Approval for Daventry rail freight expansion

An 8 million sq ft extension of Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (Dirft) has been given the green light by the Secretary of State.

Dirft III will have a capacity for up to 32 freight trains in and out of the site each day, handling more than 500,000 containers a year.

Located next to the M1 motorway and the West Coast main line, DIRFT III is the first Strategic Rail Freight Interchange to secure a Development Consent Order (DCO) in line with the Planning Act 2008 and is the largest rail-linked logistics development in the UK.

The first buildings of the £1 billion project are expected to be ready by 2016. Once complete, the facility will employ around 9,000 people.

Andrew Griffiths, managing director of Prologis UK, said: “Logistics plays a vital role in the UK economy, underpinning the success of many other sectors from retail and e-commerce to manufacturing.

“Since it is both more cost-effective and more carbon-efficient to transport freight by rail rather than by road, DIRFT provides the facilities necessary to service and support growth across the economy.”

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail manager said “Daventry Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) demonstrates that rail and road complement each other and that these SRFIs allow efficient cost-effective transfer between the modes. So it is crucial that the Government’s National Networks National Policy Statement makes it clear that getting planning permission for a network of strategic rail freight interchanges across the UK, like Daventry, is an essential part of getting freight onto rail in order to reduce road fatalities , road congestion and pollution.”

Poland conducting ERTMS Level 2 testing

PKP-Polskie Linie Kolejowe is conducting ERTMS Level 2 trials ahead of a planned rollout of the European standard signalling technology over the next couple of years.

Testing is being conducted on a section of the E30 line between Legnica and Bielawa Dolna – a pilot which is being co-financed by the European Union under the Cohesion Fund under the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment –  before it is installed across Poland’s main line railway network.

The trials are observing the compatibility and performance of the lineside and onboard equipment.

Unlike ETCS Level 1, which monitors train positions intermittently as they pass over fixed transmitters, ETCS Level 2 provides continuous train control through a radio-based system.

PKP aims to implement ERTMS Level 2 on the Warszawa-Gdańsk-Gdynia route in June 2015. The organisation also hopes to roll out ERTMS Level 1 on the Kunowice-Poznań-Warszawa corrdior by December 2014.

Amtrak begins search for new high-speed train fleet

Amtrak has gone out to the market as it looks to procure 28 ‘next generation’ high-speed trainsets for the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

The new trains will operate alongside the current fleet of Acela Express trains before eventually replacing the Bombardier stock.

Amtrak has published a Request for Proposals (RFP) which stipulated that the new vehicles will need to have 40 per cent more seating capacity than the current trainsets and an operating speed in excess of 250 km/h.

President and chief executive Joseph Boardman said: “The Northeast Corridor needs more high-speed rail capacity to help move the American economy forward.

“More and more people are choosing Amtrak for travel between Washington, New York and Boston. New equipment means more seats and more frequent departures to help meet that growing demand.”

Keolis Amey to operate DLR until 2021

A Keolis/Amey joint venture has been awarded a seven-year contract to operate and maintain London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

Keolis Amey will take over from Serco, which has operated the DLR, since 1997 on December 7.

The operating concession, which includes an option to extend the deal until 2023, is worth more than £700 million.

Four bidders, Go-Ahead/Colas, Keolis/Amey, Serco and Stagecoach, has initially submitted bids in the DLR competition. However, the Go-Ahead/Colas joint venture pulled out of the race in August 2013.

TfL’s managing director of London Underground and rail, Mike Brown, said: “The DLR is a rail network that continues to support regeneration across a huge area of London and the economic growth of the city as a whole.

“Its connectivity with the rest of the transport network, and its potential to connect jobs and unlock opportunities, is also set to increase further when we start to operate the Crossrail services that will interchange with it in a few years’ time.

“The decision to appoint Keolis Amey Docklands was reached after a thorough and competitive procurement process, which will ensure the DLR continues to deliver an ever-improving high quality, value for money service for Londoners well into the future.

