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UK - Articles and news items

Planning ahead to meet future demand

Issue 6 2013 / 4 December 2013 /

It is 20 years since Britain’s railways were privatised. At the time it was seen as a risky move, even though the network had grown increasingly unreliable and inefficient under state operator British Rail. Responsibility for tracks and trains was split, and private companies were invited to bid for regional franchises. Two decades later, the benefits of privatisation are clear. Passenger journeys have doubled to a level not seen since the 1920s, rail freight has grown by half, and revenue is up by more than £3 billion. And on a network roughly the same size as then, our railway today is running 4,000 extra services a day. But how our railway will continue to succeed over the next 20 years is now the key question. Importantly, it will benefit from a step change in investment. Rising passenger and freight demand since privatisation had stretched the capacity of the railway to its limits. In response, the Government has embarked on the biggest rail modernisation programme in Britain for generations.

One of the tangible benefits will be an extra 140,000 seats at peak times by the end of the decade. Between 2014 and 2019, infrastructure operator Network Rail is planning to spend over £35 billion to run and expand the railway. Of that, the Government is investing over £9 billion to deliver major improvements across the country.

We are electrifying 850 miles of track, and spending £5.8 billion on new rolling stock for our main north-south lines. We are also building Crossrail – a new high capacity railway for London and the South East.

A clear vision for rail in the North

Issue 6 2013 / 4 December 2013 /

Operating 2,500 services every day, Northern Rail serves an area stretching from the Scottish Borders down to Nottingham and Stoke and from Southport and Sellafield in the West to Whitby and Hull in the East. It’s a wide ranging landscape of rural communities, market towns and bustling urban centres where rail services are at the heart of economic regeneration. The franchise was let in 2004 and originally set to run until September 2011 with no forecast of significant growth in passenger numbers. Fast forward nine years and customer journeys have increased by an impressive 42% with journeys on target to total 96 million by the end of the year. After an automatic extension for meeting performance targets, and a seven period continuation enacted by the Department for Transport (DfT), the latest review of the franchising programme means the team at Northern is now talking to the DfT about potentially operating for a further 22 months until February 2016. Enter new Managing Director – Alex Hynes. Previously Commercial Director at London Midland and most recently MD Rail Development for Go-Ahead, Alex joined Northern in August and in an exclusive interview with European Railway Review discusses the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“Before I took up the role, looking at the scale and complexity of the Northern network, the natural assumption was that it shouldn’t really work, but it does,” comments Alex. “The size of the network, the complex fleet with 13 differ – ent classes of train, and interfaces with over 10 different train and freight operators, all present their own challenges but the team has worked hard to develop and maintain a service that meets customer, stakeholder and client needs.”

Rebuilding for a proper gateway

Issue 6 2013 / 4 December 2013 /

When the last round of redevelopment work began at Birmingham New Street in the 1960s, England were on the verge of winning the World Cup and rail travel was forecast to decline. Since then rail travel has enjoyed rather more success than the England football team and the station handles double the number of passengers it was designed for – 140,000 per day at the last count. Such was the overcrowding that four years ago Network Rail and its delivery partner Mace began to rebuild1 the station into a proper gateway for the City of Birmingham.

Network Rail Project Director Chris Montgomery said: “The New Street revamp is one of the most complex construction projects in Europe, as not only are we redeveloping a 1967 structure, we are also undertaking major construction and demolition over a live operating railway, without impacting any rail services or disrupting passengers as a result of our works.”

And in April 2013, passengers saw the first major change to the station’s operations, as the old concourse was shut and half of the planned new concourse area was brought into use.

New FGW franchise to build on improvements

Issue 6 2013 / 4 December 2013 /

Running services out of London Paddington, across the South and West of England and South Wales, the former Greater Western franchise began operating on 1 April 2006. Operated by First Group and branded as First Great Western, the network combines the previous Great Western Intercity, London and Thames Valley, and West Country regional franchises. A second, 23-month franchise agreement began on 14 October 2013.

The First Great Western story Running over 1,550 trains a day, First Great Western (FGW) manages 210 stations and calls at a further 60 across the South West network. First Group made the decision in 2011 not to take up a contractually permitted three-year extension to the franchise, with a view to retendering for a longer-term agreement.

The decision enabled the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop plans for a longerterm franchise that would benefit from and help to deliver a number of major schemes, including electrification of a significant part of the network, the completion of Crossrail and the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme bi-mode trains. First Group was shortlisted to submit a bid for this longer-term franchise, which was due to begin in July 2013 and run for 15 years, but this process was delayed following the decision in October 2012 by the DfT to pause its franchising programme.

