TXM Komatsu PC138 heavylift

AJHPLANT have carried out upgrade to RIS-1530-PLT issue 4 of the first PC138 for TXM. This machine has had a heavylift upgrade with extra counterweight for greater lifting duties. Trailer air brake system, working at height protection, AJHPLANT hybrid slew limitation system and GKD 3RCI.


The fall and rise of Britain’s railways

Part 6: Sectorisation

This year sees the fiftieth anniversary of Richard Beeching’s ‘The Re-Shaping of British Railways’. Colin Garratt reports

2013 also sees the thirtieth anniversary of the Serpell Report. These two events mirrored the tempestuous undertones of railway policy in the years following World War Two.

In this eight part series, Colin Garratt of Milepost 921⁄2 outlines the turbulent events which led up to the privatisation of British Rail in 1993, concluding with an analysis of the current situation and where it might be heading.

Under sectorisation British Rail changed from its inherited regional structure to a series of business units.

At least that was the idea. Up until the 1980s BR had operated five regions – largely based on the old railway companies inherited by the British Transport Commission after the Second World War.

These were London Midland, the Southern, Western, Scottish and Eastern – which spliced together North Eastern and Anglia in an arranged marriage put through in 1967 – the summer of love for some.

The Board believed the best way of answering the remorseless pressure from government to cut costs was to refashion itself into a series of businesses – some of which could turn a profit.

The sub text was that the new businesses would be able to fill trains using up to the minute marketing and analysis. Friction was inevitable but the combined talents of John Welsby – chief executive of BR and Sir Robert Reid – arguably the best of the BR chairmen – joined engineers and marketeers in a new sense of identity.

BR was subdivided into six organisations, accountable for cost and performance. During the 1980s assets such as stations and rolling stock transferred to the new businesses. However the board at Euston was still firmly in control.

The new businesses included:

  • InterCity
  • Rail Express Systems
  • Provincial Services (Regional Railways)
  • London & South East (Network Southeast from 1986)
  • Trainload FreightM999-00483
  • Railfreight Distribution.

Sectorisation ensured clear accountability, decentralised management and a vigorous marketing strategy which was customer orientated. The emphasis on businesses and profit centres played out well with the Thatcher administration, busily privatising nationalised utilities.

The procedural-led railway was being reborn anew as a series of dynamic focused businesses, proponents argued. BR, with its high dependence on subsidy, looked business-like and so remained immune to the Thatcherite privatisations.

The Organising For Quality campaign reinforced the message of running the railway better, giving passengers – now termed customers – what they wanted – Clean smart trains that ran on time. Old railway personnel argued that was what they had been doing all along. Public perception lagged behind reality.

However BR determined even before OFQ to address this. Advertising agency Allen, Brady and Marsh won the account after a pitch which has passed into legend.

In 1977 Peter Parker, legendary BR chairman, led a sizeable delegation and went down to ABM’s offices. At ABM they were greeted by a surly receptionist filing her nails and smoking a cigarette. No one else appeared.

‘How long do we have to wait,’ Parker enquired. The receptionist shrugged. ‘Dunno,’ she said. Increasingly irate Parker looked around at the room full of cups of cold coffee, overflowing ash trays and cheap magazines lying on the floor. The place was filthy. Eventually the ever genial Peter Marsh bounced into the room.

‘What is going on?’ Parker roared. ‘That is how the public sees BR,’ Marsh said. ‘Let’s see what we can do to put it right.’ ABM won the account and the advertising slogan the Age of the Train was born.

Under sectorisation the new businesses took the limelight allowing the British Railways Board to oversee crucial issues of safety, investment, strategy and planning.


This sector became the first long distance passenger railway in the UK to go into profit. InterCity became one of Britain’s top 150 companies with civilised city centre to city centre travel across the nation from Aberdeen and Inverness in the north to Poole and Penzance in the south.

