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News from the UK Rail Industry 18th April 2019

Posted by: Warren Drobac
Industry News

Tech innovation scheme set to shape the future of rail

The Rail Innovation Group have announced a new scheme aimed at opening up the rail industry to new technological innovations.

The Recognised Innovation Scheme is recognising start-ups, small suppliers and individuals contributing to innovation within the rail industry. The scheme will benchmark best practice in innovation and culture change in rail and will allow the industry to collaborate with tech firms to improve passenger experience.

The Recognised Innovation Scheme endorses products and people who have contributed to the Rail Innovation Group’s mission of promoting modern, efficient rail systems; demonstrated an ability to create a seamless journey experience; and adopted a customer-centric approach and are committed to sharing that approach with the wider industry.

The scheme is now live and welcomes applications on an ongoing basis. At the first event for the scheme, two products received inaugural recognition. RailSmart is a suite of applications to improve operational performance, while Journey PAL is an accessible travel review product.

Milda Manomaityte, co-Leader of the Rail Innovation Group, said: “I am very excited to launch the Recognised Innovation Scheme. Through our work with rail operators and digital tech start-ups we have seen many examples of great work being delivered to improve UK railways. The goal of the scheme is for our community of rail and technology professionals to work together and find solutions that will benefit both. I am particularly excited to recognise people in this scheme, because they are the ones challenging the status quo and fighting for innovative products and solutions to be embraced by their peers.”

The Recognised Innovation Scheme partnership will include a series of regional events bringing together the rail and tech communities to promote the opportunities for start-ups and small suppliers within the rail supply chain. These events will help built local ecosystems to feed into the rail supply chain. Full story.

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Around-the-clock work for Easter projects

The UK rail industry is preparing for Network Rail’s engineering work programme. Across the Easter Bank Holidays a 13,800-strong workforce will work around the clock to keep the railway open and deliver more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services for passengers.

Most of the country’s services are unaffected as this Easter’s engineering programme is the quietest for many years, but some routes will still see significant changes to normal services and so passengers need to plan ahead this Easter.

The major investment projects this Easter include the line at London Euston, near Preston and Glasgow will see closures to make room for significant work along the route from London Euston to Glasgow. 

The line between London Fenchurch Street station and Barking will see reliability improvements by replacing two bridges and renewing the track. Services will be diverted to and from London Liverpool Street station from Friday 19 to Monday 22 April and buses replacing trains between Barking and Aldgate East.

Significant electrification work (including installing foundations, masts, overhead line equipment and fencing) will take place between Cardiff Central station and Severn Tunnel junction. The Southend Victoria branch line will also undergo upgrades.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail said: “This Easter we deliver essential upgrades to the rail network to improve their journeys. We know that our railway is up to 50% quieter than usual over bank holidays so doing work at this time of year minimises our impact on passengers who, as research shows, understand the need for such activity.” Full story.

First TransPennine Express Nova 3 train handed over 

The first of TransPennine Express’s (TPE) new fleet of Nova 3 trains, which will initially come into service in the coming months has now completed testing and been accepted from the manufacturer after it completed its fault free running.

This will allow TPE to begin training drivers and conductors ahead of the new train’s introduction into service later this year.

Each five-car train has 291 seats, compared to 181 on the current Class 185 trains operated on the route, as well as more luggage space, plug and USB charging points, free on-board Wi-Fi in both standard and first class and an entertainment system, Exstream, featuring the latest TV shows, news and films.

TPE has ordered 13 five-car sets of coaches, each comprising one first-class car, three standard class and a standard-class driving trailer. Trains will be hauled by Class 68 locomotives, leased from Direct Rail Services and maintained at Alstom’s Longsight depot in Manchester. Both the new sets of coaches and the Class 68 locomotives are owned by Beacon Rail.

TransPennine Express major projects director Chris Nutton said: “This is a key milestone in our new trains project, which will allow us to bring in these fantastic trains in the coming months. Although there have been a few bumps on the way, it’s brilliant that our plan is now coming together and our customers will be able to travel in comfort on modern trains with more seats later this year.” Full story.

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