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Better for Business April 2021

Exclusively for rail industry leaders

April 2021 Issue 8 railbusinessdaily.com

The inside track… Mike Court The UK’s biggest ever excavation Jools Townsend Embrace the insight provided by community rail movement Karl Watts The launch of a high-speed logistics rail service Debbie Francis OBE Making a difference when it comes to diversity

David Horne Overcoming coronavirus and the opportunities of an innovative approach 8

A platform for success… railbusinessdaily.com

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The light at the end of the tunnel W

elcome to the latest RailDirector. I hope you are keeping well and that business remains strong. We’ve just marked the anniversary that none of us wanted to see – one year since the coronavirus pandemic struck the UK. It got me thinking back to those first Downing Street conferences. Even the most pessimistic of us couldn’t have predicted what was to come. As I write this, I feel that the light at the end of the tunnel is fast approaching with lockdown restrictions across the UK easing. In Wales tourism has started to reopen, and in Scotland and England there is the resumption of outdoor sports, with hairdressers soon to be reopening. It has been a challenge for everyone but in true railway fashion – we have shown a resilience that the pioneering Victorians, who developed the railways, would be proud of. Everyone in the rail industry has played their part in keeping key workers and goods moving. We have seen a great many infrastructure projects completed or progressing safely and on time. They include the major remodelling programme at King’s Cross, which is well underway. The team has spoken to RailDirector about the project. As in previous editions, we continue to showcase some of the remarkable individuals who make the railway the great industry it is. It also highlights the diverse range of roles the sector has to offer. It includes the work of Network Rail’s Lydia Fairman, whose passion and energy is playing a vital role in creating an excitement about engineering among young people, through to a fascinating feature with HS2’s lead archaeologist Mike Court on his journey exploring 10,000 years of British history.

I have always had an enormous sense of pride telling people that I work in the railway, and that is something that has only grown stronger over the last year. The industry really has gone above and beyond when the country needed us most. In our daily newsletter we’ve covered the work of individuals helping to set up vaccination centres and providing laptops for young people during lockdown. Just two of a long list of examples. I write this as it has been announced that there will be an extension to the lifesaving Rail to Refuge scheme. Since April 2020 train operating companies have provided free tickets to 1,348 people fleeing domestic abuse. Behind every one of those figures is a story of someone escaping an abuser. Women’s Aid is leading the fight against domestic abuse, but is under huge pressure to support an increasing number of victims and survivors of domestic abuse. That is why, as an organisation, we have committed to raising awareness and funds for their vital work. I hope you thoroughly enjoy the latest RailDirector. Please do not hesitate to talk to us about how we can help you to tell your story and help your business to build back better from the pandemic. Kind regards

Da vid

David McLoughlin Chief Executive Business Daily Group (incorporating: RBD Publications and railbusinessdaily.com)

Everyone in the rail industry has played their part in keeping key workers and goods moving When you have finished reading this issue of RailDirector, please pass it to colleagues to enjoy or put it in your reception area.

RailDirector magazine is part of the Business Daily Group of companies, which includes the hugely popular railbusinessdaily.com. We deliver more than 70 stories a week to +50,000 rail industry professionals who now subscribe to our 7am daily newsletter. Please subscribe and encourage your colleagues and team members to do the same. It’s free and it’s easy: www.railbusinessdaily.com. This is the very best way to keep abreast of what is happening on Britain’s railways. There is a digital copy of RailDirector on our website.

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April 2021 | 3


Focusing on the fundamentals to thrive


LNER’s Managing Director David Horne on overcoming coronavirus and the opportunities of an innovative approach.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers


Network Rail’s Lydia Fairman on inspiring the future talent for the railways.



Further support funding announced for light rail and trams 42 The emergency coronavirus funding aims to ensure the vital services remain viable for the future.

Prime opportunity to rebuild trust and positivity


Grants to help with recoveries

Heritage railways industry given welcome boost ahead of re-openings.

Diversity: Ripping up the current process and job specs

Network Rail’s Track Director Steve Hughes and Route Delivery Director David Roberts discuss the major remodelling programme.


ScotRail to be taken into public ownership


Scotland’s Transport Secretary says the move will provide a stable platform for services.

Train operators extend Rail to Refuge


The Duchess of Cornwall has praised the scheme and the impact it is having.

Editor Dean Bruce editor@rbdpublications.com


Including funding for a Global Centre of Rail Excellence, and the extension of a lifesaving travel scheme.

Debbie Francis OBE discusses her passion on making a difference when it comes to diversity.

Tel: 0800 046 7320 Sales: 020 7062 6599

Community Rail Network’s Chief Executive Jools Townsend on the need to embrace the insight provided by the community rail movement.

Writers Danny Longhorn Dave Windass

Industry-wide effort at King’s Cross 54

Bringing together the innovators to help the railways thrive

Designer/Production Editor Chris Cassidy Print Manager Dan Clark Distribution Manager Nick Wright


RIA’s Dr Sam Bemment discusses the role the industry has to play in unlocking the railway of the future.

On the rails to recovery

Advertising Team Christian Wiles – chris@rbdpublications.com Freddie Neal – freddie@rbdpublications.com Elliot Gates – elliot@rbdpublications.com


South Devon Railway is on track for the return of its trains after being closed for more than a year.

A year like no other

Published by RBD Publications Ltd., Suite 37, Philpot House, Station Road, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 7HH.


Uncovering stories from the past to transform the railways for the future 26

The Rail Delivery Group’s Jacqueline Starr and Andy Bagnall reflect on the pandemic and what the future may hold.

HS2’s lead archaeologist Mike Court takes us below the surface on the UK’s biggest ever excavation.

Boosting rail resilience against extreme weather

A new star is born to transform UK logistics


Karl Watts, CEO of ROUK, discusses the launch of its first high-speed logistics rail service.

Driving the EDI agenda forward Kate Jennings and Adeline Ginn discuss the progress of the EDI Charter.


International news


Including Hitachi Rail’s major contract with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Movers and shakers A round-up of new industry appointments.

2020 Queen’s Award Winners in Innovation for Dura Platform Robroyston Station

Unlocking the Power of Composites for the Rail Industry

4 | April 2021


The report of two independent taskforces following the Stonehaven tragedy has been published.


Printed by Stephens & George © 2021 All rights reserved. Reproduction of the contents of this magazine in any manner whatsoever is prohibited without prior consent from the publisher. For subscription enquiries and to make sure you get your copy of RailDirector please ring 0800 046 7320 or email subscriptions@rbdpublications.com The views expressed in the articles reflect the author’s opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher and editor. The published material, adverts, editorials and all other content is published in good faith.

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Tr a i n o p e r a t o r s

Focusing on the fundamentals David Horne on overcoming coronavirus and the opportunities of an innovative approach


here’s a huge challenge facing train operating companies, but one that the Managing Director of London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has no concerns about facing and overcoming. David Horne’s confidence should come as no shock. For the past year he has navigated the East Coast mainline operator through the coronavirus pandemic, and prior to that he was at its helm as it was nationalised from Virgin Trains East Coast to LNER. “There is no doubt in my mind that we are in a good place with the foundations we’ve now got in place from the arrival of our new fleet of trains, some of the digital innovations that we’ve rolled out, and the fact we’re coming through this pandemic with high levels of both performance and satisfaction,” he said. “It is a really exciting time to be involved with LNER and everyone in the business is really passionate about the role that rail has got to play in boosting the economy, levelling up the country and of course a major role in terms of sustainability. “Although I am very proud of what has been achieved at LNER we’ve got to look forward, we’ve got to be bold and we’ve got to be prepared to work differently, collaboratively and think outside the box, not just build what was there before.” David’s positivity comes despite a tough 12 months. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t just decimate passenger numbers and rip up working practices and timetables, but tragically cost the lives of much-loved members of the LNER team.

“It has been an incredible journey and it was only at this point a year ago that we had the first Number 10 press conferences, which very quickly went from working from home where possible, to being in lockdown,” he said.

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Tr a i n o p e r a t o r s

“It has also led to a lot of anxiety amongst staff and passengers, which is why from day one the priority was looking after our people and customers.” Remarkably, despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, LNER has managed some impressive achievements, none more so than being the most improved train operating company in terms of punctuality for the last three quarters. This is largely due to the arrival of the 65 world-class Azuma trains – replacing its previous fleet of 45 trains – the last of which joined the fleet in September last year. “I am really proud of what has been achieved despite the challenges of the pandemic,” said David. “We knew that our performance was set to get better because of our new fleet, as our heritage fleet did really suffer from poor reliability. “But a year ago we hadn’t got all of the new trains, so one of the challenges that the team had to cope with as part of COVID was accepting the last few trains from the manufacturer Hitachi in the early days of COVID, with the help of using video for things like inspections. “The Azuma trains, built by Hitachi, have proven to be very reliable and have really helped underpin that improvement in performance that we have achieved, at a time when it has been vital to keep key workers moving. “As well as the work with Hitachi, there has been a huge amount of successful work with Network Rail. There has been real focus on the route and some great collaboration and projects delivered since the devolution and restructuring, which saw the East Coast route in Network Rail’s Eastern region.” Commitment to the environment The new Azuma trains are also playing a huge part in LNER’s environmental improvements. Through the introduction of its fleet of bi-mode trains, which started in 2019, and the phasing out of the diesel High Speed Train (HST) fleet, LNER saved nine million litres of diesel in 2019/20 compared to the previous year. As part of its Responsible Business Strategy, it has worked across its estate and infrastructure over the last 12 months to improve its carbon footprint. This includes water refill points at stations, the introduction of coffee cup disposal points, e-tickets, solar panels and LED lights. “In terms of the challenge of the decarbonisaton of transport there is no doubt in my mind that rail is not only part of the answer, but part of the specific answer,” said David. “Aviation decarbonisation is going to be really difficult to achieve. You can’t electrify aviation with batteries and overhead wires in the same way you can with trains so we will, as a rail 6 | April 2021

industry, help the broader transport sector to decarbonise if we can play our part in attracting passengers to travel by train. “The Azuma trains have been fantastic in helping us to reduce our own carbon footprint. It means that as soon as we get to an electrified piece of track, we’re able to switch onto electric automatically, which has really helped to reduce our own carbon emissions.

We’ve got to deliver a great service, we’ve got to get people to their destinations on time and we’ve got to give people a good price “Our own carbon emissions have come down by a third through that technology, but we’ve got more to do. It would be great of course to have a bit more electrification, but along with that we are working really hard to look at how else we can reduce our carbon footprint, at our stations for example.” The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been the only challenge for David and the LNER team to adjust to. It was only in 2018 that the train operator was taken back into public ownership after private company Virgin Trains East Coast collapsed. With it announced last summer that the Government is to end 24 years of rail franchising in a bid to simplify the UK’s railways, David knows only too well about the transition, but also the opportunities that come with it. “The reason Virgin Trains East Coast failed was because of financial factors which really stemmed back to the original bid, but actually the customer experience that was being delivered was a positive one,” he said.

“We’d increased customer satisfaction to 90 per cent and I think that was where the transformation really started. “What we’ve been able to do over the last two-and-a-half years at LNER is really take a different approach than when you are running a franchise. When you have a franchise, you really are delivering a bid and a set of committed obligations that were written and devised by the bid team or the team within the Department for Transport that let the franchise. “They do it at some distance to the business, so it doesn’t necessarily always reflect what the business needs or what the customers of the railway need right now. As LNER we haven’t had that, but what we’ve able to do is have our own business plan. “It’s allowed us to reflect the need of our market as we see it and the opportunities we have. It is far closer informed by the business because the business plan is created by the leadership team within the business, so you’ve got the knowledge.” Updated revenue management system David says another positive has been the fact public ownership has allowed them to invest in the business for the medium term, with the introduction of a new revenue management system, which is just one of several examples. The new system has helped the revenue optimisation team to work out how many cheap tickets to allocate on which services – getting the balance right between the price charged and the need to fill the train. “The old system needed updating, but that wasn’t in the bid for Virgin Trains East Coast, so there was no plan to replace that system, but as LNER that gave us the freedom to update the system,” said David. “We went to the global leader of revenue management systems and because of that we have a system which paid for itself in a matter of months. railbusinessdaily.com

Tr a i n o p e r a t o r s

Back to the future As to the future, it will come as no shock that as well as the green agenda, David sees the biggest challenge being to get people back on the trains when lockdown restrictions have been lifted. “There are a number of things we’ve got to get right to get people back on the trains,” he said. “We’ve got to deliver a great service, we’ve got to get people to their destinations on time and we’ve got to give people a good price. “We mustn’t forget that before COVID came along, there were a lot of people saying they just don’t consider the train because they believe the ticketing system is too expensive or too complicated. We’ve got to address those things, but the fact that sustainability is in our favour will absolutely help us. “Some people might be wary initially from

Photo: Danny Lawson/PA

“It is just one example of the benefits from having that agile approach, where we’ve just been able to crack on with what the business needs to succeed. It has been a more flexible approach than we had under franchising and I believe we’ve delivered successfully partly because of that.”

a safety point of view, but I think we’re able to demonstrate at LNER that rail is not a hazard to health in terms of COVID, with the research carried out and the investment we’ve made into extra cleaners. “The people who have needed to travel on our trains during lockdown have been consistently giving us really positive feedback, particularly around the levels of cleanliness and the social distancing we’ve achieved on board,

the latter through our reservation system. Initiatives like that have really worked well to reassure people. “We still have work to do to get people back on the trains, but I am really optimistic with the work we have done and what we have achieved in the past 12 months, and along with the plans for the future, that we’ll be able to get people back on the trains and we’ll play a major role when it comes to our carbon footprint.”

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April 2021 | 7


Inspiring the next generation Network Rail’s Lydia Fairman on seeking out and developing the future and emerging talent for the railways


ail needs tens of thousands more professionals over the coming years to help keep the country running. To achieve this the vast array of opportunities has to be showcased to young people, making it a career they aspire to work in. Leading the charge is Network Rail’s Lead Capability and Development Manager Lydia Fairman, whose passion and energy is playing a vital role in creating an excitement about engineering, and particularly the railways, among young people, particularly females. “It is a weird and wonderful world that I work in and I think it is one of the most interesting jobs in rail,” she said. “The rail industry has got one of the biggest sells in the world in terms of the opportunities, we just need to verbalise it better. There is a huge role to be played in the UK’s recovery and there is a chance for young people to play their part as there is no better industry than rail for things like apprenticeships, graduate schemes and traineeships. “In my role I get to look at the situation from every angle. I’m looking at the problems we’ve got, the challenges and the opportunities. Me and my team get to showcase what the rail industry has to offer and to get young people really interested and then help them should they wish to pursue a career.” A shortage of engineers isn’t a problem that just faces the rail industry, with the situation in the UK on the whole in a precarious position. A recent survey by The Institution of Engineering

and Technology found there was an estimated annual shortfall of 59,000 new engineering graduates and technicians, a deficit which only continues to get worse. Such is the scale of the problem that the UK

Government announced that 2018 was the Year of Engineering, a national year-long campaign to increase awareness and understanding of what engineers do among young people aged 7-16, their parents and teachers.


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Lydia says this has been the catalyst for change with the industry coming together, sitting around the table and committing to change, but there is still a lot of work to do. “There is certainly a lot more interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) than there was when I joined four years ago,” she said. “It was following the Year of Engineering that we went to The Big Bang together at the Birmingham NEC for the first time. Last year the Rail Delivery Group had also signed up so we would have had even more there from the railway and were even going to have a rail zone. Although coronavirus stopped that, it shows the strength of feeling.” Raily McRail Face The Big Bang is a huge science and engineers’ fair attended by 80,000 young people, held over four days. Last time Network Rail attended, their stand was decorated to look like a station, named after a vote as Raily McRail Face. “We had loads of industry partners at our stand and we were running different activities and engaging with the children about the roles and opportunities in the railways and giving them the chance to ask questions and find out more,” Lydia said. “Joining us to promote engineering were the RAF, Army and other institutions and employers and the Army brought a climbing wall and they even had a helicopter last time. It’s a surreal environment. The National Theatre Company brought a batterypowered armchair so by the end of the week we had the RAF, Army and Navy racing around our train track on this armchair. It was great fun and just another way of engaging with young people about the excitement of being involved in engineering. “We’ve gone from not collaborating at all to collaborating every year and we are even doing it virtually this year and that is leaps forward in terms of sending out a strong message to get more people interested in engineering.”

Lydia Fairman pictured with colleagues at the opening of Network Rail’s dedicated STEM learning facility last year.

It is one of many initiatives, particularly by the rail industry. Just before coronavirus struck, Network Rail opened a dedicated STEM learning facility with the aim of inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and maths sectors to help close this skills gap.

There is certainly a lot more interest in STEM than there was when I joined four years ago “There is a national skills deficit for engineering, but we are making good inroads in raising awareness,” said Lydia.

“Although if you compare the UK to other countries, somewhere like Hungary, for example, it is compulsory for school pupils to study science and/or maths until they’re 18 and they have monumentally more females in their engineering workforce. “Just look at the big picture and you’ve got things like digital skills and everybody is using digital and data in everything they do so that’s just a world need now of a new skill, and with that, new opportunities. In rail you think about digital signalling, intelligent infrastructure or smart ticketing and we desperately need this stuff worldwide. “We need these skills, but we have to compete with other industries and that means we’ve got to be visible and when we’re visible we’ve got to be competitive. By competitive that is not necessarily salaries, but also looking at the variety of people, jobs, working environments, and geographic spread that we can offer which is incredible.



