First of new Caledonian Sleeper trains arrive
After travelling through the Channel Tunnel to Scotland from the Velim Test Centre in the Czech Republic where they have been undergoing mandatory trials, the first carriages from the new £100m fleet of Caledonian Sleeper trains have arrived in the UK ahead of their introduction to service later in 2018.
Starting in October 2018, the overnight rail service will begin to be transformed as 75 new carriages are introduced in a phased transition. They will be the first sleeper trains to be introduced to the UK for over 35 years. A total of five carriages have now arrived in the outskirts of Glasgow, where they will start extensive testing over the coming months. These initial five carriages are still to be fitted out internally following testing. Fully fitted out carriages will arrive in the UK at a later date.
The introduction of new trains will be the culmination of a wide range of improvements and investment in Caledonian Sleeper since Serco took over the franchise on behalf of the Scottish Government in April 2015. These have had a dramatic impact on the service and after years of decline in patronage, the number of customer journeys has increased by 21 per cent.
The new trains are currently being constructed by CAF in Spain, at a cost of over £100m, part funded by a capital grant from Scottish Ministers of £60m. The fleet is designed to accommodate the modern-day traveller and cater to both business and leisure travel guests. A range of accommodation options will be offered, including Comfort Seats, Classic Rooms (twin or single), Club Rooms (twin or single with en-suite), Suites (double bed with en-suite), Classic, Club and Suites will also be available as fully accessible rooms for guests with reduced mobility. Other new features will also be included, such as a hotel-style key card entry system, more accessible rooms, charging panels and WiFi throughout the train.
Maintenance designed to boost passenger comfort
Train builder Hitachi has partnered with TBM Rail to ensure its latest fleet of InterCity Express trainsets offers consistently high standards for travelling customers. The Class 800 high-speed IET units delivered to Great Western Railway (GWR) only entered passenger service in October 2017, but the Hitachi service depots have wasted no time scheduling regular maintenance for seating and passenger toilet systems.
As Neil Smith, TBM Rail director, explained rail passengers demand higher carriage standards these days. “Hitachi and GWR have responded by adopting a proactive approach to carriage maintenance. It says a lot about Hitachi’s commitment to customer satisfaction that they have implemented this maintenance programme from day one.” Crewe-based TBM Rail is taking delivery of 40 seat bases every night when trains have completed passenger journeys. TBM Rail removes the seat covers, assesses the foam, tackles surface dirt and stains on the covers, and then dry cleans with railway industry-approved detergents to kill germs. Consignments of seat bases are returned to Hitachi maintenance depots within 48 hours to ensure regular rotation of seating stock.
TBM Rail is also providing its toilet and tank servicing expertise, with the passenger facilities ae being regularly overhauled. Toilet tanks are stripped down, flushed through with acid and then blasted clean with a powerful steam cleaner.
Virgin Hyperloop One, the only company in the world that has built a full-scale hyperloop system, shared its vision for a seamless travel experience through the first-ever hyperloop passenger application demo, powered by HERE Technologies, as well as the public unveiling of its first-generation pod, at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
At the time of the launch CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, Rob Lloyd said: “We’re giving the public a taste of a Virgin Hyperloop One experience. Every hardware and software milestone brings us closer to commercialising hyperloop.”
Wagon fleet expanded
Samskip has added 50 more rail wagons to its fleet, bringing the number of new Samskip-branded units introduced in 2017 to 100. Built by Slovakian manufacturer Tatravagonka, the type T-3000 wagons are specifically designed to transport (mega) Huckepack trailers, as well as all types of containers.
“The introduction of these new units reinforces Samskip’s pledge to continually upgrade its fleet with the most modern and efficient equipment,” said Allard Krijt, Samskip Fleet Manager. “These new units will replace older rail wagons in the fleet as necessary, but also represent a fresh commitment to growing our multimodal business as we go into 2018.”
Landmark ETCS contract
Network Rail has awarded Siemens Rail Automation a multi-million-pound contract to supply, install and support its ETCS (European Train Control System) in-cab signalling equipment on the 745-strong fleet of freight locomotives which operates across Great Britain.
This is the first of a series of contracts which will ultimately see the installation of ETCS equipment on the entire fleet of passenger and freight locomotives that operate across the network. One of the core components of Network Rail’s Digital Railway Programme, ETCS will make Britain’s freight locomotives safer, greener and will unlock capacity.