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UK railway news round-up

09 Aug 2018

The Department for Transport has awarded 23 projects a total of £700 000 in Transport Technology Research Innovation Grants under the December 2017 call for proposals. In the rail sector this includes £30 000 for a Heriot-Watt University project to develop a prototype flat panel antenna to provide reliable broadband connectivity on trains, £30 000 to support Cecence Ltd in the development and testing of a universal lightweight composite wheelchair ramp for trains, and £28 980 for Signly Ltd's development of an app which would provide access to rail disruption information for deaf and hard of hearing passengers who might miss station announcements.

Network Rail is seeking to appoint a train control partner to deliver digital train control systems on the East Coast Main Line under the Digital Railway programme. The framework agreement worth up to £1·8bn would comprise two main types of call-off contract, one covering professional services for an initial four-year term that may be extended up to eight years in annual increments, the other covering design, build, supply, installation and maintenance over 30 years from system commissioning. There would be separate procurements for a traffic management partner and a railway systems integrator partner; the later is required to carry out an independent assurance role so cannot also be appointed to the TCP or TMP roles.

Gee Communications has installed a public address system at Pontypridd station.

Having successfully tested a prototype, Network Rail intends to award Abtus a £2·65m contract to supply 80 mobile track geometry measurement tools capable of detecting and measuring cyclic top and also measuring cant, twist and gauge.

ScotRail has launched a £4m drive to recruit more than 100 drivers, conductors and ticket examiners. Network Rail says it will be creating around 200 jobs in Scotland this summer, including administrative, logistics, planning, technician and team leader roles as well as construction and project management posts and rail operative jobs.

On August 7 the Rail Accident Investigation Branch released its report into the derailment of a DMU at Loch Eilt on January 22 which was caused by a landslip. RAIB makes made one recommendation to Network Rail to promote the development of weather forecasting processes to take account of risk due to snowmelt and ground thaw, and there is one learning point concerning the importance of having effective arrangements in place for responding to environmental emergencies in remote areas.

The line through Newbury reopened on August 6 following a 21-day blockade to permit the installation of overhead wires between Reading and Newbury as part of the 25 kV 50 Hz electrification programme. Electric services are expected to begin in early 2019.

All ScotRail services between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High were operated by Class 365, 380 and 385 electric multiple-units for the first time since electrification on August 1. 

Amey has won a contract to design and build two temporary substations to provide power to construction equipment which will build the Chiltern Tunnel on High Speed 2.

The Welsh Government is providing Transport for Wales with £500 000 to complete planning of an upgrade to Wrexham North Junction which would reduce journey times and enable an increase in service frequency.

Lanes Group removed 25 tonnes of silt and rubble from a 1 400 mm high, 1 200 mm wide and 30 m long culvert at Atherton in just 20 h using a JHL 414 RECycler water jet. The recycler jet vac tanker could filter and use water from the culvert and reuse its own water to maximise productivity. 'If we did not have this highly-capable drainage equipment, and instead had to clear the culvert by hand, it would have taken a week, probably longer, while exposing the operatives to greater risks', said Ian Clapham, Lanes Area Development Manager for Manchester.

Network Rail has directly awarded Plasser UK a contract to overhaul and exchange the wheelsets on three 09-3X tampers and two USP5000 ballast regulators.

On August 2 the Rail Accident Investigation Branch released its report into a freight train derailment at Ely West Junction on August 14 2017. RAIB said the company responsible for the maintenance of the wagons should review its maintenance documentation to ensure that bogies remain adequately damped at all times. It also identified three learning points: a reminder that repair limits should not be used as maintenance limits; that entities in charge of maintenance should have a validated system of maintenance that ensures that vehicles remain safe for operation; and reminding maintainers of Y33 bogies that some have an inspection window to allow the damping system components to be visually examined.