Great Britain

By Frédéric de Kemmeter – Railway signalling and freelance copywriter
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NS sells Abellio UK for good
– 02/03/2023 – Dutch incumbent Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) has sold its UK subsidiary Abellio to the latter’s management so that the carrier can again focus more on the Netherlands. The sale was concluded on Tuesday 28 February, NS reported in a message on its own intranet. This decision marks the end of NS’ presence in the UK, where the company has been active since 2003.

Coventry Very Light Rail system could spark transport revolution
13/11/2022 – The Coventry Very Light Rail (VLR) project could be a game changer for UK transport given its potential to be more affordable than other light rail schemes, a report from the cross-party House of Lords Built Environment Committee suggests. The Public transport in towns and cities report, published today…

Space-age laser and plasma train trials zap autumn leaves off the line
03/11/2022 – Space-age technology using lasers and plasma jets are being trialled as a more sustainable way to vaporise autumn leaves from railway lines and minimise passenger delays in the future. Throughout October, Network Rail has been carrying out comprehensive testing using its multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) on heritage…

Network Rail: 20 years under UK state control
11/06/2022 -For the past twenty years, the British rail network has been managed by a direct government agency called Network Rail. In the future, a new body is expected to take over, but the network remains an entity managed by the government.

Elizabeth line officially receives final approvals from ORR
13/05/2022 – London’s Elizabeth line has officially received its final authorisations of its trains, stations, and infrastructure from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) rail regulator ahead of its opening on 24 May 2022. ORR has issued approvals for all the Elizabeth line stations, with the exception of Bond Street, confirming the stations and infrastructure meet the requirements for passenger use. Abbey Wood…

Class 99 electro-diesel locomotive order confirmed
01/05/2022 – GB Railfreight, leasing company Beacon Rail and Stadler have signed an agreement for the supply of 30 Class 99 six-axle electro-diesel locomotives for entry into service from 2025. The operator said they would the first electro-diesel locomotives capable of hauling heavy freight at main line speeds on the UK network. Stadler said the Class 99s would be a ‘versatile’ design, building…

ScotRail transfers to public ownership
03/04/2022 – It was in the air. The takeover by public entities of traffic formerly handled by independent operators in Britain becomes reality. ScotRail has just taken over all of Abellio’s trains. For passengers, nothing will immediately change when ownership of the rail service changes hands. In an email sent to customers in March, ScotRail stated: « There are no immediate changes…

Network Rail uses new technology to detect faults on train tracks
02/03/2022 – Network Rail is trialling technology that will allow digital sensors to spot track faults – in a bid to cut train disruption. Hitachi Rail and its subsidiary Perpetuum have been awarded a contract by Network Rail to develop a first real-time digital solution. It will monitor, and eventually predict, sections of track that affect ride quality and require maintenance…

British Intercity trains: an original financial acquisition
27/02/2022 – Little known in Europe, Azuma trains are a popular feature of the British railway landscape. Short presentation. The Azuma trainsets are Class 800 dual-mode multiple unit trains built by Hitachi for the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the London North Eastern Railway (LNER, East Coast line).

Rail services cut due to staff absence
18/01/2022 – Rising Covid case numbers have led to large numbers of people self-isolating and being unable to go to work, which has acutely affected industries where staff are unable to work from home. The Rail Delivery Group’s latest figure for rail staff absences is at 11%. Avanti West Coast, c2c and East Midlands Railway have reduced services from Monday. South Western Railway (SWR)…

How HS2 will maintain its network using Virtual Reality and ‘digital twin’ technology
17/02/2022 – HS2 is using virtual reality and real-time monitoring technology built into infrastructure such as rails, bridges and overhead lines in a push for greater reliability. It said that engineers are preparing designs using the latest software. The data produced from this work will inform construction and help build a…

LNER ready to inspire next generation once again
14/02/2022 – London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is preparing to inspire the next generation of rail employees next month when it launches the second of its Tomorrow’s Talent work experience programmes. The Tomorrow’s Talent programme showcases the wide range of opportunities available in the rail industry. Those taking part will complete several online modules on topics such as the…

South Western Railway has extended its lease on 12 Class 707 electric multiple-units
13/02/2022 – South Western Railway has extended its lease on 12 Class 707 electric multiple-units, following delays to the introduction of its Alstom Arterio Class 701 EMU fleet and the decision to bring forward the end of its lease on the two-car Class 456 units from February to January. SWR said the inability to use the Arterios had brought ‘challenges’ around fleet availability and capacity, as it had refrained from spending…