“I would also like to thank Serco for their support since 1997 in helping make the DLR the success story it is today.”

A Story of Partnership

Network Rail recognised the achievements of its contractors and supply chain last night at the 2014 Partnership Awards, held on London’s south bank. Writes Nigel Wordsworth

The sixth annual Partnership Awards were introduced by chief executive Mark Carne, who said: “Everyone here tonight has made a difference to Network Rail and I’d like to take this opportunity to express my thanks and gratitude for everything you have done to help deliver a better railway for a better Britain.”

Awards were divided amongst 11 categories covering everything from Heritage to Sustainable Excellence and Best Small/Medium/Large Project. Companies were able to make submissions for as many or as few categories as they wished. These were then whittled down to a published shortlist by the judges and a winner – and usually one or two highly commended entries – chosen from those.

Mark Carne [online]

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne.

Comedian Ed Byrne entertained the guests, mainly with anecdotes about rail’s mortal enemy – the aviation industry. He then also presided over the awards themselves.

Some big names did well. Balfour Beatty Rail won two awards, for Safety and for Heritage, Carillion won Driving Efficiencies, which was nothing to do with train driving, andSpencer Rail won two – Best Large Project  and Best Collaboration along with Balfour Beatty, Atkins and Medway Council.

However, smaller concerns also had their time in the limelight. Capgemini UK won Best Use of Technology & Innovation for Linear Asset decision Support (LADS) with Dual Inventive highly commended, while Mission Room were Highly Commended for Safety.

At the end of the category awards came two more. A Special Award was presented by the MP for Newton Abbot, Anne Marie Morris, to the team that rebuilt the Dawlish Sea Wall and the Great Western main line to Cornwall. Tom Kikham, Andy Crowley, Rob Burr and Rob Allen were named individually, but the 300-strong ‘Orange Army’ received the award.  Quite a number went on stage to receive it.

Then it was time for the final award, the Supplier of the Year.  Mark Carne presented that one himself, and it went to the recipient of the Best Small Project award – Story Contracting.  A cheer went up, not only from the Story team present but from the room at large, showing that it was a popular choice.

As a large group of smiling Story faces walked to the stage for the presentation and photographs, the remaining guests were left to ponder that, for the second year running, Network Rail had chosen one of the middle-ground, companies which are sometimes principle contractors and sometimes sub-contractors, proving that the contributions from suppliers of all sizes are truly valued for the contribution that they make to the railway.



Category Company Project
Best Collaboration Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Spencer Rail and Medway Council
(highly commended East Midlands Trains and also Signalling Solutions)
East Kent resignalling phase 2
Best Project – Large Spencer Rail
(h/c Costain and Hochtief JV)
Network Rail Ipswich Chord
Best Project – Medium Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd
(h/c Capgemini UK)
Salford Crescent Railway Station
Best Project – Small Story Contracting
(h/c Crosscountry Trains)
Story Contracting and Network Rail: Merseyrail Slab Track Renewal
Best Use of Technology Capgemini UK plc
(h/c Dual Inventive)
Community Engagement Morgan Sindall
(h/c Colas Rail/Morgan Sindall JV and also Spencer Rail)
Haymarket station Capacity Improvement project
Driving Efficiencies Carillion Rail
(h/c AMCO Rail and also Siemens Rail Automation)
Southampton to Basingstoke W10 Gauge Clearance
Heritage Balfour Beatty Rail
(h/c Buckingham Group Contracting)
Masonry arch bridge strengthening using XiSPAN
Investing in People ScotRail
(h/c Carillion Rail and also Emergency planning College)
ScotRail – Investing in talent and skills
Safety Balfour Beatty Rail
(h/c Mission Room and ScotRail)
Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace Capacity Improvement Project
Sustainable Excellence ScotRail
(h/c Buckingham Group Contracting and also Signalling Solutions)
ScotRail’s energy reduction strategy

Special Award – Dawlish reconstruction


Edinburgh tram bells will not be silenced

Transport for Edinburgh has said its tram bells will not be silenced in some residential areas following stories about complaints from unhappy residents.

