Emergency work is completed between Buxton and Manchester following rain induced landslip
Repairs to the railway between Manchester and Buxton were completed in less than two weeks after a landslip closed the line at Middlewood.

Around 6,000 tonnes of material was dislodged as a result of heavy rain on 12 and 13 June, when about two inches of rain fell in less than two hours. A section of embankment had to be rebuilt and track and ballast replaced. Alongside these major works, other material from the railway and neighbouring land also had to be removed and several sections of the cutting slope repaired.

Terry Strickland, area director for Network Rail said: “The landslip and wash away of material meant that it was impossible to run trains through the area and a temporary closure of the line was unavoidable.”

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff wins Network Rail’s Digital Railway contract
Network Rail has appointed WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to provide design and engineering services on the Digital Railway’s Multi-Functional Design Framework (MFD). The contract, which supports the delivery of the European Rail Traffic Management Systems (ERTMS) on the UK’s railways covers a range of strategic engineering and project management services.

The rail team has also been appointed on two further contracts within the digital railway programme: development of the safety and security case, which includes system safety management and cyber security; and provision of independent assurance services which includes expert advice, assurance and auditing.

£4bn to be ploughed into West Midlands transport infrastructure over next 10 years
The new West Midlands Combined Authority, formed through devolution of power from Whitehall, will drive more than £4bn of transport infrastructure construction over the coming decade, including more tram extensions, new suburban rail lines, cycle routes and better motorways.

Working through its transport arm, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the authority will prioritise schemes that underpin and support economic growth, housing and skills.

Schemes include more Metro extensions in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, new rail infrastructure to bring local services to suburbs like Kings Heath, Moseley and Castle Bromwich, improvements to key motorway and road junctions and a comprehensive cycle network. The aim is also to ensure the region has transport links in place to connect and feed into HS2 when it opens.

Successful upgrades for Hornsey depot ahead of Class 700 introduction
Successful upgrades for HornseyWork to upgrade the Siemens traincare facility at Hornsey has been successfully completed, in preparation for the introduction of Class 700 trains on the Thameslink line.

Hornsey is one of two new hi-tech rail depots being built by Siemens, following a combined investment of over £300m. It is scheduled to open this summer.

After 5 years of planning, the final upgrades took place over the Spring Bank Holiday without disrupting depot functionality. A new signalling system has replaced hand-signalling, creating safer, more controlled and efficient movement of vehicles in and out of the depot.

An innovative depot personnel protection system (DPPS) has also been installed. Providing performance monitoring software, it allows maintenance supervisors to remotely monitor the status of roads and plan maintenance tasks and train operations more effectively. The system also helps separate staff and train movements and provides detailed records of all activity.




HS2 programme to be extended and cost overruns addressed
The National Audit Office (NAO) has issued a progress report on the HS2 programme, stating that it is facing cost and schedule pressures. Options for extending the opening date for phase 1 are now being considered, and steps are being taken to bring cost estimates within available funding.

According to the NAO, the 2026 opening date for phase 1 is at risk despite good progress with some major procurements. The Department for Transport (DfT) has asked HS2 Ltd to revisit the programme schedule in order to increase confidence for delivery from 60 % to 80%, without increasing costs. It has also asked HS2 to assess the impact of extending the timetable for opening Phase 1 by up to 12 months.

Since the previous NAO report in 2013, tender documents for major civil engineering contracts on phase 1 have been issued, and the preferred route for phase 2b is to be announced later this year.

The report says that that the delivery schedule for HS2 was too ambitious. The first of three formal delivery review points was delayed by 10 months because HS2 would not reach the required level of capability in time. HS2 needs to build organisational capability, and produce fully assured plans to complete work on schedule, it says.

The report outlines the cost pressures. Phase 1, now costed at £27,384m, exceeds available funding by £204m. There is less contingency to deliver than the DfT and HS2 were aiming for, and this forecast assumes that planned efficiencies totalling £1.47bn are delivered.

The 2015 Spending Review estimated phase 2 would exceed available funding by £7bn, and some elements are still unfunded. £9bn potential savings have been identified, £2bn of which have been secured.

The impact of these pressures could reduce programme scope, and lower the benefit cost ratio. The DfT has asked HS2 to explore options for reducing the programme scope in ways that do not have a significant impact on programme benefits.

BAE Systems builds foundations for the Digital Railway
BAE Systems has delivered the first iteration of an industry architecture proving that it is possible to deliver and integrate the required combination of engineering and IT disciplines for the Digital Railway programme. This creates a foundation for programme planning and ongoing industry engagement to carry the programme forward.

Rocks thrown at rail workers
A major weekend of work repairing the sea wall on the Dover line was marred last month by of a group of youths throwing rocks at workers. One of the rocks, thrown from the cliff, missed site workers by inches and could have caused serious injury of death. Appeals are being made to parents to talk to children about the dangers of this kind of behaviour.

Crossrail design exhibition opens in London
A new exhibition showcasing the design of Crossrail’s stations, art and public spaces has opened at London Transport Museum. It includes a rich collection of material along with images of the new stations, and a film showing the journey passengers will take from street level to platform. The exhibition is open for a year.

Badgers to get a good deal in the future
Network Rail has developed a new methodology for building railside structures that will protect badgers living by the railway. Information from the ecology survey was used to decide on the position of foundations so existing badger setts are not disturbed. Network Rail is now looking at how this can be used on other projects.

Cordant to guard Crossrail sites
Cordant Services has been awarded preferred supplier status following a competitive tender via Carillion Rail. Cordant is to provide bespoke security solutions including manned guards and security technology at Crossrail sites to ensure Carillion equipment is fully secured and monitored.

Murphy develops new safety concept
Construction and engineering firm, Murphy, has pioneered a new safety concept in the Crossrail tunnels under the Thames, which can now be rolled out companywide. Safe T Zone is a device for telehandlers which minimises unsafe movements of underslung goods by limiting the operation of the telehandler and restricting its movement.

Manchester’s summer of improvements begins
The final stage of the transformation of Metrolink’s St Peter’s Square tram stop in the centre of Manchester has begun. No north/south trams will operate across the city until the end of August when the new stop opens. At the same time essential track maintenance will take place on the Eccles tram line.

Go-ahead for Wolverhampton tram extension
Plans to extend the Midland Metro to a new interchange at the railway station in Wolverhampton have been given formal approval by Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin. Preparatory work on the £18m extension can now start later this year with completion scheduled for 2019.