News from Great Britain

18 November 2021

GOVERNMENT FUNDING The Government has allocated finance to assist the reopening of routes or in a few cases individual stations that were closed during the “Beeching Era”. The initial routes that are to benefit are the Don Valley Line between Sheffield and Stocksbridge (for frequent passenger services); to reconnect Leek to the National railway network through a reopened line from Stoke-on-Trent; to operate passenger services along the Stockport – Ashton direct line; to rebuild the Bere Alston – Tavistock line to provide once more a through Plymouth – Tavistock service; to restore Southampton – Fawley via Hythe to passengers. Individual stations are on this initial list – Wellington (Somerset) and Cullompton (Devon) together with Corsham and Stonehouse (Bristol Road) stations. A £50,000 grant from the Department of Transport to the Greater Manchester area will help to create a new passenger service between Stockport and Ashton under Lyne with a link to Rose Hill in Marple.

FREIGHTLINER Because of steeply rising costs (c200%+) of electricity the Class 90 locomotives used by the company have been replaced by diesel locomotives.

HS2 A new factory in Hartlepool is to manufacture 36,000 segments that will be laid together to form the twin bore Northolt Tunnel taking HS2 from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip. Work to build the new factory will begin in January 2022 and production of the segments will continue until December 2022. A hydrogen powered fleet is to be built by Alstom for use by Eversholt Rail on reopened lines.

FLOODS Following extremely heavy rainfall the lines between Carlisle and Maryport and between Dumfries and Carlisle were closed on 29 October 2021.

BIRMINGHAM AREA The relaid tram route between St Chad’s and Grand Central was reopened for test operation and the training of new drivers from 1 November 2021. University station rebuild is progressing actively with a new footbridge with lifts installed in early October 2021. When the works are completed it will be possible to go from the footbridge across the adjacent canal into the University. The city centre roads were totally congested with much of the traffic at a standstill. With no trams running many motorists tried to reach the major shops in their cars and soon all car parks were full. With West Midlands trams withdrawn due to failure of the welds between the aluminium body and steel underframe many shoppers are resorting to the internet for their Christmas shopping.

RAVENSTRUTHER The freight terminal near Carstairs, used initially for coal traffic, has been sold to Cloburn Quarry Co and will start handling aggregates before the end of 2021. Cloburn has for many years been the major supplier of ballast to British Rail.

GLASGOW AREA The largely intact buildings at Cumberland Street station (closed as long ago as 14 February 1966, may now be converted into a night club. The station lies on the line that links the Shields Road area with the Queen Street Low Level lines and formerly St Enoch station. A new cycle hub is to be established at Queen Street Station. Beside the North Hanover Street east entrance there will be space for 38 cycles. An extension for a further 26 bikes will be built shortly. There is already space for 36 cycles beside the Dundas Street (west end of station) bringing the total of cycles that can be lodged at Queen Street to 100.

GLASGOW SUBWAY On Sundays the Subway normally closes at around 1800 but during the International COP26 Talks services were extended to late in the evening for the benefit of the 25,000 people attending the COP events. The city authorities have now been inundated by literally thousands of requests from citizens requesting that trains continue to run on Sunday evenings.

EAST KILBRIDE The branch to Scotland’s sixth largest town will remain single track beyond Busby with plans to double-track the final four miles cancelled because of a Covid-related drop in traffic. A depot is being set up close to Thornliebank station and it will be used by the contractors electrifying the Barrhead and East Kilbride routes.

LAURENCEKIRK AREA Part of the proposals to speed up services through the northern end of the ECML are suggestions that new stations be built at Altens, Cove Bay and Newtonhill.

29 October 2021

BUDGET The 2021 Budget resulted in £5.7bn being made available to eight English city regions during the next five years. The money is intended to help with regeneration projects. The sums given are Manchester Area £1.07bn, West Midlands £1.05bn, West Yorkshire £830m, Liverpool Area £710m, South Yorkshire £570m, West of England £540m and Tees Valley £310m.

VLR (Very Light Rail) A demonstration light rail vehicle has been shown to interested journalists and others. The train weighs 40% less than a conventional train of similar capacity such as a Class 153 coach and with a need for lighter track could lead to the reopening of a few lines closed in the Beeching-era.

EFFECT OF COVID With lockdowns preventing people from reaching their workplaces, from the closure of cinemas, theatres, many shops, and very many workplaces it is not surprising that the total number of passengers carried on the railway network has fallen sharply. In 2020 the number carried was almost exactly HALF of the 2019 total. Some people have expressed surprise that the 2020 total is as high as that.

LUMO The rival operation between London and Edinburgh along the ECML started operation on 21 October 2021 with two return trips daily. LNER operates half-hourly.

RENFE PLANS The Spanish Company wishes to operate Paris – London services through the Channel Tunnel and over high-speed lines in both nations. The service would require seven new train sets and the company is looking to supply its trains to USA and Latin America. Through its associated company Leo Express it has already supplied similar trains to the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia.

LUL During the period 25 – 28 October 2021 it was not possible to have step-free access to the eastbound platform at Tower Hill station because of planned engineering work.

TESCO sends much of its produce to northern Scottish shops in containers by rail. This business is being increased from 45,000 containers per year to 90,000.

HS2 A version of the Porr modular slab track used on the Berlin – Munich HS line has been chosen for sections of the London – Birmingham and Crewe. Three companies have been asked to submit bids to build 2 tunnels, 17 viaducts, 65 bridges – a group including Costain, a group including Systra, and finally Jacobs UK Ltd. Workers on the HS2 Project have discovered Roman sculptures of a man, a woman and a child found in the ruins of the long-abandoned Old St Mary’s church at Stoke Mandeville.

ENFIELD COLLISION On 12 October 2021 he 0745 Liverpool Street to Enfield Town ran into the buffers on reaching Enfield Town station. Unit 710124 received moderate front-end damage.

CHILTERN RAILWAYS The company is adding 2200 seats to services mostly by lengthening trains.

ROCHDALE Because of work under way at the main entrance access to the platforms was via the car park gate for several days until 25 October 2021.

HEAVY RAIN About ten inches of rain fell across Cumbria in a 24 hour period on 26 – 27 October 2021. Services along the West Coast route north of Preston and onwards to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and along the Dumfries line were disrupted and only a few trains were able to run going slowly since a severe speed restriction had been imposed. Eventually the Carlisle – Dumfries section was closed for a couple of days while flood damage was repaired. Bad weather was widespread across much of the western side of Scotland with 60 minute delays along the Oban, Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh lines. Carlisle – Dumfries and Carlisle – Maryport routes were badly affected by flooding on 29 October 2021 following heavy rainfall.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO The large building beside Jewellery Quarter station is a block of 400 for-rent flats. One of the largest for-rent facilities in the city.

TYNE & WEAR METRO More details have been announced about the plan to double track the single track sections of the South Shields branch. The cost of the project will be £103m.

GLASGOW A fourteen year old boy was attacked and stabbed several times while waiting for a train at High Street Station (on the east – west Queen Street Low Level route). He was rushed by ambulance to a nearby major hospital but found to have died by the time he reached the A&E Department. The £120m upgrade to Queen Street High Level station has been completed just before delegates and members of the press start to arrive for the COP26 climate-change meetings. The front of the station facing George Square has been reconstructed with several hundred glass panels. Platform 1 has been reconstructed and roughly doubled in length. Platforms 2 – 5 have been lengthened by 26m and a new travel centre and circulating space has been greatly increased. A plaque celebrating the completion of the work was unveiled on 4 October 2021.

SUBWAY Glasgow’s Subway is the third oldest such railway in the world and will celebrate its 125th birthday during December 2021. A £288m modernisation programme is under way of which £246m has come from the Scottish Government. The first completed train was unveiled at Innotrans trade fair in Berlin in 2018. Three trains have been completed by Stadler and are ready to be tested on the test track near Broomloan Depot. Testing of the trains in the tunnels will start but using the old signalling system. Best to test out one new item before moving on to the next. Half-height platform screen doors will be fitted at all fifteen stations

SALTCOATS The extensive but little used buildings at this Firth of Clyde resort’s station are being transformed into a community training facility. The £525.000 cost is being met by Scotrail and six local charities.

INVERNESS AIRPORT Work began in the week beginning 18 October 2021 on the construction of the new two platform station beside the Airport. The station is more or less on the site of Dalcross station which was closed on 3 May 1965. This writer spent long periods living in Nairn and remembers how there was just one regular commuter at Dalcross heading for Inverness each morning. This was however more than nearby Gollanfield or Allanfearn could muster! Today a new housing estate (Tornagrain) stands nearby and should generate a reasonable passenger flow. The new station will have a 64 space car park, ten electric charge points and four disabled spaces. It is expected to attract passengers heading towards Aberdeen who not want to drive into Inverness city centre.

13 October 2021

FREIGHT TRAFFIC The amount of freight being carried on BR has risen significantly since the start of the pandemic. A shortage of lorry drivers has meant that a need to move food and other important items has resulted in a greater proportion of the traffic being moved by railway services. The 30 acre Willesden Logistics Hub is to become the “beating heart” of HS2 operations in London. It is planned to take 1 million lorry movements off the roads during its lifetime. It was originally a Freightliner Depot, opened in 1967, but this function slowly faded away.

ISLAND LINE The Ryde – Shanklin line on the Isle of Wight is to reopen on 1 November 2021 after a closure that has lasted ten months.

HYTHE PIER A ferry between Hythe and Southampton dates back to 1575 with the ferries sailing to/from the 640m long Hythe pier. A 2’0” gauge railway along the pier was opened in 1922 using a Brush locomotive built in 1917 to serve a mustard gas factory. The line closed temporarily in April 2020 due to a pandemic-related slump in traffic but reopened on 29 May 2021 and was granted Grade 2 listing in August 2021. One of the four coaches has now been beautifully restored and work will begin on the three other coaches soon. The Pierhead building is now being returned to its former glory. The railway is now 99 years old and still uses much of its original stock.

CITY BEAM TRAINS The first of thirty Class707 trains entered service on Southeastern routes on 27 September 2021. There are two wheelchair spaces on each five-car set. The new Class 707 trains feature many improvements including larger windows, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and charging points along each coach. However passengers have voiced complaints that there are no toilets. They will operate on routes to Dartford, Hayes, and Sevenoaks.

FRANCHISE CHANGE The Southeastern franchise has been taken back because the train operator failed to reveal that it had used £28m of taxpayers funds in its operations and showed no sign of returning this money to the Treasury. The actual date when the transfer from Southeastern to “The operator of last resort” is 17 October 2021.

SURBITON A £6.7m project will help to increase the capacity of this attractive Wessex Line station which handled 9.5m passengers in 2019-20. The art-deco structure was Grade 2 listed in October 1983 and the present plans are for additional stairways for platforms 3 and 4 leading to sixteen ticket gates – double the present number. The station was rebuilt in 1937 and designed by James Robb Scott, chief architect to the Southern Railway.

HAYES & HARLINGTON The enlarged ticket office and the new footbridge with lifts serving all five platforms have come into use.

LIPHOOK What amounts to a complete rebuild at this Hampshire station is nearly completed. The platforms have been widened, new lighting installed, and CCTV fitted. A new lift to the footbridge will come into use in November 2021.

BEAM PARK Plans for a new station in East London serving new housing have been cancelled.

CROSSRAIL The new railway running east – west across Central London will not now open in January 2022 and a revised date is suggested as in May 2022 but an exact date has not been revealed. 1000 days have now passed since the first proposed opening date.

LUL Osterley Station has become the 89th stop on the London Underground to be “Step-Free” between the street and the platforms. Tactile paving exists along the full length of both platforms. Work is under way at several stations to make them “step-free” including Harrow-on-the-Hill, Sudbury Hill and Knightsbridge.

CARDIFF Work began during September 2021 on improvements to the entrance to Central Station. During the past year the station was used by 12.6m passengers.

LOUGHBOROUGH A cash machine at the station was ripped from its location beside the station entrance, then dragged along the street, before the intended robbers made off leaving the ATM lying in the roadway.

OKHAMPTON The line to Exeter is to reopen for regular public services on 20 November 2021.

HS2 Using a 170 feet long TBM the first mile of tunnel for the high-speed line between Euston and Birmingham has been completed at the end of September 2021. The site of the new Curzon Street terminus in the heart of Birmingham is now a scene of hectic activity with construction teams shifting earth everywhere!

CAMBRIDGE Platform 4 is being lengthened for five-car trains with completion in April 2022.

BIRMINGHAM AREA A woman was gravely injured when struck by a tram near Barnt Green station on 22 September 2021. Roads close to Kings Norton station were closed off by the Police on 2 October 2021 following the fatal stabbing of a young man near the station. Passengers using New Street station on the morning of 13 October 2021 were astonished to find a group of professional dancers in the concourse. They were in fact advertising a production of the “Dirty Dancing” musical being performed at the nearby Alexandra Theatre.

DUDLEY HIPPODROME The theatre close to the Dudley heavy rail station has been disused for some time and there are moves to demolish the structure. Many residents want the theatre to remain and be upgraded.

MANCHESTER AREA On 3 October 2021 engineering work by National Rail will take place at Victoria Station and also on Metrolink. There will be no tram service between Piccadilly and Bury and the Rochdale route will not run beyond Monsall. The East Didsbury route will run as far as Exchange Square and the Airport line as far as Firswood. Bus replacements will replace the cancelled sections of the Metrolink network. The Metrolink tram system has carried around 5m passengers since the first section was opened in July 2019. Construction work to expand the Whitefield Park and Ride facility starts on 28 September and car drivers will be asked to use car parks at nearby stations. On 17 October 2021 further engineering work will mean that no Altrincham – Piccadilly services will be able to operate.

BLACKPOOL The “Western Train” tramcar will operate for the first time in recent years during the 2021 Illuminations season. The new Talbot Square tram terminus next to the North station is now advanced. The tram station will have an island platform, the first on this tram system.

BRADFORD The Town Council is seeking Government support to develop a town centre station that could produce benefits of up to £30bn over the next ten years.

SOUTHERN SCOTLAND Drainage along the top of embankments which have shown a risk of slippage on the Dumfries – Sanquhar main line are being repaired with a focus on crest drainage. Services are to be increased at Dunbar – by the addition of the well advertised extra semi-fast trains that will serve the reopened Reston station – and by new calls made by some existing services.

COP 26 TALKS During the Climate Change discussions between many nations in |Glasgow during November 2021 there will be major security concerns. Among those who will be present for at least part of the discussions will be His Holiness The Pope, President Biden of the United States and many other national leaders. As part of the security measures part of the M8 Motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be closed to commuter traffic.

GLASGOW VINTAGE VEHICLES TRUST held an Open Weekend at its Bridgeton Bus Garage Museum site on 9 and 10 October 2021. Fifteen of its preserved buses operated a free shuttle service between the City Centre and the Museum. The museum now has 100 buses in its collection and hopes to build an extension to hold them in proper display positions.

BARRHEAD The money has been secured to extend the electrification of the East Kilbride route to Barrhead at a cost of £9m.

NAIRN The substantial buildings are being converted for community use. The historic “Inverness and Nairn Railway” platform lights are now safely transferred to the Town Centre Park and new modern lighting has been installed along the platforms.

ULSTER The first of twenty one new carriages has entered service across Northern Ireland. When three complete trains have been assembled services between Belfast and Derry will be transformed and passengers will be able to walk the full length of the train. A total of £66m is being invested in the system.

4 September 2021

THE TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT has issued notice that it intends extend direct contracts for the following companies: West Coast Partnership by ten years; Great Western Railway by six years

CANTERBURY EAST As part of a £4.8m upgrade the station footbridge has been upgraded with lifts on each side making the station fully accessible.

SOUTH LONDON A double deck bus lurched to the right as it avoided contact with an emergency vehicle, mounted the pavement, and crashed into the canopy over the entrance to Bermondsey station. Both the bus and the canopy sustained some damage but none of the bus passengers was injured.

LUL Wimbledon Park is the 86th station on the London Underground to become “step-free”. A mass knife fight between groups of teenagers broke out outside the entrance to North Harrow Metropolitan Line station early on 30 August 2021. Five of the fighters required hospitalisation.

The 1.8 mile branch of the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea Power Station opened on 20 September 2021. Initially there will be trains 5 times per hour, with six at peaks. After the service has operated for about a year there will be 10-12 trains per hour operating through Charing Cross. The Grade 2 listed former power station will reopen with around 100 shops, restaurants and cafes and a 1400 seat Events Venue. The Morden service will see some increase in its morning peak service. This will be the first extension to the Tube since the Jubilee Line opened in 1999.

PURFLEET This station on the c2c line is to be relocated a short distance as part of a billion pound project that will include 3000 new homes and a new college. The existing station is poorly equipped and is beside a level crossing that will be replaced by a new road as part of the scheme. The station may be renamed Purfleet-on-Thames.

DISS The Greater Anglia station now has racks for 96 bicycles.

SOHAM The rebuilt station is now virtually complete and trains on the Peterborough – Ipswich service will call there from December 2021.

ELY The staff at the Greater Anglia TOC station are engaged in a “turf war” competition with six pairs of staff each planting and caring for a flower bed or container across the station. The result has been a variety of uses – vegetables in one large container contains displays about how best to use them, while other displays are delightfully full of flowers. The passengers are delighted at the efforts of the station staff.

HIGH WYCOMBE Wycombe Wanderers FC have arranged for a free shuttle bus service between the Chiltern Line station and Adams Park on days when the Wanderers have a home game.

WEST MIDLANDS There is a firm proposal to use a very light rail vehicle on a Stourbridge Junction – Brierley Hill service similar to that to Stourbridge Town. A visit to University station on 27 August 2021 showed that substantial buildings are being erected on each platform about two thirds of the way towards the Birmingham ends. The existing entrance with lifts is at the extreme south end of the platforms. Work on the £30m reconstruction of Perry Barr station is making rapid progress together with the construction of a bus interchange facility beside the station entrance. The work is in connection with the Commonwealth Games in 2022. The rebuilding of the tram track along Stephenson Street commenced on 25 July 2021.

CURZON STREET The Grade 1 Listed building dates from 17 September 1838 when the tracks reached there from London Euston. However an Act of 1846 gave permission to build a “Grand Central Station” (now New Street) and by 1854 services had been moved there from Curzon Street with Curzon Street becoming the London and North Western Railway’s freight station by 1865. Work began on 1 September 2021 to modernise the building which will handle future HS2 services.

MACHYNLLETH A lorry struck a rail overbridge halting services on the railway and along the A487 highway throughout 1 September 2021.

CYNON VALLEY The line to Aberdare from the junction north of Pontypridd is being upgraded so that electrification equipment can be installed during a line closure between 28 August and 12 September 2021. Work to be done during the closure includes realignment of the track, the repositioning of signals, and the installation of bases for the pillars carrying the power wires. The line will be a key part of the South Wales Metro.

ABERDARE The branch service was halted from 29 August until 12 September 2021 to allow civil engineering work in connection with electrification. The branch service will operate four times per hour instead of once per hour and the new emus will have substantial standing space but sufficient seats for off-peak hours.

MERSEYRAIL The first of 53 new Stadler Class 777 trains was handed over on 3 September 2021.

MANCHESTER METROLINK Services are being restored to pre-pandemic levels (a tram every six minutes on each route) from 31 August 2021.

TRAFFORD PARK The route here has been resignalled making passenger trains more reliable and increasing the length of freight trains using this key route around the city.

BOLTON Armed police cleared the station of passengers during mid-evening of 27 August 2021 and then over-powered two drug dealers who had been threatening people waiting for trains.

NEW ELECTRIFICATION The conversion of the Wigan North Western – Lostock Junction line has been approved by the Department of Transport at a cost of £78m. 450 masts will be installed, 17 bridges and two level crossings altered. Platforms at Hindley, Westhoughton, and Ince will be lengthened for 6 coach trains.

WHITE ROSE Closure notices have been posted for Cottingley station south west of Leeds to occur when White Rose station is opened nearby at a shopping centre.

NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE Work on the next phase of upgrading Central Station started during September 2021. Local engineering firm Tolent will head up the work which will be paid for by the North East local enterprise partnership’s Local Growth Fund. There will be two new pedestrian and cycle entrances off Neville Street and Central Parkway and a new concourse within the station. A new taxi rank monitored by a Smart information system will be installed.

GREAT NORTH RUN With many city centre roads closed for the day, 12 September 2021, and large numbers of competitors travelling to Haymarket station (close to the start line) the Tyne and Wear Metro will operate a train every three minutes across the city centre.

MICHAEL PORTILLO On 20 August 2021 the TV presenter and former MP travelled on the Tyne & Wear Metro from Newcastle to Tynemouth, then ferry to South Shields before returning on the Metro.

ASHINGTON The Newcastle on Tyne – Ashington is now referred to as the “Northumberland Line.”

SEMI-FAST A new five times per day semi-fast Newcastle – Edinburgh service will call at Cramlington, Widdrington and Reston (when opened) providing them with a better range of calls.

CARLISLE Concrete has been poured around the base of pillars carrying the WCML through Carlisle. They were in danger of being eroded and washed away.

AYR The crumbling Station Hotel building is costing the South Ayrshire Council £52,000 each month while a decision regarding its future is reached.

CLELAND The bridge taking lines for the Lanark area at Cleland over the A73 highway has been struck by lorries fifty six times during recent years. It is the most frequently hit overbridge in Scotland and the seventh most often struck in the entire UK. Following the most recent damage the bridge needs to be rebuilt and is to be given a significantly thinner deck making it technically no longer a “low bridge”. It is hoped that it will no longer be struck.

SCOTRAIL PLANS Medium – term plans are for 300 services to be cut from the timetable to match better ridership and available space. The proposals from May 2022 include major cuts to the Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk route on which the off-peak service is to be cut from four trains per hour to half-hourly. As traffic recovers extra trips might be added. Services from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Aberdeen or Inverness would operate hourly via Stirling which would become a major hub. Invergowrie – one station west of Dundee on the Perth line, would have an all-day hourly service – its best service for over 40 years. On suburban routes in Glasgow many off-peak services would be halved.

ACCIDENT A person was hit by a train in the Easterhouse area on 23 August 2021 disrupting services between Queen Street LL and Airdrie. The person later died in hospital.

OPEN RETURNS Scotrail are introducing new bargain fares to/from Aviemore and Kingussie stations. During the period 6 September 2021 until 15 October 2021. The fares are as low as £5.

GLASGOW – EDINBURGH FARES New Open Return tickets have been introduced with a £30 fare valid at any time of the day and an £18.40 off-peak only.

HS2 The Eastern leg of HS2 operating through Toton Interchange (between Nottingham and Leicester) is almost certain to be dropped from the project to save around £40bn in construction costs. A factory on the Isle of Grain has won the contract to produce the concrete segments for tunnels on the new high-speed line.

EDINBURGH TRAM LEITH EXTENSION The following are the planned stops along the 4.69km extension to Newhaven via Leith. The first stop will replace York Place, the present terminus. Picardy Place, McDonald Road, Balfour Street, Foot of Leith Walk, The Shore, Port of Leith, Ocean Terminal, Newhaven. The Royal Yacht is beside the Ocean Terminal stop and is sure to attract substantial tourist traffic.

CAIRNGORMS The mountain railway will remain non-operational for the forseeable future according to a spokesperson for the railway.

20 August 2021

HITACHI The signalling business of Thales has been purchased by Hitachi for Euro 1.7bn.

SOUTHEND PIER The delivery of the two new 3’0” gauge trams has been delayed until September 2021 because there is a problem with the paint on some body panels.

FRATTON A derailment in the train depot at Fratton trapped several emus in the depot leading to many cancellations to timetabled services until the lines at the depot were cleared.

DORCHESTER The Waterloo – Dorchester service is to be restored to two trains per hour from late summer 2021. The service was cut to once hourly when traffic plunged due to the pandemic.

RENEWED TRACK The replacement of the track including a major improvement to the drainage was undertaken during the second half of August 2021 in a £22m project. The sections involved were the Arun Valley Line (Arundel – Three Bridges) and the Mole Valley Line (Horsham – Dorking). The thirteen stations along these routes were given a facelift with partial repainting.

LITTLEHAVEN platforms are to be lengthened to accommodate 12 coach trains and the Transport Department is providing £1.8m to pay for the work.

HARLOW Plans have been announced for 8500 new homes in Harlow (north-east London). To carry the rising number of commuters an extension to London Underground’s Central Line is suggested.

ELEPHANT & CASTLE A second fire broke out beside the station entrance during the night of 7/8 August 2021. A fire on 29 June 2021 closed access to the station for several days.

EPSOM DOWNS There are plans to re-install double track along the short branch to allow an increase in the service from the present two trains per hour to four.

WATFORD – ST ALBANS The branch service service was closed for most of 18, 19, and 20 August 2021 due to a shortage of crew.

SWANSEA Part of the route of the long-abandoned Swansea District Railway may be cleared of vegetation to create a 11.16 km walking and cycling route. Other closed railway rights of way have proved to be popular with walkers and Swansea Council has £3m available for the project.

TEST FACILITY A new testing complex is being built at the head of the Dulais and Swansea Valleys in South Wales. It will serve the needs of the rail industry in the UK and Europe.

BRISTOL AREA A new station, Filton North, will serve the 17,000 seat YTL Arena Bristol and the new community of Brabazon as a result of the re-development of closed Filton Airport. Trains will take 15 minutes between the new station and the city centre Temple Meads station. Plans to reorganise transport around Bristol have been discussed for years with at the moment proposals for six new stations and the creation of some sort of Metro. The reopening of a route to Portishead is likely to be the first to be achieved and optimists see that line reopened by 2023.

OXFORD A £69m plan to expand Oxford Station has been submitted to the City Council for comment and approval. A fifth platform would be built and existing platforms lengthened.

CHELMSFORD A plan for a massive rebuild of the station has been submitted to the Council. Including a massive car park the cost is likely to be around £157m.

DB CARGO UK Investment of £2.6m in the yard at Toton, East Midlands will allow Toyota to import and export new generations of cars. Initially trains will run three days per week taking cars to Europe but other flows will soon develop.

WEST MIDLANDS A trip around the system on 9 August 2021 showed that traffic on all rail local routes was quite heavy – even at mid-day. The tracks in Bescot Yard were mostly rusty. Virtually all of the tracks had been de-wired. It was good to see quite heavy off-peak traffic at Hamstead. Broad Street in Birmingham is having tram tracks laid between Centenary Square and Five Ways at a cost of £83m. There is no space left between the tracks and high kerbs along this section and a diversion for bikes via Ryland Street, Grosvenor Street West and Sheepcote Street is being suggested but in the meantime cyclists are using the pedestrian pavement. A 600 space car park opened on 19 August 2021 beside Longbridge station. CCTV cameras provide protection. The charge is £3 for a day (£2 at weekends or on Bank Holidays).

COMMONWEALTH GAMES The “XXII Games” will be held in the Birmingham area during August 2022 and preparations are under way at two stations that will handle heavy Games traffic. Perry Barr station was closed three months ago to permit rebuilding to handle the Games traffic. University station was built with rather narrow platforms with space limited by a working canal alongside. and is now being completely reconstructed to handle the Games traffic.

WOLVERHAMPTON Work to extend the Midland Metro to Wolverhampton station got under way on 6 August 2021 when concrete to support the extended track was poured.

MANCHESTER AREA The Manchester – Stalybridge line was extensively upgraded during the first half of August 2021 to allow faster more frequent services. 3km of track was remodelled and seventeen new signals were installed.

ROCHDALE AREA The line between Littleborough and Todmorden through Summit Tunnel was flooded by heavy rainfall during the early hours of 4 August 2021. It took until lunchtime before the floods had subsided sufficiently to allow inspection allowing the route to reopen.

ASKERN A major show of public support for the reopening of Askern station (passenger services ended 10 March 1947) which now serves a rapidly growing community near Doncaster.

THROUGH TRAINS will be restored between Middlesbrough and London Kings Cross from 13 December 2021.

OVERCROWDING Severe problems due to a shortage of capacity caused major problems on the Durham Coast Line on 14 August 2021. The new football season got under way with a home game at Sunderland, and this coincided with a Food Festival nearby. Two coach trains were operated with resultant gross overcrowding.

GREAT NORTH RUN This event takes place on 6 September 2021 with the start and finish near Haymarket station. Monument Metro station will be closed all day since the race will pass too close to the entrance. West Jesmond and Ilford Road will also be closed because their staff will be on crowd control duties elsewhere.

ASHINGTON The restoration of passenger trains between Newcastle and Ashington is coming closer with most of the track work completed and test trains now running. Stations are being built at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, and Ashington.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The first three of the seventeen new 4-car Subway trains that have so far been delivered are now being tested on the Edmiston Drive Test Track – a right of way that was formerly the Scotrail Govan branch which left the Glasgow – Paisley Gilmour Street line at Ibrox.. The Subway is 125 years old this year making it the third oldest such line in the world.

BARRHEAD SOUTH The cost of the new station on the Neilston line has risen to £18m – because of the requirement to install a footbridge with lifts between the two platforms.

DALMUIR The heavy rain that swept across the country on 7/8 August 2021 filled the tunnel at Dalmuir making the underpass line through the junction flooded almost to the roof.

CADDER YARD The area alongside the main line from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley was formerly a very busy marshalling yard. A £33m project to provide new cleaning and refuelling facilities plus storage for six HSTs that will be used for fast services between the southern cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the northern cities of Aberdeen and Inverness. Inverness is seen as a major growth point having trebled in population size over the past decade (25,000 to 71,000).

NEW USES Most of the large station building at Kilmarnock has been unused for several years but local investment has upgraded the structure and converted it into a social hub bringing all sorts of groups together. By bringing people to the station, use of the trains has begun to rise. For some time a popular cafe has been in operation and this is now a training centre for young people giving them experience in food preparation and the operation of a business. Other new uses include a cafe at New Cumnock, a Karate Centre at Saltcoats and a military veterans centre at Garelochhead.

TROON Full services were restored along the Ayr line from 30 July 2021. The building on platform 1 was substantially destroyed by a major fire, and some supports for the catenary were in danger of collapsing. The station building will be restored but probably to a new design.

2 August 2021

GRAFFITI One of the worst graffiti “artists” causing hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage has at last been arrested.

LIGHT RAIL SLUMP The pandemic has resulted in a sharp increase in working from home and major drops in the use made of the continuing services. The figures below show the number of users in 2020-1 followed by the percentage change from the year before.

London Underground 51.3m -69%; Docklands 39.7m -64%; Nottingham 3.4m -82%; West Midlands Metro 3.4m -58%; Sheffield Supertram 2.8m -73%; Tyne and Wear Metro 9.4m -71%; Manchester Metrolink 10.3m -76%; Blackpool trams 1.1m -76%; Edinburgh trams 0.9m -87%; Glasgow Subway 2.5m 80.3%. The Government has provided funds to keep these systems operating.

NO VIRUS Tests did not detect any Covid Virus at Euston, Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly, or Liverpool Lime Street – or on the Avanti trains operating between them.

HS2 While work continues on the route from Euston to the West Midlands and Manchester, all work has topped on the eastern limb to Sheffield, Leeds, and the North-East by order of the Department of Transport. A second tunnel boring machine has started work on the tunnels under the Chilterns. FLORENCE started work on 13 May 2021 and has progressed below the M25. Since no problems have emerged with this first stage Cecilia has now started work.

CROSS NORTH LONDON PLAN A proposal to link key centres across north of London towns has been published with no view so far as to its exact form. (Heavy or light rail, tram or train) A major part of the possible route would link the centres of Watford, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, and Harlow, with branch feeders coming in from Hemel Hempstead and Cheshunt). The corridor roughly follows the A414 and there are already plans for 100,000 new houses to be built along the corridor.

PENDOLINO UPGRADE The 56 Pendolino trains that have transformed WCML services for twenty years are to be upgraded by Alstom at a new Depot at Widnes. 25,000 standard class seats are to be replaced and one first class coach will be rebuilt as a standard class car giving an additional 2000 standard class seats. There will be a new Cafe Bar Car and better information screens throughout.

FACE MASKS Regulations concerning the compulsory use of face masks in the UK ended on 19 July 2021 but continue on London Transport bus, heavy rail, and Underground railway services since these are more crowded than outside London.

RAIN Heavy rain has been a feature of summer 2021 (after an extremely sunny spring). So much rain fell during the night of 25/26 July 2021 that water poured into important buildings (such as Whipps Cross and Newnham Hospitals) forcing the A & E Departments to close for several hours.

One of the worst ever rain and thunder & lightning storms struck Central England during the afternoon and evening of 27 July 2021.

BEARSTEAD This is the site of a deep, steep sided, curved cutting on the Maidstone – Ashford line and there were fears that the cutting walls could start slipping. A massive engineering process has reduced the danger with a large amount of earth removed and the remainder of the walls pinned with long rails.

ISLE OF WIGHT A major extension costing £67m is proposed on the Isle of Wight. A new line would leave the Ryde – Shanklin line at Sandown and operate west via Merstone to reach the edge of the largest town on the island – Newport. Two other extensions cannot proceed because the routes see other uses. From Smallbrook Jct near Ryde a branch runs west to Wooton and is used by The Isle of Wight Steam Railway, an important part of the the tourist industry. A former line from Shanklin through a tunnel to Ventnor is now used for a pipe bringing Ventnor’s water supply. The site of Ventnor station beyond the tunnel is filled by an industrial estate. Some members of the public have expressed fears that Ryde Pier may not be strong enough for the railway but an inspection has indicated that there is no problem.

SOUTHEND PIER The delivery of new trains for the Pier Railway is being delayed significantly because the wrong type of paint has been applied to the exterior of the trains an a re-paint is a complex job involving the dismantling of the trains to individual sections and then re-assembling the train bodies virtually from scratch.

CROSSRAIL (ELIZABETH LINE) After many delays the opening of the cross London route may be brought forwards by six months. West Drayton station has been transformed with the opening of a new extended ticket hall and step-free access for the first time. The new facilities opened on 20 July 2021.

BALHAM At busy times there is to be no down escalator service until the end of 2021. A normal up service from the platforms to the street level was expected to be available unless the station becomes too overcrowded in which case the station will be closed completely and trains will run through without stopping.

PECKHAM RYE This is the busiest interchange station in the UK with no step-free access to the platforms. A £25m plan has been finalised to provide wider platforms, wider passageways, new stairs and lifts. A major contribution has been requested from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

MARSH BARTON Construction of the new Marsh Barton station, in the suburbs of Exeter,has begun at a cost of £16m station. It will be served by the Exmouth – Exeter – Paignton local service and will open during 2022.

BRIGHTON LINE Three Bridges – Brighton will be closed on 19 – 27 February 2022 for track repairs.

LUL During the weekend of 17/18 July 2021 the Metropolitan Line was closed completely since so many of the staff were self-isolating. Because of staff shortages only reduced frequency services were available on the Hammersmith & City and Piccadilly and the Docklands Light Railway.

The Thameslink Line is to reappear on the LUL Tube Lines map, after a gap of 22 years.

BLETCHLEY As part of the new East – West Railway Volker Fitzpatrick will construct the new High Level platforms at Bletchley station.

MAJOR DELAY Services through Charing Cross and London Bridge were disrupted during the morning of 15 July 2021 following the spillage of a large volume of lubricant on the track.

CLASS 321 Eversholt Rail has launched its prototype Class 321 “Swift Express” train adapted in the Wabtec Doncaster Works to carry up to 38.5 tonnes of parcels and light freight traffic. Work done on unit (321 334) included the removal of all the seat and other passenger-related items, and strengthening the floor. A further twenty class 321 emus are in store and could undergo a similar transformation.

OPEN GOLF The 2021 Open Golf Championship took place at the Royal St Georges Course in Kent. The Southeastern TOC offered enhanced services for the event to Sandwich station which is close to the Course.

FLIRT EMUS Of the 35 emus being supplied for use in Wales, twenty four will be tri-mode (diesel, overhead wire electric and battery electric).

ROYTON Improved access between platforms 1 and 2 is being provided following the discovery of structural faults between the platforms. Two temporary stairways are being provided to the span across the tracks while a longer-term solution is installed.

CALVERT The twelve mile stretch between Bicester and Winslow may be filled by the opening of a new halt at Calvert roughly half way between these stations.

WESTDOWN QUARRY The quarry, near the village of Chantry in Somerset, has been out of use for 40 years but may be brought back into use to supply ballast for HS2.

TAL-Y-LLYN RAILWAY The Welsh narrow gauge heritage railway has ordered three new carriages which will be built in the Boston Lodge Works of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

MERRY HILL A massive Hamley’s toy store is to open at the Black Country shopping centre.

STOURBRIDGE “DASHER” A very light rail vehicle could be used on a planned shuttle service between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill.

BIRMINGHAM The Midlands Metro track between Bull Street and New Street Station running along Corporation Street and into Stephenson Street has apparently worn out after just five years. The task of removing the old track and laying new rails will take 11 weeks during which time the section onwards to the Library terminus will lie unused.

KENILWORTH Efforts are being made to reopen the ticket office and cafe. Two thirds of tickets are now being purchased on-line.

COVENTRY The LRVs to be operated in Coventry are to be fitted with scratch and projectile resistant safety glass. The first demonstration tram has been equipped with the glass and can be visited outside the Museum.

SOLIHULL This is an increasingly busy station with the lifts inadequate to handle the traffic, and often insufficient space on the platform for peak period passengers. A new entrance, new concourse, enlarged lifts, and new shops are all to be installed.

WOLVERHAMPTON Bay platform 5 has been shortened to create more car park space outside the station. It can still take a 4-car emu (used on Walsall via New Street stopping services).

LIVERPOOL has lost its UNESCO World Heritage Site status because too many new developments have spoiled the historic range of buildings along the River front. The building of a new ground for Everton FC occupying the site of an historic dock is the latest event.

MANCHESTER Forty three of the Metrolink trams developed various forms of damage during the day on 26 July 2021. Services across the network were slashed but by the morning of the 27 July many had been repaired sufficiently to return to service. Investigations into how the damage to so many trams happened on the same day are on-going. Work is being undertaken on three Sundays in August (8,15,22,) to improve the drainage at Dinting station, and relay 200m of track.

MERSEYRAIL Planners have proposed that battery powered emus could extend the local commuter network at a low cost. Repairs to the lifts at Old Roan are expected to take up to four months. Following a power cut the doors had to be forced open to allow passengers to escape

SOUTHPORT A large Tesco Supermarket is to be opened at Southport station. Several smaller outlets by popular firms are also being created.

BLACKPOOL A major effort by local volunteer workers has seen dozens of people going along the streets gathering rubbish into large bags. Sixteen large bags were filled in St Annes and Squires Gate. Similarly twenty bags were collected from stations along the Windermere branch.

SHEFFIELD A new tram-train stop is being planned at Templeborough in Rotherham beside the Magna Science and Adventure Centre.

YORK A plaque to commemorate the York Ordnance Railway was unveiled on 17 July 2021. The line ran for a few yards between a wharf on the River Ouse and the adjacent Ordnance Depot.

SUNDERLAND The rail link into the port of Sunderland was re-activated on 22 June 2021 when a train of twenty one wagons loaded with steel coil set off for Wolverhampton. It is hoped to build up this particular traffic during coming years.

AIRE BRIDGE Work has begun on repairs to the bridge carrying railway tracks over the River Aire to Drax Power Station in Yorkshire.

STRATBUNGO Local residents have helped chose the design of a new footbridge across the Kilmarnock/East Kilbride line between Darnley Road and Moray Place at the site of Strathbungo Station. The earlier footbridge started life as an entrance to Strathbungo Station close to the position of the “Strathbungo Nag” statue.

HAIRMYERS The relocation of the station on the East Kilbride branch to a site off Redwood Avenue to serve the needs of a large new housing area while improving access to Hairmyers Hospital will be completed during 2022. Changes in the Glasgow area will cost £117m.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Anger was expressed by football fans who may be stranded by the limited service provided by the Subway on 25 July 2021. Glasgow Rangers played Real Madrid in the Ibrox Stadium during the evening but a track fault has meant that the INNER Circle had to be closed since track repairs could not be completed in time. Additional services were operated on the Outer Circle but the Subway closed before the game had finished.

TROON The station building at Troon caught fire at lunchtime on 17 July 2021. Until the fire was brought under control trains stopped running through the station and after the flames were part controlled some trains restarted moving through the station non-stop. However as damage to the structure carrying the tracks was found to be greater than feared all trains between Glasgow and Ayr were cancelled leaving the Ardrossan/Largs service still operating, and also the service between Ayr and Stranraer. Buses were laid on between Glasgow and Ayr connecting with trains south of Ayr and along the Largs line. After repairs to the structure carrying the tracks and to the station platforms, calls at the station resumed on 26 July 2021.

NEWTON A project costing £800,000 will see three bridges close to Newton Station carrying the WCML and Hamilton Loop lines repaired and repainted in order to extend their lifespan by up to two decades.

EDINBURGH HAYMARKET A points failure near Haymarket disrupted services to Glasgow Queen Street and to Fife throughout the afternoon of 15 July 2021.

DUNBAR Plans for an underpass below the ECML at Dunbar station look like going ahead. The town centre, and indeed most of the town, lie to the north of the ECML station. However in recent years a significant number of new homes has been built south of the station and railway – the Hillhall suburb -and there is considerable congestion on existing roads in the area.

SUNSEEKERS Trains between Edinburgh Waverley and both North Berwick and Dunbar were packed by sunseekers on most days between 18 and 22 July 2021. Social distancing was impossible to achieve.

CAIRNGORM FUNICULAR Highlands and Islands Enterprise is to sue Morrisons Construction for £14.5m because of on-going problems that prevent the operation of the funicular.

STROME FERRY A rain-induced landslip halted services through Strome Ferry on the Kyle line on 30 July 2021.

BELFAST The York Road terminus is to be rebuilt at a cost of £10m with a completion date in 2023. Ticket sales to Helen’s Bay station had to be suspended because so many people wanted to travel to its attractive beach that the trains would have been overwhelmed with traffic returning to the city in the early evening on 22 July 2021.

18 July 2021

POPULATION CHANGES As a result of the virus pandemic many office workers have chosen to work from home and travel into city centres less often. Demand for houses in less congested areas has soared and as a result Exeter is heading for a growth of 17.9% to 131,000 while Bradford is declining by 24% to a little over half a million.

GRAND UNION TRAINS Plans for its semi-fast Euston – Stirling service have been modified. The trains will operate every three hours starting from Stirling at 0515, and Euston at 0730. Stations served will be Stirling, Greenfaulds, Whifflet, Motherwell, Lockerbie, Carlisle, Preston, Crewe, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes Central, and London Euston. Instead of an upgraded class 91 locomotive the trains will be headed by a new tri-mode class 93 loco hauling a rake of nine Mark 4 coaches and a class 82 DVT on the rear.

LEGAL ACTION Siemens Mobility launched legal action against HS2 Ltd on 21 June 2021 just a day or so after Talgo had commenced similar action. Five companies had earlier been shortlisted to build the fleet of new locomotives to operate services between Euston and Crewe and points north – Alstom, CAF, Siemens, Bombardier, and Hitachi but the subsequent takeover of Bombardier by Alstom complicated matters. At the beginning of July 2021 Alstom had been contracted to supply many features at stations (platform screens and other fittings) and on 1 July 2021 Talgo was thanked for its efforts and seems to have been dropped from the shortlist. Legal action may now have been stopped.

LONDON AREA Over a period of six weekends starting in late August 2021 pointwork will be replaced in the Twickenham area, and 500 yards of conductor rail replaced. New lifts are being installed at Ickenham station to provide step-free access between the street and platforms. A fire broke out in a garage that occupied two of the arches near Elephant and Castle station. Up to one hundred firefighters were involved before the fire was brought under control after two hours. The Great Western Railway is testing a battery powered unit on the West Ealing – Greenford shuttle.

BIGGLESWADE A major bus:rail interchange is to be built at a cost of £2.3m.

LEEDS AREA Construction of the new White Rose station is proceeding quickly. It will serve the adjacent White Rose office and retail parks. Major occupiers include HSBC, Capel, and DAZ.

WEST MIDLANDS The Snow Hill – Dorridge line had to be closed for several hours after a torrential downpour flooded the tracks on 30 July 2021. Famous bus route 95 which has followed a circlar route around the inner suburbs of Birmingham is having to be split into two routes because of road changes that prevent an easy route through new road junctions. The tram track through the centre of Birmingham is being relaid after just five years “to give passengers a smoother ride.”

MANCHESTER The Metrolink tram service between Oldham and Rochdale, axed during the pandemic due to a collapse in the traffic was re-introduced on 5 July 2021. On the same date MediaCity UK will gain a direct service to Etihad Stadium rather than Eccles. Before the pandemic Metrolink carried 125,000 passengers each weekday. This fell by three quarters when the virus struck and service frequencies were cut to every 20 minutes. With traffic creeping up to 60,000 frequencies have increased to every 12 minutes – 6 minutes where routes overlap. On 4 July 2021 the line between Freehold and Rochdale will be replaced by buses to allow track relaying.

TYNE & WEAR METRO A dispute over pay and conditions resulted in a week-long strike by staff at Gosforth Depot starting on 28 June 2021 but management staff managed to keep the trains running. The proposed internal design for the new fleet on the Tyne and Wear Metro has been revealed. Seating will be longitudinal leaving abundant space for standees.

REDBRIDGE VIADUCT which crosses the River Tweed south of Galashiels has been given a major upgrade.

MORE EMERGENCY FUNDING The Scottish Government has provided a further £5m in emergency funds to keep the Edinburgh trams and Glasgow Subway operating at a reasonable frequency. A total of £34m has now been given by the Edinburgh administration.

FACE MASKS Regulations concerning the compulsory use of face masks in the UK are due to end on 19 July 2021 but are to continue on London Transport bus, heavy rail, and Underground railway services since these are more crowded than outside London.

CLASS 321 Eversholt Rail has launched its prototype Class 321 “Swift Express” train adapted in Wabtec’s Doncaster Works to carry up to 38.5 tonnes of parcels and light freight traffic. Work done on unit (321 334) included the removal of all the seat and other passenger-related items, and strengthening of the floor. A further twenty class 321 emus are in store and could undergo a similat transformation.

OPEN GOLF The 2021 Open Golf Championship will take place Royal St Georges Course in Kent and the Southeastern TOC is to offer enhanced services for the event at Sandwich station which is close to the Course.

WESTDOWN QUARRY The quarry, near Frome in Somerset, has been out of use for 40 years but may be brought back into use to supply ballast for HS2.

TAL-Y-LLYN RAILWAY The Welsh narrow gauge heritage railway has ordered three new carriages which will be built in the Boston Lodge Works of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

DUNBAR Plans for an underpass below the ECML at Dunbar stat6ion look like going ahead. The town centre, and indeed most of the town, lie to the north of the ECML station. However in recent years a significant number of new homes has been built south of the station and railway – the Hallhill suburb -and there is considerable congestion on existing roads in the area.

GLASGOW AREA A major upgrade to the platforms and improvements to the drainage at Garrowhill in the eastern suburbs has cost £2.2m.

1 July 2021

WEST COAST The speed record of 3 hours 52 minutes 40 seconds was set on 12 December 1984 by a version of the Advanced Passenger Train which itself never entered full commercial service. A new attempt to break the record was made on 17 June 2021 by Pendolino train 390044 which had been given the name “Royal Scot” before the attempt and left platform 16 at London Euston at 1036. This was a special service with no fare-paying passengers and took 3 hours 53 minutes for the 401 mile journey to platform 1 at Glasgow Central station, failing to beat the record by just 21 seconds but ran at 103 mph over the journey. In 1984 the train had been allowed to ignore various speed restrictions along the route. In 2021 all speed restrictions along the much improved right of way had to be obeyed.

FALLING PASSENGER NUMBERS With the pandemic slashing the number using the trains it has been revealed that the numbers on board inter-city trains are at their lowest level since 1872.

PRESERVED HST Power car (43102) which attained a speed of 148.5 mph on the ECML between Northallerton and York on 1 November 1987 has been given to the National Railway Museum and will be displayed at the Shildon Locomotion site together with trailing power car 43159.

IMPROVEMENTS IN 2022 The Summer 2022 timetable for the ECML will have six departures each hour from Kings Cross instead of five. LNER will run 39 extra services each weekday reaching Edinburgh 15 minutes sooner and providing 1500 extra seats. As far as Newcastle ten minutes will be shaved from the running time and there will be three services per hour with 7500 additional seats daily. Extra capacity is being provided as far as York giving space for an hourly Middlesbrough service. However Berwick will be served every second hour instead of hourly and there will be fewer calls at Morpeth balanced by some extra calls at Alnmouth. Public consultations about the plans are being held between late June and early August.

SLEEPERS CANCELLED All Caledonian Sleeper services are to be cancelled for ten days from 15 June 2021 due to a strike over pay and conditions.

INTERNATIONAL PLAN A through luxury overnight service between Edinburgh and Paris is being planned as one of the first overnight services radiating across Europe from Paris.

POWER STATIONS Both Rugeley and Ironbridge Power Stations, in the West Midlands, already closed, were demolished during the weekend of 5/6 June 2021. They were served by branches taking coal to the furnaces. The demolition of four structures at Rugeley was featured on the internet and made spectacular viewing.

RESIGNALLING Siemens are to design and install new signalling along railways in Devon and Cornwall.

SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY Multiple track circuit failures disabled services for much of 11 June 2021. Passengers were asked to find an alternative means of travel if possible.

SOUTHEASTERN RAILWAY Services to Strood, Maidstone West and Tonbridge were disrupted during the morning of 12 June 2021 due to a power supply fault. Modernisation costing £2m has been completed at Swanley station including the construction of a new building and ticket office, new platform lighting, and the fitting of seven CCTV screens.

LUL CIRCLE and DISTRICT LINES Services will be disrupted during August 4 – 12 2021 while the track is replaced by new slab track with no trains between Edgware Road, Victoria, and Aldgate.

VICTORIA Many Southeastern Railway services were cancelled during 10 June 2021 following the failure of the station lights later in the day.

CROSSRAIL An eighteen day blockade on new work on the cross-London tunnel started on 19 June 2021 after which trial operation of 24 trains per hour will commence leading eventually to public opening during 2022.

TRANSPORT FOR WALES Improved services have been introduced between Holyhead and Cardiff using train sets of Mark 4 coaches that provide First Class, a buffet with an improved food offer and fully accessible toilets. Swansea station is to receive a £7.5m upgrade. Platform 4 will be extended to 260m and will then hold a ten coach intercity express. Replacement of the station lighting, and general repairs will be undertaken as required

KINGS CROSS Railway Magazine for June 2021 page 84 has published an account of the redesigning of the approach tracks including the reopening of the long-closed 3rd bore of the Gasworks Tunnels. There are nineteen illustrations plus helpful captions. LNER is considering dropping its once per day Kings Cross – Sunderland train to allow it concentrate available staff and rolling stock on the very much busier Kings Cross – Newcastle services.

ROSSINGTON A car, trying to nip across a level crossing on the ECML near Doncaster was struck by a passing express. Fortunately it was only a glancing blow but damage sustained to the crossing gates meant that many trains were cancelled although a minority were able to be diverted via Gainsborough.

ILFORD Transport for London has opened an additional giving step-free access to platform 1.

WICKFORD Extension work on platform 1 will continue until 26 June 2021 so that Greater Anglia’s new longer trains can be fitted in. A new ticket office with two windows a new waiting hall, new information screens and a new shop selling hot drinks and snacks are all being completed.

LUL WATERLOO & CITY The Waterloo and City line was reopened on 7 June 2021, two weeks earlier than expected. There have been suggestions that this the quietest of the London Underground lines, might be closed so that available facilities could be used better elsewhere on the system.

WATFORD JCT – ST ALBANS A speed restriction was imposed on the line from 0845 on 14 June 2021 and resulted in many delays to the service. Buses were brought in to supplement the rail service.

GERRARDS CROSS station buildings on the Chiltern main line from Marylebone have been beautifully upgraded by means of a major refurbishment costing around £2m. The extensive canopy over the main London platform has been magnificently restored, new lighting fitted, the station building windows repaired and replaced where needed, and the entire structure has been repainted.

WEST MIDLANDS All twenty one trams were taken out of service from 11 June 2021 following an alert from the manufacturer CAF. It is feared that a fault in the tram structure may affect several of the vehicles and, only after careful inspection and repair work if needed, will individual trams return to service. Services between New Street and Coventry were disrupted after a large vehicle struck a low overbridge during the afternoon of 12 June 2021. Two 185 year old viaducts at Stechford on the Birmingham – Coventry main line will cost over £1m to repair. Detailed inspection of the structures has begun. Bus fares across the West Midlands are to be cut sharply after the present lock-down period ends on 19 July 2021. Rail fares may not change but a major effort will be made to get the public moving again and home-working becomes less popular.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS New bargain tickets have been introduced. One day tickets cost £6, three consecutive days £15, four consecutive days £19.20. A “Flex and Save” ten days ticket is valid on day one then for any number of individual days spread over the following six months – cost £48.

METROLINK SYSTEM The superb light rail network covering the Greater Manchester area is the largest in the UK and a good article describing it is to be found in “Tramways and Urban Transport” July 2021 issue, page 284.

MANCHESTER The entire Metrolink tram system was suspended early in the morning of 9 June 2021. A fire had broken out in below-ground structures near Victoria station but during late morning some sections of the Metrolink system were able to reopen. The Media City/Eccles route was closed again during the morning of 10 June 2021 due to a fault with the overhead power wire. Network Rail is to replace 56 signals along the Prestbury – Macclesfield – Congleton section. The new signals will be controlled from a state-of-the-art centre in Manchester.

LIVERPOOL Proposals for a rapid transit network across the heart of Liverpool are being studied actively.

TRANSPENNINE PROJECT Major engineering works will be undertaken between Manchester Victoria and both Rochdale and Stalybridge during the period 31 July – 15 August 2021. The works will take place around the clock as a significant part of the Trans Pennine Project.

NORTH EAST Flooding at Guiseley will be alleviated by additional drainage channels being dug during the next few months. A £6m grant from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund will improve accessibility at Adwick, Bentley, Conisbrough, Kirk Sandall, Thorne North, and Thorne South. The extensive canopies at Walkden and Swinton stations have been renovated.

MIDDLESBOROUGH The station is undergoing a major upgrade and work to lengthen the shorter of its two main platforms by 75m.

HEWORTH INTERCHANGE The station in Gateshead is to get four additional electric vehicle charging points to handle rapidly growing traffic.

EDINBURGH AREA The tram system resumed its normal 7 minute frequency of a service on 7 June 2021. In February 2019 the service was cut to a ten minute frequency.

GLASGOW AREA Work to inspect and then repair two bridges that take Queen Mary Drive and Albert Road over the Cathcart Circle route near Crosshill Station is to begin on 26 June 2021. The work is expected to cost £2.3m. Twenty one Class 318 emus are leased by Scotrail and are used on the Argyle Line, Cathcart Circle group of lines, Inverclyde, and North Clyde routes and are now the oldest emus still in use in Scotland. They are to be overhauled by Brodie Engineering at their Bonnyton Works in Ayrshire. The Paisley Canal branch service ended at 2130 on 14 June 2021 due to a staff shortage.

GARROWHILL A £2.2m upgrade to the platforms including work to improve the drainage of nearby land has been completed.

THORNTONHALL A man in his twenties set fire to the station area at this village halt on the single track section of the East Kilbride line on 21 June 2021. He then boarded a Glasgow bound train and got out at Giffnock (this writer’s “home” station). The police are anxious to speak to him. The chairman of Celtic F.C. lives in the village and there have been previous football related incidents.

EVANTON There is mounting support from the local community to reopen this station on the Far North Line. The village served is growing significantly and many of the newcomers commute to work in Inverness.

4 June 2021

WILLIAMS REPORT The fragmentation of the British railway network is to end and a new entity Great British Railways will be created and will be responsible for co-ordinated planning across the country. including track, other infrastructure, ticketing and rolling stock. Familiar names of Operating Companies, such as LNER and Great Western, will disappear in due course.

ISLE OF WIGHT Former London Underground coach 483007 was withdrawn from service on the Island Line in January 2020 having completed 80 years of service on public railways in the UK. South Western Railway has donated it to the Wight steam railway’s museum.

SOUTH COAST South Western Railway services between Bournemouth and Southampton were delayed during the morning of 25 May 2021 because of overrunning engineering work. £69m is to be invested in track improvements to increase freight capacity on Southampton – Midlands runs.

FAVERSHAM A driver abandoned her car on the tracks at Monksill Road level crossing late on 30 May 2021 delaying trains for two hours. She has been charged with various offences.

HITHER GREEN A £6m project to improve this important station in the London suburbs has been completed. The station buildings have been improved, completely rewired, and the platform surfaces have been renewed. The roof over two of the platforms has been removed and replaced with roofing of a new design.

DERAILMENT An empty emu derailed on the approach to Grove Park Depot early on 25 May 2021 trapping several units. A number of trains had to operate with short formations.

EAST CROYDON The station is to be demolished and moved to the north towards Selhurst Jct as part of a complex plan to solve the “Croydon Bottleneck”. New flyovers and diveunders will allow trains passing through the area without coming into conflict with other services. South of the station the number of available tracks has to come down from six to just four and to allow free movement of trains on all routes. An additional three tracks is deemed to be necessary making the relocation of the station necessary.

EALING BROADWAY The new ticket hall opened on 27 May 2021 giving step-free access to LUL District and Central lines, and TfL’s Great Western Railway services. Step-free access will be available also to the Elizabeth Line when it opens.

WATERLOO Don Buckley, 82, has finally retired after 68 years service at the station. He came from Ireland aged 14, started as a message boy and ended as the helpful member of staff able to assist passengers who did not know how to reach tourist localities etc.

LUL The Northern Line extension to Battersea will open as planned during September 2021.

ECML The overhead wires near Finsbury Park were damaged during 28 May 2021 and passengers were advised not to travel – at the start of a major public holiday weekend.

FELIXSTOWE Services on the branch from Ipswich were delayed for much of 24 May 2021 after lightning damaged the signalling system.

LINCOLNSHIRE The Coast Light Railway plans to reopen on 24 July 2021 and close on 4 September 2021 having not operated at all in 2020.

HS2 The Transport Secretary confirmed on 27 May 2021 that the eastern limb of HS2 WILL be built as planned to Leeds and the work may be done ahead of schedule.

WCML NEW CLASS Avanti West Coast is introducing an additional class on its WCML long distance services and is modifying the amount of seating available in each class. One existing First Class coach is being altered to Standard Class and a second coach is becoming the new Standard Premium Class. This coach retains first class size seats which are roomier than standard class, and provide a guaranteed table at each seat. Standard class ticket holders will be able to occupy a Standard Premium Class seat and then pay an extra sum (£15 for a Euston – Birmingham journey, £30 for a trip between Euston and Glasgow). The changes will take place physically on the 56 train-sets used on WCML services during an upgrade programme at present under way by Alstom..

SNOWDON MOUNTAIN RAILWAY Three quarters of the nearly 5 miles long railway was reopened on 23 May 2021. Trains are turning at Clogwyn Station and the section onwards to the Summit together with the Summit Visitor Centre remains closed.

CROSS-CITY LINE The local MP has called for improved safety measures at Erdington and Gravelly Hill stations where there are no tactile strips to warn passengers with impaired vision about the nearness of the platform edge.

MIDLANDS METRO The first of eight new state-of-the-art trams has been delivered from the CAF plant in Zaragoza to the Wednesbury Depot. Following the Ascension Day holiday weekend (27-28 May 2021) until 7 June 2021, Arthur Street bridge in Bilston will be demolished and a reduced frequency service will operate. Track maintenance will take place along Bilston Road during the holiday (27-28 May) and there will be no service between Priestfield and Wolverhampton St Georges..

BIRMINGHAM AREA Perry Barr station (Walsall route) was closed on 17 May 2021 so that it can be rebuilt in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, near which there will be some events. An unexploded bomb was found in a canal beside Small Heath station on 23 May 2021. An object caught in the overhead wires between Longbridge and Barnt Green delayed services throughout the afternoon on 24 May 2021. Trespassers at Witton delayed Walsall services on 25 May 2021.

CROSS-MIDLANDS A proposal for an hourly service linking Coventry with Leicester and Nottingham has been put before the Transport Minister for consideration. The planned electrification between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury will result in a “rail revolution” across Shropshire and the Black Country.

STANTON GATE A freight service (steel parts to Immingham Dock) has operated for the first time since 2009.

SHREWSBURY The world’s largest mechanical signal box is to receive a £250,000 refurbishment.

NORTHWICH Part of the roof of this Cheshire station crashed on to one platform and track at 1130 on 18 May 2021. There was a major delay to services but a bus shuttle was established between Plumley and Chester by-passing the damaged station.

MERSEYRAIL A burst water main close to the railway south of Hooton meant that services between Hooton and Chester had to be replaced by buses on the afternoon of 19 May 2021.

WARRINGTON CENTRAL A major upgrade is planned for important station which lies on the former Cheshire |Lines route between Liverpool and Manchester. The infrastructure changes in the area include the replacement of two bridges and the route will be closed for three days over the August Bank Holiday 2021 weekend.

CLASS 769 TRAINS The first of these trains has arrived on the Southport – Alderley Edge route. Based on the Class 319 emus the 769s have diesel engines in addition to electric motors. They will be able to operate on electrified and non-electric sections and are truly flexible.

SHEFFIELD SUPERTRAM A massive track renewal program has been completed but the South Yorkshire Mayor has indicated that further equipment renewals costing £400m are important before any expansion of the network is undertaken. There are proposals to extend the routes to Doncaster and Barnsley. The present fleet comprises 25 Siemens Supertrams (a further three have been sought) plus seven class 399 tram-trains. Extra trams are needed if the service frequency is to increase.

YORK – CHURCH FENTON The Department of Transport announced on 26 May 2021 the £317m is to be invested in improvements to the railways across the north of England. York – Church Fenton will be electrified and new stations opened at White Rose and Thorpe Park in Leeds, and Marsh Barton near Exeter.

NEXUS The allocation of £95m from the Transforming Cities Fund will enable improvements to the infrastructure. Three single track sections will become double track by allowing passenger services to operate on short sections of freight track. The service frequency on all routes will become a train every 10 minutes instead of every 12 minutes. The contract for this has been awarded to the Buckingham Group which has just completed the temporary depot at Howdon.

COWS ON LINE On 24 May 2021 the morning Stirling to London KX service struck cows that had wandered on to the ECML between Durham and Darlington causing some delays.

