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Siemens Mobility contracts DB ESG for additional ETCS installation design work

Jon Lawton.

Siemens Mobility has awarded a contract to DB ESG for the vehicle installation design for the fitting of European Train Control System (ETCS) into the cabs of Class 60, 59,57 and 47 freight locomotives.

This follows on from the contract that DB ESG received back in June 2018 to provide the mechanical and electrical installation design for Class 66 freight locos.

03 MARCH 036 David Cross – 66097 at Port of Felixstowe

The work on these fleets forms part of Network Rail Digital Railway’s ETCS Freight Train Fitment Programme. Siemens Mobility has a contract with Network Rail for the provision of first-in-class design and fitment of Siemens’ ETCS Trainguard 200® on-board equipment onto the locomotives.

In turn, Siemens Mobility has sub-contracted DB ESG to provide the mechanical and electrical vehicle installation design and first-in-class support of a ETCS Level 2 on-board and TPWS/AWS solution. DB ESG has recognised expertise in freight locomotive vehicle engineering and is experienced in delivering complex fleet modification programmes.

Tim Steadman – 66027 London Gateway Train 4M92

Commenting on this announcement, DB ESG managing director Nick Goodhand said: “We have enjoyed the challenges of the Class 66 project and working closely with all the operators and associated stakeholders. We understand the cab space constraints, the importance of human factors and the complexity of freight vehicles, including the number of Class variants within each fleet type. We are delighted to be continuing our working relationships and thank Siemens Mobility for the faith that they have put in us through these additional orders.”

James Le Couilliard joins Rock Rail in the UK and Australia

James Le Couilliard - Rock Rail

Rock Rail, the rolling-stock investment company, has appointed James Le Couilliard as a new partner to focus on rail development opportunities in the UK and Australia. he will be focussing on rolling stock and rail infrastructure procurement projects in the UK and Australia.

James’ appointment comes as Rock Rail is expanding its operations in both Europe and Australia, having successfully secured £3 billion of institutional funding for new rolling stock over the last four years.

Last month Rock Rail announced the launch of its Australian business, with senior infrastructure developer and financier, Jim Eldridge, at the helm. James will work closely with Jim, as Rock Rail seeks to introduce new sources of long-term, highly competitive institutional investment into the market, to meet the growing demand for new intercity transport infrastructure and high capacity commuter travel.

James has over thirty years of commercial experience in major infrastructure transactions in both the public and private sector, predominantly in rail. He has worked in the UK and Australia and held numerous senior level commercial and industry advisory positions, working on some of the UK’s most transformative rail projects including IEP and HS2. Most recently in rail, he was projects and bidding advisor for Hitachi on existing rolling stock supply and maintenance contracts and ongoing bids.

As well as his commercial experience, James brings with him an extensive knowledge and appreciation of public sector operations, having spent seven years as commercial lead on the £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme for the Department for Transport.

Mark Swindell, CEO of Rock Rail, said: “I am delighted to welcome James to the team. His extensive experience and expertise across the private and public sector and major rail initiatives will be invaluable as we fine tune our approach to create tailored solutions to meet the needs of passengers and our rail, public sector and investment partners across different markets.”

Downloadable comic promotes safety on the railway

Network Rail has produced a comic book which highlights the devastating consequences trespassing on the railway can have.

It has been produced as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade and is based on Network Rail’s multi-award winning safety film ‘18’, which showcases just how dangerous trespassing on the railway is, particularly in areas where the railway is electrified.

Network Rail safety film inspired by Northamptonshire pupils now available as downloadable comic.

The plot for both the film and the comic was devised through safety workshops which Network Rail ran with schools across Northamptonshire with more than 250 pupils ages 11-16 taking part and inputting their ideas. One idea, put forward by Kingswood Secondary Academy in Corby, was then chosen as the basis of the film.

Producing the film and comic in this way made sure that they resonate with the target audience, as well as getting pupils in the area where the railway line is being electrified engaged with the message.

The comic is available online, making it easily accessible to help further spread this vital safety message.

Network Rail is urging parents and carers to speak to their children about the dangers of trespassing on the railway, particularly as new figures show that there have been over 1000 trespass incidents* since lockdown began.

Network Rail safety film inspired by Northamptonshire pupils now available as downloadable comic.

Gavin Crook, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The comic is a great way to engage with young people about the dangers of trespassing on the railway and how this can, and does, have devastating, life changing and fatal consequences.

“We hope that being able to access the comic online will mean we can reach even more young people and really hammer the message home that they must stay off the tracks, as there is never any excuse to mess around on the railway.

