The first of the 46 custom-designed Class 555 trainsets for the Tyne & Wear Metro was officially unveiled by operator Nexus and supplier Stadler on March 17. ‘We are at the beginning of an exciting new era for transport in northeast England’, said Nexus Managing Director Martin Kearney. ’The Stadler trains are going to be transformative.’ Two trains have been delivered so far, and entry into service is expected by the end of the year.

14-03-23 Western Rail Link to Heathrow APPG AGM 1

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow Airport held its AGM on March 15. It was chaired by Slough MP Tan Dhesi, who said ‘as MPs representing constituencies across the UK, we know the huge benefits our constituents could experience once this vital link is built. Greatly improving connectivity, bringing in countless economic and environmental benefits, I look forward to progress on delivering this officially recognised nationally significant infrastructure project.’

Network Rail has awarded Asset Insights a £2·1m+VAT contract for the development, implementation and support of IT systems for possession services in the Wales & Western region. The contract runs for three years, with an option to extend for two further one-year periods.

GTR Great Northern Siemens Mobility Class 717 EMU (Photo GTR)

On March 22 Govia Thameslink Railway announced that it had received Office of Rail & Road authorisation for its Siemens Mobility Class 717 EMUs to operate in passenger service using ETCS Level 2; this will happen once Network Rail makes the system live and driver training is completed. Consultancy Taylor Airey and approval body Aegis Certification Services supported GTR in the preparation of its submission to ORR.

TfW Class 158 DMU crossing Barmouth Viaduct (Photo Network Rail, Dom Vacher)

The Barmouth viaduct will close for up to 13 weeks from September 2 so that Network Rail and principal contractor Alun Griffiths can reconstruct the metal sections of the Grade II* listed structure and undertake track renewals at the northern end. The work has been scheduled to avoid the summer tourist season.

Hull Trains’ £3m Passenger Infrastructure Improvements Fund is funding a £1·2m modernisation scheme at Howden station from March 27 to mid-May which includes raising the platforms to reduce the stepping distance on and off services.

West Croydon London Overground Class 378

Transport for London is planning to terminate the lease for the London Overground Class 378 EMU fleet this month and purchase them outright in a move which it expects will reduce overall costs.


Chiltern Railways has awarded Stagecoach Rail Replacement (East) Ltd a contract to provide planned and emergency rail replacement bus and coach services for two years from April. The train operator has an option to extend the term until the end of its National Rail Contract on December 12 2027.

Northern Class 156 DMU at Deansgate (Photo Northern)

Northern has begun a trial with BattPoint to provide mobile device powerpacks at stations for those travelling without their phone charger or power cable. They cost 99p for the first 10 min or £3·99 for the day and come with Micro USB, Type-C and iOS adapters.

The TSSA union has agreed a 6·5% pay award for members at the Rail Safety & Standards Board.

Northern has created ‘Go Do Your Thing After Work’ guides for Bradford, Harrogate, Leeds, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

The Rail Safety & Standards Board has selected the Railway Benefit Fund as its charity of the year for 2023.