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UK railway news round-up

19 Apr 2018

GB Railfreight has awarded Alstom a 12-year contract worth £15m to maintain 12 Class 92 locomotives used on Caledonian Sleeper services. The work will be undertaken at Alstom's Wembley depot, securing employment for a production team of five people plus a number of support roles. 'Our new contract with GBRf will mean we are responsible for the entire train, delivering seamless maintenance of both locomotives and coaches', said Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK & Ireland.

Great Western Railway expanded the availability of mobile tickets across its network with effect from April 18. The scheme now covers all single and return tickets, including standard and first class and adult and child. Season, group, rangers and rovers tickets are not currently available. Tickets are displayed on the phone screen as an encrypted barcode to be scanned by new readers at ticket gates, and can also be checked on board by train managers with mobile barcode reading devices.  

Network Rail and train operating, passenger and freight organisations in the Anglia region have formed a dedicated route supervisory board to drive 'collaborative discussions that will enable more effective decision making.'  Its first meeting will be held in May.

The West Midlands Manufacturing Club's Get on Track programme to help regional SMEs tap into potential contracts for HS2 is being rolled out after a successful pilot. The programme delivered by Thornton & Lowe comprises three, one-day classroom based workshops, live webinars and dedicated telephone support. 'The common misconception is that HS2 is only open to major players', said Rebecca Macdonald, Business Development Manager for WMM.  'The course helps overcome many common barriers SMEs face to winning contracts like lack of knowledge about the process or feeling it is onerous or overly bureaucratic.'

Network Rail is seeking to appoint a service provider for the operation and maintenance of its current fleet of rail profile treatment trains. The contract would run for an initial three-year period with options to extend.

Planning approval has been granted for Translink's proposed £27m rebuild of Londonderry Waterside station as a multimodal transport hub. 'This decision marks the beginning of a significant transformation in the way people travel in the North-West region', said Head of Projects John Glass on April 11. 'As an important gateway it will encourage modal shift from car to public transport and other sustainable modes by providing integrated and convenient services to enhance connectivity and encourage more active travel for a healthier region.'

On April 13 ORR published an update on its work on the variable usage charge and infrastructure cost charges as part of the 2018 periodic review. This outlines that the draft determination to be published in June would include a proposal to cap/phase in the variable usage charge for freight and charter services for a time-limited period; ORR is considering whether such a proposal is appropriate for open access passenger operators; and that it has asked Network Rail to cancel publication of its ‘draft CP6 price list’ scheduled for April. 

Network Rail has announced that the 'old-fashioned' waiting rooms on platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly will be removed to create more standing space ahead of the May 20 timetable change. The old shelters will be replaced by smaller and more modern waiting rooms later in the year.

West Midlands Railway has taken over from Virgin Trains as manager of Wolverhampton station.

The Rail Safety & Standards Board has awarded a consortium of Liebherr-Transportation Systems, Newcastle University’s NewRail and Grand Central a grant to support the development of an active radial suspension system which could be retrofitted to an BT-10 bogie in order to reduce wheel and track wear. ARSS uses electro-hydraulic actuators originally developed by Liebherr for aerospace applications to actively steer wheels, thus reducing wheel and track wear. 

The 27 km route between Preston and Blackpool North reopened on April 16 following a 22-week closure while VolkerRail, J Murphy & Sons Ltd and Siemens upgraded the track, stations and signalling. The closure of the line was extended in March after severe weather disrupted work.

Alex Burrows has joined the University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Rail Research & Education as Business Director.