Investment, improvement and modernisation at London Overground

Issue 6 2013 / 4 December 2013 /

Since 2007, London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) has been actively transforming the London Overground network, modernising the service, improving facilities and providing a better, safer, more environmentally efficient and comfortable experience for its customers. And six years on, LOROL’s delivery of Transport for London’s (TfL’s) extensive investment in the network is proving to be a real winner.

The last couple of years, in particular, have been busy for LOROL. The challenge of unprece – dented passenger numbers during the London 2012 Olympic Games and the opening of the much anticipated East London Line extension last December to deliver the Capital’s first orbital railway in nearly 130 years are two key projects that the LOROL team has successfully delivered throughout this time. And with the project underway to increase the capacity of the network with the introduction of five-car trains from December 2014, the successful invest ment, improvement and modernisation activity at LOROL is on track to continue.

Partnership key to London Overground transformation

Issue 6 2011 / 6 December 2011 /

In the four years since the launch of London Overground the team behind the unique operator-client partnership has transformed the network into a modern, reliable metro railway that London can be proud of as it prepares to host the 2012 Olympics.

Significant investment by Transport for London (TfL), the transport authority responsible for commissioning all public transport for England’s capital, combined with excellent operational delivery by London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) has been the key to making it the UK’s highest performing rail network for the past seven consecutive months.

The seven-year London Overground concession, which LOROL started operating in 2007 on behalf of TfL, links 20 of the capital’s 33 boroughs.

It operates 938 trains each weekday, which is more than double the number at the start of the concession, and has quadrupled the number of passengers it carries each day to provide some 100 million passenger journeys a year.

The vital need for the rail industry to get it right

Issue 6 2011 / 6 December 2011 /

A recently published figure by the Association of Train Operating Companies provides, I think, one of the best and most revealing snapshots of the railways today. Between 26 June and 17 September 2011, 314.3 million passenger journeys took place on Great Britain’s railways – up 5.3% from the same period in 2010. It is a huge number which highlights not only the importance, and necessity, of train travel to millions of people, but also emphasises how vital it is for the rail industry to get it right, and to meet all of the challenges ahead to ensure future success.

Since joining the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) as Chief Executive in May 2011, I have frequently spoken about the many challenges, yet great opportunities, ahead for the rail sector. As the rail industry is a long-term business, the decisions taken now, and the aims and objectives set, will affect the capacity and structures of the railways for decades to come. With the demand for train travel rising in a sustained way for the first time in generations, the whole rail industry, together, must make crucial decisions which will inform the direction of travel for the railways now and in the future.

It is vital that the industry demonstrates that it is capable of meeting the challenges ahead to ensure that our railways remain one of the top performing in the world.

FML’s continuous expansion to achieve positive results

Issue 6 2011 / 6 December 2011 /

Freightliner Maintenance Ltd (FML) is Freightliner Group’s dedicated in-house maintenance operation. As it continues on its course of expansion, FML has reinstated an out-of-use and run-down engineering facility in York. Maintenance of locomotives and rolling stock is a core necessity to any successful rail operator. A high level of availability of locomotives through efficient maintenance can increase an operator’s performance that customers see and experience. In an interview for European Railway Review, Dave Curtis, General Manager at FML gives an overview of the work carried out at the site in York and explains the benefits that this new site will bring.

In 2006, Freightliner Group recognised an opportunity to enhance its business offering of operating award winning trains and diversify to the maintenance of its fleet with cost control and rolling stock performance as key success criteria.

“We believed that we could further improve reliability and reduce both downtime and costs by incorporating the maintenance function into the Freightliner business,” explained Dave. “Freightliner Heavy Haul’s business success relied on dependable main – tainers with a swift turnaround time and was a key decision to ensure the security and service delivery.”

London 2012 – Will better public transport lure people out of their cars?

Issue 6 2011 / 6 December 2011 /

In July 2005, London was confirmed as the host city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The bid promised “the most sustainable Games ever”. Cynics may say that a global event such as the Olympics is an inherently unsustainable thing to do; others believe it is a unique opportunity to push the sustainability agenda. As Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (the independent sustainability watchdog for the London 2012 Olympics) I am responsible for advising senior politicians and informing the public about the sustainability credentials of the London 2012 Games and legacy.

Let’s face it; not having an Olympics at all is the most sustainable thing to do. Call the whole thing off, pack it in. How can you possibly justify tens of thousands of tonnes of concrete and steel, millions of logistics and people movements, disruption to biodiversity, noise, dust and disruption to people’s lives in the name of sport? At the Commission we believe this is possible only if the net sustainability gains from the influence of London 2012 are greater than the sum of the losses.

Transport and logistics are at the heart of a sustainable London 2012. Without transport, the Games would not be possible, and transport provides a unique opportunity to deliver social, economic and environmental sustainability in ways previously unheard of. We may even get people talking to each other on the Tube!

 

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