Repairs to collapsed Barrow upon Soar bridge to include future proofing for Midland Mainline electrification
Network Rail has confirmed that the Grove Lane road bridge, which crosses four rail lines in Barrow upon Soar, is to reopen again in January 2017 after a programme of repairs and upgrades that should future-proof it for electrification.

The bridge partially collapsed onto the Midland Main Line in Leicestershire late on 1 August. The incident happened near midnight while engineers were assessing the condition of the bridge. Rubble was cleared and train services resumed on 3 August. The bridge was partially opened to pedestrians 3 weeks later, but won’t be accessible to vehicles until full repairs have been made.

Plans have been drawn up to not only repair the damage but also raise the parapets to make it safe to install the electrical wires that will form part of the Midland Main Line route upgrade. The bridge should reopen to road traffic in January 2017. The parapet adjustments will mean no further disruption will be necessary in years to come.

Gary Walsh, area director for Network Rail said: “The plans we have put forward for Grove Lane not only make it safe for vehicles but also future-proof the bridge for electrification. Doing this work now means we won’t need to come back in the future and create further disruption.”

Companies come together to plan for building Crossrail 2
Transport for London and Network Rail have brought together engineering, design and construction experts representing Crossrail 2’s future supply chain, to set out plans for the development of the line.

Early engagement is designed to encourage collaborative working and early innovation, driving down costs and ensuring the railway can be delivered on time.

Participating industries will now be able to develop plans for investing in skills and the future workforce, building on the success of Crossrail 1 which created over 570 apprenticeships.

Speakers included Michele Dix, TfL MD for Crossrail 2, Chris Curtis, Network Rail’s head of Crossrail 2, TfL commissioner Mike Brown, and Lord Ahmad permanent undersecretary of state for transport.

In March 2016 government committed £80m, with match funding from TfL, to take Crossrail 2 to the next stage of development with the aim of depositing a Hybrid Bill in 2019, subject to an updated business case.

Crossrail 2 will link in with the National Rail network serving destinations as far apart as Broxbourne, Epsom, Chessington South, Hampton Court and Shepperton.

Rain induced landslip at the mouth of the Watford tunnel causes train derailment
watford-tunnelTorrential rain caused chaos across the east, south and south-east of England again this September, flooding stations and track, and causing a landslide at the mouth of the Watford tunnel near Watford Junction that resulted in a train derailment.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “At around 7am on Friday (16 September) a train hit a landslip, caused by torrential rain, a few miles north of Watford resulting in a small section of the train to leave the tracks. A second train then glanced the derailed train as it travelled in the opposite direction. Both trains remained upright and there were no reported passenger injuries.”

Almost 400 passengers were safely evacuated from the two trains, and a Virgin train was sent to ferry them on to King’s Langley, Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes.

Two of the four lines through the area remained open through the weekend while engineers cleared debris off the affected tracks and removed the two damaged trains from the tunnel. They then repaired the landslip and infrastructure, including replacing 50 concrete sleepers, and welding in new sections of track.

Normal London Midland and Virgin services through the area were able to resume the following Monday.

Libertarian think tank calls for Network Rail to be sold off and HS2 scrapped
The free market, libertarian think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, has called on government to scrap HS2 and part privatise Network Rail, in a new report called Network Fail: Getting UK Rail Back on Track.

In spite of the results of last year’s Hendy and Shaw reports, which did much to stabilise the rail industry and establish the shape of its future, the report urges the government to sell off 49.9% of Network Rail which, it says, lacks the discipline of the private sector and is an unwieldy beast with a vast debt burden of £37.8bn.

The paper urges the government to crack down on underperforming rail franchise holders, and terminate their franchise if necessary. Competition between providers on lines should also be promoted as only 1% of passenger journeys currently offer direct rail competition.

The HS2 programme has also come under fire and should be scrapped, the report urges. Set to cost in excess of £50bn, it says HS2 is both unnecessary and economically irresponsible and could cost up to 9x more per mile than high speed tracks in France, and will be reaping rock bottom returns.

Responding to the report, a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, said: “The report’s comments on HS2 are somewhat surprising given HS2’s crucial role in ensuring the country has the railway it needs in the long term.

“The planned devolution to NR routes will create a stronger local focus on the needs of train operators, and thus on passengers and freight customers. It will help to drive efficiency and service quality by making routes more responsive to local situations, while protecting the benefits of a single railway that works seamlessly for passengers. Devolution also enables different models for operating rail infrastructure in different parts of the country with the potential for greater competition between train operators where this makes sense.”

Preston to Blackpool upgrades start
Preparation for the electrification of the Preston to Blackpool line is due to start on 3 October. Over 7 miles of track will be replaced and improvements made to the track layout and signalling equipment. Work will take place over night, affecting evening and early morning trains. Further closures on the route will be required in 2017 and the electrified railway is to open in May 2018.

Leeds railway bridge gets rainbow colours
A railway bridge crossing the Lower Briggate in Leeds city centre is set to be repainted in rainbow colours as part of repair and strengthening work. The bespoke paint design is being funded by the local LGB&T Community and Leeds City Council. Engineering work commenced on 26 September and the repaint should be completed by February next year.

Barking line upgrade
The Gospel Oak to Barking line is to be closed completely between 24 September and February 2017 for the final phase of work to electrify the line. Two sections of track between Crouch Hill and Harringay Green Lanes, and Gospel Oak and Upper Holloway, are to be lowered to increase clearance under bridges, and make way for new masts that will carry overhead wires.

Bridge replacement
A new bridge has been installed across the Great Western Main Line in Newport, South Wales, to accommodate the extra height required for electrification of the line. The 228-tonne, 50m skewed, weathering-grade steel road bridge was fabricated in Darlington, assembled at the trackside and installed during a weekend closure of the line. The old bridge was removed in one piece in just 6 hours.

Rail performance tumbles
Passenger and rail freight performance fell during the first quarter of 2016-2017, according to ORR. National public performance measurement (PPM) was down 2.2% to 89.2%. At 87.0%, the PPM moving annual average for the London and South East ended 1.8% lower than that of the long distance sector and Govia Thameslink Railway services were responsible for 1.2% of this. RDG says: “Rail companies are delivering more than £50bn of improvements and this work is causing disruption, including industrial action over changes that will deliver a better service for passengers.”

ETCS baseline 3 success
The ETCS level 2 baseline 3 application has been successfully tested between Roskilde and Gadstrup, as part of the Danish Eastern network upgrade being delivered by Alstom. Banedanmark is the first infrastructure manager to apply this latest baseline, and will be rolling it out over the next ten years. The application was validated by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) in July 2016.

Future of rail in Scotland
Building on the Scotland Route Study published by Network Rail in the summer, the Investing in the Future report from RDG is a starting point for discussions with the Government about what it wants rail to deliver, and how to achieve it. The report identifies areas to be explored in High Level Output Specification in 2017, including enhancements to Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley stations, and investments to reduce journey times and increase capacity between Scotland’s main cities and on commuter routes.