September Rail News

Network Rail News Roundup.

Network Rail asks for Assistance with Cable Theft Petition

Network Rail has asked to spread the word about a petition asking Parliament to review the introduction of legislation aimed at making cash transactions at Scrap Metal Dealers illegal.

Steve Featherstone, Director, Infrastructure Maintenance, Network Rail has said that this type of legislation will help considerably in the battle against cable and metal theft. If passed, it will ensure both a paper and electronic trail on all transactions and will potentially significantly reduce the means by which cable thieves can cash in on their ill gotten gains. would ask all readers to consider signing the petition which requires a minimum number of signatures before it will be considered by Parliament.

Riots force Network Rail and Train Operators’ Controls to Relocate

The August unrest led to fears that the Network Rail office at The Mailbox could be breached by rioters but in the end, no invasion happened. Security staff persuaded would be rioters to leave the building.

As a precaution, Network Rail in Birmingham temporarily relocated their Control Office from The Mailbox to the Saltley Signalling Centre while London Midland transferred to offices in Lichfield and Virgin moved to Birmingham International.

Network Rail Supports Small Riot-hit Businesses

Network Rail is helping small businesses in areas hit hardest by the riots by offering one month’s free rent and 50% off each subsequent month’s rent on selected commercial properties up until the end of the year.

The special terms have been introduced to help small enterprises get back up and running as soon as possible and will apply to more than 100 Network Rail commercial premises in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Salford and Liverpool.

Simone Bailey, Network Rail’s head of commercial estate, said: "For many people running small businesses the riots weren’t only frightening and dangerous, they also left some small premises destroyed and so badly damaged that business could no longer continue.

"We have reacted to these unfortunate events and drawn up a list of vacant commercial properties which will be offered on special terms and shorter leases. Most premises will be available to occupy within 24 hours.

"Small businesses are the lifeblood of their local community and this is our small way of trying to help them to recover from these appalling events. "Our main aim is to allow business to get back to normal and through our website we will list available premises with contact details.”

Many units located in railway arches in key city locations are uniquely placed to help small business and the type, style, quantity and size of use ranges from light industrial storage, to leisure, retail and office space.

This also obviously helps Network Rail lease vacant properties some might cynically suggest, but does show a good initiative!

Network Rail Freight Director Appointed

Network Rail has appointed Tim Robinson to a new role as director of freight. Tim has a long and successful railway career behind him in many senior posts. These were at Railtrack, EWS Railways, GB Railfreight and Network Rail. His latest role was managing director of infrastructure investor, GIS and interim commercial director at GB Railfreight. His remit will be to develop Network Rail’s network for freight and managing customer relationships with freight operators.

His area of responsibility also covers the operation of charter trains by West Coast Railway Company and DB Shenker plus the few run by GBRF. His duties also include working with the Network Rail’s strategy team helping to plan network developments.

Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations, said: “As Network Rail devolves decision making to its routes, it is crucial that the national freight industry receives strong management focus at the centre. That is why we have created this role and why we have appointed someone with Tim’s skills and experience. “Britain relies on rail freight and volumes are predicted to grow by as much as 140 per cent in the next 20 years.”

Reading Station Upgrade News

One of the largest upgrade projects that Network Rail is undertaking is the upgrade in the Reading area to deal once and for all with the Reading bottleneck. Work has been underway for over a year but now it is gathering momentum.

The 1960s signalbox behind the station was demolished a few months ago and much of the station will follow. The original Brunel station building, now a pub, will remain. Three tracks were taken up a year ago by the signalbox and a new 1000 ton bridge was placed at the west end of the station over the last Christmas holiday period.

The following statistics tell the story so far as the station rebuilding part of the scheme is concerned:

929 Steel piles.

10,444M³ of concrete or 1,740 truckloads.

17,386M² of formwork. Enough timber to make more than 900 big garden sheds!

14,929M³ of excavations. Enough to fill 1,148 eight wheel tipper trucks which if placed nose to tail in a row would stretch 19 miles!

27,141M³ of backfill. (NR has retained a huge pile of rubble behind platform 9 for this!)

5,594 tonnes of steel members. The equivalent weight of 79 HST power cars.

583M² of steel reinforcement.

32,900M² of cladding.

5,955M² of glazing. B(Window cleaning job anybody?)

Provision of 16 new lifts and 17 new escalators

Much of the station will be demolished and then five new platforms will be constructed and a new entrance and overbridge provided. During August the erection of a hoarding was designed to cover all areas that are to be demolished. Perhaps most significantly will be the total and permanent closure of the station subway which took place on 29th August after the last revellers from the Reading Festival had left.

When reopened in 2013, the subway will only be a walk through from one side of the station to the other and not offer access onto any platform for passengers and will effectively become the route to walk under the station.

The project also sees the re-opening of the dive-under at the London end of the station allowing unhindered access to and from The Southern. A new flyover will be built at the country end of the station allowing freer access to and from the West Of England and Basingstoke Lines which in turn leads to the need for a new train depot to house the new IEP fleet just west of the station.

Canterbury West

Canterbury West station now boasts a new overbridge which relieves pressure on the disabled unfriendly subway. The project was completed this summer after a year’s work, also provides lifts at the busy station transformed by ‘Javelin’ High Speed services to and from St. Pancras.

Similar work has been carried out at Ashford (Kent) and Ipswich station as part of the Access For All project costing £370m.

