Birmingham invests £1bn to maximise the benefits of HS2
Almost £1bn of investment is being committed to redevelop a part of Birmingham that is set to be transformed by the arrival of HS2 in the city.

The Curzon Investment Plan is a 30 year strategy to unlock and regenerate the 141 hectares of land around the planned HS2 Curzon Street station, led by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Birmingham City Council.

Creating 36,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes, unlocking 600,000 sqm of commercial floor space and connecting the eastside of Birmingham to the rest of the city and beyond, the investment is the first major financial commitment by any local area in the country to use HS2’s arrival as a catalyst for regeneration. It also has the potential to add £1.4bn to the local economy.

Plans include the development of Curzon Street station itself, several new neighbourhoods, offices and retail spaces. The creation of stunning public places such as the Curzon Promenade and Curzon Square – which will incorporate the original Curzon station, a Grade I listed building.

In total £907m is being allocated to a variety of projects, and is made up of £586.8m from the GBSLEP, which draws funds from business rates within the Enterprise Zone and £137.2m from the newly formed devolved government, West Midlands Combined Authority.

A further £183.3m towards the cost of delivering Metro extension projects, connecting the eastside of the city to central Birmingham and out to Birmingham International Airport and Solihull, where another HS2 station, an interchange, is planned.

Northern Europe’s largest security camera deployment reduces public transport crime by 25%
Stockholm’s public transport system, Storstockholms Lokaltrafik, has experience a 25% reduction in crime and a 60% decrease in theft since deploying a comprehensive surveillance network to its trains, trams, buses and stations.

Axis Communications installed an additional 4,000 network security cameras taking the total to 22,000 in all. This was combined with Zipstream data compression technology to reduce the system’s bandwidth and storage requirements by 50%, enabling it to process and store the vast amount of data that was generated. The installation also included Axis’ Wide Dynamic Range technology which uses image optimisation algorithms to improve the quality of the images and solve the traditional problems caused by fluctuating high and low light levels.

“For optimal security within transportation, cameras must provide a reliable, detailed overview of large areas and the commuters within them, as well as a wide angle designed to eliminate blind spots,” said Atul Rajput, regional director of Northern Europe at Axis Communications. “Axis’ range of intelligent security solutions go further than this, supporting business intelligence via a number of analytic and smart applications, such as viewing patterns of movement and identifying aggressive behaviour.”

Virtual reality glasses are introduced for railway maintenance in Boston, MA
vr-glassesKeolis Commuter Services, which operates the commuter rail network in Boston, MA, has begun testing the use of virtual reality glasses as part of its strategy to improve maintenance and operational performance on the system.

The VR glasses are being worn by technicians in the field, enabling them to diagnose and repair equipment under the direction of senior technicians located back at the main maintenance facility.

Connected to a smartphone, the glasses capture and send video images over the internet in real time. Workers can also do screen captures, annotate images, send procedures or exchange written messages. Data flow is encrypted and can be sent over a cellular connection (3G, 4G) or an ethernet cable.

Keolis, which is working with AMA XpertEye, is hoping to determine if the technology can improve on-time performance and equipment availability by cutting repair times on equipment that may be in remote locations and also help in reducing the need to bring rolling stock back to the maintenance facility for more complex repairs. If the Boston trial is successful, Keolis will seek to roll out this innovation throughout the company.

Hitachi becomes first manufacturer authorised to install in-cab signalling in the UK
hitachi-signallingIn a joint project with Network Rail, Hitachi has successfully tested its modern in-cab signalling system, controlled by the European Train Control System (ETCS). The test was carried out on the Cambrian line, in Wales, and has resulted in Hitachi becoming the first train manufacturer in the UK to have its digital signalling system authorised to run passenger trains by the rail regulator.

Andy Rogers, project director of Hitachi Rail Europe, commented: “This is big step forward for digital innovation on the UK rail network and, once implemented, can deliver revolutionary benefits for rail passengers.

Hitachi will now be able to install ETCS in the 160+ new trains it is building.




Eversholt Rail commended for care of staff
Eversholt Rail has been named Britain’s Healthiest Employer in the small company category at the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace awards. The company was also named one of the top three healthiest workplaces in Britain. The awards aim to celebrate organisations that have an outstanding approach to their employees’ health and wellbeing.

Derby gets new rail academy
A new Rail Employment and Skills Academy has been launched at Derby College in the East Midlands. With close links to the Rail Forum East Midlands, which represents over 150 rail related regional businesses, the academy draws upon world class rail expertise across disciplines that include construction, engineering, finance and support services. Its first task is to design new industry apprenticeship programmes.

Rail Rule Book to go mobile
The RSSB is leading a programme to develop a mobile app for the Rule Book – the reference work for all railway staff that sets out clear instructions that must be followed. Currently, staff work from paper copies or the online version on the RSSB website. The new mobile app, which will make the book much more accessible, should be available next year.

GTR begins fleet shuffle
Govia Thameslink Railway is to begin transferring its Bombardier Class 387/1 variants, which have been operating on Thameslink for the last year, to the Great Northern. The trains start arriving in October as new Class 700 Thameslink trains come into service. Some 387/1s will also move to the Fen Line next year, for Cambridge to King’s Lynn services.

Plague DNA found in Crossrail skeletons
Scientific analysis of skeletons excavated during the Crossrail programme has identified the DNA of Yersinia pestis, which was responsible for the 1665 Great Plague. The discovery is a first as the bacteria perished days after the individuals died and is no longer active. Scientists are now attempting to sequence the full DNA genome and compare it with the 1348 Black Death epidemic as well as recent modern outbreaks. They hope to better understand the evolution and spread of the disease.

RDG uses M&C Saatchi to woo the public
A new campaign has been developed by M&C Saatchi for the RDG, to shine a spotlight on the crucial role of the railways in British life. Called Britain Runs on Rail, it tells the story of the railways since the industry was restructured in the 1990s. The aim is to raise awareness of how the railways are being upgraded and improved, region by region.

A strategy for rail freight
The DfT has published its Rail Freight Strategy setting out the case for supporting rail freight, and highlighting where Government action can help unlock barriers to growth. With significant private sector investment being made by rail freight operators, customers, ports, terminals and the supply chain, Government aims to provide a stable environment for growth, including network capacity and track access charging. The strategy also aims to help in key areas such developing skills, innovation and communication.