Bombardier unveils new testing and commissioning facility at Derby
Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin has formally opened Bombardier Transportation’s new testing and commissioning facility, doubling the testing and commissioning capability at the design and manufacturing site at Litchurch Lane in Derby.

Measuring over 10,000sq m, the new testing and commissioning facility features four train roads taking trains up to 250m in length. Each train road has full length overhead lines and vehicle servicing and inspection pits and is fully accessible by rail at both ends, connecting it to the existing test track and production facilities. It incorporates a two story office annexe with space for up to 90 employees. The facility provides a fully flexible multifunctional capability, and can be configured for both initial engineering type-testing on multiple trains and for final acceptance testing and validation.

The V Shop, as it is known, will initially be used for testing and commissioning the fleet of 66 Class 345 EMUs for the Crossrail project, and is part of a wider £20 million investment in the site to support current and future train builds.

EU-warning: rail freight still not on the right track
Despite the European Commission’s objective of shifting freight from road to rail, rail’s share of EU freight has actually declined since 2011, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors.

Rail freight transport has failed to respond effectively to the competition from road transport over the last 15 years in spite of an EU contribution of approximately €28bn to fund rail projects between 2007 and 2013. The auditors recommend that the Commission and the Member States address the weaknesses observed in rail freight market liberalisation, traffic management procedures, administrative and technical constraints, monitoring and transparency of the performance of the rail freight sector and fair competition between different types of transport.

The auditors reviewed the performance of rail freight transport in the EU since 2000 and visited five member states – the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France and Poland – between mid-2014 and mid-2015.

Although some member states (such as Austria, Germany and Sweden) have managed to achieve better results, shippers clearly prefer road over rail for transporting goods. As a result, rail freight’s average share at EU level has actually declined slightly since 2011.

Freightliner helps a young boy’s wishes come true
FreightlinerMatthew Sanigar, a young 11 year old with a rare chromosomal disorder that has left him with complex heart defects, hearing loss, cleft palate, hearing problems and developmental issues, has been granted his dearest wish, to drive the Hirwaun coal train.

Freightliner Heavy Haul, Tower Regeneration and RWE Generation UK worked together with Starlight Children’s Foundation to arrange a day that Matthew will never forget.

Matthew and his family were given a tour of the Tower Surface Mine. Then, having watched the Hirwaun train being loaded with the final two wagons of coal, Matthew was escorted into the cabin with his father and prepared for departure with the Freightliner drivers.

Matthew’s face lit up when the train left and there were tears of joy as his family waved him off.

The day was rounded off with a tour of the RWE Aberthaw Power Station, near Barry.

David Israel, commercial director of Freightliner Heavy Haul, said: “Matthew obviously has a real passion for trains and I am delighted that Freightliner was able to play a part in making Matthew’s wish to ride on our Hirwaun coal train come true.”

New Night Tube to enter service in August
The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that Night Tube services will begin operating on 19 August.

The first two lines to go live are the Central and Victoria lines, with the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines set to follow in two separate phases later in the autumn. Around 200 part-time drivers are currently taking part in a 14-week training programme in preparation for this.

Six trains per hour are scheduled through central London on all Night Tube lines between 0030 and 0530. This will rise to eight trains per hour on the Northern line to meet demand between Leicester Square and Camden Town.

This is the first time in London’s history that the Tube has offered a 24-hour weekend service. The service is expected to play a vital role in promoting London’s night-time economy, supporting around 2,000 permanent jobs and boosting London’s economy by £360m.

Oxford trackside is transformed into a welcoming wildlife habitat
Network Rail and Chiltern Railways are working to create purpose-built habitats for newts, reptiles, badgers, bats and swallows alongside the railway as part of a major upgrade programme in Oxford.

By the time the Chiltern Railways service from Oxford to London is launched in December 2016, there will be 10,000 squares metres more of potential trackside habit, including more than 11,000 trees, wildflower grasslands and hedgerows.

Engineers are currently installing 5km of two-track railway and remodelling existing track layouts between the new Oxford Parkway and the existing Oxford stations.

Val Shawcross to oversee London Transport
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has appointed Val Shawcross as Deputy Mayor for Transport and Deputy Chair of Transport for London. Shawcross has extensive experience relating to London’s transport, having served as a London Assembly member for 16 years, including eight years as chair and deputy chair of the London Assembly transport committee.

Eurotunnel to acquire 100% of ElecLink
Groupe Eurotunnel and STAR Capital have signed a conditional agreement whereby Groupe Eurotunnel will purchase STAR Capital’s 51% share of ElecLink, taking its ownership to 100%. ElecLink is developing a high voltage direct current interconnector to link the electricity markets of Great Britain and France via the Channel Tunnel.

More legal action from Govia Thameslink
Govia Thameslink Railway is challenging the legality of an ASLEF ballot of Southern and Gatwick train drivers. The principal grounds for the injunction are that ASLEF has breached the strict rules on balloting by selecting which drivers to ballot. Also by inducing drivers to refuse to drive trains in advance of the ballot, it cannot now lawfully ask them to take industrial action.

Android Pay accepted across London
Android Pay is now available for travel on the Tube, trams, buses and most National Rail services across London. The new payment app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, and supports MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards from many of the UK’s major financial institutions.

Southern – 1066 sickness days
Southern has released new figures showing the level of conductor sickness absence currently causing significant disruption to the rail service. In the last 32 working days the company has been hit by 1066 days of conductor absence. The rate of absence has more than doubled since the first conductors’ strike – rising from 23 conductors off sick each day to 45.

50m cycle-rail journeys PA
Around 50m cycle-rail journeys were made last year, up 40% on 2010, while the number of journeys made where a bike parked is at a station has increased by 75%. RDG is launching a new drive to highlight PlusBike, an free information portal for cycle-friendly train travel.

97% rating for Edinburgh Tram
Research by Passenger Focus shows that Edinburgh Tram scored a very high 97% satisfaction rating from passengers, up on the 95% scored last year. This is 5% above the UK tram operator average. The top three factors for overall satisfaction were boarding time, journey time and punctuality.

Rail journeys rise by 3.7%
New figures from the RDG show that between April 2015 and the end of March 2016, 60m more rail journeys were made than the previous year. This 3.7% rise equates to more than 4.6m journeys a day on average. Journey growth in the last 12 months was greatest in London and the South East, up 4.2% to almost 1.2bn.

£2.7m fund for innovation
SMEs involved in road, rail and aerospace equipment manufacture can apply for research and innovation help from a £2.7m fund delivered by the University of Derby and Loughborough University. The scheme is funded by £1.4m from the Universities and £1.3m via the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.