“Although the Midland Main Line Upgrade will bring significant benefits to passengers, the electrification of the route from London to Kettering and Corby via Bedford does bring an additional danger to anyone trespassing on the tracks, so we need people to heed the warning and stay safe.”

Network Rail supports Northumberland school with donations of PPE

Network Rail worker donates PPE to Northumbria school so children with additional needs can safely continue vital education

Malcolm Tait, a mobile operations manager for Network Rail, based in Morpeth, has donated spare personal protective equipment (PPE) to a local school so that vital education can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His mobile operations team responds to any issues on the railway, so services can continue to operate safely and efficiently. This means that critical workers who need to travel can get to their jobs and freight services can continue transporting food and medical supplies across the country.

However, as well as working on the railway, Malcolm also wanted to support children with additional needs who are continuing to attend school throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The students at Collingwood School and Media Arts College usually have teachers and learning support staff around them, and access to specialist facilities, so it would be difficult for them to learn from home.

In response, Malcolm arranged for Network Rail to provide over 200 PPE items to the school, including gloves and hand sanitiser, which means that lessons can take place in line with Government guidance. 

Malcolm said: “The staff at Collingwood School and Media Arts College are doing an amazing job to keep it open for students who need specialist support during these challenging times.

“I’ve seen the hard work from teams across Network Rail to provide PPE for frontline NHS workers, and I suggested donating items to Collingwood School, so the students can safely continue with their lessons in an environment that they are familiar with. 

“I’m proud of my colleagues at Network Rail for helping me gather the spare PPE so it could be taken to where it is needed.”

French-speaking Eurostar volunteers share language skills with schools

Crew on platform.

Language students are receiving support from Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service linking the UK and mainland Europe, during school closures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

French-speaking Eurostar staff, normally employed in fields as diverse as train driving, customer service, marketing, operations and finance, are hosting a range of online sessions for pupils between year groups 8 and 13, aimed at increasing their confidence in French conversation, and maintaining their skills while they study from home away from their regular French teachers.

Eurostar is working with three schools initially, local to its depot in Walthamstow and St Pancras International in London. The scheme provides support for the community, taking advantage of the wide range of language skills within Eurostar to offer a unique resource for language students.

David Dogué, French teacher, Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College, said: “This project with Eurostar has enabled my A-level students to develop their language skills in a rewarding way by joining conversations with native French speakers. The opportunity to speak with someone from outside the school helps boost to their confidence whilst they are dealing with the challenges of having to study from home.”

Mary Walsh, director of communications, Eurostar, added: “This initiative brings together the language skills of our teams, with students who may not have access to French speakers at home. It’s a great opportunity for our colleagues to support the local community and help build the confidence of French students.”

Barmouth viaduct to receive biggest restoration of Barmouth Viaduct in its history

Barmouth Viaduct 1

Network Rail is about to commence a £25 million upgrade of Barmouth viaduct to protect it for local people and visitors in the future.

A large number of the timber and metal elements of the Grade II* listed viaduct need replacing, as well as the entire length of track.

In order to reduce the impact of the work, it will take place over three years, with three shorter full closures of the 19th century viaduct, rather than one longer full closure. The first closure is planned for this autumn, when Alun Griffiths (Contractors) will begin the restoration of the bridge’s timber elements. Preparation work will begin in June.

Barmouth Viaduct.

Barmouth Viaduct was built in 1864 across the Mawddach on the Cambrian Coast line, between Pwllheli and Machynlleth. The only major timber‐built bridge still in use, it is 820 metres in length –  700 metres timber/120 metres metallic. The viaduct was originally built with a drawbridge on the northern end, but this was replaced with a steel swing bridge in 1900.

Network Rail’s route director for Wales and Borders, Bill Kelly, said: “Barmouth viaduct is one of the most celebrated and recognisable structures in Wales and is the only major timber-built bridge still in use.

“We are investing £25 million to give Barmouth viaduct the biggest upgrade in its history, protecting our industrial heritage and ensuring this vital transport link can continue to serve local people and visitors, when the time comes, for generations to come.

“We have been working closely with Cadw, Gwynedd County Council and other stakeholders over several years to develop our plans. I want to reassure the local community that we have adapted these plans to make sure we are following Government guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Barmouth Viaduct.- Aerial view.

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said: “I’m delighted that Network Rail are making this major investment in safeguarding the future of this iconic structure and the Cambrian Coast Line. This investment sits alongside our own investment in transforming services throughout the Wales and Borders network, including brand new trains and extra services for the Cambrian Coast Line in the years to come.

“We’re working collaboratively to ensure minimal disruption for our passengers while work takes place.”

Changes at the top at Stadler

Peter Spuhler (left) with Thomas Ahlburg in 2017

Dr Thomas Ahlburg has left his post as group CEO of Stadler, the Swiss train manufacturer “Due to different views regarding Stadler’s strategic and organisational development”.

