- Salford Central opens. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has officially reopened Salford Central railway station following a £5m overhaul. Nearly 500 square metres of glass has been used to create a new entrance hall and the Victorian brickwork inside the building has been uncovered and restored. A new ticket office, ramps, lifts, a public address system, customer information screens and CCTV have also been installed. Taxi and bus facilities have been upgraded. Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority provided £3.85m for the scheme with £1.1m being provided by Manchester Enterprises - the economic development agency for Greater Manchester - from the European Regional Development Fund.
- No extension to Robin Hood Line. Notts CC has failed to persuade the government to release funds to extend the Robin Hood rail line beyond Nottingham to Bingham; the county council has provisionally planned a £6 million park and ride site near Saxondale Island on the A46.
- FGW formally warned by the govt. First Great Western (FGW) has been formally warned by the government that it must improve service quality or risk losing its rail franchise. FGW has been issued with a Remedial Plan setting out measures to reduce train cancellations following what transport sectary Ruth Kelly described as "unacceptably high levels of train cancellations" during the second half of 2007. The plan specifies additional rolling stock and employment of more drivers, guards and technicians to secure a more reliable service and drastically reduce the number of cancellations. The Department for Transport will monitor the train operator's performance against agreed milestones. The government has also revealed that a Breach Notice has been issued under Section 55 of the Railways Act in response to FGW misreporting the number of trains cancelled.
- Three-fold wi-fi increase on NXEC services. National Express East Coast has said that three times more people now use on-board wi-fi than did when they took over the operation of the East Coast franchise from GNER in December. NXEC made wi-fi access free to standard class passengers, when under GNER, it was only first class ticket holders entitled to free wi-fi.
- Mayor Ken puts weight behind central London tram project. London Mayor Ken Livingstone has reaffirmed his commitment to a tram line running the length of Oxford Street in London's West End. He was quoted recently saying, "If re-elected I intend to start installing a tram running the length of Oxford Street. There are some factors which pose difficulties but we have thought about it and there are ways of overcoming them. It will either be a shuttle tram or will be linked to the Cross River Tram. We would demolish the gyratory system [at Marble Arch], handing part of it back to green land and building two developments on part of it which will fund the project. People getting a taxi would have to use the roads running north and south of Oxford Street.We would phase the buses out slowly and maybe run some along Wigmore Street." The £200m scheme would effectively pedestrianise one of London's busiest shopping streets. It would be paid for by two new office blocks at the western end of Oxford Street Street and see areas of Marble Arch grassed over to become part of Hyde Park. Black cabs would pick up shoppers from adjoining streets either side of Oxford Street.
- Commute into Leeds causing problems on outskirts of W. Yorks. So problematic has become the commute into Leeds that West Yorkshire PTE is in talks with neighbouring boroughs to try and find a resolution to solve parking problems at the first rail stations within West Yorkshire, which become taken by Leeds-bound commuters each day. WMPTE's MetroCard is understood to be the preferred solution, with a Zone 6 being created to encompass areas of North Yorkshire (Skipton, Harrogate, York and Selby).
- 'One' officially dropped. National Express Group has formally scrapped the much criticised One brand used for its rail services in East Anglia. Group chief executive Richard Bowker last week unveiled the first three trains sporting the new National Express East Anglia vinyls, which will eventually replace all One liveries. The roll-out of the National Express East Anglia brand will take place through a phased programme to achieve a visible, but "cost effective" transition, utilising planned refurbishment and maintenance schedules to apply the new livery to trains. Initially, all trains will receive a stripe showing the new identity, but the application of the full livery will be done on a staged basis. National Express says this will ensure investment is focused on customer service improvements.
- Prankster given jail sentence. Andrew Ogden of Chorley, was jailed for 6 months at Preston Crown Court last week after a prank that took place on 14 July 2007 saw him stand in the path of an oncoming train at a level crossing in Chorley, only to jump out of the way at the last moment.
- More cctv for ScotRail. Train operator First ScotRail is to install a further 116 cctv cameras as part of its commitment to increase safety for passengers. Cameras will be provided at three stations – 47 at Inverness, 46 at Motherwell and 23 at Glasgow Queen Street Low Level. The £350,000 investment also includes eight cctv help points on platforms at the three stations, providing additional reassurance as well as an extra information service day and night. The work is scheduled for completion in April by which time the train operator will manage a total of 3,950 cameras and 441 cctv help points at 241 stations across Scotland.