‘All trains have catering ranging from a trolley or buffet to a full meal service with a choice of market researched menus. Buffets stock ten brands of beer and cider thirteen brands of spirits sixty varieties of sandwiches…’ InterCity said.

Determined to roll back the curly edged sandwich joke BR engaged Clement Freud to fill the gap. Wine was chosen by experts with the enthusiastic assistance of senior staff. InterCity concentrated on business people. ‘Few companies can afford to have their executives wasting time behind the wheel of a motor car,’ InterCity argued.

Regional Railways

The aim of Provincial Services (later Regional Railways) was threefold:

  • To provide urban railway services in cities outside London and the south east.
  • Run inter-urban services linking towns and cities.
  • Maintain connections with rural communities.

Regional Railways operated over half of British Rail’s route mileage and served 1,500 stations. One third of its turnover came from fares; a third from government public service grants and the remainder from local government- controlled Passenger Transport Executives. PTEs paid Regional Railways to operate their services.

When this sector was formed in 1982, as Provincial Railways, it inherited old rolling stock and run down lines but ten years later the average age of its diesel trains was only seven years and the livery was modern and eye catching.

Regional Railways emphasised the benefits of rail travel, introducing through services which would have been unimaginable in steam days along with greatly improved journey times.

‘Combined with PTE and light rail services locally and InterCity services nationally, Regional Railways is helping to fulfil the increasing need for rail travel across Britain. Strathclyde PTE aims to have 95% of Glasgow’s population within walking distance of a railway station,’ BR said.

Network SouthEast

London and South Eastern took over commuter lines feeding into London – although its reach was much further. The sector was charged with reducing costs and worked hard to build up off peak travel.Sectorisation [online]

From 1986 under its new director, Chris Green (pictured above), it became Network South East with its distinctive red, white and blue livery. It was Europe’s most intensive peak period rail operation and also one of the largest retail operators in the south east.

Network South East was British Rail’s largest passenger business and Britain’s fifteenth largest company, running 7,500 trains a day over 2,500 route miles of track with 943 stations.

Whether building new stations or restoring the railway’s Victorian heritage, architects hired by Network SouthEast created a cheerful and welcoming style. The sector’s colourful branding helped attract an ever increasing volume of passengers. Eight hundred new coaches were put into service between 1986 and 1993.

Parcels – Rail Express Services

The Parcels Sector was set up in the 1980s and rebranded Rail Express Systems in 1991. Royal Mail letters and parcels were conveyed by Rail Express Systems (RES) with specially liveried locomotives and rolling stock. Thirty Travelling Post Offices ran nightly, sorting the mail as they went. 100 mph running gave rail the competitive edge.

Trainload Freight

Analysts at the time believed the principle of running freight trains profitably was to run bulk trains as long and as full as possible for as far as you could for one customer. Trainload Freight achieved just that and became one of British Rail’s most profitable businesses.

Trainload Freight had four profit centres: Coal, Construction, Metals and Petroleum. Coal trains operated the Merry-go-Round system loading and discharging on the move from colliery to power station. Coal trains also served cement, steel, paper and chemical plants.

Trainload Construction carried aggregates, domestic waste, soil and cement. Trainload Metals carried 17 million tonnes a year; 70% in raw materials – iron ore and limestone and 30% in semi- finished commodities. Imported iron ore was conveyed from Immingham Docks to Scunthorpe and from Port Talbot to Llanwern.

‘Rationalisation in the steel industry has left some rolling mills and coating plants remote from the steel works and Trainload Freight acts as a moving conveyor between them,’ TLF said.

Trainload Petroleum worked for the oil industry, competing favourably with road haulage, pipelines and coastal shipping. Altogether Trainload Freight employed 13,000 people, ran 400 main line locomotives and 25 depots. TLF also controlled eleven wagon repair centres, 50 train crew booking on points and served over 700 private sidings and terminals.