Until a successor is appointed, Peter Spuhler, chairman of the board of directors, will take over the function of the Group CEO ad interim.

Dr Ahlburg apparently wishes to change his career direction and to become an independent entrepreneur in the future. Ge will continue to serve the company as a Senior Advisor until the end of 2020.

Peter Spuhler thanked Dr Ahlburg for his great commitment to Stadler in his role as group CEO, which he had held since 1 January 2018, and in his previous position as CEO of Stadler Bussnang. “Although not always of the same opinion, I have come to know and appreciate Thomas as a passionate and pragmatic CEO,” he said.

Peter Spuhler was group CEO until 1 January 2018, when Thomas Ahlburg took over, so this is nothing new for him. He said: “I am convinced of the quality of our employees and the management team, which is reflected in the rail vehicles and services that are reliably deployed around the globe.”

RAIB published 2019 Annual Report

staff image.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its 2019 Annual Report.

It was a busy year. During the period from 1 January to 31 December 2019, RAIB received 381 notifications of railway accidents and incidents from the industry. These resulted in 51 preliminary examinations.

As a result of the analysis of the information gathered, RAIB started 13 new full investigations and 10 safety digests. It also completed and published 17 full investigation reports.

It was also a sad year. In his introduction to the report, chief investigator Simon French wrote: “I am sorry to report that 2019 saw some major setbacks on the path to improved safety for railway employees. In July, all of us at RAIB were shocked to hear that two track workers had been killed by a train at Margam in South Wales. Three men were undertaking routine maintenance activities on a main line that was still open to traffic, and none saw the approach of the train until it was too late. We immediately deployed a team to site and launched our investigation.

“Our role is clear, to provide an independent investigation of the factors that led to the accident and the underlying management issues. I am determined that RAIB recommendations will promote the changes that are needed to make track worker deaths a thing of the past.

“The year 2019 ended on another sad note with the death of a train driver who was caught between two trains as he walked between them at Tyseley depot in Birmingham on 14 December 2019. On 8 April 2020, RAIB deployed to the site of another tragedy, a fatal accident involving a track worker who was struck by a train near Roade, in Northamptonshire. Our investigations are currently underway.

“My thoughts are with all those affected by these terrible accidents.”

While RAIB aims to publish reports and safety digests within 12 months of the date of occurrence,  the length of individual investigations can sometimes extend beyond this because of the complexity and scale of the investigation, late notification by the industry or the need to address complex issues raised during formal consultation. In 2019, the average time taken to publish full reports was 10.7 months from the date of occurrence.

RAIB also issued one interim report, 10 safety digests and one urgent safety advice notice during the year.

The sole purpose of RAIB investigations is to prevent future accidents and incidents and improve railway safety. RAIB does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.

Past lives: Chris White (1942-2020)

Chris White was the epitome of the dedicated railwayman. Born in 1942, his parents ran a market gardening business in the Devon village of Budleigh Salterton. He loved trains from an early age and on leaving school, he became a probationer (nowadays a trainee technician) based at Exeter on the Western Region of British Rail (BR). Chris soon got to grips with the rudiments of basic signalling and telecoms but learned more modern technology as part of the Bristol Power Box project.

On completion of his apprenticeship, Chris chose to specialise in telecoms and moved to Slough as a maintenance technician. He later became a telecoms works engineer and was involved in the provision of the Bristol-Paddington 4MHz transmission system.

In 1976, he became the telecoms maintenance engineer for the Southern Region based in Croydon. Chris soon realised that failures of main station indicators or public address equipment could cause chaos in rush hour, so set about creating a regional telecoms fault control based in Croydon. Staffed around the clock, it quickly revolutionised how telecoms was managed with the control room staff being able to prioritise faults and direct the telecoms technicians around the region.

In recognition of his achievements, he was promoted to the top telecom maintenance post at BR HQ, where he set about introducing the same standards for fault controls on a national basis.

During the mid-1980s, Mercury Communications became a competitor to BT (the public telecoms operator) with Mercury installing its own fibre cable network located on the railway and maintained by BR. The maintenance regime stipulated strict times for the repair of faults and financial penalties imposed if these times were not met. Chris and his team had to significantly improve the response times, and he was instrumental in the telecom group being BS 5750 (a quality management standard) registered.

With BR being privatised, a new division was created – BRT (British Rail Telecoms). The managing board was populated by people recruited from the wider telecom industry, but Chris was transferred to keep the railway communication networks functioning. Chris was never comfortable with the new arrangements, where safety and quality within BRT was initially only given lip service, and the continuity of providing telecom services to the new rail companies was never high on the agenda.