The Edinburgh Evening News reported that drivers had been told to only sound their bell if “absolutely necessary” in some areas after the operator had received complaints from residents living alongside the route.

In a statement, Transport for Edinburgh said: “There are no plans to stop use of the tram bell as it’s a critical safety device on the road. Our policy hasn’t changed since December last year when we started on-street testing. Drivers ring the bell when it’s appropriate to sound it for very important safety reasons.

“This includes busy junctions, when pulling away from tram stops and when the driver thinks that a nearby pedestrian may not be aware of the presence of the tram.

“The safety of pedestrians and our passengers is our number one priority and we train our drivers to use their judgement based on conditions around them.”

Edinburgh’s long-awaited light rail system opened last month –  60 years after the original tram network was decommissioned.

Originally due to open in 2011, the project has suffered a number of setbacks financially and politically which have resulted in ambitions being scaled back and budgets scaled up.

Istanbul Metro awards train contract

CAF and Mitsubishi Corporation have won a €119 million contract to supply metro cars to Turkey’s largest city.

Istanbul Metro has procured 21 six-car trains. In 2009, the operator awarded CAF a contract for 30 metro trains for the automated Kadikoy-Kartal line (M4).

CAF has previously supplied 12 high-speed trains for  the Ankara-Istanbul corridor, 14 trams for the coastal town of Antalya and 33 suburban trains for Izmir.

Alstom to start building new PRASA train fleet

Production of South Africa’s new suburban train fleet is set to begin after Alstom and PRASA unveiled the finalised vehicle design at Africa Rail this week.

The first 20 trains will be built at Alstom’s Lapa plant in Brazil before production move to Dunnottar.

PRASA Group chief executive Lucky Montana said: “The project is running at full speed and we have successfully completed the first important milestone.”

The Gibela joint venture’s first group of South African engineers are currently being trained at Alstom facilities in Europe.

Cornwall to benefit from £146.6m rail investment package

The UK government has announced that £146.6 million is to be  Cornwall’s rail network including a substantial upgrade to sleeper services.

Tourism is at the ‘core’ of the investment, the Department for Transport (DfT) said in a statement. The deal will see the interior of the Night Riviera Sleeper between Penzance and London overhauled and the Long Rock train maintenance site at Penzance expanded to maintain the sleeper cars.

Signalling improvements between Penzance and Totnes will also be delivered five years earlier than planned, reducing journey times on the Cornish main line.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Ensuring that we have first class infrastructure across Britain is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and provide a brighter future for hardworking people.

“This investment, which will boost the local economy and improve connectivity, is great news for Cornwall, the South West and beyond.”

The package includes £9m of funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), £29.6m secured through Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), £103.5m from Network Rail and £4.5m from train operator First Great Western.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Rail travel in Cornwall is growing rapidly, and investing in the rail network here is crucial to securing long-term economic growth. These improvements will safeguard and create jobs, improve services for millions of passengers and provide better access to the South West of England.

“This is great news for Cornwall and for the wider economy as a whole.”

Bombardier Transportation UK appoints new boss

Noel Travers has been appointed as the new managing director and head of projects for Bombardier Transportation UK.

Travers takes the place of Francis Paonessa who is joining Network Rail as the organisation’s head of infrastructure projects.

Bombardier has said that Peter Doolin, who joined the company in 2010 as senior director for Multiple Unit projects, will retain responsibility as head of projects for Crossrail and London Underground.

Both appointments report directly to Laurent Troger, president, Western Europe, Middle East and Africa Division.

Troger said: “These appointments endorse the excellent and experienced management team that we have in place in the UK and will continue to ensure our total focus on project delivery, quality and customer satisfaction.”