April 2021 | 9


“I think we do ourselves down sometimes in highlighting our offering, so we need to make sure people can see what we’ve got, and that we’re inclusive. “We need to show them all the stuff they don’t see when they are on a train, showcase those hidden roles .” Routes into Rail Among the positive steps taken in recent months was the launch of the Routes into Rail website, which will showcase studies and videos of role models working in the sector, to help change perceptions of what a career in rail looks like. It also includes a jobs portal now fully up and running, highlighting the opportunities across the whole sector. “I was so excited to see the Routes into Rail website come to fruition,” said Lydia. “This is something that we have collectively worked hard on and championed for some time in the industry. “It’s all about changing mindsets and the role model element is really important to me. You’ve got this small pool of traditional kids that take engineering, you open up that pool by being more inclusive and you’ve got a much larger stream of young people joining the industry. “To do that we’ve got to show kids what engineering really means. The perception is that it is only digging holes and getting dirty, which it can be if you want, but doesn’t have to be just that. 10 | April 2021

“Some people immediately see it as an unachievable career for them and seems too complicated without knowing there are loads of tools available to help engineers do their jobs, and that if you are logical, methodical and have the sciences and maths, you can be an engineer. “We need to get the kids to re-think what engineering really means and along with companies help promote that variety – to some it is innovation and design, to others it is telecommunication or sustainability and coding as well.

If you are logical, methodical and have the sciences and maths, you can be an engineer “Sometimes teachers also don’t have the right information to talk confidently to children about engineering so it is important to equip teachers with knowledge and information or by us being present at workshops in schools where we can help fill the gaps. If we have those role models and those interactions with young people it could be a tipping point for them to choose science or maths.”

The work at The Big Bang and the launch of Routes into Rail are just two of a long list of schemes Lydia is involved in to encourage more young people into engineering. She said: “Looking to the future we will continue to deliver on the industry piece on the sector deal and Routes into Rail website. We are coming to the conclusion of some of our programmes and we are piloting a mentoring programme with The Big Bang – the first time they have done it. “They are going into schools and mentoring children this year and we’ve got the robotics challenge coming to a conclusion soon so they will have been making their robots and racing them, so we will be doing all of that virtually, and our other competitions, including the Primary Engineer leaders award. “We also have the virtual ‘The Big Bang’ in June, and that is going to be huge for us. We are partnering with others from the industry, including HS2 and the National Skills Academy for Rail. “I think it is all coming together and making a difference. I am confident for the future of the railways and that we will recover because we will be needed. In terms of STEM I have got great support from my leadership and that hasn’t wavered throughout the pandemic. “We’ve got great visible leadership support and the sector deal again saying crack on with this stuff as it is really important so I just think we just need to adapt, send out a strong message about what we have to offer and I think we will be ok.” railbusinessdaily.com

I n sFue raat nu cr e

Advice for Railway Companies – monthly feature by Jobson James Rail – The Rail Broker

Moving premises? What security will my insurers be insisting upon?


he premises security requirements imposed by insurers on railway companies very much depends on asset values. If the new location will contain offices, plant compound, tools stores, workshops and the like, versus just a small office, then the asset values will be higher. The security required may also depend on the location, whether it’s inner city urban, rural or somewhere in between. If the assets values for theft attractive assets like tools and computers exceed £30,000 (typically) then the insurers will insist on alarm protection. Their preference is usually a monitored system installed and maintained by a NSI approved company (SSAIB sometimes accepted) with grade 2/3 detection and grade 2-3 signalling. Importantly it must be a dual signalling system so that if the hard wire signalling goes down then it can use GSM technology to link to the off-site NSI approved Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC).

Tim Smith, NEBOSH Cert Cii

Interestingly insurers rarely insist on CCTV, although it can be a very effective security system. Insurers often prefer a remotely monitored CCTV to BS8418 standards with speakers so the security centre can talk at intruders/trespassers and movement/PIR detection to manned security guards. We would additionally recommend a local BSIA Security Company to act as first

respondent rather than a keyholder so as to avoid putting our clients’ Directors at personal risk if the alarm activities in the middle of the night. For office premises, where the broker sells an “office policy” beware that these come preloaded within minimum security requirements for locks on doors and windows which, if not complied with, can leave the insured company exposed as thefts may not be paid for by the insurers. For larger risks the good broker will visit and write their own risk management survey report to highlight good security and other risk features to negotiate competitive terms. Tim Smith, NEBOSH Cert Cii Client Director at Jobson James Rail 07493 868305

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April 2021 | 11

F eeawtsu r e N

Global Centre of Rail Excellence on track lans for the construction of a Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE), at a former opencast mining site at the head of the Dulais and Tawe Valleys, have taken a giant leap forward with £50 million Welsh Government support. The train, rail infrastructure and technology testing facility will provide unique capability in the UK and Europe to support innovation in the UK and international rail industry, including the testing of cutting-edge green technologies. Welsh Government has been working in partnership with Neath Port Talbot and Powys Councils to develop proposals for the GCRE, which will be located on the site of Nant Helen Open Cast Mine in Onllwyn, currently operated by Celtic Energy. In order to deliver the first phase of the project, the Welsh Government has confirmed a £50 million capital funding loan to be given to Powys Council. The UK Government pledged up to £30 million funding to the pioneering project in the Spring Budget. In further milestone developments, a land option deal has been completed for the sites at the Nant Helen surface mine and Onllwyn coal washery, which will see Celtic Energy gift all the land necessary for the project.


iemens Mobility and the University of Birmingham have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a centre of excellence for rail research and innovation in East Yorkshire. The facility, with an investment of up to £50 million and creating up to 250 direct and supplier jobs, will be built as part of the second phase of an innovation hub known as the Rail Accelerator and Innovations Solutions Hub for Enterprise (RaisE). It is aimed at accelerating the adoption of technology within the rail industry and will provide practical and virtual training, prototyping labs and focus on industry innovation – including future and advanced technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

12 | April 2021

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “This is an enormously significant step forward in our plans to deliver a world-class facility with unique-to-Europe integrated capabilities. “GCRE will be a powerful ‘magnet’ project bringing a major global industry closer to Wales. It will provide a raft of vital services and wide-ranging research, development and

innovation platforms to UK and international train manufacturers, network operators, the wider industry, supply chain and academia. It will also provide significant direct benefits to our national operator Transport for Wales. “Working alongside our public and private sector partners, we will deliver high quality jobs and training opportunities whilst supporting Welsh exports for decades to come.”

Devon railway line reopens after 50 years


ervices are expected to restart later this year on a 14-mile stretch of railway in Devon – known as the Dartmoor Line – for the first time in almost 50 years, providing a rail service between Okehampton and Exeter. It follows confirmation of government funding as part of the ‘Restoring your Railway’ initiative, with journey times on the train estimated to be around 30 per cent quicker than by car or bus. Network Rail engineers will start immediately to undertake a range of works including drainage, fencing and earthworks, and will lay over 11 miles of track, replace 24,000 concrete sleepers and install nearly 29,000 tonnes of ballast. Transport Secretary Grant

Photo: Network Rail

Siemens Mobility and University of Birmingham set for research partnership

Photo: Welsh Government


Shapps said: “The return of allyear services to the picturesque Dartmoor Line for the first time in half a century is a milestone moment in our efforts to restore our railways. “Reversing lost railway connections breathes new life into our high streets, drives tourism and investment in

businesses and houses, and opens new opportunities for work and education.” The government has also announced £37.4 million of funding for the critical third phase of works to improve resilience on the coastal railway between Holcombe and Dawlish. railbusinessdaily.com

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he Railway Industry Association (RIA) has announced its new RailDecarb21 campaign, calling on the Government to redouble its efforts to decarbonise the rail network, ahead of COP26 later this year. Launched in a speech by RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan at the EuroRail Hub Conference, RailDecarb21 calls on the Government to begin a rolling programme of electrification and to start fleet orders of hydrogen and battery rolling stock in order to meet the UK’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ target and to show global leadership ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. The campaign comes on the back of a ‘Trains Fit For the Future’ report by Parliament’s Transport Committee, urging the Government to act swiftly in decarbonising the rail network. Darren said “Our rail network is already a low-carbon form of transport, contributing only 1.4 per cent to the UK’s domestic transport emissions and just 0.5 per cent of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Yet we have clear targets from government to meet – to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and to help the UK secure its commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050. “To do this, we need to begin now. With rail investment taking several years, and train fleets having an average life of 30 years, the choices we make this year will impact whether we reach our targets in the coming decades. Every tonne of carbon saved today equates to 29 tonnes of carbon saved by 2050 – with an apprentice recruited today having 29 years of work ahead of them – making it all the more important to begin quickly. “That is why we vitally need to begin a rolling programme of cost-effective electrification, which can be delivered at up to 50 per cent less than the cost of certain past problem projects. And we also need to see orders of hydrogen and battery trains, which the industry is ready to deliver.”

14 | April 2021

HS2 shortlists bidders for high voltage power supply systems H

S2 has shortlisted bidders for its high voltage (HV) power supply systems. The winning organisations will go on to deliver electrical systems covering 280km of the UK’s new high-speed rail link. The contract opportunity covers the design and construction between London, Birmingham and Crewe, where HS2 trains will join the existing West Coast Mainline. The following organisations will be invited to tender: Colas / Eiffage Joint Venture S iemens Ltd / Costain Ltd Joint Venture S SE Enterprise Contracting / Linxon / Arcadis Joint Venture  K Power Networks Services U (Contracting) Ltd

The winner of the contract – worth an estimated £523 million – will be responsible for the design as well as manufacture,

Photo: HS2 Ltd

RIA launches initiative to decarbonise rail

supply, installation, testing, commissioning and maintenance of the HV power supply systems. Approximately 50 traction sub-stations will be built alongside the line between London and Crewe in order to deliver power from the National Grid to the trains. The contractor will also deliver a dedicated HV non-traction power network that will provide power to stations, shafts, portals, depots and railway systems along the route. HS2 Ltd’s Procurement and Commercial Director David

Poole said: “The shortlist for high voltage power supply systems is another major milestone as we put in place the key rail systems teams that will take over once the civil engineering stage is finished. “Once complete, HS2 will be one of the lowest carbon ways to travel, freeing up more capacity on the existing rail network and helping to take cars and lorries off the roads. Our power supply systems are a crucial part of the project and part of a solution which will help the UK reach net zero by 2050.”

Grand Central welcomes passengers as three-month service suspension ends


ong distance rail operator Grand Central (GC) has returned to service following a three-month period of hibernation due to the current national lockdown. The York-based operator welcomed passengers back as it relaunched some services late last month on its West Riding and North East routes, linking London Kings Cross to Bradford and Sunderland. Grand Central had not run passenger trains since it withdrew services on 9 January in line with

the wider national lockdown. The company operates under an Open Access business model which means it relies solely on ticket revenue for income. Managing Director Richard McClean said the return to service is gradual but added he was determined to see Grand Central ‘back for good’ following 12 months of COVIDrelated disruption to services. “This is something positive for our customers following a really tough year,” he said. “Other than a few months of relative

normality during the summer the disruption from COVID on society made it financially unviable for us to run services. “We have to make our return a measured, gradual and sensible one. This is very much about rebuilding passenger confidence and ramping up services when the time is right. That’s why we will again be providing socially distanced seating and we’re reminding passengers they must reserve a seat before travel. And please don’t forget your face covering.” railbusinessdaily.com



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Your one-stop security and cleaning platform for the railway industry Cordant Services: Protecting what matters to you and making your journeys cleaner


ordant Services is a pioneer in the facilities space, with its industry leading services allowing the company to take care of people and property so clients can focus on their core business. Founded in 1957, Cordant established itself as a leader in security services before expanding into the cleaning sector, delivering flexible solutions to meet the changing needs of clients. Over 60 years later and Cordant Services employs over 7,500 staff who support over 200 clients, ranging from transport hubs to retailers, throughout the whole of the UK. Cordant Security – your company is in safe hands In a complex, ever changing risk environment, a specialist provider is essential to deliver the most reliable, robust security. That is why clients choose Cordant Security, one of the UK’s largest security companies with nearly six decades of experience and more than 4.500 security personnel. The professional organisation, well-versed in best practice within the rail industry, is trusted by the likes of the Channel Tunnel because of its focus on complete security solutions. A nationwide provider of security solutions, Cordant offers extensive services, including: Security guarding Loss prevention Mobile response and keyholding Security technologies Risk management A key to Cordant Security’s success is its forward thinking, taking a keen interest in the latest industry standards – being the first security company to hold additional quality standards altogether in Environmental Management (ISO 14001) and Health & Safety (ISO 45001). Beyond that, the company takes a proactive approach to the identification and management of risk, providing much more than simply a ‘body of service’, working in partnership with all of its clients to address the specific risks to their 16 | April 2021

business and provide the most comprehensive and reliable security solution. Earlier this year, rail security expert Deb Mills-Burns was brought in as Business Development Director – one of several highprofile appointments, bringing with her a wealth of rail industry security knowledge.

‘Your business is unlike any other which is why we create custom built solutions with the client in mind – reflecting the cleaning and hygiene needs which are unique to you’ “We are passionate about protecting and securing property, employees and access and we are forward thinking with a finger on the pulse of security innovation, working alongside

a national client base securing businesses and operations with safety at the heart of everything we do,” she said. Deb is among a team of experts in managing complex risk profiles and providing cost-effective solutions. Cordant Security ensures businesses are protected and people feel safe by expertly delivering multiple specialist security services, tailored to the needs of the client and operation. “It is enlightening how far security has come in the last few years, with Cordant leading the way,” said Deb. “We’ve got the MyCordant feature that tracks all our people, offers an instant reporting framework, and pulls in police crime data from the area all in one place,” said Deb. “Also important is the risk-based modelling, using the same feature, but what we do through it is deploy intelligently through risk-based analysis, ensuring that the resource is efficient and effective. We are bringing brand new unique solutions to the rail industry which are cost efficient and work.”

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April 2021 | 17


Ripping up the current process and job specs and starting again Debbie Francis OBE discusses her passion for making a difference when it comes to diversity


ife begins at 40. That is a phrase that rings true for Debbie Francis OBE – who, having carved out an incredibly successful career working in everything from IT to infrastructure to rail, saw the milestone as the perfect time to push herself even further when it comes to adventures. Over the next 12 years the challenges 18 | April 2021

got tougher and tougher culminating in participating in the round-the-world yacht race, completing the Asia-Pacific Leg of the Clipper Race aboard the Liverpool 2018 yacht. A tough challenge for an experienced sailor, never mind someone who had no previous experience. “I had a bit of a moment when facing my

40th year, that whilst I was a successful career woman, I didn’t do very much else and so I decided to change that and spent the next 12 years adventuring,” she said. “I chose increasingly tougher challenges as I was striving not only to complete the challenge, but to be what I called in my head ‘the best version of myself’ while doing the challenge. railbusinessdaily.com


“In the early days there were times when I was probably not the best person to be around, when I was trying to achieve whatever physical goal I had set myself. “Adventuring taught me the meaning of real confidence. I think until that point, I had generally been faking it but when you understand how much is about your mental capacity, not your physical ability, to keep going under extreme physical pressure, that is when you gain true confidence.” Diversity and equality As well as pushing herself and driving businesses success, the Arcadis City Executive North is passionate about diversity and equality, developing and promoting talent, particularly when it comes to the rail industry. Her efforts on this issue saw her recognised with the award of an OBE in the recent Queen’s New Year honours list. Debbie said: “I am passionate about trying to make a difference for diversity in all forms but gender diversity for obvious reasons is high on my agenda,” she said. “To be recognised as having achieved even a fraction of that ambition is amazing,VR especially whenHalf I know so copy.pdf many March21 Print Page v2 people who do amazing things every day.

“I think there has been great progress when it comes to diversity in the rail industry. You cannot be what you cannot see, but thanks to organisations like Women in Rail and Northern Power Women, there are so many more visible

I am passionate about trying to make a difference for diversity in all forms role models now that it must make a difference to the next generation of talent looking at the industry. “Unfortunately, the answer to real equality is not a simple one. As a society we have so much to do to stop allowing unconscious and conscious bias to 11:29 influence the way young 1 26/03/2021 women view their future opportunities. From the

day our children are born and throughout their schooling we often, unintentionally, set them up for inequality and we limit the expectations of so many.” Although progress continues to be made when it comes to diversity, there are few who would argue there isn’t a long way to go. The recent Back on Track report from The National Skills Academy and City & Guilds Group revealed that just 16 per cent of the rail workforce is female. “There is real evidence to suggest that men will apply for a job when they only meet 60 per cent of the qualification, but women will only apply if they meet 100 per cent,” said Debbie. “I understand that there is more to this than a simple statistic, but nonetheless, we need to reimagine our recruitment processes, rethink our job specifications to make them outcome-focused rather than input-based as well as considering our wording, photos – and advertising media. “This should be the simple stuff that we can do but it requires ripping up the current process and job specs and starting again, and quite frankly when push comes to shove, people and businesses are risk-averse and too traditional.










April 2021 | 19


“There is not enough space for you to print every idea I have to improve the balance and inclusivity in the industry, and I am proud of everything that the industry is doing, but we have a long way to go.” New role Last summer Debbie joined Arcadis as City Executive following four years as Managing Director of Direct Rail Services (DRS), and before that nearly four years as Network Rail’s London North Western Route Finance and Commercial Director. “I resigned from DRS with a 12-month notice period and I had a very different plan for my future, but the pandemic threw all those plans into disarray and a rapid rethink was needed,” said Debbie. “Arcadis offered me a new opportunity alongside the chance to continue to influence the Northern Agenda through the role. I knew that onboarding would be difficult in a virtual world, but I underestimated how difficult it would be. “I always describe it like having all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box to guide you. This is made more difficult for me because it is also a career change as a role. “My colleagues in Arcadis have been really patient and understanding, but I am very much looking forward to meeting everyone in person rather than just via video. “The pandemic has made many of us all realise that there is a better balance to be found between the office and the home, but it has also made us value human contact more than we ever understood.” Although things haven’t gone exactly to plan, leaving DRS and reflecting on her achievements at the company fill Debbie with a great sense of pride of what she has achieved.