CATHCART CIRCLE The 7.75 mile long route from Glasgow Central around the south-side inner suburbs is to feature in a new computer game in which the player “drives” a class 314 emu around the route. The real trains take less than half an hour to travel round the route. The line from Newton via Kirkhill to the Circle at Mount Florida or Langside was subject to long delays on 31 May 2021 because of a signal failure at King’s Park.

LEVEN BRANCH Work continues to reconstruct the branch from the Fife main line to Leven (19km) with an intermediate stop at Cameron Bridge. 16,000 concrete sleepers have been delivered over a four week period and stored on empty land at the former Thornton Yard. When opened in 2022 there will be two trains per hour to Edinburgh, one going via Kirkcaldy, the other via Dunfermline.

NEW DEPOT A new depot to service high-speed trains is to be built on existing railway land at Cadder, between Bishopbriggs and Lenzie.

INVERNESS Planning permission has been granted by the Council for the new Airport station.

NORTHERN IRELAND A detailed study is under way regarding plans to operate a half-hourly frequency service between Belfast and Londonderry. Several additional halts are proposed including one to serve Londonderry Airport.

17 May 2021

FIRST GROUP The train operating company has exited all three of its franchises by making payments to the Department of Transport but then continues to run the services on a new Fixed Management Fee basis. To exit the Transpennine Express franchise involved a further payment of £6m on top of £42.5m already paid. To exit the South Western Railway franchise involved a payment of £33.2m but nothing further was required regarding Avanti West Coast.

LUL A ninety year old poster is being used to attract tourists and shoppers to the West End. The original version was linked to the opening of Piccadilly Circus station in 1931 as a way to reach the many attractions of the West End. The poster includes a silhouette of the well known statue of Anteros (usually called Eros) to attract the potential visitor to the area around Piccadilly Circus. Trial running has begun through the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) Tunnel across Central London. A suggested new logo for the Underground by David Hockney has not gone down well with most who have seen it. It comprises a yellow circle with the name of a station etc on a red banner across the middle of the circle but the last letter of this name drops down to a lower level. The whole concept seems rough and ready.

WATERLOO & CITY LINE. Closed on 20 March 2020 following Government advice that people should work from home where possible, the Line is to reopen from 21 June 2021 with services in both peak periods.

STRATFORD The East London station is now the 7th busiest on the national system. Network Rail, Transport for London, Docklands Light Railway, and Newnham Council have combined to issue a contract to the design agency 5th Studio to draw up plans to improve the interchange of passengers between the various services meeting at Stratford Regional Station.

ST NEOTS The Town Council is concerned over plans for two viaducts for the East West Rail route which would be 800m and 1km long. The railway company has confirmed that the viaducts are part of their preferred proposals. One would take the new railway over the A428 highway.

DARLINGTON A £100m upgrade scheme is underway at the ECML station. There will be a new entrance, new footbridge, and three additional platforms so more frequent services will be possible. It is hoped to have the work completed by December 2024 in time fro the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025 recognising Darlington as the birthplace of the modern railway.

EMR CONNECT A new half-hourly service using a fleet of Class 360 emus started operation on 17 May 2021 between St Pancras and Corby.

HS2 The first tunnel boring machine to start work on the new railway under the Chilterns is named Florence and commenced actual work on 15 May 2021. The joint venture team of Mace and Dragados is to build the new high-speed railway’s terminus in the Heart of Birmingham.

DUDLEY The first Very Light Rail ultra-rapid battery charger has been installed at the Dudley test centre. Similar equipment will be installed on the planned system in Coventry.

PERRY BARR Galliford Try has won the £10m contract to rebuild the station in the north west suburbs of Birmingham. It will be a key hub for links to Commonwealth Games sites in 2022.

CURZON STREET The Birmingham Anti-Racist Campaign (BARC) has called for the planned HS2 terminus in the city centre to be renamed because the historic Mr Curzon used slaves.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO has taken delivery of the first of eight battery equipped CAF Urbos trams ahead of the opening of the extensions along Hagley Road to Edgbaston Village and to the station at Wolverhampton. The trams are being built at CAF’s factory in Zaragoza, Spain. Eight will be delivered before the end of 2021. A further thirteen will be completed in 2023 ahead of the opening of the Black Country route to Brierley Hill. There is an option for a further 29 vehicles.

TICKET MACHINES The Northern TOC has installed an additional 621 ticket machines across its network.

NORTH AYRSHIRE This Local Authority has announced its Strategic Transport Review which includes a suggested new railway between Lugton and Kilwinning, and new stations at Drybridge (to serve extensive new housing), Ardrossan North, and Largs Marine. The car park at Kilwinning station needs to be enlarged, Clyde Ferry routes need to have increased frequency and a new route established between Troon and Arran.

GLASGOW AREA Anniesland station was closed to passengers at 1600 on 7 May 2021 following the attack on a teenage boy who had to be hospitalised. The attack was thought to be gang related but no arrests have been made. Four Police cars arrived at Crosshill station on the Cathcart Circle following a disturbance on the narrow island platform on 10 May 2021. One person was arrested.

HITACHI TRAINS Hairline cracks have been found in the support sections of the new Class 800 high-speed trains used on the East Coast and GWR main lines to Leeds/Edinburgh and South Wales/ Cornwall. The trains have been taken out of service to allow detailed inspection and many services have been cancelled as a result. It is hoped that once the full extent of the problem has been established many of the trains will be able to return to service and modifications made where these are indicated. It might take several weeks before the entire fleet returns to service. A few of the Class 385 trains used on the Glasgow – Edinburgh expresses have been found to have a similar problem. LNER has brought out of storage a number of stored InterCity 225 trains which are operating some services on the ECML and are now proving to be very useful indeed!

PERTH This is the 6th of Scotland’s seven cities and is important as the point where routes converge from Glasgow (the first city) and Edinburgh (the capital and second city) to the south, and divide into the Highland Main Line heading north for Inverness (the 5th city), and a line to Aberdeen (the 3rd city in the north east passing through Dundee (the 4th city). The station is a major hub and a focus point also for the longer distance bus routes between the south and the north of Scotland.

MORE RAIN Following extremely heavy rain during 11 May 2021, the East Coast line between Montrose and Laurencekirk had to be closed on 12 May 2021. Substantial flooding had resulted and the tracks were submerged below the flood water.

1 May 2021

EMERGENCY FUNDS The Department of Transport (D of T) has provided further funds for transport operators that are hit by a sharp drop in income due to the pandemic. Each affected operator is listed here together with the D of T award. Manchester Metrolink £16.3m; Tyne and Wear Metro £8.0m; Nottingham NET £4.1m; Sheffield Supertram £2.47m; West Midlands Metro £1.75m; Blackpool Trams £325,000. The funds are to help the operators up to 21.6.2021.

HS2 In Mid-April 2021 contractors began work on the bridge that will take the East – West Railway over the HS2 route at Calvert in Bucks.

NEW SERVICE The Woodland Group introduced a new container service between Felixstowe and Southampton during mid-April 2021. Further routes are planned to London Gateway and Immingham.

LITTLEHAMPTON A fire in a building beside the tracks a short distance from Littlehampton station caused long delays on 24 April 2021.

NORFOLK The 10.25” gauge Wells Harbour Railway leading from car parks to the beach and a holiday camp may be closed in 2023 when the operator’s lease expires. The owner is considering new ways to serve the camp and beach.

CLASS 458 South West Trains class 458 fleet is to be upgraded by Alstom at its Widnes factory to enable the trains run faster (110 mph), and give a smoother ride for longer distance trips. The altered fleet will be based at Bournemouth.

TORQUAY The Grade 2 listed station is to have lifts fitted to the footbridge. The station is used by many disabled people and a means of getting them to the far (London) platform has been under discussion for at least a decade. The digging of a passage below the tracks was considered.

EXETER AREA Work began in mid-April 2021 on building a new station at Marsh Barton beside a new industrial area employing 7000 people. With the new timetable in December 2021 regular passenger services will re-start between Exeter and Okehampton with initially peak commuter trains and a train every second hour off-peak every day but later running hourly all day long.

DIDCOT A new bike park for 600 bicycles has been built at this popular commuter station.

LUL Night Tube services on Friday and Saturday nights were discontinued when the Coronavirus pandemic struck loadings on the London Underground. Anxious to use the available staff on key services the small hours weekend services were discontinued and will not be re-introduced until the traffic has revived. At the moment there would be little demand for Night Tube trains. The Waterloo and City line has been closed for a year since the numbers travelling regularly to work in The City has fallen sharply. With traffic starting to recover the line may be reopened in May or June 2021.

OVERGROUND NAMES If Sadiq Khan is re-elected as London Mayor in the elections in May 2021 he intends to give some or all Overground lines a specific name. Some lines already have an unofficial name (Gospel Oak – Barking is known as the GOBLIN line), the whole group of Overground lines are sometimes referred to as “Ginger Lines” – the colour used on the TfL map.

BRISTOL While work is undertaken around Temple Meads station and tracks to the south and west, Bedminster station will act as a temporary terminus once work to lengthen the platforms there so that full-length InterCity trains can be accommodated. A new station, Portway, on the Severn Beach line is expected to open with the new timetable in December 2021.

ASHCHURCH Ten thousand homes are to be built on a site alongside the Birmingham – Bristol main line. A bridge over the railway for a new road that will give access to the whole site.

LOUGHBOROUGH The famous Brush locomotive construction plant is to be closed down by new owners WABTEC due to a serious drop in orders as a result of the pandemic.

DORE & TOTLEY Work to create double track through the junction of the Manchester route off the Sheffield – Derby main line is on-going

COVENTRY The rebuilding of the station continues with the delivery to the site of a £82m crane. This will enable the completion of a major section of the work which will be finished before the start of the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2022. A nine level car park has been built adjacent to the Birmingham end of the platforms and a wide pedestrian footbridge extends from this building above the platforms with wide stairways down to each platform together with a lift.

MIDLANDS METRO The last section of track on the extension along Hagley Road was welded into place in mid-April 2021. The extension is still expected to open in late 2021.

STOUR VALLEY LINE Local traffic between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton is picking up gradually.

AVANTI TO BLACKPOOL While track and other improvements are taking place limiting access to Oxley carriage sidings a little way from Wolverhampton towards Telford, five return trips between Euston and Wolverhampton have been extended to Crewe, Preston, and Blackpool North. The change is meant to be temporary but is proving popular with users of the trains.

RUGELEY The site of the closed power station is to be redeveloped with 2300 energy efficient homes and a new school.

BRIDGNORTH The Cliff Railway linking Low Town with High Town reopens on 19 April 2021.

HUDDERSFIELD AREA Widening of the route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will entail major changes to Huddersfield and to every bridge along the route. A Parliamentary Bill seeks authority for the changes to the station structure and to eight of the bridges which will need permission for the changes to listed structures.

LIVERPOOL A 15 year old schoolboy has built a memorial bench to commemorate the life of Brian Boggild who worked for many years at Blundellsands and Crosby station and was known for his helpfulness to passengers. Sadly Brian died from a Covid-19 infection during April 2020 . The bench was presented to Merseyrail on 12 April 2021.

MACCLESFIELD Lift improvements have been completed at this extremely busy station at a cost of £400,000.

MANCHESTER AREA The station car park at Mills Hill is being increased from 24 to 58 spaces. The railway route across the city centre via Deansgate station was blocked for over a hour during the morning of 26 April 2021 following a dispute about the validity of a ticket . The capacity on the trams has been cut to 25% of the normal load – 7000 per hour compared with 28,000/hour pre-Covid.

WORKINGTON A statue of Sir Henry Bessemer (1813 – 1898) is to be placed outside his home town’s station to commemorate the inventor of a process to manufacture steel from pig iron.

STOCKTON & DARLINGTON Work began building this historic line 200 years ago.

ROTHERHAM The park-and-ride facility at Parkgate station is being enlarged to take 300 cars.

NEXUS A failed train at Jarrow at 1420 on 10 April 2021 caused significant delays since only platform 1 at Jarrow station remained available and trains in both directions had to fit in there.

LARGE LOSS Abellio lost £64.5m in the year to 31 March 2020 on its Scotrail franchise.- up from £11m, during the previous twelve months.

SALTCOATS A Health and Fitness facility opened in the station building on 26 April 2021.

PORT GLASGOW Inverclyde’s busiest station is being upgraded with a new footbridge with lifts.

EAST KILBRIDE / BARRHEAD ELECTRIFICATION. The single track from Busby may be double-tracked to Thorntonhall, a quiet station which has prevented the closure of the line on two occasions.. An important experimental facility close to the rural station, and later a key centre for Scottish tennis both operated in the lonely village. The narrow lanes serving the area proved to be too narrow for service buses replacing the trains to pass each other so rail services had to continue. At Nitshill (Barrhead line) the footbridge is being replaced to make space for the power wires.

CRAIGENDORAN An extension of the suburban electrification network to Garelochhead is being examined.

DALWHINNIE The overnight service from London was derailed at about 0315 on 10 April 2021 and buses replaced trains between Pitlochry and Aviemore. After substantial track repairs the Perth – Inverness main line reopened on 15 April 2021.

ABERDEEN AREA Formal proposals to reopen the Formartine lines to Peterhead and Fraserburgh, and the Deeside line to Banchory have been announced to the public. The lines were closed in the 1960s following the Beeching Report.

8 April 2021

REOPENING It is planned to restart Volk’s Railway and Bluebell Railway services on 29 May 2021. The Snowdon Mountain Railway will operate trains from 7 May 2021.

GOOD TIMEKEEPING During the year from mid March – 2020 services across East Anglia were on time 95% of the time.

SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY Porterbrook has selected Alstom to undertake upgrades to its Class 458 emu fleet. The £25m project will be undertaken at Alstom’s Widnes factory and will enable the trains to operate at 100 mph. Plans to upgrade the eighteen class 442 emus replacing the worn-out DC equipment with new AC electrics have been dropped and the units have been returned to owner Angel Trains.

KING CROSS Work in the Kings Cross area during April 2021 will concentrate on platforms 0 – 6 and will involve a simplification of the track layout, the reopening of one of the tunnels that has been unused for about 40 years and changes to the signalling. Platforms 0-6 will be used again from 26 April 2021 when work will move across to platforms 7 – 11.

SEVERN VALLEY A large number of vintage iron signs have been stolen from along the platform at Arley station.

HS2 Balfour Beatty has secured the first works contract – preparing the way for Phase 2a between the West Midlands and Crewe.

CREWE 269 houses are to be built on the site of the former Bombardier Works.

BROMBOROUGH The station in the Wirral now has 53 additional car park spaces making a total of 136.

MANCHESTER AREA Crowds objecting to the Police and Crime Bill, before Parliament just now, blocked Metrolink tram tracks at St Peter’s Square during the early evening of 27 March 2021. The lifts at Macclesfield station have been replaced at a cost of £400,000.

BURSCOUGH CURVES A formal application to restore the north and south curves from the Southport – Manchester line to the Liverpool – Preston route was made in March 2021 to restore a half-hourly Southport to Liverpool via Ormskirk, and an hourly Southport – Preston service.

HORWICH The former locomotive workshops is becoming a site for new offices and retail units.. A large food and drink hall will be an important part of the project and is currently being built.

HUDDERSFIELD Major upgrades and repairs to the station have been published.

SHEFFIELD Tram fleet renewal is seen as the top priority before any route expansion towards Doncaster takes place.

LEEDS 345 This tramcar, a prized exhibit at Crich reached its 100th birthday on 27 March 2021.

HARROGATE Large numbers of trees around Hornbean Park station have been removed or pruned to the surprise of residents.

YORK Work to greatly alter the entrance to York station has gained planning permission and will proceed later this year, 2021.

CLASSES 195 and 331. Recently built by CAF and used by the Northern TOC, a fault has been found in the yaw dampers in 22 of the trains. A further 78 emus are fault-free and remain in service. The dampers reduce the swaying of a train when in service.

NEXUS The failure of a train during the morning peak on 30 March 2021 resulted in 20 minute gaps in the South Hylton service. Services between Bede and South Shields were halted during the morning of 7 April 2021 due to a signalling fault. The full timetable is to be restored on 11 April 2021 so that people wishing to visit reopened shops etc. will have adequate transport.

ASHINGTON With the reopening of the railway to Newcastle going ahead, plans have been announced for several thousand new homes at stations along the route. A new platform on the route has been proposed at Northumberland Park alongside the T&W Metro station.

RESTON Physical work began on 1 April 2021 on the construction of this new station on the ECML. It will act as a hub for nearby villages and there will be a 70 space car park.

EXTRA FUNDING A further £7.5m is to be given by Government to sustain services on the Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh tram network both of which lost business due to the pandemic.

STRATHCLYDE “Strathclyde Passenger Transport”, now named “Transport for Strathclyde” (TFS), will co-ordinate bus services under one operating name, introduce co-ordinated fares, and establish links with local railway services. TFS owns the Glasgow Subway and its services will be linked with local bus routes. 200 objections against a transport hub at Ravenscraig were lodged in just 24 hours. The locality is quiet and rural. Trains could not call at Dalmarnock for several hours on 30 March 2021 after the station fire alarm went off. Normal services resumed by late evening as there was no fire. A car struck a railway bridge structure near Cathcart on 1 April 2021 disrupting Cathcart Circle and Neilston trains. Police have been taking joy-riding children off local trains and returning them to their parents. Motherwell station was closed during the evening of 2 April 2021 after a man had been struck by a train and sustained major injuries.

LARGS BRANCH The branch will reopen for normal traffic on 27 March 2021. 27,000 tons of rock that had fallen on to the track following very heavy rains has been removed by engineers.

ABERDEEN The reopening of Bucksburn and Kittybrewster (railhead for the University) stations along the Inverness route has been proposed.

CARDIFF GB Railfreight is providing internal railway operations at Cardiff’s Celsa Steel plant.

23 March 2021

JOE DUDDINGTON His name is nearly forgotten but his major achievement as driver of Class A4 4468 “Mallard” on 3 June 1938 when it broke the world speed record for steam at 126 mph will always be remembered. Joe lies in an unmarked grave at Hyde Park Cemetery, Doncaster but an appeal to raise funds for a gravestone looks like being successful.

TITLE LOST St Pancras station in London has lost its designation as the best station in Europe to Leipzig.

ROCK A large boulder fell on to the track between Ashford and Maidstone East at 1800 on 22 March 2021 closing the line for three hours while it was removed and repairs made.

NEW BUSES National Express made a loss of £444.7m during 2020 following a collapse in traffic due to the pandemic. Traffic is now rebounding upwards on a fleet of 29 electric buses across the West Midlands in Birmingham will operate a new fleet of hydrogen powered buses.

JUMBO FREIGHT A freight service formed by coupling together two trains to reach a length of 590m took aggregate from Tunstead Quarry in Derbyshire to London on 17 March 2021. Aggregate is used to build new roads and the infrastructure of HS2.

SERVICES TO RESUME The following routes will have regular passenger services restored during the next couple of years. Exeter – Okehampton (by end of 2021, bi-hourly; by late 2022 hourly service.) ); Newcastle – Ashington and branch to Fleetwood (at advanced planning stage).The Department of Transport has allocated a further 33m on top of an initial £160m to ensure that modern light rail services across the country can continue despite loads remaining much lower than before the lockdown.

BEAULIEU This locality is just under 4 miles north east of Chelmsford where there will be 3,600 new houses with a new station. This will be a major transport hub fed by many bus routes and will be on the Great Eastern main line 3.7 miles north of Chelmsford and will cost £217m.

CAMBRIDGE AREA Transport around the city is set to be reorganised by the 2030-40 period. The main railway routes would all be upgraded with new underground lines below the actual city centre and connecting with Cambridge Station, Waterbeach station, and Huntingdon station.

TEIGNMOUTH A 100 year old clock has been discovered in a cupboard at the station and, after repairs, has been installed in the ticket hall.

TEWKESBURY A bridge costing over £8m over the Birmingham – Bristol main line will unlock land for 10,000 homes in a new garden village.

COVENTRY Significant progress is being achieved with the £82m project to expand Coventry station ahead of the city becoming the next UK City of Culture. A walkway paved with quality granite slabs is being created from the station towards the city centre. Several bus routes will link the station with various destinations in the city and bus drop-off points are being created. The new station building will have a 633 space car park on top.

WEST MIDLANDS Progress is being made to reopen the Sutton Park line to local passenger services and land has been purchased for a station and car park at Aldridge. Work restarted on 15 March 2021 in Wolverhampton to finish laying Midland Metro track to Wolverhampton station. Work began on 21 March 2021 on building new stations at Darlaston and Willenhall. Land has been bought for a large car park beside Moreton-in-Marsh station to create a transport hub. The restart of local services on the Camp Hill line and providing stations at Moseley, Kings Heath, and Hazelwell is now fully funded (£61m).

PONTYPOOL Torfaen Council is making a large contribution to the £7m upgrade of the station that will have a 160 space car park.

ALSAGER Services here were slashed to just two calls per day in a bid by management to improve timekeeping on the Crewe – Stoke – Derby line. The introduction of new Class 170 dmus has made timekeeping less of a problem. A petition from local users has demanded a restoration of hourly services and most trains will resume calling there from May 2021.

ROTHERHAM Improvements are being made to the Rotherham Parkgate tram:train stop making it easier for cars to reach the enlarged car park that now has 300 new spaces.

LIVERPOOL AREA A major incident occurred at Kirkby, terminus of Merseyrail services and a point where these meet a Northern TOC service from Wigan. This was a former L & Y through route but now sets of buffers prevent through services. At about 1845 on 13 March 2021 a Merseyrail emu crashed through the buffers and struck a road overbridge causing a significant amount of rubble to fall on the track and adjacent platform surface. The front end of the emu involved sustained significant damage and services to/from Liverpool turned at Rice Lane station. Twelve passengers on the train were able to walk from the train unharmed. But the driver was admitted to a local hospital to assess his injuries.

PORT SUNLIGHT Railway staff and passengers have planted 520 trees and hedgerow plants around the station to improve its appearance and ahead of the introduction of new rolling stock on the local service using the station.

MANCHESTER – YORK Work on the route via Huddersfield and Leeds is starting with reconstruction of an embankment in Miles Platting and a start on mast erection along this section.

MANEA The formerly almost unused station near Ely is to have a 112 space car park to handle growing traffic from from surrounding villages.

CLEETHOPES The new owners of the North Bay Railway in Scarborough have also obtained the miniature line in Cleethorpes, and have operated it successfully for some time.

CAR PARKS The car parks at stations run by the Northern TOC have been considerably improved and enlarged. Windermere, Hyde North, Reddish North, Newton for Hyde, Disley, Dent, Styal, Castleton, Grange-over-Sands, and Meadowhall.

NEXUS Demolition of the 100 year old Gosforth emu depot began in March 2021. When the site is cleared a new depot will be built suitable for the new fleet of emus that have been ordered.

SCOTRAIL The Scottish Government is to take over the operation of passenger services after Abellio’s contract comes to an end on 31 March 2022. Two 12 year old girls spent the night locked in a train at Helensburgh. They had fallen asleep on the train and had not been noticed by staff.

EDINBURGH A vehicle crashed into a bridge over the light railway at Balgreen Road at 1925 on 22 March 2021 scattering debris on the track and causing long delays.

HAMILTON Police attempting to arrest a person on the morning of 14 March 2021 cornered him in Hamilton Central Station. The public were ordered to keep clear and trains passed through without stopping. Passengers were directed to the West station instead.

CLARKSTON The station master’s house at Clarkston (Renfrewshire) has been sold for £182,000.

LARGS Eightysix trees close to the railway as it approaches Largs station are to be removed because they are all likely to fall across the tracks if they come down due to bad weather etc.

12 March 2021

BRAKE VANS The few surviving brake vans that remain in use at the rear of British freight trains are to be taken out of service.

CLASS 365 Twenty one 4-car emus are being withdrawn from service and taken off lease by Govia Thameslink during May 2021 and will join nineteen other sets withdrawn in 2018

ROD STEWART The British-born singer has lived in Los Angeles for half a century but is now spending much of the time in a house in Essex. His famous model railway depicting an American city in the 1940s complete with sky scrapers as well as a working model railway is also moving to Essex – in seven massive shipping containers. Hopefully the models will survive the journey.

REOPENING £40m has been made available from Government and Local sources in order to fund the reopening to daily revenue services of the Exeter – Okehampton line.

TOC TAKEOVER PLANS The Department of Transport is making changes to the structure of operating companies that can act as “operators of last resort” and take over the running of TOCs that are failing financially or are not meeting operating expectations. There are four TOCs that may be in this category:- South Western Railway, c2c, Cross Country and Great Western Railway.

PLANNED STATIONS Wiltshire Council has submitted bids to the Department of Transport to fund feasibility studies for stations at Wilton and Corsham.

TEMPLE MEADS Plans have been issued for a possible transformation of the area in front of Bristol’s main station at Temple Meads. An extensive pedestrianised area would be the main feature of the plans.

NEW CONTAINER TRAIN A new daily service between the port of Felixstowe and Wakefield was introduced in mid-March 2021.

ORION LOGISTICS This company plans to introduce a high-speed freight/parcels service with three routes initially:- West Midlands – Mossend; West Midlands – South West England; London Gateway – London Liverpool Street. The company is putting together a small fleet of 4-car Class 319 emus that will have been converted into Class 769 FLEX bi-mode units. As traffic builds up services on these core routes could become more frequent and it might be possible for a sender to turn up at a station served, load their items – and off the train could go.

DOVER A number of improvements have been completed at the town centre Priory station at a cost of £3.5m. This includes repairs and strengthening to the footbridge, replacement of the station lighting system, and upgrading of the platform canopies to ensure that passengers are kept dry on most areas of the platforms..

GUILDFORD Over the Easter weekend (2 – 5 April 2021) several sets of points, 350m of track, and 500m of conductor rail will be renewed.

1 March 2021

CARSHALTON A lorry fitted with a crane crashed into a rail overbridge on the morning of 25 February 2021 disrupting rail travel between Carshalton and Hackbridge for several hours.

PLAISTOW A person was killed after being hit by a train near this LUL station at around 1745 on 20 February 2021. Both the LUL and c2c lines were blocked between West Ham (HL) and Barking.

CAMDEN HIGH LINE A project to create a linear garden along the Camden – Kings Cross viaduct, disused for 30 years, was inspired by the successful and enjoyable New York Highline Park in Manhattan.

AMERSHAM The joint LUL Metropolitan Line / Chiltern Railways station has had footbridge accessed by lifts constructed making it a step-free station. The original footbridge has been retained. Similar access work continues at Debden, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Ickenham. Osterley, Sudbury Hill, and Wimbledon Park.

HANWELL The West London Grade II listed station has been painted in “GWR colours” and given improved lighting that is fitted within the old traditional lanterns.

HEATHROW EXPRESS Five Class 360/2 trains are being bought by Rail Operations UK and will play a part in the complex transformation of the Company’s freight services.

WELSH FLOODS More extremely heavy rain (a month’s expected rain in one day) has resulted in rivers bursting their banks and then pouring down streets. The worst affected areas were in Newport and the Ebbw Vale valley where it was virtually impossible to move at times due to the depth of the water pouring down main roads.

BOW STREET Some villagers are complaining about the noise at the reopened station. Announcements on the platform or inside a train whose doors are open, are causing concern.

PORTISHEAD The task of reopening the railway into Portishead is moving forwards with the preparation of “design and build” documents now being prepared. Contractors are likely to be chosen in late 2021 and building started during 2022.

WEST MIDLANDS The luggage bridge at Worcester Shrub Hill station is Grade II listed but fell into disrepair and the iron was too rusted to restore. An identical replacement has been constructed using robust modern materials and has now been lifted into place. The Very Light Rail Project test track at Dudley, West Midlands, has been completed. It is 2.2km long and is alongside the Innovation Centre. Work has started on the £82m project to redevelop Coventry Station as part of the UK City of Culture Project. Some events of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games will also benefit from the improved station. Parts of the project include a new multi-story car park, an additional entrance off Warwick Road, and a new transport interchange reached via a tunnel under Warwick Road.

MIDLAND MAIN LINE The first stages of extending the electrification along the Midland Main Line is involving clearance of vegetation including trees for some distance away from the tracks. Ecologists are giving advice and checking for three months that animals that have been disturbed have settled down adequately.

TRACK DEATH The Sheffield – Chesterfield line was closed for a time on the morning of 19 February 2021 after a body was found on the track.

WEST YORKSHIRE The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has authorised the preparation of full business cases for two planned stations – Thorpe Park, and White Rose. Thorpe Park would be on the Leeds – York main line close to an entrance to the East Leeds Orbital Road. The new development will include major office and retail buildings with jobs for 3000 people. White Rose will be on the Leeds – Huddersfield line between Morley and Cottingley. Both would have large car parks. Travel through Skipton station was halted on 22/23 February as heavy downpours continued. A pedestrian was killed by a train while crossing the tracks at Bramley station on 21 February 2021.

BIRKEHEAD NORTH During the downpours that struck much of the UK during February 2021 water got into the mechanisms controlling the passenger lifts at this station. The damaged lift mechanisms have to be replaced and work will begin during mid-March 2021 including the fitting of measures that will help prevent future water damage during future rain storms.

LIVERPOOL An evening peak train was halted by a passenger pulling the emergency cord at 1700 between Waterloo and Crosby stations. The incident happened in mid January but the passenger appeared in Court on 24 February 2021.

BLACKPOOL LINE A new station at Cottam on the Preston – Blackpool route is supported by Lancashire County Council. The site is close to Lea Road station ( closed 2 May 1938) and a large new housing development is being built there.

WALKDEN One hundred extra car park spaces are being provided at this station.

TYNE & WEAR METRO There no trains operating between South Hylton and Park Lane on 15 February 2021 due to an obstruction on the tracks. Upgrade work at Gosforth Depot has made available a considerable quantity of now redundant equipment and these have been donated to the nearby heritage line, the Tanfield Railway.

LINK TO IRELAND The restoration of a rail link between Scotland and Ireland is again a top topic. A bridge has been rejected since the storms that rage through the North Channel might see the bridge closed on up to 100 days per year. A tunnel would cost around £10bn but the question of the different gauge used in Scotland and Ulster has not been mentioned in official reports.

LARGS Repairs to the line which suffered a large landslip a couple of months ago have not yet started while decisions are made about how best to tackle the job. It will be late March before the line is expected to reopen. Meanwhile a major marina and ferry terminal served by a new station is planned. This will take activity out of the town centre which has become too congested. The new station will be called Largs Yacht Haven and will include a park-and-ride service with trains shuttling to and from the town centre station between each regular Glasgow-bound service.

EAST KILBRIDE BRANCH Work is starting during February 2021 on digging foundations for trackside masts, first between Muirhouse and Busby Junctions, and a little later along the branch to East Kilbride. Platforms will need to be lengthened to hold 8-coach trains, the station at Hairmyers will be relocated nearly half a mile nearer to Glasgow to serve new housing and give a better entrance to Hairmyers Hospital, and the entire route will be resignalled. This will precede similar conversion work between Busby Junction and Barrhead. Services ran non-stop through Thornliebank station on the morning of 27 February 2021 following a disturbance in which a 15 year old boy was gravely injured. There was a major police presence afterwards.

WEST COAST The Carlisle – Glasgow route had to be closed to all traffic for most of 22 February 2021 because of flooding.

AYRSHIRE The Kilwinning – Ardrossan service was halted for several hours on 24 February 2021 when quite dense spray from the Clyde estuary shorted the power supply.

DELAYS A signalling system fault caused long delays to morning rush hour services on the Lanark and Shotts services on 1 March 2021.

MOTHERWELL Work has restarted on a major upgrade to Motherwell station. There will be a new waiting room serving platforms 2 and 3. A new large concourse with improved retail units will be at street level.

EDINBURGH WAVERLEY Network Rail has allocated £900,000 for design work to assess the various possibilities for an upgrade to this major station in the heart of the Scottish capital.

BROUGHTY FERRY The pedestrian crossing over the ECML beside this station in the suburbs of Dundee is to receive increased safety measures because of the surprisingly large numbers of people using the crossing. Of particular worry to railway authorities is the large number of elderly, and therefore slower walking, pedestrians using the crossing.

DEESIDE LINE The Deeside (Ballater) line station at Cults that closed on 28 February 1966 has survived more or less intact apart from the track and it is now proposed to convert it into a cafe with table and chairs on the platform and inside the building. The track bed has become a popular walk. Further along the abandoned track bed a bridge has been built across the Bernie Burn to take the walkway off the track bed allowing the Royal Deeside Railway to lay a mile of track to be laid taking the heritage route into Banchory.

HIGHLAND MAIN LINE The railway between Perth and Pitlochry had to be closed during 22 – 25 February 2021 due to major flooding when the River Tay burst its banks at several locations. Embankments near Stanley and Pitlochry required careful inspection since cracks had appeared in the earthworks at several points.

15 February 2021

WEATHER Extremely heavy snowfalls in East Anglia and across Central Scotland halted services during 10 February 2021.

EAST – WEST The E – W Rail Project has been awarded £760m to aid construction work but two sections have not been given funds on cost-benefit and value-for-money grounds. Plans for these sections need to be re-examined.

TORQUAY The station building is a listed structure but users for the far platform must climb stairs up then down crossing the tracks on a footbridge that is part of the listed structures. New lifts are to be installed to ease the way for passengers so permission to do so is now being sought.

SOUTH WALES Between 13 and 19 February 2021 the main line between Cardiff and Swansea was closed to all traffic while lines into the freight yard were altered to take longer trains (up to 2500 feet).

BOW STREET The station was opened for revenue traffic on 14 February 2021. The original station near Aberystwyth was closed on 14 June 1965 and the village has grown steadily since then.

TONBRIDGE AREA The Tonbridge – Tunbridge Wells line had to be closed early on 7 February 2021. Sensors in the area had detected earth movements and when engineers arrived at the scene they found that the 160 years old embankment had shown slippage and 150 yards of track had been compromised. The embankment had to be reconstructed before the track could become safe to use and the work was expected to take until the end of February 2021.

MARKS TEY Two hundred additional secure cycle spaces have been provided at this station where there are rapidly growing numbers of commuters each day.

LUL Kings Cross St Pancras station continues to be the busiest station on the London Underground with 88.3m users in 2019. Second busiest is Victoria (85.5m) followed by Waterloo (822.9m). Quietest was Kensington Olympia with 109,000 (open on weekends only) and Roding Valley 405,000 (open every weekday).

LINE BLOCKED Snow drifts covered the tracks between Saxmundham and Halesworth and all trains through the area had to be cancelled on 13 February 2021.

ATTLEBOROUGH The Greater Anglia TOC is to triple the size of the station car park to hold 86 vehicles, 20 bikes, and 4 motorcycles.

LUTON Starting with the nation-wide timetable change in May 2021 a non-stop service will operate half-hourly between St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway giving travellers a service taking around 30 minutes between Central London and the Airport terminal buildings.

WEST MIDLANDS The local Rail Executive is exploring the use of battery electric multiple units that could banish most of the diesel fumes that pollute New Street Station. Safety checks in Sutton Coldfield tunnel caused delays to Cross-City Line North services until 0730 on 10 February 2021.

MIDLANDS METRO ROUTE NAMES Andy Street, Midlands Mayor, has listed a series of personalities whose names could be applied to future Metro routes up to 2040. The precise details of the lines are fluid but the individual route names, and details about who is to be commemorated are as follows. LEE WOODS LINE named after Mary Lee Woods 1924-2017, mathematician and computer scientist; MACARTHUR LINE – Mary Reid MacArthur 1880-1921 Trade Union Pioneer; CHAMBERLAIN LINE – Joseph C Chamberlain 1836-1914 Businessman, Mayor of Birmingham, National politician; ELIZABETH LINE 1952 – living. Queen Elizabeth II longest reigning monarch of the UK. The largest hospital in the region is named after her. ZEPHANIAH LINE Benjamin Zephaniah 1958 – living. Writer, poet, living in Handsworth. GODIVA 11th century Anglo-Saxon queen famed for perhaps riding her horse in Coventry naked as a protest against the ruling king..

WOLVERHAMPTON A cycle park for 100 bikes is to be built at Wolverhampton station. It will cost £525,000 to construct.

BRITANNIA BRIDGE Refurbishment of the three towers of this 1850 bridge carrying the A55 highway and the railway to Holyhead started at the end of February 2021. Traffic on the road will be somewhat restricted but the railway will be unaffected.

STOCKPORT The long, high viaduct carrying the main line from Euston high above the centre of Stockport into Central Manchester, is to receive brickwork and drainage repairs costing £1m – the first significant repair work on the viaduct for 30 years.

MERSEYSIDE A major railway bridge across the Rainford Bypass (A750) has been strengthened at a cost of £1.4m to ensure that it will be safe and reliable for decades to come.

HORWICH The management and operation of Horwich Parkway station was taken over on 1 February 2021 by Transport for Greater Manchester. This is a model for how Manchester looks to control the planning and operation of local railway services in its area.

MANCHESTER CAR PARKS A 100 space car park is planned at Walkden railway station and Salford Council have approved this project. A 360 space car park was completed recently at Parkway on the Trafford Park Line. The existing car parks at Radcliffe and Whitefield;d stations are to be increased by a total of 234 spaces. In all nearly 700 additional spaces will have been provided as part of efforts to take as many vehicles off the seriously congested roads.

MANCHESTER METROLINK Twenty seven new M5000 Flexity Swift LRVs were ordered from Bombardier in July 2018 at a cost of £27m. They are built in Bombardier’s German factory at Bautzen and tested on the system in Vienna before being sent to Manchester. The finance came from the Transforming Cities Fund and they will help to reduce overcrowding on peak services by making possible more “double trams”. Deliveries are expected to be a tram every three weeks and the third from this order (Fleet number 3123) was delivered to Trafford Depot at the beginning of February 2021.

BLACKPOOL TRAIN-TRAM Blackpool is famed for its fleet of decorated trams and part of a holiday in the resort often includes a ride on one of the trams decorated to look like something else. The “Western Train” tram comprises a locomotive section built on the chassis of a 1934 English Electric tram of which little remains. The coach section is designed to look like a 1928 railway carriage. It was introduced in 1962 but withdrawn in 1999 due to its old age. The Lottery Heritage Fund enabled complete rebuilding of the Tram-Train in 2007-9 and it was the first Blackpool Tram to have wheelchair access. There is now a need to undertake more restoration work and an appeal has been launched to pay for this.

LEEDS Recent heavy rainfalls resulted in flooding of tracks in the Kirkstall area.

GOOLE Siemens Mobility is to build its new train manufacturing plant in Goole where 700 new jobs will be created. New track measuring 4.5 km will be laid to connect the £40m factory to the main lines.

HULL Plans for a new commuter halt near Cottingham have failed to win support from the City Council.

YORK A project to improve the entrance to York Station will cost £29m. Streets in the area close to the station will be simplified and a new 636 place multi-storey car park will be built giving a total of 1300 spaces when spaces at the adjacent York Central development are included.

DARLINGTON The local Council has revealed plans to make the town’s Bank Top station (on the ECML) into an attractive gateway for the town and is issuing compulsory purchase orders for land that it will use to transform the area around the station entrance.

NEXUS A points failure at Hebburn meant that no trains could run on the lines to Heworth and Pelaw for several hours on the morning of 10 February 2021. The Tyne and Wear Metro will be closed for two weeks from 15 until 28 February 2021 between Heworth, the City Centre, and Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre. 18,000m of overhead power wire are to be replaced in readiness for the introduction of a new train fleet.

DUNBAR An underbridge taking Spott Road in Dunbar under the ECML is a home to a large flock of pigeons. When the bridge undergoes repairs shortly it was planned to cull the birds. Over 1000 local people have signed a petition to save the birds. The Dunbar Council has accepted their desire to spare the birds and the repairs will go ahead without removing the birds.

GLASGOW QUEEN STREET What seemed to be smoke in the tunnel between Queen Street High Level and Cowlairs resulted in trains being diverted via Springburn to the |Low Level platforms on 7 February 2021. When nothing was found in Cowlairs Tunnel trains returned to their normal route after a couple of hours.

WALL COLLAPSE A tall wall close to Muirhouse Junction and Pollokshields East Station collapsed on 12 February 2021 into a cutting creating a loud bang that was hear a couple of miles away. It formed part of a property at 37 Albert Drive.

CLYDE ESTUARY AREA Helensburgh Pier has fallen out of use due to a lack of maintenance by the owning Council. Repairs and upgrades are now to be performed since the next pier, Craigendoran, is not convenient for the town centre. There are moves to reopen Faslane station some way along the West Highland Line where new developments are taking place. A little way into the mountains, the A83 is often blocked by landslips forcing quite heavy traffic on to the inadequate narrow “Rest and be Thankful” road.

TUNNEL There is increasing speculation that the Government will shortly announce the go-ahead for the building of a rail tunnel between the Stranraer area and the Larne/Belfast area in Ireland. Trains would be able to carry cars and lorries in a manner similar to the Channel Tunnel. A London to Dublin travel tine of six hours has been suggested. Has any planner remembered that the gauge of railways in Great Britain and in Ireland are different? I suppose that the Larne to Belfast line might be re-gauged but surely not all the way to Dublin – a move that would involve other railway routes that branch off from the line to Dublin.

LARGS BRANCH Two substantial landslips occurred on 6 February 2021 covering the branch tracks with soil and a few trees. One was just north of Ardrossan and the second at Fairlie. The branch was closed north of Ardrossan until 12 February 2021.

HIGHLANDS SNOW Extremely heavy snowfalls made rail movements through Pitlochry and Blair Atholl impossible on 3 February 2021. The blockage was severe further north at Dalwhinnie where drifts several feet deep halted trains on 2 and 3 February 2021. Snow ploughs were in action trying to clear a way along the Highland Main Line at Dalwhinnie. The Aberdeen to Inverness main line was blocked on 14 February 2021 by heavy snow falls that proved beyond the ability of the regular snow clearance teams

3 February 2021

REOPENINGS FUNDED The Transport Secretary made a total of £794m available on 23 January 2021 to fund the reopening of the Newcastle – Ashington line (£34m) closed in 1964 and £760m to fund the next phase of East-West Rail between Bletchley and Bicester. This section was closed in 1968 and is expected to reopen in 2025.

CALL TO USE STATIONS The local MP is asking that BR trains call at Goodrington and Brixham stations which are regular stops by trains of the Goodrington Steam Railway services. Goodrington could become a park-and-ride stop to help keep road traffic out of Paignton town centre.

ISLE OF WIGHT A further study is to assess whether the reopening of two sections of the island’s railways might be viable. These are Shanklin – Ventnor and Ryde – Newport.

PEVENSEA AND WESTHAM A tree was blown on to the station platform and tracks as Storm Christoph hit the area very late on 20 January 2021. The line between Eastbourne and Bexhill was closed as the tree was sawn into manageable pieces and the line was reopened in time for the morning peak on the 21 January 2021.

ST MARY CRAY Work is starting of a £4m project to provide step-free access throughout the station.

SHEERNESS The Kings Ferry Bridge was closed to rail traffic during the morning of 25 January 2021 following the finding of some damage in the structure. After this was confirmed as being not dangerous to trains using the bridge, it was able to reopen.

MORE FLOODS The Horsham – Epsom line had to be closed to all traffic early on 28 January 2021. Later a limited service was restored using dmus and a full service with emus restarted later on the day.

HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE The busy bridge across the Thames suffered some damage during the recent heavy rains and the decision was taken on 20 January 2021 to close the bridge to all users – cars, buses, freight lorries, and even single pedestrians – until detailed inspections had confirmed that the bridge was safe to use and not about to collapse.

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON TfL has started to build a number of small housing units (flats) in blocks in the Acton/Chiswick area. Work has begun on an initial 1500 housing units, and approval has recently been given for a further 6650 flats, and is awaited for a final 1250. The area being redeveloped measures 3.6 hectares.

INGATESTONE An embankment here showed considerable slippage of the structure on 22 January 2021 causing long delays to Norwich and Clacton services. Repairs were not completed until 31 January 20211.

CLACTON-ON-SEA A major resignalling project will take place during a three week period in February 2021.

HILLMORTON LANDSLIP Recent extremely heavy rains have unstabilised the ground under the WCML just south of Hillmorton Junction and trains were diverted via Northampton adding up to 30 minutes to journey times.

EUSTON HS Ltd has been ordered to scale back its plans for the Euston terminus so that it will have ten rather then eleven 400m platforms. The work is to be undertaken in a single rather than two separate phases.

WOLVERHAMPTON The modernized Wolverhampton station will have an official “reopening” in the Spring of 2021. The tram extension to the station will open at the same time and the station will become an interchange hub between trains, trams, and a wide range of bus routes.

KIDDERMINSTER A landslip close to Kidderminster station halted all services just as the evening peak was beginning on 28 January 2021.

GARDEN One of the best preserved 16th century gardens – part of the estate of long destroyed Coleshill Manor – has been discovered by workers preparing the infrastructure for HS2.

LONGTON The station, regarded as the second most important station serving the Potteries, is to have a £1.2m makeover.

SEVERE DOWNPOURS Very heavy rainfall across much of Scotland, northern England and the East Midlands caused disruption to many services during the evening of the 20th and the morning of the 21st January 2021. The first areas where rail services were disrupted on the 20th were in Maghull, Merseyside, and in Didsbury, South Manchester. By the morning of the 21st January 2021 hardly any local train service was operating on most routes between Liverpool and Manchester, Bolton, Wigan, and Southport. On 24-5 January 2021 damage was found at sites on the Wirral.

FLOODS Heavy rain resulted in flooding near Garforth and considerable delays to Leeds – York services. Along the Welsh coast floods upset services between Dovey Junction and Machynlleth, around Fairbourne, and between Barmouth and Harlech.

MORE BAD WEATHER High winds and driving snow combined to make any use of the Queensferry Road Bridge over the Forth estuary extremely dangerous. The Crossing was closed to all potential users during 21 January 2021. Trains were able to continue to use the adjacent Forth Railway Bridge with no more than a modest speed restriction.

BOMBARDIER In the final days before it is taken over by French giant Alstom on 29 January 2021, Bombardier has announced that it has agreed to build two monorails in Cairo for the Egyptian Government with support from the British Government. A monorail production line will be created at the Litchurch Lane, Derby, factory. This will be the first export business since the Gautrain fleet for services around Johannesburg over a decade ago. The Gautrain units were based on the Electrostar trains.

MANCHESTER The Greater Manchester Mayor has set out a comprehensive plan to create a “world-class” integrated transport network for the city. Individual parts of the £69.5m project include £20m to develop quality bus services including northern and eastern orbital routes; £15m for a new station at Golborne; £2.5m to fund business cases for other new railway and Metrolink stops; £2m to create a new travel hub with Park-and-Ride facilities at Tyldesley; and £3m for improvements at a number of other stations including Swinton.

TRANSPENNINE The Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) of the Manchester to York via Leeds line (76 miles) will see major works undertaken just east of Manchester Victoria station during a sixteen day closure of a section in the Manchester suburbs. Track will be renewed through the Miles Platting area, and several bridges will be repaired and upgraded.

SHEFFIELD The tram:train service ceased operation between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate on 21 January 2021. Following very heavy rainfall due to Storm Christoph the adjacent river overflowed and water poured across the tracks. The rains stopped late that day and it was possible for tram services to resume on 22 January 2021.

HALIFAX A proposal to rebuild the town’s station is to be examined. The cost will be £30m.

WEST YORKSHIRE The Combined Authority revealed on 27 January 2021 details from a plan for a mass transit system that will link up centres across the area. Some routes will bring back into use abandoned railway rights of way. There will be a mass transit interchange in Bradford city centre and frequent services will operate to communities like Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton, and Laisterdyke. Plans for two new stations will be discussed during February 2021. The White Rose station costing £24.2m will be between Morley and Cottingley on the Transpennine route adjacent to the White Rose Office Park and close to the White Rose Shopping Centre and bus interchange. There will be walking and cycle routes to several nearby suburbs. A Parkway station costing £31.6m is suggested at Thorpe Park on the Leeds – York main line. West Yorkshire becomes a Mayoral Authority in May 2021 and will have additional powers and access to new sources of funding.

YORK A £28m project to remodel the entrance area is to be modified since the changes would impinge on the city’s heritage.

MIDDLESBROUGH Work began on 25 January 2021 to lengthen the main platform at the Teesside station so that through trains to London Kings Cross can be restored within the next couple of years.

TYNE & WEAR The 100 year old Depot at Gosforth is to be demolished by a local contractor so that a new depot suitable for the new train fleet can be built on the same site.

SERVICE CUTS Scotrail removed 300 trains from the timetable on 1 February 2021. Traffic has fallen by 90% due to the pandemic and shows no sign of returning to former levels. Late evening trains through Glasgow Queen Street Low Level have been removed and all trains now have three cars instead of six on busy services. However traffic remains at around 10% of former levels.

EDINBURGH Jenners, the world famous department store on Princes Street in the city centre, is to close on 3 May 2021 after failing to reach agreement on future rent. Jenners has traded there for 183 years. Meanwhile Anders Povlsen, the owner of the building, has announced that there is to be “an exciting renovation” of the structure. The news has been greeted with shock. In past years, despite Glasgow having a large range of department stores, many people traveled across Scotland to visit Jenners where a remarkable range of goods was always stocked. The shop was bought by the Frasers’ group several years ago and the shop has become more like any other House of Fraser shop. Frasers purchased the Binns stores several years ago with one a little way along Princes Street from Jenners but this was closed down a few years ago.

CARMONT Part of a bridge structure three miles from the recent fatal derailment incident has fallen off and the ECML remains closed through the area with reopening expected to be on 22 February 2021.

STIRLING The extensive roof over the main station building and the numerous platforms is to be reglazed as part of a £3m upgrade.

12 January 2021

FIRST CLASS is being removed from all Greater Anglia stopping services along the Great Eastern Main Line. The new emus being delivered for stopping services have no first class so the first class sections on older stock has been de-classified and customers with season or other tickets for use on first class seats can have an appropriate refund. First class continues to be available on London – Norwich inter-city trains.

CLASS 834 Existing emu 314209 is to be rebuilt by a consortium of equipment suppliers and become the first of class 834. The aim is to complete the work in time for the COP26 climate change conference that will be held in Glasgow in November 2021. The Class 834 set will be based on the Bo’ness and Kineil Railway during initial tests.

ISLE OF WIGHT The last day of operation of the Class 483 stock was 2 January 2021. The 82 years old stock is thought to have covered 3 million miles in service. There will still be an opportunity to ride on the elderly trains. One two-car set is going to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and another set is heading for the London Traction Transport Group’s line between Epping and Ongar.

OCKLEY The Horsham – Dorking line had to be closed on 25 December 2020 following a landslip near Ockley station. Repairs will allow the route to reopen on 4 January 2021.

CROYDON A bridge taking the four-track Brighton main line over a busy highway has been rebuilt in a way that increases the height of vehicles that can pass safely below the railway. The location is the site of many “bridge strikes” causing significant delays to the trains and substantial damage to the road vehicles.

LUL Plans to build four blocks of flats containing a total of 162 housing units on the station car park at Arnos Grove has provoked widespread complaints. A petition against the plan has generated several thousand signatures. Enfield Council has reconsidered the application and on 7 January2021 rejected the proposal.

NINE ELMS On Christmas Day a 70m stretch of a wall collapsed during engineering work close to the site..

CROSSRAIL 2 All work on planning for improvements to the Enfield area have been dropped following the sharp drop in traffic and fares income due to the pandemic. LUL has officially halted all planning work for the project.

NORTHERN LINE EXTENSION Good progress has been made with the extension to Battersea. The tunnels have been completed for some time, and now track laying has been completed with the power soon to be turned on to allow a start to extensive testing. At Nine Elms station a new pedestrian route through railway ARCH 42 is nearing completion. At Battersea Power station contractors are working above ground on the station entrance. In addition work will soon start on a new road, Prospect Way, which will serve new developments on available vacant land. Test trains ran along the full length of the extension for the first time on 2 January 2021.

SOUTHAMPTON The main line between Southampton and Bournemouth was flooded after extremely heavy rainfall brought by Storm Bella during the last week of 2020.

HITACHI Batteries are to be fitted to a five-car train owned by Eversholt Rail and used on the London Paddington to Penzance route.

SOUTH WALES The reopened Ebbw Vale branch has been a major success with use by 100,000 passengers in its first year to over a million now. There is an immediate need for a second train per hour – ideally to/from Newport and a longer term aspiration to double the services to Cardiff Central and to Newport giving four services per hour along the branch. There is also a wish to reopen the branch to Abertillery. This would give at least a half hourly service to both Cardiff and Newport and create an excellent frequency of services along the valley.

WORCESTERSHIRE PARKWAY This is the first new station to be opened in the County for over a century. It serves routes to Birmingham, South Wales and London. A feature is the very attractive wooden ceilings over footbridges, corridors, and other wallkways.

FLOODS between Tywyn and Harlech, and between Dovey Jct and Aberystwyth halted train services throughout the morning of 3 January 2021. Replacement buses were able to get through.

MIDLANDS SERVICE CHANGES During the holiday period 24 – 27 December 2020 several important improvements were made to signalling at New Street station, overhead wires at Watford, Crewe and Liverpool, and the track was improved at Manchester and Preston. However an amended timetable was introduced from 18 January 2021 reducing some service frequencies and with buses replacing trains between Leamington Spa – Kenilworth – Coventry – Nuneaton.

MIDLANDS METRO Services were halted for much of the morning of 2 January 2021 after a taxi was abandoned on the tracks near Snow Hill Station.

CURZON STREET The Grade 1 listed station building in Birmingham city centre was opened in 1838 is now to become an HS2 Visitor Centre. Plans to incorporate the historic structure into the new HS2 station have been agreed.

CLASS 196 The new three coach CAF built dmus have been undergoing commissioning trials on routes within the West Midlands.

WOLVERHAMPTON Work to improve station lifts begins on 11 January 2021 and is expected to continue until 20 April 2021. No step-free access will be available to platforms 2a, 2b, 3, or 4 while the work is on-going. Platforms 1, 5, and 6 will retain step-free access at all times.

LIVERPOOL A new intermodal freight service taking containers from the East Midlands to the Port of Liverpool started operation at the start of 2021. This service runs in partnership with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (UK).

MANCHESTER The area comprising Greater Manchester was placed in Tier 4 at the start of 2021 and all the travel restrictions which are essential with Tier 4 now apply.

MERSEYRAIL A heavy snow fall and ice formation meant that there were no trains between Hunts Cross and Southport during the morning of 2 January 2021. The ice on the tracks caused delays across the entire Mersey area. The company warned that a similar problem might occur on 8 and 9 January 2021.

LEEDS Construction of a new platform “0” at Leeds station was completed over the Christmas period after two years work. This is a major part of the £16m investment being made in the station.

SERVICES CANCELLED Hull Trains and Grand Central are abandoning their service to Kings Cross until more normal travel conditions apply. These companies receive no Government subsidies and rely on ticket income which has slumped massively during the pandemic.

YORK The large station clock close to the main footbridge across much of the station and which was installed in the 1870s has been given a major facelift. It now sports a new repaint and looks very smart indeed.

SCARBOROUGH The Grade 11 listed 139m long bench along platform1 at Scarborough station has been repaired at a cost of £14,500. Most of the nuts and bolts holding the structure together plus some timber work have been replaced.

SUNDERLAND The rather dark and gloomy mostly below ground station is to be upgraded in an attempt to improve the adjacent town centre shopping centre.

BOLTON Additional drop-off and pick-up points are being built reduce congestion caused by rising traffic.

PRESTON The trains that will operate on HS2 will be 400m long – too long for the main platforms in Preston station. Platforms 3 and 4 will be lengthened but platforms 3c and 4c will be removed with the trains that use them transferred to the present parcels platform on the western side of the station. After all the improvements have been completed the trip time between Preston and Birmingham will drop from 96 to 50 minutes, and Preston and London from 128 minutes to 78 minutes.

WERRINGTON A 155m long concrete box is being built to take freight traffic from one side of the ECML to the other without disrupting the flow of fast passenger services. Without this tube being pushed below the fast tracks the entire ECML might have to be closed for up to a month.

SUBSIDIES The Scottish Government has provided subsidies to help the continued operation of the Glasgow Subway and the Edinburgh tram route. £9m was given in July 2020, £4m in October 2020, and a further £8m on 23 December 2020.

TRACKWORK During a three day shutdown over the Christmas period engineers renewed pointwork at Pollokshields East Junction normally used by Cathcart Circle, Kirkhill, Neilston East Kilbride and Barrhead services.

RAVENSCRAIG Plans for a major freight station and and road transport freight hub have been announced but have generated loud complaints from residents in a new housing estate built on the site of the 1967 steel works near Motherwell. The entrance to a new Primary School will be immediately adjacent to the freight hub.

PRESTONPANS There were considerable delays to North Berwick local trains and ECML long distance services through the evening of 2 January 2021 after a broken rail was found between Prestonpans and Longniddry.

INVERNESS Because very severe weather is expected a 40 mph speed limit was applied on 10 January 2021 on all lines from Inverness – the Far North, Kyle of Lochalsh, Aberdeen, and Highland Main Line. On the next day, 11 January 2021, all services on the Far North, Kyle, Oban and Mallaig routes were replaced by buses because of slippery rail surfaces.

1 January 2021

CORONAVIRUS As a new more infectious version of the virus swept across the UK 40 nations in Europe, and including Canada, issued a ban on all ferries and planes coming from the UK to their nations. France issued a 48m hour closure to their boundary while new arrangements for food imports to the UK are arranged. Eurostar passenger and car transport services were halted during 20 December 2020 and a queue twenty miles long soon stretched along the M20 towards Dover. A parking area for these lorries was opened at Manston Airport during 21 December 2020 but owners of lorries were often unwilling to allow them take supplies from Europe into the UK since they might then be trapped in England, unable to return home.

FRANCHISES ENDED Avanti West Coast and the South Western Railway franchises have been brought to a close well before the scheduled end date in a Government move to reorganise rail services. In both cases the present operators continue to run the services as a result of a new management contract.

QUIETEST STATIONS Berney Arms in the lonely Broads of Norfolk was used by just 42 people during 2019-20. The pub that was served by the Berney Arms stop has closed down. Next quietest was Elton and Orston, in Nottinghamshire, whose woodland setting attracted 68 users.

PHASED REOPENINGS A daily Exeter to Okehampton service is expected to be in place by summer 2021. The much talked about service north from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Ashington via Blyth is now confidently expected to open during the winter of 2023. The restoration of passenger services between Bristol and Portishead is now expected to take place in December 2024. A busy freight service operates as far as the port of Portbury with new track required over the final 5km section to Portishead. The Thornton Junction to Leven line in Fife (10.5km) is expected to reopen in late 2024.

TIER 4 London, the South East including all of Kent and the counties of Hertford, Buckingham, and Essex were placed in Tier 4 by the Government on 20 December 2020. Tier 4 restricts people to remaining in their own homes and cannot receive visitors from other houses. The restrictions were to commence at midnight so there was a hectic rush by people anxious to escape the new restriction, presumably by visiting friends or relations even though these journeys were strictly speaking banned by the earlier Tier 3 category. Certain trains leaving London for the South West, for the north west, or for Eastern England were packed to standing room only disobeying instructions given by the Prime Minister. It was obvious that any sort of traditional Christmas celebration was not going to be possible for most people.

LARGE FINE Network Rail has been fined £135,000 after a 13 year old boy was able to get through an inadequately and badly maintained fence, then climb on to the roof of a stationary train during 2016. He came close to a 25kV power cable and received severe burns.

NEW FREIGHT SERVICES A container service between Doncaster and Malcolm’s Yard at Elderslie started operation five days per week on 3 November 2020. This service runs via the East Coast Main Line and the Shotts route. On 18 November 2020 another service commenced between East Midlands gateway (Castle Donington) and Liverpool Docks (Seaforth). Both routes carry container traffic transferred from road to rail by the road operators who have found that rail can be a cheaper alternative to individual lorries travelling singly along congested roads. We can expect more new routes from the industrial heartlands and major ports as the economy revives.

HS2 The two huge tunnelling machines that will dig the twin ten mile long tunnels through the Chilterns have arrived in London. Named Florence and Cecilia they measure about 40 feet across.

BATTERY POWER Hitachi started tests with battery power on intercity trains between Paddington and Penzance in mid December 2020. Thirty six intercity trains are now equipped to run the 300 mile journey using electric power from Paddington to Reading, and diesel power beyond but are now being fitted with battery equipment which will be tested from 2022. Hitachi Rail with Hyperdrive have signed an agreement to develop battery power zero emission trains at a factory in north east England.

DAWLISH SEA WALL Part of the expensively rebuilt Sea Wall protecting the Paddington to Plymouth main line has broken up in renewed severe storms and some of the debris fell into the sea on 18 December 2020..

NEWQUAY BRANCH Several additional services were added to the timetable from 13 December 2020. It will be possible to reach cities like Plymouth or London up to 3 hours earlier than before.

MARSH BARTON A new station on the main line between Exeter and Newton Abbot has been approved by Devon County Council and most of the required funding is in place. The station will serve the Marsh Barton Industrial Estate and construction will begin in early 2021.

ISLE of WIGHT Five Class 484 trains were delivered to the Island via Ryde Pier on 19 November 2020 and are rebuilt from LUL D78 stock by Vivarail. These trains continue the use of rebuilt former London Underground stock on the Island – a practice dictated by the low headroom along the tunnel taking the line under the town of Ryde.. The line between Ryde Pier and the resort of Shanklin will be closed between 3 January 2021 and 31 March 2021 for alterations/upgrades to be made in preparation for the 484s. The new trains will replace the Class 483 stock of which there were nine two-car sets. Which arrive during the period 1989-92. They in turn had replaced the 485s which had started out when ordered by the Undergound Electric Railway of London in 1922-3 and had run on the Northern, Piccadilly, and Bakerloo Lines as “Standard Stock”.

WATERLOO & CITY LINE The short link between Waterloo terminus and the heart of London’s business area was closed when the pandemic struck in March 2020. It is unlikely to reopen before April 2021 because at the moment there seems to be little demand for the service.

LUL MAP The diagramatic map of the London Underground network has been reissued and includes the Thameslink Line after a gap of 22 years.

4 SUB 4732 The last intact 4 SUB unit was stored in the open at The Electric Railway Museum in Coventry for several years and its condition deteriorated as a result. It is now likely to go on display under cover at a new Museum being created in Margate.