He retired from BRT before its sale to Racal Electronics, but Chris took the opportunity to use his undoubted skills in other ways. Working for Atkins, one of his first tasks was to assist Railtrack with the Year 2000 millennium data problems. Other projects included provision of a quality management system for Irish Rail, telecom documentation for the Channel Tunnel route from Waterloo, support to Metronet for the design of new telecom systems on LUL, advice to Network Rail in Scotland on migrating the track-to-train radio system to GSM-R, telecom systems for a major rail upgrade project in Denmark and, lastly, assistance and advice to Crossrail on telecom issues.

British Railways 2-6-4T Class Standard Four No. 80151 and train are seen at Horsted Keynes Station on the Bluebell Railway. Author PeterSkuce.

Alongside all of this, Chris pursued his love of railways and steam engines. Joining the Bluebell Railway (a heritage steam railway) as a volunteer, he became first a fireman and then a driver, enjoying a regular shift at weekends and a whole week of footplate work during the summer. The Bluebell soon realised he had other talents and Chris became the safety director, where introducing a safety management system was a challenge for a largely volunteer work force, but his personality and persuasive powers won through.

The Bluebell needed an infrastructure director to complete the extension northwards from Kingscote to East Grinstead and Chris rose to the challenge. The main obstacle was the excavation of rubbish from a filled-in cutting. Whilst the logistics of removing the waste material was hard enough, the planning, environmental and financial elements were equally difficult. Removing the rubbish by train was a nice touch and the extension duly opened on 23 March 2013.

Thereafter, Chris set to work on other projects, principally the carriage shed at Sheffield Park station and the even bigger OP4 (Operation Undercover 4) at Horsted Keynes, which includes a Heritage Skill Centre.

In 2017, Chris stepped back from infrastructure and reverted to safety director, only to be persuaded to take up infrastructure again in 2019 when it became vacant. During this time, he still worked for Atkins, supporting the main railway telecoms function.

From humble beginnings, Chris achieved much during his career and was an inspirational leader to those who worked for him. His ‘can do’ ethos will leave a legacy of successful projects and a fitting tribute to his memory. Chris died recently after a short illness and will be sorely missed.

RIA’s Update 111 now available

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has published it latest quarterly magazine – Update 111.

Normally only available to RIA members, the Update covers a range of topics and issues related to the UK rail supply community.

Update 111 includes exclusive content:

  • A comment piece from Doug Oakervee, following the publication of his review into HS2;
  • Editorial from RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan;
  • The latest on the rail supply community’s response to Coronavirus from RIA Policy Director Kate Jennings;
  • A special report on RIA’s 145th Anniversary Gala Dinner in February;
  • An article from Deb Carson of High Speed Rail Group;
  • Highlights from each of RIA’s functions – Public Affairs & Policy, Exports, Technical & Innovation and Events & Information;
  • And much, much more!

You can download a copy of the magazine here.

The Update is a quarterly communication for RIA members. If you are not a member and would like to find out more about joining, please contact Membership Engagement Manager Rose Gaber at [email protected] and on 07824 665007.

DRS Class 88 electric loco runs up the East Coast main line for the first time.

ECML 88 - C James Pilbeam

One of Direct Rail Services’ all-electric Class 88 freight locomotives has run up the East Coast main line for the first time.

Engineering work on the West Coast main line meant that DRS had to find a diversionary route from Daventry International Railfreight Terminal to Mossend Yard near Glasgow. This used to mean using diesel powered Class 66 locomotives, but the new path allows the entire journey to be powered by the overhead lines on the ECML.

David Robinson, deputy director of operations delivery for DRS, said: “This is a fantastic new route which enables us to utilise our excellent Class 88 locomotives as usual rather than replacing them with a diesel-powered engine.  

“Each freight train takes around 76 lorries off our roads and running on electricity allows the engines to be much more environmentally friendly and helps with our commitment to reduce CO2 emissions.

“We’re delivering vital goods across the length of Britain and this, over 400-mile, journey highlights the benefit of rail freight and the smart use of utilising our electrified rail network.”

TransPennine Express donates on-board catering stock to worthy causes

Parkland Hotel - Manchester Donation

With catering suspended on services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, train operator TransPennine Express (TPE) and catering partner Rail Gourmet have been donating some of their stock of on-board catering product to organisations across the North of England

To date, TPE has donated around £5,000 worth of on-board catering product that customers would normally see on-board services travelling around the North of England and Scotland.

Organisations that have received donations include The Parkland Hotel, which look after homeless men in Manchester, and nearby Wellspring Community Church in Moston. They received £1,000 worth of stock to help create food packages for those most in need. Newcastle Foodbank and the Happy at Home charity in South Tyneside have also received help.