20 | April 2021

“I was ecstatic when I got the job at DRS and I loved every minute of it, but when I resigned it was to move on to working in my own business in women’s empowerment and business skills training with an ambition to use some of the profits to run courses for free to support women who may have faced difficulties through their lives, back into the workplace,” Debbie said.

If, passenger rail travel balances out a little in the post-COVID world then that should open up opportunity for better paths for freight “I had such ambition and plans for that idea that I wasn’t sad to be leaving at the time I handed in my notice. “Things didn’t work out as planned but they have still worked out very well for me and it’s worth saying that I love the North and the rail industry and as such, the opportunity to stay connected to the industry in my beloved North is brilliant. “The future for rail freight is bright, I think. There is huge demand for rail freight but because of the difficulty in getting clear fast paths, it is a hard case to make sometimes, economically for a client. If, passenger rail travel balances out a little in the post-COVID world then that should open up opportunity for better paths for freight. “This is why we need to continue with the plans for HS2, including HS2a and 2b.

Whichever way you look at it, there is an argument to be made: higher passenger numbers, need more capacity; lower passenger numbers, free up space for freight; old line good enough with lower numbers, but for how long? “It is ancient now and maintenance costs can only rise as time passes; should there be a delay while we understand future capacity, how much harm can we do investing in skills, education and connectivity for the future even without a crystal ball? Honestly, I could go on, as everyone who knows me knows.” Driving change Debbie finishes off with a note of optimism and words of inspiration on why she will continue to drive change and encourage more people to look to a career in the railways. She said: “Since the 17th century, railways have been changing the world. They opened up economic growth through connectivity and have had far-reaching effects on the British economy as well as society and life in general. “The industry can offer a vast array of career choices from engineering and train driving through to property management, to accounting, IT and general management. “It is never going away and because of that it can offer you a lifetime of variety in your roles. Furthermore, it is the future. “We are all aware of the profoundly serious environmental issues facing our planet and that we have to do something about this. “A career in the railway industry can offer the chance to make a difference to the future of the planet.” railbusinessdaily.com


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ScotRail taken into public ownership Scotland’s Transport Secretary says the approach will provide a stable platform for services and certainty for staff and passengers he Scottish Government has announced that ScotRail will be taken into public ownership when the current Abellio franchise ends in March 2022. Transport Secretary Michael Matheson told the Scottish parliament that ScotRail services will be provided, within the public sector, by an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government. He also said that work is underway to put in place further Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs) for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises from April until September. He said: “At this difficult time, I want to give rail staff and passengers as much certainty as I can about the future. “I have repeatedly stated the current franchising system is no longer fit for purpose. Keith Williams, who led the UK Rail Review process, has also said that ‘franchising cannot continue in the way that it is today’. Yet, there is continued uncertainty about the form and timing of rail reform emerging from the UK Government review process, which is now a year overdue. “It is high time that the UK Government listened to our requests to place the future structure of Scottish’s railway in Scotland’s hands. The simplest way to do this is to devolve rail powers. “In the meantime, with the current ScotRail franchise expected to end in March 2022, we need to take decisions about successor arrangements within the current legislative framework. We have for some time been considering the full range of options available under that framework for continuing services beyond the franchise expiry. “Following a detailed assessment process and given the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, alongside the continuing delays to the UK Government White Paper on rail reform, I have decided that it would not be appropriate to award a franchise agreement to any party at this time, either through a competition or a direct award. “That is why I have confirmed that, from the expiry of the current franchise, ScotRail services will be provided in public hands through a company wholly owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.” ScotRail will transfer to the new Scottish Government-owned entity, with its new terms and conditions protected. 22 | April 2021

Photo: Transport Scotland


Alex White, Chief Operating Officer, ScotRail, said: “Customers can be reassured that we will continue to operate a reliable service for key workers and support the vaccine rollout over the coming months as we prepare for the introduction of the changes announced by the Scottish Government.

At this difficult time, I want to give rail staff and passengers as much certainty as I can about the future “We will work closely with Transport Scotland and Network Rail to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator to deliver stability for customers and staff. Since Abellio was awarded the ScotRail franchise in 2015, Scotland’s Railway has been transformed.

“The £475 million investment in new and refurbished trains, alongside our recent sustained, high levels of punctuality  has delivered for customers, particularly during the pandemic. “Our customer satisfaction scores are testament to that.  We’ve also invested in Scotland, employing 5,200 people in high-skilled, well paid jobs.  “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Abellio ScotRail has provided a vital service to the country working closely with partners across industry and government. I’m proud of our role in such challenging times.” More punctual and reliable services Commenting on the announcement, Transport Focus Director David Sidebottom said: “Passengers will judge the success of any changes on how far it meets their priorities for improvement: more punctual and reliable services, better value for money and the cleanliness of the service. “A stable, reliable railway will be a key part in getting Scotland moving again and helping rebuild the economy. railbusinessdaily.com


“Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and ScotRail will need to work together to deliver a smooth transition and build an attractive offer that will encourage people back to rail. “We will work with Scottish Government and industry to make sure passengers’ needs are at the heart of new arrangements and that our independent passenger satisfaction research continues to drive improvements for passengers.”

Photo: ScotRail

Challenging times Meanwhile, earlier this year the Welsh Government took the Wales and Borders rail franchise into public ownership to protect services, safeguard jobs, and deliver infrastructure improvements in light of the ongoing challenges of coronavirus. From 7 February Transport for Wales started operating the Wales and Borders rail services under a subsidiary, Transport for Wales Rail LTD. The move, which was announced in October 2020, comes in the face of a significant reduction in passenger numbers. It is intended to provide for longer term financial stability, necessary to secure plans for infrastructure improvements and deliver future improvements for passengers.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “Our rail service is a critical asset and one we must protect. Since the pandemic began we’ve provided significant financial support to keep trains running. The need for greater public control is a reflection of the ongoing pressures of coronavirus and the challenges being faced across the rail industry as passenger demand remains low.

“We remain determined to deliver key commitments made at the start of the journey with Transport for Wales, including the creation of Metro systems and the delivery of brand new rolling stock. “Bringing the rail franchise into public control will help secure this better future for passengers. It is a public transport asset, in public ownership, for the public good.”

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April 2021 | 23


Train operators to extend life-saving travel scheme The Duchess of Cornwall has praised the scheme and the impact it is having


Life-saving travel Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Train operators have provided life-saving travel to four survivors every day through the Rail to Refuge scheme, and it’s right that we keep it going for those who sadly still need it. “Rail staff are continuing to work hard helping survivors of domestic abuse with free train travel, while supporting all our passengers to feel safe on their journeys.” Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive at Women’s Aid, said: “Women face many barriers when escaping an abuser. Leaving your home because you and your children are not safe is a massive undertaking.

24 | April 2021

Photo: Rail Delivery Group

rain companies are continuing to use the Rail to Refuge scheme to help more people escape domestic abuse and reach a safe refuge. The decision comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the lifesaving scheme to access free train travel. Rail to Refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation. Since April 2020, train operators have provided free tickets to 1,348 people, including 362 to children over five. Almost two-thirds of those who have used the scheme say they would not have travelled had the journey not been paid for.

“Additionally, leaving the abuser is a dangerous time with a huge rise in the likelihood of violence after separation, so it needs to be done as safely as possible, with support from expert refuge services. “We are delighted that train companies have worked with us to remove a significant barrier to people escaping abuse. The Rail to Refuge scheme will continue to be lifesaving for hundreds of women and children, and it is incredibly welcome news that it has been extended.” Rail to Refuge received Royal recognition when The Duchess of Cornwall praised the scheme in a video message.

She said: “Lockdown has been hard for everyone, but for the survivors of domestic abuse, it has been life-threatening. I’m delighted to hear that Britain’s train companies are extending the Rail to Refuge scheme for longer to provide free travel to a safe refuge for those fleeing domestic abuse. If you need help, contact Women’s Aid for support and access to the Rail to Refuge scheme.” Royal approval The Duchess of Cornwall also met the people who pioneered the lifesaving scheme late last month. Among those she met was Southeastern station manager Darren O’Brien, who first proposed the idea of free travel for survivors after viewing the Dispatches documentary ‘Safe at Last’ about Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid. He said: “It was a real honour to meet with Her Royal Highness, and to discuss the importance and significance of the Rail to Refuge scheme. When I first came up with the idea, I had no idea how many people it would support, but I was motivated by the possibility it could be life changing, even if just to one person. I’m incredibly proud to have played a part.” railbusinessdaily.com

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Uncovering stories from the past to transform the railway for the future HS2’s lead archaeologist Mike Court takes us below the surface on the UK’s biggest ever excavation


ore than 1,000 archaeologists have been exploring 10,000 years of British history across more than 60 separate sites in a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The results as part of HS2’s enabling works haven’t been a disappointment, with prehistoric remnants, Roman settlements, undiscovered battlefields and Victorian artefacts among just some of the discoveries. “It’s been amazing. There has been a lot of excitement that we have been finding all of this incredible archaeology and with it, stories that until now have been lost to history,” said HS2’s lead archaeologist Mike Court. “When you are a field archaeologist out on site you will be lucky if you get to cover all periods of history and prehistory in your entire career. Working on High Speed 2 we have something from every period of history and pre-history. So, when you go out on site everyone has been really into it and that feeds into the positive feeling we all have about working in it. “We are bringing history back to life and are able to tell all these communities about it, and then on top of that, our work is playing its part in helping to build this new railway.” Looking into the past Mike, who has been involved in the project for eight years, is part of a large multi-disciplinary team responsible for the largest programme of historic environment investigations in UK history on the nation’s biggest infrastructure project. He is overseeing the delivery of a vast number of archaeological and heritage investigations between London and Birmingham. “What I’ve really enjoyed has been the fact you have a lot of specialists doing a lot of different things – so you’ve got the archaeologists and historic buildings specialists; but we sit with the ecologists, hydrologists, the geotechnical specialistsand the railway engineers,” said Mike. “When I was a field archaeologist digging holes up in the middle of the countryside, you don’t really meet anybody, so working on a project like this, with all these amazing people, is really good. 26 | April 2021

“There is also a singular focus that I’ve not really experienced before on a project or any other job, where everybody is trying to get to the end goal of a new railway irrespective of what your expertise is.

That moment of discovery when you find something and you are digging it up is very exciting “It is a really good inspiring work environment to be in, and because there is so much archaeology as well from my own geeky perspective, it is everything I could hope for really. We have found more than we thought we were going to, especially as our survey work has built on the predictions set out in the environmental statement.”

Medieval graffiti, a possible murder victim from the Iron Age and the remains of Captain Matthew Flinders – the Royal Navy explorer who led the first circumnavigation of Australia and is credited with giving the country its name – are just some of the discoveries which have come as a surprise. “That moment of discovery when you find something and you are digging it up is very exciting,” said Mike. “But a lot of the discoveries actually happen later on when we are doing the interpretation work and are working out what the things we have found mean. That is when you get a product we can take back to communities and we can tell them the story of what was happening down the road in the ancient past. “For me personally, I find the the archaeology of the Mesolithic and late upper Palaeolithic really interesting, when we were hunter gatherers. HS2 crosses the Colne Valley and that gives us the opportunity to explore those periods in more detail. “To the untrained eye, the archaeology from these periods can be hard to imagine as it is mostly made up of flint tools and things railbusinessdaily.com


like that, but I just like the idea that you’ve got this completely different landscape with people surviving on their wits, moving across the landscape following the migrating animals and resources and there are animals like cave bears and mammoths. It really sparks my imagination. “The archaeology that we are finding the most is from the Iron Age and RomanoBritish periods and there is a huge amount of that, particularly in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire – some really interesting stuff.” The human factor Painstaking work at the best of times, it hasn’t come without its difficulties. The disused St James’s Gardens cemetery – which was home to tens of thousands of London’s “Burials in the poor area were more dense, so deceased – is required for the construction of the new high-speed railway line and the we’re not really sure how many more there will new Euston station. It has led to the human be to find. The human remains are the types of remains needing to be reburied. archaeological finds that really focus people on “We have carefully excavated around 15,000 the stories. If you find the person and you are burials at the moment, but there is still some lucky enough to be able to find out exactly who work to do in what was classed as the poor end they were, you can then go into documentary 132x188 halfsite,” pageMike ad:Layout Page 1 and find out a lot about them. of the burial said. 1 07/09/2017 11:55 evidence


“You can find out where they were born, what they did as a job, and then look at the skeleton to see how the job might have affected their skeleton, the food they ate, dental work they had done, and you can build up this huge picture of the person and the people completely forgotten by history most of the time.

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“With St James’s in particular, we’ve got this opportunity to try and tell some stories about the people that history forgot. History is all about elites, but we can tell stories about forgotten groups, such as children, women, and the poorer sections of society.” The world’s oldest railway roundhouse One of the discoveries that particularly captured the imagination of those working in the railways was the unearthing of what is thought to be the world’s oldest railway roundhouse at the construction site of the Birmingham Curzon Street station. The roundhouse was situated adjacent to the old Curzon Street station, which was the first railway terminus serving the centre of Birmingham. Built to a design by the 19th century engineer Robert Stephenson, the roundhouse was operational on 12 November, 1837 – meaning the discovered building is likely to predate the current title of world’s oldest in Derby. “From a railway perspective the discovery of the roundhouse – the first ever built in the world – is amazing,” said Mike. “It was 65 metres in diameter, which is astonishing, and it was only used for 22 years. I just love the idea that a train goes in, is turned around on this thing and then goes back. “The history of the railways is the history of innovation and amazing engineering feats of expertise. We built the railways that enabled us to move goods and services around the country, which enabled the industrial revolution and everything that came with that.

28 | April 2021

“We are now building HS2, so it feels to me that it is the next chapter of that amazing engineering story and being part of that is quite cool, especially being involved with all the thousands of other people involved in building this railway. We are making our own history.”

The history of the railways is the history of innovation and amazing engineering feats of expertise For Mike, it is the latest in a career since graduating in Archaeology from University

College London (UCL). He’s gone on to work for leading consultancy firms, providing specialist heritage services on transport infrastructure and land development protects. He has also worked on academic survey and fieldwork projects internationally. “You don’t get into archaeology unless you really want to! It is really hard work, particularly when you are in the field and digging holes,” said Mike. “But it really has been more than I had hoped, particularly working on HS2. “I guess when I started I expected that I would be in the field for 40 years, but when I entered the career I didn’t really know about all these avenues that you could take. “I’ve been working on HS2 since near the beginning so I would like to be here until the end if I can, and if they’ll have me! It would be quite hard to find work like this with all the amazing stuff we are finding.”


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nfinitive Group has a passion for innovative and creative engineering and works with its customers on their most critical strategic initiatives to accelerate digital strategy and transformation by injecting products and services to deliver tangible business outcomes. Porterbrook owns around a quarter of the national passenger rail fleet and is leveraging the power of existing data in current conditionbased monitoring projects to reduce operator costs and improve fleet reliability. New partnerships Porterbrook has recently entered into a new agreement with one of its customers focused on reducing costs and improving fleet reliability. The partnership will see responsibility for the heavy maintenance of the trains move from the train operator to Porterbrook. This new, more collaborative, way of working between the train operator and the rolling stock asset manager, covers the delivery of heavy maintenance, future maintenance optimisation and product enhancements. The partnership builds on fleet improvements which have taken place over the last year during a pilot scheme, whereby Porterbrook provided additional support beyond the standard train leasing arrangements. 30 | April 2021

That scheme was built around maintenance optimisation and remote condition monitoring. “Better leveraging of data across the railway can provide real benefits for passengers and taxpayers. We are using existing train system data to successfully predict engine failures on our Turbostar fleets,” said Stephanie Klecha, Head of Digital Services at Porterbrook

“Better leveraging of data across the railway can provide real benefits for passengers and taxpayers” Porterbrook engaged Infinitive Group to discover what could be done with existing data and systems to drive customer value. Infinitive Group used its in-house software team to develop a number of applications leveraging existing remote systems to extract data, then restructure it to make it more useful for pilot initiatives and advanced analytics. Huge value in terms of reliability improvement has been delivered for a number of Porterbrook’s customers. “It was great to support Porterbrook and their customers with the data insight trials and pilots. Advertorial

“We were proud to share our joint experiences with the railway community at the recent Munch & Learn session organised by the Rail Innovation Group,” Ben Craze, CEO at Infinitive Group Using its specialist domain knowledge of rolling stock and railway operations coupled with data science subject matter expertise, Infinitive Group was able to develop engine failure predictive algorithms with unprecedented levels of accuracy. Data analytics, provided by Infinitive Group, required no additional fitment of sensor technology and showed that 70 per cent of diesel engine issues could be predicted in advance of service affecting failures. Work is underway to further refine the models developed to realise the full reliability benefits of digital analytics achieved through close collaboration between operator, owner and specialist advisor. The Rail Innovation Group is an independent community with a mission to develop the technology ecosystem in rail. We hold regular Munch & Learn sessions and welcome others to join our meet ups. Join us to hear from our members on a variety of exciting topics across the railway or follow us on LinkedIn.