Railfreight Distribution

Once the four profitable parts of railway freight had been teased out and transferred to Trainload Freight the board took everything else and put it into Railfreight Distribution.

This included car transporters, China clay trains, wine wagons, the Speedlink network and Freightliner – already handling substantial numbers of ISO shipping containers.

RfD was also BR’s international freighting arm charged with readying the UK for the opening of the Channel Tunnel to rail freight. RfD ran trains to France using the Nord pas de Calais – the Trainferry ship and operated a container ship between Harwich and Zeebrugge.

RfD employed a colourful mix of Flemish and French staff at its Paddington HQ. Senior managers could be observed slipping across Bayswater at lunch times for French lessons. When it opened the tunnel would plug Britain’s rail freight network into a pan- European railway – suddenly creating the longed-for long distance, high volume, economic matrix.

Around Britain RfD opened and re-designated a number of depots as Euro-terminals. Against this rather optimistic backdrop RfD closed the Speedlink network and several terminals.

Was Sectorisation a success?

No sooner had BR’s sectorisation and OFQ programme taken root than the John Major administration announced the privatisation of Britain’s railways. Few quite believed the implications of the 1993 Railways Act.

However John Welsby told senior staff railway privatisation was going to happen and to start preparing for it. The shape of the new railway took little account of the achievements of BR’s new businesses.

InterCity was broken up. Trainload Freight was broken up. Network SouthEast was broken up. In all BR was fractured into 400 different companies. The whole operation of Britain’s railways ended up costing a lot more money.

However. the basic dynamism that would herald the return of the successful railway had been sewn in to the industry’s DNA by the Board’s Trojan-like reforms. The government of the day might have concluded that railways were slated for terminal decline.

Railway staff, local leaders and supporters thought otherwise. Amidst a welter of evidence two examples best typify what Welsby’s herculean reorganisation accomplished.


Faced with the closure of Marylebone – little used and under resourced – the Board took a decision to fight back. The Marylebone – Aylesbury line wenMilepost390 [online]t through a process of Total Route Modernisation. Semaphore signalling was replaced, stations done up and new rolling stock introduced.

Chiltern Railways, born of a management buy out went onto become one of the most successful railways of the new era. The company expanded with regular services to Birmingham.


Over at RfD a group of managers staged an ambitious management buy out of the Freightliner network. Freightliner went on to become immensely successful – fuelled by the huge upsurge in the importation of Chinese consumer goods.


Sectorisation proved to be a great success. The railway was fully accountable as never before. However the opportunity to shine even brighter under BR would be denied.

Splintered into 400 parts the Humpty Dumpty railway looked set for a final and fatal fall. Managed decline was the phrase bandied about Marsham Street and Whitehall.

As it turned out it would be the private sector – and in fact railway staff who stayed the course – that went on to build on the foundations achieved.

As the lamplighters of Marsham Street worked out the Kafkaesque detail of the Railways Act, few imagined the railway would emerge triumphant 20 years on. The industry never lost its sense of identity, purpose or self worth.

Ask railway staff where they work and the reply will usually be – on the railway. Despite a fractured industry and a botched privatisation the railway stuck together, survived and prospered. Perhaps that remains BR’s greatest legacy.

Part 7: Privatisation

Photographs supplied by Milepost 92 1/2

São Paulo signs Line 6 construction contract

São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin has signed a BRL $9.6 billion contract for the construction and operation of the city’s new Line 6 – Orange Line.

The Move São Paulo consortium, which consists of Odebrecht, Queiroz Galvão, UTC Participações and investor Eco Realty, will build the 15.6-kilometre system, dubbed the University Line, and 15 new stations.

Line 6 is to be delivered through a public-private partnership in which the government will bear half of the overall cost of the project.

The Orange Line will link Brasilândia in the north of São Paulo with São Joaquim station in the city’s Liberdade district.

In addition to construction works and the purchase of new trains, the tender also includes the operation and maintenance of the line for 19 years.