Merseyrail Works at Hooton a Success

Merseyrail have declared that their station improvement work completed early this summer at Hooton has been welcomed by their 2000 daily passengers. The provision of a new footbridge and three lifts (one for each platform), have brought this major station into the 21st century and cost £2.5m.

It still retains an excursion platform (with an unelectrified line) and an old station building, a reminder of the station’s Great Western Railway heritage, it was on the Paddington to Birkenhead route. Merseyrail operates 67 stations connecting Merseyside and was to be the testbed for the vertically integrated transport policy espoused by Sir Roy McNulty a few months ago, but this idea has already been dropped. This was cited as being due to the financial risk involved.

Paddington Span 4 revealed

Passengers who use Paddington, especially the high number platforms will be aware that this area of the station under what is known as Span 4 has been under scaffolding since 1996 to protect passengers from falling glass. In fact, temporary repairs and supports had been in place since then while a decision was taken as what to do following the discovery that the supports had moved slightly leading to the need for a re-alignment and strengthening.

The scaffolding and false roof (the crashdecking) has now been removed allowing light to flood back into the station. The span was built just under 100 years ago and plans were floated by Network Rail to demolish it which were eventually resisted.

The work cost £35m, took two years and was formally opened by the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond. It will also allow Crossrail works to go ahead in that area of the station which is over the Hammersmith & City Tube line, to become part of Crossrail.

Great Western £5bn Investment Announced

Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond has announced, alongside with Network Rail’s Chief Executive, David Higgins, that £5bn will be invested on the Great Western network over the next decade or so. Much of this will be on electrification and resignalling which will allow new Inter City Express Trains (IEP) trains to operate a more frequent and fast service.

This should allow the anticipated 51% increase in passengers over the next 30 years to be carried which is good news. The potentially bad news is that the signalling will be based on the ERTMS system introduced on the Cambrian Lines, but hopefully not using the same equipment given the appalling reliability.

East Coast Main Line Performance Recovery Plan Announced

In a curious twist of fate, the worst performing route in the UK is the East Coast Main Line run by the only state owned train operator, East Coast. Network Rail (State funded) has announced a plan with the operator to bring improvements to improve on the poor 83% on time figures for the year to May 2011. Train cancellations are also at a high level running at nearly 5% for the same period – the target is just over 1%.

Network Rail Route Director Richard Lungmuss and the East Coast MD Karen Boswell announced that the initiative will see a £17m ‘resiliance fund’ spent to reduce cable theft, fleet reliability and track and overhead wire failures. Lineside cables are being forensically marked in known hotspot locations in the hope that this will reduce the delays by over 10% or 180,000 minutes. Cable troughing is being made more secure which should hopefully deter those involved in the theft.

The bad winter was also a contributory factor in the poor annual performance statistics and Network Rail will install more point heaters and run more de-icing trains to keep the overhead wires free of ice. Some would of course argue that as this was the third bad winter in a row that these plans should have already been made.

Network Rail HQ Over-Occupancy Resolved?

Network Rail’s new HQ building is taking shape in Milton Keynes. It was originally designed for around 3000 people to work there but this emerged to be an underestimate by a long way. The good news is that because of the change of Government and the ensuing decentralisation policy is that the building may now be large enough to accommodate those functions that will be based there.

Chiltern Upgrade Work

Chiltern Railways has been upgrading its route between Marylebone and Birmingham for a new service commencing on September 5. This has cost £250million and locomotive hauled trains using mark 3 stock will run at 100mph offering very competitive journey-times between London and the West Midlands in direct competition to Virgin on the West Coast Main Line.

The final phase of work took place over the Bank Holiday weekend which included installing and commissioning new points and signalling at Neasden and High Wycombe plus a new 100mph through line at Princes Risborough. This brought 15 days of engineering works which ended on August 27.

The work at Princes Risborough should have a beneficial effect on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway who are planning to run into Princes Risborough station in a few years. The new main line layout means that there will be less infrastructure work to be carried out.

Want to buy a Trainset?

Irish Railways is offering for sale or lease 82 locomotive hauled Mk3 vehicles including TSO, TSOB and generator vans. These were constructed around 25 years ago and are equipped with single leaf powered plug doors. The new owners will have to collect though!

Expressions of interest should be sent by email at the soonest opportunity to Derek Byrne who says that the winning offer will be subject to satisfactory economic and financial standing.

Please contact

Pendolino News

Some new Pendolino liveries have emerged this summer. Virgin have named

390027 Jessica Varnish after the Olympic Cyclist and two other of the class are carrying new liveries. No. 390004 carries a large lettered branding of ‘Pendolino Alstom’ on the side and the front of the train. No. 390054 has been built to take the place of the Grayrigg set No. 390033 (withdrawn from service) and the new set carries a Blue and red Alstom Pendolino branding on the cabside.

Fancy an Original Cuneo Painting?

The auctioneers, Bonhams, have been asked to sell an original Terence Cuneo painting at their next auction. The painting depicts ‘The Golden Arrow’ and is expected to make around £50,000 which is in line with other sales achieved in the last few years.’s Phil Marsh visited Terence Cuneo’s daughter Carole, a couple of years ago, who still has a cherished collection of her father’s artifacts including many brushes.

Isle of Wight Passenger Faces Long Wait at Brading

Brading station five years ago was an unstaffed derelict place five years ago. This year a lonely passenger has appeared on the island platform on various days. will reveal why this passenger faces a long wait this autumn.

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