£500m investment sees TransPennine Express launch new Nova Fleet trains

Today (Nov 22nd) launched its new Nova fleet trains in a ceremony at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station.

Dignitaries and stakeholders from across the north were present at the event as the Nova trains were unveiled to the public, alongside entrainment from a local brass band and speeches from those involved in the £500m project.

The new 44-train fleet was built by CAF and Hitachi and financed by Beacon Rail Leasing, Eversholt Rail Group and Angel Trains. Each train offer between 286-342 seats and five carriages. Nova 1 serves Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh to Manchester Airport and Newcastle. Nova 2 travels between Manchester and Liverpool to Glasgow and Edinburgh via Preston, and Nova 3 moves between Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Scarborough and Middlesbrough.

Each new train includes high quality seating and interiors with more luggage space, plug and USB charging points, free on-board wi-fi in both standard and first class and the entertainment system Exstream featuring the latest TV shows, news and films.

Leo Goodwin, Managing Director of TransPennine Express, outlined the benefit the new fleet will bring to the north. He said: “Our vision was for Nova to represent the brightest future for rail in the north and we are so pleased to today make this vision a reality for customers, colleagues and businesses who make the TransPennine Express network such a crucial part of our infrastructure here in Liverpool and across the north.

“The name Nova reflects the positive changes that will truly transform rail travel for our customers, with an enhancement to customers experience on board and an increase in capacity of 80% on all routes.  Our vision at TPE is to take the north further and these new trains offer more seats, improved connectivity and a higher standard of comfort.”


Network Rail to improve accessibility at Spalding station

Work to improve Spalding station’s accessibility will begin next month (Dec 3).

Improvements to the station include step free access to platform two, more lighting on the footbridge and additional CCTV across the station.

More tactile paving is being installed at the station in order to aid visually impaired people using Spalding Station.

Neil Grabham, customer services director for East Midlands Railway, said:

“The installation of the lifts and tactile paving will improve the station for all Spalding passengers.”

Tactile paving has benefits for those who are not visually impaired, by making them aware of dangers such as the edge of a train platform.

Gary Walsh, route director for Network Rail, said:

“Network Rail is committed to improving access at stations and across the railway.”

“The work at Spalding station will meet the needs of passengers and bring wider benefits for those using it.”

“Network Rail is working closely with East Midlands Railway to minimise any disruption whilst the work is carried out.”

There will be no disruption to services going through the station, however the work is expected to use 10 parking spaces in the connecting 48-space car park.

The planned work is expected to be completed by June 2020.


‘Backbone’ of high-speed rail in Britain donated to National Railway Museum

Britain’s most influential modern locomotive, Class 43 High-speed train, also known as the InterCity 125 will join the stationary fleet of over 260 locomotives and rolling stock at the National Railway Museum in York.

The train, no.43002 ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’, has given more than 40 years in service and has now been donated by Angel Trains and Great Western Railway.

First units of this locomotive were introduced in 1976, and quickly became the backbone of high-speed rail route and blazing a trail for British rail travel.

Clad in the original yellow and blue British Rail style, the train got the nickname ‘the Flying Banana’.

The train’s designer was Sir Kenneth Grange, who created the iconic wedge-shaped nose cone and eventually became the engine’s name in 2016.

This high-speed train was built in 1975, the same year as the National Railway Museum first opened, and was the fastest train in Europe, second only to the Japanese Bullet Train internationally.

It holds the world diesel speed record of 148mph, set on Nov 1 1987, but now will be on static display as the centrepiece of the Museum’s Great Hall, supported by a British Rail story exhibition.

Andrew McLean, assistant director and head curator at the National Railway Museum, said:

“This is one of our most significant acquisitions, and I am delighted to be able to display the HST power car, Sir Kenneth Grange here in York. It is fair to say that this train revolutionised rail travel and helped shape British society, bringing people and communities together.

“I would like to thank Angel Trains, Great Western Railway and Rail Operations Group for their generosity and hard work to bring this icon of British engineering into the national collection.”

The iconic High-speed train was so well functioning that 44 years after original roll-out, they can still be found carrying passengers across the UK, but are being replaced with the latest Class 800 Intercity Express Trains manufactured in the UK by Hitachi.



Greater Anglia frontline staff become the first to receive accessibility awareness training

Greater Anglia has become the first operator in the country to implement accessibility courses that meet the rail regulator’s new standards in light of new rules that come in in 2021 requiring all train operators to undertake such training.

The company has commissioned a team of Accessibility and Inclusion trainers who will deliver regular sessions over the next two years to ensure its 2,500 workforce feels empowered to help improve the journeys of people with accessibility needs.

