Dumbarton bridges given a new lease of life
Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan continues to gather steam with engineers currently at work delivering a £7 million rolling programme of investment in Dumbarton’s railway bridges. The work on the 11 different structures is based on the condition and individual requirements of each bridge or tunnel, and includes drainage work, deck replacements, steel strengthening and painting.

To date work has been completed on five structures, including addressing drainage issues within Dalreoch tunnel and the £1.2 million refurbishment of Leven viaduct. Work is also due to be completed on a further two structures at Buchanan Street, Dumbarton and Bank Street, Alexandria, taking the programme passed the half way mark.

Billy McKay, Network Rail Programme Manager for the bridge refurbishments in the Dumbarton area said: “We have a responsibility to maintain and preserve these bridges, not just for the safe and efficient operation of the railway, but also how they look in their setting for those travelling on the railway or on the road network below. We are sure that the improvements on these structures will be welcomed by the many people who drive under them, or travel over them by rail.”

Bridging the gap between Manchester’s three rail hubs
An iconic bridge has reopened in Manchester, connecting the city’s three main railway stations for the first time. The Ordsall Chord bridge, the world’s first asymmetric rail bridge, forms the historic centerpiece of the Great North Rail Project and will benefit customers across the north of England. Rail Minister Paul Maynard was on hand to install the final rail clip, ceremoniously marking completion of the Network Rail scheme.

“The new Ordsall Chord is a major milestone for the Great North Rail Project and forms a key part of this government’s £13 billion investment in transport in the north,” Maynard explained. “The construction of this new iconic bridge has supported 2000 jobs, including new apprentices and graduates, and will provide new and direct links to Manchester Airport from across the region. By 2020, the Great North Rail Project will deliver faster and more comfortable journeys, with new trains, extra carriages and more than 2000 extra services a week.”

Martin Frobisher, Route Managing Director of Network Rail said: “The completion of Ordsall Chord is a seminal moment in the Great North Rail Project, which will transform train travel for millions of customers across the north. The old is giving birth to the new. Team Orange is mirroring the vision of George Stephenson for the benefit of the communities we serve for generations to come.”

New trains make their Thameslink debut
ThameslinkTwo new cutting-edge Thameslink trains have made their appearance, providing rail passengers at Peterborough, Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park with the first chance to experience the modernisation programme being undertaken by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

The Siemens-built trains are part of GTR’s plan to replace 75 per cent of its existing fleet with modern, air-conditioned units. The Thameslink trains boast a spacious design, cutting edge passenger information systems, wider doors and aisles, and two-by-two seating to create more room.

GTR Engineering Director Gerry McFadden said: “These first new Thameslink trains on the Great Northern route are a shape of things to come and feature the latest in technology. Their introduction is part of a broader fleet modernisation programme that has seen most of our older trains withdrawn and new trains introduced to Cambridge, Peterborough and King’s Lynn. This will continue into next year with new trains on the Moorgate line.

“At GTR we’re modernising the railway and starting in May we’ll be giving passengers longer trains and more services to provide vital added seats on a route that has seen a 70 per cent increase in passenger numbers in just 14 years. This increase in capacity, coupled with trains to new central London stations, Crossrail and Gatwick Airport, will transform the lives of thousands.”

Crossrail passes next major milestone
With the final section of track now installed at Whitechapel station, completing all new tracks for the railway, the Crossrail programme is now officially 87 per cent complete. With this work finalised, engineering trains can now travel the full length of both new tunnels. Elsewhere, the programme has also celebrated the opening of the new Abbey Wood station, marking another milestone for the project. One of the ten new stations being constructed for the Elizabeth line, Abbey Wood is initially providing passengers access to the Southeastern services through a new spacious, brightly-lit ticket hall. Elizabeth line services will begin here from December 2018.

Progress at all other new stations in central London continues at pace, with two more buildings now visible above the site hoardings. At Bond Street station, visitors can now catch a glimpse of the red sandstone columns that will wrap around the western ticket hall, while at Liverpool Street station, construction of the glazed canopy entrance at Broadgate is also advancing well.

IN BRIEF
Surveying the industry
Structural Soils Ltd has announced the launch of its new, integrated site investigation and supporting services for the rail industry. RAIL SI and RAIL SI+PLUS will offer turnkey solutions to deliver all aspects of rail-related surveys. These new nationwide services will provide unique, coordinated site investigation packages from a singlesupplier, and will allow Structural Soils to deliver a complete and multifaceted survey package.

Signalling installed
New track and signalling between London Bridge and Blackfriars has been completed, bringing the reintroduction of cross-London Thameslink services through London Bridge a step closer. From May 2018, Thameslink services will resume calling at London Bridge after a three-year hiatus. With the completion of this track the lines are now in their final position awaiting final signalling commissioning at Christmas and the

New Year. Work to commence
The next phase of work on the main Great Western lines in the south of England and Wales is set to commence. This phase of the Greater West infrastructure and rolling stock programme will focus on delivering upgrades to the Great Western main line high-speed routes from Paddington to Newbury, Oxford, Bristol, south Wales and the Cotswolds.

Tunnelling through
A major milestone for the Northern Line Extension project has been reached with the completion of tunnelling work. The breakthrough of boring machines at Kennington has resulted in the creation of two 3.2km tunnels from Battersea to Kennington, via Nine Elms. The extension, due to be completed in 2020, is the first major extension to a tube line since the Jubilee line in the late 1990s, and will support around 25,000 new jobs and more than 20,000 new homes.

Connecting the Scots
The final phase of testing has begun on the Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification works, bringing the introduction of new electric trains a step closer. The ScotRail Alliance has now successfully tested one of its new Hitachi Class 385 electric trains along the full route between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street.

New alliance formed
An alliance between Network Rail, Amey, BAM Nuttall and Arup has been awarded a contract to design infrastructure options ahead of future rail enhancements on the Transpennine Route between York and Manchester. The contract covers upgrades to civils, track, railway systems and electrification west of Leeds, and follows on from the wider rail enhancements on the east of Leeds part of the Route between York and Leeds, which was awarded in October 2014.

Depot opens
A new £23 million train maintenance depot in Blackburn has been opened by Rail Minister Paul Maynard MP, Northern and Network Rail. The facility will be used to maintain up to 30 Northern diesel trains and will be a key part of the modernisation of the railway in the north of England. The depot was constructed by Network Rail and boasts state-of-the-art engineering equipment.

Shrewd purchase
Teleste Corporation has announced the acquisition of iqu Systems GmbH. Through the purchase of the German specialists in intelligent passenger information systems and software, Teleste will strengthen its own capabilities as a provider of modular solutions that meet public transport operators’ demands for reliable delivery of passenger information. iqu System’s business consists of software solutions, displays and related services, and it holds a firm position in the German public transport market.