- Permissions given the Hull Trains' class 180s. Hull Trains' class 180 DMUs have been granted new permissible routes and track charges by the Office of Rail Regulation. This will allow the trains to operate to the Toton depot for maintenance from Grantham via Nottingham; Doncaster via Chesterfield; or Trowell Junction via Lenton Junction. The charges are set at 24.52p per vehicle mile, compared to class 170s which are charged 14.10p per vehicle mile. A class 86 is charged 56.44p and 11.25p per mark 3 coach.
- New station entrance for Bank. Transport for London said last week that it has struck a multi million pound deal with Legal & General to build a new station entrance at Bank station to serve the Waterloo & City line. The new street level entrance in Walbrook Square will provide step-free access with lifts, as well as escalators and stairs to the London Underground Waterloo & City Line platforms. Legal & General is redeveloping Bucklersbury House, which will see their existing buildings replaced by offices, shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. As part of the construction programme a new station box will be constructed in the basement of the building for London Underground. Demolition of the existing Bucklersbury House buildings is expected to start this year.
- Milirary precision for NR.Network Rail claims it will instigate "military-style" management structure to ensure that its engineering works over the Easter holiday weekend will be completed on time.
- ORR approves track access for Crossrail. The Office of Rail Regulation has approved an application to allow track access for Crossrail passenger services. The access rights reserve capacity for services to operate on routes between Maidenhead/Heathrow Airport and Abbey Wood/Shenfield. The rights are to use Network Rail lines and do not include the proposed new tunnel through central London. All of the paths requested by the applicants, the Secretary of State for Transport and Network Rail, have been awarded except for two trains per hour off peak and at weekends, for which the ORR did not believe the business case showed there was sufficient demand. However, this exclusion does not mean that approval could not later be given if a persuasive case can be demonstrated in future. The ORR proposes access should be awarded for a term of 30 years from the start of services to provide adequate certainty for the multi-billion pound investments that will be required in infrastructure and rolling stock.
- London Midland refurbs. The first London Midland class 323 has gone to Railcare Wolverton for refurbishment. Specifically the EMU is 323201, which was based at the company's Soho depot. It is the first of London Midlands 26 class 323s to be overhauled. They are to be used on cross-Birmingham services. To a lesser extent, ten of the firm's class 350 Desiros have been "refreshed"; new seating, carpets and grabrails have been replaced in three class 170s, too.
- New station on T&W Metro to open next week. Simonside station on the Tyne and Wear Metro system will open to passengers next Monday (17 March). The £3.2m project - including an £800,000 contribution from the European Regional Development Fund - will provide the residents of Simonside with five trains an hour in each direction - towards South Shields and Newcastle and Gateshead.
- Southern place order for 11 new trains for new Thameslink service. Preparations for the £3.5 billion upgrade of cross-London Thameslink rail services have taken another step forward with train operator Southern placing an order for 11 new trains to allow a rolling stock cascade to facilitate construction works. Southern's £53m order for 11 4-car Class 377 Electrostars follows a £58m order for 12 matching 4-car trains placed in May 2007. The 33 new trains, all of which are being built by Bombardier in Derby and are scheduled for delivery in January 2009, will allow Southern to cascade dual-voltage units to First Capital Connect, which operates on the Thameslink route.
- Open day at Appleby Frodingham.The Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society is operating railtours around the Corus site at Scunthorpe as usual this year, with an open weekend on 10/11 May. Haulage is provisionally booked as being by 20056 and 20066, both on hire to Corus from Harry Needle Railroad Company. Cab rides may also be available. Further details will be given in the next LEYTR.
- New stretch of route opened in Peak District. WyvernRail and the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Association have opened a further three and a half miles of the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, which links the Midland Main Line with the Peak District. The launch event last Saturday (8 March) represented the culmination of nearly two years work to bring the section from Wirksworth to Idridgehay up to a standard to allow the operation of passenger trains. This has involved 100,000 hours effort by a team of unpaid volunteers and an investment of £200,000 in shareholders’ funds into a range of activities including the restoration of level crossings, the replacement of 1,200 sleepers, clearance of four miles of land drains and the installation of dozens of signs, as well as erecting new fencing and gates. The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway comprises 8 and a half miles of single-track railway, with five station sites, two level crossings, a yard with sidings and a mineral branch to the old Middlepeak quarry at Wirksworth. The plan is to link-up with the Midland Main Line at Duffield, offering passenger connections here as early as 2010.
- Steamy Affairs goes into liquidation. Railway charter operator Steamy Affairs has gone into liquidation. Its owner Adrian Parcell took the voluntary step, though was keen to reassure the industry that this would not affect his other businesses, Advenza Freight and Heartland Rail.
10 March 2008
Recent RAIL developments, no 3
Posted by LEYTR