Nexus unveils new £362m trains for Tyne and Wear Metro

Nexus have announced Swiss company Stadler as their preferred bidder for a £362m contract to build new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

It is hoped the new fleet of trains will transform performance, passenger experience and deliver significant energy savings.

Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, had undertaken a year-long global search for a manufacturing partner to deliver 42 new trains up to 2024, settling finally on the Swiss-based company – who will manufacture the trains at their recently-opened factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.

However, despite being manufactured overseas, Nexus said more than 30 UK firms would be involved in supplying parts for the new trains – half of which were located in the North East.

Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “Our passengers expect the best in the world when they travel, and that is what they will get from our new trains.

“We asked for the best trains for the best price, based on what local people said they wanted to see, providing excellent reliability for years to come, transforming the passenger experience and delivering huge energy savings.

“Stadler has delivered on all fronts and the company will put in place new supply chains here in North East England and the UK securing local jobs. We look forward to working with our new partner and the extensive UK supply chain which will support them not just to build the new trains but maintain them over the next 35 years.”

The new trains, which are based on the ideas and suggestions of more than 3,000 passengers, will cut the Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing its 36 million passengers with modern features including wi-fi, charging points, air conditioning and a step change in accessibility.

Information screens will also be implemented throughout the train, as well as external destination screens and digital CCTV cameras.

As part of the wider benefits of the contract, a new £70m train depot featuring sedum roofing, rainwater recycling, daylight capture and other environmental features will also be constructed.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council and Chair of the Joint Transport Committee for North East England, said: “We have a bold vision for transport in North East England, and a world-class Metro system is the key to unlocking this transformation.

“We have secured Government investment in our region for new Metro trains which will meet the needs of our people for decades to come, secure hundreds of jobs and help us tackle the climate emergency.

“These new trains will be rooted in our region – they are designed based what more than 3,000 passengers told us what they wanted from their daily journey.  They will be built and brought into service by exploiting manufacturing excellence in new supply chains here in North East England and across the UK.  They will be maintained and operated by the proud workers who make Metro happen.”

Stadler Director of Sales, Ansgar Brockmeyer, added: “The contract with Nexus represents an important milestone for Stadler in Great Britain. After Glasgow and Liverpool, this is the third metro operator to opt for a Stadler vehicle. We look forward to working with Nexus and our suppliers in North East England.”

The initial order of 42 trains may be increased to 46 if Nexus plans to increase the frequency of Metro through the Flow Project, win Government funding.

The total value of the partnership between Nexus and Stadler, which will include decommissioning of the existing Metro fleet, could rise to £700m over 35 years, through a contract to maintain the new trains for up to 35 years depending on performance.

The Department for Transport will also provide revenue support to help meet the maintenance costs of the new trains.

New tech-enabled trains are putting passengers in control

Source: RTM Dec 19/Jan 20

Robert Nisbet, director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, looks ahead at the future of Interconnectivity of the Rail Industry.

This year, nine operators are introducing new and upgraded trains with better technology on board, which are part of the industry’s commitment to replace half of Britain’s train fleet new for old. This means more accurate information in advance, giving passengers greater control over their journeys.

New GPS-enabled trains will provide people with exact information about a train’s location, reducing instances of trains, predicted to be on time, suddenly showing as delayed. The location of older trains is only measured when they pass signals, which can be up to five miles apart. Chiltern, Grand Central, LNER and parts of Northern and ScotRail started using GPS last year and this improved data will feed into TrainMapper – a new system to track trains, powered by Google Maps, soon to launch on the National Rail website.

New technology can also tell people which carriages are emptier using data on footfall and reservations, and even where to stand on the platform to board the train. GTR’s Class 700 Thameslink trains are an example of where weighing technology is already telling passengers on board where to find carriages with more space. As new trains follow suit, passengers will get more and better information through screens at stations and their phones.

Passengers can also sign up to receive personalised information, making it easier to plan at stressful points in their journey. This includes suggestions for alternative routes during disruption through Facebook Messenger and ‘Alert Me’ in the National Rail app.

