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.

Railway workforce celebrated on #StationsDay today

Today (Oct 15) is #StationDay in the UK, dedicated to celebrating British railways, its stations and the hard-working staff and volunteers who keep it running day after day.

A £48bn investment was announced by Government back in 2017 to upgrade and modernise the rail networks and stations, a project being worked on as we speak.

There are currently 240,000 individuals dedicated to keeping the trains on track in the UK, ranging from station staff to local volunteers.

In 2018 alone, 1.8 billion passenger journeys were made in Great Britain, a 4.8 million a day average. All of whom can enjoy and will continue to enjoy improved passenger information and upgraded accessibility.

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said:

“Today we are celebrating the brilliant people at the heart of our railways, whose dedication and enthusiasm makes the journeys of millions of passengers every day that bit better.”

“More than 2,500 stations on our network have played a central role in our villages, towns and cities for over a century. Together with industry, we are working to provide passengers with more modern and accessible stations, ensuring our railways continue to connect people across the country”

South Western Railway (SWR) have chosen to highlight two men with a combined industry contribution of 123 years, for their extremely high standards of care and dedication to customers.

Alan Penlington, customer experience director at SWR, said:

“Stations Day is a great way to celebrate the dedication of rail staff across the industry. From young and old, just starting out to the most experienced, there are thousands of stories to be told of employees going above and beyond and doing a fantastic job.

“We’re proud of the work our station staff and an army of volunteers do day in, day out, to ensure we can deliver the best services for our passengers.”

The recent ‘Get into Railway’ scheme launched by the Prince’s Trust and SWR is also being championed with a celebration of young apprentices at the start of their career in the rail industry.

Paperless ‘smart ticketing’ for trains backed by Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia have given support to the Rail Delivery Group, who are co-ordinating an industry wide campaign this week (14-20 October) to encourage passengers to move away from paper tickets.

‘Smart Week’ will see events at 73 stations across the country, including nine of Greater Anglia’s busiest stations, Billericay, Bishop’s Stortford, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Wickford and Witham.

The aim is to remind people of the benefits of digital tickets and encourage them to make the switch.

National data shows the monthly number of rail journeys in the UK taken with paper tickets dropped by 13.3 million year on year, saving over 1,100km of paper – equal to the distance between London and Barcelona.

Orange paper train tickets are becoming outdated, with only 50% of journeys using paper, down from 63% last year.

75% of Greater Anglia’s season ticket holders are now feeling the benefits of a plastic card instead, and they have today given support to the campaign and said “It’s time to make the switch” to digital tickets.

The train operator is encouraging customers to purchase tickets through the Greater Anglia app or website and downloading the ticket to their mobile device.

Eliminating the problem of worn or damaged tickets and reducing queuing time at ticket machines by ordering them digitally from anywhere.

Martin Moran, Greater Anglia’s commercial and customer service director, said:

“Buying a ticket digitally is more secure and durable than a paper ticket – which could get lost or spoiled – and saves time queuing at ticket machines so they are so much more convenient for passengers.”

“We’ve worked hard, with our partners at the Department for Transport, to pioneer more convenient and integrated ticket products for our customers to make their lives a little easier when travelling with us.”

The rail industry has undergone recent upgrades regarding the ticket barriers to further encourage the use of smart tickets. With these tickets passengers only have to touch the reader a ticket gates, making for a smoother entrance and exit of stations.

Robert Nisbet, director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“Smart tickets open up the possibility of a host of new types of fares like part-time season tickets or tap-in-tap-out that works across buses, trams and trains. Making the most of the possibilities offered by smart tickets requires root and branch reform of fares regulations and we want to work with government to make it happen.”

Virgin Trains to increase number of body cameras worn by staff

Virgin Trains, the first UK train operator to equip all frontline teams with body worn cameras, are rolling out 250 more across the network.

Station staff and on-board teams have another layer of protection with body worn cameras issued to a further 250 staff, bringing the total number of people with cameras to over 500.

