- NR's boss calls for more High Speed lines. Network Rail's Chief Executive, Richard Coucher, has called on the government to consider further high speed rail services, hot-on-the-heels of High Speed 1, which links London and the Channel Tunnel and opened on 14 November 2007. Mr. Coucher is thought to want to see the West Coast Main Line considered for such and upgrade by 2020.
- Public to cough up £2bn to sort out Metronet fiasco. The government has made available £2bn to allow Transport for London to pay off Metronet's loans and fund interim arrangements until the future ownership of the infraco's assets and responsibilities is decided. Ministers have been forced to approve the cash after Metronet's lenders exercised their Put Options under the Tube PPP contracts. The options allow lenders to demand repayment of at least 95% of their loans six months after a PPP infraco is deemed to be insolvent.
- Electrification in the Highlands a step closer. The possibility of the electrification of two main lines in Scotland came a step closer recently as Transport Scotland admitted to be evaluating the electrification of the Edinburgh-Inverness and Aberdeen lines. Already confirmed is the electrification of the Glasgow-Edinburgh line via Falkirk.
- NI transport operator upgrades Newry. Northern Ireland public transport operator Translink has announced one of its most significant station redevelopment projects to date, confirming a £12.6m investment in an upgraded station for Newry supported by a new road link and a 300-space park and ride facility. The redevelopment is set to begin this month, for completion by late 2009, and will deliver a modern, fully accessible, purpose-built facility with greater passenger capacity, comfort and convenience features.
- Colchester upgrade. Colchester station is currently being refurbished, with work being paid for in a joint venture by 'One' and Network Rail. One of the major improvements will be the installation of cctv.
- Metropolitan line to join with WCML at Watford? A £95m project to link the London Underground Metropolitan line with Watford Junction station on the West Coast Main Line has taken a step forward with the submission of the business case for the Croxley Rail Link. Hertfordshire County Council is promoting the scheme and handed the business case for the Croxley Rail Link to the DfT on 8 February. The project includes building two new stations, one in Ascot Road and one serving the proposed Watford Health Campus and Vicarage Road football stadium. If it goes ahead Metropolitan line trains could run from Watford Junction to central London every 10 minutes.
- New trams for Blackpool Transport. Blackpool will receive 16 brand new trams following the confirmation of a £85.3 million programme by the DfT. All trams will be fully accessible and although bids from companies who could build the trams have not yet been requested, the work could start as early as late next year. £25 million has been pledged by Lancashire county council and Blackpool borough council to upgrade infrastructure along the route.
- Leamside Line to re-open? Tyne & Wear PTA is commissioning a report into the feasibility of reopening the Leamside Line between Ferryhill-Pelaw. Unusually for disused railway lines, much of the track is still in situ. It is understood that the government are unlikely to offer financial assistance.
- Funding package agreed for Birmingham New Street upgrade. Passenger capacity at Birmingham New Street railway station is to be doubled after the government released £260m to cement a £598m funding package on 12 February. Work on the project (now dubbed 'Gateway Plus' by the government) will begin next year and will be split into two phases for completion in 2013. The station concourse will be doubled in size and platforms 8 and 9 - the station's busiest - will be widened. 26 new escalators will be installed to provide a total of 31 and 4 new lifts will supplement the existing five. The number of pedestrian entrances to the station will be increased from 2 to 5.
- Empty off-peak seats at EMT. Despite being allocated a mere 3 additional DMU vehicles by the DfT, aimed to help ease overcrowding on the network, East Midlands Trains is currently offering cheap £17 single fares between London and Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Sheffield, mostly only valid at off-peak periods in order to fill-up empty seats!
- District line re-furb complete early & under budget. Refurbishment of London Underground's District line fleet is set for completion within days after the final old-style train was removed from service on 15 February. The renewal of the 75 train District line fleet is part of a refresh programme being carried out by Metronet – the infraco currently in administration. However, the project is on course for completion 11 months early and would come in £2m under budget. Work on the trains at Bombardier's Derby facility has included a complete overhaul of the interiors, installation of CCTV cameras, fire retardant seats and flooring inside the cars and accessibility measures, including tip-up seats to accommodate wheelchairs etc.
- Metrolink finance for upgrade approved. 1 February saw the final signature on the deal to provide additional funding for the Manchester Metrolink tramway. The government will provide a total of £58 million (adding £25.7 million upon the latest deal having been approved) and GMPTE will provide £44 million. Phase 1 of the upgrade was completed ahead of schedule and on budge in 2007 and saw the upgrade of infrastructure between Altrincham-Bury; Phase 2 is between Manchester-Eccles and is due to commence soon. 8 new trams have been ordered and are Bombardier Flexity Swifts, costing a total of £17 million. They are due for delivery in early 2009. They are needed, primarily, to offer additional capacity for an extension to the Eccles line, which will see an additional section of route constructed to the Media City area.