In a statement, Alckmin said the project would create more than 10,000 jobs and benefit two million people around the city.

Image courtesy of Metrô de São Paulo CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Siemens delivers new high-speed Sapsan train to Russia

The first of a new fleet of Sapsan trains, which will double the number of high-speed units operating in Russia, has been delivered by Siemens.

Russian Railways (RZD) welcomed the first of the new fleet [not pictured] of eight 10-car Velaro units at Ust-Luga earlier this week.

The new high-speed trains are part of a €600 million order placed in 2011 which also included a 30-year maintenance contract.

Siemens has said that the new vehicles, which were built in Krefeld, will eventually be transported to the company’s Metallostroy depot depot near Saint Petersburg.

Another train is expected to be delivered by the end of the month, with all eight vehicles due to arrive in Russia by the middle of next year.

Although similar to the German ICE 3, the Sapsan, which has operated on the Moscow – St Petersburg and Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod routes since 2009, is actually 33 centimeters wider to operate on Russia broad gauge network.

Class 321 Demonstrator launched

Eversholt Rail’s modified Class 321 has begun transporting passengers on the Greater Anglia network.

The Class 321 Demonstrator, which was unveiled in October, was launched at Liverpool Street Station this week.

Abellio Greater Anglia will operate the four-car unit for the next 12 months between Southend, Chelmsford, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton, Harwich and Ipswich, in which time it is hoping to gather feedback from passengers on its refurbished interior.

The train is made up of two ‘suburban’ cars and two ‘metro’ cars, which feature 3+2 and 2+2 seating configurations respectively.

Everything from new LED lighting to a wheelchair accessible toilet have been installed on the vehicle as part of a programme led by Eversholt to explore ways of extending the life of the Class 321.

Mary Kenny, chief executive of Eversholt Rail, said: “We hope as many people as possible travel on the Demonstrator and give us feedback on the new features and the overall experience, to help us to improve the trains for passengers in the future.”

NSW awards second North West Rail Link construction contract

The New South Wales (NSW) Government has awarded a $340 million construction contract for an elevated ‘skytrain’ section of the region’s North West Rail Link project.

An Impregilo-Salini joint venture will build a 4-kilometre section, including a 270-metre cable-stayed bridge, from Bella Vista to Rouse Hill.

The deal is the second of three main construction contracts that with make up the $8.3 billion project. With the tunnelling contract already awarded, focus will now turn to the third and final phase of the programme, which is expected to be announced by the end of next year.

The OTS contract, for which Network Rail will deliver consulting services, includes building the link’s eight new stations, procuring new rolling stock, completing all the track and signalling work, and operating the completed system.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said in a statement: “Work is now well underway on Australia’s biggest public transport project – and we have now signed the second of three major contracts being awarded for the North West Rail Link.

“In June, we awarded the $1.15 billion tunnelling contract to build Australia’s longest rail tunnels – 15-kilometre twin tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping.

“The first of four tunnel boring machines will be in the ground before the end of next year – as promised and on schedule. Work is also continuing full-pace at the major tunnelling launch site at Bella Vista, home also of the new Bella Vista station.”

Work is currently underway preparing 16 construction sites along the route of the new line.

European Parliament approves amended Fourth Railway Package

MEPs have voted through amendments to the Fourth Railway Package, drawing concerns from public transport bodies around Europe.

Prior to the Transport and Tourism Committee’s meeting yesterday (December 17) UITP, EPTO and EMTA had all expressed concerns about how numerous compromise amendments would affect the legislation’s central aim of improving competition across Europe.

UITP has said that some of the amendments could weaken the regulation’s “legal security” and its central aim of opening up closed markets to new entrants.

One of the amendments highlighted by the association will allow public service contracts to continue to be directly awarded in certain situations without being required to go through a competitive tendering process.

