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News from the UK Rail Industry 4th April 2019

Posted by: Warren Drobac
Industry News

Rail industry comes together to support Samaritans

The rail industry has launched a five-year ‘Million Hour Challenge’ which aims to encourage staff to donate their time, energy and skills to help the Samaritans in their work supporting people in emotional crisis.

The scheme aims to raise £2.5 million and reduce the stigma of mental health issues amongst employees in order to promote a workplace culture where it is normal to keep an eye out for colleagues.

The Million Hour Challenge is open to everyone in the industry, and the first organisations to have signed up to the challenge are Network Rail, Aslef, RMT, Office of Rail and Road, Rail Delivery Group, Transport for London, Rail Safety and Standards Board, MTR Crossrail and British Transport Police.

Volunteers can get involved in a variety of ways, but to begin with everyone is encouraged to complete two online learning courses; including an Active Listening course, which aims to provide the knowledge and confidence to start a conversation with someone who needs to talk.

Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive Officer of Samaritans, said: “Whenever I meet anyone from the rail industry, they tell me how proud they are of the work we do and often they say, ‘But, I’d like to do something more’. The Million Hour Challenge will allow the Samaritans to make an even bigger impact, as well as bring the benefits of volunteering to many more people, in new and imaginative ways. We’re delighted to be working with trusted partners to innovate through this ground-breaking initiative in corporate volunteering.”

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail said: “We have a huge presence up and down the country – in stations, on trains and in our offices and depots. This puts us in a prime position to look out for the wellbeing of members of the public, passengers and fellow railway colleagues. This is why we are helping others by simply having a chat and lending a listening ear to people who may be struggling to cope.” Full story.

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Network Rail invest £42 billion in railway improvements

Network Rail plans to spend £42bn on the railway over the next five years in “the biggest modernisation of our rail network in over a century.”

Plans outline investment into better trains, tracks and stations and bolstering its assets, timetables and information. Network Rail said it intends to work much more closely with train operating companies as the funding for Control Period 6 (CP6) will for the first time go to individual regions with their own budgets.

Network Rail’s chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Passengers and freight users are at the heart of our plans over the next five years. Performance has been nowhere near good enough and public trust in our industry has declined. This must change. Our role is to deliver a railway that people can rely on, with trains that turn up and arrive at their destination on time, and where passengers have confidence they are in safe hands. This is what we must deliver daily and what we will, and should, be held to account for throughout CP6.”

Rail minister Andrew Jones commented: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our rail network in over a century, spending a record £48bn the network’s infrastructure in England and Wales between 2019 and 2024, including funding for vital enhancements. By improving trains, tracks and stations right across the country, we will deliver more reliable, frequent and comfortable journeys for passengers and better connect our communities.”

Over £42bn will be spent on CP6, which started on 1st April. Full story.

Leeds to become global centre for high speed rail technology

A new development is set to transform Leeds into a global centre for high speed rail technology. The University of Leeds has purchased a 10-acre plot at Gateway 45 which will be used to create space to collaborate with industry on major research initiatives.

The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration aims to bring a new approach to high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing. It will train postgraduate engineers through new MSc courses and PhDs, including a new MSc course on Railway Engineering and Project Management, and a variety of new PhD opportunities to ensure a pipeline of skilled professionals for the industry.

Harworth group said: “Its co-location with HS2’s eastern leg Phase 2b Rolling Stock Depot on the Gateway 45 site - a facility that will enable 24-hour maintenance of the brand new high-speed trains, which will revolutionise rail travel and play a crucial role in rebalancing Britain’s economy - is considered essential to the success of both facilities. The equipment, facilities and expertise within the institute will create a UK centre of excellence, equipped to lead on the research and development needs for global industry partners including advanced technology development and testing, digital engineering and transport policy and economics. These facilities will make Leeds and the region a global centre for advanced rail and high speed technology, further strengthening the Leeds City Region economy.”

The Institute of High Speed Rail Technology and System Integration is expected to attract significant inward investment and jobs to Leeds City Region, with the Rolling Stock Depot also expected to create up to 125 skilled jobs, building on HS2’s commitment to create 30,000 new jobs and 2,000 apprentices during the life of the project.
Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Leeds, said: “The new advanced testing facilities as part of the University’s Institute, alongside HS2’s new rolling stock depot, are a significant step forward for UK high speed rail capability.” Full story.

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