SOUTHWESTERN The Southwestern TOC plans to discontinue all on-board catering from the beginning of 2021. Passenger numbers have fallen sharply due to the pandemic and the catering service on trains is now uneconomic. If and when passenger numbers rise again there may be an opportunity to restore catering on the trains.

ELIZABETH LINE (Crossrail) Construction work at Farringdon Station was completed at the end of November 2020. The station will have two entrances, both with ticket hallways. The station will connect with Thameslink, the Underground, Canary Wharf, and with services to three of London’s five airports. There will now be testing and commissioning of systems installed at the station ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth Line.

NORTHAMPTON A derailment in Coventry station during the early hours of 15 December 2020 caused disruption to services onwards to Northampton until the middle of the day.

WEST MIDLANDS Train set 323 216 has travelled to Doncaster Works for a major bogies overhaul. Work has begun on resignalling New Street Station replacing equipment that is now over 50 years old and has become outmoded. Skanska has won the £52m contract to replace an 8 brick plus one steel span structure on the Aston – International line with a single steel span 92m long.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO Work to replace the lift at The Hawthorns is to start in early January 2021. Work has begun on diverting utilities along the eastside extension (to Digbeth) via the HS2 Curzon Street station. The 1.7km long four stop extension will cost £227m and there will be no overhead wire along half of the new route which eventually go to Chelmsley Wood via the Airport, and the NEC. The installation of the crossover at the terminus of the Westside extension took place during November 2020. The new stops on this extension (beyond Library) will be Brindley Place, Five Ways and Hagley Road.

MORE FLOODING Torrential rail fell across the counties of Northampton, Worcester, and Hereford during 23 December 2020. Several Motorway junctions were inundated with the M50 closed completely and rail services between Bedford and Leicester were halted for a time.

MANCHESTER AREA Two suburban stations are to receive upgrades at a total cost of £382m. They are Cheadle Hulme (£254m) and New Mills Newtown (£128m) and are to receive upgrades including improvements to the exterior of the buildings, refurbishment of the waiting rooms, new ticket offices, and the installation of handrails along the stairways.

METROLINK A serious collision occurred at 0730 on 8 December 2020 on a level crossing close to the Ashton West stop. A van was badly damaged and the driver of tram 3085 required hospital treatment. Park and Ride facilities are being expanded – at Radcliffe from 111 to 480 spaces and at Whitefield from 123 to 331. The expansion work will result in the existing car parks being closed for a time but a new car park for 360 cars has been opened at Parkway on the Trafford Park line and a temporary car park for 250 vehicles at Spring Lane.

LIVERPOOL AREA With the Liverpool area now considered to be in Conarovirus Tier 2 instead of Tier 3 local rail services have started to improve as more people start to travel again. Services between Southport and Liverpool Central have been increased from half-hourly to every 20 minutes. The trains turn at Liverpool Central and do not continue across the city centre to Hunts Cross. Plans for a major city station station to replace Lime Street since the present city centre station is considered inadequate to handle a sharp growth in traffic that will be expected after the opening of HS2.

BOLTON A £2m upgrade has been completed at Bolton station creating large seating areas, improved toilet, retail and staff facilities.

PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS Nine pedestrian crossing over the London – Norwich main line are to be closed once alternative bridges over the line have been got ready. Permission to close a further thirteen crossings has been refused. The changes are part of plans to speed up the journey time along the route.

ILKESTON The site of the former Stanton steel works is to become one of the nation’s largest freight hubs serving both the East and West Midlands with through freight services running to/from destinations across the country.

STEETON & SILSDEN The £4.6m plan for a three level car park beside this Yorkshire station has provoked controversy. The plan would provide 104 extra free spaces plus battery charge facilities. However on an adjacent woodyard site there could be 221 extra spaces though part is used now at a charge of £3 per car.

YORK – KNARESBOROUGH The £9.8m upgrade to the signalling was completed in early December 2020. The old system that required the driver to possess the token for the section ahead has been replaced and an improved layout at Cattal means that two trains can now enter the station at the same time.

TYNE & WEAR A temporary Depot at Howden has been opened while the South Gosforth Depot is adapted to handle the new rolling stock. Smartphone ticketing has been introduced on the Metro.

NEW STATIONS Plans have been submitted for new stations on the ECML at Reston (with 70 place car park and space for 40 more) and East Linton (126 space car park). Both stations will have a footbridge with lifts.

GLASGOW AREA A timber lorry struck a level crossing barrier on the Helensburgh route west of Dumbarton on 10 December 2020 and caused delays for the rest of the day. Work to extend both platforms at Milngavie from 141m to 205m was completed on11 December 2020. The Glasgow Subway celebrated its 124th birthday on 14 December 2020.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Govan has become the busiest station on the circular route since it serves the staff of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital nearby, rather than city centre stations since many city centre shops and offices are at present closed. Because so much traffic has been lost on the Subway and Edinburgh’s tramway a further £8m was granted by the Government to keep these services in operation.

CLASS 380 These three car emus operate services between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley and have travelled 50m miles in the ten years since they were introduced to the route in December 2010.

MAIN LINE REOPENS The Aberdeen – Dundee main line, closed on 12 August 2020 after the dreadful derailment, collision, and earthwork failure, was reopened on 3 November 2020.

MORE FLOODING After yet more heavy rain the route between Forres and Elgin was closed from the 8 until the 10 December 2020 due to flooding which resulted in some track being washed away.

KYLE LINE SHUT A landslide following more heavy rain closed the Kyle of Lochalsh line “for the rest of the day” just west of Dingwall on 8 December 2020.

6 December 2020

PLANNED NEW STATIONS AND REOPENINGS. Two new stations on the edge of large towns have received partial funding from the Department of Transport. Haxby on the York – Scarborough line has been proposed many times as a park-and-ride stop to take cars off the busy roads into York and the Government gave its approval on 25 November 2020. It is located close to the York ring road. A similar new station has been agreed on the northern edge of Torquay in Devon near the former Torre station. It will be called Edginswell and around 500 new homes will be built nearby. The Government is providing £7.8m to help pay for it. A station on the Blackpool line at Cottam to serve 5000 new homes in north west Preston is apparently largely funded from various sources. Routes that are to be reopened include Melton Mowbray to Nottingham, Alfreton to Ashfield (The Maid Marian line), the Exeter – Okehampton branch, on which a summer Sunday service has run in recent years, and also the station at Beeston Castle & Tarporley on the Crewe – Chester line.

PURPLE is the internationally recognised colour for disability. The concourse at London Kings Cross was lit up in purple on 3 December 2020 to celebrate the contribution that disabled people make to society. Other major stations including London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street, Bristol Temple Meads, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds are lit in purple for the same reason from time to time.

TRANSFORING CITIES Major improvements are to be made to Stoke-on-Trent and Longton stations, together with the creation of quality cycle and walking routes around the Potteries centred on these two stations. A total of £29m from the Government’s “Transforming Cities Fund” will be used for these upgrades.

CHART LEACON The famous railway works in Ashford, Kent, has been completely out of use for some time and was demolished more or less overnight at the end of November 2020. Five new sidings will be laid in the space that has been created to undertake stock inspections and light maintenance there in future.

GORING-BY-SEA The Sussex coastal station’s footbridge is to be completely refurbished at a cost over £500,000.

QUIETEST & BUSIEST Berney Arms station on the Reedham – Great Yarmouth link across the Broads is the UK’s quietest station with just 42 users in 2019-20. Three miles from the nearest road the station served a very isolated pub but this has now closed depriving the station of most of its tiny traffic. The busiest station in England is London Waterloo with 86,909,518 users in the same period. Glasgsow Central is the busiest station in Scotland with 32.5m users.

EASTSIDE EXTENSION Stadler and Newcastle University are to work together on research, education and innovation initiation relating to Stadler’s contract to supply and maintain a new train fleet for the Tyne & Wear Metro.

ROUTE REOPENINGS ETC Part of the Government proposals announced on 25 November 2020 is a series of station and route reopenings including the Bolton-Radcliffe- Bury line, Stratford-on-Avon to Honeybourne, one of the possible two routes between Consett and Newcastle, Swanage to Wareham, the Newcastle to Blyth and Ashington line, and some sort of service to Cirencester. Individual stations that might reopen include Ferryhill on the ECML, Langport (in Somerset), St Annes Park (in Bristol), and a new station at Waverley which is a suburb of Rotherham.

CORNWALL A light weight tram link between Falmouth and Newquay, linking the south and north coasts of Cornwall has been proposed and given enthusiastic support from local politicians.

WIGHT TO EPPING One of the 1938 ex- LUL trains that served out its final active yeatrs on the Isle of Wight is to be given to the London Transport Traction Group for preservation on the Epping – Ongar Railway.

DOCKLANDS 43 new trains are to be supplied by CAF to replace 33 existing trains. The new trains will have more fold-up seats creating more space for standing passengers. Service frequencies will be boosted because there will be more trains in service. By the time the new trains arrive a new station may have been opened at Thameside Wharf to serve around 5000 new homes. The new station will be near Canning Town on the Woolwich Arsenal branch.

HACKNEY CENTRAL A second entrance to the Overground station has been approved by the local Council so that there will be entrances from streets to both platforms but the footbridge between the platforms is poorly placed for the new entrance and there is insufficient money available to do anything about it.

CROSSRAIL The Department of Transport has awarded a loan of £825m to speed up construction of Crossrail.

WRABNESS The station garden attracts visitors in quite large numbers but it has always been difficult getting sufficient water to the site to keep the plants fresh and healthy. Now the local community has helped by supplying a large tank which can be filled up with new water every couple of weeks and with a water supply now guaranteed the garden is to be expanded and bring even more passengers who simply want to view the flowers.

ECML The main line was closed during the evening of 1 December 2020 because a group of drunken revellers poured on to the tracks at around 2200.

M4 CONGESTION RELIEF The main highway between London, Bristol, and major cities in South Wales is experiencing severe congestion especially around the Brynglas road tunnel. The planned relief road was deleted as being much too expensive but a new proposals is being studied that includes the opening of six new stations along the main railway between Cardiff and the Severn Tunnel. These are Cardiff Newport Road, Cardiff Parkway (with a major car park), Newport West, Newport East, Llanwern (with large car park), and Magor. A network of cycle routes would link these stations and adjacent communities. The total cost of £550m – £850m is much less than the earlier road proposal.

CURZON STREET HS2 Ltd and the West Midlands Combined Authority have agreed to work together to deliver utility diversion required before the Eastside extension to Digbeth and Curzon Street High-Speed termuinus is built. Work has continued at the new station site through the period of the Pandemic with much removal of earth in order to produce a level site.

CRICH The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have been asked to help restore a Blackpool tram at the National Tramway Museum. They will build a new underframe for the chosen tram because they have the ability to use imperial and metric measurements and therefore be able to fit the underframe to the body without significant problems.

SCARBOROUGH The world’s longest platform bench (139m) runs along a platform used normally by excursion trains. It has been refurbished with various fittings replaced and then repainted.

NEXUS has appoined Arup to investigate suggested extensions to Tyne and Wear Metro routes in South Tyneside and the Sunderland area. Meanwhile a reduced frequency timetable has been introduced because of the pandemic related drop in traffic. The opportunity is being taken to catch up with the training of new drivers so that Nexus will be prepared to handle a return of the passengers.

PRUDHOE The footbridge at Prudhoe station has been totally refurbished as a heitage item. The work cost £500,000 and being part of a heritage display there are no lifts or similar modernisation works.

NORTHERN The TOC retired the last operational Pacer train on 27 November 2020.

GLASGOW – EDINBURGH The Edinburgh – Glasgow via Shotts line had to be closed during 24 November 2020 because torrential rain had flooded the line at Hartwood. The main line via Polmont is to be disrupted between 25 December 2020 and 2 January 2021 while pointwork at Queen Street High Level is replaced and while 1km of track is renewed near Cadder.

GLASGOW AREA Track renewal work between Muirhouse Junction and Eglinton Street during 1 – 4 January 2021 will result in services from Maxwell Park, Barrhead, and East Kilbride being cancelled. The new timetable being introduced from 13 December 2020 includes cuts to stopping services between Springburn and Dumbarton. On the Clydebank – Dumbarton section there will now be four trains per hour instead of six.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The contract for a five year programme of tunnel lining improvements has been awarded to Freyssinet

HEAVY SNOW AND RAIN Heavy snowfalls during the night of 3/4 December 2020 resulted in the closure of roads in southern Fife including access to the Queensferry Crossing. Over the following night (4/5 November 2020) a downpour summerged the tracks at Hartwood (Shotts line) and Huntly (GNofSR main line) and caused landslides across the tracks followed by flooding resulting in disruption of services until the next day.

23 November 2020

AVANTI We have been asked to explain what this word used by the West Coast Operator means. It expresses an active activity – Forward! Let’s go!!!

DIGITAL SIGNALLING The Government has contributed a further £1.2m to help fund new signalling on parts of the WCML, the Midland Main Line and routes to East Anglia.

LONDON OVERGROUND The introduction of the new fleet of class 710 trains was completed by 8 November 2020, the first trains having entered public service in March 2020. The trains replace the Class 315 trains that were around 40 years old and now the oldest operating on the Overground. The trains are operating on the Liverpool Street to Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town routes and will be used on the Richmond line shortly. Services on the Enfield Town group of routes were disrupted by a power failure on 21 August 2020 only and did not continue into mid November as stated on BBC Teletext which is an error by the BBC.

4 SUB APPEAL The four-car 4 SUB set – unit 4732 – has spent much of its life in a “Southern Electric” green livery despite as a 1951 build in Eastleigh Works it never actually existed in Southern Railway days. There were in all 227 4 SUB units which gave highly useful service over the “Southern Electric” suburban network south of London. They were out of date even as they were being built with their slam doors (modern sliding doors were soon the standard) and split into individual compartments with passengers sitting 6 on each side with any standees having to find space among the knees of those sitting down. They were withdrawn in the 1983 with unit 4732 retained to operate on special services including raitours with enthusiasts delighted at the use of an historic livery. But what to do with a now elderly 4732? A home has been found in the One:One Depot in Margate which gives a home to several items of stock. But first, the unit has to be repaired and cleaned up to go on display. The operator of the Margate facility accepts only items in superb condition. An appeal has gone out for funds to help pay for this upgrade.

CLASS 172 To improve the reliability of these units, Porterbrrok will now undertake maintenance taking over from West Midlands Trains.

ISLE of WIGHT A stream near Ryde overflowed and flooded the track on 15 November 2020. The service was still out of action on the 16th. The upgraded former LUL D stock, now South Western Railway’s Class 484 has gone on public display.

FLOODING Extremely heavy rainfall resulted in flooding in station car parks across Kent and put the line between Ashford International and Maidstone East out of action. In addition to flood water covering the third rail (carrying the electricity to power the trains) the signalling system was also put out of action by the floods for most of 15 November 2020. The heavy rain caused a local power cut in Arundel on 16 November 2020 and the station had to be closed since passageways etc were unlit and dangerous for an unsuspecting public to walk through.

LIPHOOK South Western Railway has been ordered to provide a means for wheelchair users to board trains at the station or risk prosecution. There is a significant gap between the platform edge and trains calling there. South Western Railway has indicated to wheelchair passengers to use other stations and has refused to address the problem at Liphook. Now they must find and install a solution.

HS2 It is now generally agreed that work north of London will be split into two parts. First the limb heading for Manchester will be completed before a start is made on the eastern limb towards Sheffield and Leeds.

LUL The five escalators serving the Picadilly Line section of South Kensington station were installed in 1973 and are among the oldest escalators still operating on London’s Underground. All are to be replaced during the period February 2021 – Spring 2022. The Circle and District Lines station will remain open throughout this time. The station is used by 34m passengers each year.

CROSSRAIL 2 The Government has ordered that all work planning the proposed south west to north east route across London must stop. This is not the time to be spending significant sums on a project that might never happen.

ELY It is hoped that a £500,000 project to increase available tracks through one of the worst bottlenecks in England will allow an increase in freight services between Felixstowe and the Midlands will be given the go-ahead soon.

FENLAND UPGRADES Facilities at the rural stations at Manea and Whittlesey are being improved. Manea village is a good mile away although an equally large housing development has been built adjacent to the station. Now car and bike parks are being built, and a longer platform constructed because of longer trains being required. At Whittlesey a second ticket machine is being installed to meet the greatly increased rush hour demand. There is an enlarged bike park, improved path leading to the station and much better lighting.

SIZEWELL EDF plans to build a nuclear power station at this Suffolk location but will increase the use of rail and sea transport to bring in construction materials and reduce the number of lorries involved in the work.

BOSTON Platform2 at the Lincolnshire port station is now graced by a 27m long artwork created by local artist Alisha Miller. It makes a really striking display.

ANGLIA STOCK Stored Class 317 emus are being brought back into service because the delivery of new Class 720 emus from Bombardier has been delayed.

PORTISHEAD The reopening of the branch from Bristol – Portishead for commuter aservices has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and cannot now happen before December 2024.

BARRY ISLAND The very large station building is to be converted into a variety of uses including restaurants and cafes, business units, and places in which tourists can stay for short visitts. Train services will continue as before.

COVENTRY A very large crane has arrived at the station and will during the small hours lower the new footbridge into place. The footbridge will be linked directly to a 633 space multi-storey car park. Work at the complete modernisation of the station will continue until mid January 2021.

BIRMINGHAM AREA Damage to the overhead wires near Aston station early on 11 November 2020 resulted in long delays to Cross City North morning peak services. Porterbrook is to take over the routine maintenance of the Class 172 dmu fleet so that this work can be done alongside other work saving expenditure if the maintenance work was a stand alone operation. A person walking on the track at Wolston, between Coventry and Rugby, on 13 November 2020 was killed instantly. He had been listening to music and his ears were covered to help him hear the sounds – but not of the approaching train. Work to create step-free access at The Hawthorns Station starts 1 December 2020 and will include improvements to the lifts.

UNIVERSITY STATION The rebuilt station is now expected to open just one day before the start of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. It may be an empty shell with the equipment within the new buildings still to be fitted.

THE HAWTHORNS Access to the adjacent station and tram stops will be restricted during the period 1 December 2020 – 15 March 2021 while a new footbridge across the tracks is installed.

TAMWORTH The three lifts between the two-level station (WCML on lower level; Cross-Country main line on upper level) have been completely overhauled to improve reliability. Other improvements have been made throughout the increasingly busy station.

MIDDLEWICH The Crewe – Middlewich freight route was closed for five days during mid-November 2020 while two bridges were rebuilt. The route was reopened on 19 November 2020.

MANCHESTER Car parks at Metrolink stops are being enlarged to help take more traffic off the roads. At Parkway on the recently opened Trafford Park line a 360 space car park opened in early November 2020. Two existing car parks are being enlarged. At Radcliffe there will be 111 extra spaces bringing the total to 450. Whitefield will get 123 extra spaces to give a total of 331. This work was agreed by the Bury Council Planning Committee in early November 2020. The first of 27 new Bombardier trams for Manchester Metrolink has arrived at Queens Road Depot after a journey of 1800 km from Austria.

BLACKPOOL Brush Tram 298, now resident at Crich Museum, is to receive a new underframe that will be manufactured as a joint effort by the Welsh Highland Rly and the Ffestiniog Railway.

BLACKBURN Daisyfield level crossing, a short way along the Preston – Colne line from Blackburn, is to be extensively modernised at a cost of £2.1m.

SHEFFIELD Many bogie tank cars carrying liquid cement were derailed on tracks at the north end of Sheffield station at 0300 on 11 November 2020. Services throughout the morning rush hour from a wide range of routes fanning in from the north were disrupted. It was expected that restoration of normal services would take several days.

ROTHERHAM The tram:train service between Sheffield and Rotherham has carried 1.5m passengers since it was opened in October 2018.

BRADFORD A large fire on 16 November 2020 in a massive pile of old motor vehicle tyres caused considerable disruption to services between West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester with Bradford Interchange station unable to be used due to the density of the smoke.

ECML All four tracks were blocked by an “incident” at a level crossing between Retford and Doncaster on the morning of 20 November 2020. No train was involved in the incident.

HARROGATE – YORK Signalling along this line is to be modernised and the layout around Cattal upgraded to allow trains to pass eachother there.

TYNE & WEAR METRO A planned fares increase in early January 2021 has been put on hold until 1 April 2021 while the Government’s policy and advice regarding fares is obtained.

GLASGOW AREA Milngavie branch services were disrupted for several hours on 10 November 2020 by a signalling fault at Hillfoot. A failed emu near Cardonald caused long delays on the Paisley Gilmour Street – Glasgow Centraal line on 12 November 2020. A failed train in the Charing Cross area delayed eastbound services throughout the morning rush hour on 20 November 2020. A fault with the signalling at Milngavie added to the delays that day.

PRIESTHILL & DARNLEY A serious assault by three men on a young woman waiting for a train for Glasgow Central disrupted services on the Barrhead route on 20 November 2020.

LARGS The Kilwinning to Largs line was closed for most of 14 November 2020 due to large waves crashing over the tracks at Saltcoats created by very high winds sweeping up the Clyde estuary. Ferry services to the Isle of Arran were also disrupted.

SERVICE REDUCTIONS Various reductions in services will be brought in with the new timetable from 13 December 2020. The 0710 from Arrocher (which now starts back at Oban at 0515) is carrying so few passengers due to many people working from home that it will be withdrawn until traffic picks up again. The busier 1636 from Glasgow to Oban has also been cancelled temporarily. The 0805 fast service from Helensburgh Central to Springburn is also to be suspended until traffic picks up again.

GLENFINNAN The famous viaduct on the Mallaig line was illuminated by red lights on 11 November 2020 to mark the 102nd anniversary of Armistice Day

10 November 2020

TRAM-TRAINS The Tram-Train experiment has proved to be an outstanding success with 1.5m passengers carried and with 100% satisfaction rate recorded from them. There are calls for the experimental service to be continued and other cities, including Manchester,Birmingham, Glasgow, and Cardiff expressing interest in starting similar services in their own localities.

CORNWALL The branches from Plymouth to Gunnislake and from Liskeard to Looe are to be closed for separate several day periods to allow major bridge repair work to take place. The repair work will ensure that services can continue well into the future.

HAMPSHIRE Major civil engineering works affected traffic on three successive weekends during November 2020 between Micheldever and Brockenhurst. On 7/8 November the ballast will be renewed betweenSouthampton Central and Millbrook. On 14/15 November between Winchester and Eastleigh track upgrading, work on pointwork, and signalling maintenance will affect train services for much of the weekend. Brickwork in Popham Tunnel will be cleaned and repaired as necessary. On 21/22 November between Brockenhurst and Sway the ballast will be renewed and between Ashurst New Forest and Beaulieu Road drainage work will be undertaken.

BRIGHTON AREA Services on the line to Lewes were disrupted for several hours on 2 November 2020 after a road vehicle collided with a bridge support structure at Moulsecomb.

GATWICK AIRPORT The station serving London’s No 2 Airport is being rebuilt with work now started on the magnificent new building and concourse above the tracks. It will cost £150m.

LONDON The Waterloo and City Line, the second busiest tuble line after the Victoria Line, has been closed since the lockdown began in March 2020. It will remain closed while Transport for London (TfL) focuses available staff on other routes. Meanwhile TfL has secured funding from the Government of up to £1.8bn to keep services running until the end of March 2021.

VICTORIA STATION A massive 2.5m wide information display has gone live in Victoria station using high definition LED technology.

LUL Major civil engineering work to expand Bank Station by around 40% is nearing completion. Over a three year period 1.3km of new tunnels have been dug, an additional platform and concourse have been added and a new entrance on Cannon Street will soon be completed. When the Northern Line extension to Battersea opens in autumn 2021 there are plans for a massive procession to follow the new route on the streets above the line.

IPSWICH Damage to the overhead power wires resulted in delays and cancellations to many services during the morning of 5 November 2020.

COLCHESTER A major road project at the junction of Ipswich and Harwich Roads, where a complex double roundabout is being changed to a much simpler single roundabout, has been halted The site is crossed over by the Cowdray Avenue railway bridge one of whose support columns has developed a significant crack and this is being investigated in case the new works are to blame.

BRENT CROSS WEST Construction of piling to support this new station’s structures began early in November 2020. The station will be on the Midland Main Line in north London.

BOURNE END – MARLOW Track replacement work means that bus will replace trains 14-29 November 2020.

UNIVERSITY The contract to design and build the £56m station on the southern half of the Cross-City Line in Birminghaam has been awarded to VolkerFitzpatrick.

BURTON-ON-TRENT A major upgrade to the station is about to start. The broad island platform has a substantial overgrown garden along the middle. This will be removed and a much simpler feature will replace it. The line from Burton to Lichfield is moving towards being reopened to passenger services. It carries quite heavy freight trafic just now. A new station would be opened to serve the National Memorial Arboretum.

SHEFFIELD Ticket inspectors are once again stopping pedestrians from crossing the station footbridge unless they are going for a train.

HULL TRAINS announced on 2 November 2020 that they were cancelling all services until after the new Lockdown was over. Grand Central’s Bradford service has similarly been cancelled.

LEEDS The station was reopened on 2 November 2020 after several days closure to allow work creating the new platform zero.

DARLINGTON The two hundredth anniversary of a proper passenger carrying railway (rather than a waggonway) will come in 2025. The local Council is starting to prepare the 26 mile route as a walking experience.

WALES The track is being lowered under over-bridges in preparation for the electrification of the Valles Lines.

LIVERPOOL AREA Merseyrail cut the frequency on all its routes to half-hourly from from 8 November 2020 because of the new Lockdown period that will last until 2 December 2020. All trains on the Southport route will have 6 carriages so that there will be sufficient capacity on each train enabling social distancing to be maintained.

MANCHESTER The first of 27 new LRVs has arrived in Manchester and it is hoped that after testing it will enter public service before Christmas. The new trams will arrive singly every three to four weeks and are of the same type as the M5000 trams already in service. The new additions to the fleet will allow the operation of more “double tram” services.

BLACKPOOL All tram tours and other special workings have been cancelled due to the Conoravirus Pandemic. A second lockdown started across England from 5 Novembe 2020 and special services will not be possible until 2 December 2020 at the earliest.and the world famous Illuminations were switched off on 5 November 2020.

SETTLE & CARLISLE The route was reopened on 1 November 2020 after a five day closure to replace two bridges over the tracks. However flooding at Wennington, near Settle, halted services again on 2 November 2020.

WEST COAST CUTS Avanti West Coast are to remove from their timetable one return service each hour on its Euston to Manchester (xx35 to Euston and xx 00 return)and Birmingham (xx50 to Euston and xx03 back). The remaining services will add calls made by the cancelled trains.

GLSAGOW AREA 2 November 2020 was a busy day on local services around Glasgow. A signalling failure at Craigendoran halted trains between Dalmuir and Helensburgh Central. The police were called out to sort out a major disturbance on the broad island platform at Queens Park on the Cathcart Circle. At Kilwinning on the route towards Ayr and Largs services were diverted to different tracks and platforms after a person was found dead in a platform shelter.

BLANTYRE A broken rail at Blantyre closed the Hamilton line on 6 November 2020.

MOTHERWELL The station used to be a hub on the West Coast Main Line with virtually all trains calling there. Avanti West Coast are to partly restore this position in the winter 2020-2021 timetable with over 100 additional calls made there by Glasgow – London Euston and Glasgow West Midlands services at Motherwell. The station will serve people living in a cluster of towns around Motherwell such as Hamilton, Bellshill, Coatbridge, Holytown and Wishaw who do not wish to have to travel in the “wrong” direction into Glasgow to get an Avanti West Coast service wasting around an hour in the process. A £14.5m redevelopment of Motherwell station is now to be complemented by a new £3.5m “Transport Hub” in front of the station where buses from all around the locality, taxis, those on bikes, and pedestrians will be processed to/from the trains. Farme Street car park, for “Park and Ride” travellers will be expanded.

MOSSEND The planned Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) has received seven figure funding from Barclays Bank and will be served by a new electrified siding. MIRP will be able to handle twelve long freight services each day and will become the first all-electric freight terminal in the UK.

CAIRNGORM The funicular railway from Aviemore to Cairn Gorm has hardly been a success. Opened in 2001, it was closed in 2018 having had poor passenger numbers and then developing faults with its structure. Winters have been unusually mild and a shortage of snow almost killed off the ski industry in the area. It is proposed to reopen the line in time for the 2021 winter season at a cost of £20m . Aviemore has been an extremely busy resort throughout the summer of 2020 and it is felt that the funicullar could simply take tourists higher up the mountain at any point in the year so that the absence of snow would not be a problem.

TUNNEL TO ULSTER? The UK Government is looking seriously at suggestions that a tunnel be built between Stranraer and Larne – a distance similar to the Channel Tunnel and therefore quite possible to build. Among points examined are whether this should be a road only or a road and railway tunnel. If a railway is included the gauge in Ireland is different but can some at least of the tracks in Ireland be rebuilt as standard gauge?

ULSTER There is a serious proposal to speed up and increase the Belfast – Londonderry service to half-hourly and to open three park and ride halts to attract traffic from the increasingly congested roads. These are Strathfoyle, Derry Airport and Ballykelly.

1 November 2020

OLD TRACKS Old tramway tracks were discovered in two northern towns during road works on 27/8 October 2020. These were in Tunstall (in “The Potteries”, i.e. Stoke-on-Trent) and Liverpool.

BOMBARDIER The contract to clean and maintain the 34 Class 220 Voyager, and 24 Class 221 Super Voyager trains has been won by the present holder, Bombardier Transportation. The three year deal is worth £250m. Most of the work will be undertaken at Central Rivers Depot near Burton-on-Trent with some heavy work at Bombardier Crewe. The Cross Country network extends from Aberdeen to Penzance and some cleaning etc work can be performed across the network.

THEME PARK A £3.5bn theme park, “The London Resort”, featuring lots of rides, has been proposed for the Swanscombe Peninsula area. Conservationists are alarmed since the area is home to various endagered species such as the Jumping Spider.

WESSEX MAIN LINE The stations at Worcester Park and Andover are to be re-wired and equipped with LED lighting. Similar work has already been completed at Shawford and Weybridge. Electricity consumption has fallen by 25% as a result of this upgrade.

PORTSMOUTH Services to Southampton and Eastleigh will be doubled if the City Council approves a proposal at its meeting on 29 0ctober 2020. The services to Southampton and to Eastleigh will be doubled to four and two trains hourly respectively. An extra platform will be required at Portsmouth & Southsea station and platform 2 at the Harbour will have to be reinstated.

EASTBOURNE The £5m reconstruction of the Grade 11 listed station building has been completed. The work done includes refurbishment of the platform canopies, replacement of a slate roof, building a new roof over the atrium, and masonry work to the front wall.

LONDON AREA Local services to Enfield Town and Cheshunt remained cancelled on 22 October 2020. The Pandemic has affected many workerss in the transport industry and the power supply problems at Silver Street are being allowed to continue so that available staff can be concentrated on the most important routes,

STROUD Services between Gloucester and Swindon were canclled on 22 October 2020 due to a burst water main in Stroud flooding and damaging the adjacent railway tracks.

SOUTH WEST METRO Plans are being studied for increased local services in the Swansea area reaching Neath and Llanelli and operating over the freight-only Swansea District Line.

SOUTH WALES METRO The steel frame for the Control Centre has been erected at Taff’s Well.

CAMBRIAN MAIN LINE The Shrewsbury – Machynlleth line flooded by very heavy rains in October 2020 and buses still substituted for trains at the beginning of November 2020.

LEICESTER The Great Central Railway’s Central Station has been converted into “Lane 7’s” newest bowling alleys.

COVENTRY The city’s bus station is getting a £1.5m makeover ahead of Coventry becoming “The City of Culture” in 2021.

BIRMINGHAM AREA A 35 storey tower block and hotel on Broad Street on the edge of the city centre have been given planning approval by the City Council despite many protests from local residents. A 908 tonne span 45m long for a bridge over the A446 in Solihull was lowered into place during 24 October 2020. This is part of the works associated with HS2.

BRIERLEY HILL Old track removed from the route of the future Metro extension across the Black Country is being donated to the Severn Valley Railway.

BRIDGENORTH Panic buttons have been installed on the Bridgenorth Cliff Railway following agression shown by some passengers who had refused to wear face masks.

WCML Extremely heavy rain plus high winds resulted in the cancellation of the entire Avanti West Coast service between Preston and Edinburgh on 29 October 2020. Many trains did still run between Preston and Glasgow but with a 50mph speed limit on exposed sections.

BOULDERSTONES BRIDGE This bridge takeing the A530, over the Crewe – Chester railway line was reopened fully to road traffic on 23 October 2020 after five months work.

LIVERPOOL Plans for a new station to serve the Baltic Triangle business area have been included in the Liverpool Citty Region Combined Authority’s forward plans.

ISLE OF MAN Manx Electric Car 5 is the next to undergo a major overhaul.

RIBBLEHEAD VIADUCT Heavy maintenance work has begun on this Grade 11 listed structure and will cost £2.1m.

STOCKPORT STATION Redevelopment work will include the creation of a space for a Metrolink tramway stop though this may take 7-9 years to happen.

BLACKPOOL Government funds are being provided to allow the operation of the trams during the winter months. £300,000 covered the months of August and September 2020 with up to £1.1m for the next three months.

ECML The Up track between York and Doncaster was closed during the morning peak on 28 October 2020 when initial inspection suggeted that a rail had broken. The matter was soon resolved , the rail being found to be undamaged and normal services resumed at 0945.

DARLINGTON A major rebuild of Bank Top station will have no platforms on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). Instead platforms will be alongside but separate from the ECML enabling more frequent services on the Bishop Auckland and Teesside lines. An ECML express to/from London Kings Cross needing to call at Darlington will have to leave the ECML to use the altered station at a cost of a few minutes in the overall running time. Upgrade work at Bank Top Station will be completed in time for the station’s bi-centenary in 2025.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Many services had to be cancelled on 29 October 2020 due to the non-availability of many drivers.

HEAVY RAIN Because an extremely heavy downpour had flooded the tracks, a speed restriction was applied on much of the Kyle of Lochalsh line on 24 October 2020. Meanwhile flooding has forced the closure of the road over the “Rest and be Thankful” highway in Argyll.

EDINBURGH AREA The 153 yards long Colinton Tunnel on the Balerno branch was closed on 4 December 1967. It then became a footpath but it became very rundown. Now the tunnel walls have become Scotland’s longest art work having been painted by artist Chris Rutherford to illustrate a Robert Louis Stevenson poem. An excellent smooth surface has been provided for the walkers and is attracting crowds to what had become a rather quiet corner of the city.

TEVIOT VIADUCT The suspended footbridge along the north side of the old railway viaduct across the River Teviot built by the North British Railway in 1850 is to be refurbished. The footbridge will be closed from 29 0ctober until Spring 2021 with walkers using the railway section in the interim. Further along the same river discovery of the remains of the timber Ancrum Old Bridge dating from the 13th century is attracting many new visitors to the area.

GLASGOW AREA The £120m transformation of Glasgow Quueen Street station by Balfour Beatty reached its final phase on 26 October 2020 when work to restore and repaint pillars that support the barrel shaped roof. Dreadful weather in the Clyde Estuary caused services to be reduced in number and to operate at reduced speed especially between Glasgow and Paisley and along the Ardrossan and Largs route.

STONEHAVEN The damaged railway south of the town reopened after extensive repairs on 3 November 2020.

TORNAGRAIN Formal application has been made to the Highland Council for a new station near the site of the former Dalcross station between Inverness and Nairn to serve the extensive new Tornagrain housing area to the south and Inverness Airport to the north. The railway is single track but a new loop will be built and the station will have two platforms. A rather narrow road bridge crossing over the single track will be demolished, but a new footbridge will continue to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross. A level crossing at the site of the original Dalcross station will be eliminated and a 64 space car park will also be provided. A display of the plans will be available for the public to view from 29 October 2020.

12 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS MEASURES A rapid rise in the number of new pandemic cases led to extensive measures being taken across Central Scotland affecting 3 million residents. Pubs and restaurants will be closed unless customers can collect pre-ordered items and take them away to eat outdoors at home. Because of rising numbers of cases similar measures were expected to follow across northern England with high numbers in Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

747s FINISHED Enthusiasts are mourning the withdrawl of the last |Boeing 747 long-haul airliners owned by British Airways which ceased service on 11 October 2020.

LINK TO IRELAND The construction of a tunnel or bridge between Galloway in south west Scotland and Ulster is to be part of a National Review of transport connections across the UK.

ISLAND LINE The Ryde – Shanklin shuttle had to be suspended on 3 October 2020 following a breakdown of the one set that can run on the line. There was no immediate indication of when the shuttle might resume. However services were moving again on 5 October 2020. The existing stock has worked for 80 years – first on the London Underground, and more recently on the Isle of Wight for South West Trains. Soon they will be withdrawn and replaced by class 484 units supplied after modification by Vivarail.

WEYMOUTH HARBOUR A branch 1.25 mile long running partly on the streets was opened in 1865 but has been disused since 1999. Various organisations in the town would like to see the line reopened to help bring in tourists but the track is in such poor condition that it would need to be replaced before any service could run along it. The Government has provided £1m to remove the rails and restore the road surface but is unwilling to consider restoring a public rail service.

LIFTS COMING New footbridges with lifts are to be provided at Theale and Tilehurst stations, but not at Reading West where physical problems make lifts not possible just now.

DAWLISH The first section of the new Sea Wall alongside the traccks of the Penzance Main Line was opened on 25 September 2020.

LUL The diagramatic route map of the London Underground network is to have added the Thameslink route as it runs north – south across the Central Area. This will show several interchanges that exist at stations served by both networks.

GREAT EASTERN MAIN LINE A variety of tasks will be undertaken mostly at weekends during the period 17 October – 22 November 2020. Worn out track at Manningtree will be replaced and an improved overhead wire tension system installed at Stratford and Maryland.

ESSEX A class710 emu is to commence operations on the Romford – Upminster shuttle on 5 October 2020 replacing the elderly class 315 unit that has operated the line for many years..

NORTH EAST LONDON The electricity supply problem at Silver Street that has halted trains to the Enfield area continued to affect services through the weekend to 4 October 2020.

CLASS 720 Greater Anglia has altered its order from Bombardier for Class 720 emus. Originally the order comprised 22 ten car trains (Class 720/1) and 89 five car trains (Class 720/5). The order has now been changed to 133 five car trains with no ten car versions. The total number of coaches to be supplied remains unaltered.

EUSTON A major signalling failure delayed all services heading for Euston throughout 7 October 2020.

HS2 Construction work, including the closing of a road near Rugby is taking much longer (9 months) than expected (3 – 4 weeks). The eastern branch north of Birmingham may be cancelled as a cost reduction measure. The western part of the route – to Manchester – could be extended across the Pennines to Leeds although this would by-pass Sheffield.

COVENTRY The frame for the new 8 storey station buildingwas more or less complete by the end of September 2020 and work is starting on the new footbridge across the tracks. There will be a 633 space car park and everything is supposed to be completed by summer of 2021.

TIPTON Redundant structures associated with the former heavy rail line have been removed in preparation for the new light railway between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill.

WOLVERHAMPTON Work has begun on digging foundations for new buildings on the station platforms.

PLANS TO REOPEN STATIONS The stations at Willenhall and Darlaston will be reopened when the Wolverhampton – Walsall direct line is reopened as part of the HS2 Project.

TELFORD The station has become so busy that it has become impossible to follow social distancing and coronavirus advice. The numbers allowed into the station are therefore to be strictly limited at busy times.

BARMOUTH VIADUCT Major repair work to thje nearly half mile long bridge will take three years to complete . The Grade II listed structure will have work to replace timber and metal structures and there will be three periods of total closure – as follows. 16 Octoer – 4 November 2020; 17 September – 18 December 2021; the exact dates in 2022 have not yet been finalised. The project is expected to cost £25m . This is the only major timber railway bridge still in use.

LLANDUDNO & COLWYN BAY ELECTRIC RAILWAY. Replica tram No 7 is to star in an episode of “Cynefin”, an S4C Welsh language TV programme. The date has not been announced.

MEADOWHALL The massive car park at the Retail Centre has been resurfaced at a cost of £166,000

HUDDERSFIELD The planned electrification of the route together with 4-tracking the main line through the station will make alterations to or rebuilding of every overbridge between Huddersfield and Ravensthorpe necessary.

LEEDS Major engineering work (track and signalling) is planned for the weekend 31 October / – 1 November 2020 in connection with the opening of the new Platform Zero. The number of trains that can be handled at the station will rise significantly.

NEXUS Tyne and Wear Metro services to Sunderland, together with regular railway services through Sunderland, were delayed for four hours during the afternoon of 4 October 2020 following damage to the overhead power wires. Work is proceeding to adjust the height of the track at forty stations so that when the new fleet arrives there will be level platform to train entry.

LIVERPOOL A landslip near Roby on the Liverpool – Manchester direct line caused problems for several hour on 5 October 2020 before the area was stabilised and services could move past the area at reduced speed.

PARBOLD Flooding, complicated by a later landslip halted services between Wigan and Southport throughout 7 October 2020.

NEW COLLIERY The first new coal mine for many years is to be created at Woodhouse in Cumbria, its output going to power stations or heavy industries in the north east and South Wales. It is assumed that rail links will be opened up to handle a significant traffic over the next 25 – 30 years. The creation of Woodhouse Colliery will mean that the import of large quantities of coal from Europe or North America will cease. Plans for an opencast colliery in the north-east of England have been rejected because of its visual effect on the tourist industry.

DREADFUL WEATHER Because of Storm Archie bringing high winds and extremely heavy rainfall, Scotrail started to wind down services in Eastern Scotland especially in Fife and north to Aberdeenshire from 1600 on 4 October 2020. By 1900 there were no trains operating in these areas as Storm Archie caused flooding within an hour or two. During the morning of 4 October 2020 the tracks had been flooded on two sections of the Aberdeen – Inverness main line – Dyce to Inverurie, and Keith to0 Elgin. Services along the entire route were suspended. More detailed preparations were in place on Monday 5 September 2020 with services across almost all of Scotland ending with departures from the cities around teatime.

MAINTENANCE WORKS Several centres in Scotland where repairs or modifications can be made to rolling stock have been closed in recent years. The Springburn plant (St Rollox) was shut in July 2019, and the famous Kilmarnock factory (Andrew Barclay) in March 2020. The last repair centre in Scotland, at South Queensferry is endangered by Network Rail’s decision to issue contracts for some of the work to overseas firms and transfer what remainss to centres in England.

RUSH HOUR DELAYS Because of a broken down emu sitting at Hillington West station on the morning of 6 October 2020 the flow of morning rush hour services from Ayr, Largs, Wemyss Bay, and Gourock was brought to a halt. Trains did not start to move again until around 0840.

275th ANNIVERSARY The Battle of Prestonpans took place on 21 September 1745 when the Covenantors had their last maajor victory over English forces. It was fought across the main line of the Tranent and Cockenzie Wagonway (opened 1722). The event was marked by the unveiling of Scotland’s fourth “Red Wheel” sign denoting a significant Industrial Heritage event.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Traffic fell almost to zero when the coronavirus pandemic struck the area. Between April and June 2020 the line had an operating loss of £4.5m and emergency funding from the Scottish Government kept the line afloat. This funding ceased at the end of September 2020 and the circular route could have been closed down if alternative funds was not found. Traffic carried remains at a very low level.

CARDROSS A collision between a private car and an emu heading for Helensburgh at the level crossing at Cardross complicated operations already disrupted by Storm Archie.

PAISLEY CANAL LINE Services between Glasgow Central and Paisley Canal were delayed during the morning peak by someone on the tracks being hit by a train.

CAIRNGORM It is planned to reopen the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular Railway during the winter of 2021-2 thanks to a £20.5m investment by the Scottish Government and HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise). It is hoped that the line will become an all-year tourist attraction with active backing by HIE. Balfour Beatty has been asked to undertake the work.

ARBROATH Kerr’s Miniature Railway which ran alongside the Aberdeen -Dundee main line, closed on 11 October 2020. It was opened in 1934 and had always been owned by the Kerr family. The track is worn out and not suitable for re-use but the locomotives and coaches are being retained by the family in the hope that they can find further use somewhere else. Traffic on the line had fallen since a children’s play area 50 yards away had been moved to another part of the town.

Arbroath had been in the news in 1959-61 when the owner of a steam traction engine used it daily in the town centre “as his car” to the dismay of some residents. His desire to build a large maintenance building to store his engine and undertake maintenance on it went to court which decided that everyone could own a car and maintain it in working condition even if “the car” was unusual in any respect.

KINTORE The station on the Aberdeen – Inverness main line was reopened on 15 October 2020. Opened originally in 1854, it was closed along with most other local stops along the route in 1964. The reopening was made possible by the double-tracking of the Aberdeen – Inverurie section . The platforms are linked by a footbridge with lifts and there is an adjoining large car park.

IRELAND Initial planning is under way for a high-speed railway between Londonderry, Belfast, Dublin and Cork.

1 October 2020

FRANCHISES ENDED The Government scrapped the franchise business model on 21 September 2020 and existing operators received cash payments to operate services along their former franchised routes. £3.5bn on support was provided by the Government to support services and although traffic was starting to return to the trains it was still less than half of the previous level.

DB FREIGHT DB Cargo – UK as been awarded a 5 year contract to transport train loads of aggregates between quarries and a base in London taking many lorries off the roads.

STATION AWARDS Penrith has been declared the medium sized station of the year, and Reading the major station of the year at the National Train Awards ceremony.

MOST OVERCROWDED The most over-crowded train in the UK is the two coach 0802 Chiltern Railways service from Oxford to Marylebone with a load factor of 196%, almost double the official capacity. Next is the 0732 South Western Railway Woking to Waterloo with a load factor of 182%.

POWER SURGE All trains on the Brighton Main Line were halted during the morning of 25 September 2020 following a power surge that turned the current off for a short time.

ALDRINGTON The platforms at the East Sussex station have been cleaned comprehensively and minor repairs undertaken.

WESTGATE-ON-SEA A new footbridge costing £800,000 has been opened at the Kent station. There are no lifts – just steps to take passengers across the Chatham main line.

SWANLEY Grants of £2.25m have made possible improvements to passenger facilities at Swanley station. The entrance hall has been enlarged and a much more attractive ticket purchase facility installed.

EUROSTAR Services between London and Brussels will not call at any stations in Kent until 2022 when it is hoped that traffic will have returned to something like normal..

CROYDON The planned reconstruction of the railway through East Croydon Station has been well received by user groups and the local authority. The track layout will feature fly-overs and dive-unders. The site for the present station is hemmed in by buildings on both sides so it will be moved 100m to the north and totally rebuilt with eight, rather than the present six, platforms. The new platforms will be long-enough to accommodate a twelve-car train.

LUL The “Night Tube Service” gave 24 hour service on Friday and Saturday nights but was discontinued when the pandemic struck in March 2020. It will not be re-introduced before March 2021 at the earliest.

POWER SUPPLY The Greater Anglia TOC experienced a power supply shut down at Silver Street on 21 September 2020 and as a result there were no local trains between Hackney Downs and Enfield Town, or to Cheshunt. Problems continued into 26 September 2020.

CLACTON DEPOT Greater Anglia TOC is installing four additional lifting jacks so that together with the 16 existing jacks a whole train can be lifted at the same time.

SERVICE THREATENED The Cross Country TOC has indicated that it will discontinue all services to Whittlesea, March, and Manea stations because of staffing difficulties following the coronavirus pandemic. Children from these communities attend school in Peterborough and would be stranded when trying to return home in the afternoon. Alternative bus services are not available.

ECML FIRE A train trravelling along the East Coast route caught fire near Grantham at 1900 on 26 September 2020. The passengers wer evacuated without injury.

ECML – KINGS CROSS Major changes are being undertaken to the approaches to Kings Cross terminus. The 1970s layout had four tracks leading to/from the station but work now under way at weekends and sometimes during the week will increase this to six tracks by mid 2021. A tunnel closed in the 1970s will be brought back into use. Services at Kings Cross were disrupted twice during the morning of 7 September 2020. The signalling system had been restored after a first failure when a second failure caused the system to shut down again. Network Rail then indicated that services between Kings Cross and Peterborough might be out of action during most of that day.

STEVENAGE A fifth platform was opened on 2 August 2020. Planned to take the Hertford Loop service it may not see full use for at least a year while traffic makes a very slow recovery.

ECML POWER SUPPLY £216.2m is to be spent to increase the power supply along the ECML. There will be no services at KX or at the Thameslink station during the weekend of 17/18 October 2020 while new signalling is tested.

ECML – WERRINGTON Major changes to the track layout at Werringtom, just south of Peterborough, will include the construction of a new tunnel and new track over a two mile section.

This will enable slow moving freight trains to move across the ECML main tracks without holding up expresses. The capacity of the ECML will be increased significantly as a result.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Stadler has released images of what the 46 five-car trains that it is building will look like. The upper half of the bodies will be in a brilliant yellow that will extend over the entire doors. Pale grey will be used on the lower sections of the bodies with a black area around the blocks of windows. The first of the new trains is expected to enter service in 2023.

WALES The Cardiff suburban station at Cadoxton now has step-free access to both platforms and the new footbridge.includes lifts. The station upgrade has cost £3m. A further £2.2m is to be invested in flood prevention measures along the Conwy Valley line parts of which have been swept away twice during the past two years. Towns along the Rhondda Valley were put into lockdown on 16 September 2020 because of a rise in the number of new COVID 19 cases. On 28 September 2020 both Cardiff and Swansea and two adjacent rural areas were placed in lockdown.

MOTORWAY SPEED RESTRICTIONS A 60 mph speed limit was introduced on Motorways in the West Midlands on 28 September 2020 in an attempt to reduce emissions, and a risk of more virus cases.

SOLIHULL A new housing area covering a space similar to London’s Hyde Park, is set to go ahead. It will be close to the new HS2 Interchange station, construction of which has just begun.

WEST COAST MAIN LINE Signalling problems resulted in at least 15 minute delays between Watford Jct and Milton Keynes Central on 17 – 20 September 2020. A person walking along the tracks at Stechford was struck be a train and died at the scene on 21 September 2020.

MIDLAND METRO Passers-by have expressed surprise when they see an LRV newly arrived from Wolverhampton lowering its pantograph as it sets off on the final section of its journey to Library. The LRVs operate on battery power along that section. The tracks across Centenary Square have been welded to the recently laid tracks heading onwards towards Broad Street. The final 120m of track were to be laid in a project commencing on 24 September 2020. A new timetable is to be introduced on 12 October 2020 with weekday peak services slightly trimmed but with trams every 6 – 8 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes in the evening. Weekend services are unchanged.

PERRY BARR Plans to upgrade the station before the 2022 Commonwealth Games have been revealed.

CROSS-CITY LINE The timetable was altered to give an extra train each hour (3 increased to 4) from 7 September 2020. Traffic has built up extremely slowly since some services were restored and the six-coach formations look very thinly occupied even at the rush hours. Plans to reopen Moseley Station were approved by the City Council on 24 September 2020.

SUTTON COLDFIELD Police chased off a person who tried to enter the station carrying a large unshielded blade and a large amount of drugs on 28 Seoptember 2020. Passengers were not faced by any immediately dangerous situations.

NEW TRAINS The first completed set of coaches was demonstrated for the press on the Cross City Line on 9 September 2020. 333 new coaches are being assembled at Derby Works for use from late 2021 across the West Midlands on semi-fast services between Euston, Northampton nd Birmingham, and between the West Midlands and Liverpool.

SHEFFIELD The next area where tram rail replacement will take place is around Crystal Peaks. Work started on 15 September 2020.

MANCHESTER AREA A suspicious package was found on a bus at Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station at 1315 on 5 September 2020. Several roads in the area were closed to all traffic including that used by the tramway leading to Piccadilly railway station. The package was declared to be not dangerous at around 1730 and normal road and tram traffic resumed soon afterwards. The CO-OP organisation is to invest £350m in a new arena to be built beside the Etihad Stadium – the ground of Manchester City FC.

STOCKPORT Plans to upgrade the station in a £530m project include a new public square, a car park, and improved passenger facilities.

BOLTON A crop of new coranovirus cases hit the Bolton area on the weekend of 5 – 6 September 2020 following an earlier crop of cases on 2 September.

WIGAN NORTH WESTERN The WCML station is being generally upgraded to handle higher traffic levels. Platform 3 is being lengthened to take four coach trains that may become necessary as traffic across the north west of England rises.

PRESTON The 60 year iood wooden window frames along the north aspect of the 140 year old station have been replaced with aluminium replicas meeting the needs of the Listing Agency.

BLACKPOOL NORTH Grand Central’s planned Euston – Blackpool North service has been dropped due to the collapse in the potential market caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

NORTH EAST Because of a sharp increase in new cases of coronavirus infections restriction were brought in to social activities from 28 September 2020. A proposal to bring back into use the second platform at Hartlepool station has now been agreed.

MOTHERWELL The building that was the signalling centre has now been adapted to become an emergency electrical control room acting as a back-up to the major Control Centre at Cathcart.

CLACKMANNAN LINE Survey work is under way along the route of the closed line between Alloa and Longannet. Their are plans to restore passenger services between Alloa and Longannet with new stations at Clackmannan, Kincardine, and Longannet.

TESCO FREIGHT The grocery chain now sends its bulk supplies for shops in the north of Scotland on a special freight service between Mossend and Inverness six days per week. (Never on the Sabbath!!). The train comprises a string of special wagons incorporating the lorry that has brought its container to the train, and this allows the lorry to be re-activated at its desination enabling it to be driven away with its container. See News from Europe for Tesco’s new service from Spain. If anyone knows more about this Tesco arrangement please send information to the site.

OVERHEAD WIRES The power wires at Dalmuir were damaged on 16 February 2020 and emu services between Dalmuir and Helensburgh and Ballochn were disrupted for most of the day.

LADYBANK Large numbers of new houses have covered the previously undeveloped land around the station. Land around Markinch and Thornton station have similarly been built over as commuting to Edinburgh has become more popular.

HIGHLAND MAIN LINE Services on the Perth – Inverness line ran mostly on time during a visit in mid September 2020. Many services were worked by rebuilt intercity 4-car railcars which appeared to be popular with travellers. I did not see the sleeping car trains but through services to Kings Cross (via ECML) and Birmingham (via WCML) were very poorly loaded. The 1215 from Birmingham New Street carried around 5 – 6 people per coach with First Class almost empty. A moderate number joined the train in Central Scotland but it was diverted via Kirklcaldy owing to flooding in the Polmont area. After torrential rains on 16-17 September 2020 the adjacent Union Canal overflowed and destroyed around 350 yards of the adjacent railway. Engineers worked through several nights and the railway through Polmont was restored during 21 September 2020.

3 September 2020

ISLAND LINE The 8.5 mile Ryde – Shanklin line on the Isle of Wight will be closed for about 3 months (January – March 2021) while track and platforms are readied for the “new” trains that will take over the service. New? Well over 80 year old stock will be replaced by 40 year old class 484 units that ride on 20 year old bogies. On such a short route high-speed operation is not in the plans!

VOLK’S RAILWAY The line has operated limited services on Wednesday to Sunday between Black Roack and Aquarium with the stop at Halfway closed.

SEATON TRAMWAY Half-hourly services resumed on 4 July 2020 – increased to every 20 minutes during the peak of the summer season (25 July – 28 September 2020). Services will cease until 2022 on 1 November 2020.

CATFORD Southeastern TOC services will be speeded up by the replacement of a Victorian bridge at Catford during the late August Bank Holiday weekend. Track improvements including the replacement of points at nearby Crayford will remove a 15 mph slow section.

COULSDON SOUTH Access to the platforms has been made easier by the construction of a bridge across the tracks, with lifts providing step-free access. Tactile paving has been placed along the platform edges and platform lighting has been improved. The improvements have been paid from the “Access for All” Programme.

FENCHURCH STREET A new more spaceous site may have to be found for the compact London terminus. Traffis is expected to rise steadily from localities including West Ham, Brentwood, and Castle Point (the western edge of Southend on Sea).

LUL Two elderly escalators at Marylebone station are to be replaced by new ones and the stairway between the two escalators will become a third escalator whosedirection of travel can change to meet the various rush hour flows. Three stations which had remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, were reopened for limited hours on 31 August 2020 – Goodge Street, Stepney |Green, and Tufnell Park.

HS2 RICKMANSWORTH HS2 is to build a new play area beside Maple Cross School in Rickmansworth following receipt of a letter from a year 6 pupil askig that some of the soil excavated from the HS2 Tunnel 600m away be sent to the school so that they could make a “hill to roll down”. HS2 is anxious to have good relations with its neighbour and have decided to not only send some earth but to build a complete play area beside the school. What do the mothers think about having a “hill to roll down”?

MIDLAND MAIN LINE Newly erected power wires along the main line north of Bedford to Wellingborough and Corby were energised during late August 2020. Public emu services will start operation late in 2020.

St ALBANS Because of steadily rising traffic which has lead to significant crowding on the station footbridge a second footbridge across all four tracks and with access to all platforms is being built at St Albans City station. It is expected to be completed by January 2022.

CROSSRAIL The long-promised but ever-delayed opening of the new east – west route across central London has been put back again to “2022” together with a request for a further £1.1bn.

WALES – MAJOR FUNDING. Transport Secretary Shapps announced on 21 August 2020 a grant of £343m towards the cost of several improvements in rail services. Part funded will be the cost of redesigning Cardiff Central station including the lengthening of some platforms. The signalling system along the 241 route km of line from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and around the coast to Pwllheli. Various improvements will speed journeys between Cardiff and Swansea – a city pair that should be busy but often disappoints.

DERAILMENT A freight service carrying a long line of tank wagons filled with diesel was derailed near Llanelli and several wagons caught fire. 300 people were moved from their homes and twelve hours later many wagon were still burning strongly.

KNIGHTON Damage to the Heart of Wales Line by the recent severe downpours have swept away all the ballast over a 350m section and damaged bridges and other parts of the infrastructure. Buses have replaced trains between Shrewsbury and Llandrindod Wells.

BRISTOL AREA A bike storeage area for 450 bikes has existed on platforms 4 and 5 for some time but this is being removed to allow upgrade work on the station roof costing £24m. A new bike storage area is being created adjacent to the station. £3.5m funding for the planned new station at Portway, between Avonmouth and Shirehampton, has been resolved and construction is expected to begin in early 2021.

WEST COAST SERVICES RESUMED Avanti West Coast plans to restore most of the services discontinued or terminated short of destination when the Pandemic struck in March 2020. On 8 September 2020 Avanti will again operate trains through to Shrewsbury, Wrexham, Blackpool, and Edinburgh Waverley (via the West Coast route).

COVENTRY BR Work has started on an £82m project to rebuild the station. A seven storey building has been built between Station Square and Warwick Road. This will play a significant role when Coventry is UK City of Culture for 2021.

COVENTRY VLR The planned Very Light Rail network in the city hyas been given publicity recently. There will be four “out and back again” loop routes from the city centre operating along normal streets. These will be colour coded. Line 1 (Purple Line) will serve the eastern suburbs serving the University Hospital, Ansty Park, and Binley Business Park. The south western suburbs will be served by the Dark Blue line serving the University of Warwick and Tile Hill Station. This line could be extended with a long branch reaching the HS2 Interchange and Birmingham Airport. The Northern suburbs will be served by the Light Blue line serving the Coventry Arena and extensive housing areas. The Coventry South East suburbs will be served by the Red Line and the Kings Hill Development. A branch may be added to reach the proposed Coventry South Station. Relatively small, 11m long and 2.65m wide, railcars are being designed at the National Innovation Centre in Dudley (itself still not complete) and these vehicles will not require underlying utilities to be moved and required civil engineering works will be much less for Very Light Rail compared to “ordinary” light rail.

WASHWOOD HEATH The first delivery of aggregate by rail for HS2 arrived on 25 August 2020. This was the first of an estimated 15,000 train loads of aggregate totalling about 15,000 tonnes that will be delivered direct to construction sites for HS2.

DUDLEY An abandoned railway bridge that crosses over Sedgeley Road in Tipton was to be demolished during August 2020 to make way for the Metro extension to Dudley and Brierley Hill. The future Dudley town centre stop on the Metro extension is being re-named Dudley Castle instead of Dudley Station Street.

WOLVERHAMPTON A visit to the station on 13 August 2020 revealed the recent progress made in replacing the station facilities. The portion of the new building that was completed during the last few weeks is now in use. The new entrance is a short walk from the Bus Station and is an attractive wide passageway leading to an attractive concourse off which is a staffed ticket window and six self-service ticket machines. Continuing towards the platforms the wide passageway takes the traveller to platform 1 (for north and west-bound services) and platform 5 – a rather sharply curved platform for local services from the west that terminate there. From the rusty condition of the rails this platform has not seen recent use. The entry on to platform 1 is adjacent to large new toilets, and stairs with lifts taking travellers up to the bridge across the station and to platforms 2, 3, and 4. So far modernisation has not yet reached the structures on these platforms. However the removal of the remaining old buildings around the entrance to the station is proceeding actively and it will not be long before the tram extension from the St George’s terminus is able to be opened.

LONGER PLATFORMS are to be provided at Albrighton, Bilbrook, Hartlebury, and Oakengates to accommodate new 4-car demus that will take over the services in 2021.

BEESTON & TARPORLY There are growing moves to reopen this station on the line to Crewe, which is close to the growing edge of Chester.

KINGS LYNN Doubling of the track, platform extension work, and the creation of a long siding just outside Kings Lynn Station were among the work completed during the late August 2020 Bank Holiday weekend. From the December timetable change it will be possible to operate longer trains (up to eight coaches long) between Cambridge and Kings Lynn. The new siding will accommodate the last arrival of the day, and the first early morning departure next day.

LIVERPOOL AREA During the weekend of 29/31 August 2020 control of the signalling will be transferred from Ditton to the state-of-then-art Manchester Rail Operating Centre. The Liverpool City Regional Authority has offerred £3.5m towards the cost of building a new station at Headbolt Lane. This will have a 500 space car park and will be part of a long-term plan to take Merseyrail into Skelmersdale.

MANCHESTER AREA Tram services were improved to run until midnight on six nights per week from 24 August 2020. A solar powered “scarecrow” emitting the sound of a hawk is scaring away birds that have been damaging overhead line equipment and on Pendolino trains. Services between Euston and Manchester were being delayed while damage was repaired.

MARPLE ROSE HILL So many staff have not returned to work due to the pandemic that it is impossible to operate a full service on routes around Manchester. The Rose Hill service will be axed until the end of 2020 but this has resulted in complaints to local MPs etc.

