Swan training picture

The Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, Surrey, has provided Network Rail Wessex staff will training on how to remove the large birds from the track. NR said swans disrupt services on third rail electrified routes 15-20 time a year. ‘We’ve seen a rise in visits from our feathered friends, and as they have a reputation for being aggressive, we wanted to provide new starters with some training’, said Clyde Howarth, Head of Operations Delivery.


Network Rail Chair Sir Peter Hendy is among those supporting a request by the University of Leeds for the government to underwrite its investment in the planned Institute for High-Speed Rail & System Integration research hub to be built south of the city centre. Work on site has stalled since the start of the pandemic, and the university is seeking government support to help it to resume as soon as practical, enabling its work to support upcoming rail investment including the Transpennine Route Upgrade and HS2. ‘The plans for the institute have been aligned with Leeds City Region’s industrial strategy. It will enable growth in future businesses, in rail technology and products, facilitating higher skills development and supporting the creation of more productive jobs in the north and across the UK’, said Hendy.

Network Rail and RIBA Competitions have selected Atkins and PRD, Miguel Angel Carrasco Arquitetura, Pascall+Watson, 7N Architects and Workshop Architecture to progress to the next phase of its competition to ‘reimagine’ small to medium-sized stations . More than 200 submissions were received from designers in 34 different countries.

HS2 impression of line with Small Dean viaduct and Wendover Green South Tunnel portal

HS2 Ltd held a four-day virtual event on November 23-26 aimed at showcasing up to £12bn of contracting opportunities for the UK supply chain. The ‘Meet the Contractor’ sessions were intended help businesses to find out more about the estimated 400 000 supply chain opportunities that will emerge over the next 18 months, and how they can get ‘HS2 ready’.

Russell Group has announced plans to develop a rail logistics hub at Ravenscraig, including a new UK headquarters, training academy and innovation centre. The shipper is in discussions with property developer Ravenscraig Ltd and is expected to submit a planning application to North Lanarkshire Council in mid-November. If the scheme is approved, construction would begin towards the end of 2021 with the first phase to be completed by early 2023 and the remainder by early 2026.


Network Rail has commissioned Andromeda Engineering to update the Electrical Safety Measures for Working on the Operational Railway with Overhead Electrification (NR/L3/ELP/25000) standard. Andromeda said the update was a key element of Network Rail’s Electrical Safety Delivery programme to develop Single Approach to Isolations for working on the operational railway, which would address outstanding issues and incorporate lessons from trials and the output of stakeholder engagement.


On November 23 HS2 Ltd invited Fujitec UK, Kone, Otis, Schindler and Thyssenkrupp Elevator UK to compete to design, deliver and maintain for 20 years almost 300 lifts and escalators for four new stations on the high speed line. Around 160 lifts and 130 escalators will be installed; the resulting framework contract is divided into two separate packages for lifts worth up to £267m and escalators worth up to £198m.

The ‘rail to refuge’ programme offering free travel for domestic abuse survivors has been extended until the end of March 2021. Between April 9 and November 15 train operators provided free tickets to 836 people through the scheme, which is available to men and women travelling to refuge accommodation.

gb HS2 slab track impression PORR

HS2 Ltd has invited contractors to bid for the £50m Early Civils Work Package 2, covering Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe. The contract is expected to be awarded in early 2021. Meanwhile, Balfour Beatty has also been awarded a £25m-£30m contract for ground investigations.


Lisa Denison, Development Manager for the Heart of Wales Line Development Co, has been elected to the board of the Community Rail Network.


Southeastern is using Bosch digital video surveillance equipment installed by Taylor Technology Systems to protect against theft and intrusion at 12 depots, including five which are unstaffed. These use machine learning algorithms to automatically sound alarms when intruders are detected, with staff able to use the built-in camera trainer function to ‘teach’ new functionality such as detecting certain types of objects or situations. The cameras also monitor deliveries and provide data on the arrival times of trains.


RAIB has released its report into an incident on March 23 when Class 66 locomotive derailed at the end of a siding south of Bromsgrove station after the driver became distracted by personal issues arising from the Covid-19 lockdown announced earlier that evening. The locomotive was subsequently hit by a CrossCountry Class 170 DMU. RAIB makes one recommendation to Network Rail to review its processes and standards for managing buffer stop collision risk on non-platform terminal tracks, and has identified three learning points for drivers, relating to compliance with mobile phone policies in the driving cab, informing signallers of accidents and safe exit from trains during an incident.


The Rail Ombudsman has had more than 30 000 contacts from consumers since launching two years ago. Around 6 500 complaints to train operating companies were escalated to the Ombudsman, and 76% of passengers received a full or partial remedy to their in-scope dispute with the financial awards totalling more than £250 000.


Network Rail has been fined £10 000 by Lanark Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to an offence under health and safety law for allowing several trains to travel over Lamington Viaduct after it suffered storm damage in late 2015. ‘The viaduct was on Network Rail’s list of high risk structures vulnerable to being washed away by moving water, yet despite this being a known issue, severe damage went unrecognised because Network Rail failed to implement its own procedures which would have meant no passenger trains should have passed over the viaduct’, said HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser.

LNER ticket machines coronavirus closure

The Department for Transport has suspended ticket rebooking fees for students who had booked advance tickets to travel home for Christmas before the government announced the December 3-9 ‘student travel window’. Journeys back from university accommodation are being encouraged on these days to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus to others.