Anglia wins engineering award for Class 156 Braking system
A bespoke new Wheel Slide Protection (WSP) braking system, designed by Greater Anglia for its Class 156 trains, has won the Engineering award at the Rail Industry Innovation Awards.

The class 156 had previously been thought incompatible with WSP technology, which is similar to ABS on cars, and prevents train wheels from braking unevenly as the train slows. Failure to brake evenly damages the wheels causing wheel flats that have to be removed by wheel lathe, taking the train out of service for up to a week. This has often resulted in severe disruption during Autumn when fallen leaves make the rails particularly slippery.

A prototype Class 156, developed by Greater Anglia in partnership with Porterbrook, SNC Lavalin, KBRS and Loram UK, went into operation in October 2016 on a stretch of line where many services are cancelled annually due to wheel flats caused by fallen leaves. Services on the prototype proved reliable and the wheels are all still in good condition six months later. None have needed to visit the wheel lathe, whereas other Class 156 trains have had to receive attention two or three times during the same period.

This bespoke system is now set to benefit rural train services in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and parts of Cambridgeshire.

Porterbrook’s fleet & standards director, Neil Foster, said: “The performance of last Autumn’s WSP trial surpassed everyone’s expectations. Ultimately we hope that WSP will be more widely adopted across the UK’s Class 150, 153, 155 &156 fleets if there is industry support for this successful approach.”

New trains worth £895m are ordered for South Western franchise
South WesternThe new South Western franchise operators, FirstGroup and MTR, have signed a £895m order for 90 new Aventra trains from Bombardier Transportation. The train order was part of their winning bid for the South Western rail network franchise, which starts on 20 August this year.

The new Aventra fleet, which will eventually comprise 750 new carriages in 5 and 10 car formations, is to be manufactured in Derby and will be delivered into service between mid 2019 and December 2020. Destined for the Windsor, Reading and West London suburban routes, it will increase peak capacity on these routes into Waterloo by 46%.

Highly energy efficient and capable of 100mph, the trains will also offer free reliable Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, real time information screens, air conditioning, wide gangways and wide doors to improve ease of boarding and alighting.

The fleet is to be maintained by South Western at the Wimbledon depot. Bombardier will supply technical advice and spares.

First Japanese-made test train arrives at Southampton
The first of three new five car test trains (802 001) to be shipped to the UK from Hitachi’s factory in Japan has arrived in Southampton en route for the Hitachi train depot at Stoke Gifford near Bristol. It is now being made ready for testing in Somerset and the South West this summer. Two more test trains are due to arrive shortly.

The test trains are part of a fleet of 36 Class 802 Intercity Express Trains that were privately financed and procured for GWR’s Devon and Cornwall route connecting London Paddington to Exeter, Plymouth, Penzance. The rest of the fleet is being built at the Hitachi plant in Italy and will begin arriving in the UK at the end of this year.

These trains have been designed to withstand the variable weather conditions in the west country, including the proximity to rough seas along the Dawlish coastal route. Brake resistors on the top of the trains, for example, have been installed on raised platforms rather than in a well, so water will simply flow away from them and not inundate the equipment. The exhaust pipes have been also been designed to let water out rather than create a conduit to other parts of the train mechanism. The equipment has also been extensively salt water tested.

The Class 802s are scheduled to enter passenger service between 2018 and 2019.

The Queen names GWR’s first new Intercity Express Train
The Queen has formally named the first new Great Western Railway Intercity Express Train ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ in a ceremony that was timed to commemorate the first train journey undertaken by New Traina British monarch.

Queen Victoria made that original journey from Slough to Paddington On 13 June 1842, on a train driven by Daniel Gooch and assisted by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh climbed aboard the new Hitachi-built Intercity Express Train for a rerun of that historic journey. They were joined by Isambard Thomas and Gillian White, the direct descendants of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch.

The Queen Elizabeth II will enter passenger service on the Great Western Railway this autumn, and will be the first new train in the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation on the GWR.

The trains are being built at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe plant, as part of Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme.
The first new Elizabeth Line train enters service on TfL Rail
The first train destined for the new Elizabeth line – once the Crossrail rail tunnels open through central London in December next year and the line is renamed – has gone into passenger service for TfL Rail on the route between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.TfL rail

The train has undergone extensive testing and preparation, and is the trail blazer for a fleet of 66 Class 345 Aventra trains that are being built in the UK by Bombardier Transportation for the new line. Eleven of these are due to be introduced on the TfL route by the autumn. Initially just 160 metres long and made up of seven carriages, they will be extended to nine carriages and 200 metres in length later.

Key features of the trains include air-conditioning walk-through carriages, dedicated wheelchair spaces and additional multi-use spaces for buggies and luggage, intelligent lighting and temperature control.

For the first week, the train will run one off-peak return trip a day between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, and will then be used for driver training along the TfL Rail route during the day. The remaining 10 trains will gradually be introduced into service, but a few of the older trains which are over thirty years old will remain operational through to 2019.

Crossrail is currently on time, on budget and 85% complete. When the Elizabeth line opens fully in December 2019, it will operate services from Reading and Heathrow Terminal 4 in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Australia’s 4,000km India Pacific train takes infotainment services onboard
Nomad Digital has successfully implemented the first phase of its leading edge infotainment technology on Great Southern Rail (GSR)’s iconic Indian Pacific train service in Australian.

Travelling coast-to-coast across the breadth of Australia – 4,352km from Sydney in the east to Perth in the west – the India Pacific is one of the world’s longest passenger trains and provides a luxurious and informative tourist experience akin to the famed Orient Express. The 4 day journey climbs through the towering majesty of the Blue Mountains and crosses the barren expanse of the Nullabor with numerous goldmines, ghost towns and grapevines in between and is famed for including the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world.

One of the challenges for Nomad was providing the information and latest technology while retaining the ethos and ambience of the train journey.

Damian Blacker GSR’s information communications technology delivery manager, said: “Aboard all of our journeys, we pride ourselves on telling the story of Australia – its landscapes, its history and its people. Through our work with Nomad Digital, we are excited to bring to life these stories with new technology.”

The infotainment system provides Wi-Fi, information and video entertainment and an annotated moving map which displays tourist information at different stages en route. The moving map works independently of Wi-Fi connectivity – a challenge given the uniqueness of the route which traverses large expanses of land with no Wi-Fi coverage. Nomad is now looking to roll it out more widely across the popular tourist route.