The Isle of Wight’s small-profile Class 483 former London Underground trains dating from 1938 were withdrawn after the end of service on January 3. ‘We’re saying goodbye to a truly iconic train fleet which is held in great affection’, said South Western Railway Managing Director Mark Hopwood. ‘While this may be an emotional end to one era, it’s also the start of an exciting new one. The £26m being invested in new trains and major infrastructure upgrades will help to deliver a railway fit for 2021, with performance and customer experience both set to be transformed.’
Following the announcement of increased Covid-19 restrictions, on January 5 Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations & Regions for the Rail Delivery Group, said ‘we are working closely with government to ensure we run the right level of services to do so again. By increasing cleaning and providing better customer information, our people are ensuring that those who must travel can do so with confidence.’ The number of services had increased from 55% of pre-pandemic levels in April to around 87% in December.
The Office or Rail & Road has developed a set of short guidance documents highlighting the main changes to railway safety legislation following the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1. These cover EU passenger and freight licences and statements of national regulatory provisions, train driving licences, and railway safety legislation.
Translink has awarded Depot Rail a £500 000 contract to supply jacks which will enable its Adelaide depot to lift a six-car DMU or two three-car units. The depot can currently handle three-car sets, but longer trains are planned from 2021.
The deadline for return journeys by students who took advantage of a ScotRail offer of half-price off-peak travel home over Christmas has been extended from January 23 to February 19, following the decision by Scottish universities to stagger the return of undergraduates over at least six weeks, in a package of measure to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
Channel Tunnel operator GetLink SE has launched the Eurotunnel Border Pass, which enables freight hauliers to upload all the data needed for their post-Brexit journey into a secure virtual wallet which Eurotunnel and the authorities of the two states can access without truck drivers having to leave their vehicles or present a document at the border crossing. Eurotunnel said it had spent €47m to modernise and adapt its infrastructure to accommodate Brexit.
The fourth track between Bedford and Kettering and a new platform 4 at Wellingborough station were brought into use on December 20. The existing platforms have also been extended and improved to reduce stepping distances onto trains, the footbridge extended, canopies refurbished and waiting shelters, lighting, CCTV and fencing has installed. Stanton Cross Developments contributed to the footbridge extension as part a housing development.
Govia Thameslink Railway has completed a £5·7m upgrade of St Albans City station. The main building has been extended over two storeys to house a ‘premier brand’ convenience store, and staff facilities moved to a new building on platform 4 to release space for a waiting area with coffee shop, toilets and an additional ticket gate. An entrance building has been built at the Ridgmont Road entrance with a wider entrance, two more ticket gates, accessible toilets and twice the number of ticket machines.
The RMT union has written to Network Rail, RSSB, RDG and ORR calling for the establishment of a new body to oversee the Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s recommendations following the death of two track workers at Margam in July 2019. ‘Many of the concerns identified have been issues our representatives have raised over the years with the employers and the safety authorities’, said General Secretary Mick Cash. ‘It is also clear to us that some of the implications of the report’s recommendations may also have an effect on our members’ terms and conditions of employment.’
Greater Anglia has declassified first class on all non-inter-city trains on the Great Eastern Main Line. The existing rolling stock is being replaced with new trains which do not have first class seating, and declassification is intended to prevent confusion while services are operated with a mix of new and old trains. ‘Customers told us one of their top priorities was to get a seat, so we designed the new trains to have more seats’, said Commercial Director Martin Moran. ‘By not including First Class seating areas, we were able to fit in more seats for everyone.’ First Class is still available on West Anglia services.
Unipart Rail has obtained the British Safety Council’s health and safety risk management Sword of Honour for its eight sites.
Rail and road branding and graphics specialists Stewart Signs has appointed Gareth Livingstone as Managing Director, succeeding Anthony Townson who becomes Chairman. Livingstone was previously Operations Director & Director of Rail at Ast Signs.
RAIB has made three recommendations in its report into a 1·2 km runaway and derailment of a loaded wagon from a siding at the Hanson UK cement works in Clitheroe on March 9 2020. The first is that GB Railfreight should work with the owners of industrial premises to improve its assessment of the risks of runaway vehicles. The second recommends that Hanson UK should assure itself that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been undertaken for all rail operations taking place on its site. The third recommendation is that freight operating companies review the adequacy of the processes followed for stabling vehicles on a gradient using handbrakes, particularly if a laden vehicle is to be left on its own. Two learning points are reminders of the importance of scheduled examinations of wagons taking place on or before their due dates, and the importance of preserving items of evidence required for safety investigations.