UK railway news round-up
Greater Anglia is to suspend seat reservations on its Norwich – London inter-city services for around six months from July 13, 'to prevent confusion or misunderstandings' during the transition to its new fleet. Advance fares will still be offered for specific services. 'The new trains are much longer than our existing fleet so getting a seat during the transition won’t be a problem', said Business Readiness Director Andrew Goodrum. 'Once the old trains are removed from service our seat reservations system will be reinstated’.
The National College for High Speed Rail has begun consultation on changing its name to the National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure, to be shortened as ATI. 'Our proposed name change is a response to the conversations we’ve been having with employers across the transport and infrastructure sectors', said Chief Executive Clair Mowbray. 'While High Speed Rail is core to our brand and offer, learnings from our start-up process have made it clear that our current name does not convey the broader scope of higher-level training that we are capable of offering. In our efforts to train the next generation of engineers needed for HS2 and beyond, we want to ensure that our vision and ability to support the broader transport and infrastructure sector is clearly articulated.'
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has released its report into a train dispatch accident involving a passenger and her dog at Elstree & Borehamwood station on September 7. There are two recommendations. One to Govia Thameslink Railway relates to the development of guidance to drivers on the time needed to safely observe the platform-train interface before and after closing the doors, and enhancing its driver management processes by routinely monitoring the safety of train dispatch. The second recommendation is to the Rail Delivery Group, in consultation with RSSB and train operators, and relates to investigating technologies to better assist train dispatch staff to detect people or items which may become trapped in train doors.
ScotRail has installed a Scheidt & Bachmann self-service ticket machine at Aviemore station which accepts card and contactless payments, and offers a range of season tickets and tickets for journeys up to 28 days in advance.
On April 28 West Midlands Trains undertook the first Leamington Spa – Nuneaton test run with two Class 172/0 DMUs cascaded from London Overground. From May 20 there will be an hourly service, with the Class 172/0s replacing Class 153s. A further six of the DMUs are expected to join the WMT fleet by the end of May, with one operating between Birmingham New Street and Hereford to replace a Class 150 which is being cascaded to Northern and the remaining units to be used on the Snow Hill lines to maintain capacity while the operator’s 27 existing Class 172 units undergo modifications.
On May 2 the National Audit Office published a report on Network Rail's sale to Telereal Trillium and Blackstone Property Partners of a 150-year lease on its commercial property portfolio. NAO said the £1·46bn raised was a fair price and more than had been expected, but long-term value for money would depend how Network Rail manages its ongoing relationship with the leaseholder and the impact on tenants and local economies.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has published its annual report for 2018, during which it received 376 notifications of accidents and incidents which resulted in 61 preliminary examinations, the start of 19 full investigations and 14 safety digests. The average time taken to publish full reports was 9·2 months from the date of occurrence. It also issued one interim report, 12 safety digests and three urgent safety advice notices.
The Urban Transport Group which brings together city region transport authorities has called for the Williams Rail Review to give greater emphasis to the devolution of control over regional and urban rail services. ‘Devolved authorities and administrations are far more accountable and responsive to the needs of both passengers and communities than officials sitting hundreds of miles away in Whitehall’, said director Jonathan Bray. ‘Devolved authorities and administrations are also much better able to ensure that rail ties in with wider local goals such as meeting housing need, serving new development opportunities, and reducing pollution and carbon emissions.’
Amey has awarded Britcon Engineering Services a £500 000 contract to provide a 15 m span footbridge, stair enclosures and two lift-shafts for the reconstruction of Market Harborough station.
Govia Thameslink Railway has completed the roll-out of free wi-fi across its Southern and Gatwick Express fleets, and the Great Northern fleets will be completed when the Moorgate line trains are all replaced by new Siemens Desiro City EMUs later this year. GTR said 46 of the 115 Siemens EMUs for Thameslink services had been supplied with wi-fi, and ‘options are being explored to retrofit the remainder.’