On July 1 Transport for Wales officially unveiled the first Class 197 DMUs being produced at CAF’s Newport factory. Entry into service is planned by the end of the year.
Avanti West Coast has become the first train operator to join the UK Rail Research Innovation Network collaboration between academia and the rail industry. UKRRIN membership will provide access to subject specialists in digital systems, rolling stock and infrastructure, with the first project seeing the University of Birmingham analyse areas of the AWC business to propose priorities for the future, including behind-the-scenes operations, customer experience, accessibility, and inclusivity.
On June 27 the Secretary of State for Transport approved a Transport & Works Act order granting Northumberland County Council powers to take forward the Northumberland Line project to re-introduce passenger services on the freight-only railway between Ashington and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Transport Scotland, on behalf of Scottish ministers, has issued a Prior Information Notice giving it the ability to directly award incumbent Serco, or a company owned by Scottish ministers, a contract for the operation of Caledonian Sleeper services for up to 10 years.
The Great British Railways Transition Team has launched a call for evidence to help inform new targets for rail freight growth. Stage one involves consultation with the industry and interested parties to help GBRTT formulate and develop options for a target which will then be considered by the Secretary of State. Stage two will include a summary report and development of multiple growth target options for ministers to consider.
The £26m Island Line modernisation scheme completed last year has received a Good rating under the CEEQUAL sustainability rating scheme for the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure assets. ‘The Island Line Upgrade was the first South Western Railway project to be assessed by CEEQUAL and the Good assessment demonstrates that environmental sustainability was at the forefront of the project throughout’, said SWR’s Head of Sustainability Amy Dickinson.
SLC is providing programme management and procurement strategy support for the development of the £200m Global Centre of Rail Excellence testing facility in Wales. SLC has assisted with procurement including the multidisciplinary Rail System Outline Design Package, and is now liaising with stakeholders to identify interdependencies and develop the approach to governance.
Network Rail is to use more than £120m of Scottish government funding to boost 25 kV 50 Hz power supplies over the next three years. This will include six new feeder stations and enhancements at a further nine sites. A contract to deliver the initial phase of work has been awarded to SPL Powerlines.
Professor Paul Allen has succeeded Professor Simon Iwnicki as Director of the Institute of Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield. Allen was one of the original members of the IRR and has over 20 years of experience as a railway researcher and industrial consultant specialising in vehicle dynamics and wheel-rail interface engineering.
The Global Centre of Rail Excellence has appointed Lee Paxton as Director of Rail Operations. He began his career with Network Rail in 2005 before going to hold a number of positions with Arriva Trains Wales, East Midlands Trains and CrossCountry, where his most recent role was Industry Projects Director.
FirstGroup has qualified for the London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark for companies and funds which generate 50% or more of their total annual revenues from ‘green’ products and services. CEO Graham Sutherland said ’our services are vital to delivering the necessary modal shift from private cars to public transport that will reduce congestion and improve air quality’.
Civils and drainage materials supplier Keyline has opened a branch at Great Barr to the north of Birmingham to support the growing number of major infrastructure projects in the region, including High Speed 2 and West Midlands Metro expansion.