Newcastle Foodbank Donation.

Emma Teale, Customer Experience Manager for TransPennine Express, commented: “Rather than letting the perishable stock that we have go to waste, we have worked with our catering partner Rail Gourmet to distribute food and drinks to charitable organisations across the whole of our network.

“I’d like to thank all of my fellow colleagues and those at Rail Gourmet who’ve been actively involved in helping facilitate this and supporting the many communities that we serve across the North of England.”

New environment and energy manager for Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia has appointed Stephanie Evans to be its new environment and energy manager. She joins from two universities and facilities management firm NORSE, where she worked in environment management roles.

Matt Wakefield, Greater Anglia’s Head of Safety, Security and Sustainability, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Steph on board at such an exciting time. We are in the process of replacing every single train in our fleet with a brand new one. Travelling by train can take thousands of cars off the roads and the new trains are better for the environment and save energy.

“We care about the environment, and we are delivering a number of projects to improve our energy-efficiency and operate in a more sustainable manner – from installing LED lighting, to providing free water fountains at some stations, to providing free electric car charging points.”

Stephanie said: “I am very pleased to be joining Greater Anglia at such an important time. Sustainability, climate change and protecting the environment are more important than ever before and I am looking forward to building on the great work which is already underway at stations, depots, offices and on trains. “I want to increase awareness of all environment issues and make sure all staff are aware of how they can play their part. We already recycle a great deal of waste, but I hope to look at new ideas such as recycling food waste, and how we can really all make a difference. The environment is at the heart of everything we do.”

New chair for rail industry’s West Midlands Supervisory Board and Grand Rail Collaboration

Alex Warner has been appointed as chair of the Grand Rail Collaboration (GRC), a West Midlands rail industry group committed to boosting train reliability and passenger satisfaction. He takes over from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, whose one year term ended this month (May 2020).

The Grand Rail Collaboration, which also acts as the rail industry’s West Midlands Supervisory Board, brings together the West Midlands Rail Executive, Network Rail, passenger and freight operators and other rail industry partners. It is committed to leading the rail industry in the West Midlands by working together to provide passengers, freight operators and stakeholders with a better service.

Alex’s role as chair is independent of the industry but, as the leader of the supervisory board, he reports to Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy.

Malcolm Holmes executive director, West Midlands Rail Executive and director of rail for Transport for West Midlands, said: “I welcome Alex Warner’s appointment as chair of the Grand Rail Collaboration which has, since its inception in 2019, laid down strong foundations to deliver significant tangible improvements for the West Midlands’ rail passengers.

“I look forward to working with Alex and our Grand Rail Collaboration partners to create an easier to use, more joined up rail network for the people of our region.”

Dave Penney, Central route director for Network Rail, said: “I warmly welcome Alex to his new role as chairman of the Grand Rail Collaboration. He has a wealth of experience in the rail industry and other sectors which I’m confident he will use to help improve passenger experience and satisfaction across the West Midlands.”

Members of the Grand Railway Collaboration include: West Midlands Trains, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways and Transport for Wales; Network Rail, Rail Freight Group, West Midlands Rail Executive, and Transport Focus.

Areas of the rail industry the GRC will tackle include passenger and freight train performance, simplifying fare structures, improving the quality of trains and stations, sharing busy track capacity in the most efficient way and delivering resilient, reliable timetables.

Cambridge North station celebrates third birthday

Abellio Greater Anglia - Cambridge North Opening.

Cambridge North station, which was built to improve rail links for people in the north east of the city as well as to improve access to the business park,  the Science Park and St John’s Innovation Centre, was opened three years ago, on 21 May 2017.

The new station lived up to expectations as, before the current Covid-19 lockdown, figures show that passenger numbers at Cambridge North grew by 66 per cent in 2019. Almost 813,000 entries and exits were recorded at the station from January to December 2019, meaning almost 8,000 people passed through every week, according to data from the Office of Rail and Road.

Greater Anglia’s managing director, Jamie Burles, said, “When we opened the station in 2017 it was warmly welcomed by those who would benefit from the extra rail services and improved links it offered to London, Stansted Airport and beyond.

“We couldn’t predict that three years later, we would find ourselves in the current situation, but I am confident that, once we are through this, the station will continue to thrive and Greater Anglia will still be here for you – with a fleet of fantastic brand new trains that will improve rail journeys from Cambridge North even further.”

The three-platform station is usually served by four Greater Anglia and three Great Northern departures an hour off-peak, providing services to London Kings Cross, London Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport, Ely, Kings Lynn and Norwich, but train operators are currently operating reduced timetables due to the coronavirus.

