UK railway news round-up

This week, Grand Central scraps plans for a North West route between Blackpool and London due to COVID-19. Plus, a report into the Stonehaven derailment raises questions over the UK railway’s response to climate change.

Grand Central’s North West route between Blackpool & London abandoned

Grand Central North West route abandoned
Grand Central’s No. 90029 with two of the Mk 4 rakes of stock and 90026 on the rear, pass Atherstone during a shake down run on June 26. Photo: Chris Milner

Grand Central has permanently abandoned plans for the North West route train service between Blackpool and London after COVID-19 rendered plans ‘unfeasible’.

Company executives at Grand Central and parent company Arriva said following months of exploring all options to launch the proposed expansion of services to the North West route as planned, it is not now viable due to the economic uncertainty and changed travel patterns caused by COVID-19.

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Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central, says the decision to abandon plans is heart-breaking. Click here to see what he had to say.

Stonehaven report: Climate change impact on railways ‘accelerating’

Stonehaven derailment scene. Photo: Network Rail

A report into the Stonehaven derailment has found that the impact of severe weather events due to climate change is “accelerating faster than our assumptions”.

An interim report by Network Rail admits that the rail industry must improve its response to extreme weather – following the fatal derailment near Stonehaven last month.

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Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died when the 6.38am ScotRail service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street train crashed into a landslide across the tracks near Stonehaven on August 12 following heavy rain.

Click here to see a full review into the report.

Transport Secretary opens rail’s largest electric vehicle charging hub

EV charging hub

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has welcomed Secretary of State Grant Shapps to open rail’s largest dedicated EV charging hub at Hatfield station, which features a total of 27 charging points.

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The installation marks a milestone in a wide-ranging station improvements programme being undertaken by GTR, which encompasses more than 230 stations and over 1,000 individual projects. Click here for more details.

Bluebell Railway gets £250k boost from National Lottery Heritage Fund

Bluebell Railway
Photo: Martin Lawrence

The Bluebell Railway has been given a £250,000 grant to help it survive through the winter.

The money comes from The National Lottery Heritage Fund – which distributes National Lottery money to support heritage organisations.

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The railway applied to The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund which was set up to give grants of up to £250,000 to help organisations affected by COVID-19. Click here for more details.

Rail firms restore 90% of services as passengers return to work & school

Coronavirus: Rail journeys at just 5% of normal levels

Rail operators are restoring more services from today as schools reopen and more people return to work.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, says services are returning to around 90% of pre-pandemic levels, although some of the remaining suspended services are now unlikely to make a comeback until December.

Rail passenger numbers are now back to about one-third of pre-pandemic levels – according to Department for Transport figures.

Click here for more details.

GTR spreads messages of support on World Suicide Prevention Day

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has unveiled a moving art project to raise awareness of its support to those who may be feeling vulnerable.

The project ‘Affirmation Art’ sees a team of artists spraying motivational messages in chalk across station entrances and exits.

Working closely with partners such as Samaritans, Network Rail and the British Transport Police, GTR continually works to support people across its network. Click here for more details on the project.

Thieves steal signalling equipment from Churnet Valley Railway

Thieves target Churnet Valley Railway

Thieves have targeted the Churnet Valley Railway – breaking into storage containers and stealing thousands of pounds worth of signalling equipment.

Churnet Valley Railway says thieves entered the railway’s private sidings at Froghall and cut through three security locks to access a storage container with the equipment inside.

Some of the stolen equipment had been designated to help with the planned re-opening into Leek. The Railway has now launched an appeal. Click here to find out more.

Over £5 million awarded CCIF funding from South Western Railway

Over £5 million awarded CCIF funding from South Western Railway

Plans to improve accessibility at stations and projects to address social isolation are some of the 67 schemes to have been awarded community improvement funding from South Western Railway (SWR).

