PriestmanGoode raises the curtain on Hyperloop design progress
As part of this year’s London Design Festival, 18-24 September, design consultancy PriestmanGoode moved part of its design studio to Somerset House for the Design Frontiers exhibition. The aim was to show visitors the thinking, research, prototyping and design that lie behind new concepts in transport.

At the heart of PriestmanGoode’s exhibition contribution, which was titled ‘Please Don’t Feed the Designers’, was the first visual of the long awaited Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT). Visitors were able to watch the designers continue to develop the concept, seeing first-hand the design considerations that go into creating the future of transport.

PriestmanGoode has been commissioned by HTT to produce a design vision for the capsules, which will travel at 1223 km/h (760 mph).

The Hyperloop passenger capsule is being developed and constructed by HTT in collaboration with Carbures SA, a leading expert in fuselage and advanced materials construction in both aeronautics and aerospace sector, and will be built from Vibranium, a proprietary material developed by HTT. Construction began earlier this year on the 30 metre long, 20 ton capsule.

The capsules will accommodate between 28 and 40 passengers, depending on the needs of the individual carrier. Cabin interiors will include large dynamic display virtual windows in the side panels and ceilings to provide passenger information, and will also incorporate entrance areas, passenger accommodation, food and beverage services, and toilets.
Superfast in-train wi-fi: passenger service trials begin
Superfast in-train wi-fi has come a step closer with the first in-service trials of Project SWIFT – a new concept that could deliver internet speeds of up to 300 Mbps. The trials are to take place on trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Funded by InnovateUK and RSSB, Project SWIFT will utilise existing trackside fibre to backhaul data from trackside masts. The masts will use unlicensed wi-fi spectrum toconnect trains to this fibre, with a lossless session handover between masts as low as 2 milliseconds. Both existing and newly installed masts will be used along the Edinburgh- Glasgow route to ensure that consistent coverage can be trialled along the line, regardless of tunnels and cuttings.

The concept has already been tested on a full scale train at a test track near Stratfordupon- Avon. Cisco, working in collaboration with ScotRail, CGI, Network Rail Telecoms and Wittos, is to roll out the proof of concept for a limited period on one of the current fleet of ScotRail trains operating between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The trial will commence later this year, and run until the end of March 2018.

The project will also investigate what else becomes possible when you add data and insight to connections. For example: train crowding linked to smart ticketing, improving phone connectivity through VoIP or wi-fi calling, and providing significant operational insights for train operators.

£12m engineering programme brings Thameslink’s London Bridge station nearer completion
London BridgeThe penultimate phase of the redevelopment of London Bridge station and the surrounding railway for Thameslink has been successfully completed. Between Sat 26 August and Sat 2 September engineers carried out a £12m programme of upgrades in what it says has been one of the most challenging and complicated phases of the Thameslink Programme.

New track and signalling equipment were installed on the lines serving Cannon Street. At the same time the Charing Cross lines through London Bridge were moved into their final alignment through platforms 6 to 9 and connected to the newly constructed Bermondsey Dive Under. At London Bridge station work included installing lighting, ticket gate-lines and flooring in the final section of the new concourse, which will open in January 2018.

Throughout the work, London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations were closed and trains diverted to other London stations.

The final phase of engineering will take place at London Bridge over the Christmas and New Year period, after which the final section of the huge, modern concourse and platforms 1 – 5 will open for passenger use.

Iron: Man kicks off next phase of Midland Metro tram expansionIron Man
The next phase in the expansion of the Midland Metro tram network got underway with the removal of one of Birmingham’s most iconic statues – Iron: Man – from Victoria Square.

The Iron: Man, created by renowned artist Antony Gormley, was standing in the path of the new £149m Westside tram extension. The plan is to give it a clean up and put it into storage with the Birmingham Museums Trust, before returning it to the square when work is completed there in 2018.

The 2km Westside tram extension will carry trams from New Street station, through Victoria Square and a redeveloped Paradise Circus, past Centenary Square, along Broad Street and through Five Ways before stopping in Hagley Road, Edgbaston. Trams are expected to start running to Centenary Square in 2019/20 and to Edgbaston by 2021.

The government has recently confirmed that it will contribute £60m towards the cost of the Westside extension while £84m will come from Transport for West Midlands, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone. The remaining £5m will come from third party developer contributions.

In brief
Preston to Blackpool upgrade
Network Rail is embarking on 19 weeks of upgrades on the Preston to Blackpool line, commencing on 11 November. The 17 mile route will be fully electrified, track layout simplified and improved, and signalling equipment modernised. 84 signals are to be replaced and the control moved to the Manchester ROC. Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations are also to be remodelled.

More aggregates by rail
A new Tarmac rail depot has been opened at the Freightliner Garston complex, approximately 5 miles from Liverpool City Centre. The depot will receive up to 300,000 tonnes of construction aggregates a year for onward supply to Tarmac customers across Merseyside and Cheshire, taking around 10,000 trucks off the roads every year.

Skelmersdale rail link moves closer
Merseytravel and Lancashire County Council are funding the development of a business case for the construction of a new branch line to Skelmersdale, the second largest town in the North West without a rail connection. Should the business case prove to be strong, and the estimated £300m construction cost can be found, the scheme could be delivered within 10 years.

New signals for the east
Some of the oldest signalling equipment on the rail network is to be replaced in the Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas during a 9 day period in October. A total of 66 new colour light LED signals, 22 power operated points and a remote computer-based signalling control system will replace the old levers and physical operations. Level crossings will also be upgraded.

Ordsall Chord in a buzz
During the Ordsall Chord clean up, concern was raised for a swarm 30,000 honey bees that had made a temporary home in compound six near Trinity Way. To save the bees, Network Rail and its contractors contacted a registered bee keeper in Warrington who removed them safely and provided a new home. First, the honeycomb was placed into frames and stored so the bees would follow before the hive was removed.

Bolton line reopens
The train line between Bolton and Manchester reopened early, following emergency repairs to a bridge which was badly damaged by a burst water main. A section of the Moses Gate railway bridge near Bolton had collapsed onto the railway below creating a hole in the road above. A large section of wall supporting the bridge had to be rebuilt.

New track for London mainline
New track is to be installed and ballast replaced in the Ipswich and Colchester areas over 5 weekends in September and October. Some 274 metres of new track will be laid between Stowmarket and Manningtree during the first 2 weekends. Following this, 4 switches and crossings units are to be installed between Marks Tey and Witham.

New station for Merseyrail
Work has begun on the construction of a new railway station at Maghull North, on the Ormskirk branch of Merseyrail’s Northern Line. Supporting new housing development in the area, the £13m project will provide a fully staffed ticket office with passenger toilets, step-free access between platforms and station building, and a 156-space car park with motorcycle parking and cycle storage. It is expected to open in May 2018.