Ben Jones

  • December debut for Hull Trains ‘Paragon’ fleet

    December debut for Hull Trains ‘Paragon’ fleet

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    November 25 saw the first of five Hull Trains’ (HT) Class 802/3s make its debut in the company’s home city. The First Group-owned open access operator confirmed that the bi-mode trains will be phased into passenger service over the next two months, releasing its ailing Class 180s for transfer to East Midlands Railway (EMR).  The…

  • TRAIN TEST: LONDON OVERGROUND CLASS 710

    TRAIN TEST: LONDON OVERGROUND CLASS 710

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    Transport for London’s Overground operation has transformed services on many local railways in the capital. As the city’s population grows and demand increases, its train fleet is expanding to create additional capacity. Ben Jones visits the modernised Gospel Oak to Barking line to sample the first Bombardier ‘Aventra’ design to enter service. Class 710 is the…

  • ‘Azuma’ makes Scottish debut as LNER ponders extra trains

    ‘Azuma’ makes Scottish debut as LNER ponders extra trains

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    By Ben Jones LNER introduced its first Anglo-Scottish ‘Azuma’ diagram on August 1, with more services expected to move over to the new trains in mid-September.  LNER’s daily 06.48 service from Glasgow Central-King’s Cross and 15.30 return will also switch to the new trains from September 23.  Class 800 IETs are currently restricted to one…

  • ScotRail remedial plan delivering on its promises

    ScotRail remedial plan delivering on its promises

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    A PROGRAMME of improvements demanded by Transport Scotland earlier this year is delivering more reliable and more punctual train services, according to the ScotRail Alliance.  More trains are running to time, with fewer cancellations, less ‘skip-stopping’, and more seats on ScotRail trains as new trains come into service.  Training of additional drivers and conductors has…

  • Caledonian Sleeper’s Mk5 stock: an overnight sensation?

    Caledonian Sleeper’s Mk5 stock: an overnight sensation?

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    Caledonian Sleeper’s new Mk5 stock has rarely been out of the headlines since it was introduced. Ben Jones takes a ride on this new generation of Spanish-built overnight stock to see if it delivers on its promises of a quality hotel experience. Having been in decline for decades, killed off by indifference, variable quality, high…

  • Porterbrook wins hydrogen race as converted ‘319’ makes public debut

    Porterbrook wins hydrogen race as converted ‘319’ makes public debut

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    Word: Ben Jones THE UK’s first hydrogen-powered main line train moved under its own power for the first time at the ‘Rail Live’ event in June.  Porterbrook ‘HydroFLEX’ demonstrator No. 799001, extensively modified from dual-voltage EMU No. 319001, has been fitted with a hydrogen power pack, allowing it to run as normal on electrified routes, or independently…

  • Extended Buxton sidings boost Peak stone traffic

    Extended Buxton sidings boost Peak stone traffic

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    Hogshaw Lane Sidings in Buxton have been transformed by a £14million project to accommodate longer limestone trains from local quarries.  The two sidings, close to Buxton station, are on the site of the former London & North Western Railway (LNWR) engine shed, and are used by Freightliner and DB Cargo trains to and from the…

  • Feature | Access all areas?

    Feature | Access all areas?

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    Ben Jones looks at the thorny issue of open access in the UK and Europe, its successes and failures, and the arguments for and against. ASK someone for their views on open access passenger operations and the response will give you a pretty good idea where they stand on the much larger issues of railway…

  • Mirrlees Class 37 almost ready for main line action

    Mirrlees Class 37 almost ready for main line action

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    EUROPHOENIX No. 37901 Mirrlees Pioneer basks in the winter sun at UK Rail Leasing’s Leicester depot on February 12.  The Mirrlees-engined prototype has been restored to working order and is now awaiting the completion of some internal work before returning to the main line.  UKRL plans to use it as an interim depot shunter at Leicester, but it…

  • British Line Society secures Thunderer for railtour return after 28-year gap

    British Line Society secures Thunderer for railtour return after 28-year gap

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    THE Branch Line Society has scored a major coup by securing Garcia Hanson’s No. 50008 Thunderer for a railtour on July 27.  The ‘50’ has been active on the main line for several years, but to date has only hauled passenger trains on heritage railways.  Its last railtour outing is thought to have been in October…

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