NORTH YORKSHIRE MOORS RAILWAY The steaam worked tourist line is importing coal from Russia since locally mined stocks are running low.

DERBY Major upgrades are to be undertken to the lifts at the main entrance and the Pride Park entrance. While the work is under way passengers will be able to use the subway route under the tracks and platforms. The work will cost £750,000.

DRAX The North Yorkshire power station used to be the largest coal fired power plant in Europe. Two of its three generators now burn wood pellets but this “green” policy is generatring protests since the pellets come from trees felled in a wide range of nations including USA and Russia.

TYNE & WEAR METRO A transformation of the Metro has been planned for some time and thanks to a series of Government grants can now proceed. A completely new fleet of Stadler trains costing £337m will replace the existing 40 year-old stock. The 1.5kV DC overhead power supply is becoming rare and the 12.5 tonne axle load limits a new design. The new fleet will be larger than the old and the temporary Howden Depot will become a long-term facility. Extensions north to Ashington and south to Washington and Ferryhill will help to fill the Depot space.

PS WAVERLEY The 1947 paddle steamer returned to the Clyde on 7 August 2020 following the replacement of its boiler at a cost of £2.3m.

COLLISION The 0600 Glasgow Central to Ayr semi-fast service struck at 0626 a motor vehicle that had been sitting on the tracks at Janefield Street in Johnstone. The car driver received slight injuries but the nine people on the train were OK. The motor vehicle seems to have rolled back from a parking area (or been driven backwards in error).

GLASGOW AREA Work on the planned Barrhead South station on the Neilston branch serving the growing edge of Barrhead will restart in 2021, funds having been found. The Merrylee Road rail overbridge at Cathcart is undergoing a total refurbishment causing delays to peak services. Services between both Queen Street LL and Central LL stations and Partick were disrupted for most of 1 September 2020 following a fire in the tunnel. A detailed inspection of the tunnel structure was essential before trains could resume operation. The Subway provided a helpful link between the city centre (Buchanan Street and St Enoch stations) and Partick but some services serving western suburbs had to be turned at Anniesland making journeys to/from the city centre rather difficult.

FLOOD DAMAGE The Edinburgh – Glasgow main line was closed on 19 August 2020 after very heavy rain caused the adjacent Union Canal to overflow and wash away 300m of the railway infrastructure near Polmont. Several masts for the overhead power wires were swept away. Engineers indicated that repairs could take up to 2 months to be completed.

SILENCE TO REMEMBER All railway stations in Scotland fell silent for one minute at 0943 on 19 August 2020 to remember those affected by the serious derailment at Carmont (near Stonehaven) one week earlier. Three people on the train died and the other six on board were rushed to a local hospital when a train was derailed by a landslip across the tracks.

TEMPORARY SHUTTLE A shuttle service was introduced between Aberdeen, Portlethan, and Stonehaven on 31 August 2020. This replaces a service that has not run since the Carmont derailment. Some of the shuttle trains operate across Aberdeen to Dyce or Inverurie.

MODEL RAIL GLASGOW 2021. The event has been cancelled since the Exhibition Centre in which it would be held has been converted into a Nightingale Hospital (thankfully unused so far) and it is necessary to keep this emergency hospital ready for service should the virus pandemic become more active.

EAST KILBRIDE Scotrail announced on 2 September 2020 that after electrification has been completed a service of four trains per hour would operate for much of the day. Hairmyers station would be moved 600m to the west to serve a new housing area.

EDINBURGH TRAMS An overnight stabling area is to be provided at the Newhaven terminus so that the first services each day can be a little earlier.

ISLE OF MAN The Snaefelll Mountain Railway should have celebrated its 125th anniversary this year but apart from a single special working in June 2020 there have been no services at all up the mountain this year. Some sort of celebration may take place during 2021.

12 August 2020

FREIGHTLINER has acquired a further thirteen Class 90 electric locomotives bringing the number owned to twenty five.

MORE GOVERNMENT FUNDS A further £37.4m was allocated on 8 Aug 2020 by the Dept for Transport to help fund the nation’s light railways over the next 16 weeks on which passenger levels remain low.

TUNNELLING MACHINES The machines that will eat their way through the Chilterns for the 10 mile long twin tunnel for the HS2 main line, have been named after local personalities by the pupils of nearby Meadow High School and Chalfonts Community College. “FLORENCE” is named after Florence Nightingale the pioneer who changed nursing and who lived in Claydon, Bucks. “CECILIA” is named after the pioneering astronomer and astrophysicyst Cecilia Payne- Gaposchkin who was born nearby.

FARES CUT LNER slashed its fares on Mondays – Thursdays for journeys on the ECML including to Leeds, from 10 August until early September 2020 – but not over the late August Bank Holiday weekend. London – Edinburgh was cut to £20 single in standard class or £40 in first class. London – Leeds is just £10 standard class. Senior Railcard discounts do not apply!

CLIFFSEND This is a planned new commuter station near Ramsgate in Kent. The cost has been spiralling upwards and is now £34.5m but the Department of Transport has chipped in with a grant of £12m making the building of the station a possibility again.

REDUNDANT SIGNAL BOX London Bridge Signal Box is a large 1970s structure that sits above the arches carrying the railway above Bermondsey Street and below London bridge station. Any ideas about possible future uses for this large building? It may end up as a large empty space.

CHERTSEY A large water main close to a level crossing and the station burst at about 0635 on 4 August 2020. The water shot into the air reaching higher than adjacent buildings. The road across the adjacent railway was closed for several hours but trains were able to crawl slowly past the fountain of water.

LUL Various planned developments have been either cancelled or delayed due to the virus pandemic. Cancelled is the £2.45bn project to resignal the Piccadilly Line allowing trains to operate every 90 seconds boosting capacity by 60%. New rolling stock for the line is being delivered in 2022 and this will increase capacity by 20% but without the new signals the old timetable will remain. The reconstruction of Camden Town station on the Northern Line has also been halted for at least a year. Planning work on Crossrail 2 has also been delayed.

CLASS 345 The new trains started operating in nine car formations between Paddington High Level (i.e. the main line station) and Heathrow Airport on 30 July 2020.

EAST FARLEIGH The level crossing at this station on the Maidstone – Paddock Wood line was upgraded from manually operated gates in 2019 but the new electrically powered gates are now controlled from a signal box some distance away. A major problem now exists since a significant number of cars are being driven round the closing gates past flashing red lights. The car numbers are being recorded and passed to the police.

BRANDON The future of the 1845 station building on the Ely – Norwich main line has been secured by grants from various charities. The ticket hall featured in the TV show “Dad’s Army”. The car park is to be enlarged from 6 to 100 spaces.

BURY ST EDMUNDS The Ipswich – Cambridge line had to be closed for a short time during the afternoon of 7 August 2020 due to a fire in the adjacent British Sugar factory. Once it was felt that trains could pass the site slowly but safely services were resumed.

NORWICH Services to London Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport, and Cambridge were delayed for at least an hour after a lorry struck a railway over-bridge close to Norwich Station around noon on 3 August 2020. A Costa Coffee unit is to be set up on then Norwich station concourse.

EAST COAST MAIN LINE The 1139 Newcastle to Penzance Cross Country service was found to be on fire when it called at Darlington on 6 August 2020. A bird had become stuck in an extractor fan incinerating the poor bird.

PORTWAY This new single platform park and ride station is to be built between Shirehampton and Avonmouth. Construction begins in the near future and the station will open in the summer of 2021. Central Government’s “Getting Building Fund” will provide £1.5m towards the cost.

CARDIFF PARKWAY Public consultations are under way concerning this planned station midway between Cardiff and Newport. It would serve a new business park creating more than 6000 jobs and provide much needed park-and-ride facilities. The station will cost £120m.

WOLVERHAMPTON Work to demolish the last parts of the old High Level station building started on 3 August 2020.

WEST MIDLANDS Several projects are now under way or about to start following the receipt of Government funding. To summarise, the projects now funded are 1. University Station which is being completely rebuilt. The new station will be substantially larger than the old. Cost £15.1m. 2. The Very Light Rail Innovation centre at Dudley, overlooked in many surveys, to receive £12.4m to continue develop cheaper, and faster modes of transport. 3. The Very Light Rail system in Coventry is to receive £1.8m.

HS2 BRIDGE A 2700 tonne bridge was eased into place across the M42. This is a significant part of the civil engineering works required at the future interchange between the Motorways beside the NEC.

REDDITCH The southern terminus of the Cross-City Line is to be enlarged with a new building and a 70 bed hotel. The car park will be substantially enlarged.

WALSALL Suggestions to open stations at Darlaston and Willenhall will depend on the local Council first giving approval at its meeting on 20 October 2020. Passenger services ceased at Darlaston on 4 October 1965 and Willenhall 1 November 1965. The Department of Transport will later decide which plans across the country to finance.

ROSE HILL The Marple (Rose Hill) to Manchester Picadilly line may be closed from early September until early December 2020 because the operator (Northern) has a staffing problem due to the pandemic. Local MPs are urging Northern to rethink since passengers will be stranded.

HEYSHAM A bridge over the railway linking the town to the port and the power stations is to be refurbished during six weekends in August and September 2020.

ISLE OF MAN The 2020 Tourist Season has been dealt devastating blows by the virus pandemic. The Manx Electric Railway summer service started on 13 March 2020 but was suspended six days later due to the pandemic. A limited service was restarted on 25 July 2020 with visitors from Guernsey in mind. Trains operated basically at weekends until mid September 2020 with eight Douglas – Ramsey return trips and a single late afternoon short working between Douglas and Laxey. No service was provided to Snaefell.

MANCHESTER – LEEDS In an statement on 8 August 2020 the main line via Huddersfield is to be electrified and Government funding of £589m was released so that the work can get under way. It is hoped that much of the freight clogging the trans-Pennine highway will switch to rail.

TYNE & WEAR METRO The glorious sunshine at the end of July 2020 tempted many people to take the Metro to the seaside with a total of 57,000 using the trains on 31 July 2020. This was the busiest day since the lockdown hit the community in March 2020. Major track replacement work is taking place during August 2020 between Gateshead and along the South Tyneside line. A third hand out of money from the Department of Transpoprt (£8.5m) will enable upgrade work to begin.

EDINBURGH WAVERLEY The large station in the heart of Edinburgh is to be the subject of a masterplan. The most obvious feature will be a mezzanine floor over the entire station area above the platforms. There will be easy access from several streets and then down to each platform.

FLOODS Very heavy rail fell on south west Scotland on 4 August 2020 resulting in line closures due to floods. These included Queen Street – Lenzie, the West Highland line north of Helensburgh, the A83 “Rest and be Thankful” road to Inveraray, the railway between Shotts and Hartwood, and around the Glengarnock area affecting both the roads and railway. More downpours struck on 11 and 12 August 2020 resulting in widespread floods and delays to all forms of public transport.

GLASGOW HIGH STREET This station on the east-west Queen Street Low Level network is tired and weary looking. It is just down the hill from the traditional hub of the city grouped around the medieval Cathedral, the dispensary established by the church (now grown into The Royal Infirmary where this writer was trained in medicine), and various ecclesiastical buildings including Provand’s Lordship, the oldest building still standing in the city (built 1471). For those who failed to follow the guidance of these forces for good – Duke Street Prison was adjacent! Glasgow City Council with Transport Scotland have agreed a grant of £10m towards the upgrade of the station as part of plans to attract more tourists. At present the station is used by 400,000 people each year, but this could rise to 1.5m if more tourists visited the area. (A personal aside – while I was working in the Royal Infirmary the Government introduced charges for prescribed medicines. It really hurt to have to take money from ill people. The Dispensary had provided medicines of all sorts totally free of charge for about five hundred years. Progress I suppose.)

SCHOOL SPECIALS Many pupils are staying close to the school in Oban to avoid having to travel long distances to or from their remote homes. They are staying for four nights each week in school premises in Dalmally, travel on a special train from Dalmally arriving Oban at 0835, and returning back to Dalmally on a special service leaving Oban at 1611.

ARBROATH Sad news from the resort seaside town. The well known miniature railway that runs alongside the ECML just south of the town is to close down in September 2020. Originally 7.25” gauge, but soon relaid with 10.25” track, the line opened in 1935 and carried 13,350 passengers in it first year. Traffic was often over 14,000 in a year, but recently has fallen to just 3500 in 2019. The Kerr family have owned the line throughout its existence and the present owner will retire this summer. The only hope would be a new owner who would have to pay to refurbish the track.

SERIOUS DERAILMENT The 0638 from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street was derailed at Carmont, just south of Stonehaven, at about 0945 on 12 August 2020. Thunderstorms had hit the area and the train driver saw that the track ahead of the train had been disrupted. The driver reversed direction using Carmont crossover but the track bed became distorted ahead of the moving train which was derailed. Part of the five coach train came off the track plunging down the side of an embankment. The driver, conductor and one passenger were killed while six other passengers required hospital treatment.

TIMBER TRAFFIC Timber cut down in the far north of Scotland is being taken by rail from Georgemas Junction to Inverness where it is transferred to a sawmill. This is an experiment intended to last for six weeks and could see bulky traffic taken off the A9 road.

3 August 2020

MODEL RAIL GLASGOW The 2021 show will be held in Hall 3 of the Exhibition Centre on 26, 27, and 28 February 2021. Advance booking of tickets is advised to avoid the usual very long queue to reach the ticket sales point.

ALSTOM The French company is reported to be poised to purchase Bombardier’s rail business.

FREIGHTLINER Some Freightliner services are being lengthened to make operations more efficient. The termini at Southampton, Manchester, and Leeds are being adapted.

CLASS 317 The Department of Transport have given permission for members of the class not yet modified to meet disability requirements to continue in operation for a further period. The trains require modifications to seating, handrails, and toilets so that they can be used by disabled people.

ISLAND LINE £26m having been secured to update the track and infrastructure of the Ryde Pier – Shanklin line, the replacement of the Class 483 rolling stock is under way. The two-car class 483 trains started life in 1938 on the London Underground and have worked the Island Line service since 1959. They are to be replaced soon by Class 484 two-car trains which have been rebuilt by Vivarail from Underground D78 stock – built originally by Metro-Cammell in the late 1970s.

FAWLEY BRANCH A special train ran on 28 July 2020 along the branch to allow Hampshire County Councillors see the areas that could be served by a restored service.

BRIGHTON Superb weather attracted crowds seeking a spell beside the sea on 1 August 2020 and producing dangerously packed trains and packed-solid concourse at Brighton station.

WEYMOUTH HARBOUR The street track in Weymouth will be removed during October 2020.

MARSH BARTON There have been years of needless delays but at last the plans for a new station between Exeter and Newton Abbot have been completed and submitted to Devon County Council for approval. The station is designed to take workers to and from a new industrial estate and there is no car park at the station.

DEVON METRO? Network Rail’s plans for development of services in Devon include an hourly “Devon Metro” service between Axminster and Exeter St David’s. This might be extended across the County to Barnstable.

NEW SIGNALLING London Bridge Signalling Centre closed in late July 2020 as the £81m signalling scheme covering much of South London reached the half way point. In all 92 LED signal heads are being installed plus controls for 86 sets of points. The power supply is being upgraded and new turnback facilities installed at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee.

SOUTHEND PIER New trains are nearly ready to take over services along the UK’s longest Pier Railway. Severn Lamb supplied the existing diesel trains that have seats for 180. The new train will hold 244 people and the green + cream livery was chosen by the users in a poll giving three choices. The new trains will be powered by lithium batteries and there will be audio-visual displays on the trains to make the ride more enjoyable.

STANSTED EXPRESS The first two of ten Stadler class 745/1 emus entered service between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport on 28 July 2020.

CATERING LNER is to resume on-board catering, discontinued in March 2020 as a result of the virus pandemic. As an experiment at seat service will be introduced in Standard Class coaches. Passengers will order their drink or snack using their phone and these items will be brought to the passenger in their seat. There will be no buffet counter and no need to walk along the train to get some food. LNER hopes that if the new arrangement is successful in initial tests it will be introduced on most LNER services.

HS2 The French design for the catenary over the London to West Midlands section of HS2 is to be adopted. It is the only design that is OK for speeds of up to 360 km/hour.

GRAND CENTRAL The Company resumed its services between London and Northern England on 27.July 2020 adding one return trip to each route.

CROSSRAIL The total cost of building the cross-London line is nearing £20bn.

IPSWICH – CAMBRIDGE Services could be doubled if track improvements were implemented. Cambridge station and the line to Bishops Stortford were 175 years old on 29 July 2020.

STEVENAGE A £40m upgrade has been completed a year ahead of schedule. A fifth platform and track have been added and a half-hour service established to and from the Hertford Loop line. Better connections are now available all-day-long between suburban stations and ECML fast services which are now calling regularly at Stevenage.

TRANSPORT FOR WALES This Welsh Government organisation is moving to brand new headquarters in Pontypridd and the move is seen as one that brings new employment and hope to an area of Wales hit very badly by floods earlier in 2020.

CARDIFF CROWDS Particularly strong sunshine on 31 July 2020 brought out massive crowds anxious to enjoy the delights of Barry Island, near Cardiff. The road to Barry was packed solid by a three mile long traffic jam. The trains were running smoothly but were jam-packed with sun-seekers.

UNIVERSITY STATION The final go-ahead for the total reconstruction of this West Midlands station was given in late July 2020. The station is expected to double its present use to over 7m per year. When built only 40,000 people were expected to use it annually.

LEA HALL A passenger waiting for a train had a cardiac arrest at 1250 on 30 July 2020. The emergency services responded with ambulance and medical teams. But could not revive the man. The station was closed until late afternoon.

LIVERPOOL AREA The new class 777 Merseyrail emus are, sadly, arriving already covered in graffiti that will take thousands of pounds to clean off. Some of the new emus were stored for a short time in Tonbridge, Kent before being taken north.

AVANTI/WCML The West Coast Main Line runs through a cutting near Stoke-on-Trent and the earth near the top of the cutting has become unstable and cracks have appeared in the road surface close to the top of the cutting. The earth has been stabilised by driving steel roads deep into the earth and it is hoped that the cracking problem will now have been solved. Avanti’s Voyager fleet is to be overhauled by Bombardier at a cost of £8.3m. The overhead power cable between Preston and Carlisle is to be made more stable in a project lasting between Summer 2020 and Spring 2021. The strength of the winds over Shap Summit can be extremely challenging.

MANCHESTER Two tall blocks are to be built on vacant land alongside Victoria Station. The first will contain a range of one, two or three bedroom flats. The second block will be for office developments only. Both will add to traffic handled on the local railways and to Metrolink trams.

BLACKPOOL The heritage trams are to make their first appearance this year at the August Bank Holiday and remain in use until the end of September. The illuminated trams will run between October 2020 and January 2021. Advance booking will be essential at busy times.

BUCKSHAW PARKWAY This station, opened 3 October 2011 has built up more traffic than expected and the car park is full before the end of the morning rush hour. A £20,000 study has been funded by Chorley Council to decide if a multi-storey car park is needed.

HUDDERSFIELD A £1.9m upgrade is likely to go ahead with the support of the local Council. A feature of the improvements will be a smooth pedestrian walkway between the railway and bus stations which are some distance apart.

GLASGOW SUBWAY A passenger was refused a ticket because he had offered to pay the correct amount with money. Someone behind him in the queue then paid with a card and accepted the money from his fellow traveller. The passenger was then followed down to the platform by an angry staff member complaining that the customer had used money. In fact there is no ban on the use of money to pay for transportation and the passenger concerned had no other means of payment.

GLASGOW AREA Hillington East on the main line towards Paisley, Ayr, Wemyss Bay and Gourock was closed for most of the afternoon of 26 July 2020. A passenger fell off the platform landing on the track. The emergency services were in attendance almost immediately and the man was found to have received serious head injuries. It took a considerable time to move him to an ambulance during which time normal services along the route were halted. Before track reduction work this was a four track main line with a pair of central tracks for non-stops and the local stations served by often infrequent services. A very heavy downpour fell on the area south west of Glasgow on 26 July 2020. The main road through Johnstone towards Milliken Park was flooded and all traffic was halted until the water had soaked away. Linwood Toll roundabout was brought to a standstill but later a 20 mph speed limit was introduced and road traffic resumed, albeit slowly. The fire alarms went off at Central Station at 1030 on 31 July 2020 and it appeared that there was a problem in the Low Level section. Fire crews and ambulances were alerted but no sign of a fire was found but it took until early afternoon for the Low Level platforms to be reopened.

AYR The fragmenting station hotel has still not been removed but new staff accommodation is being built on platform 4 replacing a temporary structure that is taking up space in the car park. A new ticket office is also to be built.

NEW ELECTRIFICATION Initial work on conversion of the lines from Glasgow Central to East Kilbride and Barrhead has begun.

EDINBURGH AREA The City Council has approved a £1.3m Waterfront regeneration scheme that will include 3500 houses, modern offices in what used to be the NBR station complex (closed to passenger traffic 2 November 1925, and freight 1 June 1960).

BINDWELLS This is the name of a new town being built on the site of the former Cockenzie Power Station. Initial plans show a new station in the middle of the town. Network Rail plan to quadruple the ECML through the area with the platforms for the new station on the outer tracks. A semi-fast service between Edinburgh and Berwick would be introduced and this would serve the reopened halts at East Linton and Reston.

LONGANNET This location near Dunfermline was the site of the last coal-fired power station in Scotland. It closed in 2018 but the site is to be developed by several industries including Spanish train builder Talgo. The West Fife railway serves the area which includes the medieval village of Culross (pronounced “Cooras”) and will be developed into part of an electrified circular route through South West Fife and towards Stirling. Culross has a stunning selection of medieval buildings ranging from a palace to commercial buildings and to humble homes.

13 July 2020

MISS HAZEL HILL (Mrs Hazel Baker) is not a name often associated with war-winning actions. Hazel as a 13 year old school girl proved to be a mathematics genius and was asked by her father to help him during the mid 1930s with his design for the all important Spitfire fighter plane. Hazel’s youthful suggestions made it possible to double the number of guns on each Spitfire from 4 to 8 – a factor of great significance during the Battle of Britain and enabled the British force to win mastery in the air. She went on to enjoy a career in the field of mathematics, was a founder member of the Sutton Coldfield Association of University Women, and was sometimes present at meetings in this writer’s home. Hazel died ten years ago but only now is some of her work becoming recognised.

CRICH The National Tramway Museum at Crich, Derbyshire reopens to the public on 11 July 2020. There will be various restrictions for visitors and volunteers. Visitors will have to follow designated routes around the exhibits and although it will be possible to ride on a tram boarding and departing will take place at the Town End Terminus only.

SHORT PLATFORMS Several stations in Wales plus a few in northern England are being closed temporarily while problems with the length of their platforms is resolved. Llanfair PG, and Valley on Anglesey, Conwy, Gilfach Fargoed, and Sugar Loaf in Wales, plus Yorton, Prees, Hopton Heath, and Earlestown in England are affected and in some cases it may be necessary to relocate the station completely since there is inadequate space to extend the existing platforms.

RAMSGATE Power to the third rail had to be turned off during the late evening of 6 July 2020 when a confused individual was noted to be wandering on the track. The British Transport Police safely removed him and services resumed after a two hour standstill.

WANTAGE ROAD After many protests including from the local MP this station has now been included in the list of those that might be reopened.

CAMBERWELL The inner south-London station, closed as long ago as 1916 is being considered for reopening since the locality around the station has altered greatly with many work places nearby.

MANNINGTREE A horse box towed by a private car became stuck on 12 July 2020 trying to pass through a low railway bridge and held up road traffic for several hours.

MANEA Many calls at this little halt near Ely (Cambs) were axed from 6 July 2020 “until September” with little warning. A significant community has been built beside the station during the last few years, about a mile from the main part of the village.

NOTTINGHAM NET is replacing worn rails between Royal Centre and Old Market Square during the period 20 June until 19 July 2020. A bus shuttle is being run between Royal Centre and Nottingham Station.

DONCASTER WORKS The famous works that produced “Flying Scotsman” may make 450 staff redundant since modern trains need less work to keep them going. The site could be sold off and a famous Works become history if talks with the Trades Unions do not produce agreement.. In August it will be 80 years since LNER 6701 emerged from the Works – the prototype electric locomotive intended for the 41.5 mile long Manchester to Sheffield Woodhead Route. A further 57 Bo-Bo locomotives – Class EM1 (later designated class 76) emerged plus 7 of the larger Co-Co machines. The Woodhead Line system was intended to be the standard for long distance electric operation in the UK but this had not seen the emergence of high voltage AC operation as the new standard.

GOOLE A new fleet of Piccadilly Line trains will be built at a new £200m Siemens factory in Goole. The factory will be seeking the contract to build trains for HS2.

SHEFFIELD Finance for a £5.4m new tram stop at Magna on the Parkgate route has been obtained. Work is likely to start on the project later this year.

DRIVERLESS TRAINS The Government has given £1.6bn to support West Coast services due to the collapse in traffic due to the virus pandemic. Before further grants are made the Government wants Transport for London services to become driverless. The Trades Unions point out that TfL do have have sufficient money for signalling upgrades that will be necessary if driverless operation can be introduced.

BRIGHTON – LEWES This line was closed for two hours on the evening of 4 July 2020 after a pedestrian, trying to sprint across the track was hit by a speeding train and died at the spot.

EXBURY GARDENS The 200 acre attraction in the New Forest has a narrow gauge railway that threads its way though the gardens. The railway will reopen for visitors during July 2020.

AVANTI WEST COAST The first nine body shells for the new fleet that will run between Euston, the West Midlands, North Wales, and Liverpool arrived at Southampton Docks on 5 July 2020. They were built in Hitachi’s Kasado factory in Japan en-route to Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory in Co Durham. There will be 13 class 805 five-car bi-mode trains and 10 class 807 all-electric seven car trains all introduced by 2022 on services at present given by Voyager trains.. Despite this Avanti West Coast has given the £8.3m contract to overhaul the Voyagers to Bombardier but it is unclear which services these might operate.

TILE HILL The Birmingham – Coventry was closed for a short time on 5 July 2020 following the failure of a train at Tile Hill. Another train was able to approach behind the failed train then push it into Coventry station allowing normal services to resume.

BIRMINGHAM INTERCHANGE Construction of the planned new station where the HS2 line to Birmingham Curzon Street, the WCML International Station, Birmingham Airport, long distance and local bus services, and the major Exhibition Centre all come together is to start during the summer of 2020.

HS 2 Park Street, alongside the site of the future Curzon Street HS2 terminus in Birmingham, is to be closed permanently to allow the building of the station.

MIDLAND METRO A major Black Country road, Sedgley Road West, will be closed for up to six weeks during autumn 2020 in order to remove a fragile bridge on the route of the extension to Merry Hill.

BRIDGE STRIKES The bridge taking the Cross City Line over St John Street close to Lichfield City station is hit more often than any other bridge on Network Rail. It has been struck 28 times during the past twelve months. Road works on the nearby A5 highway begin during the weekend of 11/12 July 2020 and quite lengthy diversionary routes have been signposted. Some commercial vehicle drivers may attempt to use a shorter diversionary route known to them and this will lead in some cases to too high vehicles attempting to travel below the St John Street bridge.

TETTENHALL Plans for a station in the suburbs of Wolverhampton are advancing. This would be the first stop out from Wolverhampton by semi-fasts and locals heading to or from Shrewsbury.

HEART OF WALES Damage to a rail over river bridge near Pontarddulais halted services between Llanelli and Llandrindod Wells and replacement bus shuttles were introduced. Because some stations are in remote locations the replacement service comprised a normal-sized coach plus a minibus which ran to the remote halts and connected with the coach at several points. It was expected to take until 3 August 2020 before through rail services could resume along the full length of the route..

SNAEFELL The Snaefell Mountain Railway was opened on 21 August 1895 and to celebrate the 125th anniversary a set of six postage stamps was issued by the Isle of Man Post Office on 25 June 2020. A celebration pack of these stamps is available for £8.75 and a commemorative book has also been published.

BRIDGNORTH The Cliff Railway is to reopen at weekends after the staff have received training about dealing with the virus pandemic.

MERSEYSIDE A major bridge strengthening/renewal project will enable the railway bridge over the A570 Rainford Bypass in St Helens to be fit for purpose for many decades to come. Fifty caravans belonging to travellers occupied the station car park at Spital during the weekend of 11/12 July 2020. The car park at Bromborough (in the Wirral) is being reconstructed and will have 50 extra spaces when it reopens early in 2021.

LEIGH Moves to reopen two stations to serve the largest town in the north west with no direct rail service are being backed by the local MP. Although there was once a town centre station which cannot easily be reopened, both Kenyon Junction (Closed 2 January 1961) and Golborne (closed 6 February 1961) could serve the town and both lie on lines with existing passenger services.

MANCHESTER The Department of Transport has awarded £10m to Network Rail to explore ways to ease the severe congestion on railways around the west side of the city, especially on the Castlefield Corridor.

SHEFFIELD VICTORIA A grant from the Department of Transport will examine the possible reopening of this city centre station which might become the terminus of a reopened route to Chesterfield via Barrow Hill, closed in 1963.

NEW SERVICE STARTS An Azuma train left Bradford Foster Square terminus at 0843 on 6 July 2020, calling at Shipley at 0850 before continuing to Leeds en route to Kings Cross. A return train left Kings Cross at 1633.

KEIGHLEY & WORTH VALLEY There has been talk of operating morning and evening commuter services, connecting with trains to/from Leeds or Bradford since the line closed on 18 June 1962. Discussions are under way again with the commuter services as an addition to the off-peak heritage trains.

STALLINGBOROUGH The level crossing at this station near Grimsby was closed for several hours on 6 July 2020 after a pedestrian trying to run across the crossing as a train approached, was struck and killed.

CONSETT This rapidly growing town south west of Newcastle upon Tyne used to have rail links in several directions including two to Newcastle. A firm proposal to rebuild the line leading to MetroCentre on the Newcastle – Carlisle line is being considered in a £50,000 study.

TYNE & WEAR Metro car 4001 has been given special liveries to mark the 40th anniversary of the Metro service. One end comprising one third of the car has been given the original attractive white and yellow livery. The middle third shows two liveries used after a refurbishing project involving solid blocks of blue or red. The final one third shows the current black and grey scheme.

TS QUEEN MARY The famous Clyde Steamer is undergoing a major refit at a berth in Govan. When the work is completed it will once again operate carrying large loads brought by routine and special emu worked services.

GOVERNMENT AID £9m of emergency funding has been made by the Edinburgh Government to the Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh tramway, both of which have lost a large proportion of their traffic and income from fares due to the pandemic.

REOPENED The Fort William – Mallaig line, washed out at Lochailort by heavy rains, was reopened on 13 July 2020.

DISTURBANCE Three men were arrested following a brawl at Queens Park Station, on the Cathcart Circle, during the evening of 11 July 2020.

INVERNESS The Ness Islands Railway – a miniature line on an island in the middle of the River Ness near the heart of Inverness – is operated to aid the Highland Hospice in Inverness. It opened for its 2020 season on 6 July 2020 having been delayed from March by the pandemic.

2 July 2020

FIFTY REQUESTS The Department of Transport has received fifty requests to reopen lines and stations that had been closed by Beeching. These range across the country and include attempts to restore significant towns (such as Consett, Ashington and Blyth in the north east) to the railway network. Meanwhile the Prime Minister announced availability of £10m to help plan schemes to improve capacity and reliability issues. Rail Minister Chris Heaton – Harris had received already ten bids to reopen lines lost in the Beeching cuts.

3RD RAIL ELECTRIFICATION A study has been undertaken into this form of electrification with most 3rd rail 750V dc being in south east England plus a small amount around Liverpool. “Fill in” schemes may be appropriate in the south east although there are always safety considerations with a third rail. New schemes could include the Fawley branch, and Isle of Grain line. Extensions in Merseyside to Skelmersdale are often talked about.

FALL IN TRAFFIC In the past three months British Train Operating Companies (TOCs) have carried just 30m passengers compared with 439m a year before. Traffic has fallen by 93%. The TOCs are demanding cash from the Government or they will stop running the trains.

SCHEMES ABANDONED Electrification projects that have been held up for long periods, have now officially been abandoned. These include the main line between Cardiff and Swansea (there have been arguments about whether the UK or Welsh Governments should pay for this); Leeds to Manchester; and the Windermere branch.

BATTERIES Zenobe Energy has secured £20m finance to power 100 buses using improved more efficient batteries. The bus companies would no longer have to pay for the batteries used on its buses or for the equipment used to service the batteries. The cost of battery power would become part of a service contract which would overall save the bus operator a significant amount of money.

BEACH TRAFFIC Trains running from London to points along the Channel Coast were packed during the sunny weather on 24/25 June 2020. It was apparent that many people crowding on to the beach at points such as Bournemouth were ignoring the social distancing rules and the Police felt unable to do anything about it. Later a “major incident” was declared as thousands flocked to the sands and Dorset Police later issued Disposal Orders enabling them to clear the beaches.

NORMAN’S BAY All services were halted between Eastbourne and Ashford following an incident at Norman’s Bay station at 0500 on 24 June 2020. A person walking along the track was hit by a moving train and later died at the scene.

NEWHAVEN HARBOUR The passenger station here has been disused for several years and will be formally “closed” later this year. The area will then be redeveloped for freight traffic.

CRAYFORD A serious incident took place at 1900 on 23 June 2020 when someone was hit by a train and sustained serious injuries. All services through Crayford were at a stand for two hours.

SOUTH WESTERN Trains from Reading and Windsor to Waterloo are being replaced by new stock boosting capacity by 46%. Ninety new trains (sixty with ten cars and thirty with five cars are being delivered with testing of the trains starting in early July 2020. Among new facilities for passengers are phone charging systems, Wi-Fi, and toilets. They will be based at Feltham Depot.

UCKFIELD LINE Oxted Viaduct, built 1881, takes the Uckfield branch over the A25 and River Eden and is to be completely refurbished at a cost of many millions. On the same line the Eridge station footbridge is to be replaced.

GUILDFORD LANDSLIP A landslip in a deep cutting beside the entrance to St Catherine’s Tunnel held up services during the weekend of 20/21 June 2020. It will take months of work by civil engineering staff to complete repairs.

BRISTOL AREA The Bristol MetroWest project may be extended north to Gloucester and east to Westbury with several new stations opened in the Bristol area and more frequent services provided. Phase One has been under way for some time and includes the reopening of the Portishead branch and improved services to Severn Beach and to Bath. Phase Two includes the reopening of the Henbury line (hourly service) and a half-hourly service to Yate. Later phases include an extension of local services to Gloucester (the “natural” or “obvious” terminus for local services) and the extension of Bath local to Westbury.

EXMOUTH Large scale disturbances on the beach, in front of the station, and on the concourse took place around midnight on 24/25 June 2020. The disturbances seem to have started after a car crash outside the station.

GWENDRAETH CYCLEWAY? A proposal to convert part of the branch from Burry Port along the Gwaendraeth Valley into a cycleway awaits an answer from the Transport Department. A similar request to reopen the 2.3km Queensbury Tunnel near Bradford produced an offer of £4m which has been described as disappointingly small.

DOCKLANDS Transport for London has selected CAF to supply forty threee 5-car driverless light metro cars to work on the Docklands lines from 2023.

WRONG WAY! A Chiltern Railways “up” London-bound service at Chalfont & Latimer station on the morning of 23 June 2020 ran through points and ended up on the track for down Metropolitan Line services. It stopped just feet from an incoming service. Because of the damaged points the Chesham branch was replaced by a bus shuttle for the rest of the day.

EAST – WEST RAILWAY Work will progress between 1 September and 7 December 2020 in creating a new railway between Oxford and Bedford, with work already advanced to remove the former flyover at Bletchley. A later phase will continue the route to Cambridge. The completed East – West line will link the Great Western, Chiltern, West Coast and Midland Main Lines.

ECML A £350m investment in new electronic signalling will help to cut journey times and prevent delays. Signallers will know precisely where every train is and there will be no conventional trackside signals. As the speed of trains increases these would become increasingly difficult to spot. A disused tunnel bore on the approach to Kings Cross terminus is being brought back into use with a conductor rail rather than a conventional power wire along the roof.

LNER AWARD The London North Eastern Railway Coy has been given a Direct Award to continue operating East Coast Main Line services for a further three year period.

PETERBOROUGH GB Railfreight has started to use new sidings at the intermodal depot.

CLASS 803 The construction of five all-electric trains for use on the ECML began in late June 2020 at the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe.

CAMBRIDGE SOUTH The site of a possible new station at Cambridge South is open for discussion. It would serve the largest biomedical research facility in Europe that includes the world-famous Addenbroke’s Hospital. The new Cambridge North station has become a major success after a seemingly slow start.

SPALDING The cost of upgrading this station is now estimated at £2.5m. The work is on-going and includes the installation of a lift.

DONCASTER-SHEFFIELD AIRPORT There are calls for a rail link to be built to this airport. It will need to leave the ECML near Bawtry by means of a flying junction.

HULL TRAINS The train operator has been unable to run trains or earn income from selling travel tickets and is reported to be on the point of collapse unless it receives a bale-out from the Government as given to several other operators.

MORE STORMS Extremely heavy rainfall on 17 June 2020 resulted in flooding in many towns across the Midlands including in parts of North Birmingham and Nottingham. A quite horrendous downpour flooded the tracks in the Chinley area on 27 June 2020. Services between Manchester and Sheffield were halted.

HS2 Iron Age burial sites have been discovered on the route of HS2 at Coleshill, near Solihull. Three firms or groups of firms have been shortlisted for the contract to build Curzon Street Station in Birmingham. They are Laing O’Rourke, Mace and Dragados and BAM Nuttall. The new station is expected to cost £570m.

BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET The station has been reorganised with a series of walking routes into and out of the station. Staff are positioned throughout the station to direct people in the one way to go when most passengers seem to want to walk in another direction. Most of the snack outlets in the station have been closed for the duration of the virus pandemic.

BIRMINGHAM TRAMS These were operating smoothly on 20 June 2020 with apparently no need for specific boarding or leaving points on each tram.

LICHFIELD TV New lifts are to be installed between the WCML and Cross Country platforms.

DUNSTON A new station is proposed between Penkridge and Stafford to serve an adjacent garden village that will have 3000 residents.

WALSALL – WOLVERHAMPTON Passenger services linked these towns until 1965 and in 1998-2008. The line will soon be reopened once more with restored stations at Darlaston and Willenhall, There will be an hourly local service between the two towns plus an hourly service from Birmingham New Street via Tame Bridge Parkway, serving the two reopened stations and running on to Wolverhampton and Crewe. It will be formed by amending the existing Birmingham – Crewe local service.

TRENT BRIDGE A depot for trams was opened here in Nottingham in 1901 and was used until 1920. The building has now been granted Grade II Listing.

LIVERPOOL AREA Testing and staff training on the first of the fifty two class 777 Stadler emus has begun on the Wirral branch to Chester.

ISLE OF MAN In Douglas the reconstruction of the Strathallan horse tram depot was finished in late June 2020. Work on the horse tramway route along the Promenade is intermittent and nothing will be done during the summer of 2021. The Manx Electric and Snaefell lines have been closed for the 2020 season allowing the planned winter 2020-1 engineering work to be handled during the better weather of the summer season.

MANCHESTER AREA The platforms and car park at Hyde North station have been resurfaced as part of a £500,000 scheme to improved the appearance of thirteen suburban stations.

BLACKPOOL TRAMS Services were replaced by buses on 29 March 2020. Tram services will be restored on 19 July 2020 as visitor numbers to the resort start to climb.

SOUGH TUNNEL This 175 year old 1842m long tunnel required civil engineering work done to keep out trespassers. Being on the busy Clitheroe Line it was important not to disrupt the heavy flow of traffic. In a unique procedure a helicopter lowered equipment down one of the two shafts leading up from the main bore and the work was completed without interfering with the trains.

SETTLE & CARLISLE A three times per day tourist service is to operated on Mondays-Saturdays between Skipton and Appleby from 20 July until 12 September 2020. Class 47 locomotives will be used on these services. Connections from Leeds and Bradford will operate using normal services.

NEWCASTLE ON TYNE AREA The Grade 1 listed Central Station buildings are to be adapted to handle increased numbers of passengers, while preserving the main features of the 1840 structure. Work can begin later this year. The pedestrian tunnel from the Sunderland University stop under the adjacent main road was closed after a fire on the evening of 20 January 2020. Repairs have now been completed and the exit may reopen early in July 2020.

HORDEN The station on the Durham coast, closed on 4 May 1964, was reopened on 29 June 2020 at a cost of £10.55m. Closure came at a time when Peterlee New Town was starting to be developed just inland from the station. Constant campaigning has finally led to the reopening of the station. Until now most people working in Newcastle or Middlesborough have had to drive along the ever-busier A19 road. Peterlee now has a population of 70,000.

EDINBURGH AREA A second platform was completed at Dunbar station early in 2020 and work to finish off this £13m project was paused for three months but is restarting in July 2020.

FACE MASKS With the use of face masks now compulsory for anyone using public transport in the UK, Scotrail has decided to hand out free masks at its busiest stations – Glasgow Central and Queen Street, Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket, and Paisley Gilmour Street.

GLASGOW AREA An empty double deck bus that was not following its expected route had its roof sliced off when it attempted to pass under the railway at Townsend Road close to Dumbarton town centre early on 27 June 2020. Reconstruction work at Glasgow Queen Street terminus was to restart in early July 2020.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The line has operated a one-way only service for some time and traffic is at an extremely low level. Faced with an operating loss of £20m the Subway is threatened with closure unless Government finance is provided to keep services running. A Council Committee met on 26 June 2020 to discuss the possible closure of the line. The entire Subway will be closed anyway during the weekend of 4 – 5 July 2020 to allow the installation of signalling and power cables in the Depot area.

MOTHERWELL The £14.5m redevelopment at Motherwell station started on 29 June 2020. There will be improved interchange facilities with bus services in the area, a better taxi arrival and departure point, improved ticket sales windows, and better waiting areas for passengers. Balfour Beattie has won the contract to carry out the work.

LANDSLIP The Fort William – Mallaig section of the West Highland Line was closed on 25 June 2020 following a landslip between Lochailort and Glenfinnan.

KINTORE Work on the new Aberdeen suburban station (cost £14m) is restarting during July 2020.

18 June 2020

BAIL OUT With the virus pandemic making nonsense of traffic expectations, the Government has given TOCs a £3.5bn bail out to tide them over a difficult period.

MAJOR LANDSLIP Part of a cutting near Madeley, between Stafford and Crewe, gave way around 1900 on 16 June 2020. Debris covered all four tracks and no trains could run along this section for several hours but diversions via Stoke and Macclesfield, or via Alsager were used.

NEW ELECTRIFICATION Network Rail is hopeful that the Government will authorise some projects including Didcot – Coventry, a northern extension from Market Harborough along the Midland main line, and some fill-in schemes in Great Western territory.

NEW FREIGHT ROUTE A weekly service has begun between Dove Holes Quarry (Buxton), and Crawley. The train comprises 22 wagons with a total load of 1675 tons.

TEMPLECOMBE The Waterloo – Exeter line will be closed between Gillingham and Yeovil Junction on 13-20 June 2020 to allow engineers rebuild the side of a deep cutting at Templecombe which had slipped during the recent very dry weather. Through trains will be diverted via Westbury.

WARNING LEAFLETS Information notices are being handed out to passengers joining London Underground trains on Monday 8 June 2020 telling them about the rules designed to slow the transmission of the corona virus. The RMT Union is threatening strike action because these are distributed by unpaid volunteers.

UNIPART The spare parts firm based in York is closing its Leeman Road factory during June 2020. The demand for parts has shrunk since older locomotive classes have shrunk in number and will be withdrawn from service during the next few years.

SEVERN TUNNEL Electrification of the Paddington – Cardiff main line through the 4 mile long Severn Tunnel was completed by 5 June 2020. Power is taken along the Tunnel on an aluminium power rail attached to the tunnel roof. Around 15 minutes has been taken off London – South Wales services and the route has now been electrified between the capitals of England and Wales.

FALLEN TREE The line between Brockenhurst and Lymington Town was closed throughout the morning peak on 11 June 2020 by a tree that had fallen across the tracks. A branch of the tree actually broke through one of the front windows of the train.

CLASS 701 The first ten-car emu 701002 was delivered from Derby Litchurch Lane Works to Eastleigh Works on 10 June 2020. The 701s are part of the Aventra family of trains, designed and built by Bombardier. The trains feature regenerative braking, wide entrance doors and wide gangways along each coach and between coaches, 2 + 2 seating throughout, Wi-Fi and at seat charging points, real-time information screens, air conditioning, and toilets accessible by disabled passengers.

LONGER PLATFORMS Platforms at Cooksbridge, Lancing, and Goring-by-Sea have been lengthened so that some peak trains can be lengthened to 8 coaches and not extend across level crossings, blocking road traffic. The work is part of the £150m Gatwick Airport station upgrade with services run by Govia Thameslink.

DOCKLANDS The Docklands Light Railway has started the process of taking out of service the first and last doors on all trains to give further protection to Passenger Service Agents.

CLASSES 803, 805 and 807. Avanti West Coast has ordered inter-city trains from Hitachi Rail Europe, and these will be built at the Newton Aycliffe factory. Thirteen 5-car bi-mode trains of class 805 will be used on services between Euston, Chester, and North Wales. Ten 7-car all electric trains will be used between Euston, West Midlands, and Liverpool. Five class 803 five-car trains are also being produced at Newton Aycliffe for use between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

THAMESLINK Services were disrupted for several hours on the mornings of both 8 and 9 June 2020 following incidents when trespassers were struck by trains.

LUL The Grade 1 listed old headquarters building at 55 Broadway, designed by Charles Holden is to become a luxury hotel.

EBBW VALE A study is under way to enable the long branch to improve the service to a fifteen minute frequency, as part of the South Wales Metro project.

MILTON KEYNES A group of offices near the station is to be redeveloped into 200 flats. The work will cost £9.7m.

CROSS-CITY LINE Birmingham City Planning Committee gave permission on 4 June 2020 for the erection of new station buildings and a more capacious footbridge at University Station. The work will enable the station to handle greatly increased traffic during the 2022 Commonwealth Games. A failed emu between Longbridge and Redditch cause significant delays along the southern section of the Cross-City Line until late afternoon on 6 June 2020.

BLAKEDOWN The peaceful little used station at Blakedown on the Kidderminster – Stourbridge Junction line is about to be transformed. 6000 new houses are to be built close to the station and the car park is to be enlarged considerably. The final capacity has still to be decided.

KIDDERMINSTER The completely rebuilt station building, double the size of the old one, was opened for use by passengers on 7 June 2020. Approach paths and parking facilities have also been improved.

SCUNTHORPE A landslip close to Scunthorpe station shut the line towards Sheffield on 14 June 2020 and work to repair the damage will take until 24 June2020.

ORMSKIRK The footpath and cycleway between Ormskirk rail and bus stations, closed in January 2020, have been reconstructed with long-lasting materials and were reopened for public use at the beginning of June 2020.

SKELMERSDALE The new town near Liverpool has never had a proper station although there was a branch line through the area in pre-Beeching days. Now the site of the former Theological College has been purchased for £1 and will create a site for a station and car park.

WEST YORKSHIRE New stations are planned beside the White Rose Shopping Centre in Morley, and a Park and Ride stop at Thorpe Park at the edge of Leeds. The plans were announced two years ago and the Transport Department is now being asked for funds to make them possible.

SKIPTON An upgrade scheme for the station and its approach roads was revealed in early May 2020 and will cost £5.8m A full business case is being drawn up and funding would be from the Skipton Town Centre and the Combined Authority funds.

MIDDLESBROUGH The worn-out station with its derelict undercroft is to be completely transformed in a £35m scheme that will see every part of the station transformed and an additional platform, No 3, provided. Services will be increased with additional through trains to London, and more suburban services.

BEAMISH MUSEUM The famous museum near Durham hit the headlines on 6 May 2020 when serious financial irregularities in its management were unveiled. There have been complaints about who can use the disabled bus that takes people around the museum. Most however find that the £20 admission fee gives them a good day’s entertainment.

NEXUS A failed metro train caused long delays on the Sunderland route on 8 June 2020. Local campaigners have called for the Leamside Line to be reopened to become a point from which Tyne & Wear Metro services can be extended into County Durham. The section between St James and North Shields was closed all day on 12 June 2020 following the small hours theft of 300m of copper cable alongside the track. Metrocar 4001 has been given a special livery to mark the 40th anniversary of the metro. One side is in the 1980s colours and the other side in the 1980s scheme.

NEW DEPOT VolkerFitzpatrick is to build the new Tyne and Wear Metro Depot in Gosforth at a cost of £70m. This will provide State of the Art facilities to maintain the innovative new fleet.

WISHAW Services between Glasgow and Lanark were disrupted during the afternoon of 9 June 2020 when a wild boar wandered on to the track close to Wishaw station.

GLASGOW CENTRAL Services to/from the High Level Station were disrupted for several hours on 12 June 2020 due to a signalling equipment breakdown. Normal services resumed at 1500.

MILNGAVIE Services to/from the branch from Westerton were disrupted throughout the morning rush hour on 15 June 2020 because of a signalling fault. A £5m improvement scheme is about to start at Milngavie station. Both platforms are to be lengthened from 141m to 205m and some signals will require to be re-positioned. Changes are also needed to the positioning of the overhead power wires.

BIKE COACHES Five class 153 coaches have been modified to become “Active Travel Carriages” with space to carry safely twenty bikes and their owners. They will operate on the West Highland lines during the summer of 2020. There has been a significant increase in the use of bicycles on British roads since the start of the pandemic and unsurprisingly a similar use on trains..

SLOCHD The Highland Main Line between Carr Bridge and Inverness has been at risk of a cutting collapsing at a point just north of Carr Bridge station. The long dry spring of 2020 has threatened to destabilise the earthwork. A £4.8m project has been completed to install a new drainage system with concrete ditches to channel water away after excessive rainfall.

5 June 2020

FACEMASKS The use of a face mask when using any form of public transport is to become compulsory from 15 June 2020.

BUSIEST & QUIETEST The top ten busiest stations in the UK in 2018-9 were Waterloo (94.2m), Victoria (74.7m), Liverpool Street (69.4m), London Bridge (61.3m), Birmingham New Street (47.9m), Euston (46.1m), Stratford East London (41.2m), Paddington (38.1m), St Pancras (35.9m), Kings Cross (34.6m). Equal quietest are Denton and Stanlow & Thornton (both with 46 users in the entire year).

RADIO FAULT A nation-wide failure in the railway’s communication system has caused delays to all routes on the morning of 29 May 2020. A 100 mph speed restriction was imposed on all main lines but normal communications were restored by early afternoon.

MPs SEEK REOPENING of long closed stations. The growing list includes St Anne’s Park (near Bristol) and Killamarsh, Eckington, Whittington, and Staveley (near Sheffield), and also from Sheffield to Deepcar, Oughtibridge, Wadsley Bridge, Neepsend, and Stocksbridge. The local Council has started moves to reopen the York – Market Weighton – Beverley (with trains continuing to Hull) line – the “Minsters Line”.. Further north the reopening of Ferryhill station has been requested. However a campaign to reopen Etruria station in the Potteries has been rejected.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING The Government has so far provided £28.6m to help keep the English light rail systems operating at pre-pandemic frequencies. The sums for individual systems is Manchester Metrolink £13.3m; Tyne and Wear Metro £7.6m; Nottingham Express Transit £3.5m; Sheffield Supertram £2.6m; and West Midlands Metro £1.6m.

WATERSIDE LINE The plan to reinstate passenger services from Southampton to the Fawley branch was one of sixty submitted by local Councils to the Department of Transport which had funds to reopen a few of the routes closed by Beeching. The Waterside proposal is one of the few to be given funding that will allow the business case for reopening to be completed.

ELIZABETH LINE (Crossrail) The Paddington – Reading service has used 7-car class 315 trains that are now nearly 40 years old and were inherited from Abeillio Greater Anglia in May 2015. Now 9-car trains are taking over some services on the Shenfield section but those trains requiring to use the old stub-end platforms within Liverpool Street remain 7 cars long since these platforms are too short for nine cars. When the Elizabeth Line is fully open all trains will be 9 cars long and the platforms within Liverpool Street station will be lengthened to provide an emergency turning point if required. The new Central London Stations are to be handed over the Transport for London sooner than planned during autumn 2020. Construction work at Bond Street and Whitechapel stations had caused problems resulting in delays but work there has now been signed-off and a start to trial running is likely this summer.

LUL Thirty four Underground stations mainly in Central London were closed when the pandemic made the available work force too small to keep everything operating. The first four stations to reopen did so in early June 2020. Under 18 year olds and those over 60 have been able to travel free of charge on Mondays to Fridays between 0430 and 0900 if they had a Freedom Pass, a National Bus Pass, or 60+ card.. Temporarily this concession will no longer apply after 15 June 2020 despite its availability being linked to the Government’s £16bn bale-out. It will create space for a growing number of normal fare-paying passengers. Holders of a Disabled Person’s Card will continue to be able to use their card at all times.

SELHURST TRIANGLE This route between Victoria and East Croydon is a constant cause of delays which result from even a brief delay to any service using the Junction. Network Rail would like to install a series of flyovers and diveunders and are making their proposals to speed up Brighton Main Line services through Croydon public in early June 2020. Part of the Master Plan would see East Croydon station relocated slightly closer towards London.

CAMDEN HIGH LINE The 1.2km long walkway between Kentish Town Road and to Granary Square follows an abandoned railway right of way making it similar to the High Line in Manhattan Island, New York City. Both provide traffic-free safe walking routes through interesting areas.

SWINDON Vandals have caused substantial damage at the preserved Swindon and Cricklade Railway.

HARBURY The deep cutting at the entrance to Harbury Tunnel (Leamington – Banbury route) is being stabilised at a cost of £9m to prevent a further slippage incident. In 2015 one side of the cutting slipped closing the route for six weeks.

WEST MIDLANDS Older people have been able to use their free travel pass on local railways and buses before 0930 since late March 2020 when most people were “staying home”. As many were returning to work by the end of May 2020 this concession came to and end on 1 June 2020.

CLASS 230 battery hybrid trains are being built by Vivarail for Transport for Wales for use on their Wrexham – Bidston service. Adrian Shooter is CEO of Vivarail which is producing a new fleet for the West Midlands Railway. The on-board batteries will have a range of 60+ miles and have fast-charge re-charging taking just 10 minutes. Vivarail is moving from a cramped Leamington Spa site to spacious premises at Southam and are obtaining a test track facility at Barry in South Wales.

WALES Barmouth Viaduct is to receive extensive repair and upgrade work costing £25m during the second half of 2020. Much of the timber and steel work in the bridge will be replaced. The Welsh Assembly announced on 4 June 2020 that it wanted funds to build four stations – Carno and St Clears to open up rural areas, and Deeside Parkway and Ely Mill, both on the edge of Cardiiff to be park and ride facilities to reduce congestion in Cardiff.

WOLVERHAMPTON The first phase of the rebuilding of the city’s railway station was completed on 23 May 2020 and work has moved on immediately to the demolition of still standing sections of the old station. Work will now be possible on completing the extension of the West Midlands Metro to the station – a branch that will require the trams to use battery power.

DUNSTON Plans have been announced for a new garden village of 3000 homes alongside the main railway between Birmingham and Crewe. The village will have its own station on the main line between Penkridge and Stafford.

TOTON More and more information is emerging about the plans for HS2. Toton Sidings were created to handle the once massive coal traffic that used to centre on London and the south east. The coal industry is no more but Toton is to be a major transport hub midway between Derby and Nottingham costing £2.7bn where rail, bus, and tram services will come together and provide a link to many large towns around the East Midlands. In addition 4500 new homes will be built in the area and an extension to the existing Nottingham tram network will run through the new housing areas and reach Derby city centre.

NOTTINGHAM NET services through the city centre will be disrupted from 20 June until 19 July 2020 to allow the replacement of the rails.

MANEA The formerly remote and little used station near Ely has found new life after a quite large number of new houses were built next to the station – the village itself is nearly a mile away. Now a 112 space car park is to be built and a Sunday rail service provided for the first time.

HESSLE Someone walking on the track was struck and killed by a train at 1955 on 25 May 2020.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Services beyond St Peter’s have been disrupted after a BR freight train damaged the overhead power wire in the tunnel close to Sunderland Station. Repairs have been made difficult by the constrained site and Metro trains have been replaced by buses between St Peter’s and South Hylton.

WISHAW A wild boar was found on the tracks near Wishaw station during the afternoon of 4 June 2020 and could not be captured for several hours. Local trains were diverted along the WCML through the site of Wishaw South station. The boar was thought to have escaped from a private zoo.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The unusual operation with trains every six minutes on the clockwise Outer Circle only continues into June 2020. There is no service on the anti-clockwise Inner Circle. This gives an adequate service to passengers travelling to/from stations in the western part of the city but is unsuitable for people wishing to go for only one or two stops.

AIRDRIE Services on the line between Airdrie and Bathgate were halted during the afternoon of 31 May 2020 after a passenger was taken ill on board a train at Airdrie station.

FIFE CIRCLE The use of locomotives on two morning and evening peak trains to/from Edinburgh Waverley ended on 28 May 2020. Permission to use the non-compliant Mark 2 coaches on these services expires at the end of May 2020 but a sufficient number of “new” units re-using coaches from old inter-city units are now available to take over.

25 May 2020

REPAIRS Transport Secretary Shapps announced on 14 May 2020 that a major effort was being made to repair the infrastructure of the nation’s roads and railways during the pandemic when fewer trains and lorries were operating. There are literally “millions” of potholes in the roads and while traffic is lower than usual it will be easier to repair them to give the user a smoother ride. Obvious necessary repairs at stations will similarly be tackled. On 24 May 2020 the Department of Transport made available a further £35m to protect sixteen vital routes to the Channel, North Sea, and West Coast ports to ensure that supplies of food and medicines could reach the major cities.

POSSIBLE RE-OPENINGS The Department of Transport has made available funds to study the reopening of services to Newport and Ventnor line on the Isle of Wight, the Ivanhoe Line (Leicester – Burton 31 miles) and the stations at Devizes and Meir (Stoke-on-Trent).

HST MARK 3 COACHES Around 100 Mark 3 coaches from the original High Speed Trains are being scrapped since nobody is willing to lease them, accept the costs of modernising them and installing maintenance facilities for them. Scotrail has brought a few back into service in its new shorter high speed trains but otherwise there seems to be no further use for them.

OLD OAK COMMON This planned new station for which planning approval was given on 22 May 2020, will be the largest new station to be built in the UK. There will be 14 platforms, six of them for HS2 high-speed trains, all enclosed below a glorious arched roof which will need no pillars to help support it. In addition to HS2 the station will be used by the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), Heathrow Express, and trains for Wales and the West of England.

KILSBY TUNNEL The WCML structure near Daventry was reopened on 18 May 2020 after completion of extensive repairs and upgrades. The 1.5 miles long tunnel was opened in 1837 and for many years has suffered extensive water leaks through the brick walls which were becoming degraded. The work done included laying 1.3 miles of new track, the replacement of 2458 sleepers, the removal of old ballast and laying 7700 tonnes of new ballast, the installation of 740m of new drainage, the replacement of signal cabling and maintenance of the overhead power wires. Avanti West Coast looks forward to smoother operation of the tunnel with a reduction in delays.

SOUTH EASTERN Network Rail is closing the track through Hither Green together with the Bromley North and Sidcup branches between 25 July 2020 and 2 August 2020. The signalling system in use is elderly and needs to be replaced. The £81m work was to have been done in four days over the Easter Weekend but social distancing rules now mean that the work will take nine days instead of four. The five busiest stations served by the South Eastern TOC are Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Bromley South, Dartford, and Lewisham.

GATWICK AIRPORT Work on the £150m transformation of this station entered a new phase on 17 May 2020. Innovative ways of working will be introduced keeping the activities within the revised COVID-19 social distancing safeguards. Platform 7 will be closed on 17 May 2020 so that work on the new concourse immediately above the platform can take place. In 2023 when the improvements to the station have been completed there will be wider platforms, improved step-free access, five new lifts, eight new escalators, and the concourse will have been doubled in size.

CENTRAL LONDON Large areas of central London are being declared “car free” by London Mayor Khan so that people can walk more safely with only cyclists and buses to compete for the space. London Bridge and Waterloo Bridge are to be restricted to pedestrians, bicycles, and service buses. Motor cars entering the Downtown area will pay the daily charge of £15, (formerly £11.50). Temporary measures are to be introduced to compensate for the steep drop in passenger numbers due to the Pandemic. Fares are to rise by the RPI rate +1% and concessions linked to the 50+ card, and to the Freedom Pass are suspended. Free travel for the under 18s is also suspended.

BRENT CROSS WEST A new Thameslink station in the North London suburbs is being actively planned to serve 7500 new homes and new employment centres for 20,000 workers. The local Council gave its final approval on 20 May 2020.

LUL FUNDING The Government announced emergency funding of £1.9bn to LUL to restore the former level of service on the London Underground and bus network. As people return to work gross overcrowding on the Underground caused alarm to most passengers. The additional funds will last until the end of September 2020 by which time a clearer picture may have emerged. The income shortfall is expected to exceed £3bn in a full year.

SOMERSET The County Council is building up the case for reopening Wellington station which will cost £15m. A case for the reopening of Collompton station is also now under way.

HS2 Two massive bridges that will be needed close to the future Birmingham Interchange station are being constructed in factories and will be assembled on site later this year.

CROSS CITY LINE The northern half of the route had on 15 May 2020 a half hourly service but has had few users since the pandemic struck. At Sutton Coldfield the large car park contained just 9 cars and the platforms were deadly quiet. The one member of staff on duty was delighted to welcome back “an old friend”. Some days nobody asks him anything and he takes literally not a penny in fares. We are told that the numbers carried will remain low until the pre-Christmas rush. However on 18 May 2020 the service rose to three trains per hour ensuring that there was sufficient space for social distancing between off-peak passengers. Damage to the overhead wires at Duddeston by debris blown into the wires by strong winds disrupted service between New Street and Aston until 1400 on 17 May 2020.

KINGS LYNN A points failure at Kings Lynn effectively closed the line to Ely for much of 14 May 2020. Buses were laid on to replace the trains until late afternoon.

EAST MIDLANDS TOC The company introduced a new timetable on 18 May 2020 with one fast and one semi-fast service each hour from St Pancras to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

FIRE Through trains between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool Lime Street were halted for much of 21 May 2020 when a major fire broke out in the Sankey Valley Industrial Estate in Newton-le-Willows.

