HS2 Hybrid Bill is granted Royal Assent enabling construction togo ahead this spring
The parliamentary bill for the first phase of HS2 has been granted Royal Assent after over three years of Parliamentary scrutiny.

The Hybrid Bill was deposited with Parliament in November 2013 and approved by a majority of 399 votes in favour to 42 against in March 2016. The Bill was passed by the House of Lords and finally received Royal Assent on February 23.

Preliminary works on the first phase are due to begin in the spring. Costed at £21.4bn including contingency and scheduled to open in December 2026, phase 1 will link London Euston to a new terminus at Curzon Street in Birmingham. Plans include a connection with to the West Coast Main Line near Lichfield.

Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will open in 2027 and phase 2b, from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands, will begin operating in 2033.

David Higgins, chairman of HS2 commented: “Achieving Royal Assent for Phase 1 of HS2 between Birmingham and London with such significant parliamentary support, is a monumental step in transforming rail travel in Britain. We have a long journey ahead of us to build the railway and secure permission for Phase 2 to make sure that the full benefits of HS2 are realised. Throughout this process HS2 remains committed to mitigating the environmental impacts whilst continuing to engage with each individual community which is making sacrifices to enable a 21st century railway network to be built in Britain.”

ORR publishes UK rail industry financial information for 2015-2016
The ORR has published a new report into the Government funding of the rail sector. The UK Rail Industry Financial Information 2015-16 report analyses funding from all government sources, including devolved administrations and passenger transport executives.

Key findings are:

  • In 2015-16, the rail industry had income of £18.4bn of which 51% was from fares and 36% from government, other sources contributed 13%
  • Rail industry expenditure was £18.4bn of which 35% was on passenger train operations, 32% on Network Rail, 19% on payments to government and 14% on other costs
  • Included in the above figures, net government funding (payments less receipts) was £3.2bn which is funding from government of £6.7bn less payments to government of £3.5bn
  • There was wide variation in net support or net premium between franchised operators. Open access operators received no direct support.

Steam returns for a short while to the Settle and Carlisle
Steam returnsOver a three day period from 14 to 16 February, Northern replaced some of its regular timetabled services with a steam service, hauled by the A1 locomotive Tornado.

The event was a way of giving something back to regular passengers who have had to contend with disrupted services for more than a year following a land slip at Eden Brows in February 2016.

Northern worked with Network Rail, DB Cargo, Friends of Settle and Carlisle and Settle and Carlisle Development Company to run two regular services a day on a seven carriage Tornado hauled service. Extra services were also put on for steam enthusiasts.

Paul Barnfield, regional director at Northern, said: “Tornado’s visit to the Settle and Carlisle line has been fantastic. This was the first timetabled steam service in England for almost 50 years and to be able to bring Tornado to such an iconic and visually stunning line, as a way of saying thank you, was a genuine pleasure.”

The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle route is due to reopen on 31 March.

London needs next generation of infrastructure to compete – says CBI/CBRE
Improving the capital’s infrastructure – through Crossrail 2, a new runway at Heathrow and East London river crossings – is key to the city’s future success and ability to compete, according to the latest CBI/CBRE London Business Survey.

More than 8 in 10 (84%) of London’s companies see Crossrail 2 as being central to the capital’s successful expansion while a similar number (80%) think sticking to the Government’s current timetables for building Heathrow’s third runway is vital to London’s attractiveness as a place to invest. As the city continues to expand eastwards, businesses recognise the importance of developing the right infrastructure to support growth in the area, especially in the Docklands.

Adam Hetherington, CBRE managing director, London, said: “Transport infrastructure is crucial for the viability of office schemes in London. We expect schemes located along the new Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) to be amongst the best performing in London. The survey also reinforces our view that Crossrail 2 will unlock the potential along its planned south west to north east route.

TfL responds to Croydon derailment
Responding to advice from RAIB following the Croydon tram derailment, TfL has introduced additional speed restrictions and associated signage near Sandilands and at three other locations on the tram network before services were resumed. A summit has been held with other tram operators to consider further safety measures that could be introduced.

New R&D facility for Leeds
As part of an overhaul of its Leeds plant, lock maker Pickersgill- Kaye is to invest in a new R&D facility and create a rail centre of excellence. The aim is to become specialist production base for the rail industry. Plans include attracting and recruiting a new tranche of designers.

Transport Committee: franchising needs reform
In its Rail Franchising report, dated 5 Feb, the Transport Committee says that rail franchising needs significant reform. It recommends the DfT should commission an independent review of franchising functions, including the possibility of transferring enforcement powers to the ORR. Core policy objectives, it says, are not being met and the current model is failing to deliver.

Hanoi Line 3 metro
A consortium of Alstom, Thales and Colas Rail has signed a €265m contract to provide an integrated metro system for Hanoi metro line 3, to start commercial operation by the end of 2021. Hanoi Line 3 is the second metro line under construction in the city and will run for 12.5 km from West to South – 8.5 km elevated and 4 km underground – serving 12 stations.

Tech spec standard updated
British standards company, BSI, has revised BS 8888:2017 – Technical product documentation and specification. The latest version is a comprehensive update to the UK’s national framework standard for engineering drawings and geometrical tolerancing, and defines the requirements for the technical specification of products and their component parts.

Smartphones to measure train ride comfort
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed a smartphone app that allows passengers to measure ride comfort themselves using their smartphones. The study, which uses artificial neural networks to map data gathered from smartphones, has shown that accelerometers found in modern smartphones are good enough to measure ride comfort.

Trenitalia snaps up c2c
Trenitalia UK, part of FS Italiane Group, has completed the acquisition of c2c from National Express. The move is part of long-term plan to establish a major presence in the UK rail market. The company is bidding for the East Midlands and West Coast Partnership rail franchise, in a joint venture with FirstGroup.

Britain’s railways must lead change
Britain’s railway is at a crucial turning point and must lead change to keep growing, RDG chairman Chris Burchell has said. Giving the annual George Bradshaw address, he called upon the railway to focus on three key relationships: with customers, with rail workers and with government. Failure to modernise, he warned, puts future investment at significant risk.