The scheme was introduced in September of last year, and the result of 275 staff members wearing them was a 47% reduction in assaults.

Initial piloting saw survey results reveal that more than 80% of staff felt safer at work while wearing bodycams and nearly 90% would recommend them to colleagues.

Further analysis, carried out between April and September 2019, has recorded a 30% drop in physical assaults on Virgin employees compared to the same period in 2018.

Dave Whitehouse, safety director at Virgin Trains, said:

“The safety of our staff and customers is paramount, and body worn cameras play an important role in helping us to keep our network safe.

“The feedback is that our staff feel more confident and reassured wearing the equipment while working on the network. It’s only natural that more of our people should have access to using it.”

They are also the first rail network to grant direct access of footage to the British Transport Police (BTP), to aid any investigations taking place.

By using a cloud-based system, the BTP can view the footage when the cameras are docked and speed up potential prosecutions – making the railways a safer place to be.

Sergeant Lakhveer Singh, of British Transport Police, said:

“Virgin Trains announcement of more body worn cameras for their staff has the full support of British Transport Police. We know from experience that body worn video is a fantastic piece of kit, that helps us in securing convictions against those who target staff with unnecessary violence or abuse.”

Jet-washing trains begin work in Kent and Sussex to remove leaves on the line

Network Rail have deployed jet-washing trains onto the lines in Kent and Sussex, where they will be travelling the equivalent of four times round the Earth in order to clean the railway.

Thousands of tonnes of leaves are dropped onto the tracks every autumn as a result of the millions of trees that grow next to the tracks.

The heat and weight of the trains bake the leaves into a thin, slippery layer as the trains pass over.

The effect has been compared to the equivalent of ‘black ice’ on the rails, raising a safety concern for passengers.

Throughout the autumn and winter, Network Rail teams will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to clear the tracks and improve the issue making them safer for passengers.

Operational signalling systems are also affected by the autumn leaves falling as friction and grip is compromised making it harder to start, stop, accelerate and climb for the rolling stock.

The leaves create a barrier between the train wheels and the electrical elements of the track, making it harder for signallers to keep track of the train’s location.

To tackle the issue, and ensure the smooth, safe running of trains, engineers and contractors maintain, repair and improve the rail infrastructure around the clock, whatever the weather.

Train drivers will receive refresher training using simulators to help improve their skills in coping with slippery conditions and are also instructed to brake earlier when approaching stations to pre-empt a delayed stopping distance and take more care accelerating to avoid a wheel spin effect.

The track treatment machines and vehicles will carry and deliver nearly 100,000 litres of water per circuit and water-jet the track with a pressure of 1500mb which is enough to cut through metal.

Some trains will even have equipment that applies ultra-fine dried sand onto the rail in front of the wheels which improves grip when braking or accelerating.

Rob Davis, delivery director, Network Rail said:

“Even with the best preparation, leaves fall onto the line which can cause the same conditions as black ice on the roads. With millions of trees growing alongside the railway, it’s something the rail industry takes seriously.

“That’s why our ‘leaf-busting’ trains and front-line teams are out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to make sure we can get passengers from A to B safely and reliably.”

Autumn timetables will be introduced which allow for extra journey times and help reduce the impact of leaf fall issues, longer hours of darkness and adverse weather to ensure trains run to time

This initiative aims to solve this problem before the leaves even hit the rails by working through the year to minimise the impact of falling leaves.

Car share scheme rolled out at Tring station

London Northwestern Railway have introduced an innovative car share scheme to save their passengers money while helping the environment.

Passengers travelling to Tring station are being invited to use a new scheme of sharing their journey to the station. The pilot scheme will use a website – – to provide a platform for train users to offer and make use of people in their area going to the same place at the same time.

Once connected, passengers can make private arrangements, splitting cost, time, petrol and parking to suit their own convenience.

Regular travellers will have the opportunity to make more permanent arrangements if their behaviour is habitual and coincides with each other’s daily schedule.