CHESTERFIELD A £3.8m master plan for transport around the station includes a future HS2 station, a new road to take traffic away from the town centre, and a new commercial development creating many new jobs.

GRAND CENTRAL The company has withdrawn its services between London and Bradford, Halifax, and Sunderland in June 2020 and is keeping a close watch of the traffic potential as it considers when to reintroduce these services.

HAXBY Plans to open a station in the northern suburbs of York at Haxby, on the Scarborough line, have existed for many years. In view of the need to provide better transport in a rapidly growing locality the City of York Council is taking a new detailed look at the proposal.

RIBBLEHEAD VIADUCT The Grade II listed 144 year old viaduct in North Yorkshire is to receive a £2.1m upgrade following the fall of some stonework from part of the structure. Although the recent incident did not in fact weaken the viaduct and trains on the Settle & Carlisle line have continued to run, general repairs will now take place with the replacement of fallen bricks, and repointing of the whole structure.

MANCHESTER Congestion on the east-west twin track link across central Manchester uses a viaduct for most of the way and this cannot be widened to ease the delays. Experts have indicated that the problems along the Castlefield Corridor between Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations can be remedied only if a tunnel for an additional two tracks is built along the route.

KEARSLEY The signal box on the Manchester – Bolton main line was burnt down by vandals early on 19 May 2020 and services along this key route have been disrupted.

LIVERPOOL The network of suburban lines operating under the “Merseyrail” name has lost a major amount of its traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic. Merseyrail is the only regular TOC not to have received a grant from the Department of Transport to make up for the income shortfall and is asking the Department about this deficiency. Hull Trains, an operator that hopes to make a profit from new services is in danger of collapsing since its revenue has faded away.

BLACKPOOL All tram services were suspended on and from 29 March 2020, and remain cancelled at the end of May 2020. The replacement bus route No 1 operates only a half-hourly frequency.

APPERLEY BRIDGE 300 additional car parking spaces are to be created at this Leeds suburban station. The County Council are paying for the work since they are seeking way to reduce the number of cars on the roads.

LEEDS Platform 1 is being closed on 26 May 2020 until November 2020 to allow it to be realigned alongside new platform zero. The new platform will be used by Harrogate line trains.

DARLINGTON A fire close to Darlington station during the late afternoon of 13 May 2020 disrupted services through the station. Services to Saltburn or Bishop Auckland were delayed by 10 – 20 minutes, and some missed out their call at Darlington completely. There were also some delays to ECML expresses. Plans have been announced to modernise the station at a cost of £100,000

TYNE & WEAR METRO From 18 May 2020 service frequencies on all Metro routes are being increased from a train every 24 minutes to 12 minutes. With the virus endemic perhaps past its peak people are returning to work in large numbers and the services provided must try to provide space for social distancing. Final design work on the new trains has been delayed while the requirements of social distancing are assessed. Hand sanitiser points have been installed at the following stations – Haymarket, Monument, Central, Gateshead Interchange, Heworth, South Shields Interchange and Park Lane Interchange.

ASHINGTON The plan to resume passenger services between Newcastle-on-Tyne and Ashington has taken an important step forwards. The £162m scheme has moved into the Planning Stage.

KILMARNOCK LINE Train services were disrupted on 25 May 2020 between Barrhead and Kilmarnock due to a major fault in the signalling system.

GLASGOW AREA A tree branch, blown by strong winds, was caught in the overhead wires near Pollokshields East Station delaying services for Neilston, and the Cathcart Circle throughout the morning of 23 May 2020. The lines from Glasgow Central to Gourock and Wemyss Bay were closed from 1800 until the end of services on 23 May 2020. Meanwhile services to Ardrossan were halted by tree branches that damaged the overhead wires. Ardrossan and Largs services had to turn at Kilwinning. Ferry services between Ardrossan and Brodick (Isle of Arran) and between Oban, Tiree and Coll were suspended due to the high winds and very rough seas.

EDINBURGH TRAMS A system to monitor the driver and detect signs of fatigue or falling asleep while driving is being installed at a cost of £168,000.

NEW FREIGHT Starting on 18 May 2020 a new flow of calcium carbonate carried in large tank cars commenced operation between Aberdeen and Spalding. The weekly service will take many lorries off the roads.

NEWTONHILL A reopened station at Newtonhill on the ECML south of Aberdeen and Portlethen is being studied closely by the local Council. The original station was closed in 1956 but the area is growing rapidly.

13 May 2020

HS2 The planned high-speed line may have to be re-designed and the trains similarly modified as a consequence of the virus pandemic.

FRANCHISE RULES The Prime Minister announced on 10 May 2020 that the rules concerning the lockdown of people forcing them to stay in the own homes were to be eased. The change was meant to take effect from 13 May 2020 but large numbers of workers set off for work on the 11 May causing mayhem on trains and the London Underground on which services had been reduced. There was considerable confusion about when changes were to take place.

FELTHAM South West Trains were able to complete cable and track connections to their new £60m flagship depot during the VE Day holiday weekend period (8 – 11 May 2020). The depot will eventually be home to ten 10-car class 701 emus that will transform services on the Reading, Windsor and West London suburban routes.

P&O FERRIES The Company has lost much of its traffic due to the lockdown and indicated that Government aid of £257m was essential to avoid the collapse of the company.

GWR HONOURS WW2 HEROES Several trains leaving Paddington on 8 May 2020 (the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2) were named after WW2 leaders or heroes – Sir Winston Churchill, Odette Hallowes, Harry Billinge MBE, Ken Rees, Alan Turing, and Corporal George Sheard.

OLR Because of a significantly high level of service cancellations and the numerous complaints from passengers about the services provided on the Northern franchise by Arriva Rail North (owned by DB) the franchise is likely to be taken over by the Operator of Last Resort (OLR). The East Coast Main Line inter-city franchise was earlier taken over by OLR when Virgin became unable to continue with the losses made on the franchise.

CLASS 387. Four-car emus were built by Bombardier for service on the Great Northern, Gatwick Express, c2c, and Great Western TOCs, and 107 units were built. Testing of 387s fitted with the ETCS control system on the Great Western main line between Heathrow and Reading has been completed successfully and the units will appear on Heathrow Express services later in 2020. They have a top speed of 110 mph.

GATWICK Many services booked to call at Gatwick Airport Station did not call on 5 May 2020 because the majority of the booked air services had been cancelled. However development plans for the Airport are continuing including the construction of a second runway.

SOHAM Work on building the new station, on the line from Ely to Bury St. Edmunds, is likely to start later this year with services starting in 2022. There will be a single 102m long platform and a 50 space car park. Should the route be double-tracked there is space for a second platform.

EUSTON When HS2 reaches Euston a new entrance to the Euston terminus will be created from the south side of Euston Road as part of a below ground link from Euston to the east end of Euston Square station.

BLETCHLEY Fourteen of the original thirty seven spans of the 1960s flyover taking the west – east route over and the WCML are being dismantled to allow the construction of a new flyover incorporating up-to-date standards. The rebuilt flyover will take the Oxford – Bedford route over the junction and station at Bletchley.

KILSBY TUNNEL The 1.5 mile long WCML tunnel is receiving extensive repairs during the two Bank Holidays in May 2020. Normally 400 trains pass through the tunnel every day.

COVENTRY The suggested very light rail scheme around the city has been awarded £1.5m by the West Midlands Combined Authorrity to develop and design light-weight track suitable for use by very light weight trams.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS Work on the extension beyond Library to Hagley Road was halted for two weeks but has now restarted although with a smaller workforce.

KIDDERMINSTER The Severn Valley Railway station is the latest structure to be bathed in blue light as a tribute to the work done by the NHS.

SHEFFIELD HUB PLAN Proposals to develop railways around Sheffield and build new stations to serve better several areas. These include a new Midland Main Line station in Rotherham, a new Barnsley Dearne Valley station, and a stop on the East Coast Main Line to serve Doncaster-Sheffield Airport. Sheffield and Chesterfield stations would receive major upgrades, and the trams would run outside the front of Sheffield station rather than hidden away behind the station.

BUXTON Two embankments on the Stockport – Buxton route near Chapel-en-le-Firth are being modified to make the slope of the earthwork less steep, and therefore more stable.

CARDIFF Central Station (otherwise known as Canolog and formerly known as General) was lit up in blue on the evening of Thursday 30 April 2020 to honour the NHS and its staff who tend those struck down in the virus pandemic. The station is to continue its blue illumination every night until further notice.

ABERNANT The 1.4mile long Abernant Tunnel which once was used by a rail route between Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil may be reopened as a pedestrian and cycle route. The tunnel was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and would become the longest cycle tunnel in Europe.

CONSENT FOR FREIGHT I/C On 4 May 2020 the Transport Secretary gave development consent for the major West Midlands Strategic Freight Interchange. It will be close to Junction 12 on the M6 Motorway, and will attract potentially large quantities of freight and parcels traffic from across the West Midlands bound for all areas of Great Britain and far into Europe.

COLNE – SKIPTON Plans to reopen this link between Yorkshire and Lancashire have now moved on to the “develop” stage. Accurate estimates of how much necessary reopening work will cost and confirmation of the potential traffic that the restored route might attract will now happen.

TYNE & WEAR There was a collision between a Metro train and a motor car on a level crossing close to Fawdon station at 1820 on 5 May 2020. Trains from Newcastle turned at Regent Square for about an hour before normal operations resumed.

YOKER A fault with equipment in the Yoker Signalling and Control Centre resulted in delays of around 15 minutes to services between Dalmuir and Hyndland for most of 7 May 2020.

SHOTTS Services between Glasgow and Edinburgh via Shotts were disrupted during the evening peak on 6 May 2020 due to a signal fault between Holytown and Carfin.

TRANENT The Tranent and Cockenzie Railway, one of Scotland’s earliest lines, opened in 1722 with wooden rails on which horses hauled coal from pits around Tranent, near Edinburgh, to salt-pans at Cockenzie and the nearby Port Seton Harbour. Later, much of the line was relaid with steel rails for steam locomotives. A low embankment was used in 1745 by victorious Jacobite forces led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Battle of Prestonpans. Because it had been in existence for decades and was still in use, the line was not be removed when the ECML was built and the two railways crossed on the level. Recently archaeologists have discovered remains of the wood rails and sleepers about a metre below the present ground level in Cockenzie and hope to build a visitor centre. Part of the line remained open until recent years serving a power station.

ARBROATH The seafront miniature railway at the south end of the town runs alongside the East Coast main line and has run since 1935 being still owned and operated by the Kerr family. One of the original locomotives, “Tibby”, has turned up in Denmark and it is hoped to bring her “back home” for a short visit to celebrate the Arbroath line’s 85th year. The Covid-19 pandemic means that the line has had a bad start in 2020, and only 3500 passengers were carried in 2019.

1 May 2020

JOHN FARROW Sadly John Farrow, owner and main organiser of UK Railtours, and for a time Hertfordshire Rail Tours, died from a coronavirus infection on 8 April 2020., aged 78. All tours organised for May and June 2020 had already been cancelled because of the pandemic but it is hoped that new railtours will be operated once it is safe to do so.

BILL BEST The founder of the 2’0” gauge Bredgar and Wormshill Light Railway which was built in the grounds of his house, died on 9 April 2020 aged 89.

COLONEL TOM MOORE The fund raiser for the NHS celebrated his 100th birthday on 30 April 2020, and was given a celebratory promotion from Captain on the day before. His wish to raise £1000 for the NHS took off remarkably and reached £30m in time for his special birthday. His old Regiment held a special parade in his honour and one of two fly-pasts over his Bedfordshire home was of World War 2 Spitfires. Great Western Railway and Railfreight have named respectively Intercity train 500025, and locomotive 66731 “Captain Tom Moore”. The Queen and Prime Minister sent personal greetings to Mr Moore.

RESPECT FOR NHS At 20.00 on 23 April 2020 trains operated by South Eastern Trains sounded their horns one long blast followed by eight short blasts – spelling out NHS in Morse Code. Across the country at the same time members of the public stood outside their homes clapping their hands to show similar respect for the Health Service. A similar “Sound the Horn” salute to health and emergency services workers was arranged for 28 April 2020 across the USA. Structures lit up with blue lights on 23 April 2020 included Royal Albert and Brittania Bridges, and the London terminals at London Bridge, Waterloo, Victoria, Charing Cross, Liverpool Street. On the night of 30 April/1 May 2020 Findhorn Viaduct near Tomatin was illuminated in blue light.

GOVERNMENT FUNDS CONFIRMED The Department of Transport confirmed on 23 April 2020 that it will provide funds for the tram systems in Sheffield, Manchester, Tyne and Wear, Nottingham, and West Midlands which had lost about 90% of their traffic due to the pandemic.

GREATER ANGLIA This TOC used fifteen electric class 90 locomotives on its hourly Norwich – Liverpool Street expresses for close on twenty years. Most are now moving on to Freightliner after an overhaul and repaint in Freightliner’s new orange livery. Their last use on a Norwich “flier” was 31 March 2020 after which the coaches used no longer complied with new disability regulations. They were built originally for use on the WCML and they are now being replaced on Greater Anglia by Stadler I-C units.

LUL Waltham Forest Council has given formal approval for the planned £18m upgrade to Leyton Station ticket hall. A new ticket hall is to be built alongside the existing cramped hall. The new hallway will be three times larger than the existing facility and there will be eight gates into the station compared with the present five gates. 4500 new homes are to be built in the neighbourhood and annual users of the station are expected to rise from 14m to 17m.

SOUTHEND VICTORIA The overhead power wires along the Shenfield to Southend Victoria branch, installed in the 1950s, have been replaced by a new system at a cost of £46m.

TACKLEY This halt near Oxford is adjacent to a notorious pedestrian level crossing at which users break the rules about once a month creating potentially dangerous situations. A footbridge has been built between the platforms at Tackley and was officially opened on 28 April 2020. The level crossing was closed officially on the same day removing a danger point on the route.

TRACK WORK The West Coast Main Line between Milton Keynes and Rugby will be closed during the period 2 – 16 May 2020 to allow track replacement and tunnel maintenance work. Trains will be diverted via Northampton adding several minutes to the running time.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO Although there has been an 86% drop in the numbers travelling and the timetable has been adjusted, there is still a tram every twelve minutes throughout the day, and every 15 minutes after mid evening. Traffic has edged up a little in late April 2020 as some people have returned to work – often part time, working at home at other times. However the daytime service was cut to every 15 minutes from 27 April 2020. Evening and weekend services are being continued so that essential workers can continue to get to/from work.

CURZON STREET TERMINUS Formal planning permission for the planned 7-platform plus tram stop HS2 station was given by the City’s Planning Committee on 22 April 2020.

TOWYN With all train services suspended the Talyllyn Railway has found a new way to keep vegetation growing beside and within the track under control. Two donkeys have been set the task of eating the growing grass and keeping things neat and tidy.

MERSEYTRAVEL The service now provided is half-hourly on all routes between 0700 and 1900 each weekday. There are a few trains on some routes up to 2200. Most reduced fare bargain offers have been withdrawn but NHS workers are given free travel upon showing their work ID passes.

HOOTON A passenger was trapped in a lift at Hooton Station in the Wirral Peninsula on 22 April 2020. The Fire Brigade attended the scene and freed the passenger after about half an hour.

MANCHESTER METROLINK The severe downturn in passenger numbers has brought about an urgent plea for funding from HM Government. Revenue of £6m per month has dropped to £1m and the operating Councils cannot afford to keep the services running. If no emergency funds are provided the Councils may have to mothball the system until more normal conditions apply.

NEW MILLS NEWTOWN The Grade II listed footbridge at this station has been refurbished. Erected in 1863, the steel structure had weakened considerably but it has now been strengthened, and the steel structure grit blasted before being given a total repaint.

ROCHDALE Large housing developments are to take place close to five stations in the Rochdale area with initial plans announced for 7000 new homes. The stations involved are Rochdale, Castleton, Smithy Bridge, Littleborough, and Mills Hill.

SHEFFIELD From 1 April 2020 the Supertram timetable provides a 30 minute frequency on the Yellow and Blue routes between 0600 & 0900 then hourly until 2200. An hourly service applies at the weekends. The Purple and Tram-Train service is hourly at all times throughout the week.

HARROGATE The rail service between Harrogate and York is to be doubled to half-hourly from December 2020. The cost will be just £9.4m for low-key upgrades including minor track improvements and upgraded signalling.

TYNE & WEAR The Metro system, like most other local suburban rail networks, has lost about 90% of its passengers and is losing around £1m per week. Like systems in Manchester and Merseyside, Government assistance is sought urgently or the services may have to be discontinued.

GLASGOW SUBWAY From 28 March 2020 the Subway offered an unusual service. The Inner Circle was completely closed but services run every 8 minutes on the Outer Circle between 0630 and 2100 (timed from St Enoch). Longer distance travellers – i.e. between the city centre and Govan, Partick, and the University, had a usable service. People wishing to travel just one or two stops may have to travel right round the 6½ mile line for a journey that is normally a short hop.

LOUISA JORDAN HOSPITAL The new NHS Hospital built in a matter of days at the SEC Centre in Glasgow and staffed by a substantial team of nurses, technical staff, and doctors is close to Exhibition Centre station and additional services are being provided to carry the staff.

EDINBURGH TRAMS In line with other local tram services there has been a reduction of nearly 90% in the traffic carried. From 22 March 2020 the service was reduced to a tram every 15 minutes and from 12 April 2020 further reduced each evening from 1930 to a tram every 30 minutes.

INVERNESS The proposed single platform Airport Station on the Aberdeen line received planning permission in 2017 and these were about to expire with no work started when they were hastily renewed on 29 April 2020. The plans are now being upgraded for two platforms and an improved service as far as Elgin.

21 April 2020

BLUE FOR NHS WORKERS Starting on 26 March 2020 communities along the length and breadth of the nation bathed their outstanding buildings in blue light as a mark of appreciation for the workers in the NHS during the virus pandemic. Major stations, cathedrals, multi-storey car parks, major bridges were among the structures turned blue and every Thursday at 20.00 people stood outside their homes to clap hands in a show of appreciation for the NHS staff who put their own lives at risk helping others. Among buildings bathed in blue light were London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street stations, and in Glasgow both Central and Queen Street HL stations. On Glasgow Central concourse the seats were rearranged to spell out the words “National Health Service”. Buildings in blue light included Portsmouth Tower, Royal Albert Hall, London Eye, The Shard, Windsor Castle, Wembley Arch, Principality Stadium Cardiff, Royal Albert bridge, Lincoln Cathedral, Liverpool St George’s Hall, Blackpool Tower, Penshaw Monument near Sunderland, SSE Hydro in Glasgow and, remote among the mountains, Glenfinnan Viaduct.

HS2 On 15 April 2020 the Government issued a “notice to proceed” to the contractors that will organise the main civil engineering work between London and Birmingham. This means that work can start on final design details after which there will be a substantial number of jobs within the construction industry boosting the national economy.

ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES With passenger services all across the nation reduced because most people are doing as they have been told by the Government and are “staying home” space has been created for additional freight or parcels trains carrying freight, foodstuffs and medicines. Passenger traffic at Kings Cross for example was down 92% by Easter Weekend. Over a million tons of extra supplies have been moved efficiently by rail services using a much smaller number of staff than by using lots and lots of lorries. Emus with the seats removed are being used to move food and other important items between Kings Cross and Newcastle-upon-Tyne with the probability that services will be continued north to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

KENT Plans have been announced for a major development in the Hoo Peninsula on the Thames estuary coast near Gravesend. 12100 new homes would be built and served by a new railway station, a massive car park at the station, and major road upgrades in the area. The £150m project would be built during the next twenty years.

THANET PARKWAY Work on the planned park and ride station near Manston has been halted until the COVID-19 emergency is over. Kent County Council have allocated £17.8m towards the project and some Councillors would prefer to see the money spent on health related matters.

CLASS 707 The South Eastern TOC is to take over the thirty 5-car Class 707 emus built by Siemens in Krefeld, Germany, for the South Western TOC. Before they could be used South Western had decided to replace its entire fleet by ninety Bombardier class 701 units.

DERAILMENT A freight service was derailed early on 10 April 2020 at Higham, and as a result the line between Gravesend and Strood was shut. Repairs were to be undertaken over the Easter Weekend and it was hoped to reopen the line on the morning of Tuesday 14 April 2020.

PLEAS TO REOPEN With services being cut back due to falling numbers of travellers, groups seeking to have stations reopened have stepped up their efforts with one group wishing to have stations near Peterborough area reopened – Donington, Deeping St Nicholas, and Littleworth where bus services have crumbled away and the villagers fear that they may become cut off.

SWANAGE The preserved Swanage line is facing financial ruin due to the near total shut down of the tourist industry caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Other tourist related lines are in a similar fragile financial state.

GUILDFORD AREA The biggest rail investment in 40 years transforming the track and signalling systems around Guildford starts on Good Friday, 10 April 2020, and continues until 30 April 2020. 1200m of conductor rail on the route towards Clandon, and 1500m of track is being renewed on the lines for Wanborough and Worplesdon. Much of the signalling in the area – involving 41 track circuits – is being upgraded. Services on the Cobham route will be replaced by buses during this period.

LEYTON The Central Line tube station in East London is to be reconstructed at a cost of £18m – half from TfL and half from Waltham Forest Council. Up to 15,000 new houses are to be built in the area and the station in its present state will not be able to cope. Work will start in August 2020 and the improved station will be ready by summer 2023. . Lifts will be provided to assist the disabled reach the platforms.

BUS REPLACEMENT Buses have replaced trains on two branches north of London. They are Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey, and Bedford to Bletchley. The bus substitution frees up staff to operate busier services during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

EAST WEST RAILWAY This company has sought tenders for 12-14 multiple units that will operate a service between Oxford, Milton Keynes, and Bedford.

NEW SHELTERS New platform shelters have been erected at Whittlesea and Manea stations between Peterborough and Ely. Substantial new housing has been built next to formerly isolated Manea station. Improvements at March station are now being discussed.

FIRE A major fire of grass and vegetation in a cutting at Cheddleton, Staffordshire, beside the Churnet Valley Railway’s sidings broke out around 1500 on 8 April 2020. Signalling cables were damaged and three fire engines were required to put out the blaze. Minor damage was done to rolling stock in an adjacent siding. Repairs were not completed until 1500 on 9 April 2020.

NEWPORT A 2.4 mile long single track which used to serve Llanwern Steelworks is to find new use as a stabling point for extra services bringing crowds to rugby internationals or pop concerts at the Principality Stadium in Cardiiff.

LINE CLOSED The route between Worcester and Hereford via Great Malvern has been closed for the duration of the pandemic. An hourly bus service substitutes for the train taking one hour 55 minutes compared with about 58 minutes by train.

WEST MIDLANDS Rail services between Walsall and Birmingham were halted on Easter Monday morning (13 April 2020) after a tree fell across the tracks near Bescot Junction station and brought down the power wires. Services were restored by mid-afternoon. Metro frequencies of a tram every 12 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes in the evenings, were introduced on 30 March 2020.

LUL The train drivers’ Union ASLEF has demanded that drivers of the Underground trains be equipped with appropriate safety masks and gloves to protect them from the Covid-19 virus. LUL managers have expressed concern that during the rush hours there is still overcrowding on the central sections of three Lines – Victoria, Jubilee, and Central. The numbers of people working in “The City” has dropped significantly but overcrowding remains a problem on these three lines. On the morning of 14 April 2020 passengers complained that there were still too many people in Underground coaches. With all seats occupied many customers were standing quite close together rather than the 6 feet apart as thought to be the safe distance. With more people returning to work it is feared that things will get worse.

SOUTHAM The little Warwickshire town has become the location of Vivarail’s manufacturing base. The company will have the space to tackle its growing order book including the five-car emus for service in the Isle of Wight, and the Class 230 hybrid units some of which are working on the Marston Vale Line.

KENILWORTH A lorry carrying a skip has struck the arch of a bridge carrying the Coventry to Leamington Spa line and caused £200,000 worth of damage. The incident happened on 20 March 2020. There are on average five bridge strikes every day and many lorry drivers admit that they do not know the height of their vehicle.

MANCHESTER Transport for Greater Manchester has allowed NHS staff, and social care workers to travel on Metrolink services free of charge from 11 April 2020 until, initially 1 June 2020. With local churches closed in an effort to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus food donations to local charities have dried up so a reception point for food donations has been opened on the concourse of Piccadilly Station. The tram service has been amended by running the Sunday frequency throughout the week.

STEETON & SILSDEN This Yorkshire station which serves busy Airedale Hospital is to have a second additional car park adding spaces for 220 extra cares.

SIGNALLING FAILURE A signal failure due to faulty cable delayed services at Rotherham Central on 8 and 9 April 2020.

HUDDERSFIELD AREA An upgrade is planned for the York – Huddersfield – Manchester main line with considerable improvements between Dewsbury and Huddersfield including development of the stations at Ravensthorpe and Deighton. Public consultation into the planned works has been extended to 30 April 2020 in view of the considerable interest from the public into the plans.

NEXUS In a £8m project the track bed and track will be replaced along a 250m section over the Crossgate Viaduct. The line between Hebburn and South Shields will be closed during the period 16-19 April 2020 with buses substituting for the trains. The three single track bottlenecks between Pelaw and Bede (actually points where freight only sections occupy one track leaving only one track for the passenger services in both directions) are to be altered to become a conventional double track railway. The £98m cost will be paid for from the Transforming Cities Fund. The South Shields line will be able to carry an extra 30,000 passengers per year.

TYNE & WEAR Frequencies on all routes were reduced to a tram every 24 minutes. The overlapping of routes means that a frequency of every 12 minutes is available on all busy sections.

RAVENSTRUTHER Cloburn Quarry Co. is the new tenant of the Ravenstruther aggregates terminal near Lanark. They will load large quantities of decorative aggregates, much of it red granite chips, for customers across Europe.

GLASGOW AREA Large numbers of day trippers have been crowding on to trains “to see the empty streets”. Local citizens have been following the Government instructions – hence the empty streets. A fault with a level crossing between Cardross and Craigendoran at 1327 on 7 April 2020 halted trains to/from Helensburgh for three hours while the fault was put right. The service on the Subway was reduced to a train every eight minutes and last services run earlier at 2100.

EDINBURGH Police have been interviewing passengers on Edinburgh-bound trains asking if their journey is really necessary and reminding them of the Government advice to travel if their journey is for a really important reason. Construction work on the Newhaven extension was halted from 22 March 2020 and the service frequency was reduced to a service every 15 minutes.

1 April 2020

NATIONAL EXPRESS The long distance bus operation halted all services from 5 April 2020 to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and because so few people are travelling

FRANCHISES EXTENDED The Department of Transport has given Govia authority to continue its South Eastern operation of the franchise from 1 April 2020 for two years. Similarly First Group will continue its Great Western operation until 2023. Basically the Government has taken control of all franchises since seriously dropping numbers of passengers are being carried with difficult financial consequences for the franchise holders.

MAIDSTONE EAST This well placed station near the centre of Maidstone has gained a new ticket office with three booths over the holiday period.

LONDON AIRPORTS Most flights from London City Airport are used by the business community and there has been a massive recent downturn in numbers recently. The Airport has closed until the end of April 2020 when the position will be reviewed. Gatwick Airport usage has also plunged as numbers taking a holiday have dropped significantly. Services calling at the Airport station have dropped but the number of commuters using the trains has held up better.

HULL The Hull – Kings Cross service operated by Hull Trains has ceased operation temporarily due to steep drop in longer distance rail travel in the UK. Rival LNER is operating a morning Hull – Kings Cross train returning in the early evening and accepting Hull Trains tickets.

NEXUS There are fears that the coronavirus pandemic will delay a start to the building of the new fleet for the Tyne and Wear metro. Stadler won the contract to build the new trains but the virus pandemic has caused many delays at the Swiss factory where the trains will be built.

NORTHAMPTON LINE From 26 March 2020 the Euston – Northampton – Birmingham stopping service operated by London Northwestern Railway was split in two. Longer trains now operate between Euston and Northampton while lower traffic levels mean that shorter services now operate between Northampton and Birmingham New Street.

NIGHTINGALE HOSPITALS The Excel Conference Centre in London’s Docklands became an emergency field hospital for coronavirus victims. Much of the space at Solihull’s NEC (it’s not actually in Birmingham) is to be converted into a 5000 bed emergency hospital and the exhibition centres in Manchester and Glasgow are to be adapted to serve a similar purpose. Any conference or exhibition location converted to hospital use will be known as a Nightingale Hospital. They are not fully equipped hospitals with recognised 30 or so bed wards, but are more extensive areas with limited bedside equipment but with the means to help patients to breathe more easily, or will take patients with simpler problems to release beds in conventional hospitals for more Covid-19 patients.

EUROSTAR The through services between St Pancras International and Europe are deleting calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.

LUL Despite new rules designed to keep people 2m apart from each other during the coronavirus pandemic, London Underground trains were just as crammed with passengers as usual since commuters tried to get to work on 23 and 24 March 2020. Pictures in newspapers showed that passengers were so close together that they could barely breathe!

LUL CUTS Several less busy stations were closed from 1 April 2020 so that it was easier to maintain services despite many staff being ill. The stations affected, line by line, are as follows. Bakerloo Line;- Regents Park, Warwick Road, and Kilburn Park were closed and the service frequency was cut to half hourly (every 10 minutes Elephant & Castle to Queens Park).
Central Line:- Holland Park, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Redbridge, and Barkingside shut.
District Line:- Bow Road, Bayswater, Gloucester Road, Mansion House, St James Park, Temple shut. Hammersmith & City Line:- Great Portland Street, Stepney Green shut. Jubilee Line:-
Swiss Cottage, Bermondsey, Southwark shut. Metropolitan Line:- No station closures but trains to run half hourly to Amersham and Chesham, every 15 minutes to Uxbridge and Watford.
Northern Line:- Charing Cross, Borough, Goodge Street, Hampstead, Chalk Farm, Clapham South, Mornington Crescent South Wimbledon, and Tufnell Park shut. Piccadilly Line:- Arsenal, Caledonian Road, Hyde Park Corner, Manor House, Bounds Green, Covent Garden, North Ealing shut. Victoria Line:-Pimlico and Blackhorse Road shut. Docklands Light Railway:- Island Gardens, Prince Regent, shut. Overground – No service between Surrey Quays and New Cross.

CROSSRAIL As part of the Government’s strategy to slow the spread of the corona virus across the UK all work was halted on the finishing of work on Crossrail. The new Cross-London route is so far behind its original completion date that a further delay will hardly be noticed.

WEST MIDLANDS A low-speed derailment of a freight train close to Bromsgrove Station resulted in delays to passenger services of up to an hour. Most Cross-Country expresses were diverted via Kidderminster omitting calls at Worcestershire Parkway and Bromsgrove.

BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET An empty retail unit at the station has been made available to the NHS and will become a convenient place where patients can have blood samples taken for tests.

FREE PARKING is being offered to NHS staff and other care workers at Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

MANCHESTER PICCADILLY The station concourse has been marked out with circular marks to indicate what “6 feet apart” as required by coronavirus legislation actually means.

CABLE THEFT Metal thieves ripped out 300m of signal cable between Alderley Edge and Crewe early on 28 March 2020. This section has been targeted 28 times during the past 12 months.

BLACKPOOL The introduction by Grand Central of five inter-city services between the north western resort and London Euston is being delayed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. At present, so few passengers are travelling and are following Government advice to “stay home” that there is no need for the new service.

ISLE OF MAN The new Strathallan Depot for the horse tram service was to be officially opened on 13 April 2020

EDINBURGH TRAM Construction work on the extension to Leith and Newhaven has been halted until after the coronavirus emergency is over.

GLASGOW AREA A new entrance to Queen Street Station from the George Square direction was opened on 23 March 2020 as part of a £120m improvement scheme. The Dundas Street entrance has been closed until 30 March 2020 because of continuing improvement work. Children playing on the tracks has become a significant problem in the south eastern Glasgow area with Shettleston, Wishaw, and Shieldmuir the most troublesome locations..

GLASGOW SUBWAY Traffic has slumped due to9 the coronavirus pandemic and partly to reflect this and to reduce the ability to spread the virus services are to terminate at 2100 every day.

KILMARNOCK Wabtec plans to close its plant in Kilmarnock and concentrate its work on its main Doncaster factory. The Kilmarnock factory was opened in 1840 and became the centre of internationally known locomotive builder Andrew Barclay. The firm amalgamated with Hunslet in 1972 becoming Hunslet-Barclay. This ran out of funds and was taken over by Brush in 2007 to become Brush-Barclay. Wabtec took over in 2011 following further financial problems operating as Wabtec Rail Scotland which will now leave the Kilmarnock site with the loss of 100 jobs.

30 March 2020

GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER The Department of Transport scrapped all franchises and took over the running of the entire railway system on 23 March 2020. The moves to reduce service frequencies had already begun (see item below).

SERVICE REDUCTIONS With traffic falling away as a result of fears about the coronavirus pandemic, service reductions began to be applied across the country from Monday 23 March 2020.
With traffic down by as much as 70% the financial state of many Operating Companies was becoming unsustainable so the Government stepped in, cancelled the contracts with the Operating Companies and paid them instead a modest fee for running the trains with the Government retaining the fare income and operating costs.

SLEEPING CAR SERVICES The Euston to Fort William and Aberdeen overnight services were axed temporarily from 23 March 2020 leaving only the sleepers to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Inverness. The reductions are due to staff shortages and the need for extra cleaning of the coaches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

HYTHE REOPENING? The branch line near Southampton from a junction at Totton to Hythe (with its well-known Pier railway) and Fawley may see regular passenger services restored. There have been moves for a reopening for several years but the County Council has rejected the plans on cost grounds. There would be insufficient passengers to justify the costs of reopening and then the operation of such a service. Now plans have been announced for 1500 new homes at Fawley that would add significantly to road congestion if there was no rail service.

ISLAND LINE The Ryde – Shanklin service had to be shut down from around 1600 on 19 March 2020 when a signalman was taken ill and no replacement could be found quickly.

LUL Transport for London is using its reserves to make up the £500m shortfall in income caused by the significant drop in passenger numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Forty tube stations were to close on 19 March 2020 as traffic plunged in response to the virus pandemic. Tube services were to be reduced in frequency with no night service. Traffic on the Waterloo and City Line fell away to a very low level so this service was discontinued altogether until numbers travelling picked up again.

MANNINGTREE 220 additional car parking spaces have been created in a £3.1m scheme. The total number of spaces is now over 800.

ELY The Queen Adelaide junctions immediately north of Ely Station where routes from Kings Lynn, Norwich, Cambridge, and Peterborough meet have a poorly designed layout restricting the number of trains that can operate through the junctions. The cost of reconstructing the junctions has soared from £35m (ten years ago) to £600m in a recent estimate but work to ease train operations is going ahead.

WEST COAST MAIN LINE Although earlier on 14 March 2020 there had been problems caused by fallen or unstable lineside trees, by mid evening services were operating smoothly. The 1943 departure from Euston to Wolverhampton left a couple of minutes late but had to wait at least two minutes at Rugby awaiting its correct departure time. Arrival in New Street was on time.

CHESTER The station was cleared of passengers in mid-evening of 14 March 2020 because of fears that a fire on a train might result in an explosion. In fact firefighters brought the fire under control quickly and normal operations were resumed after an hour.

BIRMINGHAM A “local” service was operated along the Camp Hill Line from New Street to Kings Norton on 16 March 2020. The special paused at the site of the three planned stations along the route to give an idea of what the future local service would be like.

BLACKPOOL The first of five Class 90 locomotives hired from DB Cargo UK has been given its new livery ahead of the introduction of a through service to/from Euston which may grow into five services each way on weekdays. Four six-car sets of Mark IV coaches have been hired from Eversholt Rail until December 2026.

ISLE OF MAN The reconstructed Strathallan Depot will be opened at Easter 2020 and will accommodate 13 horse trams plus five Manx Electric trams. The Depot facade is similar to the facade of the old Depot. The 2020 Season dates for all the heritage lines will be 20 April until 21 September 2020. 2019 was a poor season for the heritage line with all showing a drop in business apart from the steam line which boosted loads from 113,197 in 2018 to 128,107 in 2019. The MER carried only 135,857 in 2019 compared with 244,863 in 2018.

NOTTINGHAM Because motor cars are driven quite frequently on to “tram only” reserved sections near Nottingham Station, drivers are being warned though several bright red notices at the entrance to the reserved sections.

SHEFFIELD Long-term plans for the area around Midland Station would see the tram diverted from its present route along the back of the station – rather “out of sight”, and instead the tram would be diverted to cross above the railway tracks with new stops at Granville Square and Sheaf Square (for the station). The trams would be very visible from the station entrance. The tram would run past Sheffield Hallam University and the coach/bus station.

HULL TRAINS The operator has experienced a significant drop in loadings and is dropping all catering on its trains until further notice.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Because of a significant drop in traffic due to the coronavirus epidemic, all peak hour “short distance extras” (Pelaw to South Gosforth or Monkseaton) will be discontinued from 18 March 2020. Services were disrupted on 21 March 2020 after a man was hit and killed by a train at Shiremoor station.

SCOTRAIL Rail passenger numbers have plunged by 30% and the immediate response has been to operate the Sunday timetable on many routes. The numbers travelling by bus have fallen by 20% and a close watch is being kept while timetable reductions are considered. Connecting ferry services in the Clyde estuary have similarly seen a drop in use and Cal-Mac is keeping a close watch on the use being made of its services before deciding how to react. When some routes have only a single service that can be used by commuters working in Glasgow, it is very difficult to decide how to reduce costs while preserving the important parts of the service.

MOTHERWELL Work will start shortly on a major upgrade to Motherwell Station costing £14.5m.The station will become a major railhead for the eastern and southern suburbs of Glasgow and also for the nearby towns of Hamilton, Coatbridge, and Airdrie.

27 March 2020

VIRUS SERVICE CUTS There are reductions in timetabled services from 23 March 2020 on the majority of routes and these are examples. Victoria – Brighton – hourly taking 53 mins plus half hourly semi-fast; Paddington – Bristol TM hourly; to Plymouth every second hour; Worcester via Oxford – hourly; Gloucester every second hour. Thames Valley locals hourly on most routes. West Coast Main Line – Hourly service provided from Euston to Wolverhampton, Liverpool and Manchester. There is often an hourly service to Glasgow calling at Crewe to provide connections. Euston – Holyhead – a single through service is provided daily. On the Sheffield main line via Derby there is just one service each hour. Merseyrail local services run every 30 minutes on all routes. On the East Coast Main Line trains run half hourly between Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley with extensions as now to Inverness and Aberdeen but sleeping car services have been reduced to a single 16 coach train. Eight coaches run to Glasgow and eight to Inverness. There is no sleeping car service to Fort William or Aberdeen. The recently added Kings Cross to Lincoln and Harrogate services are cancelled. In the West Midlands the majority of local services to outlying towns run hourly. On the Cross City Line a half hourly service operates between Lichfield TV and Redditch via Sutton Coldfield and University supplemented by a half hourly service between New Street and Bromsgrove. In Glasgow – Edinburgh via Falkirk runs half hourly with hourly stoppers on the routes via Bathgate and Shotts. Other suburban lines such as to North Berwick run hourly.

LONDON CITY AIRPORT Most flights from here are used by the business community and there has been a massive recent downturn in numbers recently. The Airport has closed until the end of April 2020 when the position will be reviewed.

NORTHAMPTON LINE From 26 March 2020 the Euston – Northampton – Birmingham stopping service operated by London Northwestern Railway was split in two. Longer trains now operate between Euston and Northampton while lower traffic levels mean that shorter services are able to run between Northampton and Birmingham New Street.

EXCEL The Docklands Conference Centre is to become an emergency field hospital for coronavirus victims and will be known as the Nightingale Hospital. Much of the space at Solihull’s NEC (it’s not actually in Birmingham) is to be converted into a 5000 bed emergency hospital and the exhibition centre in Manchester may be adapted to serve a similar purpose.

LUL Despite new rules designed to keep people 2m apart from each other during the coronavirus pandemic, London Underground trains were just as crammed with passengers as usual since commuters tried to get to work on 23 and 24 March 2020. Pictures in newspapers showed that passengers were so close together that they could barely breathe!

CROSSRAIL As part of the Government’s strategy to slow the spread of the corona virus across the UK all work was halted on the finishing of work on Crossrail. The new Cross-London route is so far behind its original completion date that a further delay will hardly be noticed.

WEST MIDLANDS A low-speed derailment of a freight train close to Bromsgrove Station on 24 March resulted in delays to passenger services of up to an hour. Most Cross-Country expresses were diverted via Kidderminster omitting calls at Worcestershire Parkway and Bromsgrove.

NEW STREET An empty retail unit at the station has been made available to the NHS and will become a convenient place where patients can have blood samples taken for tests.

GLASGOW AREA A new entrance to Queen Street Station from the George Square direction was opened on 23 March 2020 as part of a £120m improvement scheme. The Dundas Street entrance has been closed until 30 March 2020 because of continuing improvement work.

13 March 2020

90 NOT OUT Two regular contributors to this news column are celebrating their 90th birthday this year. Bill Vigrass celebrated reaching this milestone with a family gathering on 10 March 2020 at his home near Philadelphia, USA. He was working part-time until quite recently and keeps up to date with developments in USA. Nigel Macmillan is the best informed historian concerning the narrow gauge Campbeltown and Machrihanish Railway and his book about the line is a classic. He is an active supporter of 7mm scale modelling and was working at the O Gauge Guild’s stand at Model Rail Scotland in Glasgow at the end of February this year. Nigel lives in Clarkston, Glasgow, and has in his garden a short garden railway plus a massive O Gauge layout under the roof. His models of Glasgow tramcars are among the finest that this reader has seen.

FLYBE Europe’s largest regional airline collapsed suddenly on 5 March 2020 leaving some passengers stranded at holiday destinations or unable to leave for booked travel. Over half of the services at these airports were provided by Flybe including Anglesey, Southampton, Belfast City, Exeter, Newquay, Wick, Jersey and Cardiff. A few routes have been taken over by other regional airlines but the fate of most Flybe routes remains very uncertain.

ISLE OF WIGHT The introduction of five 2-car Class 484 emus to the Ryde – Shanklin line will require some platforms at stations along the route to be altered so that they will be level with the coach floors as required by accessibility regulations. Once the platforms are altered the existing Class 483 will no longer be able to be used since the platforms will all be at the wrong height. It is planned that a regular half-hourly service will be introduced with the May 2021 timetable. Only two trains of the old stock are on the island and one train has been out of service for over a week leaving just one train set able to operate. The timetable has been altered so that this one train can operate an hourly service connecting at Ryde with the Portsmouth ferry.

SEATON The Seaton Tramway is to have an additional stop – “Wetlands” – opening during Spring 2020 which coincidentally is the tramway’s Golden Jubilee year. The timetable is being revised so that services will be able to call at Wetlands, and also at Riverside which was a temporary stop opened while the Seaton terminus was being rebuilt in 2017. New walking and cycling routes are being created linking up with the tramway and providing new opportunities for tourists visiting the wetlands area and Seaton Jurassic Coast.

NEWPORT (WALES) HRH The Prince of Wales, opened the new CAF factory on 21 February 2020. Body shells of new emus or dmus arrive from Spain and are completely fitted out in the new Welsh factory.

WEST COAST MAIN LINE Operations were disrupted by at least three periods where the overhead power wires were damaged between Euston and Rugby, and in one case over a mile had to be replaced. Work to repair a landslip near Acton Bridge near Crewe has continued to disrupt many Liverpool services.

COTTAM PARKWAY park and ride station is to be built on the Blackpool North line close to Preston. Funds were made available by Chancellor Sunak in his first Budget statement on 11 March 2020.

LNER There will be through services between Huddersfield and Kings Cross, and a doubling of services operating between Bradford and Kings Cross from 18 May 2020. The new services will use Azuma trains.

FIRST ROUNDHOUSE On 10 March 2020 during preparations for the HS2 terminus in central Birmingham, adjacent to Moor Street Station, the remains of the very first roundhouse engine shed were discovered. The position of the central turntable and the various individual lines running north east into the building are clearly visible. The facility was designed by Robert Stephenson as part of his London and Birmingham Railway of 1837. The locomotives became larger as traffic built up and many were now longer than the 15 foot turntable so the roundhouse was closed in 1860 to be replaced by a larger more conventional style of engine shed and the roundhouse was covered over and forgotten for 160 years. The original Curzon Street station building is Grade 1 listed and will become one of the entrances to the HS2 station. The question now to be faced is “What can be done with the remnants of the very first roundhouse?” The British love to keep things but will this rediscovery be too large a problem for HS2 whose tracks will run across the turntable? The turntable is beside the Euston – New Street main running lines. This is a truly remarkable archaeological find.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS Work is now under way on the 11km long Wednesbury – Brierley Hill extension. Ground breaking took place at an official ceremony in Dudley town centre. The line is expected to open in 2023. Meanwhile the “Westside” extension is making progress. The first section to Library opened during December 2019 and the first sections of track have been lain on the 1.35km of route along Hagley Road passing through the Five Ways underpass to reach a terminus at Edgbaston. Work has begun on the new Brindley Place stop near the underpass.

WEST MIDLANDS HUB Chancellor Sunak made £20m available to help put together the funds required to build the West Midlands Hub which will see an additional 24 trains per hour on links between Birmingham terminals and neighbouring towns or cities. An additional 6m passengers will be able to be carried on the additional trains.

MERSEYRAIL The first of the new Stadler Class 777 emus has arrived at Kirkdale Depot following operational testing at Wildenrath, Germany. These new 4-car “Metro” emus will replace the elderly 507 and 508 class emus.

MANCHESTER METROLINK. The 3.5 mile long Trafford Park route is to open for business on 22 March 2020. Meanwhile the Mayor of Greater Manchester has restated his wish to see the East Didsbury branch of Metrolink extended into a new transport hub in Stockport. Lower fares are now available on weekdays before 0700 with higher peak fares charged only between 0700 and 0930 on weekdays.

TYNE & WEAR Several suggested extensions to the Metro are to be studied to determine which might have sufficiently strong cases to be taken to a more detailed planning stage. Among the suggested new routes is one to the planned International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) which will be on the edge of Sunderland and which will have large numbers of employees. Chancellor Sunak gave an extra £95m so that after improvements have been completed the Metro will be able to carry an extra 30 thousand passengers daily.

EDINBURGH Work on the 2.91 mile extension from York Place to Newhaven has been under way since 19 November 2019. The York Place stop will be replaced by the new Picardy Place stop near the start of Leith Walk. Work between Queen Charlotte Street and Constitution Place will be finished in autumn 2020. Foot of Leith Walk – Coatfield Lane by Spring of 2021 and London Rd Crown Rd by summer 2021. New stops along the extension are Picardy Place, McDonald Road, Balfour Street, Foot of the Walk, The Shore, Port of Leith, Ocean Terminal, and finally Newhaven.

1 March 2020

NO SCOTRAIL TIMETABLES The Scotrail management has decided that passengers no longer require small timetable leaflets because most of us have a Smartphone and would not want to have anything on paper. Loud criticism has been voiced and overseas visitors are left unable to know when the trains run. There are fears that significant traffic will be lost to the railways as a result of what seems to be a nonsensical decision.

NORTHERN FRANCHISE The franchise was taken back from Arriva on 01-03-2020 because of poor performance. Too many trains ran late or were cancelled sometimes at short notice.

TAKEOVER BID The French company Alstom has agreed a takeover of the Canadian train builder Bombardier at a cost of £8.2bn. This will enable Bombardier to be part of business agreements that have been won by Alstom and may not involve the closure of any factories in the UK owned by Bombardier. However the future may depend on Alstom/Bombardier winning the contract to build the new stock for HS2 services.

MAGLEV TRAINS The Government is to look at the concept of Magnetic Levitation trains on future HS lines. They are capable of moving at 268 mph and possibly as high as 300 mph eventually.

CROSS COUNTRY BOOST The Railways Minister announced on 24 February 2020 that £2.5m is to be invested in improvements to Cross Country services from May 2020. Longer trains will be introduced to services between Birmingham and Nottingham, Leicester, and Cardiff. In mid 2021 longer trains will operate from Birmingham and Cambridge or Stansted Airport. In December 2020 trains will be lengthened between the North East/Manchester to the South West or South Coast.

HS2 CRRC, the Chinese railway company which has substantial experience in building high-speed railways, has offered to build HS2 in just five years and at a cost tens of billions less than estimates by British contractors. The Government has entered preliminary discussions with the CRRC but has indicated that it wishes British construction firms to gain experience with this category of work.

ROMSEY – SALISBURY Services were disrupted on 18 February 2020 when a landslip halted services for the rest of the day.

EAST GRINSTEAD The branch from Hurst Green was closed on 13 February due to a further landslip just as engineers were about to start work on an earlier slip.

LUL Between 17 February 2020 and early March 2020, one of the three escalators at Brixton station will be receiving major maintenance. To handle the heavy traffic with only two escalators available a managed queuing system will control entry to the station during the morning peak. Passengers will be asked to join a queue and allowed access to the station in controlled batches until 1000. Between 1630 and 1930 the station will be “exit only” but buses will be available to take passengers to alternative stations. A signal failure at Gloucester Road early on 17 February 2020 resulted in significant delays to District and Circle services. During the period 2-12 March 2020 there will be no step-free access to Kilburn Station while maintenance work is done at Kilburn. Southwark Council is making available an additional £7.5m towards the cost of a step-free interchange between the Northern and Bakerloo Lines at Elephant and Castle Station. Piccadilly Line services were disrupted on the afternoon of 25 February 2020 after a passenger threw himself off the platform at Gloucester Road Station at around 1510.

WEYMOUTH – YEOVIL Bridge repair work, tunnel lining maintenance, and track renewal was undertaken during a line closure on 15-21 February 2020.

BEXLEYHEATH LINE The route was closed for nine days during February 2020 to allow the repair of four separate landslips caused by the recent very heavy rains.

ISLE OF WIGHT Continuing problems with the reliability of the elderly rolling stock has resulted in a cut to the timetable so that now there are only hourly services, connecting with the ferries at Ryde.

DOCKLANDS LIGHT RAILWAY A new cross-river branch from the Gallions Reach area to Thamesmead is being studied. It would serve extensive new housing areas.

SUGGESTED NEW LINES An extension to the South London tram network is recommended after a public consultation. Alternative routes could run from tube stations at South Wimbledon or Colliers Wood south to St Heliers Hospital and then onwards to Sutton Station. These new lines could be operated by trams or guided buses. A third possible route would run between South Wimbledon and Sutton west of the above routes and could be run using only trams. In the long term a further extension south from Sutton would reach Belmont, serving the hospital which is the UK’s most important cancer treatment centre with around 10,000 employees.

EAST COAST Ten class 91 locomotives, each with a rake of Mk 4 coaches, will be kept by LNER until the end of 2021 in case their new stock experiences problems.

EUSTON The London terminus had to be closed to passengers arriving by the Tube or on foot at 1327 on 15 February 2020 because people armed with knives had started violent fighting across the concourse. The concourse was reopened by around 1700.

OVERGROUND The Gospel Oak – Barking line reopened to passenger services on 19 February 2020.

WELWYN GARDEN CITY A signal failure here during the morning rush hour on 17 February 2020 caused many delays to services heading for Kings Cross.

GATWICK and HEATHROW Airports were closed for much of 15 February 2020 because very high winds had made them too dangerous to use. Major improvements have been announced to increase the capacity of GATWICK Airport Station. The Concourse is to be doubled in size and a glass roof will allow sunlight to brighten it. There will be new staircases, five new lifts and eight new escalators. Platforms five and six will be widened substantially to accommodate the rising traffic.

COLCHESTER Services on the Greater Anglia main line were suspended during the morning peak on 13 February 2020 due to damage to the overhead wires by a fallen tree near Manningtree. Another fallen tree blocked the nearby Sudbury branch.

WORCESTERSHIRE PARKWAY The new station opened on Sunday 23 February 2020.

WALES Very heavy rain resulted in flooding along the Cardiff Valleys towards Aberdare on 18-19 February 2020 and resulted in a total shutdown of services to Treherbert and Rhymney. 100 tonnes of debris crashed on to the Aberdare line near Mountain Ash on 29 February 2020 halting all services.

WEST MIDLANDS New zero emission “Sprint” buses will be used on a new 25 mile long route between Walsall and Solihull via Birmingham City Centre that will be introduced as part of the preparations for the Commonwealth Games. The new route will use new bus-only lanes and have priority at traffic signals.

CROSS CITY LINE The 2305 departure from New Street Station to Lichfield on 27 February 2020 was boarded at New Street and at Aston by a large gang of youths who then went through the train robbing passengers of phones and money before leaving at Chester Road station.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS A new 200 space car park has being built beside the Bradley Lane stop and was opened on 6 February 2020. Many mature trees alongside the tram route have been felled during January 2020 between Bilston Central, The Crescent, and Priestfield. Services were disrupted during the mid-morning period by damage to the overhead power wires but services were back to near-normal by mid afternoon. The first sections of track have been laid at the Five Ways underpass on the Edgbaston extension.

MERSEYRAIL A £400,000 upgrade is underway at Spital station on the Chester/Ellesmere Port Line. The car park is being doubled in size from 70 to 141 spaces (including 7 disabled and 2 motorbike spaces). The platforms will receive new lighting, better drainage, and CCTV. Funds have come from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Sustainable Transport Package (STEP) programme.

MANCHESTER The rail service from Manchester Piccadilly was to be replaced by a bus shuttle on 1 March 2020 to allow repairs to the rail bridge over Slade Road in Levenshulme. Congestion along the Castlefield Corridor (Piccadilly – Deansgate) causes many delays to rail services. Instead of 15 trains/hour the number allowed is now 13/hour. Improvements including the provision of two extra platforms were stopped by the then Transport |Secretary.

MAYFIELD The site of the former “overflow” terminus adjacent to Manchester Piccadilly is to be transformed into offices, 1500 homes, a multi-storey car park, a 350 room hotel, and a public park.

BURY The opening of Bury Interchange station replacing Bolton Street took place 40 years ago on 17 March 1980.

WIGAN The overhead wires were damaged near Wigan on the Manchester – Preston route and services were cancelled or delayed by up to 60 minutes.

BLACKPOOL Grand Central has invested £21m on the hire from DB Cargo of five Class 90 locomotives. They will haul trains of six Mark 4 coaches between Blackpool North and Euston.

ROTHERHAM Tram services north of Tinsley Meadowhall South did not restart immediately when flood waters receded on 17-18 February 2020. Inspection by engineers of the bridge taking the tram route over the River Ouse into Rotherham confirmed that the bridge structure had not been damaged before services resumed around midday on 18 February 2020.

AIRPORT LINK Doncaster-Sheffield Airport has never had a heavy or light rail link to any of the cities that it serves. A plan has been announced to build a branch 4.5 miles long off the ECML that could provide routes for through trains to Sheffield, Doncaster, and Lincoln – among other destinations.

HOWDEN DEPOT A temporary Depot for the Tyne and Wear metro is to be built at Howden. This will allow the rebuilding of the Gosforth Depot at a cost of £70m.

G&SW ROUTE A massive landslip between Sanquar and Dumfries on 10/11 February 2020 has resulted in services between Kilmarnock and Carlisle being cancelled. The line may not reopen until 16 March 2020.

AYR The owner of the former station hotel is unwilling to spend £10m to make the building safe and as a result operations at the adjacent station are restricted. The scaffolding supporting the building will remain safe for a further five years and a long-term solution must be found by then.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Trains were extremely busy throughout 22 and 23 February 2020. Older employees spoke very warmly about John Wright, their former boss and our former President. There is a seat in the Govan Depot named after John, placed there in his memory, and available for any staff who feel tired after a long shift. He is remembered for his kindness to anyone who has experienced any sort of problem.

GLASGOW AIRPORT Glasgow and Renfrewshire Councils have agreed that the light rail link between the Airport and Gilmour Street Station will be funded from the City Deal Fund. It may later be extended to the city centre via Braehead.

GLASGOW FLOODS In a season of very heavy rainfalls flooding has become a common result. On 10 and 11 February 2020 the main line to Kilmarnock and East Kilbride was flooded at Crossmyloof, and other floods were noted in Govan and at the Renfrew Ferry. Flooding following a downpour from Storm Dennis knocked the Mount Florida route from Glasgow Central out of action. Newton and Neilston services were diverted via Maxwell Park and delayed significantly. Cathcart Circle services were cancelled for the rest of the day.

LONGNIDDRY A person was struck by a LNER express on the ECML here on 14 February 2020. Local services from Edinburgh Waverley to North Berwick and Dunbar were cancelled for the rest of the day. LNER and Cross Country long distance trains were delayed by up to 80 minutes or in some cases were cancelled.

EAST FORTUNE Work has begun on the station at East Fortune between Dunbar and Drem which is being reopened. Many new houses have been built around the station site. Plans to reopen Reston, further south along the ECML, have also been announced.

INVERNESS AREA Services on the Highland Main Line were running smoothly on 21 and 22 February 2020 with trains generally overloaded with passengers. Connecting services to Nairn and Elgin left from an adjacent platform at Inverness and there was insufficient time to obtain an Inverness – Nairn ticket but the on-train crew reasoned that since the Glasgow – Inverness and Glasgow – Nairn tickets cost the same amount there was no need for me to have an extra ticket for the connecting journey. On my return Nairn ticket office was closed and the Inverness ticket barriers were unstaffed. The evening rush hour saw services towards Dingwall, and to the Nairn route leave well loaded, but the 1725 to the south carried just four commuters to Carr bridge and six to Aviemore. I could see no evidence of work being under way for the restored station at Dalcross which will serve the Airport and the growing Tornagrain area.

ULSTER Public transport road and rail services have operated at a loss for many years and the

11 February 2020

MASSIVE TRANSPORT BOOST APPROVED. Government approval for the entire HS2 scheme, for the purchase of 4000 zero-emission buses, and for at least 250 miles of cycle routes was announced on 11 February 2020. In a “something for everyone” package the Government will give long distance passengers from London to Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds faster rail journeys. Bus travel will become cheaper for many in the hope that more passengers will find bus travel acceptable. In the 1950s nearly half of short local journeys were made by bus. Today only 4% of such journeys are made on local bus routes. 250 miles of Cycle Lanes or routes are to be created and hopefully people will get on their bike to make local journeys safely on the new lanes.

BUSIEST STATIONS Waterloo remains the busiest station in England clocking up 94m users in 2018-9. Next, but far behind, was Victoria with 74m, Liverpool Street with 69m, and London Bridge with 61m. There is then a gap before Birmingham New Street with 47m – the first in the list that is not a London terminal. Euston follows with 46m. Other major stations handle smaller totals. Glasgow Central nearly 33m, Leeds 31m, Manchester Piccadilly 30m, and Edinburgh Waverley nearly 24m. In contrast the quietest station is Denton with only 46 users in 2018-19.

STORM CIARA The latest bad weather event to endanger travel across the UK hit on 9 -11 February 2002 with particular problems in South East England. Network Rail advised Anglia TOC to reduce their top speed to 75 mph, later cut to 50 mph, to try to prevent damage to the overhead power wires. LNER had already announced that its expresses from Kings Cross to Leeds and Edinburgh would be restricted to 50 mph. Air and ferry services were also disrupted. Flooding following very heavy rains resulted in the closure of the following lines on 9 February 2020:- Preston – Lancaster (WCML); Preston – Blackpool North; lines through Rochdale and Burnley; Coventry – Leamington Spa (tree on line); Liverpool Street – Stansted Airport; Norwich – Wymondham; Ipswich – Beccles. Steam lines similarly flooded or blocked included Embsay & Bolton Abbey; Keighley – Worth Valley. By 10 February 2020 Storm Ciara had resulted in chaotic conditions especially in northern England since snow was now added to the problems caused by torrential rain and 90 mph winds.

PENALTIES The Department of Transport has imposed a requirement of £20m extra spending on measures to keep trains running properly on West Midlands Trains (due to excessive delays and cancellations towards the end of 2019), A similar sum must be spent by Northern Rail and also by the Southern Company.

EUROSTAR Two through trains daily between London and Amsterdam will commence operation on 30 April 2020, eliminating the need to change trains in Brussels. A third through service will be added “soon” and eventually a fourth.

SOUTHEND ON SEA The new trains for the Pier Railway will be built by Severn Lamb Ltd. They will have electric power in contrast to the existing diesel powered trains (also by Severn Lamb) that are now 35 years old.. The new trains may be in service as soon as 2023.

CLASS 91 LNER is to retain its class 91 locomotives and mark 4 coaches to supplement their new Azuma fleet. This will enable it to meet it planned timetable from December 2021 in the event of any of the Azuma trains being out of service for any reason.

TfL RAIL Harold Wood Station in Essex, on the Shenfield route, is now step-free from the street to platforms following the construction of three lifts. These improvements are part of the preparations for the opening of the Elizabeth Line.

TICKET OFFICE CLOSURES London Mayor Khan planned to close most ticket offices at London Overground stations but following objections from both Trade Unions and passengers these plans have been modified. Most of the offices will remain in use, often only during the morning peak, when most tickets are issued. Several very busy stations will retain a ticket office all day.

ANOTHER LANDSLIP A substantial landslip on 7 February 2020 affecting an embankment on the Rugby – Northampton line caused long delays for the rest of the day. Recent heavy rain had weakened the structure of the embankment. Services were standing on the Coventry – Rugby section and for a time nothing was able to run from New Street towards Rugby (and London).

WEST MIDLANDS With a serious threat of losing their franchise unless there was a significant improvement in performance, the West Midlands Railway produced significantly improved results in its arrival times at most destinations. The Department of Transport will however continue to monitor performance closely but for the moment re-nationalisation appears to be no longer an immediate threat. The car park at Coseley station is being enlarged substantially.

MIDLAND METRO Construction work has begun along virtually all sections of the new line to Brierley Hill. Birmingham City Council announced on 7 February 2020 that a start was to be made on building the mile long Eastside extension from Bull Street to the planned HS2 terminus and High Street Deritend. Eventually this line could reach the Airport. It was planned initially to serve crowds going to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 but it will not open until 2023. A Government study has indicated that the Eastside extension will be “very high value for money”. The Library extension carried much heavier traffic than usual on 10 February 2020 on the occasion of the City Organist’s 800th concert in Symphony Hall in the presence of members of the Royal Family. Additional tram services were operated to carry the crowds.