It has friendly, helpful customer hosts, waiting rooms with plug points, a coffee shop, 450 car parking spaces and 1,000 spaces in a cycle shelter, which incorporates solar panels that provide up to 10 per cent of the station’s power. Local cycle routes connect with the new station and it is within easy reach of the A14 and A10.

Metal cladding on the outside of the building and footbridge incorporates a pattern based on a mathematical theory called the Game of Life by Cambridge mathematician John Conway.

Railway signallers help deliver meals in Bristol

Network Rail signallers have helped deliver 500 meals a week in Bristol

A group of Network Rail signallers in Bristol have helped deliver more than 500 meals a week during the coronavirus crisis to hospitals and vulnerable people across the city after teaming up with Bristol Food Union – an informal collective of restaurants, local farmers, food retailers and community organisations that have come together during these unprecedented times to support Bristol City Council’s emergency food provision.

The signallers have been assisting the Initiative by delivering fresh bakery supplies daily to the kitchens and then collecting the meals and distributing them to several locations, including vulnerable people and staff at hospitals to ensure that those who are working relentlessly during this global pandemic receive a hot meal.

Bristol’s signalling team delivering meals during the coronavirus crisis.

The Bristol Food Union has seen a 30 per cent increase in calls for support from the public and has continued to set up several commercial pop-up kitchens, where they have utilised schools, leisure centres and restaurants in Bristol.

Plans are also now in place for the Network Rail team to help set up new premises where they will move larger kitchen appliances such as fridges and freezers in order to meet the increasing demand.

Joanne Gardener, Network Rail’s programme manager for works delivery across Wales and Western, said: “I am proud and in awe of the commitment from the team to support the community, whilst everyone is also faced with the challenges of adapting to the pandemic.

“Due to Network Rail being able to move freely around the city, and with the fleet capacity to deliver the provisions, it has meant we can focus on providing the support to those individuals who need it.”

Anna Herbert, marketing director for Hobbs House bakery who are part of the food union, said: “We are delighted to be sharing our bread where people most need it during this crisis and are grateful to all those on the front line that are helping us to take care of our communities.”

Derby Network Rail engineer volunteers over 550 hours as NHS responder

Mike Fallows, who has worked for Network Rail for 18 years and is currently a senior engineer based at Derby, has been helping with an NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme during the current Covid-19 crisis.

When he is off duty, he takes calls from people who are self-isolating and need support. He talks to those who are feeling lonely, as well as picking up shopping and prescriptions for people in the Oakwood area of Derby.

Since lockdown, Mike has spent over 550 hours volunteering for the NHS. This work has been supported by Network Rail, as the company encourages workers to take volunteer leave so that they can spend time helping charities and other organisations.

Mike wanted to do more to support frontline workers as his son works as a paramedic. He approached colleagues at Network Rail at the beginning of April and suggested donating PPE to hospitals. Within 48 hours, Network Rail workers across the country gathered spare PPE and around 10,000 items, including coveralls and safety googles, were delivered to hospitals in East London, North London, Bristol and Newcastle.

He said: “I wanted to support the NHS and the amazing work they do as much as possible, both in my local area and nationally.

“I know some people are struggling during these challenging times. As a Volunteer Responder, one day I could be talking to someone who is feeling lonely and the next I could be out collecting prescriptions. I am enjoying chatting to a range of different people and checking whether they need anything.

“I’m so proud to work on the railway and help to keep vital services running. Our teams at Network Rail worked hard to get this PPE to hospitals across the country to help save lives.”

South East London lines to close for 9 days over the summer

Network Rail is giving passengers advance warning that the railway through Hither Green, in South East London, will be closed for nine days from Saturday 25 July to Sunday 2 August as it completes signalling upgrades through the area.

The current 1970s signalling system, which controls the movement of trains on the Bromley North, Sidcup branches and main line through Hither Green, is being completely replaced with a modern, more reliable system.

The work taking place over the nine days is the commissioning of the new signalling equipment and the transfer of control from London Bridge Area Signalling Centre to Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre. It will mark the end for the old signalling location, which has been in continuous use since 1975.

The work is a key part of Network Rail’s £250 million investment to improve signalling and track reliability through the busy Lewisham area of South East London.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail route director for Kent, said: “This work is so important for delivering a reliable railway for the many passengers who travel through this area. The signalling system is very old and in urgent need of upgrade.

“We wanted to get this work done over Easter but, because technicians can’t work closely together for long periods, it is going to take double the amount of time it would normally take to finish the job.

“We have taken the decision to complete the work in the summer holidays because we wanted to give those passengers who are still travelling, many of them critical workers, enough time to plan ahead. We also need time to put alternative travel options in place, such as an enhanced bus replacement service.”

