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News from the UK Rail Industry 11th April 2019

Posted by: Warren Drobac
Industry News

£32 million railway line for Bristol

The Department for Transport has announced its backing for the MetroWest railway line between Portishead and Bristol after confirming the final £32m funding for the “nationally-significant” project.

The Portishead branch line is part of aproject aiming to reopen the line to passenger services by 2021. Now, the final £31.9m of funding has been announced by the transport secretary after a meeting with local government leaders in the region, paving the way for the £116m project.

MetroWest Phase 1 is being led by North Somerset Council (NSC) and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), with a development consent order due to be submitted to the government in July.

The Portishead rail branch line will see two new stations at Portishead and at Pill, and also includes improvements to passenger services along the Severn Beach and Bristol to Bath lines.

Head of transport and infrastructure at NSC, Colin Medus, said: “The Portishead Rail scheme is a nationally-significant project that will open-up the rail network to thousands of people across the region and will help relieve congestion during the rush hour periods.”

Medus praised the project’s future contribution to the area, saying: “We are committed to investing in the infrastructure of our area and this government funding is the news we have been waiting for. MetroWest Phase 1 is firmly on track for delivering rail services fit for the future of our region.”

West of England mayor Tim Bowles commented: “This is excellent news for the region as we continue to work on our ambitious MetroWest rail plan, which will help build a transport network that works for everyone.”

A previous funding bid was rejected by the government in 2018, and the new commitment of £31.9m comes alongside £15m invested by North Somerset Council and additional funding from the Local Growth Fund and Economic Development Fund.

NSC leader Nigel Ashton said he was “delighted” to announce the funding after many years of campaigning, and said the Portishead line is “vital for the town, North Somerset and the region.” Full story.

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HS2 pushes forwards with key projects

HS2 has completed 2 major demolition projects at Euston as work continues to deliver extra capacity and improve journeys for the 44 million passengers who use the station every year.

The clearance of the buildings to the west of the station reveal the full scale of the new platforms and concourse that will built as part of Britain’s new high speed rail project.
Once complete, HS2 will more than double the number of seats out of Euston during peak hours, with the first 6 new 400 metre platforms built adjacent to the existing station to reduce disruption to passengers during construction.

The 6 month demolition of the former Ibis hotel on Cardington Street has now been completed and 95% of the materials will be recycled or reused on site.

Two time capsules, discovered during the work, are being conserved by HS2’s archaeological sub-contractors and will be kept for future study and display in the community. 
Both projects were delivered by HS2’s enabling works contractor, a Costain and Skanska joint venture (CSjv), working with subcontractors Keltbray. A top-down demolition technique was used, with machines lifted onto the top of the buildings and protective screening around the outside to limit noise and dust.

HS2 Ltd’s Euston Programme Director, Rob Carr, said: “HS2 will transform Euston, delivering much-needed extra capacity, improving journeys and unlocking the opportunity for thousands of new jobs and homes.”

CSjv Programme Director, Peter Jones, said: “We are making significant progress across London and we are pleased to confirm the successful completion of these 2 key building demolitions. We currently have more than a thousand people on site in the Euston area, working on a further 25 projects, most of which will be completed this year.”

A masterplan for the wider development of public land around the station is being developed by Lendlease and could deliver 2,000 new homes and 15,000 jobs unlocked by the arrival of HS2. Full story.

UK leads the way in paperless smart ticketing

With smart ticket options now available with every train operator in Britain, train companies have confirmed new technology will be deployed to make smart tickets more widely available across the network.

Following recent upgrades, passengers travelling from all major stations across Britain including Waterloo, Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central are now able to go paperless, buying smart tickets quickly and easily online or via their smartphones.

After further installation of readers at stations around the country and software updates, it is expected for nine in 10 tickets to be available as smart tickets.

With smart ticket options now available with every train operator in Britain, the rail industry is working with government to progress its proposed reforms to the fares system which would allow passengers to make the most of the benefits.

Robert Nisbet, Regional Director at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Together, rail companies are going full steam ahead with smart ticketing, with passengers increasingly able to use their phones or smartcards thanks to station upgrades across the network. Of course, we want to go further, but realising the full benefits of new ticketing technology requires regulatory reform of the wider fares system. That’s why train companies are working with government to update the rules that underpin our rail fares.”  Full story.

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