By sharing travel to the station and then using rail to get to work, the environmental impact is drastically improved compared to driving all the way to work individually.

Jon Harris, integration, accessibility and development manager at London Northwestern Railway, said:

“We know the experience of travelling by train does not start and end at the station and that is why we are working hard to improve the ‘Last Mile’ for our customers.

“Over a third of people who completed a recent travel survey at Tring expressed an interest in joining a car-sharing scheme. The support from the town and parish councils, as well as the local authorities, has been fantastic and already the scheme is being promoted at a grass roots level.

“By sharing transport to the station passengers at Tring can save a significant amount of money, reduce their carbon footprint as well as meeting new people.”

Accessibility improvement works are being carried out by Network Rail at Tring station, leading to a temporary reduction in car parking capacity, making it a perfect time to try the scheme.

Users are encouraged to contact each other through the secure messaging facility on the Liftshare website ahead of setting up their potential car share arrangements.

This new measure is the first of its kind, but it is expected that the scheme will blaze a trail for other stations to follow suit over the next 12 months as part of the rail operator’s commitment to Station Travel Plans promoting sustainable travel.

Car share schemes will target stations with larger car parks or where local circumstances such as building works may temporarily limit the amount of car parking available.

Life-saving defibrillators to be put in trains and stations across the north of England

Life-saving defibrillators are to be installed at TransPennine Express (TPE) railway stations and in new trains across the north of England and Scotland.

The defibrillators will be the first port of call for anyone who suffers a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester collaborated to provide funding for the life-saving devices to be installed in all 19 TPE managed stations.

Most stations will have one machine but some of the bigger stations, including Manchester Airport and Huddersfield will have two.

The new measures will also see defibrillators installed on board all 44 of their brand-new Nova fleets of trains.

The device can be used to deliver a highly-charged electric shock to help to restore a steady heart beat rhythm after a cardiac arrest or heart attack has occurred.

Following a cardiac arrest, every minute is crucial in terms of survival chances. By restoring a heart-beat through defibrillation you could save a train passengers life.

The defibrillators require a key coded access available from the local ambulance services, but individual audio guide will talk members of staff or rail customers through the process until the emergency services arrive.

Charlie French, Accessibility and Integration Manager at TransPennine Express commented:

“We are very happy to be able to provide a defibrillator at the majority of our stations as well as on-board our upcoming Nova trains. We want all our customers to feel safe when they travel, with the comfort of knowing that should they need it, a defibrillator is on hand to provide life-saving treatment until the emergency services arrive”

Defibrillators will be installed in Barnetby, Brough, Cleethorpes, Dewsbury, Grimsby Town, Huddersfield, Hull, Malton, Manchester Airport, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Scarborough, Scunthorpe, Seamer, Selby, Stalybridge, Thirsk, Thornaby and Yarm train stations.

Leader of Rotherham Council and Mayor of Doncaster ask Government to re-think HS2

Leader of Rotherham Council, Chris Read and Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, have shared concerns with Douglas Oakervee, the man behind the HS2 review.

They have restated their position to go back to the original Meadowhall option or fundamentally reconsider the eastern leg. They have presented an 11-page overview along with a cover letter outlining the reasons for their alarm.

The two leaders have been deeply concerned at the recent announcement of rising costs and extended timescales for completing HS2. The pair are specifically opposed to the current plans for Phase 2B from the West Midlands to Leeds, fearing fewer trains and seats, environmental impact, inferior connectivity and major residential demolition.

Initial plans did not indicate the number of properties that would be demolished to see this plan go ahead – a huge disappointment for the residents and communities who could face severe impacts on their landscape.

Rising costs could also mean HS2 would compromise environmental protections and minimum mitigations. It could also jeopardise other rail investment programmes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and vital local upgrades.

Mayor Ros Jones said:

“Delivering HS2 must not come at the expense of other vital rail investment in the north or measures to protect communities. That would be a betrayal of our region and the Government’s commitment to rebalance the national economy. We are set to see mass demolitions to have HS2 pass through our region with negligible beneficial impact for our residents, communities and economy. It’s all pain and no gain.

