Greater Anglia launches ‘Norwich in 90’ service

The first ‘Norwich in 90’ trains ran today (May 20).

Greater Anglia introduced two faster trains in each direction between Norwich and London, leaving the Norfolk city at 0900 and 1700, returning at 1100 and 1900. The trains only call at Ipswich, which is reached in 55-57 minutes from the capital. They are followed by retimed trains that serve other stations en route. It cuts 12 minutes off Norwich-London journeys and four minutes from the Ipswich journey time.

GA Managing Director Jamie Burles said: “Today’s launch of our new faster services between Norwich, Ipswich and London, is another big step in the transformation of our railway in East Anglia.

“Today we travelled on our existing trains, but this service will run on our brand new Intercity trains as we replace all of our existing trains with brand new state-of-the-art modern trains.”

The faster services were first discussed in 2009, and then came to the political fore in 2014 when then-Chancellor George Osborne asked local MP Chloe Smith to chair a newly-created Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce.

Before the first train, Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and key member of the Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce, said: “This is a great milestone following a long period of negotiations and campaigning. It’s a huge step forward in improving customer experience and cutting journey times.

“Norfolk and Suffolk is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and it needs high quality rail infrastructure to support growth and to help businesses compete in global markets. The LEP strongly believes investing and transforming our railways is essential today and also decades to come ensuring we remain competitive and attractive as a business location.”

MP Priti Patel, (Conservative, Witham), said: “Having established the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce in 2013 and worked closely with rail user groups, local businesses and MPs, I am delighted to see these new services getting underway today.

“The new ‘Norwich in 90’ and ‘Ipswich in 60’ services are another major achievement for the Taskforce and featured in our original rail investment prospectus to the Government for the Greater Anglia franchise.

“These new services build on the Taskforce’s other recent successes including the launch of Delay Repay 15, passenger refunds for late running services over 15 minutes, and the securing of more than £1 billion funding for new Greater Anglia trains due to come into service within a matter of weeks.”

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail Anglia’s route managing director, said: “Delivering these faster services for passengers into the new timetable has been a real joint effort, and along with Greater Anglia, we know that ‘Norwich in 90’ will provide better journeys for the people who live and work in the region as well as supporting the local economy.

“Recent performance on the route has been some of the best in years, and together we’re working on various initiatives to make journeys better for everyone.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 880, published on June 5, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from June 1.

Rail Live 2019: GWR to run direct passenger services

Great Western Railway is to operate passenger services between Paddington and Long Marston on June 19/20 in support of Rail Live.

The special trains will call at Reading, Oxford and Honeybourne en route to the Quinton Rail Technology Centre, with an additional stop at Didcot Parkway for the first service to the event.

Subject to operational requirements, GWR plans that the first and last services will be formed of a Class 802, with the middle services to use a ‘Turbo’ diesel multiple unit.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “We are pleased to be able to support Rail Live 2019 by making it easier for visitors to get to and from the event. This is a really important industry event which has been growing year on year, and this year is shaping up to be bigger and better than before.”

To be held at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre in Long Marston on June 19/20, Rail Live is expected to be attended by more than 6,000 people and 250-plus exhibitors.

Rail Live is a trade show for individuals working in the rail industry. You will need to register with a verified industry email address to attend. For more details, including the agenda, see

Complete ‘Network Rail village’ for Rail Live

Rail Live 2019 is to feature a complete ‘Network Rail village’, including live demonstrations and displays of equipment such as a High Output Ballast Cleaner and Kirow crane. 

The infrastructure company will also display vehicles from its road fleet, and ‘before and after’ examples of switches and crossings refurbished at its Whitemoor facility.

The announcement adds to an already substantial Network Rail presence at the June 19-20 industry event, that includes a survey helicopter and dedicated Class 950 Track Recording Unit. Used on secondary lines, the ‘950’ is the only member of NR’s measurement fleet to have been purpose-built for track measurement.

NR will display the Kirow crane – the only one in its fleet – in conjunction with a beam carrier and tilting wagon to show how the machines work together to position switches and crossings. Meanwhile, its Ballast Cleaning System 3 will allow an appreciation of what the HOBC process involves – from cutting and cleaning the ballast to the removal of waste, delivery of new ballast, and the follow-up work of the tamper to reinstate the track to line speed.

Speakers from NR are also to be well-represented, with Chief Executive Andrew Haines supported by colleagues such as Chief Technology Officer Andy Doherty and Managing Director of Route Services Susan Cooklin. Visitors will also have the chance to talk to representatives of NR’s supply chain operations teams.

Other high-profile speakers expected to attend include Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.

Rail Live is a trade show for individuals working in the rail industry. You will need to register with a verified industry email address to attend. The event, at the QRTC in Long Marston, is on June 19/20. For more details, including the agenda, see

D-Train enters passenger service

D-Trains entered passenger service on the national network on April 23, when 230004 worked the 0516 Bletchley-Bedford.

Operated by London Northwestern Railway and formed of Driving Motor Standard 300003 and DMS 300103, the two-car diesel unit is the first of three Class 230/0s to be used on the Marston Vale line.

They have been built by Vivarail at Long Marston, with LNW leasing them from the manufacturer. Their introduction will allow LNW to send three two-car Class 150/1s to Northern (150105/107/109).

The D-Train was rebuilt from ex-London Underground D-Stock vehicles 7100 and 7500. LNW said the other two trains (230003/005) will follow it into service during the spring.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 878, published on May 8, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from May 4.