WEST MIDLANDS PLANS The West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, has spoken widely about his plans for local transport in his campaign for re-election in May 2020. He sees spending of £750m each year for 20 years and new stations would open at Dudley Road (for the hospital) on the Stour Valley main line, and Balsall Heath on the Coventry route, three on the reopened Camp Hill Line, and four on the Kenilworth – Coventry – Nuneaton line. Very light rail trams/pods would link the University of Warwick and the Jaguar Land Rover factory with Coventry city centre.

SPRINGS YARD A new £46m depot for Northern TOC trains has been opened on the WCML near Wigan. The Northern TOC was stripped of its franchise due to unreliability of its services but this new facility will be a step towards achieving better operation of the trains.

LIVERPOOL AREA The freight-only Bootle branch may see passenger services restored with a new station close to Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium. The ground is being enlarged from its present capacity of 54,000 to 61,000 but a condition for this increase is that better transport is made available to get people to the ground. A service to/from Lime Street station to the ground is considered necessary.

MANCHESTER The Trafford Park branch of the Metrolink tram network may open in April 2020 and will serve Manchester United’s stadium, the Imperial War Museum North, Event City, and the Trafford Centre retail and entertainment complex. The line will run through Trafford Park, Europe’s largest trading estate with 35,000 employees in 1300 different businesses.

LEEDS AREA The planned £22m White Rose station on the Leeds – Huddersfield line would serve a major office and shopping complex but Cottingly station, under 1 km away, might be closed. Local trains between Leeds, Ilkley, Skipton, and Bradford did not run on 10 February 2020 due to floods.

YORK Physical work on station improvements has begun including the creation of a First Class Lounge. LNER has been asked repeatedly about the provision of a lounge for its First Class travellers.

SCARBOROUGH – YORK The service on the branch from York will be doubled to two trains per hour in May 2020.

TYNE & WEAR Most users of the Metro now use contactless cards at ticket machines. 4.2m day and season tickets were issued using such cards. Fewer than one third of passengers now use cash.

EDINBURGH Waverley station in the heart of the city had to be closed during 9 February 2020 because it had become dangerously overcrowded by passengers who were hoping that trains were running to their desired destination. The City Council has indicated long-term plans to build extensions to the tramway including a north-south route from the Newhaven area right across the city centre into the southern suburbs. There would be car-free zones in the city centre.

BATHGATE LINE The morning peak service on 6 February 2020 suffered delays due to problems with the overhead power wires.

GRANGEMOUTH The local MSP has called for a passenger train service to be restored to the important town and port of Grangemouth, near Falkirk. The original passenger station was closed on 20 January 1968 but the branch remains busy with freight traffic to the docks. My memory of Grangemouth station was that the station was very badly located in the town.

ULSTER Belfast Central has been renamed Belfast Lanyon Place (it was never really central in location). A number of additional early morning peak services have been added to the Bangor, Larne, and Portadown routes. All trains on the Derry Line now have six coaches because of steadily rising traffic. During the year 2018-19 the railways carried 15.8m passengers – the highest total since Northern Ireland Railways were created in 1967.

2 February 2020

LINES TO REOPEN The Transport Secretary announced on 28 January 2020 that passenger services were to be restored on the Poulton-le-Fylde to Fleetwood line (cost £500,000 after a £100,000 study to decide whether this should be a light rail linked to Blackpool trams, or heavy rail service). Also to be restored is a service from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Blyth and Ashington at a cost of £1.5m. Bere Alston to Tavistock is another line that might be reopened under this scheme. A frequent service between Bristol and Portishead has been proposed for many years and Council funding has now been identified to meet most of the cost.

NORTHERN FRANCHISE The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced on 29 January 2020 that he was taking back into public ownership the Northern Franchise operated by Arriva Rail North, with effect from 1 March 2020. The operator, had given an inadequate service with too many train cancellations, too many services running late, and with poor rolling stock. Mr Shapps has warned that the Trans-Pennine Express, and West Midlands franchises are performing poorly and must improve immediately. The South Western franchise has also faced major reliability problems recently. Looked at overall the franchise system seems to be in significant trouble.

FLYTIPPING A new problem has hit many railways – especially those in the “steam/museum” category. People are dumping rubbish on railway tracks or walking routes to stations etc. The railway companies involved have to clear up the mess at their own cost.

SANDOWN A badger was electrocuted when it tried to cross the Isle of Wight track and touched the third rail. This was the first such incident suggesting that most badgers have learned that the third rail is dangerous.

EAST – WEST RAILWAY The route of the central section of the proposed line has now bee agreed. It will run via St Neots and Cambourne.

REDHILL – TONBRIDGE This important link south of London was closed on 22 December 2019 following a major landslip near Edenbridge. The location is relatively remote and engineers had to build a new road so that their equipment could reach the site. Since then a weekday shuttle service has operated between Edenbridge and Tonbridge with a bus shuttle providing a replacement service between Edenbridge and Redhill. The line is expected to reopen throughout during March 2020 but the exact date has still not been agreed.

NORWICH The 0740 express from Norwich to London Liverpool Street broke down in the outskirts of London on 28 January 2020. The train was stuck there for five hours with 400 commuters unable to leave the train but eventually they were able to climb down from the coaches and walk along the track to a station. A tree fell across the tracks between Diss and Norwich early on 31 January 2020 causing long delays.

CROSSRAIL The fitting-out of the Crossrail tunnels is confidently expected to be completed by the end of January 2020.

BILLERICAY A major upgrade to the Essex station will cost £2m but the work is going ahead and may be completed by the end of 2020.

FINSBURY PARK The new Wells Terrace entrance to the station was opened on 17 December 2019.

LONDON UNDERGROUND Uxbridge Station was evacuated during the morning of 25 January 2020 following an unspecified “incident”. After an hour or so the Metropolitan Line service restarted followed soon after by the Piccadilly service.

BRISTOL AREA A new park and ride station is being built on the Severn Beach line at Portway Park. The cost has risen because the platforms are being lengthened from those originally planned. Traffic surveys suggest that the traffic generated will be too high to be handled by short platforms.

WEST MIDLANDS DEPOT A new depot for the new train fleet at present being built in Derby may be located in the Bescot Yard area. There would be 100 new jobs at the new depot. Service frequencies on many local routes will be increased when the new stock and depot are available.

CROSS-CITY LINE The north – south route across Birmingham carried 13m passengers during 2019 – a million more than in 2018.

LIVERPOOL AREA A start is to be made this year in the building of a new station at Headbolt Lane in Kirkby. Several cars parked at Freshfield station on the Liverpool – Southport line were seriously vandalised on 28 January 2020 by intruders.

LEEDS AREA A new multi-level car park with 250 spaces is being built at Steeton and Silsden station on the Skipton route. The City Council has abandoned plans for a new road to take traffic to the Leeds Bradford Airport. Instead they are examining the value of a new park and ride station at Cookridge on the Leeds-Harrogate line. A bus shuttle from there could serve the Airport. The Harrogate line was closed between Leeds and Horsforth on 25 January 2020 due to over-running engineering works. The service on the Harrogate – York line is likely to be doubled to half-hourly with the trains passing each other at Poppleton – the only passing place on the single track branch.

SCARBOROUGH The beautiful spacious station is to receive an upgrade that will include modern toilets.

BLACKPOOL The closure of a Wilkinson’s store alongside the planned route of the tram extension to North Station enables construction of the tram extension to North Station to be completed.

TEESSIDE AIRPORT This is one of the quietest (and least served halts) on the national network. Just 74 passengers used it during 2019 but several new routes are starting to use the Airport so £6m is being invested in a major upgrade to the station which, hopefully will be matched by a much more frequent service, and loads of passengers.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Stadler has been declared the preferred bidder to renew the Metro fleet at a cost of £362m. Three possible liveries have been suggested and the views of users is sought. These are near white body with yellow doors, dark grey body with yellow doors, and yellow body with white doors. A variant is for the grey to be a lighter grey. The new stock will be “15 times” more reliable than the old stock. The entire system was brought to a halt between 1030 and 12 noon on 30 January 2020 due to a fault in the Control Room affecting the signalling system. Fortunately it was sorted quite quickly and the rush hour that morning was not affected.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Payment of fares became cash-only at all ticket offices on the morning of 29 January 2020 because the maintenance procedures on the ticket issuing machines had not been completed.

SCOTRAIL The ability to reserve seats in advance has been withdrawn since the Operator cannot tell in advance which of three classes of train might be rostered for each service.

EDINBURGH The massive St James redevelopment of the shopping mall half way up the long stairway between station and Princes Street will be completed by the end of 2020 (perhaps!) and will transform shopping possibilities when open.

EAST LINTON Preliminary work has begun on the reconstruction of a station on the East Coast Main Line. The original station was closed in 1964 in the Beeching era. It is also planned to reopen the nearby station at Reston.

BLACKFORD The Highland Spring bottled water company is pushing ahead with construction of a siding so that much of its product can go out by rail.

TUNNEL/BRIDGE TO IRELAND? A fixed rail link (a tunnel or a £15bn bridge) between Scotland and Ireland has been proposed many times but an obvious stumbling block is the use of different gauges in the countries involved. The suggestion that Irish Railways relay their track to the slightly narrower Standard gauge has major cost implications but the latest proposal is to lay a new standard gauge track along side the existing railway as far as Belfast. A large proportion of the traffic would be between Central Scotland and the Belfast area.

31 January 2020

STORM BRENDAN With 80mph winds roaring in from the west, precautionary speed restrictions were enforced on the WCML over Shap, all schools in the Western Isles were closed and all bus services in these islands cancelled. Ferry services were disrupted. A trampoline was blown from a garden into the overhead wires near Stafford causing a disruption to services. A major power failure near Cambridge similarly caused long delays to all trains using lines south of Cambridge station on the 13 January 2020. Trees were blown down across the tracks at many locations including Seahill (Bangor branch in Ulster), Atherstone on the WCML, Guildford in Surrey and between Faversham and Dover in Kent. High waves in the Channel halted services between Southampton and Bournemouth, and also between Rochester and Rainham on 14 and 15 January 2020 since it was felt that the force of the massive waves could endanger any train using this section. Powerful waves smashing into the sea wall at Dawlish on 16 January 2020 broke windows in a passing train and a few passengers received minor injuries.

MEASUREMENT TRAIN A newly equipped measurement train has been created from a retired High-Speed Train. It will be able to record track conditions while travelling at 125 mph.

LOCOMOTIVE 90044 has been given a new livery by operator Freightliner.. The sides are mostly bright orange with two black stripes along the lower part of each side. Freightliner proposes to repaint most of its locomotives in this new livery.

FLIRT AND KISS EMUS These emus are produced by Stadler in Switzerland and operate widely on local services across the UK. FLIRT trains are articulated units and the name is an acronym standing for “Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train. KISS emus are often in a double deck format across many rail systems in Mainland Europe. The name is an acronym of the German name for these units. Translated into English the train is “comfortable, innovative, sprint-capable, suburban train”.

HS2 As controversy continues about the possible cost, the latest figure is £106bn, three times the figure given three or four years ago.

AWARDS The Heaton Park Tramway has been declared by the “British Trams” site “Tramway of the Year 2019” to mark the speedy restoration of operations following the theft of the overhead wires. “Traditional Tramway of the year” is again the Manx Electric Railway. “Modern tram of the year” is a tie between Blackpool 001 and Manchester 3006.

ISLE OF WIGHT £1m has been raised from local sources releasing £26m from the Department of Transport to boost services and the trains. A passing loop will be re-created at Brading allowing trains to operate every 30 minutes and not at 20:40 minute intervals as now. A replacement of the 1938 ex LUL rolling stock will also now be possible.

NEWHAVEN MARINE The planned closure of this station has been announced and objections to the closure sought. Closure will make possible better access to a new freight facility at a new dock. The station used to serve a cross-Channel ferry service which has been moved slightly so that Newhaven Town station can now provide a better more convenient service.

SANDWICH The platforms are being lengthened for longer trains that will take crowds to watch the July 2020 Open Golf Tournament, played on the nearby Royal St George’s Course.

GILLINGHAM A young man was struck by a train while trying to cross the tracks at about 1400 on 15 January 2020. No trains were able to run between Rochester and Rainham while emergency teams were in attendance trying to rescue the casualty.

CLASS 442 Four 10-car sets of refurbished class 442 stock are entering service on South Western Railway and are providing fast services from London to Portsmouth and Poole. The trains have roomier 2+2 seating in Standard Class, while First Class seating is new and covered in leather. Attractive carpeting is on the floor of all coaches.

SEVEN KINGS This suburban station in NE London which is served by the Shenfield locals, was the centre of serious public disorder at about 1940 on 19 January 2020. Despite the attendance of at least eight paramedic teams and an air ambulance, three young men died from stab wounds at the scene.

FINCHLEY CENTRAL Transport for London and Taylor Wimpey have modified plans for new flats above the station on the Northern Line High Barnet branch. There will now be 560 new homes with blocks of flats 7 – 20 storeys high. About 100 more flats were planned at first with one tower containing 27 storeys.

EALING BROADWAY Access to the platforms is being improved with a new staircase and lifts.

TAFFS WELL Construction of a depot for the South Wales Metro began on 18 January 2020.

CLEETHORPES – LONDON A twice daily through train service between Cleethorpes and London via Grimsby is likely to be restored using the new Azuma trains.

MARKET HARBOROUGH The Midland Main Line is being straightened as it passes through the station allowing higher speeds to be achieved. The station car park has 300 spaces but an additional 200 is being provided since traffic on the semi-fast services is rising swiftly.

WEST COAST MAIN LINE Avanti West Coast and Alstom have come to an agreement worth £642m for the maintenance and refurbishment of the 56 Pendolino trains that provide the intercity service along the WCML. The overhead wires between Lancaster and Oxenholm were damaged on 16 January 2020 and services were halted for several hours until late afternoon.

WEST MIDLANDS The route between Wolverhampton and Walsall, and onwards through Aldridge to Birmingham looks increasingly likely to have a local passenger service restored. Funding for the new Aldridge station has been allocated by local Councils and confirmation of funds for Tettenhall, Willenhall and Darlaston is awaited.

CONSIDERATE BEHAVIOUR West Midlands Railway launched a “Considerate Behaviour” campaign on 18 January 2020 asking passengers to keep their feet off the seats, keep doorways clear, and turning stereos down.

SUTTON COLDFIELD A sheltered parking area for 50 bikes has been opened in the car park.

WASHWOOD HEATH DB Cargo UK has run its first train of aggregates into a new Tarmac Asphalt Depot at Washwood Heath, Birmingham. The Depot will receive regular supplies from Leicestershire by rail and none will come by road.

ABERYSTWYTH The often sought reopening of Bow Street station in the outskirts of the University city is going ahead. The station was closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts but the area has grown steadily and work on the £8m new station, just south of the former site will begin before the end of January 2020.

FFESTINIOG RAILWAY This magnificent narrow gauge line uses sleepers made from recycled material. The sleepers arrive in standard gauge length but are then sawed in half to produce a sleeper of the correct length for the narrow gauge track. The recycled material used to make the sleepers uses a large amount derived from old milk bottles!

LIVERPOOL AREA Passenger trains ceased to link Liverpool with the growing new town of Skelmersdale in 1956 but Lancashire County Council has now decided that improvement in the service is required. The traffic likely to be generated by a spur from the Ormskirk Merseyrail line is being assessed. The case for other suggested new stations in the Liverpool area include Kirkby Headbolt Lane, another in the Baltic Triangle business area, Halton in Widnes, Woodchurch in the Wirral, and Carr Mill in St Helen’s are also being assessed but a source of the substantial finance involved is unknown.

MANCHESTER AREA The Trafford Park Metrolink line will open at a still-to-be-decided date in April 2020. The 5.5km line branches off from the Eccles line at Pomona.

NEWCASTLE AREA A further study into the reopening of passenger services to Ashington with a total of six new stations is strongly in favour of a restored service. The route was closed in the 1960s but many more people now live along the route.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Two thirds of fares are now paid using a contactless card rather that money. Over 4.2m transactions were made in 2019 using a card.

BORDERS RAILWAY There is mounting pressure from local industries and public bodies for the Borders Railway to be extended to Hawick or Carlisle.

PAISLEY A power supply failure on 11 January 2020 halted services between Glasgow and Ayr/Largs all morning. Storm Brendan produced massive waves which crashed across the Ardrossan and Largs tracks near Saltcoats on 13 January 2020. Train services were halted for most of the day. Trains for Gourock and Wemyss Bay were however able to run to the normal timetable.

HIGHLAND MAIN LINE More torrential rain resulted in flooding between Kingussie and Aviemore shutting the line throughout 11 January 2020.

2 January 2020

TIMETABLES With the closure of Thomas Cook, travel agent, the famous Cook’s European Timetable (relatively recently upgraded to include details of services across the world) was threatened with closure. However a new publisher was found and the timetable reappeared in mid December 2019 entitled “European Rail Timetable, winter 2019/2020 edition.” On the front cover there is statement “It is produced by the compilers of the former Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable”. As before there is a great deal of helpful information about requirements for travel in each country and the “city maps” section shows the location of the various termini in a selection of cities. There is no attempt to show all the suburban/commuter trains in distant continents so the entries in, for example Australia, show very infrequent services on almost all routes ignoring the fact that trains may run every few minutes on some sections of the route. Also, as before, there is no mention of the half-hourly service to East Kilbride, one of the largest communities in Scotland. In Birmingham the former Ian Allen bookshop closed in September 2019 when the rent for the unit was increased to an impossibly high level. Smith’s outlet in adjacent New Street Station has increased the number of railway magazines that it displays and a new shop, Tornado Books and Hobbies has opened in Dalton Street near the Magistrates Court selling books, modelling supplies etc about trains, trams, and shipping..

RAIN AND FLOODING Extremely heavy rain has continued to cause transport problems in southern and parts of eastern England. The Brighton Main Line was impassable on 19 and 20 December 2019 and many roads and railways in Sussex and Kent have been impossible to use. A tornado hit Surrey with winds exceeding 90 mph coupled with driving rain on 20 December 2019. Cars were blown from their parking places and blown across the road while being driven.

FARES A 2.7% increase in fares applied from 2 January 2020. However recent poor on-time performance by West Midlands Trains and London Northwestern Railway in the West Midlands resulted in a decision to reduce season ticket prices by 3% by operators – effectively cancelling the nationally agreed increase. For several months 20% of trains operated by these companies have reached their destination late.

SOUTHERN Services between Brighton and Shoreham were disrupted for several hours on Christmas Eve after a passenger was taken ill while travelling from Brighton to Worthing.

LANDSLIPS A significant landslip from the top of an embankment on 22 December 2019 closed the route between Redhill and Tonbridge. The location is inaccessible and buses replaced trains until 5 January 2020 when a rail shuttle started between Tonbridge and Edenbridge with a bus shuttle between Edenbridge and Redhill. A new road and a bridge will have to be built before repair work can begin. A slip occurred between Epsom and Ewell West on 15 December 2019 and this has been repaired. A less serious landslip occurred between East Grinstead and Hurst Green on 28 December 2019 and trains are passing over the area with a 20 mph speed limit.

MAJOR TUNNELS A 20 mile long tunnel is to be dug between Crayford (near Dartford) and Wimbledon to replace a multitude of cables laid below the streets. These cables are wearing out and rather than dig up many streets to replace them a single deeper tunnel will be able to replace all of them. The £400m contract to dig the new tunnel has been won by Hochtief and Murphy. A similar tunnel may be dug across the north London suburbs later.

CROSSRAIL Will the Elizabeth Line ever open? Further delays were announced on 5 January 2020 with the opening now possible in summer 2021 – three years behind the original schedule.

LOW LINE A new walking route may be created following the pillars of the arches carrying the Southwark – London Bridge and Bermondsey – Blackfriars “Low Lines” as a way to provide a convenient route for tourists visiting the places of historical interest including The Globe Theatre and other Shakespearean venues. Trees will be planted along the route with notices telling the history of the area.

GWR The Paddington – Bristol main line was closed near Bath during the evening of 28 December 2019 after a tree fell closing both tracks and causing damage to an inter-city train. The first electric intercity train between Paddington and Cardiff Central was run on 5 January 2020.

WEST MIDLANDS Football Specials are operated for those attending games at Villa Park and The Hawthorns. Away supporters use specials to/from Witton Station with home supporters handled by Cross City Line trains and occasional specials at Aston. West Bromwich Albion’s ground, The Hawthorns, is served by the Metro and extra services are run to carry supporters.

UNIVERSITY PLANS Local transport officials and a group of architects have produced a detailed plan to rebuild the station and enable it to cope with steadily rising traffic. The station was built to handle 400,000 users per year but the number using it today is 3,500,000. Large attractive buildings are planned for both platforms plus a new spacious access to the University of Birmingham to the west as well as major improvements to the access to the city’s main hospitals, to the west. Traffic is expected to rise to 7 million within three years.

CHRISTMAS LUNCH A free festive lunch was served to 350 homeless people in the concourse of Birmingham New Street station on Christmas Day.

NORTHERN Following multiple train cancellations and often as many as half of the trains arriving at destination late, the Transport Secretary decided on 2 January 2020 to take back the franchise from Northern Rail. He has not yet decided how to operate the franchise in future.

HORDEN-PETERLEE This new station on the Coast Line south of Sunderland is expected to open in mid 2020 but the planned service is just a single train each hour by the stopping train that runs from Newcastle to Middlesborough. The station is meant to become a hub for bus and rail services throughout the area.

LIVERPOOL A link by a new light rail line between John Lennon Airport, and the Pier Head has been suggested – reviving an earlier proposal which was deemed too costly. Nothing was done and there is still difficulty for travellers between the Airport and the city centre.

MANCHESTER Concessionary off-peak free travel on buses is available across the country but is not automatically available on trams, light rail or local heavy rail services. Manchester accepts bus passes on its large light rail network but financial pressure has made this unaffordable. A local resident can pay a £10 annual fee to upgrade their bus pass for use on trams and local rail services.

BLACKPOOL The tramway system could be expanded by trams taking over quiet heavy rail and abandoned railway rights of way. Blackpool, Fylde, and Wyre Councils are considering applying for cash from the Department of Transport to help pay for a £2m feasibility study into the expansion of the tramway system. At the south end a feasibility study will assess the value of an extension into Lytham St Annes.

LEEDS AREA A 450 strong workforce completed the construction of the new Platform Zero at Leeds Station. It will provide extra capacity for the growing numbers of trains that are required for the growing passenger traffic. Ben Rhydding Station near Ilkley has been adopted by a local group “Out of the Box” that decorated the station over the Christmas period and will publicise the services. Suggestions that several local stations closed in the 1950s and 60s be reopened as part of plans to combat climate change are being examined by Leeds City Council.

YORK £2m is to be spent on passenger facilities at York station during 2020. There will be a new First Class Lounge, enlarged ladies toilets, a new M&S food outlet and two additional shops in a new “passenger zone”. The ticket office will be replaced by a new “over the counter” issue point.

NEXUS A dispute between the RMT Union and management of the Tyne & Wear Metro, Nexus, has resulted in a plan for strike action in early January 2020. The Union has rejected a 15% pay increase and wants a significantly higher offer from Nexus.

GLASGOW AREA The gap in services over the Christmas and New Year period allowed a large team of engineers to upgrade 300m of track near Shields Road. A major signalling upgrade was completed in South Lanarkshire with control over the WCML transferred from Motherwell Signalling Centre to the £200m West of Scotland Signalling Centre in Glasgow. The Paisley Gilmour Street – Greenock line will be closed during the first two weekends of 2020 to allow bridge refurbishment at Dellingburn Road, Greenock, and also the near total rebuilding of a bridge at Parklea Road, Port Glasgow.

GLASGOW AIRPORT LINK A fast link between the city centre and the Airport is again being studied with a tram:train on the streets between the Airport and Paisley Gilmour Street Station, and the heavy rail line onwards to Glasgow Central. An alternative idea is the use of personal pods between the Airport and Gilmour Street Station. The idea of having a heavy Metro route all the way seems to have been dropped because of the high cost.

EDINBURGH Haymarket East Junction was renewed during the period 25 – 29 December 2019. The junction is used by around 30 trains each hour on weekdays. A rugby match at Murrayfield on the evening of 28 December 2019 drew large crowds to Edinburgh tram services and to trains passing through Haymarket station. Track work at the East Junction had been completed so a full service of trains was available to Edinburgh Park station – the nearest station to the ground.

DUNBAR A second platform, 271m long, was brought into use with the new timetable on 15 December 2019. Together with a new footbridge, lifts, and information screens, the project cost £13m. It will be possible to provide improved services to the town now that north-bound and south-bound services will be able to call at the same time, and terminating trains will be able to stand there without blocking other services.

20 December 2019

SOUTH EASTERN A twenty eight day crackdown on fare evaders on trains serving the Medway Towns produced 8,500 travellers with no tickets. Around 6,500 penalty tickets were issued and a significant number will appear later in the Magistrates’ Courts.

SHEERNESS BRANCH New class 375 emus are replacing time expired stock on the branch shuttle service.

POOLE A proposal has been made to relocate Poole station a little to the east, closer to the town centre. This would enable a level crossing beside the present station to be removed.

TARKA LINE The Exeter – Barnstable branch has got an hourly service in the new timetable from 15 December 2019.

DAWLISH Services along the section close to the sea were halted on 19 December 2019 as storms lashed over the tracks.

ELIZABETH LINE (CROSSRAIL). As the Christmas and New Year holiday period approaches there is still no sign of this massive project opening. The Mayor of London has however indicated on 18 December 2019 that additional funds will NOT be required to complete the work and get the line open to the public.

CROYDON There is a suggestion that new trams be obtained for the Croydon Tramlink network where the present hard-worked stock is at least 20 years old. A major signalling failure at 1620 on 18 December 2019 resulted in no services being able to move through East Croydon to/from points south. The concourse at Victoria quickly filled up with commuters and alternative routes between The City and Croydon soon overflowed with traffic.

LONDON OVERGROUND From 15 December 2019 services on the Richmond and Clapham Junction branches will be increased from 4 to 5 services each hour, and to ten per hour on the Willesden Junction – Stratford section. Traffic has been rising rapidly along these routes and the increase in services will keep overcrowding in check.

IPSWICH AREA Continuing signalling problems meant that on the morning of 11 December 2019 eighty four services had to be cancelled including all on the Felixstowe branch.

CAMBRIDGE SOUTH A series of public consultations into this planned station close to Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals and a growing industrial area is planned to open in the mid 2020s but many want it now. £15m has been allocated by the Dept of Transport and local bodies.

AVANTI WEST COAST The new operator of services along the West Coast main line plans to have three classes of travel on its upgraded trains. First class, Premium Economy, and Economy on its Pendolino trains. It has not yet indicated what fare difference there will be between them.

WEST MIDLANDS The first section of the rebuilt Wolverhampton inter-city station will be completed during January 2020 and the long newly built branch of the West Midlands Metro light rail line will probably open soon afterwards. There were long delays to morning rush hour trains on 17 December 2019 following signalling failures at Bromsgrove and along the line towards Oxford. Plans for a concrete manufacturing plant at Bescot Yard have been rejected by Sandwell Council on grounds of noise and the generation of dust. The existing plant at Washwood Heath will have to close since the planned HS2 line will run through the site.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO Public services between “Grand Central” and “The Library at Centenary Square” commenced on 11 December 2019 without any fanfare. The trams had been running test services for weeks and it was decided to allow the public to use the trams from what was a Wednesday morning. No fares were charged since the conductors’ hand sets did not yet include the appropriate fares although it will cost £1.50 on weekdays to ride the half mile section. The route starts at the Grand Central/New Street Station stop and climbs up steeply to the famous Grade 1 listed Town Hall – a venue where first performances took place of now famous works during a Triennial Festival for new works in 19th century (These include the oratorias Elijah; Dream of Gerontius; and Sullivan’s Concert Overture Di Ballo etc) and which houses a magnificent Victorian organ. The new Town Hall stop is at the end of the much columned building. The line then runs alongside Broad Street to a terminus in Centenary Square beside the main Library and close to the International Conference Centre (ICC) which includes Symphony Hall, itself the home of another major organ. The Repertory Theatre, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel are adjacent. There is no overhead wire along the extension and the trams operate from their on-board batteries. Unfortunately the day was marred by an incident at Bradley Lane which brought down a substantial length of overhead power cable and services beyond Wednesbury Parkway were impossible until the following morning.

LIVERPOOL In order to make it easier for fans to get to games at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool FC have suggested that a station could be built nearby on a freight line. At present it is a thirty minute walk from existing stations on the Southport and Ormskirk lines to Anfield.

HORWICH The public are to be allowed to visit the old locomotive works before the structure is demolished. A new road between the town and the railway station will be built once the site has been cleared.

ADLINGTON A tree fell across the tracks of the Crewe – Manchester main line at the start of the morning rush hour on 19 December 2019 causing long delays. Part of the overhead catenary was damaged during this incident.

SHEFFIELD SUPERTRAM All tram-trains were withdrawn from service on 14 December 2019 on the urgent instruction from the manufacturer, Stadler, which had identified a hydraulic fault that could affect all of the tram-trains. After inspection, which revealed no problems, the tram-trains were returned late on 16 December 2019 and a partial return of services began on the next morning with a half-hourly service on each route. By the end of the day the full service was in operation.

EAST COAST MAIN LINE The overhead power wires were brought down on 12 December 2019 during high winds at Drem. Passengers from the London area or the West Midlands were advised to travel on Avanti West Coast services which would accept all relevant tickets.

TYNE & WEAR METRO A few morning and evening peak Metro services were cancelled on 11 December 2019 since a few of the drivers were unavailable because of the RMT Union strike affecting rail services used by the drivers to get to or from work. He RMT has called for a strike of Metro drivers on 20 and 21 December 2019 after a 15% wage increase was rejected by the Union.

SCOTRAIL The franchise to operate services on the Scotrail network was granted to Abellio in 2015 with a review to take place in 2022 and an expected continuation until 2025. Because of many complaints from the public about poor service the franchise will now end in 2022 leaving time for a new operator to be found to take over operations in 2022. Abellio will however be able to bid for the new franchise starting in 2022.
CLASS 314 After 40 years of service on routes around Glasgow class 314 emus are being withdrawn before the end of 2019. To give travellers a last chance to ride on the old trains three special “there and back” workings are being laid on from Glasgow Central to Ayr, to Carstairs and Cumbernauld, and to Helensburgh on 18 December 2019.

RAIN AND FLOODS Very heavy rain on 9/10 December 2019 resulted in significant flooding around Largs and Skelmorlie with Largs trains cut back to Kilwinning. Trains between Dumbarton and Helensburgh were replaced by a bus shuttle due to flooding near Cardross and West Highland line trains were halted by flooding north of Helensburgh. Following continuing heavy rain the Gleneagles – Perth section of the Aberdeen main line was closed to all traffic on 11 December 2019 due to worsening flooding of the track. In Glasgow the line between Mount Florida and Glasgow Central had to be closed on 11 December 2019 because of flooding. This section, used by Cathcart Circle, Neilston, and Kirkhill trains, runs through a deep cutting lined by stone walls which restrict drainage. By the morning of 12 December the worst flooding was in the area of Pollokshields East station. Cathcart Circle trains were cancelled and Barrhead locals cut to once an hour in an attempt to get some sort of service restarted to Neilston and Kirkhill, emus crawling through the worst of the flooded areas.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Services on the Inner Circle were suspended and Kelvin Hall station closed to all traffic for much of 10 December 2019. Trains on the Outer Circle ran through Kelvin Hall at a slow speed. Emergency services were in attendance at Kelvin Hall following an incident involving a passenger.

ROBROYSTON The sixtieth suburban station in Glasgow, on the route to Cumbernauld, was opened on 16 December 2019. It has a half-hourly service and a car park with 258 spaces.

HAYMARKET A major power failure in late afternoon on 17 December 2019 plunged the area around Haymarket Station into blackness with street lights, shops, and office blocks all left without power. The platforms at Haymarket station remained lit and trains were able to run as normal.

TRANENT & COCKENZIE RLY Archaeologists digging along the route of this early waggonway which was opened in 1722 and was later crossed on the level by the East Coast Main Line a few miles east of Edinburgh, discovered remains of wooden rails that had been used on the original coal carrying horse-powered line. The 4km long waggonway was of 4’6” gauge, and not 3’3” gauge as with other early Scottish lines. Iron rails replaced the wooden ones in 1815. During the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 the Jacobite forces were ranged along the low embankment carrying the waggonway giving them a winning advantage. The Coal Board retained a theoretical right of way across the East Coast Main Line since its long closed line was there first!

9 December 2019

VOLKS RAILWAY For the first time, on 3 November 2019, the pioneer electric railway operated a three train service using the passing loops between the intermediate stop at Halfway and the termini at Aquarium and Black Rock/Marina.

LEWES – SEAFORD The branch was closed between 28 November and 1 December 2019 to allow major upgrade work including replacing the signalling which is now controlled from Three Bridges.

MERSEYTRAVEL A points failure at Bidston disrupted services on the West Kirby route during the morning rush hour on 28 November 2019.

SHEFFIELD The tram:train service to Rotherham has been cut from three services to two until 13 December 2019. A team of engineers from tram builder Stadler is undertaking modifications and improvements to ensure that the tram:trains continue to give reliable service. For the moment there are only enough trams available to guarantee a twice hourly service. The tram service is to be revised from 15 December 2019. The Herdings Park route (Purple Line) will operate until midnight. Trams will run on all lines until after 2300 on Mondays – Saturdays, and to encourage evening travel there will be a new “After 8” ticket costing just £2 until late May for passengers joining at Rotherham Central or Parkgate.

EAST COAST The first Azuma train in public service left Aberdeen at 0752 on 26 November 2019 heading for London Kings Cross. The train used its diesel engines to operate as far as Edinburgh Waverley, and then electric power along the East Coast Main Line through Newcastle and York to Kings Cross. The trains have been making test trips along the Aberdeen – Edinburgh line for several weeks but this was the first trip carrying fare-paying passengers.

HULL The first of the bi-mode class 802 “Paragon” trains entered service between Hull and Kings Cross on 25 November 2019.

TYNE AND WEAR METRO A dispute over pay levels and working conditions has resulted in a ban by the RTM Union against overtime working since 1 December 2019. A total strike is threatened for 20/21 December 2019

WEST MIDLANDS A man came into contact with the overhead power cable in New Street station at 0800 on Sunday 1 December 2019 and received extensive burns. Observers indicated that he seemed to be on fire. An air ambulance landed on the roof of the station car park and was able to lift the badly injured man from the area and took him to a specialist burns unit. Rail services were disrupted until 1100.

WEST COAST MAIN LINE Services north of Preston were delayed for up to seven hours on 27 November 2019, then cancelled altogether after power cables snapped at 0835 and formed a tangled mass which proved difficult to remove and then replace with new cables. It was hoped that normal services would be able to resume on 28 November (in fact it was not until late in the morning that services could resume) and all tickets for services on 27 November were accepted on all services on the 28th.

FAREWELL VIRGIN Virgin Trains operated the West Coast franchise for 22 years – the longest individual franchise operation to date – but was barred from applying for the new franchise and ran its last train – the 2142 from Euston to Wolverhampton on 7 December 2019. The last Euston – Manchester service broke down while the train was standing in Stockport station.

AVANTI WEST COAST The new operator, from 8 December 2019, on the West Coast Main Line and its related branches to North Wales, Blackpool, Liverpool, and Manchester has been named Avanti West Coast. The name has been chosen by First Group and Trenitalia, the two companies that won the franchise. Avanti West Coast promises additional services within a couple of years once the 56 Pendolino trains have received total refurbishment with new seats, improved catering, and an improved range of tickets. The Euston – Liverpool service will be doubled to half-hourly. Eventually a few services will run through to London from Gobowen and Walsall. “Avanti” (an Italian word) means “Go ahead”.

NEW TRAINS Hitachi is building 23 new trains for Avanti West Coast at a total cost of £350m. There will be ten seven-car emus for services between Euston, the West Midlands, and Liverpool each seating 453 passengers. Thirteen five-car bi-mode trains will be used between Euston and North Wales each seating each giving 301 seats. A class 221 Voyager train has 258 seats – the higher capacity of the new trains is because the individual coaches are longer.

WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY The pioneer Beyer-Peacock locomotive K1, built at Gorton Works, Manchester, in 1909 was withdrawn from service in 2014 when its boiler ticket expired, is to be moved to the Statfold Barn Railway, near Tamworth, where it will receive a cosmetic repaint but in the longer term it is planned that k1 will be returned to an operational condition.

BISHOPTON A fault with the signalling system caused cancellations and delays on evening peak services between Glasgow, Gourock, and Wemyss Bay. The Paisley Canal line was also out of service at the same time due to this signalling failure.

SIGNAL FALURE Services from Helensburgh, through Queen Street LL, and east to Edinburgh Waverley via Bathgate were disrupted early on 7 December 2019 following a signalling failure between Bathgate and Uphall.

BLACKFORD The Highland Spring Water bottling plant between Gleneagles and Perth is to have its own siding to enable much of its output to go out by rail instead of causing congestion on the roads.

CAIRNGORM FUNICULAR The cost of dismantling the funicular (before restoration work) will be at least £13.3m.

23 November 2019

GENERAL ELECTION PROMISES. The Conservative Party has indicated a spend of £500m to reverse the cuts applied by Beeching many years ago. Experts indicated that the required spend would be MUCH greater unless the Party means to restore a service to just one or two lines. Both the Conservative and Labour Parties agree that lines that should be reopened are Newcastle to Blyth and Ashington; a branch to Skelmersdale New Town near Liverpool; Thornton-Cleveleys to Fleetwood; and a service to Willenhall and Darlaston in the West Midlands.

GRAND UNION TRAINS The Grand Union Co has submitted a proposal for a four times a day stopping service between Stirling and London Euston which aims to provide a long distance service to towns that have only a more local service. The trains would start at Stirling and call at Larbert, Greenfaulds, Whifflet, Motherwell, Lockerbie, Carlisle, Preston, Crewe, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes Central and Euston. Class 91 locomotives are seen as providing the traction. Grand Union propose also a bi-hourly Cardiff – Paddington service calling at an expanded Severn Tunnel Junction station and the planned Llanwern Park and Ride station. Trains that formerly worked on the East Coast Main Line would be used initially while new trains similar to those to be used by GWR were obtained to operate every hour to Swansea and Llanelli and providing an urgent package service. Also in the pipeline is a service between Euston and Blackpool.

LOCOMOTIVES 86101 “Sir William A Stanier” and 87002 “Royal Sovereign” were used in recent years to haul empty rakes of Sleeping Cars between Euston and Glasgow Central and depots where the coaches could be got ready for their next use. New Mark 5 sleeping cars are now in use and the elderly locomotives cannot couple with the new coaches. 86101 and 87002 were declared “redundant” but have been purchased by Locomotive Services Ltd (LSL), will remain capable for main line use, and will be used on LSL’s heritage special services. 86401 “Mons Meg” also remains operational but is now part of LSL’s fleet as is at least one HST set redundant from the Great Western main line.

LONDON – OXFORD Express coach services on the Motorway have been significant rivals to the Paddington – Oxford rail service. From 6 January 2020 the Oxford Bus Co’s X90 express bus service will cease to run leaving the fast road service in the hands of Stagecoach’s “Oxford Tube” service. This claims to provide so many express buses the service is almost like a London Tube service – “miss one and there will be another shortly”.

LONDON – GLASGOW The improved faster London Euston – Glasgow Central passenger service has started to pull back passengers from rival air services. In the twelve months to April 2019 the railways took 29% of the traffic compared with just 27% a year before. The last time rail’s share was as high as 29% was in 2014.

FARES FREEZE London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on18 November 2019 that all Transport for London single fares on bus, Underground, and Docklands Light Railway will be frozen for all of 2020. However season tickets and travel cards are not included and will be increased by the RPI inflation measure of 2.8%.

WATERLOO A burst water-main between Wimbledon and Surbiton late on 12 November 2019 caused disruption to services to and from Waterloo and this continued through the morning rush hour of the 13 November 2019.

LUL Oxford Circus station was closed for several hours on 20 November 2019 after a passenger fell from the crowded southbound Victoria Line platform. Oxford Street was closed for a short time while emergency services vehicles arrived at the station. After a short break in the Victoria Line service, trains ran through Oxford Circus station without stopping.

GOVIA-THAMESLINK The company has launched a £15m station improvement programme. Defibrillators are to be installed at Knebworth, Potters Bar, Hadley Wood, and Welwyn Garden City stations and a rolling programme of improved lighting, landscaping, toilet renovation and repainting will continue. Sixty of the 274 stations will have been completed by early 2020.

MIDLAND METRO On 13 November 2019 Jasper Carrott, the Midlands born comedian, unveiled his name on tram No 28 which was positioned outside the Town Hall on the soon to be opened Centenary Square extension. Other named trams in the new fleet are No 31 Cyrille Regis MBE 1958-2018 (International footballer); 37 Ozzy Osbourne (Local entertainer). Most of the earlier T-69 fleet were named including 07 Billy Wright (footballer); 10 John Stanley Webb (local historian) 11 Theresa Stewart (Politician and Birmingham Lord Mayor) and 16 Gerwyn John (Engineer for Midland Metro). Tram 07 is preserved by UK Trams, 10 and 11 are in store at Long Marston with No 11 to be preserved in Birmingham Corporation tram livery by the City Council.

ROWLEY REGIS The Black Country station (on the Stourbridge Junction line) has a large well used car park, but in mid November 2019 work to repair a burst water main close to the car park entrance and contractors put a set of three-way traffic lights covering the area resulting in delays of as long as two hours for drivers trying to leave the car park in the evening rush hour.

MANCHESTER AREA Test running on the new Metrolink Trafford Park line began on 12 November 2019. After detailed checks driver training will take place during much of 2020 and eventually public services will start perhaps in early 2021. Cornbrook station is being upgraded with an extended canopy and improved platform facilities as part of its extended role as an interchange point with the Trafford Park Line. A pedestrian footbridge between Cheadle Hulme and Handforth stations is to be rebuilt. The bridge will be closed to the public from 6 December 2019 until mid February 2020 when the work will have been completed. A points failure at Eccles resulted in delays for much of the day on 12 November 2019. One million passengers used the contactless payment system in just four months since this payment method was introduced on 15 July 2019.

LIVERPOOL AREA A trespass incident between Lime Street and South Parkway stations on 12 November 2019 resulted in delays of fifty minutes until it was confirmed that the trespassers were no longer on the railway property. Smoking is to be banned at ALL stations served by Merseyrail.

BLACKPOOL The tramway branch to North Station is still far from ready. Most of the track is in position but no overhead wires have been erected and the Wilco store is still trading on the site of the planned tram terminus. Their lease for the store expires in April 2020 and progress may then be made in constructing a proper terminus.

LEEDS A collision between an Azuma train and a line of coaches in a train depot near Leeds station disrupted the morning rush hour on 13 November 2019.

BRITISH STEEL REDCAR This halt was opened within the grounds of the Redcar steel plant on 19.June 1978 and was used by workers at the plant. Following the closure of the steel works the use of the halt fell away until it became the quietest station on BR with only about 40-50 users per year. There was no longer any access to the halt from nearby roads and the halt was officially closed on 15 December 2019.

TYNE & WEAR METRO A new timetable was introduced on the Metro on 13 October 2019 giving a more frequent peak service, and filling occasional gaps to create a service every 12 minutes on every route. A temporary Depot is being built at Howdon to hold ten sets of Metro cars while the present depot at Gosforth is rebuilt.

GLASGOW The new Dundas Street (western) entrance to Queen Street station was opened on
11 November 2019. It is only 10m from the previous narrow Dundas Street entrance but the new facility is wider and much more attractive. The only other entrance to the station at present available is the North Hannover Street (eastern) entrance which is generally unattractive in appearance. The main entrance (on the south side) leading into Queen Street and George Square
is being rebuilt and cannot be used at the moment by passengers.

GLASGOW – NEILSTON A signal failure at Neilston station on 20 November 2019 meant that services on the branch were halted for several hours.

GLASGOW – EDINBURGH The time required for fast services on the Falkirk route is being eased from 42 to 44 minutes with only two services in the new timetable retaining the 42 minute time. Passengers are annoyed that despite the recent investment in faster class 485 emus the time required for each journey has to be extended.

9 November 2019

NEW STATIONS Three new stations are scheduled to open on 15 December 2019 as the new National Timetable is launched. The stations are at Robroyston in north east Glasgow (serving a large new housing area), Warrington West (serving the Chapelford housing area where the US Burtonwood Air Base once stood) and Worcestershire Parkway (located where the Paddington – Worcester and Birmingham – Bristol main lines cross each other. Also opened during 2019 is Meridian Water replacing nearby poorly situated Angel Road. The opening of Warrington West has resulted in nearby Sankey (for Penketh) having its service slashed to one peak service each way.

HIGH WINDS Winds of up to 100 mph swept up the Channel on 2 November 2019 and all ferry services from Dover were halted because of the gigantic waves sweeping across the Channel.

EAST COAST Because engineering work had closed parts of the ECML through Retford and Newark, and because insufficient drivers were available to drive over the relief route via Lincoln, many services due to operate on the last weekend of October 2019 were cancelled.

FLOODS Extremely heavy rain in early November has caused flooding across northern England. No trains could operate between Rochdale and Todmorden. Trains could still reach Glossop but not Hadfield. On the other side of Manchester trains operated through Eccles at a crawl again due to flooding. Flooding became severe on 8 November 2019 in a wide area of Yorkshire as the River Don burst its banks. Rail services between Derby – Sheffield – Doncaster and towards Leeds were halted.

WEST COAST Virgin Trains cancelled all services north of Stafford at 2100 on 26 October 2019 following extremely heavy rains that resulted in flooding at many locations – some at places where water levels are rarely a problem. In the dark it was not possible to see a flooded area from a train moving at speed. Damage to the overhead power wires on the fast lines just north of Queens Park resulted in delays and cancellations as inter-city and outer suburban trains squeezed on to the remaining two tracks. Leaving Euston, the xx00 Manchester, the xx03 Birmingham, and the xx07 outer suburban services were cancelled over several hours giving a useful gap in the northbound services allowing a group of up i.e. southbound trains to reach Euston with a relatively clear run.

MIDLAND MAIN LINE HST trains, now redundant from East Coast services are being transferred to the Midland Main Line as a stop-gap move for the next three years when completely new trains will have been delivered.

GATWICK AIRPORT A £150m improvement project will start in May 2020 and finish in 2023. It will widen platforms 5 and 6, and give a new exit with a ramp from platform 7. There will be five new lifts, eight new escalators, and several new stairways.

HS2 Taroni Metals, a scrap metal firm using a site in Saltley for 67 years, is threatened with eviction on 30 October 2019 but cannot afford to move. Taroni claim that it is owed several million pounds by HS2 for the site and until it is paid cannot afford the £2m cost of transferring its business to another location.

DOCKLANDS Thales has signed two contracts concerning control systems on the 43 new trains that are being built by CAF for the Docklands Light Railway. CAF is to supply and integrate an on-board control system on the new fleet. The second contract is with Transport for London to provide signalling system upgrades to the software on the new trains. Both contracts will run until 1 September 2024.

LUL A new timetable for the Victoria Line from 4 November 2019 will give a service frequency of a train every 100 seconds during the times 0715 – 1015, and 1615 – 1915. Anger has been expressed for changes on the Central Line from 26 January 2020 which axes two services per hour between Debden and Epping, and the service between Woodford and Hainault reduced to a shuttle by a four car train instead of as part of a through service to central London for much of the day. Services during the peaks on the Northern, Central and Jubilee Lines are running with loads above capacity of 130%, 116%, and 115% respectively.

CROSSRAIL (ELIZABETH LINE) Because of a lengthy time required to test the complex signalling system to be used through the tunnel and the links to very different systems existing at each end the cross-London line will not now open until early 2021 and the cost will have risen by a further £650m. The line had been expected to open in December 2018.

WATFORD LOCALS A trespass incident involving several people at Wembley Central Station on 25 October 2019 disrupted services to and from Euston and along the route as far as Watford Junction. Although the trespassers were eventually removed train services were likely to be disrupted until the following morning. The Euston – Watford Jct local service was disrupted again on 31 October 2019 due to a signalling system failure in the Willesden area. The local Overground trains between Euston and Watford Junction are increasingly being worked by Bombardier class 710 “Aventra” emus. The service frequency is now a train every 15 minutes for most of the day.

POLLUTION Travel on the London Underground has been declared a health risk since pollution on the London Underground is 885 micro-particles per cubic metre of air – 18 times the level found on suburban trains. On the Victoria Line the problem is even worse at 22 times the level set by the World Health Organisation to protect people’s health. In Bristol diesel cars are to be banned during daytime hours and several other cities are considering similar measures.

TORBAY High tides and massive waves combined to produce significant flooding along the Devon and Cornwall coasts. The Looe branch was closed on 29-30 October 2019 and a reduced service operating more slowly than normal operated along the main line.

EXETER A new station is planned at Marsh Barton between Exeter St Thomas and Starcross to serve the large Marsh Barton trading estate. It would be served by trains to the city centre and Exmouth, and also to Newton Abbott and Paignton. There will be a half hourly Exmouth – Exeter – Newton Abbot – Paignton local service.

WEST MIDLANDS Erdington station buildings were damaged by a fire which started late on 26 October 2019. The half hourly Sunday service was able to operate along the route but trains did not call at Erdington until late on the 27th. A broken down train at Coseley together with a signal failure on the south side of the Cross City Line resulted in major delays all day on 29 October 2019. A shortage of train crew meant many cancellations of local services around Birmingham on 30 and 31 October 2019 – for three consecutive days local services were reduced to near chaos. Perry Barr station is to be rebuilt to create a bus:rail interchange.

COVENTRY Three new stations have been proposed on the line to Nuneaton. Coundon and Foleshill stations would be reopened while a new station would be built at Binley & Willenhall.

STECHFORD A new footbridge with lifts is being built at this station on the main line to Coventry and Euston.

LIVERPOOL Two new stations are planned to serve regenerated areas of the city. St James station was closed in 1917 but much of it remains and the station will be the first to open. The other will serve the Baltic Triangle business area

MANCHCESTER METROLINK. A quick visit to Manchester on 24 October 2019 showed the tram network to be running well with trams packed even at “quiet times” such as early afternoon. As the evening rush hour drew near as many services as possible were formed of two trams. More trams are expected soon but they are going to do little more than touch the problem rather than cure it. Local heavy rail routes are being better used after many years of steady decline since those arriving at Victoria or Piccadilly stations can continue into the heart of the city on a tram. On this visit I did not see any ticket inspectors coming through a tram but on a mid afternoon arrival at Cornbrook a row of seven inspectors stood on the platform facing the tram demanding to see the tickets held by passengers leaving the tram.

HEATON PARK The tram line taking passengers from the Park entrance to a pool in the Park was opened as a regular tram line in 1903. became a heritage line in 1980 after the street tramways in the city had closed, but was forced to close recently after thieves stole the copper overhead power wire. Well-wishers contributed £5400 within a few days to buy new copper cable and the line reopened on 26 October 2019 with large crowds present to enjoy a ride.

KEIGHLEY The station is to be refurbished in a £4m scheme that will see general repairs, a
repaint, and the resurfacing of the platforms.

LEEDS Work begins shortly on the upgrading of platforms 1 – 6 and the construction of a new platform 0. Step free access is being provided at Cross Gates, Horsforth and Morley. Major work at Pudsey together with enlargement of the station car park is planned but there seems to be a hitch in the funding for this scheme. A new station is planned beside the White Rose Shopping Centre in the Beeston area south of the city centre.

HARROGATE The new timetable implemented from 15 December 2019 will feature five additional through trains to/from Kings Cross to give a service every two hours (six services each way) during the day. A similar expansion of the Kings Cross – Lincoln service has been widely welcomed.

BILLINGHAM The Tees Valley station is the only one in the area without proper disabled access. This is now to be rectified with the £2m cost being met by National Rail, HM Government, and local Government sources. 120,000 people use the station each year – a number that has risen by 14% over the past five years.

NEXUS The building of a new £500m Tyne and Wear Metro fleet at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe plant is an important step in maintaining the north east’s range of available engineering skills.

KINCARDINE Talgo have announced that they are to build a train manufacturing plant here to be ready to bid for new train orders for UK companies.

25 October 2019

£10bn INVESTMENT This is the massive sum that could be spent on 58 development schemes in 2019-24 to improve the capacity of the railway network. Each scheme must go through a five-step assessment process before it can advance to funding. Schemes that are still at the first stage “decision to examine case” include capacity improvements at Leeds, Stratford, and Liverpool Street stations. Proposals to lengthen trains to reduce overcrowding on Chiltern Railways and West Midlands Railways are at the second examination stage. Further along the examination process are improvements to Brighton Main Line, the Solihull corridor and London Victoria station.

ELECTRIFICATION WORK The installation of overhead power wires resulted in the closure of the main line from the Bristol direction during the weekend of 26/27 October 2019. The Ebbw Vale branch was also closed for the weekend because the work involved the southern end of the branch. To make matters worse several miles length of the Heads of the Valleys road was also closed throughout that weekend.

YORK MUSEUM The National Railway Museum in York has been awarded a grant of £18m by a Government fund to help build a new Central Hall that will connect the two existing halls.

SPEED RECORD On 9 October 2019 a special Great Western train celebrating the Company’s new timetable ran from Swindon to Paddington non-stop in 44 minutes 22 seconds – an average speed of 100 mph.

ISLAND LINE One of the two 81 year old trains of former London Underground stock had to be taken out of service on 18 September 2019 for urgent repairs and a reduced service of a once per hour shuttle connecting with the ferry at Ryde Pier was introduced. However the normal timetable was resumed on 21 October 2019 when these repairs had been completed.

WIMBLEDON DEPOT A slow speed derailment of an emu within Wimbledon Depot trapped several emus within the Depot and resulted in significant delays or cancellations during the morning rush hour on 14 October 2019.

TOTTENHAM HALE A free-to-use water fountain has been installed on platform 4 joining similar facilities already operating at Chelmsford, Ipswich, Cambridge, Colchester, Ely, Bishop’s Stortford, Witham, Shenfield, Billericay, Wickford and Norwich.

CANARY WHARF The ticket issuing machines are to go cashless from 27 October 2019. Fares will be able to be paid by using Debit, Credit or Oyster Cards.

NORTHAMPTON DEPOT The Transport Secretary has approved plans for a huge rail freight depot just south of Northampton. Campaigners against the depot are “hugely disappointed” since local roads will have to carry greatly increased numbers of lorries and life in local villages will become “nearly impossible”. The new Depot is close to Junction 15 on the M1 motorway and it is seen as a focal point for the transfer of traffic between the railways and highways.

X90 WITHDRAWN The X90 express bus route, between Oxford and London, operated by the Oxford Bus Company will be withdrawn from 4 January 2020 because of steadily falling traffic due to competition from rail services. The “Oxford Tube” express bus route, operated by Stagecoach, will continue to operate and will gain traffic due to the removal of the X90 services.

HS2 Government and Department of Transport officials have voiced the view that the £88bn (and rising) cost of HS2 might be better spent on improving the existing network country-wide. Mainly four-track main lines could have short two track sections increased to four. Closed routes of value now could be reopened. A proposal being examined is the construction of a direct link between Manchester and Leeds cutting the journey time between the two cities from 71 to 20 minutes and make the Birmingham – Leeds limb unnecessary and saving of £10bn.

FLINDERS Clearing the site for an expanded Euston terminus involves moving many thousands of bodies from a forgotten graveyard. One body is that of Captain Matthew Flinders (died 1814) who sailed round Australia, proving it to be a continent on its own, and popularised the name “Australia”. His own name remains in use as a city centre street and main line station in Melbourne, Australia. His body will be interred at St Mary and the Holy Rood, Donington, Lincs, where many of the Flinders family are already buried.

GRAND CENTRAL The train operator has been granted permission to operate an additional service between Sunderland and Kings Cross. They will now have six services each way on weekdays, and five on Sundays.

EAST LONDON LINE The Housing Infrastructure Fund has allocated £80.8m towards improvements to the East London Line. A new station at Surrey Canal Road, and step-free access at Surrey Quays will be improvements made possible by this grant. 14,000 new homes are to be built in Southwark and Lewisham and improved public transport will be necessary to move all the extra people.

QUEENS PARK A major signalling failure on the morning of 17 October 2019 halted main line and outer suburban services on the WCML with passengers advised to find alternative routes which inevitably became overcrowded.

BIRMINGHAM TRAMS CAF is to supply 21 additional battery equipped trams with an option for a further 29. The existing CAF Urbos trams are being retro-fitted with lithium-ion batteries. The Centenary Square extension may not now open until early 2020 due to delays in getting a sufficient number of trams ready for battery operation.

CROSS CITY LINE Police officers distributed leaflets to passengers at most stations on this line in Birmingham warning against carrying a knife. It requested that if someone was known to be carrying a knife that could be reported anonymously to a website or and the police could then act.

CHASE LINE In an attempt to reduce the number of cancellations, short workings to Hednesford, and delays to services working through to/from London Euston, the December timetable will see Rugeley services working to Wolverhampton rather than Euston.

MERSEYRAIL The car park at Spital Station (on the Chester line) is being enlarged at a cost of £400,000 to provide sixty additional spaces. Liverpool Lime Street and Edge Hill stations will be closed during the weekend on 2/3 November 2019 to allow resignalling of the area.

SIEMENS UK HQ The German firm’s headquarters in the UK is being moved from Frimley in Surrey to its striking building in Didsbury, Manchester. The Frimley site will not close but will handle work in the London area.

SINKHOLE A sinkhole opened up in New Mills, above Newtown Tunnel, on 18 October 2019 and all services between Stockport and Sheffield were halted to allow railway engineers to examine the tunnel and land close to the railway. They discovered that the cause was a burst water-main and that water had seeped below the tracks in the tunnel itself. The line remained closed until the following day – 19 October 2019.

MANCHESTER METROLINK The city centre section of Manchester’s tram network between Cornbrook and St Peter’s Square has been described as the busiest section of light rail line in the world. However crime and antisocial behaviour have become a problem on this busy section. The trams carried 45m passengers during the year ending August 2019 – 3m up on 2017-8. The stop at Cornbrook is being upgraded with a longer canopy and improved platform facilities in readiness for its increased role as an interchange point with the new Trafford Park line.

HEATON PARK TRAMWAY The short heritage line taking visitors into Heaton Park in north-east Manchester reopened on 26 October 2019 following the replacement of the section of overhead
power wire that had been stolen.

BLACKPOOL Flooding following heavy rain closed the railway at Kirkham and Wesham for several hours on 11 October 2019 and bus shuttles were provided instead. Blackpool South station has also been flooded with trains running only as far as St Annes-on-the-Sea.

LEEDS station will be closed on 26-7 October 2019 while a new platform 0 is opened, and new signalling and overhead wires are activated.

ECML A plan to streamline the operation of the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Edinburgh could slash the time taken by express services to just 45 minutes.

ROSEBERRY PARKWAY ? This proposed new station close to Nunthorpe will have a substantial car park and it is hoped that with a half-hourly service through to Newcastle, double the existing service to Whitby, and many through services to Darlington, many car drivers who have to suffer long peak hours “slow crawls” will instead take the train.

TYNE AND WEAR Changes to the timetable being introduced from 14 October 2019 will remove a few lightly loaded trains but increase the service along severely overcrowded sections. There will be an all-day 12 minute frequency to all terminal points with extra services running between Monkseaton and Pelaw in both morning and evening peaks. One evening peak Monkseaton to Longbenton train will be extended to Pelaw. A few Regent Centre – Pelaw workings will be removed to create space for what are certain to be much busier new services.

GLASGOW Work to extend platforms 4 and 5 at Queen Street High Level station was completed on 13 October 2019, as planned.

KIRKLISTON The local MP has called for a new station to be built to serve the rapidly growing community which has doubled in size during the past few years. The best location for a station could be on the Glasgow – Edinburgh main line near Winchburgh but the operation of a local service along a relatively high speed route would be difficult to achieve. A halt on the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh line would be some distance from some of the new housing. The track that passes right through the heart of Kirkliston is the Forth Bridge – Polmont line that is unsuitable for Edinburgh commuter traffic. The MP should perhaps look more carefully at the geography within his constituency.

8 October 2019

HS2 With delays introduced by the Department of Transport, the completion of HS2 may take until 2040. However in a move to save money some advocates are suggesting that the eastern limb to serve Sheffield and Leeds should be dropped.

GREAT WESTERN A non-stop Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington special train completed the journey on 24 September 2019 in just 72 minutes. In the new December 2019 timetable the regular journey time will be 79 minutes or 68 minutes from Bristol Parkway.

AZUMA SERVICES Azuma trains will introduced between Glasgow Central and Kings Cross on 23 September 2019 replacing services hauled by class 91 locomotives. The introduction of the new trains will mark a major upgrade in the quality provided. Azuma services will next be added between Kings Cross and Lincoln on 21 October 2019, Kings Cross to Aberdeen on 25 November 2019, and finally between Kings Cross and Inverness on 9 December 2019.

BRIGHTON When the tide is out the stone blocks that supported the rails of the Brighton and Rottingdean Railway are clearly visible.

LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM Three Q Stock cars that operated on the District Line from 1938 and have been in store since they were withdrawn in 1971, are to be restored to their original condition if a public appeal can raise the £200,000 required for the work. They would become a moving exhibit highlighting London’s history during their working life. Among stories depicted could be the evacuation of children during WW2 or the austerity that faced everyone during the 1940s. The Q stock fleet was a very mixed bag dating from the 1920s and 1930s, which had been somewhat upgraded, given new upholstery and fresh paintwork, but the coaches themselves remained varied in length.

SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY The main line between Raynes Park and Surbiton was closed at around 0945 on 3 October 2019 following an incident which was dealt with by local police. Services resumed at around noon.

TRANSPORT for LONDON will run some trains on Boxing day this year. Routes involved are Highbury and Islington – West Croydon; Clapham Junction – Hackney Wick. October got off to a bad start as significant delays disrupted services on five lines during the morning peak on the first day. The entire District Line was halted while someone was rescued from the tracks. Delays with less obvious causes delayed commuters on the Bakerloo, Circle, Northern, and Hammersmith & City Lines. Crowds of football fans heading for a European Cup match on 3 October 2019 let off smoke bombs within Kings Cross underground station which had to be closed until the smoke had cleared. TfL will take over the Paddington – Reading local service from 15 December 2019.

