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UK & Ireland - Articles and news items

£100m investment signals new start for Nottingham

Issue 6 2012 / 29 November 2012 /

It is not often in the life of a Route Managing Director that you get to install a whole new track layout through a major station, but between September 2012 and December 2013, Nottingham’s railway station will be rebuilt complete with a new £100 million track layout and resignalling scheme.

Another scheme, which will finish later, will see the city’s tram network extended and a station built over the top – the first major work to be completed on the station since it was built in 1903.

Nottingham, like so many other places across Europe, has seen its railway infrastructure shrink over the last half century. It once hosted two central main line stations (Victoria and Midland), plus two others run by the Great Northern. They all closed – with Victoria the last to go in 1967.

For many years, the five platforms of the former Midland station were able to cope with traffic, but now with steady growth in rail traffic we have a new challenge.

Securing a sustainable future for rail travel in Northern Ireland

Issue 6 2012 / 29 November 2012 /

In 2011/12, Translink NI Railways recorded its highest ever passenger numbers with 10.7 million journeys made on local rail services in Northern Ireland – an increase of over 70% in the last decade.

Independent research released in September shows that Translink customers continue to rate local rail services very highly – NI Railways achieved 100% ‘on time’ scores for the second consecutive monitor and beat reliability targets.

This impressive trend shows no sign of slowing down with a range of significant developments in rail infrastructure, technology and services securing a bright future for train travel in the country.

Translink’s ‘New Trains Two’ programme has now successfully completed the delivery of 20 new Class 4000 trains manufactured by CAF in Zaragoza, Spain.

All trains in this £114 million investment are now in passenger service and operate alongside 23 Class 3000 trains to deliver an entirely modern fleet for growing passenger demand. In fact, NI Railways has one of the most modern fleets of DMUs in Europe with all units manufactured over the past 10 years.

Driving infrastructure value through collaboration

Issue 6 2012 / 29 November 2012 /

The railway industry in Britain continues to be characterised by substantial growth in ridership and in major investment programmes. Infrastructure investment in the mainline railway is undertaken predominantly by two main parties working together: the infrastructure manager, Network Rail, as clients, and its extensive supply chain. More than 170 supply companies of all sizes and disciplines are members of the UK railway supply industry’s representative body, the Railway Industry Association (RIA). Increasingly over recent years, Network Rail (NR) and RIA have pursued an agenda of fostering collaboration between each other collectively and between NR and individual supply companies. This joint article summarises some of the key elements of what has been done at the collective level in GB and internationally.

Background to collaboration: One of the key strategic themes RIA has been pursuing for many years is the need to improve efficiency in the UK rail industry by moving away from the traditional adversarial supply-chain relationships to a much more collaborative and mutually beneficial approach. The 2011 McNulty Report, commissioned jointly by the British Government and the Office of Rail Regulation to look at potential efficiencies in the UK railway industry, identified more collaborative behaviour as a key ingredient in achieving these efficiencies. Those developments, along with the arrival of David Higgins at the head of NR, have helped provide the necessary impetus for the industry to work more collaboratively.

The Grand Central experience – an operational and safety management perspective

Issue 6 2012 / 29 November 2012 /

Grand Central is an open-access passenger train operator, carrying passengers from London Kings Cross to York and the North East and to Doncaster and West Yorkshire. For European Railway Review, David Neil, Head of Operations and Safety at Grand Central, explains how the open-access operator fits into the UK train operations framework and also shares his experiences since joining the company.

Open-access railways: Open-access is a passenger train operation operating purely on a commercial basis and is not under either a franchise or a concession agreement. However, it is not as simple as identifying routes and resources then operating. Criteria set by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) need to be met and a notable requirement is that the service needs to benefit communities and routes over and above what a franchise operation is providing. Available train paths also need to be identified and agreed with Network Rail. Open-access is about attracting new business onto rail and away from our congested road system. A problem, of course, is that we also have an increasingly congested rail network.

New trains, new routes and new services – Eurostar’s vision for the future

Issue 6 2012 / 27 November 2012 /

Since Eurostar’s maiden voyage in 1994, we have carried over 130 million passengers across the Channel. Today, eight out of 10 passengers travelling between London and Paris and Brussels choose to do so by high-speed rail on a Eurostar service, with almost 10 million people travelling with us last year alone.

When I think back to the moment the first passenger service pulled out of London Waterloo 18 years ago, I cannot help but be struck by the travel revolution that has taken place during that time. In 1994, we could never have foreseen that by 2012 London would be France’s sixth largest city, with a regular stream of commuters enjoying the high-speed rail link between the UK and the Continent.

We are entering a very exciting period for high-speed European rail – a rail renaissance – as the deregulation of the market brings with it new routes, new partnerships and new services across the network. We expect to see an exciting period of growth and innovation over the coming years, just as has been seen in other newly liberalised markets like energy and telecoms. The ultimate winners will be the passengers and they can expect to experience a raft of innovations and better choice.