Ahead of schedule
Network Rail reopened Ford End Road Bridge in Bedford on 26th July after it was successfully upgraded as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade. The bridge had been closed to motorists since February to allow a section of it to be raised to provide a safe distance between the bridge and newly installed overhead line equipment, which will be used to power electric trains on the route.

The upgrade was completed five days ahead of schedule, which has allowed the bridge to reopen earlier than planned. Pedestrian access across the bridge was maintained throughout the project.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor at Network Rail, said: “The upgrade to Ford End Road bridge is a key part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade and we are delighted that this vital work is now complete. We know that improving the railway can be disruptive and we have worked closely with stakeholders to keep this to a minimum. We’d like to thank road users for their patience whilst we carried out this work and we are delighted to reopen the road early for motorists.”

Possible boost for economy
The Campaign to Electrify Britain’s Railway has welcomed the report by the Transport Committee into Rail Infrastructure Investment. A grassroots campaign lobbying for a rolling programme of Noel Dolphinrail electrification in the UK, The Campaign to Electrify Britain’s Railway is unique in that it brings together local rail user groups, other campaigns and businesses who work in the rail industry together to deliver benefits for passengers and regions. In total, there are over 300 groups, business and individuals who are members of the campaign.

Campaign spokesperson, Noel Dolphin, said: “We have campaigned against the cancellation of electrification by the UK Government as the worst type of short-termism, and are delighted that the Transport Select Committee is recommending that electrification in the Midlands, south Wales and the Lake District is reconsidered. “The Committee has clearly recognised the disappointment felt by the regions, illustrating that the Government had not adequately assessed the impact of cancellation on these areas.

“Those who care about the rail industry, local jobs, passengers and environmental sustainability see that electrification is the optimal solution for the railways. A huge percentage of money invested in electrification is spent locally training new apprentices, in the SME supply chain and providing better connectivity between our regions.

“If the UK Government accepted and implemented the findings of the report, it would be a huge boost for the regional economy, delivering benefits for passengers and supporting the UK’s wider environmental goals.”

Final proposals for EWR
EWROn 27th July, the East West Rail project moved a step closer. Work could begin as early as next year if Network Rail plans submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport to construct phase 2 of the project between Bicester and Bedford are approved.

The East West Rail project is being built progressively in phases, and once complete will create a world class rail link connecting Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge, connecting communities and businesses to create more jobs, more economic growth, and more sustainable housing.

With phase 1 between Oxford and Bicester already complete, phase 2 proposes major track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, including the reinstatement of a ‘mothballed’ section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction.

The proposed works will see major improvements to local travel, with the phased introduction of new rail journeys between:

  • Oxford and Milton Keynes, with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley
  • Oxford and Bedford, with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont
  • Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, with trains stopping at Bletchley, Winslow and Aylesbury Vale Parkway

Construction of phase 2 is subject to permission through a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO), which if granted by government could allow major works to begin as soon as 2019.

First for Ireland
IDOM, the leading international engineering consultancy, has been appointed by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to work in partnership with Jacobs Engineering Group to develop and implement Ireland’s first metro system connecting Dublin Airport to the south city centre.

Ramon Ramirez, Managing Director, of IDOM in the UK and Ireland commented: “This is one of the most significant infrastructure developments in Ireland and for IDOM, it is a great opportunity to work and contribute to one of the highest profile projects in Irish rail development. This project will increase IDOM’s credentials as an authority in urban transport development in Europe.”

The new 19km high frequency, high capacity metro service will comprise 11km of tunnel through the Irish capital, with 26 stations, 12 of them will be underground stations including St Stephens Green, 3 will be elevated and 11 will be at grade.

Running from Estuary where a Park & Ride is planned, via Dublin Airport to Dublin’s south city centre, the scheme will integrate other transport networks across the city to maximise user capacity and functionality. Plans also include upgrading the existing Luas green line to Sandyford, to an over ground metro line to increase capacity and fully integrate the new metro.

Safeguarding vital railway ‘artery’
Detailed studies along the railway line between Teignmouth and Dawlish in Devon are nearing completion as Network Rail works to safeguard this vital railway artery to the South West. These studies will then inform the detailed design of projects to make the railway between Teignmouth and Dawlish resilient to extreme weather. In the autumn, Network Rail will be able to show the local community how the designs will influence its future decisions on how it protects the railway line and coastline.

With funding from Department for Transport, world-leading engineers in coastal, tunnel, cliff and railway engineering have been carrying out detailed ground investigation to understand what is happening to the cliffs and coastline in three key areas around Dawlish and Teignmouth: the railway between Parsons Tunnel and Teignmouth, the sea wall at Dawlish and the cliffs between Kennaway and Parsons Tunnels.

Once this investigation work is completed, Network Rail will analyse the results which will then feed into the detailed options for discussion with the local community, local council and Department for Transport. These discussions will commence in autumn this year, prior to any decisions being formally submitted to government. Rail minister Jo Johnson said: “It is vital we find a permanent solution to the problems at Dawlish because it is a crucial link for the people and the economy of the South West. With funding from government, world-leading engineers have been carrying out detailed ground investigation to understand what is happening to the cliffs and coastline in three key areas around Dawlish and Teignmouth. These comprehensive studies are nearing completion, enabling Network Rail to show later this year how they will take the next steps to protect the railway line and coastline.”

In Brief
Make the switch
Rail equipment specialist Lütze Transportation has released its LCON Rail Infinity product – which has two programmed threshold switches including converters for highly precise analogue and temperature signals. The LCON Rail Infinity threshold switches follow the ‘all-in-one’ principle of state-of-the-art equipment in the rail sector. Lütze Transportation is the first company ever to supply combination units that integrate two potential-free threshold switches DC 110 V / 1.5 A as well as a very precise analogue output in one casing. This offers important benefits to manufacturers and operators; in addition to space savings in the control cabinet and the fact that much less wiring work is required, only one product type needs to be kept on stock in production. Ultimately, the LCON threshold switches offer considerable price savings that should not be underestimated compared to the purchase of individual units.

Vibration protection
Getzner Werkstoffe is going to introduce both new and tried-and-tested solutions for vibration protection at InnoTrans 2018 in Berlin, in September. Alongside products such as under sleeper pads, recently tested in accordance with EN 16730, experts will also be demonstrating the advantages of co-ordinated vibration protection in train interiors.

Getzner will be illustrating how elastic components not only have a positive impact on the maintenance costs of the superstructure, but also on the quality of the journey. “Passengers and personnel alike benefit from the lower noise level,” explains Thomas Gamsjäger, Senior Vice President of the Industry Division at Getzner. “Vibration protection improves comfort on board trains and may be a reason to switch from other means of transport to the railway.”