- Alstom quits race to build next generation trains. Rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has quit the competition to build Britain’s next generation fleet of inter-city trains, leaving two bidders to pitch for the multi-billion pound contract. The company’s withdrawal puts Hitachi Europe and the Express Rail Alliance of Bombardier, Siemens, Angel Trains and Babcock & Brown head to head for what is expected to be a lucrative, but technically challenging train manufacturing programme.
- New barrier at Blackpool. Northern Rail's first-ever installation of an automatic ticket barrier took place recently at their Blackpool North station. Northern, no stranger to automatic barriers that it uses at other stations on its network (Manchester Victoria and Leeds) is hoping it will reduce congestion and fraudulent travel.
- New barriers for Waterloo. Ticket gates are to be installed at Waterloo station in a bid to cut fraudulent travel and allow smartcard ticketing. The £20m investment, scheduled for completion by the end of December, will see the introduction of 170 ticket gates at the entrances to all main line platforms and in the station subway connection with the London Underground. It is understood to be the largest gating project to be undertaken at a National Rail station to date.
- Passenger satisfaction results for 2007. In the year ending autumn 2007, passenger satisfaction results for the train operating companies varied by 16 percentage points. At the top was Chiltern Railways, with a 90% passenger satisfaction rating, while at the bottom of the 21 operators was First Great Western with 74%. Of operators in the LEYTR area, TransPennine Express came top with 86%, followed by GNER with 82%, then Central Trains with 81% and finally Northern Rail with 79%. The national average was 81%.
- Virgin opt for competition before WSMR commence operation. Open access train operator Wrexham, Shropshire & Marylebone Railway (WSMR) is due to launch a London to Marylebone to Wrexham rail service this spring, restoring direct train services to and from the capital that were severed in 1992 - although direct services briefly operated a few years later. Yet with only weeks to go until the planned launch, Virgin Trains has announced that it will extend a daily London Euston to Chester service to Wrexham, providing a second direct link between the capital and north Wales. The Virgin service will run on Mondays-Fridays with a departure around 0700 from Wrexham and a return journey leaving London at 1810. Journey times between Wrexham and London will be around two-and-a half-hours, significantly faster than WSMR's planned journey times of just over four hours. But we all know how the British love and underdog....!
- Tunnel planned for central Manchester? A 1970s dream of a tunnel linking Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations could be revived according to Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. Although a tunnel is not the preferred option to link the two stations, the DfT said that all options were to be considered. Much more likely is an new section of overground track, named the "Ordsall Curve", believed to have been costed at between £44-250 million, while a tunnel is understood to cost around £500 million.
- The only 2 SWT class 158 loans to EMT now gone. Two SWT class 158s that were loaned to East Midlands Trains upon the commencement of the latter's franchise, have returned home. Units 158883 & 158890 were based at the Eastcroft depot from 10 November and returned during mid-January. Both trains made regular appearances in the LEYTR area and photos can be seen HERE (158883) and HERE (158890) taken at Skegness by one of your editors! View the article in full as it happened HERE.
- Lambrigg Pendolino written-off. It is one year ago tomorrow that the 1715 London to Glasgow Class 390 Virgin Pendolino careered off the track at 94mph at the Lambrigg points near Grayrigg, killing an 84-year old from Scotland. The train involved, 390033 City of Glasgow, has been deemed beyond economic repair and is to never re-enter service. Four of the 9 vehicles comprising the train were badly damaged. Virgin has hired in a class 90 from EWS and a rake of stock to cover for the missing train since the accident last year.
- Alstrom may be out of running in UK but has produced something special in France. Rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has unveiled a train capable of travelling at 225mph which has been designed to succeed France's TGV2 workhorse. The single-deck AGV1 next generation high speed train incorporates articulated carriages, a technology which contributed to the success of France’s TGV train2, and a new distributed drive system. Italian rail operator NTV3 has placed an order for the first sets to roll off the production line.
- Woodhead re-opening clings on.. still. The possibility of ever re-opening the Woodhead Line seemed to be dashed at the end of January, as approval was almost certainly going to be given to the National Grid to lay a 400kV power cable through the three mile Woodhead Tunnel on the route. However, in an eleventh-hour intervention, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly informed the House of Commons Select Committee on 30 January that the tunnel should be safeguarded after all. The tunnel only opened in 1954 and closed for good in 1982. If the line were re-opened it would provide a direct link, north of the existing equivalent, between Sheffield-Manchester.
- MP calls on unfair working practice to end. Halifax MP Linda Riordan has called on train operator Northern Rail to end the somewhat staggering practice of not paying staff who go off work ill following being assaulted while carrying out their work. This gesture has been welcomed by the RMT union and backed by 29 MPs.
22 February 2008
Recent RAIL developments, no 2
Posted by LEYTR