The Department for Transport has published a prior information notice in the Official Journal of the European Union giving 12 months’ notice that it could directly award a contract for the operation of InterCity East Coast services for up to 60 months from June 28 2020. This would have a ‘core period’ of at least one year, with options for additional periods. DfT reserves the right not to proceed with the direct award, and told Railway Gazette that publication of the notice on July 2 was a procedural matter.

Oxford – Cambridge railway corridor project promoter East West Railway Co has completed a rolling stock market engagement exercise, ahead of a formal procurement process to be launched later this year. ‘Reactions to our approach from the rolling stock market have been extremely positive’, said Chief Executive Simon Blanchflower. ‘We’ve taken a purposeful approach to procurement, using this engagement period to effectively de-risk the project by working with the market to understand what’s available to meet our entry into service requirements, before defining our specifications.’

TransPennine Express formally took delivery of the first of its 19 five-car Hitachi Nova 1 trainsets on July 5 following acceptance from the Office of Rail & Road. Entry into service is planned ‘before the end of the year.‘ Meanwhile, testing of the CAF Nova 2 and Nova 3 fleets is ongoing. Three Nova 3 sets have now been accepted, however, ‘as a result of further faults that have emerged‘ the first is now expected to enter service ‘towards the end of summer‘. TPE said the delay has had a significant impact on staff training, which would now require more time.

On July 11 High Speed Rail Industry Leaders published the Why Britain Needs HS2 report as part of a submission to the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. ‘This report shows beyond question that HS2 is a great way to bring this country back together, with dozens of towns and cities set to benefit, even ones that will never see an HS2 train’, said HSRIL director Jim Steer. ‘HS2 must be delivered in full. The evidence is overwhelming. There is no Plan B for tackling the north-south transport divide.’

Wabtec’s Brush Traction site in Loughborough has completed a £2m project to return to service GB Railfreight locomotive 92 006, which had been stored in France since 2006. It has been fitted with Dellner couplers and improved communication equipment, and painted in Caledonian Sleeper livery. GBRf and Wabtec have now modified 12 Class 92 and six Class 73 locomotives for the overnight services.

On July 8 the Department for Transport announced a £150m scheme to upgrade Gatwick Airport station, including doubling the size of the concourse, adding five lifts and eight escalators and widening two platforms. The work to be undertaken in 2020-22 will be managed by Network Rail, with Gatwick Airport Ltd contributing £37m and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership £10m.

Transport for Wales has awarded framework contracts for the provision of engineering design, construction and maintenance services to a large number of specialist contractors.

The Department for Transport has announced a £20m fund for small-scale station accessibility improvements such as tactile paving, handrails and Harrington Humps which increase platform heights.