Buses will replace trains on affected routes for the nine days, with services resuming on Monday, 3 August. Extra buses will be laid on to make sure social distancing can be achieved on the replacement services. Tickets will be accepted on alternative routes and Transport for London services, which will also be increased to ensure passengers travelling can maintain a two-metre distance.

Sunbelt Rentals Rail invests £400K on solar lighting

Sunbelt Rentals Rail – the new name for A-Plant in the rail industry – has added £400,000 of new solar lighting towers to its hire fleet.

Twenty-five award-winning Prolectric ProLight Solar Lighting Towers have been purchased, providing a silent, clean, carbon-free off-grid solution.

They have been purchased as part of Sunbelt Rentals Rail business and in support of Network Rail’s CP6 target to reduce non-traction energy consumption by almost 20 per cent and carbon emissions by 25 per cent.

ProElectric ProLight Solar Lighting Towers.

The ProLight does not require fuel and its digital inbuilt remote-control function allows operators to alter the settings remotely, storing key data that can be monitored or evaluated over time. 

The high-performance lighting tower will be used on rail renewal sites including access roads, the welfare cabin area, car parking and the track working area.

Paul Price Director of Rail at Sunbelt Rentals said: “There’s no doubt these new technologies are going to be a complete game changer for our industry and we need to push on to get to a place where using this type of technology is just the norm.

“The environmental impact of running diesel tower lights all night on large-scale sites is no longer sustainable. It’s not just about carbon emissions; Network Rail’s lineside neighbours are also very important to us and by using solar harvesting, we’re not polluting their environment with unwelcome fumes and noise.

“The demand for sustainable, lower carbon producing tower lighting has increased in recent years and Sunbelt are delighted to offer the biggest fleet in the country. We’ve made an initial investment of 25 units, with plans to purchase further stock later this year, we anticipate that these solar lighting towers will be a prominent offering in our fleet soon.”

Station staff keep passengers moving

Caroline Hynds, Shift Station Manager, King's Cross station

As the lockdown slowly eases, and more people start to travel by train, social distancing will become more of a challenge, bot for passengers and for the station staff who have to guide them.

Across the network, additional passenger safety measures have been put in place at stations to help maintain social distancing. These include extra members of staff to help keep passengers moving, as well as floor stickers so that people can make sure they are at least two metres apart from others.

Network Rail’s station team at London King’s Cross is working hard and adopting new ways of working to ensure those who need to travel are able to reach their destinations safely throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Caroline Hynds is a shift station manager at King’s Cross station, where around 150,000 people usually come through the doors each day. Since the beginning of lockdown, there has been a reduction of around 92% in footfall at the station.

Along with her team, Caroline communicates with all station users, including passengers, train operators, businesses and British Transport Police, but she has had to make changes to her role due to the current challenging times. Shift briefings for the wider station team now take place in an open area so social distancing can be maintained and meetings with train operators are done via email or over the phone.

Additional passenger safety measures have been put in place at King’s Cross station to help maintain social distancing. These include extra members of staff to help keep passengers moving, as well as floor stickers so that people can make sure they are at least two metres apart from others.

Caroline commented: “I’m so proud of our station team at King’s Cross for making sure the station continues to operate smoothly during these challenging times.

“We’ve had to make a lot of changes to the way in which we work and there’s been a huge effort across the industry to ensure the safety of those who need to travel.

“I’d like to thank our passengers for adhering to the guidelines and bearing with us. This is a challenging time for us all, but if we continue to work together and follow the guidelines, we will get through it.”

GB Railfreight appoints Alex Kirk to be its new infrastructure manager

GB Railfreight has appointed Alex Kirk as general infrastructure manager. He joins GBRf from Network Rail, where he began his career as a graduate in the commercial freight team. In the six and a half years there, Alex worked as freight manager in Wales and then sponsored freight enhancement projects in the South.

This appointment comes at a time when GBRf’s business has enjoyed a long period of growth. It now has turnover in excess of £200 million a year and operate over 1,000 trainloads a week, moving approximately 23 per cent of the UK’s rail cargo. The infrastructure team is set to play a leading role in supporting the recovery of the railway post COVID-19.

Alex brings with him knowledge of Network Rail as well as of the drivers for CP6 and the pressures they face. He has developed strong relationships across Network Rail and Transport for London, which will be key in his new role.

Liam Day, GB Railfreight’s commercial director, said: “The railway has an important role to play in helping the UK to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and our infrastructure team will be playing a significant role in supporting the sector. I am extremely pleased that Alex has joined us as the team’s General Infrastructure Manager. Alex brings great knowledge of the things that are most important to our customers and a real desire to make a difference. H is a fantastic addition to the team.”