“Passengers and services in our region are suffering now. We can’t wait another 20 years to deliver much needed rail improvements. We need to go back to the Meadowhall option or seriously look at the planned eastern leg.”

Councillor Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said:

 “The current HS2 proposal offers little or no economic benefit to the Rotherham borough and its businesses. We need either a Meadowhall stop or we call on the Government to scrap the development all together rather than build it in a way that will cause years of disruption at massive cost, and instead reallocate the savings to fund essential improvements to regional rail connectivity through the Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

The call comes amid the latest train performance figures, which show that over the last 12 weeks, less than half of trains at Doncaster and Rotherham Stations were on time, 45% and 41% respectively.

New rail testing scheme launched for small businesses

Businesses in the West Midlands are being offered subsidised access to test and trial facilities as a way to boost railway innovation.

The University of Birmingham has joined forces with Quinton Rail Technology Centre (QRTC) to offer access to the UK’s only privately owned and independent outdoor rail testing and trialling site.

In order to be eligible, companies need to have signed up to the DIGI-RAIL programme run by the University of Birmingham. The free programme specialises in assisting local small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their product development and rail sector services.

The part-funded project aims to solve challenges within the railway sector and access the opportunities that exist within the industry in the UK and internationally.

Al-Amin Dabo, business development manager for DIGI-RAIL at the University of Birmingham said:

“This is an important initiative that will really help local businesses to take their products to the next stage and bring them ever closer to market application. We are committed to supporting SMEs in rail and we are delighted that QRTC is working with us to help create new opportunities in the supply chain.”

“We encourage local SMEs who have an interest in the rail sector to contact us to discuss how DIGI-RAIL may be able to support their business going forward.

QRTC, based in Warwickshire, has the only looped test track in the UK and is used for reliability, mileage accumulation testing and trialling as well as product development.

Colin Flack, director of QRTC, said:

“We are very proud of the fact that our work over the years to develop the testing and trials facilities has led to some ground-breaking products being developed particularly by SMEs that otherwise would not have seen the light of day. We are delighted to be partnering with University of Birmingham again and we look forward to helping make ideas a reality.”

Ground-breaking rail collaboration launched to improve services for passengers

A ground-breaking deal has been agreed today among rail bosses to deliver higher standards for rail users in the West Midlands.


Areas that fall under the new, first-of-its-kind West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration (GRC) deal will benefit from improved train service performance, simplified fare structures, better quality of trains and stations and improved timetable reliability.


Launched by mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street yesterday (Thursday, 19th September) the GRC partnership brings together five train operating companies, Network Rail, the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), Vintage Trains, Transport Focus and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education to drive up excellent customer service.


Mayor Andy Street, who is also the independent chair of GRC 2019-2020, said: “Rail patronage in the West Midlands is growing faster than the rest of the UK and we are investing massively in the railways and delivering new stations.


“However, we know problems still exist, particularly around punctuality and capacity, which is why I have launched the GRC so we can tackle these challenges effectively.


“Quite simply, this new collaboration is about putting the customer first – whether that is with reliable and dependable services that meet where and when people want to travel, or by creating stations that are modern, clean, and accessible to all.”


The GRC has introduced a performance task force, to ensure reliability and punctuality problems are seen to as efficiently as possible. Open lines of communication have been established between the train operators and Network Rail to make decisions that are in the best interest of the customer.


The collaboration is keen to keep communities, including accessibility and station experience stay at the heart of GRC. Members have vowed to tackle problems head on and promised action right here, right now.


Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director of West Midlands Trains, added: “With travelling by rail more popular than ever, this vital collaboration enables us to work together across the industry to provide the West Midlands ‘travel to work area’ with a joined-up, easy to understand rail network.

“By coming together with partners in this unique way we can be more proactive and make a real impact as the West Midlands transport network continues to grow.”