Root and branch reform
Britain’s rail companies, a partnership between the public and private sectors, are launching a public consultation to seek ‘root and branch reform’ of fares and ticketing regulation.

Regulations underpinning rail fares have remained unchanged from the mid-1990s, while further layers of requirements have been added through individual franchise agreements, with little or nothing taken away. As a result, there are now around 55 million different fares and it has become increasingly difficult for rail companies to guarantee the right fare. Regulations have also failed to keep pace with the rise of smartphone technology or how people work and travel today.

Updated, fit-for-purpose fares regulation would enable the right changes for the long-term. That’s why the industry will be working with Transport Focus, the passenger watchdog, to launch a public consultation in June to hear the views of businesses, passenger groups, stakeholders, employees and the public on what a future range of fares should look like.

To help frame the consultation, the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together all rail companies, has commissioned an independent report from KPMG to identify key principles which are driven by what customers and the country need from the railway.

Get into the zone
get into the zoneA public engagement exercise launched on Friday 1 June, designed to let the public give their feedback on proposals to introduce a zonal fares system across the Metrolink network.

A special webpage has been developed that sets out the proposals in detail, including proposed zones and fares. The proposal would replace the existing system with an easy to understand four-zone system, offering simpler, more flexible and better value fares.

Fares would be calculated based on the number of zones you travel in, with each zone only counted once. Return fares (peak and off-peak) would be replaced by daily travel cards allowing unlimited travel within the selected zones. Clearer, fairer and more flexible, the change would cut the current 8500 stop-to-stop fare combinations to just ten. Significantly, it would also help to pave the way for a fully-integrated ticketing system for Greater Manchester.

If approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in July fare zones would be introduced in early 2019. The public are being asked to share their feedback on the proposed changes via an online survey. The closing date for replies is midnight on Sunday 17 June.

More information about the changes can be found at www.tfgm.com/zonal.

Rolling into the future
Eversholt Rail has joined the industry consortium that will develop, manufacture and market the Revolution VLR (very light rail) vehicle. The consortium, led by Transport Design International Ltd (TDI), includes WMG at the University of Warwick, Cummins and other companies from the automotive and rail sectors.rolling into the future

The Revolution VLR vehicle is ideally matched to the need for lightweight, energy-efficient system solutions to deliver affordable service growth and extension of the UK’s rail capacity. A bi-directional, 18-metre-long railcar, with seating for 56 passengers and standing room for a further 60, Revolution VLR will use lightweight materials and a modular structure to achieve a tare weight of less than one tonne per linear metre. This allows it to run on lightweight modular slab track. The vehicle will be self-propelled, achieving zero-emission launches from stations, with regenerative braking and optimised hybrid propulsion.

Commenting on the project, Mary Kenny, Eversholt Rail CEO, said: “Eversholt Rail has a strong record of innovation in the UK rolling stock industry through introducing new products, technologies and manufacturers to the market. Our investment in the Revolution VLR programme will extend this into the light rail sector and provide further opportunities for growth within the industry.”

Move to the cloud
In the next three months, international rail data exchange specialist Hit Rail B.V. will migrate its internationally recognised interoperability platform HEROS (Hermes Open Services) to a public cloud environment using AWS (Amazon Web Services). Hit Rail has appointed AWS advanced consulting partner and reseller inQdo B.V. to support the migration of its HEROS middleware platform to the cloud, along with all its infrastructure services. inQdo will also provide ongoing support for Hit Rail’s AWS IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) HEROS platform.

Antonio Lopez, General Manager of Hit Rail B.V. said: “Our customers depend on us, as specialist providers of their IT services, to provide the best and most up-to-date services possible. Security remains and always will be a priority, but reliability, flexibility and future-proofing are important factors as the industry rapidly changes in a digital world. This aligns very much with our decision to migrate our HEROS interoperability platform to a public cloud computing provider willing to host, manage and support our middleware platform on behalf of Hit Rail for a minimum of three years. In inQdo we have found a partner we can trust with this business-critical and sensitive project to the benefit of our customers.”

Bart Boonen, managing partner of inQdo, added: “Together with Hit Rail, we designed a solid migration plan. This migration plan, combined with inQdo’s extensive experience and best practices, forms a sound, future-proof solution that enables Hit Rail to flexibly serve its customers.”

Training
Rail staff could be suffering with poorer mental health because of inadequate line management training and support, according to rail industry body, RSSB. Stress and mental health are the leading cause of long-term absences in the rail industry.

As in other sectors, great strides have been made in rail in ending the stigma and breaking down barriers to people being open about their own mental health. People are better at recognising symptoms, and accessing support and appropriate treatment for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, emerging findings from RSSB research suggest there are untapped benefits in better line manager training, meaning staff could be better supported in getting the right treatment and returning to work.

Investment in both traditional face-to-face and on-line training styles could yield benefits to both the overall health and wellbeing of the rail workforce and to the bottom line. Training would contribute to rail companies’ broader mental health strategies for effective rehabilitation, which could reduce lost working time by up to 30 per cent.

Rail companies are now working with RSSB to develop practical options for line management training, as part of a broader health and wellbeing programme.

RSSB’s Mental Wellbeing Specialist, Michelle O’Sullivan explains: “Rail companies are increasingly recognising the importance and benefits of addressing mental health issues, as evidenced by awareness-raising initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week – and which are endorsed authentically by senior leadership teams. Our research is paving the way for rail to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by better line management training, to further boost the wellbeing of our people and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the railway overall.”

IN BRIEF
Network Rail appointment
Andrew Haines OBE has been appointed as its new chief executive of Network Rail. Andrew, who has had a wide-ranging career in the rail industry and transport sector, joins following completion of his current role as chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority. Announcing the appointment, Network Rail Chair Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: “Andrew’s broad experience of rail and transport, and his reputation for relentless delivery and improvement makes him the ideal candidate to carry on with the transformation of Network Rail that has been led by Mark Carne.”

New group formed
Frazer-Nash Consultancy has formed a new Transport and Infrastructure business group. Headed by newly-appointed Senior Business Executive, Phil Harris, the group brings together Frazer-Nash’s extensive transport capability in rail, roads and aviation, and its expertise in integrating multiple modes of transport, with its experience of other infrastructure areas ranging from health, to process engineering and manufacturing. Commenting on his appointment, Phil Harris noted: “While we already have a great team of experts, our transport and infrastructure business is growing strongly, and we are actively recruiting additional specialist expertise to support this.”

Smooth and safe experience
Teleste Corporation’s on-board solution has been selected by Stadler for Merseytravel metro trains in the UK. Delivered to the Liverpool city region by 2020, the deployment will consist of 52 trains, which are designed for the specific needs of customers travelling on the Merseyrail metro network.

The solution consists of Ethernet network, intercommunication and passenger counting, public address system, passenger information (PIS) system, and high-quality LED and new generation, side-by-side TFT LCD displays, well suited for clear and sharp information delivery and advertising.