Bombardier Class 710/s authorised, but wait goes on for entry into traffic

Bombardier Class 710/2s have received conditional approval from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), but Transport for London is still unable to confirm when they will enter passenger service. The trains are some 13 months late.

Authority was granted on April 11, albeit with 13 restrictions. This means the trains can now be used to train London Overground drivers, ahead of the introduction of the dual-voltage electric multiple units on the Gospel Oak-Barking route.

However, a hazard management plan must be agreed with London Overground before passenger services start, while Arriva Rail Limited (which operates LO) must ensure that logging into the non-active cab during passenger use is inhibited before the trains enter passenger traffic.

Also, within a year of the authorisation, Bombardier must make modifications (either in isolation or combination to the LO fleet) to reduce the risk of climbing and surfing on inter-car connectors. This covers both in-service and stabled trains.

The manufacturer must supply ORR with a written commitment in the form of a time-bound plan that must be accepted by the regulator. The operator must also provide details to ORR regarding mitigating the risks of the inter-car connectors, before putting the trains into traffic.

The trains had been delayed owing to issues with the Traffic Management System fitted to the Aventras. So far, eight of the 55 trains have been delivered to London (710261-267/269), with fault-free running having been undertaken over the past few months.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.

Work under way on Queen Street platform extensions

Work to extend platforms at Glasgow Queen Street began on April 15.

Platforms 2-5 are being extended to enable eight-car electric multiple units to serve the station, as well as five-coach Inter7City High Speed Trains.

The existing hoardings are being moved a further five metres into the station, as part of the £120 million project to redevelop Queen Street. Initially, work behind the hoardings involves the construction of buffer stops for the extended platforms.

During the second half of June, engineers will work in front of Platforms 2 and 3 to uncover a space beneath the concourse that was originally excavated in 2016, when the station was closed. This was recovered with a temporary concourse while other parts of the station were redeveloped.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.

Notice to Proceed this year on HS2 Phase 1 work

A Notice to Proceed, which is the formal contractual process enabling each Phase 1 supplier to move from design and development to construction, should take place regarding HS2 later this year.

In a House of Lords Written Reply on April 12, Baroness Sugg told Lord Framlingham: “HS2 Ltd has advised the Government that it intends for Notice to Proceed to take place later in 2019, to allow it to finalise costs and plans with its contracted suppliers. Full construction of bridges and tunnels will commence following award of Notice to Proceed.”

Lord Framlingham had asked a question regarding reports of the project costing twice its original estimate, and what steps would be taken to conduct an urgent review of the costs to date.

Sugg reminded him that the HS2 Phase 1 Main Civil Contracts were signed in July 2017 and that Phase 1 development and enabling works are progressing.

She added: “Essential works to prepare the route for this stage are well under way, with over 60 active sites, including major works at Euston, Old Oak Common, Curzon Street and Washwood Heath.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.

Talgo: “The current UK political situation does not deter us.”

While the UK continues to face uncertainty over what kind of Brexit deal there will be when it leaves the European Union, Talgo is adamant that this does not affect its plans.

“The current UK political situation does not deter us. We are engineers and not politicians. We are very excited about the opportunity,” President Carlos de Palacio told RAIL on April 1 in the company’s Las Matas headquarters, near Madrid.

“If you build world-beating products, then the rest of the world will beat a path to your door. We intend to do that for the UK and in the UK. The UK has a great engineering and railway past and present, and we want to help make sure that the UK has a great engineering and railway future.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.

TPE targets July start as it accepts first Mk 5As

TransPennine Express has accepted its first rake of Mk 5A coaches from Spanish manufacturer CAF.

The operator plans to put them into service from late July, with two rakes being introduced initially. TPE will need to carry out driver training before the trains, which will be powered by Class 68s leased from Direct Rail Services, can enter traffic.

“Although there have been a few bumps on the way, it’s brilliant that our plan is now coming together and our customers will be able to travel in comfort on modern trains with more seats later this year,” said TPE Major Projects Director Chris Nutton.

The trains should have entered traffic last autumn. However, delays resulted from issues with the brakes, which were not responsive at low speeds (RAIL 866).

The first set accepted is TP09, formed of Open First (FO) 11509, Open Standards (TSO) 12725-727 and Driving Trailer Standard (DTS) 12809. It is expected that TP06 will be accepted after Easter (formed of FO 11506, TSO 12716-718 and DTS 12806).

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.

ORR: passenger complaint levels remain stable

The number of passenger complaints per 100,000 journeys for franchised operators fell to 29.7 in the third quarter of 2018-19, according to the latest statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

That was marginally down on the 29.9 figure recorded for the corresponding three-month period a year before – and far less than a high of 37.8 recorded in the third quarter of 2011-12. The number of complaints for non-franchised operators was 70.6, more than double that for franchised operators, but an 18% decrease from the previous year.

Punctuality and reliability of train services was the most common reason to complain, with 23.2% of complaints nationally relating to this subject – a 4.0 percentage point (pp) decrease on 2017-18.

Insufficient room to sit or stand was the next highest category (up 1.4pp to 10% of the total), followed by onboard facilities (up 1.1pp to 9.6%), ticketing and refunds policy (up 1.5pp to 6.4% – the biggest increase), and online ticket sales (down 0.8pp to 4.2%).

The majority of operators now answer 90% or more complaints within 20 working days, with just TransPennine Express (88%), London Overground (88%) and Northern (73%) falling below that threshold. Hull Trains’ figure of 5% should be “treated with caution”, according to the ORR, which is liaising with the open access operator regarding its data quality.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.