As 1,000 extra train carriages come on track in 2020, the nation’s fleet will grow from nearly 15,000 train carriages today to almost 16,000 by the end of the year. With more, tech-upgraded carriages, passengers will feel the benefits with more space, more frequent services and more information available at their fingertips.

Recently Robert Nisbet was a guest on our podcast, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming episode in the next couple of weeks.

Freight’s role in zero carbon emissions – ERFA

Source: RTM Dec 19/Jan 20

Conor Feighan Secretary General European Rail Freight Association (ERFA)

The key challenge for policy makers and industry over the coming five years revolves around the decarbonisation of transport. The transport sector currently accounts for 27% of Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from transport have increased 26% since 1990 and the transport industry is subsequently currently lagging behind other sectors of society in its attempts to get greenhouse gas emissions under control. As part of the Green deal, the European Union has set the objective of being climate neutral by 2050. This is not possible unless we radically rethink how European transport chains operate.

Freight transport is no exception in this regard. Despite numerous attempts by legislators to achieve modal shift, European freight transport remains predominately on our roads. Road freight accounts for 76.7% of all of Europe’s inland freight transportation. Decarbonisation of road transport will play a critical role in reducing transport emissions, but it cannot achieve substantial emissions savings alone. Modal shift to more energy efficient modes of transport such as rail freight is crucial.

Moving freight by rail is four times more energy and fuel efficient than moving freight by road. Without any further innovation, significant emission savings can be made by simply moving goods from road to freight.

Assuming that all modes can be moved away from fossil fuels, it is crucial that we also reduce the energy needs of the transport sector. Green energy will remain a finite resource in the short term and it is essential that the demands of the transport sector are minimised as much as possible. The challenge of transport is therefore twofold, to remove fossil fuels and to minimise energy needs.

It has to be accepted that goods will not just move to rail purely out of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rail freight needs to improve its service offer and reliability in order to attract freight. The industry simply pointing to rails good environmental performance is therefore not enough.

For modal shift to rail to happen, it is crucial that Europe’s railway systems move away from national silos and into a truly, integrated European network which takes into consideration the needs of rail freight. Freight transport is international by nature and it is crucial that Europe’s rail infrastructure reflects this reality.

Rail freight needs to have sufficient rights and capacity in order to offer a service that customers want and to be able to grow. The rail freight industry is aiming towards having 30% of inland freight transport carried by rail by 2030. This is not possible under existing capacity allocations.

National governments need to continue to promote competition and open access. Competition is an essential prerequisite to innovation. The need to grow the rail freight sector should not be used as an excuse to revert back to national governments supporting single operators. More than ever, more competition and open access is needed in the rail freight sector.

Once these points have been addressed, rail freight will be in a strong position to grow and to play an important role in Europe achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Vivarail’s Class 230 achieves UK first with 40-mile battery-powered trip

Vivarail achieved a UK first yesterday (Jan 15) as their Class 230 train travelled 40 miles on battery power alone.

It comes during a time of desperate need for a cleaner, greener train network as the UK strives for net zero carbon by 2050.

During testing runs in the autumn of last year, the train made this distance many times, making it fully approved and ready for passenger service.

The Class 230 train is able to replace ageing diesel stock on a number of lines, not only reducing carbon emissions but also providing an enhanced service due to superior acceleration.

Adrian Shooter, CEO of Vivarail, said, “We began our work on battery power a couple of years ago and since then we have tested the train in passenger service at Bo’ness, built the fast charge system and proved the range the train can operate.”

“With a new type of battery which we will use in our upcoming production trains we are confidently predicting a range of 60 miles between charges with only a 10-minute charge time. We look forward to providing emission-free trains and playing a significant part in decarbonising the UK’s rail network.”

Work began on the fast-charging trains in November 2017, following a grant from Innovate UK to develop battery technology.

More to follow.

Photo: Vivarail

Network Rail to improve Beverley railway station

Network Rail has announced today (Jan 14) a £600,000 investment into improving Beverly railway station, to improve passenger experience and enhance the station’s aesthetic and general condition.

The footbridge at the station will be fully refurbished, including strengthening the steps and the walkway on the bridge’s structure, and repairing any corrosion from weather and time.

