CAF has started design and engineering work for the 51 two-car and 26 three-car Civity UK diesel multiple-units which it is to supply from its Newport factory for use on the Wales & Borders franchise from early 2022.
The Department for Transport says it is close to reaching an agreement with the football authorities, British Transport Police and the Rail Delivery Group which would enable the trial of a scheme offering ticket flexibility so that football fans would not have to pay more for travel in the event that a match is rescheduled for television. They also aim to improve stewarding on match day trains.
In a trading update issued on February 19, FirstGroup said First Rail's like-for-like passenger revenue growth since the end of September 2018 had slowed to 4·2%, ‘principally reflecting significant infrastructure challenges which resulted in disappointing operating performance’. It was ‘working constructively’ with industry partners to improve operating performance, was ‘encouraged with the improvements made since the start of 2019’ and ‘engaged in discussions with the Department for Transport to work through potential commercial and contractual amendments, a process that remains ongoing’.
On February 18 ScotRail began using Hitachi Class 385 EMUs on weekday morning peak services on the Cathcart Circle and Glasgow Central – Newton routes. It now has 31 Class 385s operating on five routes.
On February 20 Welsh Government Economy & Transport Minister Ken Skates announced the reopening of a feasibility study into increasing the frequency of trains between Ebbw Vale and Cardiff to four per hour by 2024. The Welsh Government had entered into a contract to deliver the Ebbw Vale frequency enhancement scheme with Network Rail, but this was paused when costs began to escalate.
The Building the North’s New Railways report was published by the Northern Rail Industry Leaders group of businesses on February 21, setting out 14 recommendations for how companies can support planned rail investment. ‘The north already has world-leading expertise in delivering rail projects – from train manufacturers to signalling and telecoms, track systems and software providers’, said Co-Chair Justin Moss. ‘Today’s report shows how these businesses will work with TfN, HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, the government and all stakeholders to transform the north’s rail network over the coming years.’
Greater Anglia is improving cycle parking security at 13 stations following a review of bike parking on its network. This includes installing tamper-proof fixtures and fittings. ‘We have received several comments from customers, particularly those using Cambridge North, saying that security improvements on bike stands and racks are needed’, said Asset Management Director Simone Bailey. ‘We take feedback like this very seriously and have already started working on the improvements.’
On February 18 the House of Commons Transport Committee published the responses from the Department for Transport and the Office of Road & Rail to its report on the May 2018 timetable changes. Chair Lilian Greenwood welcomed the government‘s acceptance of the need for change to the timetabling process, and its recommendations about support for disabled passengers, but said DfT had failed to clarify where responsibility for timetabling will lie and had defered any substantive response to the committee’s recommendations until after the outcome of the Williams Review.
From February 18 passengers in Merseyside can buy weekly, monthly and annual Railpass season tickets on the Walrus smart card. 'We’re now looking at how we create a new smart ticket, as well as contactless and online payment options, which is fit for the future and will work seamlessly across the entire city region', said Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram. 'The network of different operators and the range of technology used across the local transport network make it more complicated than we ever would have liked to get a London-like scheme operating here, but we’re working hard with our partners to deliver the smart ticketing scheme that our people deserve.’