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esigning rail vehicles to be greener is not just about using more conscious engine parts and electrical components, it also means using environmentally friendly products in the interior of the train. Marmoleum FR² is a linoleum floor covering made from natural materials. A floor covering associated with sustainability, durability, high quality and innovative design. Forbo’s Marmoleum FR² and Striato FR have been independently confirmed as CO₂ neutral floor coverings in the cradle to gate phase of the product’s life cycle, without the need for offsetting. In simple terms, the CO₂ produced in the extraction, transportation and manufacturing process of Marmoleum FR²/Striato FR is balanced by the removal of CO₂ through the growing of its natural ingredients such as flax, jute and rosin. In addition to its sustainability credentials, independent testing by the University of Glasgow (UK), has proven that Marmoleum has a unique suitability for a diverse range of environments where hygiene and the control of bacteria are important. Marmoleum FR²’s ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria stems from the natural raw materials that go into its production, namely linseed oil. The bacteriostatic qualities of Marmoleum FR² are an inherent property of the product and won’t diminish over time. Marmoleum FR² provides peace of mind and constant protection from the moment it is installed. To ensure long lasting appearance retention and ease of maintenance, all Marmoleum FR²/Striato FR floor coverings include Topshield 2, a double layer, UV-cured finish that is scratch and scuff resistant. With its natural bacteriostatic properties and resistance to chemicals, it is the ideal solution for heavy traffic rail vehicles. A floor covering solution that is easy to clean and maintain as well as durable, safe and comfortable for both wheeled and foot traffic. Awarded the prestigious Allergy UK Seal of Approval as, with the correct cleaning and maintenance regime, it won’t harbour dust mites, contributing to a better indoor environment for all. Because it lasts for so long and is so easy to clean, Marmoleum FR² has a low cost of ownership. 32 | April 2021

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A new star is born to transform UK logistics Karl Watts, CEO of Rail Operations UK (ROUK), discusses the launch of its first high-speed logistics rail service under its Orion brand


new organisation is hoping to shake up the UK logistics world, taking light goods off the road and onto the railways using passenger trains. It’s being led by Karl Watts, who is one of three founders of Rail Operations UK (ROUK) dedicated to the rolling stock manufacturing, engineering and leasing sectors.

Karl and the team will next month be embarking on an exciting new journey under ROUK’s Orion brand – a premium on-demand delivery service, set to transform UK logistics with next generation high-speed logistics trains. “The light goods transportation market two years ago was worth £16 billion pounds a year with 99 per cent going by road, with a little

by air,” he said. “There is something wrong that none of it goes by rail especially as the ecommerce market continues to grow. “Congestion is increasing, the commercial vehicle driver shortage is another growing problem, carbon emissions is yet another huge problem and inner city air quality poses a further big problem.


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“Something somewhere needs to change and that is where Orion comes in.” On seeing this problem, Karl and the team didn’t just see an opportunity – they saw they had a solution close to hand through the organisation’s Rail Operations Group (everything to do with new trains) and Traxion (a rolling stock storage company). “Lots of people have tried to move light goods off the road and onto rail for years, but solutions have only extended as far as throwing a freight solution at the high-speed and logistics problem,” said Karl. “This is light goods, this is fast goods, so we don’t need freight trains, we need passenger trains to do this. “We’re storing a load of passenger trains so we put two and two together. There is a challenge to drive a modal shift from road to rail and we had the solution in the form of surplus passenger rolling stock sitting there, so that is what we have done.”

Orion logistics services will be operated by fleets of Class 769 bi-mode multiple units, which are converted Class 319s. Further Class 319s will be used as electric multiple units, with a predicted initial fleet of nine electric multiple units and 10 bi-modes.

We’ve got to deliver a great service, we’ve got to get people to their destinations on time and we’ve got to give people a good price “These new Orion services are a new type of train – not a passenger service and not a freight service, but a high-speed logistics service,” said Karl.

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“They are passenger trains, but they don’t carry people; they’re not freight trains but they carry freight. “We have had a challenge trying to convince people that what we’re doing here is something new and revolutionary. When we run these trains we will be running them as Class 1 passenger trains. These trains that we are using for Orion run at 100mph, but don’t forget they don’t need to stop anywhere on the route. So we could leave Euston and not need to stop until Glasgow Central. Not needing to stop means we’re able to keep pace with a Pendolino. “This is also about delivering lower carbon. The railway industry has decarbonisation policies and targets and we are driving a real meaning behind that with Orion.” Orion’s first route is West Midlands up to Glasgow, five or six days a week, but this is only the start. “In the future we plan on operating over the whole of the UK rail network; it is as simple as that,” he said.

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“The great thing about using a passenger train to transport goods is that you can use stations. “With freight trains, you need a freight terminal, but a passenger train can be operated out of national logistics hubs, regional logistic hubs, ports, principle stations, terminal stations and then there are airports as well.” Making connections Orion is currently working with around 15 logistics companies, although Karl says there are many more interested and keeping a close eye on how services develop. “There has been a lot of interest and we’ve had to back away from market engagement because there was too much interest,” said Karl. “We’ve got 15 big companies on the hook and we’ve left it there for the time being, but the potential is huge as there are 180,000 logistics companies in the UK alone. “Our priority now is to get these trains out there and running and prove to the logistics industry what we can do. A lot want to see it in action as it is a huge transition for some of these customers. These are the biggest parcel carriers in the world, and they’ve never been anywhere near rail in the past so there is bound to be a little bit of nervousness in the market.” Although there are several benefits to switching to rail, Karl admits the big challenge is the first and last mile of the journey. 36 | April 2021

He said: “The train is brilliant for the middle section, but it is the first and last part that will always be the challenge. But we are coming up with solutions, with options like electric vans and bikes and from a rail perspective we are looking at autonomous vehicle technology.

Our priority now is to get these trains out there and running and prove to the logistics industry what we can do “When we first kick off it will be people manhandling roll cages onto trains, but that’s not where we want to be. Our vision is a world of autonomous vehicles; so at the factory, pallets and boxes will be piled onto autonomous vehicles which will find their own way to the railhead and into the right carriage, locking themselves in. “Following a several-hundred-miles journey, these vehicles will find their way off the train, down the platform, out of the station and onto its final destination. This has to be the vision, although we’ve got a huge transition to go from pretty much manual to a world of autonomous vehicles powered by artificial intelligence.”

Orion is just one of several initiatives by Rail Operations UK. Earlier this year, the company signed a framework agreement with Stadler for the supply of 30 Class 93 tri-mode locomotives. The advanced locomotives will significantly reduce CO2 emissions for rail freight as well as potential passenger transport services, with deliveries expected to start in early 2023. High speed Class 93 is a Bo’Bo mixed-traffic locomotive based on Stadler’s Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives that have been operating successfully in the UK for several years. They will be capable of reaching speeds of 110mph. Karl said: “We are out there making a difference with carbon-friendly electric multiple units, bi-mode trains and of course the Class 93, a tri-mode locomotive that will contribute massively to decarbonising the rail industry. “The Class 93 locomotives, the first of which will arrive in November next year, are going to revolutionise train operations, particularly freight. At the minute freight trains are operating around the UK hauled by very old fuel guzzling, carbon-emitting locomotives that slow down the network. “The arrival of the Class 93s will change that, setting a new standard for freight train operators – one that is greener and more efficient and that will modernise and revolutionise the rail freight industry.” railbusinessdaily.com

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Machine Technology Group – GAC Rail Limited: Keeping rolling stock rolling... B

elgrave & Powell are a specialist engineering investment group founded in 2018 by senior engineering executives and professionals from the machine tool and manufacturing sectors. Our business portfolio now consists of eight UK businesses focused on the provision of engineered goods and services. One of those group subsidiaries with a particular specialism for the rail sector is GAC Rail Limited, part of the Machine Technology Group (MTG) division. GAC Rail was originally established in 2010, supplying, servicing and re-manufacturing machine tools for rolling stock in the railway industry including under floor, above floor and portal wheel lathes, vertical wheel lathes, wheel boring and axle turning lathes. Located in Preston, Lancashire, our UK team provide UK-wide servicing of railway depot equipment using our skilled electrical and mechanical engineers. Wheel lathes typically comprise two main types – Underfloor Wheel Lathes (UFL) or Above Floor Wheel Lathes (AFL). As the name implies, a UFL is typically mounted below the rail operating surface and allows in-situ machining of wheel profiles on carriage. The physical installation normally requires a large investment in civil work to build an underfloor foundation and pit to contain the UFL with sufficient strength to withstand frequent rolling stock loads. AFLs, as might be expected from the name, are mounted above floor and normally machine wheels on axle in situ with either roll on/off or roll through configurations as a more cost-effective capital solution for machining new components and axle assemblies. Our customers comprise some of the leading names in managed service solutions for regional train, tram, light rail and heavy goods rolling stock across the UK. GAC Rail’s experienced engineers are able to provide a range of engineering services to support this critical function in maintaining railway infrastructure comprising; 1. Planned servicing and maintenance: GAC Rail support a variety of historical and current brands for lathes and related equipment including Hegenscheidt, Safop, Atlas, Sirmu, Danobat, Rafamet among many others. 38 | April 2021

Shunting of rolling stock above a UFL for machining

Our planned servicing programs are performed to OEM standards with full access to proprietary spares and engineering support for custom spare parts. Not only can GAC Rail support lathes of various configurations, the capability extends to a variety of hydraulic handling equipment, bearing presses and balancing equipment. 2. Reactive service: GAC Rail has some of the most experienced machine tool engineers in the UK and reactive service forms a critical part of the service offering seven days a week, out of hours and during critical operational working patterns.

3. Assured MRO service and spares: Capital investment in new depot machining equipment in the rail industry is under constant review and in many cases difficult to justify based on shorter lease periods for TOCs. Effective maintenance and repair strategies for ageing or even obsolete equipment is therefore a critical consideration for many of GAC Rail’s customers. Our extensive experience in machine tool technologies and repair methodologies means we can often repair, replace and extend the working life of aging assets.

Example of a Rafamet UFL System



Te c hFne oa ltougr ey

4. Equipment retrofit: Aside from servicing, GAC Rail is experiencing a significant number of enquiries for customers aiming to reduce their investment costs by retrofitting of UFLs where the cost of a new machine would be difficult to justify. In our experience the mechanical structure of an ageing UFL is often structurally sound but requires modernisation to replace obsolescence of electrical control and mechanical systems. GAC Rail’s capability extends to not only service but also design and retrofit of completely new CNC control systems and mechanical hardware. Quite often this retrofit activity can be conducted while maintaining a level of operational output. 5. New depot equipment: As well as growing levels of service support for MRO services, GAC Rail is also the exclusive distributor in the UK for Rafamet S.A. located in Poland. Founded in 1889 Rafamet S.A. is a leading international manufacturer of wheel machining technology in the rail sector, developing a broad range of specialpurpose wheel lathes for railways, metros, trams, and other light-rail transit systems, heavy-duty single and double-column vertical turning lathes, horizontal axle lathes, large gantry milling machines and wheelset measurement systems. Rafamet machine tools for railway wheels and wheelsets incorporate design features based upon the most recent achievements in machine tool design and economical wheelset machining techniques and the range comprises: a. UFLs: Underfloor Wheel Lathes are a CNC double-saddle special-purpose lathe, designed for the machining of wheelsets used in rail vehicles either in a single or tandem configuration. Its main application is reconditioning of wheel profiles and brake discs of light rail transit system vehicles (trams, metro, commuter) without dismantling of wheelsets from the vehicles. This significantly shortens the shutdown time of vehicles and thus increases the efficiency of their exploitation. Reprofiling of single wheelsets or bogies dismantled from vehicles is also possible. The machine is installed on a pit-type foundation (below the traffic rails), which ensures its operation in a roll-through system. b. AFLs: Above Floor Wheel Lathes are a CNC double-saddle special-purpose lathe designed for reprofiling of wheels and brake discs used in rail vehicles. The machine tool ensures productive machining of solid wheels and wheels railbusinessdaily.com

Machining of a wheel profile

with tyres of both used and new wheelsets. The wheelsets can be provided with outboard axle boxes, gears installed between the wheels and brake discs. The wheelset is rolled onto the built-in wheelset elevator along rails, automatically centred and clamped in centres and driving dogs installed on spindle face plates. c. Shunters: The 3RS Rail-Road Shunter from Rafamet is designed for shunting of rolling stock of maximum total mass up to 350 tonnes. The shunter moves on rails and flat surfaces for example production workshops, maneuvering or loading platforms within enclosed industrial facilities (railways, metro, tram depot, ports, etc.). The 3RS shunter can be used as auxiliary equipment for an Underfloor Wheel Lathe. d. Wheelset presses: Rafamet offer a wide variety of wheelset assembly and disassembly presses, from the simplest version with one cylinder for applications of low productivity demand to fully automated configurations with two cylinders and complex material handling equipment for high throughput of rolling stock. The pressing process is controlled by a control system with datalogging of parameters for traceability.

e. Handling equipment: In addition to the wide range of machines for railways, Rafamet also offer a variety of equipment for use in depot and workshops of rolling stock manufacturers including bogie turntables, winching and inspection systems. Demand for GAC Rail’s services is growing according to Paul Ward, Machine Technology Group’s Managing Director, who commented: “We’ve been proudly serving the UK rail sector for more than 30 years and our revenue is growing strongly for provision of specialist skills in the maintenance of critical infrastructure for machining of wheel sets. We are one of the only companies in the UK able to offer a complete OEM and aftermarket service for this specialist area. With more than 30 competent engineers, our highly capable machine tool teams are deployable around the UK on a planned or reactive basis supporting both new and ageing equipment maintenance demands.” For servicing enquiries, contact GAC Rail Limited via 01772 332 499 or via info@gacrail.co.uk . For detailed information on the Machine Technology Group, please visit www.machinetechgroup.com

Tram entering a depot for UFL wheelset re-machining


April 2021 | 39


Driving the EDI agenda forward Kate Jennings, of the Railway Industry Association, and Adeline Ginn MBE, of Women in Rail, discuss the progress of the EDI Charter


t has already been some journey for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter, which was launched jointly by the Railway Industry Association (RIA) and Women in Rail (WR) last November. Four months ago, RailDirector spoke to Adeline Ginn MBE, Founder and Chair of WR and Legal and Marketing Director at CPMS-Egis, and Kate Jennings, Policy Director at RIA, about the Charter – marking the beginning of a new phase in the rail industry’s EDI journey. They’ve given an update on the progress made since the launch, with the excitement expressed then still going strongly. Much has also happened, both in terms of industry commitment and proactive actions taken by WR and RIA, to drive the Charter EDI agenda forward. “We now have over 160 signatories to the Charter, representing a broad spectrum of companies from across the railway and demonstrating our industry’s commitment to working together to drive the change needed to create a more diverse and inclusive sector,” said Adeline. “Having launched the Charter, and secured support from across the rail supply chain, rail clients and government, it was important to maintain momentum,” added Kate. “I felt strongly that it was important to encourage and inspire our industry with ideas to celebrate and drive positive change, and foster inclusion, so I proposed to Kate that we set up a cross-industry working group comprising diverse individuals who would represent both the breadth of the signatory companies and the diversity of the industry.

Adeline Ginn MBE (L) and Kate Jennings (R)

“Their role would be to educate the industry and drive the Charter agenda forward,” said Adeline. Kate echoed this and felt that it was important for such a group to be agile and representative to ensure all voices were going to be represented and heard. She said: “Working group members would themselves be role models of the diverse and inclusive rail industry that the Charter seeks to celebrate and grow.” “We considered holding a competition to identify group members but decided to identify individuals who were already active on the EDI agenda this time – this allows the group to move into action more quickly whilst still being able to consider competitions for future years.” WR and RIA set out to identify up to six individuals each from their respective networks, and to ensure the group was gender balanced.

“We sought assistance from the signatory companies so that we benefit from the enthusiasm of some of the many men who are active supporters of the EDI agenda,” said Kate. “We have now achieved a solid gender balance with a group of 11 – including five men – who are completely on board, ready to drive positive change throughout the industry. And we are already forming strong bonds as a team.” Wide range of members The group’s members are drawn from rail organisations representing the full spectrum of the industry, including infrastructure clients, armslength bodies, supply chain organisations, train operating companies and other organisations. They are also at different stages of their careers, from apprentices to senior managers, and so are well placed to represent the career opportunities and cultures of the different organisations within rail.

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Adeline says: “Each member of the working group has been chosen based on their personal commitment to diversity and inclusion and their individual qualities and strengths. This is in addition to their representation of a wide range of backgrounds, ages, genders, ethnicity, abilities and identities within the UK rail industry at this particular point in time. “They are the voice of their communities. Their role is to educate us on what we, as leaders, individuals, and as an industry, can do to attract, create and retain a workforce that is truly diverse and inclusive. They are all amazing and passionate about helping drive the changes our industry needs, and I am really looking forward to hearing what they have to say.” The group members put forward by WR were Charlie Woodhead (Accessibility & Inclusion Manager, LNER), Farah Sajwani (Assistant Project Manager, CPMS-Egis), Mohanad Ismail (Head of Regions, Young Rail Professionals and Senior System Consultant, WSP), Natalie Leister (Passenger Services Area Manager, Southeastern Railway), Rachel Fullard (Service Analyst, Rail Delivery Group) and Toyin Davies (Project Sponsor, Network Rail). RIA nominated Nina Fairfowl (Corporate Communications Manager, Keltbray), Rob Doolan (Scheme Project Manager, Network Rail), Sep Semsarzadeh (Head of Operations, Colas Rail), Thevani Ravindran (Transport Engagement Lead, Atkins) and Tom Flannery (Team Leader, Rail Systems, SNC Lavalin). Group vision Both Adeline and Kate agreed on the importance of effective communication and the need to take time for the group to not only get to know each other but also to consider the group’s purpose and the Charter’s vision so that, as a group and individually, they can maximise the impact of the actions they are to take forward over the coming months.

“We also both agreed that neither RIA nor WR should act as Chairs of the group but instead take on the role of facilitators to guide and support the group members in their role,” said Kate. “It was important for us that the group felt free to come up with innovative ideas, with WR and RIA in the background to facilitate and support them in their ongoing work,” added Adeline. Kate and Adeline also reached out to colleagues to help them provide that support framework.