The programme is also disabled-led – as the sessions are all delivered by disabled trainers, after Greater Anglia commissioned consultant, Sarah Rennie, to put together a team.

At the end of the course, participants are invited to make an ‘Inclusion Promise’, naming on thing they plan to do differently to improve accessibility and inclusion for customers.

Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Manager said: “At Greater Anglia we are really serious about doing better in this area. We want everyone to have a good journey with us, so giving our staff the skills and knowledge to always have accessibility in the forefront of their minds will help us achieve that step-change in customer service that we are seeking to provide.

This training is going to make a real difference for staff as it will give them more confidence when assisting disabled customers.

And it will really help disabled customers with their journey experience as staff are better able to understand what they need to do in order to support somebody through their journey and to provide a good passenger experience

Around 40,000 people a year use Greater Anglia’s Assisted Travel service to get help with making a train journey. Staff are able to meet passengers, help them get on and off trains or help with luggage. A similar number of customers with accessibility needs also use Greater Anglia services without booking.


Rail Industry Ambassadors set to help shape the future of rail

Young Rail Professionals have announced in support of their mission to promote the rail industry as a great place to work, they’re recruiting Rail Industry Ambassadors to visit schools, colleges and universities and career fairs.

In hope of raising awareness of the fantastic career opportunities available within rail.

Attracting young people into the rail industry is reliant on ambassadors, such as YRP’s, to help inspire young people to pursue their career within it.

By volunteering as a YRP Ambassador, they would be playing a part in ensuring the future of rail.

Young Rail Professionals began back in 2019 to promote the railway industry and works to bring together people from all aspects of the industry, whether they are in engineering, asset management, train operations, strategic planning, maintenance, franchising, regulation, marketing or human relations.

Young Rail Professional Ambassadors would be able to volunteer as much or as little as they pleased.


Great Western Railway makes Jack’s railway dreams come true

Jack Thompson wished to be a ‘Station Master’ for the day and train operator Great Western Railway (GWR) made it a reality.

GWR were approached by children’s charity Make-A-Wish UK, who told them about 12-year-old Jack who was born with a brain tumour and is registered blind, and his ambition to work on the railways.

He spent the day working hard and spreading happiness through London Paddington station, checking tickets and riding in the driver’s cab of an Intercity Express Train.

Jack 3

Jack also made a station announcement, dispatched a train from the station and travelled on the 1200 London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads service.

Jack said:

“I’ve had the most amazing day. I loved my ride on the train and being shown inside the driver’s cab. I can’t believe how fast it felt being on an Intercity Express Train. That was great fun.”

“I love trains and often ask my mum and dad to take me to the station so I can listen to the trains coming in and out. I also like playing Train Sim World on my PlayStation and driving the Great Western Express to Reading.”

Jack was born with an optic nerve tumour and endured seven rounds of chemotherapy to reduce it and enable him to grow to the average height of a 12-year-old.

He can see shapes and colours in the distance and read signs close up but his vision won’t improve due to nerve damage in his eyes.

GWR Customer Ambassador Jennie Williams took Jack on a tour of the station and said

“it was an absolute pleasure to welcome Jack and wonderful to see his enthusiasm for trains. He’s such a brave lad and has already proved himself to be a real fighter. It was lovely to be able to make it a special day for him.”

Jack 2


Network Rail apprenticeship scheme open

Network Rail is looking for its next generation of rail leaders with a Level 3 Engineering apprenticeship scheme.

The three-year course is taking applications from now and will remain open until all places have been filled ready for March 2020 when the scheme starts.

Anyone ages 18 or over, on or by March 29 2020 is able to apply for the Edexcel, City & Guilds and ILM accredited qualification.

The Network Rail apprenticeships will combine on-the-job training and classroom-based learning, enabling candidates to ‘earn as they learn’ and gain first-hand experience and skills from a range of different rail careers.

By starting your rail career in a Network Rail apprenticeship, candidates gain a chartered membership of a professional engineering institute and the potential to study for further qualifications.

Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s route director for Wales and Borders, said:

“The 1,700 people working for Network Rail in Wales and Borders are our greatest asset and play a vital role in delivering a safe and reliable railway for passengers. Our apprentices play crucial role: ensuring we have the right skillsets in place and future-proofing our railways for many years to come.”

“I would urge anyone that has the ambition and enthusiasm to make a difference every single day and contribute to building a railway for the future, to consider applying for our apprenticeship scheme.”

By combining a mixture of theory and practical, living and working at dedicated training centres and local depots, people are supported to enhance their industry knowledge while being a vital part of the safe and reliable running of the nation’s railways.