Speaking after the vote, UITP’s Thomas Avanzata said: “First of all, UITP is happy with the fact that the process goes on because obviously UITP is more in favour of progressive opening of railway markets. But we have huge concerns with some of the amendments, the compromise amendments, that have been adopted in [the] transport committee this morning.

“First concern is that legal security could be jeopardized by some of these amendments, and second concern is the fact that UITP’s position was that the revision of regulation on the public transport services was to be limited to what was strictly necessary to open up railway markets.”

The committee also approved the package’s ‘technical pillar’ which over a four-year transition period will take away the responsibility of certification from national safety authorities and create a single safety certificate issued by the European Railway Agency.

As expected, the legislation is also moving away from demanding a complete separation of infrastructure managers and operators, allowing members to opt for an integrated structure with a single holding company governed by stricter requirements for financial transparency.

The European Parliament has said it expects to vote in plenary on the package in February 2014.

First Dubai tram delivered

The first of 11 new trams for Dubai’s Al Sufouh Tramway has arrived in the city from Alstom’s La Rochelle plant in France.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) welcomed the new Citadis vehicles which, following a period of testing, will transport passengers along the city’s new system.

The turnkey project, which includes 25 trams, signalling, track, control centre and screen doors and ticketing systems, is being delivered by Alstom.

Dubai’s tram will be the first system in the world to run solely on Alstom’s catenary-free APS system.

Once complete, Alstom will also maintain the system for 13 years on behalf of the line’s operator, Serco.

Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the board and executive director of RTA, said “Now that Alstom has conducted the initial systems tests on the tram in their facilities in France, we are starting technical tests on the depot’s rails and test runs on the line. All operational aspects will be continuously assessed until the line opens.”

The Al Sufouh network is being built in two phases which, once complete, will see 17 new stations opened and 25 trams in service.

Phase one is due to open by the end of 2014.

Each tram is 44 metres long, with a capacity for 408 passengers. The trams will also be split into three sections – a first class Gold Suite, a Silver Class car and a separate car for women and children.

Poland to receive grant to finance high-speed train fleet

The European Commission has ruled that providing €93 million to fund the purchase of new long-distance trains for Polish operator PKP Intercity (PKP IC) is acceptable under EU state aid rules.

PKP IC will use the money to partly finance 20 high-speed Pendolino trains purchased from Alstom in 2011, with additional funding coming in the form of a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to cover the remainder of the €430 million programme.

The EU said the new trains would improve “the country’s territorial cohesion and the accessibility of individual region” and that using public money would “further EU cohesion and transport objectives without unduly distorting competition”.

Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, said: “The use of high-performance trains will improve the offer of alternative means of passenger transport in Poland. This should result in a more balanced transport system, decrease the negative effects of transport on the environment and limit traffic congestion.”

The new trains, which have now completed 20,000 kilometres in dynamic testing on the Polish network, will operate on routes linking Warsaw with Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow and Wroclaw from December 2014.

Test trains running on Gotthard Base Tunnel

The first test train has taken to the western tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, marking 900 days until the official opening of the world’s longest rail tunnel.

AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd chief executive Renzo Simoni, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) chief executive Andreas Meyer and Transport Minister Doris Leuthard launched the project’s test phase on December 16 on the southern section of the link between Bodio and Faido.

Trial runs will be conducted along the 13-kilometre section between now and June 2014 to test the tunnel’s infrastructure and various ancillary systems.

Passenger trains remain on course to begin operation in December 2016, several months after the official inauguration of the line in June.

At 57 kilometres, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which will travel through the Alps between the northern portal of Erstfeld and Bodio in the south, will become the longest rail tunnel in the world once complete, stripping the title from Japan’s 53.85 kilometre Seikan Tunnel.

Celebrating the milestone, Doris Leuthard said: “Innovation, precision, safety and reliability – these are the values with which our country prospers – and these are the foundations on which the Gotthard Base Tunnel is built. We can be proud of what we have achieved so far.”