Each member of the working group has been chosen based on their personal commitment to diversity and inclusion Adeline asked Ruth Busby, HR Director Great Western Railway and Co-Chair of the WR South Regional Group, to join the team as group facilitator and Kate secured the support of Isabella Lawson, RIA colleague, Policy Executive and Young Rail Professionals Vice Chair for London. The working group held their first meeting on 24 February and nominated Charlie Woodhead as their group Chair, and whilst the coronavirus pandemic has meant that the group has not been able to meet in person, they immediately got to work with virtual meetings instead. Ruth introduced a series of strategic thinking tools, including Magic or Baggage and MINTO, so group members could start working together on refining their vision and sharing and developing their ideas. These have been their focus for the first three group meetings. “We were keen to make sure we created a working group that was as representative as possible, and made up of passionate, self-starter individuals,” Kate said, “and I feel confident that

now, after three meetings of the group, we have succeeded. I can’t wait to see what they achieve over this year!” “It is important that the group represents the Charter and supports signatories in promoting EDI in rail – and how they do this is important. RIA and WR are not here to tell them what to do – we want to hear their positive ideas as the rising generation of trail blazers acting as role models for the wider rail community.” Over the coming weeks, WR and RIA will introduce the group on their social media channels, with each member talking briefly about why EDI and the group are important to them.   WR and RIA will work to empower the group, both as a collective and as individuals, by sharing networks and supporting their initiatives. Kate says: “Both Adeline and I are keen that being a member of the group is beneficial to them as individuals, helping them to develop their skills and continue in their professional journeys. We will be amplifying their voices and giving them the platform, helping them to communicate with Charter signatories and the wider industry, promoting positive change and the move towards a more inclusive and diverse railway industry.” The group has met three times and the members have temporarily divided into three planning groups, looking at specific areas they would like to focus on and actions they would like to achieve. At the next meeting on 20 April, they will come back together and discuss their ideas and start to produce a plan of action. The initiatives delivered by the group could take shape as events, content, and or industry interviews and both Adeline and Kate are excited to start to take the next steps in delivering the Charter goals alongside them. To find out more about the EDI Charter, e-mail: info@edicharter.co.uk



April 2021 | 41

Light rail

Further support funding announced for light rail and trams The emergency coronavirus funding aims to ensure the vital services remain viaible for the future


Key to the network Before the pandemic, more than 119 million journeys were taken by light rail or tram each year on systems outside of London, highlighting the importance of these transport networks. Of the operators in the North and Midlands, Tyne and Wear Metro has secured £8 million of the funding which will be used to cover Metro’s running costs and replaces fare and commercial revenue losses incurred as a result of the pandemic. Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said the money was vital at a time when customer numbers are 30 per cent of normal and are expected to recover further as lockdown eases. John Fenwick, Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, said: “This extra financial support is vital so that we can continue providing Metro services while the country starts to emerge from lockdown and we look to welcome more of our customers back to the network. 42 | April 2021

Photo: Transport for Greater Manchester

further £33 million of emergency coronavirus funding has been provided by the government to support light rail systems, taking the total support for Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Blackpool, Manchester and Birmingham to nearly £200 million. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has also announced a further £7.5 million of funding for Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams in response to the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic. In the North and Midlands of England operators will receive the funding until June to support operators as they continue to face reduced revenues caused by low passenger numbers. A review of the need for further funding will take place before the end of this period. Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “As the country opens up in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we want light rail and tram services to be available to passengers and running as normal. “That’s why we’re continuing to fund these vital transport systems, ensuring that they’re available now and are ready for people to use when restrictions ease.” “The money that we have been allocated will replace fare and commercial revenue losses and go towards meeting our operating costs, ensuring that a key local transport network is being sustained while it continues to face the biggest challenge in its 40-year history.”

As the country opens up, we want light rail and tram services to be available to passengers and running as normal In Scotland, the latest £7.5 million funding announcement brings the total light rail

support available up to £28.5 million, which will now be in place until the end of June 2021. Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “The light rail networks in our two biggest cities continue to play a vital role in keeping Scotland moving safely, facilitating essential travel which, of course, now includes people attending vaccination appointments. “While travel restrictions and physical distancing requirements mean capacity on public transport remains reduced, our support to date has enabled Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams to carry around three million trips since July 2020, further demonstrating the importance of these services. “Glasgow and Edinburgh are expected to see continued significant financial constraint over the coming months and as such we are providing further financial assistance until the end of June to enable services to continue.” railbusinessdaily.com

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Construct your future, connect the DOTTS The new training, testing and accreditation company changing the face of the rail industry


he rail industry continues to undergo a radical transformation to be one of the safest, most reliable and most punctual rail networks in the world. At the heart of this has to be the thousands of workers and making sure they are provided with the platform to work effectively and safely. For the past five years that is what Doctore On Track Services Ltd (DOTTS) has been assuring with an experienced team of trainers and assessors in both the rail and construction industries, taking training to the next level. Katie Baker, Managing Director, said: “Our vision is to become the provider of choice, working alongside our clients and learners, developing strong relationships and alliances, whilst also being recognised for making a positive difference to industry performance and people’s lives. “Our people define what we are; our team pride themselves on delivering exceptional services and are renowned for their passion, integrity and high standards.” It is this attitude and enthusiasm that is seeing the training, testing and accreditation company changing the face of the industry for the better. Training through knowledge The company takes its name (Doctore) from the term used in the gladiatorial world of ancient Rome for a fighter, who in his skill and ability, becomes a teacher. It is an apt word when you look at how the company consists of people who not only understand how to train through knowledge, but understand because they have been there and have the deeper experience needed to achieve such impressive results. DOTTS has the incredible portfolio of being RISQS (Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme) accredited and a National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) assured provider of rail training and assessments, specialising in the delivery of On-Track Plant Operator and Machine Controller and Crane Controller competencies. The organisation employs accredited NOCN/ CPCS trainers and testers and also holds accreditation for the delivery of NVQs for Plant and Lifting Operations, qualified through SQA. This means it is a one-stop-shop providing the entry route in construction through to the transition from construction into rail. This is a vital tool for those companies needing to be compliant and diverse in such a regulated and challenging sector. 44 | April 2021

As an up-and-coming training provider, it is easy to get lost in the noise of all the more established names but already DOTTS has found its feet and is building a reputation in the industry. Working with POS companies to support its training work bank, DOTTS has already been delivering short courses within limited time frames that not only create minimum impact on workers’ day-to-day operations, but also allow it to branch out into different disciplines, opening up new potential where there previously was none. Simultaneously it is collaborating with numerous agencies to assist them in looking after their workforce competencies not only as a one-way service, but also supplying trained


operators back in return to create a much needed employment funnel. This alone is setting it apart; a symbiotic relationship is a brilliant way of cultivating true growth for everyone involved and delivers a real hook for those looking for a unique way of getting the most from their investment. DOTTS has a huge personal commitment in getting more women into the construction and rail industry, and whilst this is a noble statement, it is also backed up by fact. It has recently trained a young woman to operate construction plant, with the promise to continually support her through her career and open doors into the railway industry in the near future.


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All this, whilst also liaising with established female construction plant operators to undertake taster sessions for routes into On-Track Plant. This is a huge achievement for such a young company which really shows how focused and capable it is already, ensuring a strong foundation for its future too. A key to the success of DOTTS is the importance placed on its core values:  ollaboration. Working in strong partnership C with clients, ensuring relationships can grow organically, strengthening them with its passion, integrity and high standards.  nderstanding. It can’t be stressed enough U how important the fact that its qualified trainers/assessors are all time-served operators within the industry. The vast knowledge and experience of machines of all different disciplines i.e. agricultural, demolition, groundworks, civil and rail, and of all different brands really nails down why its training methods and results are so effective. P racticality. DOTTS passion in being the best, and wanting to equip candidates not only with skills, but mindsets too is why its trainers are all hands-on. With an emphasis on practical training, it often simulates real-life scenarios that individuals will face when they go out to work in construction and in rail which is a superb way of ensuring not only competence, but confidence too. Areas of expertise DOTTS offers a wide range of bespoke training courses to individuals and groups and for all railway, civil and construction companies, equipping people with the skills essential to working safely and effectively. Train Initial training and assessment. DOTTS takes pride in being able to offer training from scratch in either CPCS or OTP related activity, enabling a whole new work funnel into both industries and ensuring their continued presence. Aftercare, support and mentoring packages reinforce its stance that candidates are so much more to them than statistics; its experts care passionately about candidates’ success and well-being even after they have left the course. If you ever get the opportunity to sit in front of the directors, you would leave the room feeling that you had actually found a company that’s doing this for more than just a revenue stream, they’re doing it because it matters to them! DOTTS offers mentoring to companies and individuals on site, building on and nurturing railbusinessdaily.com

their confidence and experience so that everyone involved can be rest assured they are more than capable when left alone. It’s not hand holding, more releasing into the wild! Gain DOTTS is able to advance candidates onto NVQs, creating ambition, drive and a desire to keep personal development at the front of minds. The organisation inspires the same mindset and work set they own, into their candidates. These trainees really will be the future of the industry! It doesn’t end there either. Because the staff are so experienced, they have the ability to spot talent in their candidates too. Advising and identifying potential new opportunities within OTP that they never thought possible, or knew existed, suddenly opening up a whole career path for them and supporting them to become portfolio driven. Retain DOTTS also breathes life into people’s careers with recertification and familiarisation, often seen as a monotony, a chore, that was necessary


rather than wanted. Taking individuals under its expert’s wings, they are being shown their worth not only to the industry, but to themselves as well which in turn, means when they leave that session, they become more determined than ever to stay the course, and improve. Can you imagine the effect that has on individuals? To feel like they belong, that they matterinstead of becoming bored and demotivated. It is priceless. Not just for the organisation, but the industries on the whole. It is leading to candidates being energised and retained, changing industries for the better, and forever. Despite being founded in 2016, DOTTS has made some incredible achievements, and with that an impressive reputation, in a short space of time. In true gladiatorial spirit the organisation has even continued to make great leaps during the coronavirus pandemic, with that set to continue long into the future – a good thing not just for DOTTS, but for the rail and construction industries it serves. Visit dotts.co.uk for more information

April 2021 | 45


Prime opportunity to rebuild trust and positivity Community Rail Network’s Chief Executive on the need to embrace the insight provided by the community rail movement


ommunity rail and the work of the Community Rail Network will have an increasingly important role to play to drive recovery and enable sustainable travel. The Community Rail Network is the national umbrella body working across Britain to support community-based partnerships and voluntary groups working at a local level to engage people with their railways and stations. The work of this grassroots movement, which commenced over 25 years ago, also allows communities to have a voice in rail and feed their views into the development of railways. There are now 74 community rail partnerships (CRPs) and that number is growing. Bringing communities together Community rail partnerships are the backbone of the community rail movement, bringing together local groups and partners along railway lines to work with industry, and delivering a range of community engagement and promotional activities. They promote understanding of the importance of local railways, in terms of improving mobility and sustainable travel, community cohesion and wellbeing, and social and economic development. These partnerships are attuned to local needs and aspirations and full of members who are passionate about rail. Jools Townsend, Chief Executive of the Community Rail Network, oversees delivery

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of the Network’s work in line with its strategic priorities. This includes leading and supporting the team, fostering relationships with the rail industry and third sector, advocating for community rail nationally, and working with the board to ensure the organisation’s development. Community Rail Network works with rail partners at a national and strategic level to provide insights into what CRPs are doing on the ground and how that work can allow rail projects

to be developed and the industry to become more people-orientated. The Network already enjoys partnerships with operators and works closely with Network Rail. More recently, partnerships have developed with rolling stock leasing companies, and companies such as Siemens Mobility, who have turned to the Network to connect with community groups in the areas of the country where they are delivering work.

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Making connections Station friends groups comprise groups of volunteers who come together to enhance their local railway station, to make it a more integral part of community life, and to make stations useful, welcoming and productive hubs. Jools added: “CRPs come in varying shapes and sizes as it really depends what is right for the local area. So there is a range of different set-ups but part of our reason for being here is to support the development of new groups and partnerships and to link groups and partnerships together. One very important aspect is sharing knowledge and good practice across the movement. “Stations are a critical part of community rail. It is all about making stations welcoming and pleasant, and recognising they are integral to community life.

Greater Manchester’s Heaton Chapel Station’s Running Man mural is a collaboration between Heaton Chapel Station Friends and local artist Karen Allerton

Cheshire’s Friends of Goostrey Station celebrate success at Cheshire’s Best Kept Stations Awards

“Stations are vital local centres of social and economic activity. We would encourage everyone in rail to think holistically about stations and the way they are connected to their surroundings, the way local people are able to use them, appreciate them and get value from them, the way the empty spaces could be used, and the way stations can integrate with other modes of transport.

Photo: Friends of Goostrey Station

Jools said: “We enjoy great support from the rail industry. There is still lots of scope to work with other businesses and organisations and to do more work with the supply chain so we’d be keen to talk to businesses and explore the possibilities of working together. A lot of the growth seen in the increasing numbers of CRPs is down to the support from industry, coupled with enthusiasm within communities for engaging with rail.” In addition to the 74 CRPs, there are more than 1,000 station friends groups and, together, they work with rail partners to build understanding of local needs and enable more people to travel by rail. CRPs are, typically, small community-based organisations with one or two staff members, who report to a partnership board. In some cases, new CRPs are nurtured and developed by train operating companies and local authorities, with support and advice from Community Rail Network, to spread community rail to new areas. They can be hosted by local councils, universities, social enterprises or charities, or set up as independent community interest companies.

“There are a lot of disused or underused spaces in stations and we’ve seen more and more projects led by communities returning these spaces to all sorts of community uses. Community-run cafés, meeting spaces, active travel hubs, arts projects, community gardening: all sorts of wonderful approaches can be taken in order to put the community stamp on a station.

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April 2021 | 47


Community Rail Lancashire’s Women Who Wander project raised awareness of the gender imbalance in the rail industry

started springing up 25 years ago with the ‘use it, don’t lose it’ ethos around ensuring lesser-used branch lines were more integral parts of their communities and therefore better used.

Community rail is ideally placed to play its part in rebuilding trust and positivity “We have a strong and proven track record, and plenty of evidence that aligns with the view that CRPs consistently perform better in terms of passenger numbers.

Engaging their community by rail, Bristol’s Severnside Community Rail Partnership host their popular On The Move Events

48 | April 2021

Photo: Severnside CRP

Road to recovery As we set off on the post-COVID road to recovery, the community rail movement could have an increasingly important role to play in getting people back on trains, enabling more people to travel by rail and also to shout “louder and prouder” about rail’s green and caring credentials. Playing its part in making rail more accessible and reducing car dependency will go some way to addressing decarbonisation targets and, more widely, the climate emergency the planet faces. Jools said: “There’s more that can be done to draw on community rail, its local knowledge and insights, and consider how this can be beneficial to rail at a strategic level. The pandemic has brought a lot of this to the fore and our members haven’t downed tools. A lot of work has been going on to keep talking to local volunteers and partners and keep providing that insight to the rail industry. It has been increasingly important in this unprecedented period that the dialogue has continued and the lines of communication have remained open between the industry and the communities rail serves. “Rail partners have appreciated the work being done to inform their work on shifting travel demands and local needs. The Community Rail Network and CRPs have a big part to play in recovery. We have a big role to play in rebuilding confidence and patronage. That goes back to the roots of community rail, which

Photo: Community Rail Lancashire

This feeds back into the railway, turns station buildings and stations into local assets, creates familiarity, gets more people using stations, creates positive perceptions and positive relationships. We can turn stations into real beacons of sustainability in their communities.”

“There are countless examples of community rail working at a local level with individuals, families and local groups to increase confidence, accessibility and appetite for using rail. “There is a big job ahead for everyone but community rail is ideally placed to play its part in rebuilding trust and positivity. This is not just about bringing back previous passengers but reaching out to people more widely, recognising that commuting is unlikely return to pre-COVID levels. “There are some exciting times ahead for community rail to play an enhanced role and an opportunity to play a part in decarbonisation, modal shift and tackling the climate emergency. Our members are absolutely passionate about their communities and railways and raring to go to support increased rail travel once again. “We’re all aware that decarbonising transport is a priority and we recognise that rail is fundamental to that. The aspiration, shared by the rail industry and community rail, is for rail to form the backbone of a sustainable transport network. Local engagement, dialogue, and community-led change is vital to that. “The pandemic has set us back and greatly reduced passenger numbers but has also thrown everything we all thought we knew up in the air. In relation to modal shift and behavioural change there is a prime opportunity to engage with people in an enabling, empowering way, removing barriers and ensuring everyone can access sustainable mobility. This is a great time for conversations about the way we move around and how we can do so in a more sustainable and community friendly way, and rail and community rail can be at the centre of that.” www.communityrail.org.uk


F eqauti up rmee n t E

Almost three decades of equipping the railways with plant machinery and tools Laois Hire is on the eve of its 30th anniversary of supplying a huge range of plant machinery and tools to the rail sector


rmed with a team of very experienced staff, its key Account Manager helping to keep the railways moving is Darran Hutchinson. He was the first employee of Laois Hire back in 1992 and has built up a very extensive knowledge of the hire industry since then. It is this experience that means the company can source the right equipment from all over Ireland helping customers deliver on time and on budget with their nationwide projects. “We have been working with Irish Rail for almost 30 years, supplying them with a massive variety of items from specialised rail equipment kit like tamping tools, rail drills, sail saws and rail jacks, to silenced generators and lighting towers,” said Darran, giving one example of the organisations Laois Hire has been trusted to support. A particularly popular hire item for the rail sector are lighting towers, which Laois Hire has supplied to the likes of GPX Rail to carry out its night-time operations in a safe manner. The latest lighting towers to come on the fleet, the advanced MHM X-ECO (LED6) Lighting Towers are reliable, fuel efficient and very compact which allows for easy transport. They also have a dusk ‘til dawn auto stop/start sensor allowing the lighting towers to start and stop automatically, completely unmanned.