Ben Gough, former apprentice for Network Rail’s Wales and Borders route, added:

“I applied for the scheme because I believed it would be a fantastic opportunity to be involved in an industry that is quite different, very interesting and so important the economy and passengers who rely on rail. After reading about the apprentice scheme, I quickly realised how varied the opportunities were.”

The course offers a lot of extra benefits, on top of the salary and qualifications upon completion, candidates are entitled to 36 days’ holidays, accommodation and food.


Edenbridge station refurbishment completed as part of £1.25bn Kent upgrade

A £500,000 upgrade at Edenbridge station in Kent has been completed by Network Rail.

Edenbridge station, one of two stations serving this area in Kent, carries well over 2,000 trains and 300,000 passengers every weekday and is among the busiest and most congested in the country.

The platform refurbishment includes a new surface and reduced steps for passengers, providing an overall safety increase.

Due to the fact that platforms are open to a number of environmental factors and regular footfall, surfaces can become slippery or hazardous.

In addition to the makeover, this time has been used to carry out track maintenance, smoothing and correctly aligning the railway track.

This provides a more comfortable journey for passenger and freight trains and prevents the risk of derailing.

Ian Hanson, Stations Director for Network Rail, said:

“At Network Rail, keeping people safe on and around the railway is at the heart of everything we do.”

“We’re continually working on a programme of upgrades that will make stations safer and this is a great example of how we are investing to meet the needs of local communities.”

The project has been completed sooner than planned and there has been no major disruption to passengers and local residents.

Patrick Clements, head of Safety & Environment (Infrastructure & Facilities) at Govia Thameslink Railway said:

“We very much welcome this investment in passenger safety. It reduces the risk of tripping when boarding or alighting, and also helps passengers who have mobility difficulties.”

“We identified Edenbridge as one of several priority stations for this type of improvement and it is an excellent example of successful joint working between our safety team and Network Rail’s Southern Region.”

The station makeover forms part of the Kent Railway Upgrade Plan, with projects including replacing 429km of track, costing over £201m, spending £162m on new signalling equipment and investing £21.4m in improving safety at level crossings.

The entire project will cost a record £1.25 bn over the next five years.


Knaresborough railway station upgrade complete

Network Rail has carried out a £150,000 upgrade to Knaresborough railway station, improving the roof of the Grade II listed building and bringing benefits for passengers, visitors and businesses in the local area.

As part of the work, structural repairs were carefully carried out to protect and restore the historic building. The roof covering was also renewed to ensure it was more watertight – improving the experience for passengers using the station.

Mark Bloor, route asset manager for Network Rail, said: “The safety of our passengers is a priority and this project will make sure that the roof will be a reliable asset for years to come.

“We thank the passengers, customers, businesses and colleagues at the station for their patience during this work.”

Pete Myers, stakeholder manager at Northern, added: “Knaresborough is a key station for us and we are absolutely committed to working hand-in-hand with Network Rail and the wider industry to deliver the best possible service for our customers.

“We’d like to thank everyone involved for helping to complete such important structural work on a building which plays a significant role in the community.”


Two Network Rail leaders internationally recognised among most influential women in engineering

The Financial Times has selected two Network Rail leaders to appear on the most influential females in engineering list.

Just 16.4% of the rail industry in made up of women, but today (17 Oct) has seen the international recognition of two of those women for their contribution to engineering.

Board member Bridget Rosewell CBE, has secured third place in The Financial Times’ ranking of the top 100 Influential Women Leaders in Engineering, UK and Europe.

Loraine Martins MBE, Network Rail’s director of diversity and inclusion is also included on the esteemed list.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said:

“We are proud that both Bridget and Loraine have made the list. They’re role models for Network Rail and the industry.”

“As influential female leaders, they’ve helped us progress towards having a more diverse workforce that better represents the communities we serve.”

Ms Rosewell joined the Network Rail Board in 2011 and is currently serving as senior independent director.

In addition to being Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, senior advisor to Volterra and non-executive chair on Atom Bank, she was awarded a CBE in 2019 for her services to the economy.

Ms Martins joined Network Rail in 2012 heads a centre of expertise dedicated to the organisation’s ambition to be more open, diverse and inclusive, with particular work of getting more women into the rail industry.

She works to ensure the rail industry is always improving its facilities and accessibility for all passengers and colleagues, and creating an industry where diversity and inclusion is celebrated.

Ms Martins was awarded her MBE for her work leading a team on equality, inclusion and employment for the Olympic Park for London construction in 2012.

The list will be officially launched at the Inclusive Boards Women in Engineering Leadership Conference on 22 October.