EAST ANGLIA Platform extension work is under way along the Fen Line (Cambridge – Kings Lynn) so that longer trains can operate. Work to rebuild the closed station at Soham commenced in late September 2019. The first stage of the planned Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM) is likely to serve the 6500 new homes planned for Alconbury Weald linking the area with Huntingdon, St Ives, and Cambridge. A plan for a new station on the East Coast Main Line was dropped. The stations at Romford and Ilford are to be upgraded in a £20m scheme as part of the Crossrail Programme.

WRIGHT BUS FAILS The builder of the “Boris Bus” – the new-style Routemaster London bus – has gone into administration with the loss of 1200 jobs. The company was one of the largest employers in Ulster but had failed to adapt to a growing preference for electric technology rather than diesel. Update: On 11 October it was announced that a rescue bid for the company had been arranged.

SOUTH WALES Information is available about the development of local services around Cardiff and along the Valleys. Along the Main Line there will be four trains per hour west to Bridgend and Maesteg. Going to the east the new Cardiff Parkway station will be served by one or two services hourly to Ebbw Vale and two per hour through Newport to Cwmbran and Abergavenny. Services heading towards Birmingham, Swindon or Bristol will also call there. Tri-mode services will run four times per hour on the Rhymney route, increased to every ten minutes at the rush hour from Caerphilly with a half hourly service on the short Coryton branch. There will therefore be eight trains per hour on the innermost section of the line all serving a new stop at Crwys Road. Beyond Queen Street and Canolog (Central) stations this route will run on towards Penarth (four per hour), Barry Island (three per hour),with two per hour along the line through Rhoose to Bridgend. This leaves important branches to be served by tram-trains. Starting at a rebuilt, enlarged, Cardiff Bay station, serving a new stop at Loudoun Square, then calling at Queen Street, a ten minute frequency off-peak service will run to Cathays (for the University), Radyr, to a relocated Treforest Estate stop (serving the Department of Work & Pensions new HQ with 1700 staff) to Pontypridd which will have six trains per hour off-peak and twelve at the rush hour. These will continue to Treherbert, Aberdare, and Merthyr Tydfil. (two per hour off peak and four at the rush hours). Canton Depot will be upgraded to handle the Stadler “Flirt” tri-mode trains.

WEST MIDLANDS Detailed plans for new stations at Kings Heath and Hazelwell have been submitted to Birmingham Council planners for comment and approval. Planning for a third new station on the Camp Hill Line – at Moseley – are not yet complete. A special leaf-fall timetable will be operate during a seven week period from 14 October until 29 November 2019. Platform 12 at New Street station has signs along its length asking passengers to “keep clear” allowing those getting out of the train space as they step from the carriages. It is important for the train to stop exactly at the correct position so that the new signs will line up with the carriage doors. The trams used on Midland Metro have been equipped with dispenser boxes near each door containing that morning’s issue of “Metro” newspaper.

SUTTON COLDFIELD The gold coloured name signs along the platform denoting the fact that a
local resident had won a gold medal at the last Olympic Games are now being replaced with a standard West Midlands Railway sign but with a new controversy. The sign instead of showing simply “Sutton Coldfield” shows on a top line “Royal Town of” with “Sutton Coldfield on a second line. It also indicates that this is the station for Sutton Park. Some Sutton Coldfield residents want the town “liberated” from the might of Birmingham and mention of “Royal Town” adds fuel to their argument.

ISLE OF MAN Extremely heavy rainfall during the last couple of days of September 2019 has resulted in major flooding in the Isle of Man, especially around Laxey where cars have been swept away.

EDGE HILL The station will be closed on 2-3 November 2019 to allow resignalling work and as a result no trains will run to/from Lime Street terminus. Passengers will be able to reach downtown Liverpool by using the Merseyrail route from Liverpool South Parkway. Edge Hill is the world’s oldest station still in use having opened in 1830. The signalling at Lime Street was upgraded as part of a £140m transformation during 2016-8.

MANCHESTER Platform extension work to accommodate longer trains is under way in the north Manchester suburbs. Work has been completed at Daisy Hill and is under way at Hall I’ th’ Wood. Next will be Darwen and Entwistle.

SOUTHPORT The railway between Southport and Parbold is to be closed for five days – 16-20 November 2019 while engineers replace an under bridge at Burcough.

ULSTER The main line between Belfast Great Victoria Street terminus and Lisburn was closed for most of 06 October 2019 following an incident at Hilden Station (near Lisburn) when a person on the tracks was killed by a train. Buses were laid on to replaced the rail service.

SOUTH YORKSHIRE Abellio has taken over local services in the area and will operate trains under the name “East Midlands Railway” or “EMR”. New trains with 80% increase in seats during the peak hours are promised under the terms of the new franchise. Leaders of the Doncaster and Rotherham Councils have spoken out about a need for the western limb of HS2 to run as originally planned to Meadowhall and not to stop short at Sheffield.

LEEDS The station departure information boards broke down due to a computer problem at 1730 on Sunday 6 October 2019 and information for passengers was unavailable until the following morning. There were no problems with the signalling and the trains ran in a normal manner but many passengers had to guess where their train might be.

CLASS 802/2 Trans Pennine Express’s new units entered service on the Liverpool – Newcastle route from 28 September 2019.

TYNE & WEAR METRO A new timetable will be introduced on 13 October 2019 giving more services from South Shields in the morning peak, and across North Tyneside in the pm peak. The recent heat wave resulted in some cancellations on the Sunderland service due to Network Rail imposing speed restrictions.

SCOTRAIL has produced a new digital information system on its trains allowing passengers increased information during times of disruption. This follows a six-month trial on the Queen Street Low Level lines. From 30 September 2019 certain morning peak services to Edinburgh will omit stops at Kinghorn, Aberdour, and Dalgetty Bay. Other trains will continue to provide services to Haymarket and Waverley but some passengers will need to travel forward to Haymarket and then get a local back to their destination at stations like Edinburgh Park. The need to change the timetable relates to leaves that have fallen on the rails.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Morning rush hour services on the Outer Circle on 3 October 2019 had to be cancelled for about half an hour because of a failure in the signalling system. Around noon there were two serious incidents at Bridge Street Station. A passenger suffered serious injuries to his face and one ear and was more or less covered with blood. He was screaming in agony and it was not clear how he had got these injuries. An ambulance came quickly to take him to hospital but in the confusion a 32 year old blind passenger fell off the narrow platform on to the track and received serious chest injuries. His dog also fell but was able to return to the platform in a very distressed state and is being cared for by the Guide Dogs organisation. The police ordered that the entire Subway be closed down until things had got back to some sort of normality.

GLASGOW AREA Most trains on the Milngavie branch are formed of six coaches but traffic continues to increase and platforms are to be lengthened to take nine coaches. A new Park-and-Ride station has been proposed beside the Allander Leisure Centre in Bearsden and the local Council has been asked to ensure that the necessary land is reserved for the new station. The new station at Robroyston will open with the new timetable in December 2019 and will have a car park with spaces for 258 cars. The Queen Street High Level frontage has been completed. It is in the form of a 21m high glazed wall made up of 310 glazed panels. The interior of the station is much brighter than before.

26 September 2019

ON TIME The often used expression “on time” has for long described how well a particular service is operating. In reality a service has been described as being on time if it is within ten minutes of the advertised timetabled time. Many services included a small number of minutes of “recovery time” which allowed a train operating a few minutes late to appear to be on time at the destination station. From 16 September 2019 things changed. A train is now officially “on time” if it is operating within just one minute of the advertised time. “Recovery time” is not built into the timetable. As a result the proportion of trains actually on time has fallen from 84% to 62%.

CLASS 93 LOCOS Ten tri-mode class 93 locomotives are to be built by Stadler in Valencia, Spain. These are an evolution from the earlier Class 88 bi-modes built by Stadler for Direct Rail Services. The first of the 93s will be delivered in August 2020 and will be able to operate on diesel engines, electric motors taking power from an overhead wire, or from batteries.

ISLAND LINE From 18 September 2019 the Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin service on the Isle of Wight was cut to just one service per hour connecting with the ferry service to Portsmouth. The revised service has a departure from Shanklin at xx18 past each hour, returning from Ryde Pier Head at xx49 past each hour and connecting with the Portsmouth ferry and then trains to Waterloo. The line has been worked by two 81 year old former London Underground trains – the only units that can fit through a tunnel under the town of Ryde. The official notice announcing the timetable reduction indicates that the change is necessary for “technical reasons”. Spares for the trains are almost impossible to locate so the future prospects for the trains, and line, had become bleak. However hard on the heels of this bad news came an announcement from the Department of Transport of £26m grants to replace the trains, upgrade the track, and build a passing loop at Brading. Vivarail is to supply five rebuilt 2-car Class 484 emus that will improve performance and capacity. Isle of Wight Council with Solent Local Enterprise Partnership will contribute £1m to fund the building of a passing loop at Brading. The first “new” train will arrive during the early summer of 2020. Track changes will take place during the coming winter.

LONDON UNDERGROUND Trade Unions bosses have ordered drivers to cut their speed by half on 28 sections of four lines (Jubilee, Northern, Central, and Victoria) where track noise is substantial because drivers might suffer hearing loss. Some of the sections already have a system installed to reduce vibration but noise remains a problem. The Union action would wreck the timetable and is due to start on 10 October 2019.

PADDINGTON LOCALS Transport for London will take over the Paddington – Reading stopping service from 15 December 2019 operating four trains per hour along the route using new rolling stock. GWR will continue to run trains along the line to other destinations.

BIRMINGHAM TRAMS The entire fleet (with one exception) has been given a striking bright blue livery. The exception is an apparently out of use tram lying in the sidings alongside Wednesbury Depot.

MANCHESTER Transport for Greater Manchester is to upgrade its electrical infrastructure to help maintain its green transport strategy for the city. A third platform is being built at Crumpsall on the Metrolink Bury line. This will be for terminating trams on the new Trafford Park line which is due to open during 2020. Hattersley station on the Hadfield line is being upgraded at a cost of £750,000. The ticket office is to be replaced and the car park will be increased in size.

HEATON PARK TRAMWAY The museum line running into Heaton Park in North Manchester has been disabled following the theft on Tuesday 24th September 2019 of the overhead power wires. The line is part of the original 1903 tramway. Donations have been sent from enthusiasts and well-wishers from as far away as Australia to help fund repairs.

TYNE AND WEAR METRO Increased traffic was carried over the weekend of 7-8 September 2019 as roads across the area were closed for the Great North Run. 90,000 passengers used the Metro on those days. A Rugby Union international match at St James Park on 6 September 2019 generated a further 90,000 passengers that day and The Tour of Britain cycling event on 9 September 2019 did even better with 91,000 passengers that day. A new fleet of rolling stock for the Tyne and Wear Metro costing £362m was ordered on 18 September 2019 but details of the firms that will undertake which parts of the work are still unclear. Negotiations are under way with potential builders etc. and full information about who will do what may not emerge until early 2020.

BEAL The level crossing on the road to Holy Island, Northumberland, with the ECML was blocked on 11 September 2019 when a freight service broke down halting all road traffic to or from the Island. A rescue locomotive managed to move the train after a couple of hours.

CARLISLE Plans have been announced to revamp Carlisle station at a cost of £15m. This is part of a £350m Borderlands Growth Project involving work by five Councils. Carlisle Citadel station was opened in 1847 and is a meeting point of the Settle & Carlisle, Cumbrian Coast, and the secondary cross-country line from Kilmarnock to Carlisle and on to Newcastle with the WCML.

GLASGOW QUEEN STREET HL Work to lengthen platforms 2 and 3 has been completed and a start on similar work on platforms 4 and 5 commenced on 16 September 2019. Platforms 4 and 5 are planned to be out of use for four weeks between 16 September and 8 October 2019. The platform extension work forms part of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) which will cost £120m and is a Scottish government investment in railway infrastructure across central Scotland.

GLENEAGLES The famous station serving the world-class hotel and three golf courses sees little traffic when no major golf tournament is under way. The station is a mile from the village of Auchterarder, and on 16 September 2019 four passengers used the stop by the down “Highland Chieftain” being picked up by cars. This was the first time that I have seen “ordinary” traffic using the station since the closure of the branch line to Crieff and Comrie. Close to the station there is a pass through the Ochil Hills but do not expect to see any eye-catching birds. The “Eagles” in the name comes from “ eaglais” a Gaelic word meaning a church.

DUNDEE Over 1 million additional passengers have taken the train to visit the striking V&A Museum which is shaped like a boat. Rail traffic to the city has risen overall by 14%.

PITLOCHRY (BAILE CHLOICHRIDH) – the 12th century Gaelic name for the town – a key place in these early days thanks to a ferry service operaing across the River Tummel, is displayed on all platform name boards at the station. I could not however find anyone able to pronounce it correctly. The resignalling of the mostly single track Highland Main Line has made possible a more flexible method of operation. Both platforms at Pitlochry (a name that came with the railway) are now long enough to hold a full length train – presumably an Azuma from December 2019. Two services often cross at the station and it is now easy to operate the busier service through platform 1, adjacent to the road leading into the town centre, with the quieter service using platform 2 with the passengers requiring to use the footbridge.

12 September 2019

HS2 More details about the planned high-speed line were made available during early September 2019. A journey time of just 33 minutes between Birmingham and Nottingham (Toton) compared with the present 72 minutes sounds attractive even if a Toton to Nottingham city centre trip has to be added. Many people travel to the Nottingham University area half way between Toton and the city centre and the HS2 time will be of real benefit to them. The House of Lords approved on 9 September 2019 the extension of HS2 beyond Birmingham to Crewe. The expected cost of HS2 is now £78bn and the project will finish 7 years later than originally planned.

FOLKESTONE A small preservation group is seeking new helpers to join them in the not inconsiderable task of restoring a 4DD coach. Photographs of the coach, one of two that remain, show the body work to be in bad condition with paint peeling off. However these two coaches are all that remains of the Southern’s attempt to increase capacity along routes with limited headroom.

LUL The entire Northern Line service was suspended on Friday 4 September 2019 after a major failure in the signalling system. Services got going again around 1300. There were numerous delays during the morning peak on 10 September 2019 affecting the Northern, Circle, Metropolitan, and Hammersmith & City Lines.

CLASS 710 The London Overground has introduced the first of the “Aventra” class 710/2 emus to the Euston – Watford Jct. local service from 9 September 2019.

GOOLE New trains for the London Underground are to be built by Siemens at a new technology park at “Goole 36”. East Riding of Yorkshire Council has approved plans for the £200m factory together with stabling sidings for completed trains, 800 new houses for the 700 long-term staff plus 250 further staff employed during the construction phase. The first trains to be built there will be 94 trains for LUL’s Piccadilly Line and further trains will be needed as part of the modernisation of the Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines. Contracts for these trains are still to be issued.

MERIDIAN WATER A half hourly service was introduced on 9 September 2019 between Stratford and the new station at Meridian Water in the Lea Valley. Meridian Water has replaced Angel Road, only 600m away but in a poor location with few users. The service from Stratford calls also at Northumberland Park and Tottenham Hale providing useful connections in many directions. As part of the improvements, 5.5 km of new running lines, new platforms at Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park, repaired bridges, upgraded signalling and overhead power lines have been provided.

NEEDHAM MARKET On 9 September 2019 many morning peak services from the Norwich direction were halted after a lorry struck a rail bridge at this point. The line was reopened after engineers found the bridge to be safe for use.

MANCHESTER The Transport Secretary has confirmed that there is no timetable for major platform improvements at Piccadilly Station where there is a growing capacity problem. The double track link across the southern side of the city centre is especially congested but plans to add at least a third track seem impossible to achieve.

LIVERPOOL AREA The new Merseyrail fleet is taking shape at the Wildenrath factory in Germany. The first of the articulated four-car class 777 trains is substantially complete with the bogies attached to the body shell. Each of the fifty two trains will first undergo static testing in the factory before dynamic testing takes place at Siemens’ Wildenrath test track. The first train to enter public service may do so in 2020.

CLASS 331 Fifteen of the three car emus built by CAF are in service and twenty eight more trains are to come. Some are operating the Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North service replacing the Class 319s. Others of class 331 were introduced to the suburban services from Leeds and Bradford to Ilkley and Skipton on 09 September 2019.

NORTHUMBERLAND The County Council has approved funds to enlarge Morpeth station car park. Funds for more spaces were approved for the park at Ashington station which will become the “Northumberland Line” when it opens in late 2022. It was formerly known as the Ashington, Blythe and Tyne Line.

GLASGOW AREA A man was stabbed at Westerton Station, on the Queen Street LL lines, early on 8 September 2019 while another person was hit by a passing train close to Cardonald station on the evening of 8 September 2019. The main line between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street was closed for several hours while para-medics attended the injured man and eventually removed him from the tracks. A signalling fault at Edinburgh Waverley resulted in delays along the main line to Glasgow Queen Street on 9 September 2019.

FOOTBALL On 9 September 2019 Scotland played an important European match in Hampden Park in Glasgow. To carry large crowds to nearby Mount Florida station (on the Cathcart Circle) all train scheduled from about 1700 were strengthened to six coaches. Special extra services operated from Aberdeen, Perth, and Stirling.

AYR The crumbling station hotel alongside the present station has been surveyed and nearly 1000 significant faults have been identified. The hotel is to be dismantled stone by stone and a new passenger station is to be built a little closer to the town centre.

6 September 2019

VIRGIN – REMINDER Noted lying in a siding outside the Wabtec Doncaster Works plant on 4 September 2019 was a very down Mark 3 coach in Virgin Trains’ early red stripey livery.

CLASS 313 These dual-voltage trains were of a revolutionary design when introduced in 1976. They are now the oldest emus still in service on the British mainland but those serving on Great Northern are now being replaced by Class 717 sets. All of the 313s will have gone by the end of September 2019 apart from two units that are to operate a special farewell railtour on 23 October 2019.

CLASS 314 These now elderly trains were introduced in 1979 and the arrival of brand new class 385 trains is allowing a start to plans to withdraw the 314s by the end of 2019.

CLASS 315 These emus are being replaced by Northern by new Aventra Class 710 trains. They are being scrapped by CF Booth of Rotherham and at times the number of 315s arriving will mean that a place to store them will have to be found. The solution is to use the presently unused car park at the abandoned football stadium used by Rotherham United FC until 2012.

HSTs The refurbishment of HST train sets will follow these lines. Fifty four power cars will be upgraded at Brush in Loughborough, and 121 Mark 3 coaches transformed by Wabtec at Doncaster. They will become nine 4-car sets and seventeen 5-car sets providing 32 first class seats (all sets) and 206 or 280 standard class seats in four or five car sets respectively. Capacity on Scotrail services linking the seven Scottish cities will have been increased by 30% solving the existing overcrowding problem. Driver training on the altered trains commenced on 1 September 2019.

ALDERSHOT All lines were blocked by a tree that fell across them at 1752 on 29 August 2019.

CRAWLEY Developers have secured outline permission to redevelop the site around Crawley Station. Overline House, which contains the station offices, was to be demolished and replaced by three new blocks containing 308 flats, new offices, and a new multi-storey car park for commuters. Further changes now have two floors added to Overline House which would now contain 81 flats. Three new buildings nearby would have 223 flats A remodelled station concourse would improve the station and there would continue to be substantial space for parked cars.

LUL Services on the Northern Line were suspended during the morning peak on 4 September 2019 due to a signalling failure. There were major delays on the Metropolitan Line between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate, and again on the morning of 05 September 2019.

WHITE HART LANE The station entrances/exits and ticket hall are being expanded to allow crowds using Overground services quick and easy access to the nearby Tottenham Hotspur football ground.

BRISTOL AREA Detailed plans for the reopening to passengers of the historic branch line to Portishead have been submitted to the Department of Transport. Similar proposals have existed for at least a decade, and the Transport Department will take eighteen months to assess the new plans.

HS2 The Department of Transport has indicated that delays of up to five years may affect the opening of the London – Birmingham initial section with a consequential major increase in the cost.

BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET There were detailed safety checks on tracks through the station on 28 and 29 August 2019 and a 30 mph speed restriction until the “all clear” was given. Seriously armed police were on duty at the station on 30 August 2019.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO Tram 34 has been given a mainly blue livery with only seven of the trams still retaining their original unmodified colour scheme. Battery powered trams have been used to test the new track from Grand Central, past the Town Hall, and on to the Concert Hall with tram 28 performing the testing on 29/30 August 2019. Public opening will take place before the end of 2019.

SMETHWICK ROLFE STREET The Stour Valley Line station was rebuilt by the London and North Western Railway in 1890 (having been opened originally in 1852) and many Victorian features still exist around the building. There is to be an Open Day on 14 September 2019 and replica LNWR platform tickets will be issued free of charge at the ticket office window.

LIVRPOOL A total of £172.5m is to be spent on transport projects including the building of two new stations and the purchase of two new Mersey Ferries.

EREWASH AND DERBY CANALS The Erewash Canal was opened in 1779 and remains in use today. The former Derby Canal branched off the Erewash at Sandiacre and was filled in during the 1960s but a Canal Trust is seeking to reopen it. They have voiced concerns that a light rail line has been proposed to run along the former canal as a feeder to a planned HS2 Hub at Toton.

LEEDS DATES All train services at Leeds will be cancelled on October 26 and 27 2019 to allow work to proceed on building the new platform 0. Many city centre roads will be closed on 27 October to clear the way for the 10km Abbey Dark Races.

LINCOLN Starting 21 October 2019 weekday through services to and from Kings Cross will be increased to four services each way using the new Azuma trains and taking around two hours for the journey. In the major December 2019 timetable change the through service will be increased to six services each way.

HULL TRAINS The five new Class 802 bi-mode trains being supplied by Hitachi for the Hull – London express service are to be named the Paragon Fleet. Paragon is a name long associated with Kingston-upon-Hull (to give it its proper full name), and is the name of the city centre terminus station in the heart of the city. “Paragon” means something or someone who is the very best.

YORK A study of the track and other infrastructure features along the ECML to the Border has shown that major upgrades will be required if journey times are to be cut. A particularly large amount of work will be needed in and through York station itself.

NEXUS There were significant delays to South Shields and South Hylton services on 3 September 2019 due to a passenger on a train becoming ill.

SCOTRAIL receives a subsidy from operator Abellio (in effect the Dutch Government) of about £1m per month.

GLASGOW QUEEN STREET Engineering work to lengthen platforms 2 and 3 in the High Level Station by 25m were completed recently and similar work on platforms 4 and 5 has started. They will be closed from 2 September until 14 October 2019 to allow their use by 8 coach trains on the service to Edinburgh Waverley. Meanwhile local services to Anniesland via Maryhill, and to Inverness and Aberdeen will continue to use the station, sometimes diverted to the Low Level platforms.

GLASGOW SUBWAY Kelvin Bridge Station was closed for part of 3 September 2019 after a body was spotted in the River Kelvin close to the station. Rescue teams that eventually recovered the body had to occupy space near the entrance to the station and passengers could not gain access.

LARGS Extra carriages are to be added to Glasgow Central to Largs and Gourock services on 31 August and 1, 7, and 8 September 2019 in connection with the Viking Festival marking the Battle of Largs in 1263 – the last battle to be fought on mainland Scotland between the Scots and the Norse. The end result of the battle was peace since the two sides realised that both were Christian people who had no desire to execute the defeated army. The Church of Scotland’s great 3-part “Amen” is in fact Scandinavian in origin but adopted in Scotland after the 1263 Battle.

DALREOCH The failure of the power supply halted all trains on the morning of 1 September 2019 between Dalmuir and both Balloch and Helensburgh (Central).

FORTH BRIDGE Services across the bridge were halted for four hours on 3 September 2019 after a man was spotted on the tracks on the bridge.

EDINBURGH The track through Calton South Tunnel taking the East Coast Main Line is being totally renewed from the ballast up through the sleepers to the rails on 14, 15, and 16 September 2019. Signalling and drainage works at various locations between Drem and Dunbar will also be renewed that weekend.

NORTH BERWICK The failure of an emu in the platform at North Berwick resulted in the cancellation of most of the local service along the relevant part of the ECML on 2 September 2019.

CAIRNGORM The funicular has been out of service for over a year due to major structural problems. Almost half of the supporting posts need repairs and the cost will be almost as much as building a new line.

POSSIBLE RESTORED SERVICES Studies are under way for a possible restoration of through trains between Dundee and St Andrews, and for a major revision to services along the Perth – Dundee – Montrose corridor. A proposal to restore services from Dyce to Ellon to provide what would be a very busy commuter route, has now been transformed by the local MSP into a proposal to reopen the line all the way to Peterhead.

28 August 2019

HS2 Transport Secretary Shapps shook the construction industry when on 21 August 2019 he ordered a complete review of the HS2 proposals in view of major uncertainty about the eventual cost. Sums like “an extra £30bn needed” were simply unacceptable and a new estimate is to be obtained by the end of 2019 – a sum that will be fixed for a reasonable period. Somewhere around £4bn has already been spent on HS2 and perhaps as much as a further £3bn firmly committed.

ALDERSHOT A 100 batch of solar panels, capable of generating 30kW, are to power directly signals and lights as a demonstration exercise of how a solar array can by-pass the Grid to power a rail system.

CRAWLEY Plans have been announced to redevelop the station building, new platforms and ticket hall and also 308 new housing units. The downside is the loss of 120 car park spaces. The local Council is considering the plans and will give its view shortly.

KINGSWAY TUNNEL, LONDON The tram tunnel between Holborn and Waterloo Bridge was opened in 1906 to link together the northern and southern sections of the London tramway system. It was closed in 1952 but during the following year was used to store 120 buses and coaches in case they were needed at short notice to move some of the crowds that had gathered to celebrate the Coronation. Part of the southern end was reopened as the Strand Underpass in 1964. Crossrail took over the tunnel in 2012 to allow engineers obtain access to the new Crossrail Tunnel where it passed below the Kingsway Tunnel. Cement grout has been injected into the Crossrail structure to correct slight earth movements as boring of the Crossrail Tunnels took place. Now apparently what remains of the Kingsway Tunnel is to be preserved – a monument to the good sense of early 20th century engineers.

SOUTHEND VICTORIA The overhead power wires are being upgraded as part of a transformation of the service.

CHELMSFORD The proposal to build a northern road by-pass around the town together with a new station with park-and-ride facility for a cost of £218m continues to be supported by Essex County Council and confirmation of Government funding remains awaited.

LUTON AIRPORT New franchise holder Abellio wishes to increase from December 2019 fast services between St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway from one to two expresses each hour. The Airport Authorities wanted a 15 minute frequency service but there are six locals per hour provided by Thameslink. There is a bus shuttle between the Parkway Station and Airport terminals and a light rail link is being built to provide a much quicker link.

LEICESTER A seven storey block of student flats is to be built alongside Leicester station as a way to make intensive use of the empty land beside the station.

WEST COAST FRANCHISE From 8 December 2019 services on the West Coast Main Line will be taken over by FirstTrenitalia – a consortium of First Group (70%) with Trenitalia (30%). The new operator will also operate initial services on the first part of HS2 The present operator, Virgin Trains, had been disqualified for submitting a non-compliant bid principally in respect of pensions risk. The new operator will provide a simpler fares system, improvements to the stations served including Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, and Warrington Bank Quay, while the Pendolino trains will be refurbished, and Super Voyagers will be replaced by new trains. Virgin announced that the name plates from their trains were to be auctioned, proceeds going to charities.

WCML WIRES DAMAGED The overhead power wires on one southbound West Coast Main Line track were damaged early on 16 August 2019 and many services were delayed. Fortunately the Rugeley – Walsall electrification had been completed a few months earlier and London-bound Virgin expresses were diverted via Hednesford, Walsall, New Street and Rugby, or ran non-stop via Birmingham from Stafford. Local services along the Walsall, Stour Valley and International lines faced many cancellations and buses replaced the entire local service between Rugeley and Hednesford.

CROSS CITY LINE Services were disrupted on the afternoon and evening of 15 August 2019 following damage to the overhead power wires at Chester Road station. Local bus services accepted rail tickets and connections to/from Lichfield were made with semi-fast WCML trains at Rugeley and Nuneaton.

GOOSTREY The station building in the south Manchester suburbs has been beautifully restored at a cost of £170,000.

MANCHESTER 1000 new park-and-ride spaces are to be provided at the existing stations at Radcliffe, Whitefield, and Withington. These spaces are in addition to spaces being provided along the Trafford Park line.

GLASGOW SUBWAY A disturbance on the platform at Buchanan Street station during the early evening of Sunday 18 August 2019 resulted in a man and his daughter being attacked and the man falling on to the track. He was rescued almost immediately and a gang of ten people apparently left the station as soon as the incident occurred.

SCOTRAIL Winchburgh Tunnel on the Edinburgh – Glasgow main line was flooded on at least two substantial periods during the heavy rains earlier in August 2019. Scotrail has come into severe criticism for its failure to build a chord south of Dalmeny to allow closure of the Winchburgh Tunnel route, and its lack of handling late evening crowds returning from Edinburgh Festival events to Glasgow when the Winchburgh route is unavailable. The Bathgate line was open and new emus used by trains on the Falkirk line were standing at Haymarket station but were not used as extra services to carry the Festival crowds so said crowds were crowded on to the few Bathgate line services and given a most uncomfortable ride. Journeys on Scotrail fell from 98.4m in 2017 to 97.3m in 2018, largely due to lines being closed for engineering work. The Alloa – Dunfermline line may reopen if major new factories are built in the Dunfermline area. Clackmannan and Kincardine stations are among those that might be opened on a restored route.

12 August 2019

MAJOR NATION-WIDE POWER FAILURE The failure of two electricity generating centres at 1700 on 9 August 2019 resulted in power failures to most of England and much of South Wales. One million homes were without power for over an hour, traffic lights failed over much of the England, Newcastle Airport was closed because of a total power failure, and many rail services were halted due either to there being no power in the overhead wires, or because the signalling system had failed. Kings Cross terminus in London had complex issues and it was impossible to use the station until the morning of 10th August 2019.

SOUTH EASTERN Bidding for this franchise has been halted since the Department of Transport is unconvinced that bids would represent value for money. Govia, the present franchise holder, has had their tenure extended to 1 April 2020 while the Transport Department considers its options.

GOSPEL OAK – BARKING Class 710 four-car emus now operate the route with services every 15 minutes. The available capacity on the line has been doubled.

AMERSHAM Heritage trains hauled by Met electric loco “Sarah Siddons” hauling a rake of ex BR 1950s 4TC coaches will operate on 7 and 8 September 2019. On the 8th only a free heritage bus will take people from the station into Amersham Old Town where there will be a Heritage Day.

STEVENAGE Platform 1 at the Hertfordshire station is now dangerously overcrowded during the morning peak.

AZUMA TRAINS LNER is introducing its new Azuma trains on East Coast services starting with the Kings Cross – Leeds route, then extending north to Newcastle, Edinburgh, and finally the less frequently served extensions to Aberdeen, Inverness, etc. The trains come in five and nine coach versions, a pair of five coach trains forming a ten coach service. Leaflets describing the new trains and the on-board facilities are being made easily available.

WATFORD JUNCTION 7 August 2019 marked the last day of service before retirement of Vic Hall who had spent 50 years working at Watford Jct station. To mark this special event the last train given the “go ahead” by Vic – a LNR class 350 numbered 350375 carried “Vic Hall” nameplates and a presentation was made to Vic to mark the unusual event of 50 years service at a single station.

FREIGHT SUCCESS The container service that was introduced experimentally between Tilbury and Grangemouth has proved to be highly successful. It will now operate every weekend as part of the regular freight network. The trains carry 36 large containers and have been running each weekend mostly full.

CHASE LINE Services on the Walsall – Rugeley line, electrified recently in a £200m scheme, have been hit by problems nearly every day with services cancelled, or delayed significantly.

CAR PARK CHARGES Charges are to be introduced at several Midlands stations starting with Coleshill Parkway of 18 August 2019. It was decided to charge £4.50 per day but this has been reduced to £3. With an annual season the charge comes down to £1.12 per day. The charges are being introduced also at these stations -Droitwich Spa, Hagley, Henley-in-Arden, Ledbury, Shifnal, Albrighton, Shenstone, and Park Street (on the St Albans Abbey branch).

LONGBRIDGE Work has begun on the £7.6m project to build a 629 space multi-level car park beside the station.

NOTTINGHAM The required land for an tram extension from Clifton to planned new housing at Fairham Pastures has now been reserved. Planning permission for the new housing was held up until it was known that land for the tram extension was available. In the city centre track replacement will be taking place between Old Market Square and The Forest during the period
5 until 18 August 2019 with a bus shuttle replacing the trams.

DERBY Bombardier of Derby is a major part of a consortium that has won the contract to build hundreds of coaches for a planned monorail network that will be built around Cairo in Egypt.

SHEFFIELD – MANCHESTER Due to heavy rainfall at the beginning of August the main line between the cities was flooded and passengers were advised not to try to travel unless really essential.

HERITAGE SIGNS New signs have been erected at Mexborough and Conisbrough station (both on the Sheffield – Doncaster line) indicating where places of historic interest can be found.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Trams were delayed getting out of the Depot early on 5 August 2019 and heavy thunderstorms were a feature of the weather throughout the morning. Power supply problems halted services between Kingston Park and the Airport for several hours on 12 August 2019. Greggs are opening a sandwich outlet at the £21m bus and Metro interchange which was opened on 4 August 2019.

LOWLANDER PROBLEM The southbound sleeping car service from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Euston met with delays on the night of 7/8 August 2019 and was finally cancelled when it reached Preston 90 minutes late. The passengers would normally have continued their journey on a following train but for reasons apparently linked to the recent bad weather they had to purchase new travel tickets at around £140 each though they were assured that this would be refunded later.

WINCHBURGH TUNNEL The tunnel has been flooded following continuing heavy rains and services were halted on 8 August 2019 when 2 feet of water covered the rails. However the water level had receded sufficiently for services to restart on 9 August 2019. Further rains resulted in the tunnel being again flooded during the night of 11/12 August 2019.

HELENSBURGH CENTRAL The emu service between Dumbarton Central and Helensburgh Central has been disrupted in early August by heavy rainfall and flooding in the Craigendoran area. Many services have been cancelled and the few have run have been delayed substantially.

BISHOPTON An object blown around by high winds became caught in the overhead wires near Bishopton station on the Gourock/Wemyss Bay route early on 8 August 2019 causing disruption to the morning rush hour service to Glasgow.

WEST HIGHLAND LINE The very heavy rains in early August 2019 damaged several sections of the railway and it will take until 22 August 2019 to reopen the line fully. Repairs on the Oban line were completed to allow services to restart on 8 August 2019.

LEVENMOUTH LINE The branch line a little to the east of Kirkcaldy, from Thornton Junction to Cameron Bridge and Leven is to be reopened and the Scottish Government is providing £75m for the required work. Cameron bridge used to be the source of significant freight from an adjacent distillery but once the line is reopened (in about five years from now) it will carry many Edinburgh-bound commuters. Campaigners for the reopening of other lines in Scotland are now renewing their efforts with the Formartine and Buchan Railway (Dyce to Fraserburgh) top of their list.

GLASGOW STATIONS PROPOSAL Several inner suburban stations, closed many years ago, have been proposed for reopening by local pressure groups. This writer, who knows them well is uncertain about the value of any of them. Details are as follows. FINNIESTON is quite close to Exhibition Centre and would serve little more than a small local community. GLASGOW GREEN is located beside a large public park and the abandoned Templeton Carpet Factory, with little local population. On a sunny day the trains could carry folk to the park. GLASGOW CROSS The decision was taken to build Argyle Street Station a quarter of a mile to the west when the Argyle Line was reopened on 5 November 1979. The reopening of Glasgow Cross might help the faded immediate locality to grow. The station is remembered as having a signal box on the platform that required air conditioning since the signaller might not otherwise survive a shift. The entire station filled completely with smoke from steam locos. PARKHEAD STADIUM The area is depopulated but many of the 60,000 fans who attend Celtic FC home games might use the station to get to the match. At present they use Dalmarnock station and have a longer walk. BOTANIC GARDENS This was closed as long ago as 1939 and the locality is served by two Subway Stations. The Gardens in the name are a magnificent orchid centre but not a mass traffic generator. MARYHILL CENTRAL Maryhill already has two open stations but neither are busy. The route to this station, part of the Central LL network, is too circuitous to give a competitive travel time. CUMBERLAND STREET This was served by trains to/from St Enoch terminus, and I remember it producing significant traffic in the peaks taking residents from the now demolished Gorbals slums to/from now closed factories in the Renfrew and Paisley areas. Few took the train to St Enoch.

5 August 2019

PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL A Bill to approve an extension of HS2 beyond Birmingham to Crewe was passed during late July 2019.

TRANSPORT SECRETARY On 25 July 2019, Mr Grant Shapps was appointed Secretary of State for Transport, replacing Chris Grayling as part of new Prime Minister Johnson’s major changes to the Cabinet. The new Secretary is known to favour using the roads and flying on his travels.

NEW STATIONS FUNDING The Department of Transport has announced funding for new/reopened stations in the West Midlands. £15m is being granted for stations closed due to war time damage on the Camp Hill Line in Birmingham, and £10m for reopened station at Willenhall and Darlaston which were closed in 1965. These are on the line from Wolverhampton and the stations would have regular services to Wolverhampton, Walsall, and Birmingham via Bescot Stadium.

AZUMA LAUNCH The launch of services on the East Coast Main Line was celebrated on
1 August 2019 but the start of the first service was a low-key affair since the “Flying Scotsman” service leaves Edinburgh Waverley at the very unfriendly hour of 0540. However actual celebrations occurred at Darlington where an Azuma train was posed beside the famous steam locomotive “Flying Scotsman”. Further south, at York another Azuma train stood on one side of an island platform with on the other side world famous locomotive “Mallard” the holder of the world speed record for a steam locomotive – 126 mph. “Mallard” had been hauled out of the adjacent National Railway Museum to stand adjacent to the new high-speed flyer.

HS3 A surprise announcement from the Department of Transport on Saturday 27 July 2019 was that a new high-speed railway was to be built from Manchester to Leeds with the cost mostly met by the Government. This is seen as a step towards the creation of HS3 linking Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

TRAFFIC RISES Passenger numbers on urban railway systems across Britain has soared by 29% during the past decade, while usage of local bus services has dropped significantly.

HIGHLANDER SLEEPER A bus connection for sleeping car passengers is to be provided to and from Oban during the summer season. If successful it might become a regular part of the service. However a landslide due to the heavy rains closed the West Highland Line on 5 August 2019 and the Fort William sleeping car service had to be cancelled.

RETAIL OPPORTUNITIES Twenty Scottish stations are to have new retail outlets in a bid to make stations more attractive. Major stations undergoing total rebuilding including Aberdeen, Glasgow Queen Street HL, Inverness, and Motherwell will have several new retail outlets. At Markinch the local firm Flahute Coffee has opened a highly successful outlet serving a wide range of drinks and snacks. Dundee station is undergoing a £38m rebuild after 20 years of talking and doing nothing. The first part will open on 15 September 2019. The project includes a 120 room hotel.

SEAFORD BRANCH This short branch is to be closed for four days between 25 November and
1 December 2019 to complete the commissioning of new signalling.

STANSTED AIRPORT Services from both London and the Cambridge direction were disrupted by overhead wire damage due to the heat on 24 July 2019.

LONDON UNDERGROUND The fire alarms at Bank Station were set off in the late afternoon of 2 August 2019 when there was a fight between some passengers. Other travellers fled from the station in terror fearing that the alarms were indicating some sort of terror attack.

KINGS CROSS A signalling fault on 2 August 2019 caused significant delays to arrivals until repairs were completed at 1400.

ECML Kings Cross to Edinburgh expresses were packed with standing passengers as crowds overfilled the trains to reach performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

WERRINGTON JUNCTION Work has begun on the construction of a dive-under below the ECML in Peterborough allowing services from the Sleaford direction to reach the tracks towards Ely without having to cross over any of the East Coast Main Line tracks.

MORE UPGRADES Investments worth £27m are being spent at Littleport and Waterbeach stations (on the Kings Lynn line) to lengthen the platforms allowing longer trains to operate on the route.

WATFORD HIGH STREET The station is to be closed for about one week during August 2019 while a staircase providing the only access to the platforms is replaced.

LUL The Northern Line Edgware station is to be substantially rebuilt at a cost of £22m. Built in the undeveloped green fields, the station is now surrounded by housing and the concourse becomes seriously overcrowded at times. Further new housing is in the pipeline not too far from the station and finance for the new greatly enlarged ticket hall is coming from the housing developer. So many passengers arrived at North Greenwich station during the a.m. peak on 1 August 2019 and trains became dangerously overcrowded that the station had to be closed to new arrivals for at least an hour. Kentish Town station was closed on 31 July 2019 and will not reopen until 4 August because most of the escalators have broken down.

HEAT WAVE With a heat wave breaking record temperatures operating companies across England and Wales together with Network Rail have urged users to travel only if necessary. There was a real danger that the track could buckle in the extreme heat making problems for commuters trying to get home. On some services speed restrictions have been applied and in consequence many services have been cancelled. Because of the heat the overhead power wires have sagged and become caught up by passing pantographs. In the West Midlands all Cross City Line North and Walsall local services were cancelled from mid afternoon on 25 July 2019 following damage to the overhead near Witton. Coincidentally it was announced that the Aston Expressway needed repairs costing £93m.

PROPOSED STATIONS IN WARWICKSHIRE Six new stations have been proposed in the County’s Draft Rail Strategy. Most will have large car parks to attract traffic off congested roads. They are Warwick University (between Coventry and Kenilworth); Nuneaton Parkway (east of Nuneaton on the Leicester line); Galley Common and Stockingford (west of Nuneaton on the Birmingham line); Rugby Parkway (between Rugby and Long Buckby); Polesworth Parkway (on West Coast Main Line between Polesworth and Atherstone where a large housing development is planned); Kingsbury (between Water Orton and Tamworth).

TILE HILL The 330 space car park at Tile Hill is regularly full with cars parked along neighbouring roads.. Discussions are under way on how best to build a substantial enlargement.

UNIVERSITY STATION The existing Birmingham station was built in 1978 and the aim was to cater for 400,000 passengers each year. Today it is used by 3.3m passengers each year and it is to be rebuilt to handle 7.2m as the university and Queen Elizabeth Hospital both expand. The platforms will be linked by a wide footbridge across the adjacent canal to the University Campus.

BESCOT SLEEPER FACTORY Because the existing sleeper manufacturing plant at Washwood Heath is closing to make way for the HS2 Hub, a replacement production unit is being created on railway land at Bescot, near Walsall. The plant will produce 600,000 sleepers each year, over half of the annual requirement. There is a second sleeper production unit near Doncaster.

MANCHESTER AREA The Glossop/Hadfield service was disrupted on 25 July 2019 due to power supply problems and a signal failure at Flowery Field. The railway bridge next to Deansgate Station carrying the tracks above Deansgate will be restored in a carefully planned project that will require the road under the bridge to be closed to road traffic during the period 5 August 2019 until 18 December 2019. The work is part of the Great North Rail Project. An Engineering Department train was derailed at Ordsall Lane Junction in the early hours of 29 July 2019 and caused major delays to services to Wigan, Preston, Blackpool, Carlisle and Central Scotland, Leeds, York, and Scarborough. A small number of trains had to be cancelled and it was likely that delays would continue into the middle of 30 July 2019. Flooding due to extremely heavy rains resulted in the closure of the Stockport – Buxton and Chester – Crewe lines for much of 31 July 2019.

MERSEYRAIL The RMT Union has reached stalemate with its long-running dispute about the duties that should be performed by the guard. Train Operating Companies want the decision to close the doors before setting off after a station stop to be with the driver. The RMT feels that as a matter of safety the decision to close the doors should lie with the guard who may be in a better position to see that it will be safe to close the doors. The RMT now plan to hold 24 hour strikes on 24 August, 3, 5, and 30 September, and 2 and 4 October 2019. Preparatory work for the arrival of the new Class 777 emus necessitated the closure of some stations and sections of route. Rice Lane – Kirkby 7 until 15 September 2019; Green Lane station from 8 September until 20 October 2019; Hamilton Square – Hooton Closed until 8 September 2019; At West Kirby platform1 will be closed and all services will use platform 2 on 16-20 September 2019; West Kirby – Hooton 23 – 29 September 2019; Southport – Formby morning of 21 September 2019; Birkenhead Central – Chester and Ellesmere Port 13 – 20 October 2019; Bache – Chester 14 – 19 October 2019.

PRESTON Vegetation clearance work along the former Longridge branch is to start in September 2019 marking the start of work to build a light railway along parts of the old railway route. If all goes well the first -passengers could be carried on a initial section of the new tramway in late 2020.
A signalling fault on 4 August 2019 caused delays on all routes from 1800 to 2200.

SHEFFIELD AREA More details have been released about the integrated rail plan for the railways radiating from Sheffield. The key inter-city stations at Sheffield and Chesterfield and the platforms at Barnsley are to be lengthened to accommodate inter-city trains. Service frequencies to Manchester and to Leeds are to be increased to at least half-hourly. A new 7km long branch line is proposed to serve the increasingly important Doncaster Sheffield Airport. New stations will be built at Goldthorpe (Dearne Valley line) and Waverley (Lincoln line). The Supertram network extension to Rotherham (at present an experimental service designed to operate for two years) will become part of the tramway network with track renewals and rolling stock replacement being “future proofed”. A possible light rail extension northwards from Rotherham along the Dearne Valley and east towards the Airport would be considered.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER The 75th anniversary of the making of this much loved film at Carnforth Station is to be marked by a steam hauled railtour on 4 April 2020. The station and its famous buffet are both “listed” despite the fact that the interior of the cafe in the film was a mock-up made in Denham film studios.

LOCO – MOTION Continuing the entertainment theme, singer Kylie Minogue made an unexpected return to Scarborough and the 20” gauge Peasholme Park – Scalby Mills railway (opened in 1931) on 4 August 2019. The entertainer had been diagnosed with cancer when she last appeared at the resort and underwent immediate surgery. Having recovered and had been free from any recurrence for many years she gave an impromptu rendering of “Loco-motion”, her 1988 hit song on the train accompanied by her dance team.

S & C LANDSLIP Recent very heavy rains have caused a landslip from the side of a cutting between Dent and Ribblehead on the Settle and Carlisle Line. A bus shuttle is taking passengers past the obstruction.

FLAXBY PARKWAY The former very rural station at Goldsborough on the Harrogate – York line was closed to passenger traffic on 15 Sept 1958, and to freight on 3 May 1965. Recently developers took over the closed Flaxby golf course beside the former station and announced plans to build 1500 houses there, but made no mention of restoring any rail service for the new houses. Harrogate Council has thought more deeply about the matter and has seen the opportunity to create not just a passenger service for the new housing but a park-and-ride facility for people wishing to travel to Harrogate, York or Leeds. In view of this the developers have altered their plans and now propose to build 2750 new houses. The new housing community is being called Flaxby and the station has been given the name Flaxby Parkway Station. Reopening is very likely to go ahead.

GOOLE Siemens plan to open a train construction factory on an empty site in the Yorkshire town of Goole.

TYNE AND WEAR METRO A temporary depot for the old stock is being built at Howdon while the existing Depot is being rebuilt to accommodate the new stock. The £21m transport interchange that incorporates South Shields Metro station will open to the public on 3 August 2019. It will be used by 7.5m passengers each year.

TIME KEEPING Services across the South Glasgow area now generate a better than 95.8% on time performance rating.

HEAT DELAYS Central Scotland endured a severe heat wave on 24 – 25 July 2019. Many services had to operate at a reduced speed meaning that service frequencies could not be maintained and therefore there were numerous cancellations some happening just minutes before the service was due to run.

NEW STATIONS The reopening of Beattock station on the West Coast Main Line has now received backing from the local authorities in the area. It would serve as a park and ride centre for a wide rural area as well as the little town of Moffat a couple of miles away. The restoration of a rail link to Cairnryan is to be pursued actively. Less easy is the need to improve rail links between Dumfries and the Stranraer and Cairnryan areas.

AYR The station is to be rebuilt adjacent to the present location. Part of the present station includes the large former station hotel which is literally falling apart with fragments falling on to a platform of the present station. The new station will be a safe distance away from the dangerous building which will be able to be taken down without disrupting activities at the new station.

WIRES DAMAGED The overhead power wires were damaged between Dalmuir and Dalreoch early on 31 July 2019. No electric services could operate west of Dalmuir until 12.00 noon.

CLASS 385. The first 8-coach train formed of Class 385 coaches entered service on the Glasgow Queen Street – Edinburgh Waverley main line on 29 July 2019. The enlargement of the concourse but allowing lengthening of the platforms at the George Square end has made the operation of 8 coach trains possible. During the Edinburgh Festival (2-25 August 2019) additional trains will be operated on the Glasgow – Edinburgh main line, including services later than in the normal timetable. Eight coach formations of Class 385 stock will be used.

FALKIRK FLOOD Following heavy thunderstorms on 4 August 2019 the Polmont Burn burst its banks and flooded the tracks and approach road at Falkirk Grahamston station.

PROBLEM FOR LOWLANDER The overnight sleeping car train from London Euston to Edinburgh got into difficulties when it reached Waverley Station early on 1 August 2019. The train failed to stop at Waverley and glided through the station finally being brought to a stand near the former Abbeyhill Station when the train manager applied the emergency brake. The train eventually drew back to Waverley Station arriving an hour late at 0845. It blocked morning rush hour services from Dunbar and North Berwick as well as those from the reopened Galashiels route and East Coast main line services from London.

24 July 2019

LIGHT RAIL USAGE Traffic on most light rail lines in the UK rose a little during the financial year 2018-2019. In London the Docklands lines were the busiest in England used by 212.8m people (up 1.9%) but Croydon Tramlink with 28.7m users was down 1.3%, probably due to after effects of a warehouse fire in February 2018 which had closed the system for six days. In English cities outside the London area, Sheffield was the only system to lose traffic (11.9m down 3.1%) owing to the closure of some sections for track replacement work. Nottingham’s NET did best of all with 18.8m mm users (up 5.7%), Midland Metro (5.9m – up 2.5%), Tyne and Wear Metro (36.4m up just 0.1%), and Blackpool (5.2m up 0.3%) giving a grand total for England of 272.4m – up 1.9% In Scotland the Glasgow Subway had 13.1m users (unchanged from the previous year) but Edinburgh trams carried 7.3m users (up 10% on the previous year).

COLOUR BLINDNESS The inability to distinguish between red and green is the commonest form of colour blindness and has made it impossible for sufferers to become train drivers. New technology has been introduced on some intensively served or high-speed railways. It has become virtually impossible to spot the setting of a signal on a train travelling at 125 mph or more, and new signalling systems use only in-cab displays. On London’s Jubilee Line there are no longer trackside signals and the in-cab technology is linked to automatic braking etc. Since April 2019 LUL has employed its first driver who has red:green colour blindness for whom his sight disability is of no consequence.

LUL A canister of CS gas was released during a fight between passengers on a northbound Victoria Line train at 0913 on 20 July 2019 at Oxford Circus station. Several passengers were affected by the gas and services were held up for several minutes. Some passengers received medical care at the station and several were taken to nearby hospitals.

GATWICK AIRPORT The Airport is used by more and more passengers, a significant proportion reaching it by rail. The station’s facilities are becoming over-stretched so a £150m upgrade has been proposed to meet present and future needs.

WATERLOO A major cable fire on the afternoon of 17 July 2019 put much of the signalling out of order and nine platforms had to be closed. Very many services were cancelled and the problem was expected to continue through the morning rush hour on the 18th.

THAMESLINK Govia Thameslink has been fined £1m following the death of a passenger on 7 August 2016 who leaned out of a Gatwick Express service and struck his head on a trackside steel gantry. The in-coach signs warning against leaning out of the window were unclear.

CARDIFF VALLEYS Traffic observed during a visit to the Welsh Capital on 10 July 2019 was surprisingly poor. A single Pacer unit was sufficient for the traffic on offer (off peak) on key routes such as the Rhonda Valley line. At the rush hour two Pacers or a Pacer with a Class 150 2-car unit was the norm on Rhonda, Merthyr, Aberdare, Ebbw Vale, or Penarth services. Only the Rhymney via Caerphilly line offered something more commodious with a single morning and evening train comprising four coaches hauled by a class 37 locomotive. This service was packed full at Cardiff Canalog (Central for non-welsh speakers) and Queen Street stations though traffic petered out after Bargoed with only nine left on board at the terminus of whom only two caught the connecting bus to Tredegar – the last bus of the day. The loco hauled service was unable to serve Gilfach Bargoed Halt due to its very short platform. The valleys lines will be electrified and worked by tram:trains during the next couple of years.

ST MELLONS Work on this planned £30m Cardiff Parkway station just east of the city will begin next year once full planning authorisation is granted. It will be served by trains for Bristol, London Paddington, Birmingham, Shrewsbury and North Wales, and Ebbw Valle.

SOUTH WALES Work on clearing the site for the new tram:train depot and Control Centre at Taffs Well has begun. These will serve the expanded Valleys services rather than an alternative site at Pontypridd. Transport for Wales is investing £738m in electrifying 106 miles of railway to Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney, and Coryton, new signalling and five new stations.

HS2 The future high-speed line from Euston to the West and East Midlands will provide onward links via the East Coast Main Line to York and Newcastle, and via the West Coast Main Line to Manchester and Liverpool, Lancaster, and over Shap and Beattock to the Central Scottish cities. An automated people mover is to be built between the HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull and Birmingham Airport. Services will leave every 3 minutes and take 6 minutes for the trip.

CURZON STREET Contractors selected as possible builders of to the planned HS2 terminus in Birmingham have failed to place bids and the bidding process has been halted to allow the work required to be better specified. The process will be restarted in late 2019 with details of what is required better laid out.

WEST MIDLANDS PROBLEMS Services were disrupted during the afternoon of 23 July 2019 following damage to overhead power cable between International and Coventry, and at the north end of the Cross City Line.

WEST COAST The Spanish train company RENFE has joined the bid to operate HS2 services from 2026 with Hong-Kong based MTR. RENFE has experience of operating 190 mph AVE services across Spain, high-speed services in Haramain (Saudi Arabia), and both the proposed Texas Central line in the USA, and high-speed services in France between Lyon and Marseilles.

MANCHESTER METROLINK Track laying will take place at New Islington on 14 July 2019. There will be no service on the Ashton-under-Lyne route until 24 July. The Airport Line will have essential engineering work during the early hours so there will be no service between 0300 and 0530 on 14 – 19 July 2019.

ISLE OF MAN During the winter “off” service period three of the Snaefell Mountain Railway cars have been fitted with electro-magnetic track brakes. The cars now have four separate brake systems – the new track brakes, the wheel brakes, Fell brakes, and rheostat brakes. The new brakes apply instant braking at the push of a button in the cab. Work on a fourth car, No 2 – the car involved in the runaway incident – awaits the delivery of components from Germany.

BLACKPOOL The extension to North Station is unlikely to open before well into 2020 since there are delays in moving a Wilko store that must be demolished before the new bus interchange can be built on the site.

LEEDS The University of Leeds Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration is to be set up and will revolutionise how railway systems are created, developed, and brought into service. It will include three cutting edge facilities. First – a Vehicle Testing facility capable of examining performance at speeds of up to 400km/hour. Second – Infrastructure Testing – examining the forces on track, ballast, and support structures such as embankments at speeds up to 400km/hour. This facility will be constructed in an open site unrestricted by the confines of a building. Third – a System Integration and Innovation Centre. This will investigate the train, track, power system, signalling, and investigate how changes affecting any one part will interact with the other parts.

TYNE AND WEAR South Shields station was closed on 8 July 2019 to make way for the new £21m Bus and Metro Interchange (less than 100m away) which was opened on 4 August 2019.
In the interim period of four weeks Metro trains turned at Chichester.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has introduced a 10-week Subway ticket giving unlimited travel at a cost of £120. This gives a saving of £40 compared to the cost of buying an ordinary return ticket daily for a ten week period. The ticket is available on-line for smart-card owners and is not available at station ticket offices.

EDINBURGH Physical work on the extension to Leith and Newhaven will start in December 2019.

CAIRNGORM The funicular railway, the UK’s highest railway and a boon for skiers or climbers heading for points beyond the top of the line, was closed in October 2018. The piers, beams, and the foundations of the structure supporting the track all need to be strengthened. Repairs cannot start before spring 2020 so the line will remain shut until summer 2020 at the earliest. Two winter seasons will have been lost. The 2km long 2m gauge funicular was opened on 24 December 2001 at a cost of £26m and replaced the White Lady Chair Lift. The single track line has a mid-point passing loop and rises 462m (1516 feet). Passengers board simultaneously at both terminals and pass each other at the mid-point loop. It is now owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise the earlier owner having failed financially when it became necessary to undertake costly repairs. Questions are now being asked about the original specifications for the track support structure.

6 July 2019

BRITISH STEEL Network Rail is considering bidding for the Railways Services Division of British Steel which produces around 100,000 tonnes of new steel rails for use on British Railways each year. Most of the rail products are produced in the endangered Scunthorpe plant.

TFL NOISE Tube drivers are being issued with ear defenders because of extremely loud screeching noises as their trains negotiate newly relaid track. The problem is worst on the Northern Line especially between Euston and Tufnell Park and around Finchley Central and Hendon Central.

DOCKLANDS CAF has been awarded the £350m contract to supply new stock comprising 43 five-car trains which will enter service from 2023. Ten of the new trains will represent an increase in the capacity of the system. The frequency of services will be able to be increased. The new trains will have spaces for wheelchairs, pushchairs, bicycles and bulky luggage.

TILBURY Tilbury Maritime Transport has opened a new rail connected terminal which will handle significant quantities of steel for export.

SEVERN TUNNEL Damp conditions within the Tunnel are putting the use of electric traction through the bore in doubt. The earthing straps connected to the overhead conductor rails are corroding after only a short time and the long-term solution may be to use diesel traction through the Tunnel and therefore employ bi-mode trains on the London – Cardiff route.

CARDIFF PLANS Cardiff City Council has revealed on 4 July 2019 plans for a £1bn transport network across the city which has doubled in size to 400,000 in recent years. The proposal is to create a Rapid Bus Transport Network across the city using only green or electric vehicles. The city is served by railways heading up the Valleys and towards Penarth and Barry but these play a limited role in moving large numbers of passengers around the city.

SOUTH WALES METRO The valleys running north from Cardiff were once centres of coal mining but as that industry has faded away the valleys have become the home for Cardiff commuters and the railways now carry the masses to offices in the Welsh capital instead of coal to the docks. The railways are being transformed with 178 km of track being electrified for turn-up and go services operated by tram-trains with level boarding at all stops. A new depot for the tram-trains will be built at Taffs Well and a headquarters for the new services will be at Pontypridd.

WEST MIDLANDS The 650m long extension of the line from Grand Central to Town Hall and Centenary Square should open in late 2019. The extension will be the first part of the system to use battery power so that the visually attractive buildings along this section will not have poles and power wires in front of them. The entire fleet has been upgraded by having batteries fitted with the first tram dealt with at the builder CAF’s plant in Zaragoza in Spain. All subsequent upgrades have been undertaken at Wednesbury Depot. Centenary Square is only the first step towards an extension through the Five Ways highway junction and on to Edgbaston, opening in 2021 in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2022. The separate extension in Wolverhampton to the bus then railway station cannot be completed until the reconstruction of the railway station is finished. An important extension on which civil engineering work has begun is from Wednesbury mostly over an abandoned railway right of way through Dudley to Brierley Hill. In Dudley the new line will not use the long railway tunnel under the town centre but will be diverted on to the main street through the town – a much better route to capture the traffic.

NOTTINGHAM With the extensions in 2015 to Clifton and Toton Lane operating successfully further potential extensions are being considered. These include an extension from Toton Lane to East Midlands Airport via the future HS2 station. This could be extended further to Derby. Short extensions to Clifton Pastures and to Gedling are also possibilities. The initial fleet of 15 LRVs that operated the first services in 2004 are to be refurbished with new floors and interior fittings undertaken by Alstom at the Wilkinson Street Depot. This will bring the appearance of the older stock up to the standard of the newer trams

SHEFFIELD A quick visit to the Steel City on 27 June 2019 showed traffic on the Supertram network to be remarkably quiet. Trams were virtually empty in the early afternoon. There was a little more traffic at the Rotherham Central and Cathedral stops. Track relaying has moved on to the Shalesmoor – Middlewood section with buses replacing trams to Middlewood and Malin Bridge.

ISLE OF MAN The operating dates for the historic railways during 2019 will be as follows.
Isle of Man Railway – 8 March until 3 November 2019. Manx Electric Railway 16 March until 3 November 2019. Snaefell Mountain Railway 26 March until 3 November 2019. Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 25 April until 3 November 2019. Reconstruction work on Douglas Promenade will limit the length available for the horse trams for at least the first part of the season. A roadside flashing warning system has been installed at Green’s level crossing at the north end of Laxey station warning traffic coming from the Ramsey direction that a tram is approaching.

WIRRAL TRANSPORT MUSEUM The Museum and heritage tramway have been open since 1995 and show a wide range of trams, buses, cars, bikes and a Green Goddess Fire Engine. There is a large size model railway. A heritage tram operates between Woodside and the Taylor Street Museum. The Museum is open every Saturday and Sunday from 1300 throughout the year and during school holidays is open also on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays plus Bank Holiday Mondays.

BLACKPOOL Traffic on Blackpool’s tramways has shown marked changes over the past 35 years. In 1983/4 6.2m passengers were carried and the trams were considered to be invaluable as a means of travelling along the sea-front since road congestion was becoming a problem. A steady decline began in 1987/8 with business falling to 5.4m. By 1995/6 the continuing fall brought the traffic down to 4.9m and in 2003/4 to just 3.7m. The trams remained vital during the period of the Illuminations but in 2011/2 traffic hit a new low of just 1.1m. Against this sad decline the decision to purchase a new fleet of sixteen Bombardier “Flexity 2” trams was surprising. How could work be found for such a large fleet? The 47 so-called “Heritage” trams are kept separate from the every-day workhorse trams and are used on special workings or during the illuminations when the trams are the only vehicles able to move freely along the sea front. The line voltage was raised from 550V to 600V and on 4 April 2012 the new Flexity 2 trams took over the regular daily service. Traffic statistics illustrates how people have poured back to the trams. Passenger totals for each year from 2012/3 have been 3.7m, 4.3m, 4.1m, 4.9m, 5.1m and in 2017/8 5.2m – or back to levels seen in the late 1980s. A branch from North Pier to North station is being built to restore a service lost in 1963. Two more Flexity 2 trams have been added to the fleet and nine trams from the old fleet were upgraded to allow them to operate the normal service. Four of them have had to be retired since their electrics had become unreliable The five “oldies” still capable of daily service will be pressed into regular use when the Flexity 2 trams begin to receive mid-life overhauls. The need for more Flexity 2 trams is becoming clear especially if the suggested extension over the South Fylde heavy rail line takes the trams to St Annes and Lytham.

