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Rail News Roundup - May

An in-depth rail news roundup for May.

Stansted Express - new trains in service

The Stansted Express service, linking Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, has introduced the first of its new Bombardier built class 379 electric trains. The new fleet will be 30 units strong when completed, having been built in Derby and are intended to all be in service by the Olympics next year.

The 100mph fleet will cost around £185m for the 120 carriages and will be operated by National Express East Anglia until a new franchisee takes over in February next year.

Local services for Fishguard Harbour

The Welsh port of Fishguard has a sporadic service linking in with ferries to Rosslare. Welsh Authority funding to the tune of nearly £1.5m should provide five trains a day from Carmarthen for the next few years from September. If ridership is low, the trains will cease is the message given out!

East Coast Restaurant Cars to stop serving

The new timetable comes in on May 22 from when East Coast services will no longer provide full meal services to all passengers. Only first class ticket holders will be able to eat a meal on board as part of their ticketing arrangements in similar fashion to Virgin services on the West Coast route from Euston.

From May 22, the only full meal service will be between Liverpool Street and Norwich. Or on charter trains.

Cardiff Valleys improvements announced

Network Rail have said that they will be building extra platforms at six stations in the Cardiff Valley network over the next three years. These will be provided as part of the £450m resignalling scheme taking place in South Wales which has been underway for a couple of years already. The new signalling system at Newport is due to be commissioned this month.

Cardiff Central will get a new platform numbered 8 on the south of the station and the link behind Canton Depot, re-opened by regional Railways, will be doubled to allow more Valley Line services to operate but these will not be routed via Queen Street.

Queen Street will receive another through platform and a new bay platform plus new sidings are to be installed at Barry, Caerphilly and Pontypridd to recess services in their layover. Existing freight only loops will be brought up to passenger standard also improving reliability and capacity.

Intercity Express construction location announced

Agility trains, the partnership of Hitachi and John Laing have announced that the IEP trains will be assembled at Newton Aycliffe near Shildon. This should generate 500 jobs and once the Department for Transport gives the go-ahead for the contract, the manufacturing and assembly plant will need to be constructed providing an estimated 200 jobs.

The first tranche of trains (70 vehicles) will be imported from Japan but completed and commissioned at the Newton Aycliffe.

East Midlands Meridian Wi-Fi goes live

Wi-fi connections are now live on all 27 East Midlands Trains’ Meridian Class 222s. This service is free in first class and chargeable to standard class passengers. Wi-fi is also now available in EMT’s first class lounges at Sheffield, Derby, East Midlands, Leicester, Nottingham and St. Pancras.

Lincoln - London for £1

East Coast Trains are offering 1000 tickets for £1 between Lincoln and London in the first week of their new timetable which starts on May 22. There is a limited direct service unlike originally envisaged and the journey time is generally around two hours in each direction.

Railway Heritage Committee re-organised

The RHC was a statutory organization set up at Privatisation to preserve railway relics and they had the legal power to ‘designate’ items for preservation. Before this, the British Railways Board carried out this function.

It looks as though they will come under the auspices of the National Railway Museum of Science and Industry, who oversee the National Railway Museum at York following the closing of many Government quangos.

He RHC is a largely composed of volunteers with a very small running cost and has so far saved over 1000 items of railway memorabilia for posterity.

Railway Heritage Trust funding secured

The RHT has secured funding until March 2019 with Network Rail’s announcement that they will continue to underwrite the organisation’s activities. These include restoring listed buildings and the Trust has attracted £39m in grants since 1985 generating a further £46m of funds from other bodies in partnership funding.

Golden Valley Route to be double tracked

The Swindon to Cheltenham via Stroud line looks set to be double tracked between Swindon and Kemble, removing a bottleneck on the busy route. A completion date of May 2014 is anticipated by Network Rail.

Manchester Link Chord announced

The Government have announced that there is funding available (£85m) for the cross Manchester Ordsall Chord link. This will join Piccadilly and Victoria stations and could see Transpennine services rerouted to Victoria, speeding the service up.

Electrification on the Great Western and North West England

Network Rail have issued tenders for electrification works on the GW main line wets of Airport Junction to Oxford, Newbury, Bristol and Cardiff. Anticipated timescales are 2016 except the following year to Cardiff. The Bristol and Cardiff part of the scheme is estimated to cost around £700m.

Tenders have also been issued for the infill schemes between Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool. Liverpool and Manchester should be completed by 2014 and Blackpool by 2016.

Severn Valley Railway reopens after major engineering works

The award winning 16 mile long Severn Valley Railway has reopened following major engineering works carried out in January, February and March. Works centred on Arley and the Bewdley viaduct.

Merseyrail’s new trains

Merseyrail, the pretty much self contained railway in Merseyside is gearing up to buy new trains. The tendering process is underway but the existing class 507 and 508 DC units will have to carry on for a few more years at least.

Deltic on Freight services

Preserved Deltic No. 55022 has been used by GBRF on freight services from North Blythe and Lynemouth. This is to cover for a lack of other traction and is anticipated to carry on for some time.


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