Brendan McCormack, a Welding Supervisor with GPX Rail, a civil engineering company specialising in all aspects of rail installation and maintenance said: “Laois Hire has always been very proactive. They give a very good and prompt service and have always been very helpful and accommodating. The quality of its equipment is also to a high standard.”

It is also worth noting that Laois Hire sell the majority of equipment on its hire fleet such as tools. It is an agent for Husqvarna, meaning it can sell and repair vital items for rail sector line maintenance, such as chainsaws and hedge trimmers. Commitment to health and safety Continually putting emphasis on health and safety as a prime objective, Laois Hire has developed measures and embraced the changes required to make its operating procedures and branches safer for both staff and customers with regards to COVID-19. It works with its customers to understand their unique circumstances and develop service packages that deliver cost savings, operational efficiencies and performance improvements. Laois Hire continues to invest heavily in its logistics, plant and equipment to meet the demands of its customer base within the rail sector, whilst adhering to four core principles which underpin and drive everything it does – safety, availability, value and support. Visit laoishire.com Call +353 (0)57 866 0232

50 | April 2021




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Heritage rail

Heritage railways receive government grants to help with recoveries The heritage railways industry has been given a welcome boost ahead of the start of re-openings with thousands of pounds of government grants


early £400 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country in the latest round of support for the Culture Recovery Fund. Among those successful includes: Bluebell Railway – £272,400 Didcot Railway Centre – £114,015  id Hants Railway and Mid Hants Railway M Preservation Society – £496,200 Kent and East Sussex Railway – £250,700. Great Central Railway – £515,700  von Valley Railway Heritage Trust – A £97,400 Bodmin & Wenford Railway – £144,800 Forest of Dean Railway – £115,800 eighley & Worth Valley Railway – K £346,600.  id Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust – M £401,800 North Norfolk Railway - £397,500 Culture Secretary Olivia Dowden said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced. “Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.” For Bluebell Railway, the money will pay for some of the railway’s costs between April and June. This includes the salaries of skilled heritage staff including those working in the locomotive and carriage and wagon workshops who repair, maintain and overhaul the line’s fleet of historic steam engines and carriages. Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Trust, which is its charitable arm, said: “We are grateful to the Culture Recovery Fund for approving our Round 2 application in full. 52 | April 2021

The money will help us ensure we have the people and resources to reopen in line with Government guidelines next month.” South Devon Railway (SDR) will receive a grant of £165,900, all of which will help the seven-mile former Great Western Railway branch line recover from the enforced closure of the railway since March 2020 during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, SDR has also been informed that it has been offered an additional award up to a maximum of £257,800 award to re-inflate its cash reserves to a value of eight weeks, based on average annual turnover and projected unrestricted reserves at July 2021.

The money will help us ensure we have the people and resources to reopen in line with Government guidelines SDR Chairman Jon Morton said: “We are all bowled over to have received this second round of grant support and offer towards our reserves thanks to the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Historic England. It’s really fantastic news for us and so greatly appreciated.

“It will certainly provide us with the additional vital financial lifeline needed for the railway’s continued survival, and we are confident that all of the projects to gain support will help get the much-loved steam trains of the South Devon Railway running normally again very soon, hopefully in May.” Recovery plan For Kent and East Sussex Railway, the award will underpin the final stages of its COVID recovery plan, providing vital funding which will enable the railway to continue to employ the staff necessary to sustain its operations and cover vital expenses until the scheduled end of COVID-19 restrictions. Kent and East Sussex Railway Chairman Simon Marsh said: “This grant provides vital support as we weather what we hope to be the final stages of the coronavirus pandemic. In normal times we welcome 90,000 visitors a year to enjoy a ride with us along the scenic Rother Valley and experience the trip of a bygone era. In 2020, visitor numbers were down by over 80 per cent and we were devastated that we had to disappoint many families who had booked to enjoy a festive trip on our Santa Specials. “The Culture Recovery Fund has played a major part in ensuring that the railway will be here for everyone to enjoy as restrictions are lifted. We know that this award, combined with a successful 60th Anniversary Appeal, will set us on a firm footing for the future.” railbusinessdaily.com

Photo: Rail Delivery Group

South Devon Railway – £165,900

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Network Rail

Industry-wide effort at King’s Cross Network Rail’s Track Director Steve Hughes and Route Delivery Director David Roberts on the King’s Cross remodelling programme


n February 2021, Network Rail commenced three months of work to improve the track layout on the approach to London King’s Cross. The work, which will see platforms lengthened to accommodate longer trains, making it easier for trains to enter and exit one of Britain’s biggest and busiest stations, is the main stage of a £1.2 billion upgrade of the East Coast Main Line. The East Coast Upgrade will transform journeys between London, the North of England and Scotland. Until early June, hundreds of Network Rail workers will be on site 24/7 to simplify the track layout just outside of London King’s Cross. The complex project will see the current layout – which was laid 40 years ago – lifted, replaced and realigned, creating smoother, more punctual and more reliable services for passengers. The work also includes re-opening a tunnel that closed in the 1970s. Re-opening the Gasworks Tunnel will provide two additional tracks reducing congestion and creating additional capacity, and has also involved using slab track technology which is only the second time this type of technology has been used on Network Rail’s Eastern Region which stretches from the Scottish borders along the entire east coast of England, from the North East, and down to King’s Cross. Naturally, enabling work has been carried out in the months and years leading up to delivering these major upgrades for passengers. Network Rail has also worked closely with freight operating companies and train operating companies to minimise disruption.

Dave Roberts (L) and Steve Hughes (R)

Once the work is completed, teams will have installed more than 6km of new track and 15km of overhead wires. Careful planning With the reduction in passenger numbers and services operating to revised timetables over the past year, Network Rail has been able to undertake the works whilst minimising the impact on passengers. Both Network Rail’s Track Director Steve Hughes and Route Delivery Director David Roberts say that the way the project is now moving at speed is a credit to the Network Rail team and the whole supply chain, which includes Morgan Sindall, Siemens, AMCO and SCO, who have responded positively in such challenging times.

David said: “This really is an industry-wide, cross-supply chain effort. Without the support of everyone, including TOCs and FOCs, we couldn’t do this. We have been supported on the access regime, by the supply chain, and the wagon operators, who’ve provided us with over 100 trains to take away waste by train. This demonstrates what we can do as an industry.” Steve added: “The King’s Cross Remodelling programme has been in the making for a number of years and it’s exciting to get this work underway. This project is testament to the people delivering it, working hard living away from home and staying in hotels. Everyone is showing a real determination to get this job done. TRANSFORMING


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Photo: Network Rail

Network Rail

Simplified tracks to the left

“For track this is a busy and challenging time so big thanks are due to the supply chain, not least colleagues at SCO, who’ve pulled out all the stops to get us the engineering haulage and plant required to deliver this enhancement project and keep the domestic programme going as well.” The final elements of the signalling system between King’s Cross and Peterborough will be transferred from the local King’s Cross signal box to the state-of-the-art Railway Operations Centre in York when the work at King’s Cross is completed in June. This allows the signal box at King’s Cross to be demolished, creating additional space for the new tracks into the third tunnel. David explained: “The configuration of tracks

and signalling obviously restricted movement in and out and made the headways of trains getting out of the station complex. This scheme provides additional platform lengths to enable longer trains, simplifies the tracks and signalling configuration and simplifies the whole layout. The programme presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get in there and deliver.” Enabling works included the redesign and rebuild of the Camden Sewer, which runs directly beneath the tracks outside the station. The height of the top of the crown of the tunnel meant that, over Christmas 2020, this specific section of the sewer had to be removed, diverted and reconstructed, with the station closed for just six days during this work.

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Project in numbers


Engineering trains

Over 2km Drainage install Approximately 3.7km Plain Line laid

Over 50,000t spoil, scrap rail, sleepers etc. to be removed via train (expected to reach over 100,000t throughout) Installed over 278km of signalling cables Over 7,800 blocks to be used to re-build the platforms


Over Signalling Assets to be commissioned

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Network Rail

Overhead line work

56 | April 2021

Werrington tunnel push

Temporary changes to the signalling system took place over three days at the end of February, resulting in no services in or out of the station, which will also be the case on 23-25 April and 4-6 June.

Passengers will see the improved, longer platforms and the simplified track layout These are relatively small disruptions given the clear benefits that passengers will enjoy as a result of the work. Once completed, the work at King’s Cross will deliver quicker, more reliable journeys. This, combined with other East Coast Upgrade projects including the new Werrington grade separation north of Peterborough, the power

supply upgrade and the introduction of new trains on the route will not only create space for additional train services between London and the North, but will also help ease congestion, reduce journey times and provide more capacity for freight. David added: “We’re minimising disruption to operators while delivering significant improvements. In June everything will have been delivered at King’s Cross, and that will be a huge boost to the public when they start to return to rail. “As is often the case with work like this, passengers will see the improved, longer platforms and the simplified track layout, but a lot of the engineering and drainage works that have taken place will not be visible. It’s a strange measure of success but if we can deliver the huge benefits and make it easier to travel and they don’t notice any of the work, we’ve done our job.” Steve added: “From a delivery point of view everyone working on this project is leaving a legacy. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get involved in a project of this size. People are willing to step up because they all want to play a part in creating something we will all be proud of when work is complete.”

Photo: Network Rail

Victorian marvel Those passionate about Victorian engineering will no doubt marvel at the reopening of the Gasworks Tunnel. The bore involved excavating 40 years of debris and waste materials – hundreds of thousands of tonnes in volume through the 1km length. Now that material has been hauled elsewhere, it’s the use of slab track over ballasted track that is getting David and Steve excited. The tight clearances and gauge constrictions in the Gasworks Tunnel has led to the use of slab track, the benefits of which include lower whole-life cost, lower whole-life carbon footprint and avoid the need for the disruptive maintenance and renewals. Steve added: “Slab track is a more expensive option but on the plus side, as a legacy, it brings about low-cost maintenance and better performance benefits. We’ve not only put two lines in the tunnel but also a crossover. The tunnel has been a highly challenging piece of engineering although this work opens up the option to look at using slab track as a solution elsewhere, particularly when you’re dealing with gauge constraints and difficult circumstances.” Disruption to services in and out of King’s Cross and to operators is being kept to a minimum, although services to and from the station will be reduced. For the vast majority of the three-month period of work, which will see half the station closed, trains will still be able to run to and from King’s Cross.

Photo: Network Rail

David added: “In their own right, those works were a significant piece of engineering. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to go on to lay the track.” Rebuilding the sewer enables trains starting on their journeys to accelerate earlier and more quickly.


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t is remarkable to think that JFRail Consultancy was only founded six months ago. Despite being launched during a pandemic, the company hasn’t just survived, but also thrived, with an enviable track record of success. Already it has worked with the supply chain, key research and development organisations and mainstream organisations including Network Rail, RSSB and Steer Group. “The aim is simple, to achieve success in solving complex problems by delivering targeted expert advice and using tried and tested robust engagement processes,” said founder and Director of Operations Jon Fenn. “We are already achieving this by pioneering specialist senior level operations and customer information consultancy services across the industry to deliver successful change and industry improvement during this period of uncertainty.” The key behind the success is JFRail’s business model, which includes three types of approach:  irect support to senior leaders to provide D strategic solutions to their operations or customer information approaches. ffering leadership in research and O development, providing innovative and pioneering solutions that will support future successful change initiatives. elivering a professional high-quality D approach to key parts of complex transformation programmes to ensure successful outcomes are delivered. L astly, but most importantly, offering tried and tested robust engagement plans and processes using our strong network to collaboratively agree key outcomes. This offering is being led by Jon, the vastly experienced director with a demonstrable history of working in operations and customer sectors in the rail industry – including high-profile roles at the likes of Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway and Abellio Group. After being made redundant from Abellio last year, Jon saw it as the perfect opportunity to set up JFRail. 58 | April 2021

“I saw a gap in the market to set up a business to be a differentiator in the consultancy market that could offer a highly professionalised service from an operations perspective to senior leaders and director level people,” he said. “JFRail is a unique blend of experience at various levels. This ensures we can engage at the right level. Whatever it is that we are trying to achieve I am able to work at a tactical or a strategic level and achieve the right outcomes. “It is that level of operational knowledge and experience of engagement and change that allows me to do that from all levels across the industry.” Some of the key projects and successes to date include: ustomer Information Train Operator C Strategy – Engaging the industry and working with key stakeholders from the supply chain and in train operators on customer information to develop support for a new approach.  1154 PERFORM Managing Disruption – T Providing senior level support to Steer and RSSB to deliver the pilot deployment of T1154 Managing Disruption research project, the primary performance improvement project linked to the NPB priority of recovery of the plan. Advertorial

 raffic Management (TMS) and Stock and T Crew Interface – In partnership with Noble Rail Consulting, leading the Operating Model approach and Industry Engagement Plan for the East Coast Digital Programme and Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU), ensuring industry-wide engagement is achieved.  anaging Disruption National Training M Package – Leading the delivery of an industry wide training package in partnership with a training provider and Network Rail and Steer for managing disruption that builds on the approach of the T1154 project. Jon said: “This is a success story in a pandemic in which we have found a niche area and are contributing to help the industry change and do things differently for the better. “I don’t think JFRail would be where it is without the support of my network which has been incredible in offering help, support and guidance. I can’t thank them enough.” Visit www.jfrail.co.uk or email jon.fenn@jfrail.co.uk



Bringing together the innovators to help the railways thrive The Railway Industry Association’s Dr Sam Bemment discusses the role the industry has to play in unlocking the railway of the future


he UK is the pioneer of railway engineering expertise with examples of first-class innovation seen throughout the world. However, the needs of today’s railways are very different from when the Victorians first brought them to life. Digitalisation and decarbonisation have to be the priorities for the sector in the future, and to achieve that, technology is essential to delivering efficiently and safely and to meet the changing needs of passengers and freight users. Leading that charge is the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the trade association for the UK-based suppliers to the railway industry, bringing together organisations and helping supply chain companies in the UK overcome the obstacles to innovation in the rail sector. “We are at a kind of crossroads at the moment, where innovation is a huge part of what the railway needs in the coming years to be able to survive, adapt and grow. Our carbon and safety credentials are stronger than ever, but COVID has left passenger numbers temporarily down and we may need to adapt our offering,” said Dr Sam Bemment, Technical and Innovation Manager at RIA. Long history of support Assisting its 300 members, and, by extension, the wider industry to innovate has long been a core activity of the trade association which has been established for more than 140 years. Its network of rail contacts extends to thousands; many within member companies, but also within government and industry bodies, as well as academia and adjacent and emerging sectors. “The portfolio of innovations across our membership is large and varied and it really is an exciting time to be involved in the industry. I’m hearing about some really exciting things in the pipeline in the coming years,” said Dr Bemment. “Rail is an industry of large projects which means that some system-level innovations take decades from inception to completion. The Bi-Mode Intercity Express Programme and Thameslink core signalling are great examples. railbusinessdaily.com

“Perhaps, because of the nature of these flagship projects, there is a public perception of rail being slow to innovate. But we do innovate; we must do because the next time you go on the railway and look out of the window do you see Stephenson’s Rocket flying by? “Sometimes changes can take a little longer because we rightly prioritise safety and reliability. We need to make sure the technology is going to function as intended, without having a negative impact on service quality or safety. This can be

a tough concept to grasp for some new market entrants from other sectors who expect things to happen overnight! I think we sometimes have a problem with communicating how well we innovate – both within the industry, and to the general public. We should aim to improve that.” By necessity, the need for innovation has been somewhat accelerated over the last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with social distancing transforming working practices and the technology needed alongside it. April 2021 | 59


“Our industry has proved that when it mattered, we could pull together to adapt. During the pandemic, despite overwhelming odds and a situation evolving every day, the railway carried on running throughout, keeping keyworkers and freight moving along. We never had an ‘exhausted toilet paper moment’. We should be shouting from the rooftops about that,” he said. “All organisations have been forced to readjust, sometimes on a weekly basis, to keep up with the rapidly changing COVID situation and that was the same for us at RIA, with the team having to innovate around our own innovation programme.” New event That innovation includes its award-winning Innovation Conference later this month (28-30 April), which this year will be held virtually for the first time. The event will bring together leading innovators, clients and policy makers from across the sector and beyond, showcasing some pioneering technologies and projects in rail, and helping to connect members of the industry. “It is an RIA event, but really I think it is an industry event that RIA run,” said Dr Bemment.

60 | April 2021

“It is our flagship technology conference so it showcases the best of everything our members are up to, and the most senior decision makers will be attending – including the Minister for Future Transport Rachel Maclean MP.

We hope to build on the success of the previous events, where connections have been made and contracts have been won “It is something we are really proud of as an organisation. It has gone from strength to strength over the years and it has really grown in popularity and size. I’m looking forward to it, with some excellent speakers lined up, including the evening speaker Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke, who will share his insights into what rail can learn from space missions.

“We hope to build on the success of the previous events, where connections have been made and contracts have been won on the back of presentations around innovative projects.” The Innovation Conference is just one example of the platform RIA provides to accelerate innovation in the railways. It was a founding member of the UK Rail Research & Innovation Network (UKRRIN), formed in 2017 to bring together the leading universities in rail with industry collaborators, along with funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to create a step-change in innovation. Driving innovation RIA’s Unlocking Innovation Programme, of which UKRRIN and Network Rail’s R&D Portfolio are strategic partners, also continues to showcase new ideas and thinking from across the industry, reaching thousands of people. Through several events a year, the programme brings together those with the ideas and ambition to drive change, helping to build new supply chains, and supporting clients in finding creative solutions, whilst also showcasing the work going on in the industry.



