RSSB has published its Standardisation of Coupling Arrangements report which recommends that trains travelling at speeds under 250 km/h should use couplers compatible with the Scharfenberg Type 12 and Voith 136 design. RSSB said there is currently only a 50% chance that the nearest locomotive to a broken-down train has a compatible coupler, dropping to 20% in some areas, and there could be savings of up to £2·6m/year from rescuing failed trains more efficiently.

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee published the government‘s response to its rail franchising report on April 26. The government said it ‘rejects the committee’s premise that franchising is no longer fit for purpose’, but welcomes ‘a number of the report’s recommendations, several of which reflect work streams already underway’.

Govia Thameslink Railway has installed InfoTech passenger information screens at St Albans City and Bedford stations which show 30 min worth of departures instead of the next three or four departures on the older screens, and also the location of first class, bicycle and wheelchair spaces. ‘These screens offer the great benefit of enabling passengers to see more departures at once and which trains are calling at their chosen destination, all in a shorter space of time’, said Passenger Services Director Stuart Cheshire.

The Department for Transport has published the second phase of a review of the current methods used for forecasting rail demand. It suggests a new forecasting methodology and set of recommended forecasting parameters.

Transport Scotland has awarded WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff a contract to produce a business case for journey time reductions, increased capacity and more efficient freight operations on the Highland Main Line between Inverness and the Central Belt.

TransPennine Express and First York have launched an integrated season ticket for University of York students. The term-time ticket covers TPE rail services between Leeds and York and all First York bus services. ‘We hope that the new ticket will encourage more students to consider using local transport as their preferred mode of travel to get in and around York‘, said First York Managing Director Marc Bichtemann.

As part of strategic focus on building closer relationships with the travel trade, ScotRail has launched a Gateway to Scotland range of six travel passes. ‘Along with a new range of print and digital marketing assets available to trade, we have also developed a white label product that can be incorporated into tour companies’ existing offering‘, said Jill Hampton, the operator’s first dedicated account manager for the travel trade. ‘By collating our tourism travel passes and tickets into one distinct, branded offering, messaging is simplified, helping travel professionals curate the best itinerary options.’

TransPennine Express has extended its booking period from 12 to 24 weeks before travel.

PwC’s head of transport strategy, economics and policy Daniel Hanson has joined the Hansford Review panel which is examining contestability in the rail market and exploring options for third-party investment and infrastructure delivery. The review is due to report its findings to the Network Rail board in spring 2017. The other members of the panel are Keolis CEO Alistair Gordon, Amey CEO Andy Milner, GB Railfreight Managing Director John Smith, Concerto partner Matthew Symes, former as Managing Director of the Thames Tideway Tunnel Project Mike Gerrard and Carillion Performance Improvement Director Zara Lamont.

TransPennine Express has awarded the Esk Valley Community Rail Partnership and not-for-profit bus operator Moorsbus a £29 000 grant to support a ‘MoorsPlus’ bus service offering connections from Danby station to destinations in the North York Moors National Park. Services will run every Saturday and Monday from May 1 to September 30.