Grant Shapps was appointed Secretary of State for Transport in new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet on July 24. The Member of Parliament for Welwyn Hatfield succeeds Chris Grayling.

The Office of Rail & Road published its annual Network Rail Monitor assessment of the infrastructure manager’s performance on July 18. ORR said there was a ‘mixed picture’, with ‘good performance by the company in managing its infrastructure assets and for the freight sector, but continued underperformance in the key areas of passenger train performance and efficiency.’ Performance remained strong for the freight sector, with delays dropping from 12·1 to 11·6 min per 100 train-km and on-time arrivals reaching 94%. Infrastructure reliability also improved, having been ‘generally positive’ throughout CP5 compared to the previous control period.

The Competition & Markets Authority’s Phase 1 investigation of the next East Midlands franchise has identified competition concerns on the Norwich – Thetford – Ely route, where Abellio would operate both East Midlands and Greater Anglia services from August 18. In previous similar cases the CMA’s concerns were resolved by the operator agreeing to price-caps. ‘If the franchise is awarded to Abellio as currently planned, we’re concerned passengers could face ;increased prices’, said Joel Bamford, Senior Director of Mergers. ‘We look forward to hearing from Abellio about how they will seek to overcome these concerns.’

Knight Architects and Arup have secured planning permission for an 'exemplary, site-specific' footbridge to replace a foot crossing which provides access to a beach across the Lewes – Seaford line in the South Downs National Park. The architects said the majority of users are time-rich, and the design would 'provide a recreational journey through the landscape which also offers new viewpoints of the coast and the historic lost village of Tide Mills'.

Heathrow Express has appointed NCC Group to minimise downtime for its mobile ticketing application by creating a replica of its Amazon Web Services cloud environment. This will provide access in the event of a software supplier failure or other unforeseen disruptions.

The government confirmed up to £58m of funding for an upgrade of Cardiff Central station on July 22. Plans include improved access, accommodating longer trains and changes to ease congestion.

In its largest contract to date, Axminster Carpets has supplied wool blend carpets for the refurbishment of 825 South Western Railway Class 450, 444, 442, 158 and 159 vehicles.

The Department for Transport has set out its strategy for how it expects Network Rail to manage lineside vegetation while ensuring safety. This follows the Valuing Nature – A Railway For People And Wildlife review undertaken last year by John Varley, a non-executive director of the Environment Agency. Network Rail must produce a vision statement and biodiversity action plan by December setting out how it will achieve no net loss in biodiversity across the network by 2024, and a net gain by 2040.

Transport Focus has launched the 'Make Delay Pay' campaign to encourage more passengers to claim delay repay compensation. 'Too many rail passengers miss out on compensation for late running trains', said Chief Executive Anthony Smith. 'When things go wrong train operators must ensure every eligible passenger knows about Delay Repay and how to claim. They must also do more to make it easy to claim and automate this process wherever possible.'

HS2 Ltd’s London early works contractor Costain Skanska JV and subcontractor Erith Contractors Ltd have completed clearance of the former Great Western Railway sheds at Old Oak Common ahead of the start of construction of the high speed station. ‘The works package has seen Erith utilise all its enabling skills in demolition, asbestos removal, temporary works, earthworks and remediation to ensure it provided the support structure required from CSJV and HS2 Ltd’, said Stuart Accleton, Operations Director at Erith.

Network Rail has awarded framework contracts for the supply of commercial-off-the-shelf telecoms equipment to Alan Dick Communication, Computacenter, Telefonica UK and Telent Technology Services.