On December 7 the Office of Rail & Road published its recommendations for preventing a repeat of the May 2018 timetable failure, alongside a draft final order requiring Network Rail to improve its timetabling process. Recommendations include clearer scope for industry boards to oversee major network change; independent, system-wide advice and auditing for major network changes; addressing optimism bias by learning from other sectors; and enhanced monitoring by ORR. 'We found systemic failures that needed to be resolved in order to reduce the possibility that passengers have to endure these conditions again’, said ORR and Inquiry Chairman Stephen Glaister. ‘Our recommendations will now mean that in every project, impact on passengers will be a central consideration – as it should always be.'
National Rail is testing technology from Zipabout designed to provide passengers with personalised travel information through Facebook Messenger. Passengers who take part in the trial will be able to sign up to receive alerts for regular commutes and one-off journeys via a Keep Me Updated button. ‘For years Twitter has been the main source of information for those looking for minute by minute information on travel news’, said Alex Froom, Zipabout’s Head of Product. ‘Whilst Twitter is a great information tool, people don’t want to scroll endlessly through news feeds to find out about delays to journeys that may not be relevant to them.’
On December 7 the Department for Transport published The Case for East West Rail, Western Section Phase 2 setting out the reasons why the government supports the project to reinstate a rail link between Bicester/Aylesbury and Milton Keynes/Bedford.
LNER has added the Seatfrog first class upgrade auction app to its LNER4Business booking platform for business users.
On December 11 Transport for London published its draft updated business plan for 2018/19 to 2023/24.
The Office of Rail & Road published its 2017-18 estimates of station usage on December 11. London Waterloo was the busiest station for the 15th consecutive year, despite the total number of entries and exits falling by 5 million to 94·4 million. British Steel Redcar was the least used station with 40 entries and exits, while last year’s quietest station Barry Links more than doubled its entries and exits to 52.
The former Eurostar terminal at London Waterloo reopened permanently on December 10, with platforms 20 to 22 in regular use for services to Reading, Windsor and southwest London. Platforms 23 and 24 are set to come into use in May next. Developer London & Continental Railways will begin work next year to create a ‘retail, leisure and cultural destination‘ underneath platforms 20 to 24 by 2021.
An £800 000 refurbishment of Upminster station has been completed by c2c, with the platform 1 ticket office and waiting room rebuilt and the entrance from the car park and bus stop refurbished. Further plans include a project to modernise the main entrance and installing new ticket machines, and an application has been made for Access for All funding to improve access to platform 6.
Advance tickets for London Northwestern Railway services between Birmingham, Northampton and London Euston can now be booked until 1 h before departure, down from 2 h.
Work has begun on a £2·3m upgrade of Lichfield Trent Valley station funded under the Access for All programme.
Network Rail has appointed Amco as main contractor for a £13m enhancement of Dunbar station, including a second platform and a fully-accessible footbridge with lifts.