Although the coronavirus pandemic has put a temporary stop to these events being hosted in iconic locations with hands-on demonstrations, it hasn’t halted them taking place, with the sessions moving to a webinar format. There have been benefits to the virtual move, however – the sessions have reached even more people. They remain free of charge to attend, and open to anyone inside or out of the rail industry. “RIA has an important role to play when it comes to innovation and that importance is one of the reasons I took this job,” he said. “It really is like the nerve centre of what is going on in the industry – with 300 members most of the supply chain is represented. When it comes to innovation, the supply chain has to be involved. “Innovation in an industry with our structure has to have an element of collaboration – it’s unavoidable – and as we are the trade body representing the supply chain, we are pretty much at the centre of all that is going on. Clearly we have an important role in promoting the innovations of our members, that is both within the industry and to the general public. “One of the key things we can do to help is to ensure the appetite and funding for innovation continues. Innovation should be a constant process of improvement. If we are going to make a real go of this it has to be long-term, rather than just the spending in this control period and then seeing a cliff edge. To do that, we need to show the cost reductions and service improvements that are a direct result of past funding. “RIA are also looking at helping to restart the cross-industry Innovation Leadership Group, which is charged with championing, promoting and unsticking innovation.” Wealth of experience Dr Bemment is one of the newer additions to the RIA team. He joined last year after a period running his own innovation consultancy, SkyBlue Engineering Ltd. He specialised in research, development and innovation consulting, taking paper ideas through to first prototype. He brings a wealth of experience, with a career that started at Network Rail through its graduate engineering scheme followed by time working on the Intelligent Infrastructure programme and at RIDC Tuxford, before joining Loughborough University, where he was technical lead on the Repoint project to create fault tolerant track switching. His PhD is in Railway Systems Engineering. “Running my own consultancy was great, but it was an ant’s view of technology innovation – in a dark room, soldering one component at a time! railbusinessdaily.com

The Railway of the Future The Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) award-winning Innovation Conference will take place from 28-30 April 2021 around the theme of ‘The Railway of the Future’. The 2021 RIA Innovation Conference, which is open to all and will be held virtually for the first time ever, will bring together leading innovators, clients and policymakers from across the sector and beyond, to showcase some pioneering technologies and projects in rail, and help connect members of the industry. Among those taking part will be Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke, who is a keynote speaker, sharing his insights into what rail can learn from space missions. The event will focus on key challenges such as economic growth, regional investment, decarbonisation and global exports. An interactive virtual networking platform will provide extensive opportunities to meet other industry members involved in innovation, ranging from key clients and Tier 1s to SMEs. David Clarke, Technical Director at RIA, said: “It is brilliant to be back with our Innovation Conference, and to have such an exciting line-up of speakers and events that will cover some of the most critical challenges and opportunities for the future of our industry. “Whilst we can’t yet meet in person, we will be hosting this year’s event on a truly immersive virtual platform which will provide a host of exhibiting and networking opportunities to attendees.” Strategic Partners for the Conference include Network Rail and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). Visit www.riagb.org.uk/RIC2021 for more details.

“I saw the RIA job advertised and thought it a great contrast and opportunity – a helicopter view of all the great projects that are going on in my chosen industry, and knew it would be a great opportunity to see everything,” he said. “There is so much happening, and so many different things to be involved in, and RIA sits at the nerve centre of all those things. “Without appreciating it at the time, I have been gaining experience for this role throughout my career, working across client and supply side

of the research, development and innovation lifecycle, and I can appreciate the aspirations, problems and frustrations of our members whilst at the same time understanding the constraints of their clients, and indeed of the industry structure itself.” Visit www.riagb.org.uk/ RIC2021, for more details or to sign up to RIA Innovation Conference 2021.

April 2021 | 61

Heritage rail

On the rails to recovery South Devon Railway is on track for the return of its trains next month after being closed for more than a year here is light at the end of the tunnel for South Devon Railway (SDR) heritage line as a phased re-opening is due to commence this month, with the return of its steam train journeys along the stunning valley of the River Dart set to start the following month. It has been some journey for one of the West Country’s best-loved tourist attractions, which has been closed for over a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the longest period the former Great Western Railway branch line has been closed in its 52-year history. “It has been tough and a real battle quite frankly,” said Dick Wood, SDR’s Business and Development Manager. “The last SDR steam trains ran virtually empty on Tuesday 17 March 2020 just ahead of the first lockdown. This dramatic change came straight after a very popular weekend SDR steam gala event. “I don’t think any of us could have predicted what was going to happen following the announcement of the first lockdown, and that applied universally. In fact, the only certainty of the last year has been uncertainty.” The pandemic has hit heritage railways hard. SDR alone has revealed that just 1,750 passengers travelled on the line in 2020 compared to 83,527 in 2019 – a staggering drop of 98 per cent. It’s led to around a £2 million reduction in overall revenue. But in true heritage railway style, the dedicated and passionate staff and friends have rallied round to save the seven-mile stretch, which was built in 1872, re-opening as a tourist railway in 1969 following closure by British Railways in 1962. Challenging times Around £1.3 million has been raised through a combination of grants from government, local councils and SOS appeals with people from far and wide donating to help the railway through the most challenging of times. Dick, who is also Chairman of Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA), said: “To take that level of hit is significant. The only bit of our business that has carried on is the engineering side, as we have a contract engineering business from the workshop and we supply and fit tyres on heritage locomotives, some coaching stock and also to some train operating company locomotives, plus contract boiler works too. 62 | April 2021

Photo: Steve Edge


The only certainty of the last year has been uncertainty

sufficient number of people remember steam trains running, or are at least familiar with them, and they are a much loved and prized part of our nation’s heritage.” Despite the closure, SDR has still managed to carry out considerable, necessary planned maintenance and improvement works all along the line, ranging from stations, signal boxes, undergrowth removal and track repairs, to signalling, coach and loco repairs, plus endless cleaning.

“Taking a £2 million hit is pretty bad for business, but luckily we’ve been able to generate £1.3 million thus far which has been really good. “There has been an outpouring of support from members of the public. People do love heritage railways and I think it is because a

Phased re-openings The hard work means that SDR was set to re-open to visitors in phases starting with the Buckfastleigh site, which was due to open on Monday 12 April, when national COVID restrictions were set to ease significantly for attractions.

“Across the railway large numbers of staff were inevitably furloughed and that has obviously had an effect on the ability to do certain tasks, such as routine maintenance.


Heritage rail

Ahead of the reopening all SDR staff and volunteers have been undergoing refresher and competence training in almost all railway duties, with a focus on detailed risk assessments and enhanced hygiene regimes. The site open days – which includes the gardens, workshop viewing and the opportunity to view the display of SDR’s steam and diesel locomotives and historic coaches – will be followed by the return of the trains steaming down the picturesque valley of the River Dart from Monday 17 May. “We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to the railway,” said Dick. “We will be putting in a range of measures to ensure that customers can travel in confidence and safely. This includes reduced capacity on trains, all tickets booked in advance, socially distanced passenger flow systems and enhanced cleaning regimes.” 50 years’ service It will be an emotional moment for staff and volunteers, none more so than Dick, for whom the railways has been his life, having joined the Dart Valley Railway Association in 1971. He has been a volunteer and supporter of the SDR for 50 years, as well as a driver and long-serving volunteer on


the West Somerset Railway, and also worked for the Tyne & Wear PTE and underground Metro system in and around Newcastle. “It has been a lifetime’s love and work, one that is extremely enjoyable and satisfying and one in which the good days have outweighed the bad ones,” he said, reflecting on his time on the railways. “My late grandfather was a railwayman. He was a Permanent Way Ganger in the north west of England in a little town called Millom with a massive iron and steel set-up in Cumbria. “I remember saying to my late parents when I was a little boy that I wanted to be an engine driver.


“They both said ‘no, no, no’, but when I was little that was all I wanted to be, so I got my way in the end.” As well as an obvious affection for SDR, where he has also been General Manager, there is an even more personal reason why Dick will be delighted if trains start running again in May – it will also mean he can shave off his very long beard. “It was one of those rash promises that I made when we first had to close, that I wouldn’t trim my beard until trains start running again,” he said. “I thought it was only going to be two or three months at the most. As we all know, I was wrong. “It is quite a weird situation because the hair on top of my head is diminishing at the same exponential rate that the beard is growing outwards. I’ve had all the names from Uncle Albert, Mr Tom, Ernest Hemingway, Neptune and of course Father Christmas. So in anticipation of the trains running again in May I’ve arranged with my local Turkish barber to travel down to the station with me and cut the beard off, hopefully raising a bit of money for the railway at the same time.” For more information, visit southdevonrailway.co.uk


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April 2021 | 63


A year like no other


n 23 March last year, the unthinkable happened: the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on TV and told us we must stay home in order to protect the NHS and save lives, in a phrase that became familiar to us all as we grappled with the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The PM’s first lockdown speech remains a landmark moment in the worst post-war crisis our nation has faced, in a year that was like no other in our lives. It was likewise a year without comparison for the railway and its workers. Lifeline of connectivity Rail needed to keep going. As the nation’s lifeline of connectivity – getting essential workers to the frontline and essential goods to our front doors – putting the brakes on was never an option. The amount of freight carried on the railways actually increased last year. Passenger services had to adapt quickly, both to changes in demand and to what passengers undertaking essential travel needed on the ground. Rail workers stepped up to the mark in offering advice and reassurance, from extra cleaning to working with British Transport Police to successfully drive up the number of people wearing face coverings. 64 | April 2021

We should take this moment to look back and remember with heartfelt compassion family, friends and colleagues who tragically died. We should give thanks for all essential workers and the sacrifices they made, including the railway family. As a nation we will always be grateful for their resilience and selflessness throughout the year.

The rail industry must of course have a voice in the wider discussions about how we rebuild our economy and society in the recovery. But we must also listen. What do our businesses need? What do our communities need? What do our high streets need? What do our customers need? What do the rail industry and our workers need?

We have shown we can adapt while preserving the best of what went before – our innovation, our tenacity, our togetherness

The Big Conversation To kick off a public discussion to ask these questions and consider the answers, RDG is launching our Big Conversations podcasts next week. Each episode in the series of six invites an expert guest to give insight into, and analysis of, the challenges and changes ahead in their sector. RDG’s Director of Nations and Regions, Robert Nisbet, hosts the discussion and explores the issues and rail’s role in the recovery with guests from business, consumer, environmental and community groups. The series starts with Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service, discussing the customer of the future. These are the conversations we need to engage with to meet the challenges ahead, to take every opportunity to build a better, greener economy and society. All of us, in every sector, need to draw on both the versatility and original thinking that saw us through the year we could not have imagined.

We should also thank the passengers who adapted to new timetables and new safety measures, helping keep our rail workers and the network safe. As a nation we have shown we can adapt while preserving the best of what went before – our innovation, our tenacity, our togetherness. As we prepare for the recovery, we know things have changed and more change will come, for the nation, for the rail industry, and for many more sectors and businesses that are part of the UK’s social and economic fabric.


Photo: Rail Delivery Group

Photo: Rail Delivery Group

The Rail Delivery Group’s Jacqueline Starr, chief executive officer, and Andy Bagnall, director general, look back at the pandemic and what the future may hold for the industry


Boosting rail resilience against extreme weather The report of two independent taskforces following the Stonehaven tragedy has been published


Tackling climate change Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also called for a network-wide review of the impact of climate change on the resilience and safe performance on the railway, and in particular how earthworks are managed. He said: “We must do everything we can to keep our railways safe, and I immediately commissioned this report so that lessons would be learnt without delay. “These findings will inform our work as we push ahead with measures to make our railway more resilient in future and less vulnerable to sudden tragedies like that near Stonehaven.” Some of the 50 recommendations have already been implemented including the trial of a system to provide detailed information on where intense, short-term rain is falling, and monitoring sensors that can be adopted on potentially critical slopes to provide early detection of failure. Both reports recommend looking at culture and organisational change, upskilling the workforce to better access, interpret and use weather data and technology, to carry out inspections and examinations of earthworks 66 | April 2021

Photo: Network Rail

etwork Rail has published two independent reviews led by worldclass experts to help tackle the challenge of extreme weather resilience. The organisation commissioned the taskforces – led by Lord Robert Mair and Dame Julia Slingo – following the Stonehaven tragedy in Aberdeenshire, last August. Three people lost their lives – train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury – when a train derailed having struck a landslip following intense rainfall. Network Rail pledged to learn lessons from the tragedy with Lord Mair and Dame Slingo providing engineering and scientific oversight and recommendations to help tackle the challenge of managing rail infrastructure in the face of more frequent bouts of extreme weather.

Extreme weather presents a significant challenge and drainage, and to improve knowledge and competencies consistently across the organisation. Other recommendations include: Carry out detailed analysis of previous slope failures and washouts, together with accompanying weather patterns and ground conditions.  ccelerate the deployment of state-ofA the-art weather forecasting capabilities through digital platforms. P roactively review and maintain earthworks drainage and consider having dedicated teams.  se helicopters and drones more widely for U inspections, particularly after intense rainfall.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s Safety and Engineering Director, said: “The UK’s railway is one of the safest in Europe, but something went tragically wrong at Stonehaven last summer and our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury. “Heavy rain caused ground slips on many occasions across the entire network last year and although tragic accidents are thankfully incredibly rare and none other than Stonehaven caused injuries, it is clear that extreme weather presents a significant challenge to the way we safely and reliably manage railway infrastructure. “We do a vast amount to tackle the effects of climate change already but there is more to do. We established two independent, expert taskforces led by world-class specialists to investigate the problems we face and, crucially, to guide us as we make substantial improvements. “We will carefully consider every single recommendation and develop a science-backed improvement plan, to target available money and technology in the best possible way. This is a real breakthrough.” railbusinessdaily.com

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itachi Rail Washington has been awarded a contract worth up to $2.2 billion with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to design and build 256 of the 8000-series railcar vehicle. The contract includes options, if exercised, to build up to 800. Among the nation’s premier public transit providers, the heavy rail system covers a combined 118 miles, with six rail lines, 91 stations and some 1,292 railcars. More than half of the region’s jobs are within a half-mile radius of all Metro stations. “Investing in the 8000-series railcars – is an investment in safe, reliable transportation for Metro’s customers and an investment in the region we serve by contributing to the local economy,” said Metro General Manager/ CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “This is a win-win


ugro has completed a nearshore geotechnical investigation for the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, the world’s longest immersed tunnel connecting Denmark and Germany. The client was Femern Link Contractors, the consortium building the 18km tunnel. Fugro has been involved in the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel project for the past 10 years, from early site investigation work up to the current geotechnical study. This latest phase included geotechnical site characterisation of the subseabed soil at both tunnel entrances and, on the Danish side, the production facility where the hollow concrete tunnel elements are being made. Fugro deployed their Skate 3 jack-up platform, a customdesigned geotechnical spread, and a data acquisition team to perform core drilling and downhole cone penetration tests.

68 | April 2021

that supports the future of Metro, the local economy, and job creation throughout the National Capital Region.” The new 8000-series railcars are designed to be lighter, safer and more energyefficient with improved regenerative braking technology, ventilation system improvements,

high-definition cameras and stringent cybersecurity requirements to enhance security. Metro and Hitachi Rail share a commitment to sustainability and this is applicable to the new model. The new vehicles will further improve customers’ on-board experience with more digital screens and real-time information, dynamic maps, electrical outlets for charging personal devices, and additional hand-holds throughout the interior. “We are honoured to help Metro meet their mobility needs, providing innovative solutions to customers and improving the passenger experience,” said Andrew Barr, Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi Rail Group. “The rapid growth of our business translates into direct and indirect U.S. jobs, and further capital investments.”

Etihad Rail and Saudi Railway Company cooperate


tihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network, has announced its partnership with the Saudi Railway Company (SAR), by signing a strategic agreement establishing a framework for the exchange of services, training, and knowledge transfer. Shadi Malak, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail, and Dr Bashar Al Malik, Chief Executive Officer of SAR, signed the strategic agreement during a virtual ceremony attended by officials from both entities. The agreement focuses on four key areas of cooperation including locomotives and wagons lease arrangements, spare parts purchase, special volunteer groups and shared services initiatives. Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail, said: “This strategic agreement is of strategic importance, due to the close ties between the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the wise and visionary leadership within both countries. Further expanding the close relationship between Etihad

Photo: Etihad Rail

Fugro completes geotechnical investigation

Photo: Hitachi Rail

Hitachi Rail awarded up to $2.2 billion contract H

Rail and Saudi Railway Company (SAR) through continuous cooperation, which will shape the future of the rail transport and logistics sector across the GCC region. “Our agreement with the Saudi Railway Company is aligned to Etihad Rail’s strategic role in  the development of the UAE’s logistics and mobility sector. We look to contribute to the ongoing comprehensive development process aimed at achieving the UAE’s economic vision and government strategies, while optimally using available resources and capabilities. “Our expertise in rail operations, coupled with the strong presence of UAE talent across our company, will foster

and enhance the transfer of knowledge with our colleagues in Saudi Arabia. Through this partnership, we look to enable our mutual development, further aligning to the requirements of this ambitious project.” Bashar Al Malik, CEO of the Saudi Railway Company, said: “Our agreement comes following the strategic and fraternal relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We share deep historical ties and a bold vision for the future, reinforced by our similar outlook on a range of different viewpoints. “Such a partnership is nurtured by our nations’ continued cooperation, and our mutual vision for the integration of our transportation sectors.” railbusinessdaily.com

International news

to supply RINA contracted to plan safety Knorr-Bremse systems for Turin’s new of the North Sea-Baltic Corridor tramfleet K R Photo: RINA

INA has won the contract for Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety (RAMS) services on the railway segment of the North Sea-Baltic Corridor for the transportation of freight and passengers. The North Sea-Baltic Corridor, which connects Finland to Belgium and crosses Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, is part of the Trans-European Transport Network project. RINA was awarded the €510,000 contract by Rail Baltica AS, the consortium that will manage the construction of this stretch will need to ensure the compatibility of the of approximately 1,000km, to define the systems with the entire network planned by the requirements of safety, reliability, availability European Community. Roberto Carpaneto, CEO of RINA and maintainability according to European Consulting, said: “This contract is an important standards – the highest in the world. The development of the requirements, which recognition that will allow us to apply the skills are a precursor to the tenders and contracts gathered in projects of strategic importance Heating Ltd such as the Italian High-Speed line and the that Rail Baltica will issue to complete the SwitchPoint Industrihuset new Shah-Habshan-Ruwais railway line in the railway, will last about a year. As well as S-430 64 HÄLLINGSJÖ, SWEDEN United Emirates.” complying with European standards thesePhone: + 46Arab (0)301-418 50

norr-Bremse has signed a contract to supply train manufacturer Hitachi Rail S.p.A. with braking, entrance and HVAC systems for 30 new light rail vehicles (LRVs). Operated by Turin transportation company GTT, the vehicles will contribute to more reliable and cleaner urban transportation by enabling faster and more efficient connections between many of the suburbs of the north Italian city and downtown Turin. “We are delighted to be partnering with Hitachi to build the new LRV sets for Turin, especially since this is the first order to be placed for Hitachi’s new LRV platform,” said Dr Jürgen Wilder, member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG and responsible for the Rail Vehicle Systems division. “Together with metros, LRVs are a hugely important lifeline within and between urban districts, providing reliable and indeed essential mobility services for the public.”