The bridge at the station is listed, so while painting will be carried out to help protect it from future wear and tear, Network Rail will be working with East Riding of Yorkshire Council to obtain permission to upgrade and ensure the work preserves the heritage of the bridge.

The project is currently in the planning phase, with Network Rail working on finer details ready for work to begin on site in early 2022 and completed later the same year. Passengers will still be able to access both platforms via a temporary footbridge.

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said:

“We are delighted to announce this much needed investment at Beverley station which will greatly improve the appearance of the station and provide a more pleasant experience for users of the bridge.

“Beverley station is a listed building, so it is really important that this work is carried out in a way which will preserve the heritage for years to come.

“We look forward to beginning work and to passengers feeling the benefit once complete.”

Local councillor, Chris Matthews, has said he is delighted by the investment and hopes to encourage as many people as possible to use the trains in the area adding that he is confident this work will help to achieve that.

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, said:

“Last year, I was contacted by constituents travelling from Beverley railway station regarding the condition of the footbridge. As a user of train services to and from Beverley I shared their concerns about the sad state of the station bridge.

“I contacted Network Rail who are responsible for the overall structure and repair of the bridge and was pleased to hear that complete refurbishment and maintenance are now being planned.  Together with the additional direct services to London now being run out of Beverley it is welcome news that this renewal of this grade 2 listed footbridge will make the train station an even more attractive place to start your journey.”

Elizabeth line completion update from Crossrail Ltd

Today (10 January) Crossrail Ltd issued its latest update on progress to complete the Elizabeth line.

They have confirmed their plans to open the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood in summer in 2021.

Following the opening of the central section, full service across the Elizabeth line route from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will commence by mid-2022.

Fit-out is nearing completion at many stations with all physical works complete in the tunnels, shafts and portals. Crossrail Ltd has increasing confidence that Bond Street will be ready to open with the rest of the central section.

This newest update is based on the current progress with completing software development for the signalling and train systems along with safety assurance for the railway so that intensive operational testing can begin in 2020.

This new line will link the eastern and western sections straight through central London. Already on 15 December 2019, Transport for London began running the stopping services between Paddington mainline and Reading ahead of the service becoming part of the Elizabeth line.

In November last year Crossrail Ltd confirmed that the Elizabeth line would open as soon as possible in 2021 and give Londoners a clearer idea of the delivery timetable in the early New Year.

Crossrail Ltd’s detailed costings continue to show that the project will be delivered within the additional funding range announced in November 2019. This indicated a range of between £400 million to £650 million more than the revised funding agreed by the Mayor, Government and Transport for London in December 2018.

Mark Wild, chief executive at Crossrail Ltd said: “I know that Londoners are deeply frustrated by the delays to the Elizabeth line and we are doing everything we can to get this railway finished and open. We continue to make good progress with the central section now reaching substantial completion and we are increasingly confident that Bond Street station will be ready to open with the rest of the railway.

“Our latest assessment is that Elizabeth line services through central London will commence in summer 2021 but we are aiming to open the railway as soon as we can. This forecast assumes a period of time will be required to undertake intensive operational testing. The key focus for everyone on the Crossrail project is commencing intensive testing of the Elizabeth line as soon as we can in 2020, to enable passenger service as early as possible in 2021.”

£640m contract awards announced by Network Rail

Network Rail has announced the awarding of contracts for 82 frameworks to deliver design services across the country, worth an estimated £400m for Control Period 6 (2019-2024) and up to £640m with the option to further the framework into Control Period 7 (2024-2029).

The Design Services Framework (DSF), which replaced its predecessor, the Multi-Functional Design Framework, is formed of four multi-discipline frameworks and 78 single-discipline frameworks.

The new DSF is aiming to provide access to a wider range of multi-skilled suppliers including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who form around 25% of the single discipline suppliers on the DSF.

Two contracts per region have been put in place for each of the following 10 single disciplines and four multi-discipline frameworks have been awarded at a national level.