Alex Kirk said: “I am absolutely delighted to be appointed General Infrastructure Manager. Having worked with GBRf as a customer I can’t wait to get stuck in and see if from the other side. This is an unusual time to start a new job, but I am looking forward to working with the team to help our customers in delivering recovery and future growth for the railway in the UK. I am thrilled to be part of the GBRf family!”

HS2’s Old Oak Common station receives planning approval

HS2 has received planning approval for Old Oak Common station in west London. It will be the largest new railway station ever built in the UK, with 14 platforms (six high-speed and eight conventional platforms) built in a huge underground box 850 metres long.

The new HS2 Old Oak Common station will incorporate some striking design features, such as an impressive sequence of interlocking curved roof forms which has been designed to enhance the open environment of the station and provide natural ventilation minimising the need for long term energy consumption. The arch forms also reduce the need for columns to support the roof and provide clear sight lines, allowing views across the station to help visitors orientate themselves.

The station design development has been led by engineering professional services consultancy WSP with architectural support from WilkinsonEyre.

When operational, the station will be used by up to an estimated 250,000 passengers each day and is set to become one of the busiest railway stations in the country. It will provide seamless connectivity with conventional rail services through eight conventional train platforms, to be served by the Elizabeth line (Crossrail), Heathrow Express and trains to Wales and the West of England.

The station design has a sufficiently sized concourse and platform space to accommodate passenger growth to 2041 and beyond, provision of a dedicated bus and taxi facility, dedicated drop-off and pickup areas, pedestrian and cycle links, and upgraded highway infrastructure comprising a new traffic signalised junction.

New public spaces are also being created as part of the design including a new public square directly outside the station. It will include seating and cycle parking and could also be used as a setting for public artwork.

The HS2 station will be a catalyst and gateway for Old Oak and Park Royal, one of the largest regeneration sites in the UK.  Plans to transform the wider area around the station, a former railway and industrial site, are being led by the OPDC and they project that the area around the new HS2 station will become a neighbourhood with the potential to create tens of thousands of homes and jobs.

Matthew Botelle, HS2’s stations director, said: “The planning approval for the Old Oak Common super-hub station is an important milestone in the delivery of Britain’s new world-class low carbon railway. Building a new railway station for the UK on this scale and size will be an incredible achievement for British engineering.

“HS2 is set to be a catalyst to transform this area of West London, making it one of the best-connected development sites in the UK. We will continue to work with OPDC and other local partners to ensure that this opportunity is maximised.”

Samaritans launches Self-Help app

Sometimes it can be difficult to talk about your feelings. Even knowing exactly how you’re feeling can be hard.

To help, Samaritans has launched its self-help app, which offers people practical ways to cope and stay safe if they’re going through a difficult time.

Knowing that some people find it difficult to seek help, Samaritans created this app to help people explore their feelings when they’re struggling to cope but don’t want to discuss their feelings with someone else. It will help people with problems to learn safe, memorable techniques for coping with things that are troubling them, through a range of interactive features. It can also help them make a plan to stay safe in a crisis, and keep track of things they can do away from the app to help themselves feel better.

Samaritans Self-Help is a web application that can be used online in a browser or installed on a computer or smartphone. It’s not monitored by volunteers, no one can see what people write in it and any feedback left using the sidebar will also remain anonymous.

The app centres around a mood tracker, which can be used to record how people are feeling and see patterns in their mood. It also recommends techniques to try, based on how they are feeling at the time.

The new Self-Help app doesn’t replace Samaritans’ volunteers who will still be available round the clock for anyone who needs to talk.

Southeastern establishes new community rail fund to promote social wellbeing and economic development

Train operator Southeastern has launched a £400,000 fund for community rail projects and is inviting proposals from existing Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) and other local organisations. Proposed schemes should promote sustainable travel, bring together local communities and promote social wellbeing and economic development.

Working with Community Rail Network – the national organisation that accredits new CRPs and provides oversight and support for community rail across Britain – Southeastern is inviting interested parties to submit bids for a share of the £400,000 in funding over a two-year period. A total of £200,000 in grants will be paid in the first year (ending 31 March 2021) and a further £200,000 is available in Year 2 (ending 31 March 2022).

In addition to established CRPs, Southeastern is also inviting councils, community groups and other local organisations to submit proposals, on the basis they commit to formally establishing a Community Rail Partnership by April 2021.

Chris Vinson, senior external communications manager at Southeastern, said: “We’re currently asking our passengers to avoid travelling by train unless they have no alternative. But we’re also planning ahead for a time when we’re able to get back to normal. We hope this funding will be a great help for the communities we serve across our network in Kent, East Sussex and South East London.”