Network Rail complete biggest track upgrade at Leeds station in 20 years
05/01/2022 – The biggest track upgrade at Leeds station in 20 years is now complete, as Network Rail deliver a more reliable railway for passengers. Between Saturday 25 December 2021 and Monday 3 January 2022, more than 200 railway staff successfully remodelled the track layout between platforms 4 and 6. The new layout improves the way trains move in and out of the station which will help to…

DB ESG wins TfW Mk 4 door deal
10/12/2021 – We do remember that TfW has taken over a series of Mk4 cars in 2019 from East Coast Main Line to run between Holyhead and Cardiff. But delays in handing over the Mk 4 carriages from LNER, their previous operator, to Transport for Wales (TfW) and the need to adapt them to work with Class 67 locomotives has led to a delay. DB ESG plays a significant role in the development of…

Hitachi and Alstom win order to build and maintain High Speed Two trains in Britain
09/12/2021 – Alstom and Hitachi Rail have today confirmed that the Hitachi-Alstom High Speed (HAH-S) 50/50 joint venture has signed contracts with High Speed Two (HS2) to design, build, and maintain the next generation of very high speed trains for HS2 Phase 1 as part of the £1.97 billion contract, including an initial 12-year train maintenance contract. The UK’s two leading train manufacturers will deliver Europe’s fastest…

Government must back UK train travel or risk long-term retreat to cars
03/12/2021 – Is the new British rail entity, a kind of partial nationalisation, really good for the rail industry? The Conversation don’t thinks so. A recent government decision is to trim back the plan for more high speed rail in the north of England, again with major public opposition. He has abandoned an important leg to the Midlands of its high-speed rail link (HS2). The promised £96bn of rail investment is…

Great-Britain: scaled back plan for HS2 network project
21/11/2021 – The UK’s high-speed network project HS2 is undergoing a major slimming down in the part towards the Midlands. The authorities intend to shift the focus of rail policy to local and regional transport in this region. But with what money?

Newcastle : First phase of £70m Tyne and Wear Metro Depot rebuild complete
29/11/2021 – After completing the rebuild of the Gosforth Metro depot, Stadler’s next steps will see demolition and construction work to create a modern home for Metro’s new fleet of trains. The first stage of the £70m project saw the demolition of part of the 100-year-old depot alongside the installation of brand new stabling roads and overhead lines. The next phase of the project will see Stadler start work…

Trial operations on the Elisabeth Line started
25/11/21 – Trial operations on the Elisabeth Line started on November 20, marking the final step before passenger services can commence between Paddington and Abbey Wood in the first half of 2022. The trials involve operational exercises to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use and to fully test the timetables. More than 150 scenarios will be carried out over the coming months to ensure the readiness of the railway for passenger service. These include…

TfL asks customers to help shape the future of step-free access
16/11/2021 – Transport for London (TfL) has launched a public consultation to shape future step-free access priorities and improvements on the London Underground network, the first of its kind in 15 years. The consultation, which runs until 10 February 2022, has been designed to help TfL identify which aspects of making London Underground…

HydroFLEX train shows up at COP26 – but without hydrogen
10/11/2021 – A tri-mode HydroFLEX train, which can run on hydrogen, electricity and battery power, has making an appearance at the UN climate conference in Glasgow. Developed by leasing firm Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham, the HydroFLEX train is a 30-year old train where a hydrogen fuel system has been installed within 10 months. In the HydroChamber, there are 36 high-pressure tanks which can store up to 277 kilograms of hydrogen, enough for over 300…

ORR issues recommendations for opening up railway-signaling market
09/11/2021 – The U.K.’s Office of Rail and Road said Tuesday that it has found that the current railway signaling market isn’t competitive enough, and that it is publishing recommendations aimed at more opening up this market. The ORR expects the signalling sector to expand “significantly” thanks to digitisation. But lack of competition also means high prices, which is a bad thing for the Treasury. It has raised concerns that the two main signalling suppliers, Siemens and Alstom…

Hitachi Rail strike deal with ScottishPower over renewable supply
08/11/2021 – Hitachi has recently underlined its commitment to address climate change by strengthening its own climate target to contribute to a Net Zero society by achieving carbon neutrality through its entire value chain including production, procurement and the use of products and services by FY2050. This bolsters the existing commitment of reaching carbon neutrality at all its factories and offices globally by FY2030. It is in this context that Hitachi Rail has announced a three-year deal with ScottishPower…

