network Rail’s Performance Action Plan. This includes establishing a new performance management system that will give it a clearer understanding of the factors causing delays; improving its response to incidents and the time taken to return to a normal service after disruption; and increasing operational capability through additional staff training and recruitment.
Pay-as-you-go travel with contactless bank cards and Oyster was expanded to Govia Thameslink Railway’s Hertford North, Bayford and Cuffley stations on April 2.
Network Rail is to renew the gateline leading to the main concourse at Leeds station, with new machines installed in a straighter alignment to improve passenger flow.