Designed to help boost the local economy, SWR invited bids from its Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF) and the successful projects from across the South Western Railway network have been revealed. Local authorities across SWR’s network have matched the CCIF funding to allow further development and support. Click here for more details.

Final new Azuma leaves the depot to join LNER fleet

London Kings Cross to Leeds passing Brookmans Park with the forst revenue earning servoce for an LNER Azuma.

The last of the 65 new Azuma trains has joined the LNER fleet. They have replaced the existing fleet of 45 trains which run along the 940 miles of track between Scotland, North East England, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.

David Horne, Managing Director of LNER, tweeted: “The last new Azuma leaves the depot. Our 65th Azuma train joined the LNER fleet today – thank you to the cross-industry team especially at Hitachi, DfT, Agility, Network Rail, GB Railfreight and LNER who have worked together to test and deliver all 65 new trains in just 18 months.” Click here for more details.

Latest service updates

When using public transport there are a few things we ask you to keep in mind: Travel during the quiet times, many local stations have different quiet times. Check how busy any station is on the TfL network at any time or day using our online tool or our TfL Go app.

You must wear a face covering over your mouth and nose for your entire journey including inside stations. Unless you are exempt, you could be refused travel or face a £100 fine which doubles with every violation up to £3,200. Please maintain social distancing from other passengers and allow extra time as some station layouts may have changed.   

We have lots of online tools to help you plan your journey, including maps with walking times between Tube stations and walking times between shops and attractions in West End.
 

London Underground
Due to engineering work the following services will be affected. Please check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Jubilee line
On Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September there will be no service between Stanmore and West Hampstead. Use alternative Tube routes, local buses or Santander Cycles. Rail replacement bus service JL1 will run between Stonebridge Park (for the Bakerloo line) and Stanmore and JL2 will run between Finchley Road and Wembley Park.

Metropolitan line
On Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September, there will be no service between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate. Use alternative National Rail, Tube or local bus services. Rail replacement bus service ML1 will run.

No Night Tube or London Overground Night Service and limited Night Bus services are running.
See the latest status updates on London Underground, including a map of closures.

London Overground
Due to engineering work, the following London Overground services will be affected.

On Saturday 12 September, there will be no service between: South Tottenham and Barking. Use local bus or Tube services. Rail replacement bus service T will run between Walthamstow Central and Barking On Sunday 13 September, there will be no service between: Richmond and Willesden Junction. Use local bus or Tube services. Rail replacement bus service R will run between Gunnersbury and Willesden Junction Gospel Oak and Barking. Use local bus or Tube services. Rail replacement bus service J will run between Gospel Oak and Seven Sisters. Rail replacement bus service T will run between Walthamstow Central and Barking Liverpool Street and Enfield Town until 10:30. Use local bus or Tube services. Rail replacement bus service L1 will run between Seven Sisters and Enfield Town Liverpool Street and Cheshunt until 10:30. Rail replacement bus service L2 will run between Seven Sisters and Cheshunt. Or use Greater Anglia services Liverpool Street and Chingford until 10:30. Use Tube services. Rail replacement bus service L3 will run between Hackney Downs and Chingford

From Monday 14 until Thursday 17 September, there will be no service between: Sydenham and West Croydon after 22:15. The last trains will be diverted to Crystal Palace. Use local or rail replacement bus services No Night Tube or London Overground Night Service and limited Night Bus services are running. Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.  
 
TfL Rail  
On Sunday 13 September, there will be no service between Liverpool Street and Stratford until 10:00. Use Central line services to continue your journey.

Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.
 
London Trams  
Due to planned engineering works, there will be several London Trams line closures during August and September. The following services will be affected in the coming week:

On Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September, there will be no service between Arena and Beckenham Junction. Rail replacement bus services TL2 will run.

Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time. 

See an overview of planned track closures for the next six months.
See the latest status updates on London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and Trams, including a map of closures and information about rail replacement buses.

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Sam Hewitt
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