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April 2021 | 69


Adomast are a specialist in formwork and construction chemicals, providing a wide range of construction chemicals and cementitious products, including Eco-friendly and WRAS approved products. sales@adomast.co.uk enquiries@adomast.co.uk www.adomast.co.uk 01226 707863

BAM Ritchies provide fully integrated, digital, predictable, collaborative ground engineering solutions, with no surprises. So you’ll know what to expect, and we’ll get it right first time. ritchies@bamritchies.co.uk www.bamnuttall.co.uk/groundengineering 01236 467000

Global Rail Cable supplier of Network Rail approved overhead line, trackside power, signalling and telecoms. Expert technical support and next-day delivery from stock. www.elandcables.com rail@elandcables.com 020 7241 8759

Ford & Stanley Executive Search specialises in retained permanent & executive interim opportunities at the highest level of organisational leadership and management across the Rail, Digital and General Manufacturing sectors. Executive@fordandstanley.com https://executive.fordandstanley.com/ 0203 869 8484 / 01332 344443

ITAL works with businesses looking for productivity improvements, in both the management of people and systems. We bring technology improvements to generate efficiencies that positively impact the bottom line, employees and customers. ryan.leather@ital-uk.com www.ital-uk.com 08445 447 327

Jobson James Rail is a national specialist railway insurance broker, the market leader in the UK by a huge margin with over 325 rail clients across the UK, Middle East and Australasia. keven.parker@jjrail.co.uk jjrail.co.uk 07816 283949

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Kelly Rail is a principal contractor to all major UK industry service providers, specialising in multi-disciplinary solutions including, telecommunications, SISS, signalling, M&E, lineside civils and electrification HV & LV. info@kellyrail.co.uk www.kelly.co.uk 0208 424 0909

RISQS audited chartered land and engineering surveyors with 40 years’ experience measuring and mapping the railway infrastructure. survey@mw-sc.co.uk www.mw-sc.co.uk 07767 456196

Railway electrification specialists. Navitas Engineering has the experience and capability to provide professional consultancy, design and testing services for both AC and DC traction systems. www.navitasengineering.com/contact 020 3488 2662

We work with UK transport companies and investors to provide low-cost light rail solutions that connect communities across the West Midlands and the rest of the UK. Future-proofed. Green. Reliable. Award-winning. info@premetro.org www.premetro.co.uk 01384 441325

Radius is a service orientated plant installation, contract lift and tower crane hire solutions provider. Our service is not about what we do; it is all about what you need. info@radiusgroup.co.uk www.radiusgroup.co.uk +44 (0)1604 62 28 65

RMF is a leading provider of reservation based international settlement and clearing services providing solutions for sophisticated revenue and cost allocations including analytical tools. david.hiscock@rmf.co.uk www.rmf.co.uk +44 (0) 20 7042 9961

Signet Solutions are specialists in the delivery of railway signalling courses and training programmes to the Rail Signalling Industry both in the UK and internationally. enquiries@signet-solutions.com www.signet-solutions.com +44 (0)1332 343585

Signalling Installation and Testing for S&C and Plain Line Renewals as well as Points Fitting and failure investigations to SMTH, G110 and New Works Standards. office@SigTechRail.co.uk www.sigtechrail.co.uk 01303 767312

TXM Projects provide Project Solutions in Rail, specialising in Refurbishment, Maintenance & Overhaul, System Installation and Corrosion & Incident repairs. info@txmprojects.co.uk www.txmprojects.co.uk 0121 2136411

70 | April 2021


Movers and shakers

Rail Supply Group appoints leading industry experts


he Rail Supply Group (RSG) has appointed two leading experts to its industry-wide Council – Jacqueline Starr, CEO of the Rail Delivery Group and Elaine Clark, CEO of the Rail Forum Midlands. Jacqueline Starr became CEO of The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) in December 2020, replacing Paul Plummer. The RDG brings together the companies that run Britain’s railway into a single team with one goal – to deliver a better railway. Elaine Clark is CEO of Rail Forum Midlands (RFM), a national industry association based at the centre of one of the largest clusters of rail businesses in the world. With some 250 members, RFM has been leading the Rail Sector Deal ’Midlands Pilots’ project, which is specifically designed to encourage SME growth through

Jacqueline Starr collaboration and schools’ engagement. Philip Hoare, Chair of the Rail Supply Group, said: “The Rail Supply Group is driven by accomplished individuals who are ready to use their experience and expertise to implement positive

change for the entire rail industry. I warmly welcome Jacqueline and Elaine, two such leading experts, to the RSG. Each brings her unique and much needed expertise at a pivotal time for our industry’s ambition to build back better.” Jacqueline said: “I am delighted to be joining the Rail Supply Group Council, and to be representing train operating companies. In the wake of the pandemic, the railway will need to adjust to a new environment that reflects the changing needs of our customers and the imperative to reduce whole system costs. Meeting these challenges will require ingenuity, innovation and agility – all of which the supply chain excels in.” Elaine said: “It’s an honour to join the Rail Supply Group Council to represent the Midlands and the wider rail supply chain. The

Elaine Clark RSG has an important role to play working with government to ensure the environment is conducive for our industry to thrive. I believe this means working in partnership to achieve a safe, sustainable and affordable railway for all our customers.”


No time wasted as Alstom appoints new PMO boss W

ith the recent announcement of Alstom completing the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, there had been little delay in appointing the Head of Procurement, Supply Chain Transformation and Governance. Helen Endacott, formerly of Rolls-Royce Plc and the Environment Agency spoke of her recent appointment at Litchurch Lane. “Although not actively seeking opportunities at the time, following an approach from Ford & Stanley Executive Search, the Alstom opportunity at Litchurch Lane to head up a PMO function sounded like an ideal fit and considering the potential in the role, one not to miss. It has been made even more exciting following the recent Alstom acquisition and I am very much looking forward to embracing the integration of organisational cultures, as well as creating world-class sustainable supply chains. I can’t wait to meet the new team”


“The Alstom opportunity at Litchurch Lane to head up a PMO function sounded like an ideal fit” Miles Hatton – Interim Chief Operating Officer, UK Region at Alstom added: “We are currently experiencing the highest ever levels of production in our established history of manufacture, top of our agenda has been to explore and identify opportunities for ‘productivity gains’ which led to the creation of a senior function within the PMO. Helen’s appointment will bring visibility, people engagement, inclusion, coordination and sustainability that underpins our production ambitions”


Email: Executive@fordandstanley.com Web: https://executive.fordandstanley.com/ Phone: 0203 869 8484 / 01332 344443

April 2021 | 71

Movers and shakers

Neil Sachdev Optilan appoints Adrian Bannister named as as Chief Financial Officer EWR Co’s permanent O chair


ransport Secretary Grant Shapps has appointed Nilesh (Neil) Sachdev as Chair of the East West Railway Company (EWR Co.) He has been appointed for a term of three years and will oversee the delivery of the East West Rail project, which will deliver a new direct rail link between Oxford and Cambridge serving towns and cities along the OxfordCambridge Arc. He replaces Rob Brighouse, who has served as the founding Chairman of EWR Co since 2017. Mr Sachdev brings a wealth of leadership experience at board level and strong commercial and business acumen. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of Network Rail Property Limited and Chair of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation Board for the Ministry of Defence. He has previously held a variety of senior leadership positions in the energy, property and retail sectors. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I’d like to welcome and congratulate Neil, who joins this project at a hugely exciting time, following an injection of £760 million to kick off a new phase in delivering the railway. East West Rail will serve as a catalyst for growth along the Oxford-Cambridge Arc by creating jobs and improving connectivity. Neil Sachdev said: “I thank Rob, who has not only initiated this project, but provided strong leadership in delivering the first stage of the project and building a great team at EWR Co.” 72 | April 2021

ptilan, the leading security and communications company for the energy, infrastructure, pipeline, and rail sectors, has appointed Adrian Bannister to its Executive Management Team as Chief Financial Officer. Adrian brings more than 25 years of experience in Chief Financial Officer roles, and was perhaps most notably involved in the buyout of the Sparrows Offshore team in 2000. Adrian has worked exclusively for high-growth and entrepreneurial, private equitybacked companies ever since then. With his combined energy and technology expertise, the company says Adrian is perfectly placed to help spearhead Optilan’s future growth strategy in key energy and infrastructure sectors. Adrian will bring his

successful track record of growing businesses and his wealth of financial knowledge and industry experience to Optilan, in order to help define, shape, and execute the company’s domestic and international growth strategies. Bill Bayliss, CEO of Optilan, said: “Adrian has invaluable experience in private equity and helping tech-focused industrial businesses achieve, manage

and sustain long-term growth. Adrian knows the energy sector like the back of his hand and has helped PE-backed, high-growth companies just like us navigate the industry. He’s therefore perfectly positioned to lead the company as we evolve our offering across a variety of nationally and internationally critical industries.” Adrian said: “I am very proud to join Optilan as Chief Financial Officer. Optilan boasts an impressive history of staying at the very forefront of technology to deliver security-critical and safetycritical systems across nationally and internationally-critical projects. “I am particularly excited about the company’s growth plans, helping clients use the very latest technology to drive efficiency and optimise their systems in a costeffective way.”

Network Rail: Michelle Handforth appointed Managing Director of Wales & Western


etwork Rail has announced that Michelle Handforth, has been appointed the new Managing Director for the Wales & Western region. Michelle, currently the Chief Executive of Aberdeen Harbour Board, will join Wales & Western in the summer. Michelle has had a wideranging international career in several sectors including aviation, rail, maritime, financial services and the oil and gas industry. She previously held roles at Great North Eastern Railways as Commercial Director and with First Group as a strategic lead on franchise bids. She brings with her over 20 years’ Board experience in customer service, safety, transport infrastructure and innovation.

Michelle said: “I’m delighted to be appointed as Managing Director of Wales & Western and to return to the rail industry at such a critical time. I look forward to working with colleagues and industry partners to welcome passengers back to the railway by providing the best possible service.” Michelle was appointed

following an open competition and is the replacement for Mark Langman following his retirement. Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “I’m pleased we could bring Michelle back into the rail industry. It’s been a difficult year and she’ll bring a fresh perspective to help us navigate through these challenging times.” railbusinessdaily.com

Movers and shakers

Claire Mann takes up her role as Managing Director for South Western Railway C

laire Mann has started at her role as Managing Director of South Western Railway. Claire began her career in transport as a customer service assistant and then a train driver for Heathrow Express and has since held a number of senior leadership roles at organisations including the Docklands Light Railway, Arriva Trains, First Great Western (now GWR) and London Overground. Most recently, Claire moved within TfL to become Director of Bus Operations, where she was responsible for the dayto-day delivery of the capital’s 9,200-strong bus fleet.

Claire has taken over the role from Interim Managing Director, Mike Houghton, who returned to his role as Chief Operating Officer, and joins SWR as it begins planning for the return of more passengers as COVID restrictions are eased. Claire, SWR’s incoming Managing Director, said: “The railway has played a vital role in keeping our key workers moving through lockdown and will be pivotal in helping people reconnect with each other as we emerge from the cloud of COVID.” Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director, said: “Claire brings a wealth of experience to the role and her passion for

delivering an excellent customer experience is a perfect fit, as SWR delivers its £1.2 billion programme to transform the railway. “With the roll-out of the new Arterio fleet and Island Line transformation both set to be

delivered this year, it is an exciting time for the customers and communities SWR serves, and we are delighted to have Claire in the driving seat.” Steve Murphy, MTR UK Chief Executive Officer, said: “Claire’s experience both on the front line of the railway and in senior roles across transport will be invaluable as she drives the SWR team to deliver great journeys for all our customers, and we are fortunate to have her on board. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mike Houghton for the excellent job he has done as Interim Managing Director over the past three months.”

Sir Peter Hendy reappointed as Chair of Network Rail


ransport Secretary Grant Corporation since July 2017. Sir Peter was previously Shapps has reappointed Sir Peter Hendy CBE as Chair Commissioner of Transport for of the Board of Network Rail London (TfL) for nine years and, Infrastructure Limited and before that, was TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport. Network Rail Limited. Sir Peter has been reappointed He led the successful operation for a further term of two years, of London’s transport for the which will start on 16 July 2021, 2012 Olympic and Paralympic having served on the board of Games. Last June, Sir Peter was Network Rail since 2015. He’s also served as Chair of tasked by the Prime Minister out 13:24:17 the Union the London Legacy Development with carrying RDB-Rail-Director-Qtr-Pg-Ad-Mayarail-FOR-PRINT.pdf 1 26/10/2020

Connectivity Review, exploring ways in which transport can

better connect all parts of the United Kingdom. Throughout the pandemic, he’s provided valuable support to The Government by providing advice on and scrutiny of the plans of all rail, road, coach, maritime and aviation operators during phases of re-opening the economy. Sir Peter was knighted in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list, having been made CBE in 2006 for services to public transport.










April 2021 | 73

Movers and shakers

SLC Property expands its northern team S

LC Property has grown its northern team with two new appointments and the property and planning experts promise that this is just the start of wider growth to meet the demands of new rail infrastructure projects in the North. Set up specifically to help organisations who are delivering projects on or near the railway, SLC Property is employed by a number of public sector clients across the North and is playing a key role on the Northumberland Line project. As part of its expansion plans, SLC Property has appointed Peter Eustance as Property and Development Surveyor and Chris Moore as Graduate Surveyor. Peter is a registered valuer with 30 years’ experience valuing across different

Peter Eustance property sectors, whilst Chris is a graduate with a passion to develop his experience in surveying. These appointments are both based in the North and will broaden the capability in property and compulsory purchase advice and help prepare for an expected demand in supporting schemes in

the land value capture sector. Russell Mills, Senior Property Manager North of SLC Property, said: “I’m delighted to be expanding our team in the northern region. This is an exciting time for us as we are already experiencing a jump in new opportunities with our clients. We expect to see this continue to grow because of the various initiatives through the Northern Powerhouse Rail and Restoring Your Railways Fund to transform the North’s infrastructure.” Rob Smart, Managing Director of SLC Property, added: “We are delighted to welcome Peter and Chris to help with our ambitious growth plans, but even more importantly to help our clients improve infrastructure for future generations.

Chris Moore “Since starting as Managing Director of SLC Property just three months ago, it has been clear to me that the team offers something unique. Its members have developed strong relationships with clients and have a strong reputation for making the complex world of the rail environment easy to navigate.”

Helen Lewis joins the Railway Mission H

elen Lewis has joined Railway Mission as the Railway and British Transport Police Chaplain for South and Mid-Wales. She joins the railway industry as an experienced Chaplain, having first gained experience as an outreach worker within schools and as a Chaplain with Welsh Netball – being a Chaplain to both the Wales senior national squad and the

Celtic Dragons Super League team. As a Chaplain Helen knows that her past experiences with poor mental health could be of benefit in understanding the issues that others might be struggling with. “It was as part of this role (with Welsh Netball) that I became aware of Mental Health First Aid training,” said Helen. Soon she trained as an instructor and set up a small

training business with a vision to see at least one Mental Health

First Aider in every church in Wales, which she has been working towards, training people across Wales in Mental Health First Aid. Now Helen has taken on the role of Railway Mission Chaplain for three days a week, allowing her the opportunity to continue training people to be Mental Health First Aiders, while still practising the skills and know-how she has gained over the years.

Porterbrook re-structures business to deliver tomorrow’s railway


orterbrook, the rolling stock owner and asset manager, has announced the restructuring of its business to better meet the needs of customers and tomorrow’s railway. Stefan Rose, currently Head of Structured Finance, will take up the new position of Chief Investment Officer and Stephen McGurk, Chief Commercial 74 | April 2021

Officer will assume the new position of Chief Portfolio Officer. Both roles will report directly to CEO Mary Grant and take effect from 1 April 2021. Stefan will lead a dedicated team focusing on new and re-leasing passenger, freight and infrastructure business opportunities supported by his existing structured finance and pricing teams.

Stephen’s focus will be on supporting Porterbrook’s existing customers, who lease more than 4,000 rail vehicles from the business. His team will continue to develop and support the growing portfolio of rolling stock decarbonisation innovations, p ro j ec t s and cu s to m e r partnerships. Mary said: “As we head out of lockdown and prepare for a

new industry structure, I want Porterbrook to be relentless in focusing on the needs of our existing and future customers. Both roles will ensure that we are best positioned to meet government ambitions for the UK railway and support the Green Recovery. I congratulate both Stefan and Stephen as they prepare to meet these exciting challenges ahead.” railbusinessdaily.com

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