TYNE & WEAR A mile of the track between Gateshead and Felling has been replaced during three weekend closures. Failures of the overhead power wire in two locations – near Chillingham Road and between Benton and Tynemouth resulted in bus replacements on 30 April 2019. Some units have experienced a variety of failures causing some peak services to be cancelled or run in short formation. Nexus has blamed these upsets on the age of the equipment and it is hoped that there will be an announcement soon about which firm will supply a replacement fleet.

TRAIN – CAR RACE Which can travel between Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres more quickly? A Class 385 emu or a Lamborghini sports car? On 11 June 2019 the emu took 42 minutes beating the high-power car by 21 minutes. Congestion in the suburbs of both cities held up the car but the train had a clear run on the route via Falkirk High.

7 June 2019

LUL During the late May 2019 Bank Holiday weekend, 25 – 27 May 2019, there was no service on the Piccadilly Line from Hammersmith to Heathrow Airport or Uxbridge, and no District Line service between Turnham Green and Ealing Broadway due to track renewal and drainage work.

CLASS 710 The new class 710 emus have been approved for use and are expected to commence public services on the Gospel Oak – Barking route on 23 May 2019..

MERIDIAN WATER The new station was opened by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling M.P. On 3 June 2019.

SARAH SIDDONS Former Metropolitan Railway locomotive No 5, “Sarah Siddons” is nearing the conclusion of a major overhaul at Eastleigh Works that has lasted almost a year.

GATWICK EXPRESS A points failure on 31 May 2019 at Earlswood, between Gatwick Airport and East Croydon resulted in the suspension of the Gatwick Express service for most of the day. The ordinary London – Brighton service was also disrupted for a time.

EAST COAST Plans for a four-hour journey time for most trains between Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley have been put on hold until 2021.

ST ALBANS ABBEY The short branch from Watford Junction to St Albans (Abbey) is quite busy but being single track with no passing loop, services are restricted to a train every 45 minutes. This is not good enough for a busy corridor between two important towns and the easiest solution would be to build a loop at Bricket Wood, half way along the branch. The cost would be around £10m and if services were then improved to half-hourly there would be the cost of using a second emu with additional train crew costs and of operating more services – at least £1m per year. The improved service would of course then attract more passengers and fare revenue could rise sharply. Sadly it is probable that nothing will be done in the short term.

NOTTINGHAM The first of the fifteen Incentro trams, No 203, which were supplied by Bombardier of Derby in 2004 and operated the first services on the tram network have been refurbished at a cost of £3.5m. It has been given the same livery as the later Alstom trams. The tram has received a new floor covering, new seats, and repainted interior walls. A full mechanical overhaul formed part of the work.

BIRMINGHAM Plans have been announced for a 525 foot high tower containing 720 housing units beside the future HS2 terminus at Curzon Street. It would be the tallest building in the city.

ISLE OF MAN The horse tram service restarted at last on 24 May 2019, a month later than the planned 25 April 2019. Only 0..3 mile of route has been relaid and is available for use but the route will be extended as more new track is completed. The track was last relaid in 1937.

MANCHESTER TRAMS Buses replaced the trams on services from Piccadilly to MediaCityUK and Eccles during the late May bank Holiday weekend (27-28 May 2019) to allow engineering work in preparation for the new Trafford Park branch.

SHEFFIELD A new stop is proposed on the tramway at Magna between Meadowhall South and Rotherham Central to serve a Science Adventure Centre and a park and ride facility

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE The former travel shop at Monument Metro Station, now lying empty, is to become a micropub.

BALLOCH A proposed £30m tourist centre on part of the track bed of the abandoned railway between the Central and Pier stations has resulted in over 50,000 objections. The plans include a large hotel and a leisure centre but would occupy what has become an extremely popular walk for visitors arriving by train or in their own cars.

GLASGOW More details are emerging about proposals to improve transport around Scotland’s largest city. The earlier plan for a rail link between Paisley Gilmour Street station and Glasgow Airport was eventually dropped since a frequent rail service between Glasgow Central and the Airport might be difficult to fit in between the numerous rail services that already take up most of the available capacity between Glasgow and Paisley. Using cash from “City Deal” funding, the link between Paisley and the Airport has been reinstated as the first part of a planned Glasgow Metro. The Metro would incorporate parts of the existing railway network such as the Cathcart Circle, parts of the Central Low Level network including the direct line to Maryhill via Botanic Gardens, and the abandoned route through the group of sports grounds at Parkhead and the growth area of Tollcross. The ambitious plans include a link between Central and Queen Street Stations in the form of a tunnel between the two major stations with access points at both ends which would be within or extremely close to Central and Queen Street High Level stations. If HS2 is actually built there would be a need to provide extra facilities at Central HL reinstating the original bridge across the Clyde immediately east of the present bridge, and creating a southern entrance on the site of Bridge Street station whose building still stands to the east of the tracks.

KILMARNOCK A new design of bus by Plaxton and Volvo is enabling Stagecoach to challenge Scotrail for business between Kilmarnock and Glasgow. The new bus has three axles, is longer than older double deckers, and can carry a higher number of passengers. The buses have been given a special livery and are used on route X76 between Kilmarnock and Glasgow.

ROBROYSTON Strathclyde Passenger Transport confirms that the station will open with the new timetable in December 2019. 800 new houses have either been occupied or are near completion and a further 800 will be phase two of the new community. The cost of the station is being paid by a charge on each new house and eventually this will cover the full cost of the two platforms and shelters. An adjacent large car park is being paid for by the Local Authority.

EDINBURGH The tramway carried 7.3m passengers in 2018 taking the total carried since the tramway was opened in May 2014 to 27m.

LONGNIDDRY The station car park has been almost doubled in size. A new extension will accommodate 58 cars plus 10 bicycles. The original car park could take 73 cars.

ABERDEEN – INVERURIE This section of the main line between Aberdeen and Inverness is being double-tracked. Contracts have been issued for the construction of a new station at Kintore. The original station was opened in 1854, was closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching reshaping of the railway network, but it will be reopened in 2020 to serve a rapidly growing locality.

22 May 2019

BRISTOL The Department of Transport has announced £31m funding for MetroWest Phase 1 enabling upgrade work on local services from Bristol to Bath and Severn Beach. In addition work can now proceed on the reopening of the branch to Portishead with new stations at Pill and Portishead.

90028 Electric locomotive 90028 was officially named “Sir William McAlpine” on 11 January 2019 after the great engineer and for a time owner of “Flying Scotsman” – probably the best known steam locomotive in the world.

GATWICK AIRPORT The UK’s busiest Airport handling 46m passengers per year – up from 32m ten years ago – has a new owner. Global Infrastructure Partners, the former sole owner, has sold 50.1% of its holding to the French firm Vinci Airports for £2.9bn. The Airport employs 85,000 people and existing development plans are unaffected though the new owner will bring a fresh source of available capital to help fund developments. Future plans include making the existing stand-by runway a proper second runway, with land retained for a future third runway.

BRIGHTON TRAM 53. Restoration of the body of this 3’6” gauge open top double deck tram is sufficiently advanced that attention is now switching to work on the trucks and electrics. The tram is located at a working farm at Chanctonbury and visitors are to be welcomed on Open Days on 22 and 23 June 2019 between noon and 3 pm.

BOGNOR REGIS Staff at the south coast station were faced with an unusual problem on 14 May 2019. An apparently tame ferret was found sheltering at the station but it had no identity chip or other means to identify an owner. The RSPCA has taken the ferret into care.

SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY The expensively refurbished class 442 emus that were intended to boost capacity on some South Western Railway services, have been found to have a problem with the automatic door system. They cannot therefore be used until this is resolved and some services in the new timetable have been cancelled. A track fault at Wimbledon disrupted services through this key junction on 20 May 2019. Only less than half of the usual morning peak service could operate through the area but trains made extra calls to provide some sort of service at all stations. Longer distance SWR services were turned as far out as Basingstoke. Some upset to services was expected to continue during the morning peak on 21 May 2019.

THAMESLINK The new timetable, introduced on 19 May 2019, contains significant changes in only a few locations. There is an additional train every hour between Cambridge and Brighton via the Thameslink line across the city creating a half hourly service between the termini.

LONDON BUSES Twenty zero-emission buses are to be obtained and put on three routes next year. The zero-emission fleet will be the largest in service in any city at this time.

LUL Plans by management to reduce train inspection and preparation times have been dropped due to opposition by the RMT Union to measures that they believed could compromise train safety.

KINGS LYNN Because of a signalling failure at Littleport morning services between Ely and Kings Lynn were cancelled for much of 20 May 2019.

EAST COAST An Azuma train made its first trip carrying paying passengers on a special journey from Kings Cross to Peterborough and back on 14 May 2019. From 15 May 2019 Azuma trains commenced commercial operations between Kings Cross and Leeds. By the end of June 2019 it is expected that there will be six diagrams each weekday worked by Azuma trains on the Leeds run. Because of continuing electromagnetic interference north of Doncaster Azuma services will not operate to points further north until this problem is resolved late in 2019.

CROSS CITY LINE The new timetable from 19 May 2019 sees almost all services that turned at Lichfield City extended to the Trent Valley station. Evening services north of New Street now operate four times per hour instead of half-hourly and there is a new late evening departure for Four Oaks at 2340. A new earlier service leaves Four Oaks at 0548.

WEST MIDLANDS RAILWAY The company is to be congratulated on the way that it has tackled the requirement to re-brand everything with its own name and colour. The fleet of class 323 emus used specifically for the Cross City Line was given a makeover with a liberal use of orange within a couple of weeks of taking over the franchise. Stations across the Midlands, and south towards Euston, now show a forest of cheery orange lamp standards along most platforms. Similarly, orange has replaced green on the handrails beside stairways at a large proportion of the stations. The only thing lacking is the replacement of platform name boards and other notices which often still show the green strip along the lower edge as favoured by the previous operator. At Wolverhampton the name boards have been changed and show a new twist. The name “Wolverhampton” in large clear black letters has been moved to a lower position on the board allowing in smaller letters the words “City of” to appear above the name. The City crest appears to the right of the name and the West Midlands Railway logo is to the left.

NEW DEPOT A new carriage depot is to be built on vacant railway owned land to the west of Duddeston station. It will not be large enough for the Class 323 stock used on local services around the West Midlands so these sets will move to the Oxley Depot near Wolverhampton at present used by Virgin for Inter-City coaches. The i-c stock will be moving to another location that will depend on which operator wins the franchise for West Coast i-c services.

CHASE LINE Services to Walsall and Rugeley are reorganised in the new timetable from 19 May 2019. Services operate half-hourly throughout the day worked by Class 350 emus and calling at all stations between Rugeley Trent Valley and Walsall, virtually doubling the service at some stops. These trains then call at Tame Bridge Parkway with the service leaving Rugeley at around 19 minutes past each hour calling also at Bescot Stadium. This service then continues beyond New Street to Coventry and Euston via Northampton. The other service from Rugeley continues through New Street to Birmingham International. The half-hourly locals between Walsall and New Street (continuing often as locals to Wolverhampton), remain as before. DMUs freed following the electrification of the Chase Line will enable an extra service hourly between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury while some overcrowded peak services on non-electrified routes will be strengthened. There may be difficulty in providing siding space for all the new rolling stock.

STOUR VALLEY LINE A large new housing development is under way on the Wolverhampton side of Coseley Station.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS Track laying from New Street Station up steeply graded Pinfold Street towards the Town Hall is nearly complete. Because the last section of Pinfold Street is more steeply graded the new track bed is being excavated to produce a slightly gentler gradient from the upper quarter of Pinfold Street right up to the Town Hall stop. The road underpass at the very busy Five Ways intersection is to be closed from early June 2019 for at least two years and when reopened it may be that it will be used by only the West Side trams and no other traffic.

CRICH The National Tramway Museum has been in existence for sixty years and there will be special celebrations to mark the anniversary during September 2019.

MANCHESTER METROLINK How small the trams appear compared to the larger new stock operating in the West Midlands, Nottingham, and Sheffield! The long Airport line is a slow way to travel between the city centre and the Airport but is is relatively busy with many points along the way that generate local traffic. Chorlton and Wythenshawe Town Centre are of major importance in this way. Parts of the route are in the street as a conventional tramway and long sections are alongside the highway but the tracks are segregated for trams only with other vehicles banned. Manchester is on the “up”- literally – with several very high rise buildings rising in the city centre. The ramp from Pomona for Trafford Park branch has been completed and contractors are starting to lay track. The Airport Station is overcrowded with heavy rail trains stacked two to a platform making it difficult for would-be passengers, often from overseas and with limited English, to know where to go. There are plans to provide an additional heavy rail platform. Teams of Metrolink inspectors were out in force at Piccadilly during a visit on 09 May 2019, checking the tickets of all passengers. They were polite and extremely helpful guiding someone who was confused by the ticket machines and having difficulty obtaining the correct ticket. Three two section LRVs of the T68 design were noted standing in sidings at the southern of the depots. The bodies are basically a very light grey and there are stripes of turquoise at the top and bottom of the body. The two double doors on each car side are in the same turquoise colour. The only trams noted in service during the middle of the day were of the older M5000 type with bright yellow ends.

GLASGOW AREA A major signalling fault occurred at Bellgrove at 1459 on 14 May 2019 disrupting services between Queen Street LL and Bathgate. The problem was resolved by 1730.
The south gable of the arch roof over Queen Street HL station, facing towards George Square, is to receive repairs to the leading between the glass panes, and special cleaning to the individual panes.

9 May 2019

DB CARGO The international freight company entered a ten year agreement from 01 April 2019 to operate key freight depots across England and serve them by a dedicated fleet of freight services from the Ports of Southampton and Felixstowe. The depots are at Manchester (Trafford Park), Birmingham (Birch Coppice), and Wakefield (Europort), and each is served by a daily freight service from Southampton, plus one daily service from Felixstowe to Wakefield. A further major depot is being built at Castle Donnington and will be served by a daily service from Southampton with a possible Felixstowe train later.

HYTHE PIER RAILWAY The pier and its 2’0” gauge electrically powered railway are in a poor run-down condition with closure of the pier and the associated ferry service from Southampton a real possibility. The Hythe Pier Heritage Association has taken over the Pier and has launched a public appeal for £3m so that essential repairs can be undertaken.

SOUTH WESTERN RLY The new timetable that will commence on 19 May 2019 will include around 300 additional trains designed to reduce overcrowding on key outer and middle suburban routes including Waterloo to Reading, Windsor, Salisbury, and between Farnham and Guildford. Most of these improvements should have been introduced a year ago but civil engineering works meant that this was impossible to achieve until now.

HEATHROW AIRPORT PLANS The Airport is the busiest in the UK and improved rail links, especially from points south of the Airport are seen as essential for the future. The Elizabeth Line will operate from Paddington and Old oak Common to stops at Heathrow Terminals 2 &3, then a stop for Terminal 5 plus a branch into Terminal 4. This route will continue on to the GW main Line serving Slough and Reading. A separate service would run from Paddington to the same two stops for Terminals 2 and 3, then 5 before operating over a new line to Chertsey and Woking before running to Guildford and to Basingstoke. Services will run from Waterloo and Clapham Junction via both Hounslow and Twickenham to Staines and along the Windsor branch from where a new link will operate to Terminal 5.

HEATHROW EXPRESS Fares on this express service to/from Paddington have been reduced to keep passengers using the service. As a result income from the service has fallen by £1bn. The Heathrow Express service is thought to be the most expensive in pounds per mile in the world.

LUL One thousand drivers plan to strike from 17 to 20 May 2019 over changes to train preparation and inspection schedules.

TRAP AND DRAG The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has been involved in eleven such incidents during the past five years. Drivers may occasionally close the train doors a little too soon trapping a passenger or animal. The RMT Union believes that the closing of doors should be the responsibility of a second member of staff on board the train.

CROSSRAIL The two year delay to the opening of the cross-London route will cost the operator £1bn in lost fares. The company is spending £25m each year as it has employed 479 drivers only some of them driving Crossrail trains that operate from London terminals to serve suburban parts of future Crossrail routes. Some of the drivers are testing the new trains so that they can be ready to operate through the tunnel when it eventually opens two years late. Other drivers do absolutely nothing day after day. The main cause of the delay to opening is the year long delay to the construction of Bond Street station due to problems with the tunnel construction there.

GREATER ANGLIA High spot in the new timetable introduced on 19 May 2019 are two services each way between Liverpool Street and Norwich making just one stop – Ipswich – and taking just 90 minutes for the trip. Departures from London Liverpool Street are 1100 and 1900, and from Norwich 0900 and 1700.

BRISTOL The Clifton Rock Railway, a funicular carved in tunnel within the rock face, has been purchased by a local hotelier who plans to reopen it as a tourist attraction. The funicular was closed in 1934 but the tunnel was used during WW2 to house some telecommunications equipment.

WCML The four track WCML is being altered for 150m on either side of the Bletchley flyover with the work completed by 06 May 2019. Nine new masts to carry the overhead power wires have been erected during early 2019 and now 350m of the wires need to be slightly re-aligned.

WEST MIDLANDS Improvements to local services in the new timetable from 19 May 2019 include a new earlier service from Four Oaks to the city centre, four trains per hour each evening on Cross City Line North, and a later “last train” to Four Oaks. London to Stratford on Avon through trains are doubled from three to six on weekdays, Three trains per hour will operate all day on weekdays to Kidderminster and a number of routes will be joined together at Birmingham New Street giving for example an hourly through emu service between Walsall and Euston, and a Liverpool – Euston emu service provided by London North Western Railway.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS The construction of new houses close to the Bradley Lane stop has been completed and several hundred new residents will be moving in during the next couple of months – all potential new tram customers. Which trams have a full or part blue livery? Tram 31 has the full blue scheme while trams 21 and 23 have some blue at each end, the remainder of these trams remaining in the conventional scheme.

HALTON CURVE An hourly service between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester via the upgraded Halton Curve is a feature of the new timetable from 19 May 2019.

ISLE OF MAN The Douglas horse tram service was expected to restart for the 2019 summer season on 25 April 2019 but training of the horses was not completed and the reopening will be mid-May at the earliest. Redevelopment of the Promenade is on-going and the horse trams may be restricted to Derby Castle – Villa Marina. The new rails are heavier than the old ones and it may be possible for them to be used by modern LRVs or may permit Manx Electric Railway trains to be extended further into the town. The end of this year’s services on all of the Island’s heritage railways will remain 03 November 2019.

MANCHESTER TRAMS A collision early on 01 May 2019 between LRV 3109 and a road sweeper lorry in the Wythenshawe area resulted in the closure of the Airport line for most of the day. The tram suffered significant damage to one side of the body.

SCARBOROUGH The Central Cliff Railway linking the town centre with the harbour and beach area, is celebrating 100 years of service on 11 May 2019 when the staff will be wearing Edwardian dress, and passengers will ride free of charge.

BEAMISH MUSEUM With the beautiful restoration of Sheffield 264 now completed and with testing more or less completed, there are now seven working trams to provide services around the circular tramway linking all the Museum’s varied sites.

NEXUS Many sections of the Newcastle Metro network were brought to a stand late on the morning of 29 April 2019 when around 600m of overhead power wires were brought down near Chillingham Road. The repair work was difficult to achieve and it was not until Thursday 02 May 2019 that power could be restored to the Wallsend – St James section.

BETTER SERVICES The Shotts Line station at Breich had for several years just a single call each way on weekdays for the benefit of a single (now retired) commuter to Edinburgh. It will have an all-day hourly service from the timetable change on 19 May 2019. The station has a rather remote location but relatively speedy services to both Glasgow and Edinburgh may attract useful park and ride business. Another badly served station, Gainsborough Central, which had just three calls per week, will from 19 May 2019 have an hourly service to/from Sheffield.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The first of the new driverless fleet has been delivered from Stadler and an intensive testing programme began on 07 May 2019. It is intended that future Subway operations will feature trains that have no staff on board.

EDINBURGH WAVERLEY Bay platforms 5 and 6 have been reopened and will create space for additional services towards the Borders and along the ECML if and when traffic rises and makes additional trains necessary.

30 April 2019

MARK V COACHES. The new sleeping car fleet was introduced on overnight services from London Euston to Glasgow and Edinburgh, (“The Lowlander”) on 29 April 2019 with initial services arriving 3 hours late. Services from Euston to Aberdeen, Inverness, and Fort William will commence with the major timetable change in May 2019.

SIGNAL CABLE THEFT During the year ended 31 March 2019 delays due to the theft of signalling cable (stolen so that the copper within the cables can be resold) rose sharply to nearly 60,000 minutes, mostly around London. The minutes lost during the previous year were just below 40,000 minutes.

DOCKLANDS Climate Change activists halted services on the light rail network on 17 April 2019 by climbing on to the roof of trains or by gluing themselves on the exterior of coaches. A new station, Thames Wharf, is to be built between Canning Town and West Silvertown. Fourteen additional coaches are to be obtain to handle the ever growing traffic.

SIGNAL FAILURE On 29 April 2019 a major signalling failure at Clapton halted all services to Chingford, and disrupted those to Enfield Town and Cheshunt.

C2C A drunk driver drove his car on to the tracks at a level crossing between East Tilbury and Stanford-le-Hope on Bank Holiday Monday 22 April 2019. All train services were halted while the police located the driver, moved the car from the tracks, and engineers checked that the rails were not damaged, before services could move again. What does c2c mean? The company would like it to mean “commitment to customers” but most people think of it as “city to coast”.

CROSSRAIL (ELIZABETH LINE) The construction of the east – west railway in tunnel under the centre of London will not be fully completed until 2021 – over 2 years behind schedule and at least £3bn over budget. The stations at Paddington and Bond Street are at the moment far from completion. There is a major problem in an incompatibility between the three signalling systems used along the Tunnel, and on the surface railways at each end, with the on-train equipment.

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON will take over the operation of local services between Paddington and Reading in December 20019 and will use Class 345 emus.

CAMBRIDGE NORTH The new station was opened in May 2017 and has become a great success. Over half a million passengers used in during the first twelve months of operation.

WEST MIDLANDS METRO One of the trams is to be named after Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of the Wolverhampton City Council for 15 years and leader of the W M Combined Authority portfolio for transport for four years. He has overseen major investment and expansion of the light rail network.

ISLE OF MAN The training of horses over the new track along the Douglas Sea Front began on 25 April 2019. Public services will not begin until the horse training has been completed. The horse tram service will end this year, along with services on the other rail-based attractions on the Island, on 03 November 2019.

MANCHESTER METROLINK Major civil engineering work took place north of Victoria over the Easter weekend. On 20 and 21 April 2019 there was no service on the Bury line and nothing between Exchange Square and Monsall on the Rochdale route. Manchester Airport services terminated at Deansgate-Castlefield while East Didsbury services terminated at Exchange Square. On Monday 22 April 2019 there was no service between Queens Road and Bury but the other routes had normal services for a Bank Holiday.

TRAFFORD PARK The construction of the new Metrolink branch to Trafford Park is now advanced. Nearly three quarters of the track has been laid and all six stops have been completed. A start will be made soon on the erection of the overhead power wires.

SHEFFIELD Two sections of tram:trains damaged in accidents with road vehicles in October and November 2018 are being returned to Stadler for repair. They will be numbered as 399 204 on their return. The two undamaged sections have been joined together as 399 202 and will remain that way.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Major bridge replacement works in Cullercoats and Tynemouth has taken the sum spent on civil engineering upgrades to £300m. Numerous smaller schemes will continue over the next couple of years.

SHOTTS LINE The new Class 385 emu fleet entered service between Edinburgh and Glasgow during April 2019. All five routes between Scotland’s two principal cities are now electrically worked.

GLASGOW Major civil engineering work to lengthen platforms 2 – 5 at Queen Street High Level station began on 15 April 2019. Because of the location of the station in a deep cutting leading to Cowlairs Tunnel the only way to extend these platforms to take eight car trains is to extend them back across the existing somewhat shallow concourse towards George Square. Extra circulating space for passengers is being created on the western side of the station.

DELAYS Signalling problems on 29 April 2019 between Rutherglen and Cambuslang caused long delays to local services.

GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL has proposed that £10bn be invested in local rail transport including the reopening of some closed lines to create a comprehensive network that would include a city-wide Metro. The first route to be tackled would operate from Central Station to the Airport partly over existing tracks and then new tracks through Renfrew, Braehead, and the QE Hospital.

16 April 2019

STAGECOACH The company has been disqualified from bids made for three franchises – East Midlands, South Eastern (with Alstom) and West Coast (with Virgin). The Government has made it clear that a franchise granted for any of these three franchises must include long-term provision for the pension funds of employees. This Stagecoach felt unable to do because the pension funds would require supervision long after the franchise term has ended. It could end Virgin’s place in the railway industry despite their great success in meeting targets for the West Coast franchise. (The company did fail with the East Coast franchise being unable to increase use of the Kings Cross to Leeds, Newcastle, and Edinburgh) At the start of the present franchise the West Coast services carried 15m passengers per year. The challenge was to double this number and Virgin (with Stagecoach) not only met the 30m goal but went on to carry over 40m people with the probability that this will rise to 50m. Abellio has been granted the East Midlands franchise despite its poor performance with the operation of Scotrail.

EAST CROYDON This station is the worst bottleneck on the entire BR network. 1700 trains pass through the station every weekday and any train running even slightly late results in delays to many following services. A Post Office sorting office, disused for five years, blocks the way for extra tracks and this is now to be removed, extra tracks and perhaps two additional platforms provided, allowing trains to pass through the station more easily.

CROSSRAIL A business case for extending Crossrail south east to Ebbsfleet is being prepared. This would allow direct links between Heathrow Airport, The City, Docklands, and commuter services operating along HS1. Crossrail intends to introduce a service between Paddington and Reading with the December 2019 timetable change.

HARWICH The line between Harwich International and Harwich Town was closed between 08 – 12 April 2019 for track improvement work.

BIRMINGHAM SNOW HILL A formal Planning Application has been submitted for the construction of an entrance from Snow Hill Metro Stop to the adjacent National Rail Station. This will entail opening out one of the arches of the viaduct on which the national Rail Station stands. The arch shows significant “wear and tear” problems and these will be repaired as part of the work.

NOTTINGHAM Possible extensions from the Toton Park and Ride stop have been announced. One would see the route extended a short distance to the future HS2 station and then through Long Eaton and eventually to the city of Derby itself. The other extension would also serve Long Eaton before passing below the Motorway and then continuing south west to the Airport.

SHEFFIELD The tram:train service was suspended for much of 10 April 2019 when a faulty bracket was found in a bogie of one of the tram;trains. All of the tram:trains were taken out of service so that the brackets on each of them could be inspected but no more problems were found.

ROTHERHAM The service cars to the Parkgate Shopping Centre north of Rotherham were quite quiet on 13 April 2019 and although the car park seemed full, the shopping centre was surprisingly quiet. I wonder if some drivers park free at Parkgate and then take the tram into Sheffield city centre? The M&S outlet at Parkgate is to close on 04 May 2019 rather confirming the less than complete success for the Parkgate Centre. The fine new ground for Rotherham FC is half a mile south of the town centre tram and railway station. If there was a stop beside the stadium there seemed to be little scope for non-football traffic at such a stop – There is little housing or industrial premises that could employ many workers.

MERSEYRAIL Buses will replace trains between Birkenhead North and West Kirby and also between Shotton and Birkenhead North on 27 April 2019 until 04 May 2019.

TYNESIDE Track relaying work on the Nexus light rail system means that there will be no services between Gateshead and Felling on 13-14 April, 19-22 April and 4-6 May all in 2019.

GLASGOW Electrification is being considered for the East Kilbride branch and local services to Barrhead. There is gross overcrowding at the rush hours on these routes with the success of large car parks at several stations (especially East Kilbride and Hairmyres).

EDINBURGH Traffic at Edinburgh’s principal station has more than doubled over the past decade and a public consultation is to be held to discover the view of passengers. The preferred plan is to build a new concourse above the present circulating areas with lifts and stairways leading down to the individual platforms. The listed station roof will then be fairly close to the heads of passengers using the new concourse and anything that affects the roof is likely to be rejected by local planning officials. The roof has a low profile so that it will not block the view of the Castle and Old Town from Princes Street. To raise the present roof by no more than a few feet might just be allowed but how easy will it be to achieve this?

31 March 2019

CHANNEL TUNNEL SERVICES French Customs staff strikes have resulted in long delays for passengers and several services to/from Paris have been cancelled – on Sunday 17 March 2019 four trains were cancelled; with three cancelled on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 18, 19, and 20th respectively. Long queues of intending passengers take double the usual time to go through checks at Paris Nord Station causing significant delays to services. Bombardier has won a contract to refurbish the passenger coaches on the Shuttle trains. Each shuttle train completes around 300 round trips through the Tunnel every month. The first refurbished train will enter service in 2020 and the work will take until 2026 to be completed.

CLASS 230 These battery powered units can be re-charged in seven minutes and have enough stored power for a 60 mile journey. Appropriate for a purely local service, the units show how stored electric power can be used in an effective way on a low-pollution local service.

CLASS 717 This new fleet of emus obtained by Govia Thameslink is nearing the end of test operations and the first two units have entered public service. They will replace the Class 313 units which are the oldest emus still in use in the UK.

ST PANCRAS The station was closed for several hours on 30 March 2019 because a man was seen in dangerous locations – beside the track, on the station roof, and immediately above the entrance to the tunnel. The power to the overhead wires had to be turned off. The man was arrested later and services began to return to normal.

CHELMSFORD The Department of Transport is looking “very carefully” at plans for a new station in the Beaulieu area of the growing northern suburbs of the town. It will cost £218m and will serve a new housing area. The new Northern Bypass will be adjacent to the site.

ASTON New platform signs have been erected with the station name in clear crisp black letters. To the right is the Aston Villa crest in full colour. To the left in the upper corner is the company name “West Midlands Railway”. In box below appear the words “for Villa Park”.

WEST MIDLANDS EMUS New illuminated signs are appearing within the carriages devoted to the Cross City Line. There are two signs per carriage displaying two lines of clear yellow letters on a blue background. The effect is much clearer than in the older signs.

WEST MIDLANDS TRAMS Two of the trams now carry special liveries. Tram 31 has the attractive all blue scheme and celebrates the footballer Cyrille Regis. Now on tram 21 a new livery has been applied. The tram body is in the normal white with black window frames and the broad pink strip above the windows has been extended up to the roof line as part of a KFC advertising scheme. On the car ends the section of the body immediately below the cab windows is in blue. The car doors have a thin blue line around each door.

WEST MIDLANDS EXTENSION The Wednesbury – Dudley – Brierley Hill extension was given final approval on 29 March 2019 and construction of this key route that slices across the Black Country will commence in late 2019. Vegetation clearance work has been going on for several months but actual construction work has now been given the go-ahead.

NEW TIMETABLE IMPROVEMENTS Services across the West Midlands will be improved in frequency, and speed in the May 2019 timetable. Electrification of the Chase Line (Walsall – Rugeley TV) will be introduced giving a better faster service, there will be more evening and weekend trains across many routes to encourage travellers attending concerts and other city centre events to use the trains. Additional carriages will be added to some severely overcrowded peak trains. Further improvements are promised in two years time when brand new coaches will be delivered from the manufacturer CAF. Elsewhere there are to be four London – Norwich services taking just 90 minutes, and 60 minutes to Ipswich. The morning peak service from Portsmouth to Waterloo will be strengthened by the addition of two additional services.

STATFOLD BARN RAILWAY This museum and operating railway near Tamworth, Staffordshire, is to receive the two electric locomotives that used to operate in slate quarries near Blaenau Ffestiniog. They were on display at Llechwedd Quarry for a time then were moved to the Welsh Highland Railway in July 2010 for planned restoration. This however did not happen and they were returned to Llechwedd. They will be kept under cover at Statfold and there are no immediate plans to restore them.

MANCHESTER Tram number 3006 has completed one million km working on the Metrolink system – the first of the fleet to reach this milestone.

CLASS 331 The new CAF built emus are to take over the operation of the Leeds – Doncaster local service from the timetable change in late May 2019.

HITACHI The Japanese locomotive and rolling stock builder has received an order from First Group for five 5-car trains to operate a rival fast standard class only service between Kings Cross and Edinburgh which will charge just £25 for a single ticket. Hitachi is running out of work for its large factory at Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham but hopes it may land the massive order for a new fleet for the Tyne and Wear Metro. Another large order in the near future is the rolling stock for HS2 services.

NEWCASTLE A new western entrance to the station will be part of the £5.2m upgrade that will be getting under way later this year. There is to be an adjacent multi-storey car park on the old goods yard.

SCOTRAIL WARNED The Scottish Government has issued two warnings to Scotrail over a persistent failure to meet standards with far too many services reaching their destination late or being cancelled. Scotrail are to recruit more drivers, train managers, and Control Room staff in an attempt to achieve an improvement but admit that it mat be two years before targets are achieved.

EDINBURGH The full City Council met on 14 March 2019 and gave its approval to extend the tramway through Leith to Newhaven. The extension will cost £207m.

14 March 2019

NEW SUMMER TIMETABLE The new timetable, to be introduced on 19 May 2019, will include several changes. Network Rail management has given assurances that there will be no collapse in service as happened when there were last major timetable changes. Plans include the introduction of faster services between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Middlesbrough, extra peak trains on the South Western Railway, and more services between Chester, Manchester, and Leeds. In all there will be 1000 extra trains added per week in May 2019.

LINE CLOSURES When civil engineering work is needed on a section of railway the usual action is to close the line during the weekend when fewer workers use the line. Recently part of the main London – Brighton line was closed for a week for £67m of track and signalling upgrades coinciding with the schools half-term break since there would be fewer users that week. 200 buses bridged the gap adding one hour to the normal journey time. Engineers plan to approach future closures in a similar way resulting in one week of difficulty for regular commuters. The traditional weekend closure approach would have resulted in closures extending for well over a whole year and costing much more than the cost of the one week closure. Major work is planned at Euston Station over the Easter period. The terminus will be completely closed on 20 and 21 April 2019 (Easter Day) while on 19 April 2019 (Good Friday) and 22 April (Easter Monday) there will be no direct services to the station. A similar situation will apply on the May Bank Holiday, 4-6 May 2019.

HIGH WINDS Very high winds swept over much of the UK on 12 and 13 March 2019 and as a result speed restrictions were applied over much of the East and West Coast main lines and a number of routes considered to be at risk. Some services were cancelled on these routes – Manchester – Sheffield, Durham – Newcastle, and Euston – Manchester. The Cross City line in Birmingham was also affected and some services ran non-stop between New Street and Sutton Coldfield to allow slower than usual services to catch up with the timetable.

EXPLOSIVES On 5 March 2019 three postal packages containing explosive substances were identified at Waterloo Station and two Airports – Heathrow and London City. A similar packet was found later in the post room of Glasgow University.

SEATON TRAMWAY The 3 mile long 2’9” gauge line occupies for most of its length the track bed of the abandoned British Railways branch to Seaton. The Seaton terminus has been rebuilt with a new building giving covered access to the trams.

BARKING The East London station is to be upgraded at a cost of £5m. The station was rebuilt in 1959 in a design that was considered to be inspiring and innovative reflecting the design of Rome’s new principal station. However the passage of time coupled with the usual neglect has left the station a sad shadow of its 1950s glory. Now it is to be restored and the 1959 design will be at the heart of the transformed station.

OVERGROUND The service on the Overground line from Barking to Gospel Oak (“GOBLIN LINE”) has had to be reduced to a half hourly frequency because of a lack of suitable rolling stock. Only three Class 378 units are available to operate the route which means that there is only a half-hourly service for the time being. The Class 172 Turbostar units formerly used had to be transferred to the West Midlands and the brand new Class 710 units from Bombardier are not yet fully tested and are therefore not yet available.

HS2 Several blocks of new student flats blocking the route standing of the future HS2 line into its Birmingham terminus were demolished during March 2019. Contractors Mace and Dragodas JV are to rebuild Euston Station. The Old Oak Common Transport Hub is to be built by a joint venture of Balfour Beatty, Vinci Construction UK, and Vinci Construction Grands Projets with Systra.

MIDLAND MAIN LINE Electrification is to be extended as far north as Market Harborough. Long Distance services will be worked by bi-mode trains using electric power between St Pancras and Market Harborough, and diesel power to points further north.

MIDLAND METRO Construction of the new Metro line between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill via the centre of Dudley is getting under way and the cost is expected to be around £318m – only about £60m higher than expected in detailed costings made in 2005.

CAMP HILL LINE The planned local service over the Camp Hill Line in Birmingham depends on the construction of chords at Bordesley to give a short route between Snow Hill Station, the reopened (for local trains) route, as well as towards Tamworth. However planning permission has been sought by a house builder whose 480 new houses would use the land needed for the chords.

WOLVERHAMPTON One thousand new homes are to be built on a derelict site close to the station. The new Metro line to the station will not open until the station rebuild is completed.

REOPENED STATIONS The stations at Willenhall and Darlaston, closed in the 1960s are to be reopened and illustrations of the stations have been publicised. The unstaffed stations will have shelters, ticket machines, and a footbridge with the steps arranged in three sections, plus a lift from each platform. The planned initial service is not very exciting – just one service per hour between Wolverhampton and Walsall (buses run between the towns every few minutes) and an hourly service between Wolverhampton and Birmingham New Street.

FLOODS Heavy rain on 12 March 2019 resulted in flooding of the London – Manchester main line at Kidsgrove, and also nearby between Alsager and Crewe.

MANCHESTER Major efforts are being made to improve public transport – by bus and by rail – so that 50% of journeys will be by public transport by the year 2040.

CLASS 331 The new trains will enter service between Leeds and Doncaster during May 2019.

SCOTTISH WEATHER High winds and torrential rain fell across south west Scotland on 12 March 2019 resulting in flooding in parts of Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. Rail services were halted between Kilwinning and Ardrossan Harbour, and onwards to Largs. The Irvine – Ayr main line was affected on 13 March 2019 when the overhead power wires were damaged by material blown by the wind becoming caught in the overhead wires.

3 March 2019

FINANCE How can new stations be paid for? Both in England and Scotland central government sources rarely contribute towards initial studies or construction costs. The policy in Scotland is to boost end-to-end journey times and the opening of an additional station adds several minutes to overall times. If a local Council or a private developer is willing to come up with the capital cost a new station may then be able to proceed. See below for examples in England and Scotland.

NEW STATIONS IN ENGLAND Although many new stations have been suggested a lack of finance has often prevented their development. Local Councils often undertake studies into such proposals. Horden Station on the Durham Coast Line has been suggested for many years to serve the new town of Peterlee. The County’s Local Growth Fund is being used to complete detailed studies into the proposal. In Lancashire there are proposals to reopen stations at Midge Hall, Fleetwood, and Coppull all of which would become new transport hubs. A detailed study is under way at Midge Hall and another starts soon at Fleetwood – both paid for by the County Council.

NO SERVICE On the weekend of 02/03 March 2019 there were no trains between Liverpool Street and Shenfield because of overhead wire renewal work. The Romford – Upminster shuttle was also cancelled to allow Crossrail construction work.

SHOEBURYNESS SERVICES. Numerous additional faster services are to be added to weekend schedules from June 2019 taking just 44 minutes from Southend and 55 from Shoeburyness to Fenchurch Street. The trains will run hourly calling at all stations Shoeburyness to Benfleet then fast to West Ham and Fenchurch Street only. The fast trains will be additional to the regular service an will represent a 50% increase in direct services on Sundays, and 25% on Saturdays.

CROYDON TRAMLINK ASLEF has called a ballot of staff regarding strike action since the management offer of a 3.2% pay increase in each of the next three years is not considered sufficient.

TRANSPORT for LONDON The first electrically powered services on the Gospel Oak – Barking (“GOBLIN”) line ran on 28 January 2019. They were worked by class 378 units since the Class 710 emus being built by Bombardier had not yet been delivered.

HEATHROW EXPRESS Porterbrook is to convert twelve class 387 emus which will then operate the Heathrow Express service. The work will be undertaken in the Derby Workshops.

KINGS LYNN LINE The platforms at Waterbeach and Littleport are being lengthened to accommodate eight car trains in moves that will relieve overcrowding on Kings Lynn services which have until now been restricted to four cars in length.

CROSS CITY LINE The Class 323 emus serving the West Midlands route are to be overhauled, and will have a fully accessible toilet fitted, have new seat covers, and be generally freshened up.

MANCHESTER AREA Electric services finally started operation between Manchester and Bolton on 11 February 2019. One service per hour operates between Victoria Station and Buckshaw Village, another between Piccadilly Station and Preston, and a further service hourly between Blackpool and Manchester Airport. Class 319 emus are used but these will be replaced by new class 331 emus once they have been delivered by CAF. The following stations on the former Woodhead Line are to be upgraded including repainting, have improved signs, and better lighting – Glossop, Dinting, Broadbottom, Hattersley, Godley, Newton for Hyde, Flowery Field, and Ashburys. The improvements will cost £1.5m.

LEEDS AREA A 170 space multi-storey car park is to be built at Steeton and Silsden station.

TYNE & WEAR METRO Services between Park Lane and South Hylton were suspended for a time on 27 February 2019 after signalling cable was stolen during the small hours. National Rail services were also affected.

NEW STATIONS IN SCOTLAND The building of new stations is subject to the provision of finance. Construction of the new Robroyston station near Stepps has begun and will be paid for by the developer of the adjacent large new housing estate who has added £1000 to the price of each new property so that eventually the new residents will have paid for their station. In contrast the construction of a new station between Patterton and Neilston on the Neilston branch serving new houses to the south of Barrhead, which started over a year ago has stopped because the planned new housing development has not yet happened. Similarly the building of a park and ride station at Halbeath in Fife has not progressed since a source of funds has not been identified. In general new stations are not supported by the Scottish Government which prefers to support measures that will shorten end-to-end running times.

GLASGOW AREA The area around the former massive Singer factory in Clydebank has been redeveloped. On the site of the former multi-platform private terminal station opposite the factory there is a large new retail park. The factory site lay mostly undeveloped for several years but now hosts several small new businesses. Considerable numbers of new houses including blocks of flats have been erected on empty plots close to suburban stations all around the city.

GLASGOW QUEEN STREET The escalators linking the High Level and Low Level platforms are being upgraded and in part replaced by new equipment for four weeks from 11 March 2019. The view of the beautiful arch roof revealed when buildings that obstructed the view were demolished is again being obscured by the new entrance being built in front of the arch.

NEW ROUTE Parts of three separate routes have been amalgamated to form a through route between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Cumbernauld. Trains run every half hour from Queen Street High Level, up Cowlairs Bank and round the sharp curve to Springburn Station. The route heads east just before Barnhill Station joining what had once been the Buchanan Street – Perth main line. Trains rush past the growing community of Glenboig (no station reopening here due to lack of finance) before reaching Cumbernauld. Trains then follow the former Perth route before turning off to Falkirk Grahamston and. thereafter along the main line via Polmont and Linlithgow to Edinburgh.

SHOTTS LINE The former Caledonian Railway, later LMSR, line between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Shotts once had fast expresses competing with the rival NBR, later LNER, route via Polmont. Today the Polmont has route expresses every 15 minutes taking around 45 minutes while the Shotts line has just one local and one semi-fast service hourly, the faster trains taking around 70 minutes. Traffic is light with only modest traffic handled at even the more important stops. Shotts was once a centre for coal mining but this has ceased and commuters to both end cities make up the bulk of the traffic which rarely requires more than a three or four dmu coaches. Breich, for years used by a single commuter who worked in Edinburgh but who has now retired, was the subject of recent closure moves which were rejected by the Department of Transport. The platforms have been reconstructed and lengthened but most trains sail through non-stop, apart from one call each way suitable for someone working in Edinburgh. There are few buildings anywhere near the lonely station but a better service is planned at the June timetable change. Electrification of the Shotts route has been completed and a test run by a class 86 locomotive on a freight service took place on 24 February 2019. Platform improvement work is still to be completed at several stations.

EDINBURGH TRAMS Following the death of a pedestrian who had failed to hear a tramcar horn there are calls for the trams to have louder horns or perhaps a warning bell. On off-street sections trams can reach a significant speed. The City’s Transport and Environment Committee voted to support the 2.8 mile extension to Leith and Newhaven. The final decision for the extension will be taken by the full Council on 14 March 2019 and the line could open in early 2023.

NORTH BERWICK and DUNBAR The suburban service operated east along the ECML from Edinburgh Waverley to Dunbar and to North Berwick at the end of a short branch from Drem, is being marketed as a “Scenic Line”. An attractive information packed leaflet has been produced detailing significant features at each point. Musselburgh has a horse racecourse and several historic houses and gardens. Close to Wallyford station is Monktonhall golf course host to many important tournaments. Prestonpans is the site of the last battle (1745) to be fought on UK soil, and there is an industrial heritage museum plus the “3 Harbours Festival”. Longniddry is close to an important seabird watching facility and the trackbed of the closed Haddington branch is a fine walking route. At Drem a modest walk will take the tourist to Chesters Hill Fort, and the National Museum of Flight where you can see a Concorde. North Berwick has pleasant sands, a sports centre, the Scottish Seabird Centre, the Coastal Communities Museum and two castles (Dirleton and Tantallon). In Dunbar is John Muir’s birthplace – better known in USA as founder of their National Parks. He did much to make known the beauties of the Yosemite Valley. The town has attractive beaches and is growing in popularity with those who commute to work in Edinburgh.

14 February 2019

NEW STUDY The Department of Transport has called for evidence on the potential use of light rail systems in English towns and cities.

ALSTOM : SIEMENS The proposed merger of these major train builders has been strongly opposed by the European Commission on the grounds that there would be too little competition in the market if the merger went ahead.

CHART LEACON Part of the former railway engineering works near Ashford in Kent may be reopened as a maintenance, servicing, and stabling facility for emus used on the South Eastern franchise and displaced from the nearby Hitachi facility by the new Class 700 units.

FREIGHTLINER A new maintenance facility for both locomotives and the company’s wagons is to be built just north of Ipswich station on the eastern side of the main line. Freightliner operates up to twenty two trains each day from the nearby Port of Felixstowe

CROYDON The contract for an automatic braking system to prevent over-speeding was issued to ESG Rail on 14 December 2018. The Ampere Way – West Croydon section was closed from the evening of 31 December 2018 until 06 January 2019 following a major fire that destroyed the Shurgard Self-Storage warehouse adjacent to the tracks. A replacement bus shuttle operated between Church Street and Mitcham Junction.

PADDINGTON OUTER SUBURBAN SERVICES Emu stopping services from Paddington along the main line have been extended to Newbury with some workings reaching Bristol Parkway.

LUL The £1.1bn Northern Line extension to Battersea will not now open until September 2021 at the earliest – a year later than planned. The expected passenger traffic at Battersea is likely to be higher than thought originally and the station is being re-planned to take account of this. The new American Embassy will be close by. Leyton Underground station is to be upgraded in a project costing £18m funded by Waltham Forest Council and TfL. 4500 new houses are to be built nearby and the closure of one major entrance to make space for the M11 highway extension has resulted in very severe overcrowding at the other entrance. The upgrade will include a ticket hall three times the size of the existing hall.

ANGEL ROAD This North London station will be closed in May 2019 when the new and better located Meridian Water station, 1/3 mile to the south, is opened.

FIRST CLASS will be abolished on all Greater Anglia commuter trains from 02 January 2020 increasing seats for standard class commuters by 20%. First Class will remain on the London – Norwich expresses that will be worked by 12-car Class 745 FLIRT emus.

EAST MIDLANDS FRANCHISE Stagecoach have been awarded a 24 week extension to this franchise (from 03 March to 18 August 2019) while details of the next franchise are worked out.

WEST COAST FRANCHISE The franchise has been extended to March 2020 while details of the next franchise are finalised. Meanwhile Virgin has applied to operate five additional services daily each way between London and Liverpool to deal with overcrowding on the existing hourly service. Traffic has been rising at around 4.5% each year for the past eight years.

WEST MIDLANDS The electrification of the Walsall – Rugeley TV Chase route and full testing was completed overnight on 19/20 December 2018.

MIDLAND METRO On 07 February 2019 the first track was laid in Centenary Square on the city centre extension. The Metro carried 7.2m passengers in 2018. Following the extension to Grand Central/New Street Station an extra 3m passengers were carried during the first year of the extended route.

NOTTINGHAM To simplify the fare structure all return fares have been withdrawn and single tickets have risen by 10p. Passengers can buy multiple single tickets or a Day Ticket. Concessionary pass holders from outside Nottinghamshire can now travel all-day for just £2.50, and students all day for £3.10p.

SHEFFIELD The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive is building the case for modernisation of the tram system including the replacement of the 25 Siemens-Duewag trams. There is strong public support for the retention of the tramway and its modernisation.

MERSEYRAIL The Hall Road – Southport section was closed from 02 February until 24 February 2019 to allow major platform alterations prior to the introduction of a new fleet of Stadler trains. Similar work will then take place between Hooton and Rock Ferry (02 – 22 March 2019) then Hooton – Chester (25 March – 02 April 2019).

BLACKPOOL The Blackpool North Station extension tracks were connected to the Coastal tramway near North Pier in mid-December 2018. The track-work will be completed by mid-February and public services are expected to commence during April 2019.

ISLE OF MAN Traffic on the island’s historic railways rose overall by 5.5% during 2018. The endangered horse tram in Douglas carried 80,606 people – up 9% on 2017. The Manx Electric Railway carried 244,563 passengers – up 7%. The Snaefell line had 76,434 passengers – up 21% on 2017, an artificially high increase because the 2017 season was ended abruptly following the runaway accident on 04 August 2017 (for which the island’s Department of Infrastructure has just been fined £18,000). The steam railway to Port Erin had only 113,197 passengers – down 7% due to a lack of sufficient able-to-work locomotives to haul special or extra trains for part of the year. The horse tram depot building is being pulled down but a replacement structure will reuse the track within the new depot. The House of Keys has indicated a commitment to retain and develop the historic railways in a bid to boost tourism.

HIGH WINDS Gale force winds roared up the Clyde estuary on 07 February 2019 and rail services between Kilwinning and Ardrossan Harbour, and between Dumbarton and Helensburgh Central were cancelled for that day.

GLASGOW AIRPORT While recognising the need for a better link between Glasgow City Centre and the Airport – the only major airport in Europe to have access by road only – there line capacity problems between Paisley and Glasgow, and at Glasgow Central Station itself. The line from Paisley to Glasgow was once a 4-track speedway with platforms at intermediate stations on the outer tracks. Expresses could overtake locals. At Glasgow a large proportion of trains went to the St Enoch terminus (closed on 27.6.1966) with only Gourock and Wemyss Bay trains operating to Central Station. When the route was electrified the middle tracks were lifted and masts for the overhead wires planted along the central space and all services ran to Central Station. To create space for a frequent Airport service, existing busy services from Ayr, Largs and Gourock would have to be reduced. Despite the removal of Lanark and Hamilton Circle trains to the Low Level station, Central Station High Level has become more crowded as local traffic has soared. There is insufficient capacity for a dedicated Airport service. A shuttle service between Gilmour Street and the Airport terminals using small “pods” is now being examined.

GLASGOW SUBWAY The new fleet of Stadler trains that will use the new Ansaldo control signalling system will not enter traffic until 2021 with Unattended Train Operation (UTO) not introduced until at least two years later. The first of the seventeen four-car trains will arrive later this year and two further trains a little later in the year. These will be subject to intensive testing and commissioning before entering service. Meanwhile car 122 of the existing 40 year old fleet has stopped being a source for spares to keep the existing fleet in service. There are not many potential spare parts left on the unit. Many components in the present fleet are unique “one-offs” and it is now not possible to obtain fresh supplies. To cannibalise car 122 was the best way to keep the others in service. Each car has clocked up around 1.8 million miles.

EDINBURGH Over 7.3m passengers were carried on the tramway during 2018, a rise of 10% over 2017 aided by the introduction of a three minute frequency during the morning and evening peaks. There is strong public approval; for the service and this will be taken into consideration when the final decision on the Leith and Newhaven extension is made later this year. Because of the delays the 2.8 mile long Leith and Newhaven extension will now cost £207m compared with £165m when the plans were first announced, and £196m a year ago. The Edinburgh Trams Company operates the existing route and made a profit of £1.6m in 2017. It is now taking on maintenance, advertising, and insurance costs. It will pay £8.5m per year to the City for use of the assets and “Edinburgh Trams” will change from being a “profitable” to a “loss-making” concern. In the longer term it is expected that with continued traffic growth the company will again become profitable.

1 February 2019

BAD WEATHER After a very mild winter, heavy snow fell across Scotland, north west England and Cornwall on 30 January and 01 February 2019. Manchester and Liverpool Airports were closed until the snow could be cleared from the runways and there were heavy delays on roads and railways into both cities.

NEW CONTAINER SERVICE An up to five times per week container service has commenced operation between Tilbury and Daventry as part of measures to keep the flow of imports from Europe flowing smoothly after the UK leaves the European Union at the end of March.

SOUTHEND PIER Part of a planned £19m repair and upgrade project for Britain’s longest pier, is the replacement of the rolling stock with a new fleet costing £3.3m.

CLASS 717. These new emus are starting to replace the class 313 emus on suburban services from Kings Cross to London’s northern suburbs.

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON Because of heavy delays in software tests, the delivery of class 710 trains for the Gospel Oak – Barking line has been delayed. Some class 378 trains are being modified so that they can be temporary stand-ins.

LONDON UNDERGROUND DISTRICT LINE A series of events are planned to celebrate 150 years of service on the District Line. The first section – South Kensington to Westminster – was opened on 21 December 1868.

HS2 With costs rising all the time there has been a serious suggestion that the London end of the high-speed route be built at Old Oak Common where a connection would be made with the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail). Such a move would save about a quarter of the expected total cost by eliminating the need for a major expansion of Euston Station. Construction work has begun on the HS2 terminus in Birmingham. Massive quantities of soil are being moved on to the site to raise the ground level and the student accommodation blocks blocking the way for the new line are being dismantled.

RUGELEY Two thousand new houses are to be built on the site of the former power station beside the Trent Valley station.

SHEFFIELD Tram 204 was quite seriously damaged in a collision with a lorry on 25 October 2018 leaving only 201, 202, and 203 to operate the tram-train Parkgate service. Because of this 206 is being upgraded to operate as required to Parkgate leaving 205 and 207 to operate on the older Sheffield routes. 202 was also in the wars in a collision with a car at the same road crossing in Attercliffe on 30 November 2018 but the tram was not seriously damaged.

NOTTINGHAM There have been 43 accidents at level crossings during 2018, and a worrying 179 near misses. Nottingham Express Transit has produced a video showing some of the breath-taking near misses.

MIDLAND METRO On 18 January 2019 CAF tram 31, which has the unique blue livery, was named “Cyrille Regis MBE”, after the footballer who had a long career playing for West Bromwich Albion, and Coventry City, winning a place in the England team on several occasions. He died following a heart attack on 15 January 2018 aged 59. The ceremony took place at the Wednesbury Depot in the presence of Cyrille’s widow and children. Only two others of the CAF trams have so far been named – No 37 was named “Ozzy Osbourne” by the entertainer himself on 26 May 2016, and No 35 named “Angus Adams” to commemorates the work of the Councillor whose persistence ensured that the Midland Metro would be built. The naming ceremony for tram 35 was performed by HM The Queen when she opened the Birmingham city centre extension on 15 November 2016. The new trams are five segment Urbos 3 trams with four articulations built by CAF in Zaragoza, Spain. They are 108 feet long with a top speed of 45mph. The earlier T69 trams were built by Ansaldo in Firenze, Italy, and are 80 feet long comprising two major segments with a tiny central section and one articulation. Several were named after local personalities and two have been preserved. Tram 07 is in Network West Midlands livery and has been donated to UK Tram. No 11 was given the Birmingham Corporation Tramways livery in 2013 and has been donated to Birmingham Museum. Both 07 and 11 remain in store at the Long Marston Depot but will be moved in the coming months. The remaining thirteen of the original fleet have been sold for scrap for £12,000. Because they would be able to fit through the tunnel at Ryde in the Isle of Wight there were proposals that the T69s might find a new life there, but this idea came to nothing. This leaves No 16, which is similar to 1-15 but built later with a few modifications to sort problems with the initial batch. It is at Wednesbury Depot and is reported to have moved under its own power in late 2018 but it is not clear what future use it will have.

METRO FARES Some fares on the West Midlands Metro have been reduced slightly so that customers will be able to find the required sum more easily. New lower Day Tripper fares have been introduced,, available by downloading them from your own phone or obtaining them at Metro shops, but not on the tram. All day adult fare is £5.50, or £4 after the morning peak and all day at the weekend. The child equivalents are £4 and £3. Weekly seasons cost £21 and a monthly season just £70. The child equivalent fares are £10.50 and £35.

WEST MIDLANDS Teams of security officers targeted several suburban stations around Birmingham on Monday 21 January 2019 which they termed a “high risk day”.

MANCHESTER Three historic railway bridges (Grade 2 listed) over city centre streets west of Victoria Station are to be refurbished. Tram 3103 lost its pantograph while travelling between Media City UK and Broadway on 22 January 2019 causing disruption to the Eccles and Media City routes for several hours. Service frequencies on the Ashton line are to be doubled during the day to a six minutes frequency by extending services that at present terminate at Etihad Campus. Chris Grayling and Andy Burnham are discussing the possible extension of existing and planned new routes on to roads making new services more like conventional tramways.

BLACKPOOL Track laying along the branch to North Station is proceeding well. Open Boat tram 227 has been named “Charlie Cairoli” in honour of the circus clown who performed at the Tower Circus for 40 years. His son, who has the same name, carried out the ceremony.

GLASGOW Services on the Queen Street Low Level line were disrupted on 19 January 2019 when someone was struck by a train between Carntyne and High Street. There is growing urgency for a rail link between the city centre and Glasgow International Airport but there are concerns that the capacity along the line between Glasgow Central and Paisley (Gilmour Street) will not be sufficient to accommodate the Airport service. Services between Glasgow and Neilston were disrupted during the early morning of 23 January 2019 when a road vehicle struck a bridge between Cathcart and Muirend, and a trampoline blew on to the line near Patterton. A bus shuttle was laid on between Barrhead station and Neilston. Rail tickets were accepted on local bus services until rail services resumed around 0800.

CLASS 385 A few of the new emus have entered service between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street and further units will be added to the pool until the entire service is worked by the new trains.

WINCHBURGH There are plans to build 3400 new homes in the village whose station on the Edinburgh – Glasgow Main Line was closed in 1930. The station may now be re-opened.

EDINBURGH Tram services were reduced on the main holiday days at the end of 2018. Trams did not run after 2100 on Christmas Eve and on all of Christmas Day. On 30 December 2018 after 1800 and all day on Hogmanay (31 December 2018) a 15 minute frequency service ran between Airport and West End only leaving Princes Street traffic free for special events. On New Year’s Day a special free service operated every 15 minutes between Airport and West End from 0500 until Princes Street reopened for normal traffic at 0930.

16 January 2019

POSTAL TRAINS Porterbrook are to supply two “Flex” electro-diesel trains to the Rail Operating Group (ROG) to carry mail and other urgent light freight such as parcels. The two units will be rebuilt from existing Class 319 emus formerly used on Thameslink services. Porterbrook sees a future in capturing a large quantity of urgent parcels traffic from road competitors. Over the Christmas period extra 12-car services of class 325 units were operated to carry the large surge in postings of cards and small packages. These included several extras between Shieldmuir and Warrington mail centres This locomotive was re-named “Sir William McAlpine” at a ceremony on 11 January 2019.

TULSE HILL A man wielding a machete ran through the station during the evening rush hour on 11 January 2019 causing terror to waiting passengers. The Police brought him down using a taser and he has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

CROYDON METROLINK The trams are to be fitted with automatic brakes. Should the vehicle be travelling too fast to negotiate a sharp curve, as happened in the Sandilands accident, the brake will come on automatically and hopefully prevent a potentially disastrous derailment.

CROSSRAIL Test operation of Class 345 emus right through the tunnel has begun.

WATFORD JUNCTION Platforms 10 and 11 are being lengthened by 90m so that they will take 12-car trains. From May 2019 there will be more twelve car services and West Midlands Trains will introduce new class 319 emus. Three additional services will run from Watford Jct to Euston in the morning peak, and one extra from Euston in the evening peak.

LONDON UNDERGROUND A new record was set on 07 December 2018 when the Underground carried over 5 million passengers on a single day. The exact number is reported as 5,031,000.

WEST MIDLANDS Platform display screens at several Cross City Line stations have shown “next train” information in a new way from the beginning of January 2019. The old format gave the time for the next train and its destination and gave basic information such as “On time” or “4 minutes late”. The new display does not give a time for the next service and simply indicates its destination and provides the information that it will arrive in for example “4 minutes.” The arrival time then counts down minute by minute to “one minute” until the train rolls into the platform. The immediate public reaction favours the new format. With a service as frequent as every ten minutes precise time details for each train seem not necessary.

NORTHERN RAIL DB, part owner of the franchise operator, is demanding compensation for the extensive and on-going delays in plans to electrify important sections of the franchise that are required if the operator is to meet its commitment to increase the speed and frequency of services and provide additional seating in order to meet promises in its franchise bid. The company is having to handle ever-growing traffic but is not able to operate appropriate trains since the electrification of the lines is delayed.

NEWTON-le-WILLOWS This station roughly midway between Liverpool and Manchester has been substantially upgraded and now has step-free access to all platforms.

MANCHESTER METROLINK The 2040 Transport Strategy report has indicated where future extensions to the network might be built. The Ashton line could reach out to Stalybridge; A branch from the Bury line could reach Middleton; The still to be completed Trafford Park branch could be extended to Salford Stadium and Port Salford; and a new link could be provided between Media City and Salford Crescent railway station. Following a few scary incidents it is suggested that the trams get automatic brakes similare to those now to be installed in Croydon..

EDINBURGH TRAMS Traffic grew by over 10% during 2018 and the annual total topped seven million for the first time.


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