  1. Buildings and Architecture
  2. Civil and Structural
  3. Consents and Environment
  4. E&P Contact Systems
  5. E&P Distribution Design
  6. E&P Plant
  7. Geotechnical
  8. Signaling
  9. Telecoms
  10. Track

The framework contracts, which went live on January 1, have been awarded to 34 suppliers. In particular, they have been awarded to multi-discipline national frameworks AECOM, Jacobs UK, Mott MacDonald and WSP.

Network Rail’s commercial director Daljinder Chatta, said:

“Network Rail will have greater access to a design support network providing mutual benefits to both Network Rail and the supply chain.

“Some of these include working more directly with suppliers, improved assurance, getting closer to experts, improved business and safety performance and enabling innovation to thrive.”

Image: Network Rail

Snowdon Mountain Railway unveils plans for hybrid diesel locomotives

Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) have announced new plans for hybrid diesel locomotives to operate on its line, as it aims to address climate concerns.

Operating a service for sight-seeing tourists and locals up to the summit of the UK’s second-largest peak, more than 12 million passengers have set off from Llanberis station along the route.

SMR recently announced its ambitious plan to replace its existing diesel locomotives with new hybrid diesel rolling stock, with each hybrid engine including an 8-tonne battery pack and a diesel generator to recharge batteries in service.

Further fixed battery chargers for overnight charging of the units are also planned.

Plans are yet to be finalised, but SMR plan to operate at Llanberis entirely on battery power, operate the generator charging on the uphill journey, turn off the generator on the downhill journey and use the regenerative braking to recharge the battery packs.

Senior engineering manager at SMR, Mike Robertshaw, explained: “We believe that this will save fuel – approximately 70l per locomotive per day in peak season. But more importantly, there are significant pollution reductions: noise, CO2 down 25%, NOx down 96%, HC down 85% and particulate matter down 98%.

“Also, the drivers’ cabs are dated and do not meet current standards for ergonomics, noise levels or comfort.

“The whole ethos for SMR is to preserve the railway for the future, to deliver improvements and to ensure that the business is viable for the future.

“For most people walking up a mountain like Snowdon is a challenge. A walk to the summit and back can take six to eight hours, whereas the train takes two and a half hours. SMR makes it possible for all people to reach the summit.”

Official opening of Robroyston railway station

ScotRail is officially opening the new Robroyston station today (Dec 16), as the rail operator also launches its new timetable.

The new £14m station marks the 60th railway station in Glasgow, and will have a plaque unveiling today by Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.

The station means that residents in Robroyston and Millerston will be given a connection to Scotland’s largest cities, boosting the local economy and unlocking potential for a newly proposed housing development of 1,600 new homes.

Two services per hour will be available to Glasgow with a journey time of 12 minutes, and a further two services to Edinburgh, taking 63 minutes.

ScotRail has made sure that the station reflects its commitment to reducing carbon emissions, with a free park-and-ride facility to reduce the volume of cars on the road and congestion around Glasgow City centre.

263 free parking spaces also come as part of the station facilities, making commuting an easy option for Robroyston and Millerston residents.

The location of the station also lends itself to commuters and travellers as it sits just minutes away from junction two of the M80.

In keeping with making Scotland’s Railway accessible for everyone, both platforms will be step free.

A fleet of brand-new class 385 electric trains will serve the new station, providing a greener and more efficient rail network.

Joint-working and funding from ScotRail, Network Rail, Transport Scotland, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Glasgow City Council has made the construction of the new station possible.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said:

“The opening of the brand new Robroyston station is another milestone as we build the best railway Scotland’s ever had.

“Robroyston station is central to attracting more investment in the local area and creating new low-carbon travel opportunities. It proves the power of the railway as a key driver of the economy.

“I’m proud of the team effort involved in delivering this project on time and on budget.”

The main contractor for this project was AmcoGiffen.

Alan Boyle, AmcoGiffen regional managing director (Scotland), said:

“AmcoGiffen are proud to successfully deliver on-time the new station facilities at Robroyston. Working in partnership with Abellio ScotRail, Glasgow City Council and SPT, it is a real privilege to provide the benefits of improved transport links and step-free access for passengers and the local communities.”

£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.”