UK railway roundup

This week’s roundup of news from the UK railway industry.

Southeastern stripped of franchise over failure to declare £25m of taxpayer cash

Train operator Southeastern has been stripped of its franchise after failing to declare more than £25 million of taxpayer funding, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

Elodie Brian, the chief financial officer of transport firm Go-Ahead – the majority owner of the rail firm’s parent company Govia – has resigned. Conservative MP Huw Merriman said he understands that the Serious Fraud Office “will be involved”.

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The Government will take over running services on Southeastern’s network – which runs across south-east England, covering London, Kent, East Sussex and the High Speed 1 line – from October 17.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an investigation by his department identified evidence that since October 2014 the company has not declared more than £25 million of historic taxpayer funding which should have been returned.

Competition seeking best young rail photographers open

Entries are still being accepted for the Rail Camera Club’s free competition for railway photographers aged under 26 to showcase their work.

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The competition is supported by Network Rail, the National Railway Museum, Jessops, Mortons Media (The
Railway Magazine
Rail ExpressHeritage RailwayRailways Illustrated), Silver Link Publishing, Bauer Media and others.

The theme for entries is ‘The railway seen’, showing the diversity of the current railway scene. This could
mean steam, diesel or electric trains, architecture, people, landscapes, or abstract image.

Upgraded Island Line set to reopen on November 1

South Western Railway (SWR) has announced that the upgraded Island Line is set to reopen on November 1.

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Once reopened – subject to final round of safety tests – customers will return to a transformed Island Line, with new trains running along upgraded infrastructure and through improved stations.

The new trains will improve the customer experience, with upgrades ranging from better interiors to plug sockets, free WiFi and wheelchair spaces.

The £26 million project, funded by the Department for Transport together with the Isle of Wight Council and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, has taken longer to complete than first anticipated.

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Network Rail announces £25m investment for critical Wales and Borders transport link

Details have been revealed of a multi-million-pound plan to rescue a railway line increasingly ravaged by climate change and extreme weather. 

The Newport-Gloucester line connects South Wales with the West Country, Midlands and north of England, providing a vital link for passengers. 

Running alongside the Severn Estuary – exposed to rain, wind and sea – more frequent extreme weather has seen the line devastated by five major landslips in the last two years alone. This has led to extended closures of the railway and temporary speed restrictions, delaying more than 200,000 trains.

RAIB release report into Hampshire near miss

Rowlands Castle station

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into a near miss with a member of staff at Rowlands Castle station in December last year.

At 19:14 hrs on December 19, 2020, a Network Rail Mobile Operations Manager (MOM) came close to being struck by a passenger train at Rowlands Castle station.

The MOM was on the track retrieving a rubbish bag when the train approached at 60mph. The MOM climbed back onto the platform and was clear of the line just one second before the train passed.

Latest Service Updates

Gatwick Express  – Gatwick Express services remain suspended until further notice.
Hull Trains – Hull Trains are currently running a reduced service, in line with passenger demand and current government advice.

Transport For London Status

If you need to travel this weekend, here are planned works that may affect your journey.

Our transport network has never been cleaner. Imperial College London run monthly tests for coronavirus on the transport network and found no trace. You can read their recently published report.

Air continuously flows through all our trains, trams and buses. For example, on average, air in a Tube train changes every few minutes. Buses are fitted with air extraction and ventilation systems and we also leave windows open throughout the passenger area to keep a flow of fresh air.

Please continue to walk or cycle part of your journey where possible. If using public transport, travel during quieter times if you can. This will make social distancing easier. The quieter times to travel are:

  • Between 08:15 and 16:00 and after 17:30 on weekdays
  • Before noon and after 18:00 on weekends

Our TfL Go app can help you plan your journey and show the quieter times to travel. 

You must continue to wear a face-covering over your nose and mouth at all times when on the transport network, unless exempt. The overwhelming majority of people are complying with this requirement, and the British Transport Police, the Metropolitan Police and our own officers are on the network to check compliance. Fines of up to £6,400 exist for anyone who does not comply. 

Please also wash or sanitise your hands before and after travel.

London Underground Status

Due to the coronavirus, the following service changes will be in place until further notice. Please plan ahead and check before you travel.

London Overground

Changes to Chingford services on Wednesday 22, Thursday 23 and Friday 24 September: The 0955 train from Chingford to Liverpool Street and 1203 train from Liverpool Street to Chingford will not operate.

Changes to Enfield Town services on Wednesday 22, Thursday 23 and Friday 24 September: The 1030 train from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town and 1123 train from Enfield Town to Liverpool Street will not operate.

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

Railway Reads

From the history of steam through to 21st century rail transport news, we have titles that cater for all rail enthusiasts. Covering diesels, modelling, steam and modern railways, check out our range of magazines and fantastic subscription offers.

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...