Freightliner 66503 with containers

Freightliner is undertaking extensive trials of ’Gd45 Powered by Shell GTL Fuel’, which has been developed by Green Biofuels and consists of 55% Shell gas to liquids fuel and 45% Gd+ hydrogenated vegetable oil. The operator said data from the tests showed reductions in emissions of 84% for methane, 14% for NOx and 18% ultra-fine particulates, with no performance impact, and transitioning all its diesel services would lower CO2e emissions by 50%.


Backed by Innovate UK funding, Network Rail, Incremental and Sensonic are to collaborate to test the use of optic fibre sensing equipment to automatically detect early signs of defective rail joints. Sensonic CCO Deep Desai said this could ‘dramatically reduce the need for speculative track inspections, increasing productivity by freeing maintenance staff to solve problems, rather than look for them, while improving lineside safety by removing boots from ballast.’ The 12-month trial will be undertaken between Allington Junction and Skegness.

Network Rail’s Commercial & Procurement team has secured commitments to join the Science Based Targets initiative to reduce carbon footprints from 50% of it suppliers. NR said around 97% of its emissions are within ‘scope three’, meaning they largely come from third parties including suppliers, and its target is for 75% of its suppliers to have science-based targets by 2025.

Thales and Croatian company Altpro have each won £6·5m framework contracts to supply Network Rail with electric treadles to provide additional detection as a secondary level of security for track circuit, signal and level crossing activation.

Driver Recruitment

East Midlands Railway has announced a recruitment drive to attract new Apprentice Train Drivers to be based at its Nottingham and Derby depots. The scheme is open to people aged 21 and above and involves a 12-month programme that blends theory and practical work in the classroom with practical skills.

Network Rail has awarded WH Davis a £2·2m contract to design, manufacture, fit and test a bespoke water-based dust suppression system for 100 sidetipper wagons. This aims to reduce staff exposure to respirable crystalline silica ballast dust during unloading. The wagons will also be modified protect against toppling owing to partial chute opening, and 50 Mk2 handbrake interlock systems will be fitted to replace Mk1 equipment.

Weather Station

Network Rail has completed a £1·3m programme to install 60 weather stations between London Euston and Carlisle, providing access to real-time data on wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, dew point and rainfall totals. ‘Our solar-powered weather stations will help us to better understand weather patterns and during stormy weather we can send our response teams to where they’re most needed which will help us to reduce disruption and keep passengers safe’, said Service Delivery Manager Talisa Fletcher.


Rail Forum Midlands has appointed Harry Burr, CEO of transport campaigning and lobbying group Sustainable Transport Midlands, as its Young Persons Ambassador. He will provide input to RFM’s Future Talent Advisory Group, which targets schools with the aim of attracting a more diverse group of young people into the industry.

Gareth Phillips Defib image 1

Total Rail Solutions has installed defibrillators on 10 of its road-rail vehicles and welfare units. The company has previously installed defibrillators in its various plant yards, and field teams will all receive training on the how to use them.

Market Harborough.

Amey Rail was fined £600 000 at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on November 12 after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches during the remodelling of Market Harborough station, when a road-rail excavator vehicle overturned during an unsafe lift on October 21 2018. ‘The risks of failing to comply with the lifting regulations are well known throughout the industry and clearly foreseeable. In this case basic errors were made and it is by sheer luck that no one was seriously hurt’, said HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser.


There are two recommendations and two learning points in RAIB’s report into six trains exceeding a blanket emergency speed restriction between Laurencekirk and Portlethen on December 4 2020. The first recommendation seeks an improvement to BESR notices provided to drivers, and the second seeks a review of BESR implementation methods. Learning points cover the importance of drivers being aware of information in late notices, and the need for safety critical communications to provide clear information. ‘The railway industry has more work to do to establish a suitable method for the imposition of speed restrictions which are needed in response to extreme weather that has the potential to endanger infrastructure’, said Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents. ‘In this case the industry’s processes were ineffective, and it is fortunate that the weather was not as bad as feared and that no accident occurred.’