The transport decarbonisation plan: by rail but not only
26/09/2021 – The railways will never make a modal shift alone, simply by virtue of their existence. Other assets are needed, which are the responsibility of the State. For example, regional planning and the configuration of living areasxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx

Rail-freight-corridorEnd of franchises and a new era for British railways
24/05/2021 – A new public sector body named Great British Railways as part of railway reforms will own and manage rail infrastructure, issue contracts to private firms to run trains, set most fares and timetables, and sell tickets. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx

TrenitaliaHow rail is bringing fast service parcels back on track
03/01/2021 – The parcels have long since deserted the trains. There is a reason for this. But it is sometimes said the postman is ringing always two time. There are today some example of the come-back of parcels in trains.

VLR_1VLR, the comeback of little Railbuses
27/05/2020 – How can we respond to traffic on short lines where the criteria of conventional railways are too cumbersome and uneconomic? By returning to an old idea: the very-light railcar, close to the automobile world.

Aerial view of Interchange StationWest Midlands: first railway station in the world to obtain a sustainable label
12/05/2020 – How do you build a station with a sustainable label? Example with this new station in the East of Birmingham, but with a very English label…

ECML_1First Group open access service London-Edimburgh takes shape
05/03/2020 – East Coast Trains (First Group) will operate up to five daily return services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line from October 2021, using open access rather than franchising.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx

HS2_Curzon_Birmingham_stationBoris Johnson gives green light to the high-speed rail line HS2
02/12/2020 – With its cost of almost €118 billion, the HS2 high-speed line will be built to improve railway service between London and the center of England. HS2 will be the second high speed railway in the United Kingdom, following HS1 build in 2007.

Avanti_2_artist_impressionAvanti, the new West Coast train that replaces Virgin – 11/29/2019 – Avanti West Coast, a joint venture of FirstGroup (70%) and the Italian rail operator, Trenitalia (30%), will take the lead of the West Coast Partnership on December 8 to replace Virgin.

Middland_2When a region presents a rail program of 3.5 billion investments – 09/13/2019 – Dozens of cities across the UK could benefit from Midlands Engine Rail, a € 3.5 billion improvement program proposed by sub-national Midlands Connect to redevelop the region’s rail network.

Midlands_Abellio07/30/2019 – East Midlands Railway selects new trains by Hitachi
– East Midlands Railway – the incoming Midland Main Line franchisee operated by Abellio – has selected new rolling stock for its network – with the company taking on Hitachi High Speed trains for its new intercity fleet. The 33 new trainsets will be introduced from 2022 and will serve the main cities and towns on the Midland Main Line (Economy Class & Beyond)

SWR_railway_UK07/30/2019 – Riding Sunbeams launch pilot scheme for UK’s first solar-powered railways
– With the aim to leverage renewable energy and reduce its carbon footprint, Network Rail has collaborated with Riding Sunbeams to use solar panels to power trains in south-east England and launched the first pilot scheme. (

Pendolino_Virgin_390134_Manchester-Picadilly_Mikey Transport giant Stagecoach signals end to UK rail bids06/27/2019 – According The Herald, Stagecoach, which was alongside Virgin to operate the main London-Manchester / Scotland route, end to UK rail bids. One reason: the exorbitant cost of the pension fund (The Herald)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

Eurotunnel_5Eurotunnel: 25 years old and the shadow of Brexit
06/02/2019 – Eurotunnel is 25 years old this June 6th. An opportunity to take stock of one of the world’s most daring infrastructures, when brexit comes.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

05/24/2019 – Great-Britain: SNCF, Stagecoach and Virgin launch legal action over West Coast Partnership franchise – Stagecoach Group and its bid partners French National Railways (SNCF) and Virgin have launched legal action against Britain’s Department for Transport over the procurement of the West Coast Partnership (WCP) franchise (International Railway Journal)

uk_freight_04_rob reedmanBritish rail freight before Brexit
01/06/2019 – Brexit is coming soon. It is therefore wise to give a final account of the state of rail freight in Britain before future events come to reconsider everything.

ScotRailScotRail, a brief overview
10/22/2018 – ScotRail is not very well known on the Continent. This public rail network covers the whole of Scotland and and manages his own network. Let’s us visit.

UK : the Scotland’s rail freight strategy
03/24/2016 – The Scottish Transport Minister Derek Mackay has presented on 22 March, the new rail freight strategy the Scottish government.