Alstom to supply €1.8bn of rolling stock and maintenance for Amtrak’s Boston to Washington DC line
Alstom has won two new contracts worth a total of €1.8bn from Amtrak in the US. The first is to design and build 28 new high-speed Avelia Liberty trains for the Northeast Corridor running between Boston and Washington DC. The second is to provide long-term technical support for the trains, including maintenance, spare components and parts.

The trainsets include a compact power car and nine passenger cars capable of travelling at up to 186 mph. Their Tiltronix anticipative tilting technology enables them to manoeuvre curves safely and comfortably at high speeds. The trains will, however, initially operate at up to 160 mph based on track speed limits.

Most of Amtrak’s Avelia Liberties will be manufactured in the US at Alstom’s 150 year-old historic site in Hornell, New York. Maintenance will be carried out at Amtrak depots in Boston, New York and Washington DC for a period of 15 years, with an option for an additional 15 years.

In the last 10 years the number of passengers using the 457 mile-long Northeast Corridor has increased from 2.4m passengers per year to 3.5m. The Alstom Avelia Liberty carries 33% more passengers than the Acela trains it is replacing.

New industry-wide Safety Management Intelligence System to go live on 5 December
A completely new on-line safety reporting system for the rail industry is set to go live on 5 December. Capable of marshalling far greater amounts of incident data, analysis and business intelligence, the intuitive Safety Management Intelligence System (SMIS) is the result of the RSSB-led SMIS+ programme, and will replace the existing SMIS management system which dates back to 1997.

It is the first step in developing an integrated safety intelligence platform and enterprise management system, upgrading and replacing older systems and databases.

SMIS is the rail industry’s national database for recording safety-related incidents that occur on the national mainline rail network in Britain, and is managed by RSSB. Organisations such as Network Rail, and train and freight operators enter about 75,000 events into SMIS each year. The new system gives them greater freedom to create their own safety intelligence reports, using a contemporary user friendly interface both to input and analyse the data.

RSSB director of system safety, George Bearfield, said: “Britain’s railways are among the safest and most intensively used in the world, built on a mature approach to health and safety, and evidence-based decisions grounded in high quality data. But the systems we’ve relied on thus far, won’t take us any further. The Safety Management Intelligence System is a completely new product, representing a transformation in safety intelligence capability to the rail industry.”

RSSB is now working with its members to prepare for the transition to the new SMIS, including the opportunity for testing and training on the new system.

Abellio retains the East Anglia rail franchise with the promise of major improvements
abellio-improvementsThe DfT has awarded the East Anglian rail franchise to Abellio, the company already operating the current franchise as Abellio Greater Anglia.

The new franchise, commencing on the 16 October 2016, specifies a major package of improvements for rail services in the region, which connect London, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The existing fleet of trains is to be completely replaced with 1,043 new carriages, all of which are due to be fully in service by the end of 2020. A total of 660 of these are coming Bombardier in Derby and the remaining 383 from Stadler in Switzerland. £60m is to be invested in the region’s stations, with Broxbourne, Cambridge, Cheshunt, Harlow and Southend Victoria being redeveloped.

Services across the region are to be expanded and improved, including two trains a day travelling between Norwich and London in just 90 minutes, and faster services between Norwich and Ipswich, and Cambridge and London.

Better connections are also promised, including direct services from Lowestoft to London four times a day, and Norwich to Stanstead Airport every hour.

Other improvements include 55% more seats into London in the morning peak period, full Wi-Fi provision, and an improved ticketing system. Meanwhile, the franchise is to contribute £3.7bn to the government over its course.

Dominic Booth, managing director for Abellio UK said: “This is a very exciting time for the railways across the Greater Anglia region. Our ambitious plans, that include the replacement of the entire Greater Anglia fleet in the largest privately-funded train order in the UK, will give the people of the Greater Anglia region a railway that is unrecognisable from today.”

New security staff begin patrolling Great Northern and Thameslink routes
Great Northern and Thameslink have beefed up security at stations and on trains by introducing a team of 22 rail enforcement officers (REOs) plus almost as many Special Constables to work across the entire Govia Thameslink Railway network.

The REOs are patrolling the Great Northern route between London and Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and Kings Lynn, as well as the Thameslink route between London St Pancras, Elstree & Borehamwood, Luton and Bedford.

They complement the British Transport Police, and are working with them to target bike theft during the day as well as patrolling some overnight Thameslink services. Rail enforcement manager Adam Dear said: “Our REOS are an active force against low level crime and anti-social behaviour, reducing anti-social behaviour and help build an even safer rail network.”

Up to 20 GTR employees are set to become Special Constables. Successful employees will complete 27 days of police training then work one day a month as a Special Constable on the network. They will have the same policing powers as any full-time police officer.

VR used at Liverpool Lime Street
Network Rail has used virtual reality technology to prepare for the major redevelopment of Liverpool Lime Street. The technology enables planners to avoid overlaps between different engineering teams and identify potential risks and hazards that could delay the work. It has also enabled Network Rail to carry out 4D virtual modelling to prepare for the work, reducing the amount of time needed on track.

Mechan increases exports to Hong Kong
Sheffield-based rail depot equipment specialist, Mechan, is delivering two major orders to Hong Kong. Working with local agent, Associated Engineers, Mechan has delivered two dozen 20-tonne lifting jacks and four turntables to MTR’s Wong Chuk Hang depot on South Island. Mechan is now building a bespoke bogie drop for the Shek Kong Running Maintenance Shed.

Charing Cross ticket hall refurbishment
Work is to begin on the modernisation of London’s Northern line ticket hall at Charing Cross station on 26 September. The 1970s ticket hall, the larger of two at Charing Cross, will receive new tiling and finishes, a new straightened gate line with more space at the top of the escalators and improvements to CCTV and lighting. The smaller Bakerloo line ticket hall will close for refurbishment from July 2017.

Public safety on Rio Metro
Ahead of the Rio Olympics, Cobham Wireless and Kapsch worked to install the TETRA public safety network on the new Metro line 4 which had been built for the games. The system provides communications facilities for emergency services and transport staff, across the entire 16km length of the Line. Cobham also provided the fully redundant public safety DAS solution.

Southern confirms return of 100+ trains
Train operator Southern has announced it is restoring 119 inner London train services to its timetable from 5th September. That is over a third of the 341 trains cancelled on July 11 as part of a temporary timetable. Almost all London Bridge peak trains will run, and there will be an enhanced service to Southern’s West London Line. Remaining trains will be reintroduced incrementally in the coming weeks.

Clearer decarbonisation targets required
In its report, Sustainability in the Department for Transport, the Environmental Audit Committee has called for clearer decarbonisation targets from Network Rail and train operating companies, indicating how the targets have been chosen and how performance against them will be measured. The Committee also says that now Network Rail is classified as a public body it should report on its sustainability through the Greening Government Commitments.

Balfour Beatty to electrify Caltrain
Balfour Beatty has won a $697m contract to electrify the 52-mile Caltrain rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. Work includes designing and building a 25kv AC overhead catenary system for the new high speed trains, constructing two traction power substations, one switching substation and seven paralleling substations, and replacing signal systems and earth existing facilities.

Barnardo’s calls for vigilance
Now that London’s night tube services have begun, Barnardo’s is urging night workers to keep a look out for vulnerable young people. The organisation has trained thousands of night workers, including some from TfL, to play a more active role in protecting young people from sexual exploitation and abuse at night. Call children’s social services, the police, or 999 if a child is in immediate danger.