A History of Britain's Railways
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21/10/2016 ScotRail admits service ‘not good enough’ [Scotsman]
ScotRail has admitted its performance “isn’t good enough” after the reliability of train services fell below target. The average combined punctuality and reliability of the trains on Scotland’s railways has fallen below 90.3%, prompting Government agency Transport Scotland to instruct the operator to draw up a performance improvement plan.

20/10/2016 Major improvement plan for struggling ScotRail [Rail News]
THE ScotRail Alliance has unveiled a plan to improve performance, after managing director Phil Verster had described the task of upgrading the network while running trains day-to-day as like ‘performing open heart surgery while doing a marathon’. Public criticism has been mounting: a petition calling for Abellio to lose its franchise has attracted more than 14,000 signatures, while there have also been questions in the Scottish Parliament.
Rail News
BBC News

19/10/2016 Two disused platforms at Aberdeen could reopen [Evening Times]
Platforms could be reopened at Aberdeen railway station as part of a deal to renovate the city centre. The Evening Express can today reveal a 175-year lease – which would see Atholl House and the Tiffany Hair & Beauty site on Bridge Street offered to the city council by Network Rail – could lead to platforms eight and nine being reopened. [From Charlie Niven]

Looking back from the end of platform 6 (north) at Aberdeen during ^rationalisation^ work in February 1973. View is across the truncated platform 7, with through platforms 8 and 9 beyond. Aberdeen North signal box is behind the camera. The building in the centre of the picture is the former suburban booking office and entrance to the covered cross-station walkway.
[John McIntyre /02/1973]

A view from the footbridge showing the through road between (former) Platforms 8 and 9 looking north. Note the digital display screen on a post to the right of the track. This is an indicator which shows the speed of rail vehicles as they pass through the carriage washer which is situated some distance to the south of the station.
[Charlie Niven 20/06/2016]

26043 stands at platform 6 at the north end of Aberdeen station on 30 September 1981 with the 1530 to Inverness boarding. Note the 2-storey former north end booking office centre right, with the bricked up entrances to the old platform 9 stairway and cross-station walkway still clearly visible. [See image 12660 taken from a similar viewpoint during the north end demoliton work in 1973]
[Peter Todd 30/09/1981]
Evening Express

19/10/2016 Thousands apply for train driver jobs on east coast route [BBC News]
More than 15,000 people have applied for 78 jobs driving new trains being launched by Virgin. The company said there were almost 200 applications for every vacancy following the biggest recruitment campaign on the East Coast route since the 1980s. The 78 new drivers will work from depots between Edinburgh and London. They will work on new Azuma trains, built in the UK by Hitachi, which are to be launched in 2018. [From Richard Buckby]
BBC News

19/10/2016 £300k for Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway line study [BBC News]
A feasibility study into reopening a railway line between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen has been allocated £300,000 in the Welsh Government's budget. The original line stopped at more than 20 stations, but was closed in 1965. Campaigners hope to re-establish a 90-minute service between Aberystwyth, Lampeter and Carmarthen and while many stretches could be reused, some new routes would be needed. The cost has been estimated at about £500m. A train journey without the proposed route takes about six hours, via Shropshire, Newport and Cardiff - and only about 90 minutes by car.

Extract from London Midland timetable of 1964 showing the sparse service between Aberystwith and Lampeter in South West Wales. This was the final appearance for the line, which was scheduled to close in February 1965. As a result of flood damage near Llanilar passenger services on the northern section ceased in December 1964 with the southern section following as planned although milk and local coal trains continued until as late as 1973.
Plates, signs and notices
[Mark Bartlett 07/09/1964]

Looking north over the level crossing at Bronwydd Arms station on the Gwili Railway in May 1988.
Bronwydd Arms
[Ian Dinmore /05/1988]

A tranquil sunlit summer^s evening in Carmarthen in 1971. This graceful bridge over the River Tywi carried the freight branch to Lampeter and Felin Fach, which closed two years later. [See image 38211]
[David Spaven //1971]
BBC News

19/10/2016 'Transformative' Greater Anglia franchise starts [Rail News]
A NEW nine-year franchise has been launched for the East of England, under the title of Greater Anglia. The operator is Abellio, which has run two short contracts in the region since 2012, when it replaced National Express. [From Richard Buckby]
Rail News

19/10/2016 Petition calls for Abellio to lose ScotRail operation [BBC News]
A petition calling for Abellio to be stripped of the ScotRail contract, backed by about 16,000 people, is to be presented to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf. It calls for the Scottish government to act over delays and cancellations.
BBC News

18/10/2016 Two hurt in Manchester Victoria Station roof collapse [BBC News]
Two people suffered minor head injuries when part of the roof collapsed at Manchester's Victoria Station because of heavy rain. Several panels fell to the ground at about 16:30 BST above Platforms 1 and 2. Eye witnesses said 'gallons of water' fell on people standing on a platform when the panels collapsed. The main concourse was later also sealed off over fears other parts of the roof could collapse. BBC North West Tonight reporter Peter Marshall said: 'Other panels are bowing under the weight of the water.' Contractors for Northern Rail are repairing the roof and services are running normally.

Passengers boarding a 158 at Manchester Victoria on 18 July heading for Huddersfield. Love that new roof. [See image 49339]
Manchester Victoria
[Ken Strachan 18/07/2015]

Just a little more tidying around the new Metrolink section of Manchester Victoria and the station will be ready to receive trams from the link to Exchange Square that may open later in 2015, ahead of the full second city crossing. 155341 leaves from the Network Rail side of Victoria on 25th June 2015, heading for Leeds via Todmorden and Dewsbury.
Manchester Victoria
[Mark Bartlett 25/06/2015]

With major internal construction work complete, a Metrolink Service from Bury to Piccadilly heads out from Manchester Victoria Station on 24th July 2015 [see Image 49303]. The modern architectural style of the new roof makes a striking contrast with that of the original Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway headquarters.
Manchester Victoria
[Malcolm Chattwood 24/07/2015]
BBC News

18/10/2016 Rail freight firm DB Cargo plans to cut 900 jobs [BBC News]
A rail freight firm has said it plans to cut up to 900 jobs due to what it said were 'declining markets'. German-owned DB Cargo has its UK headquarters in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. The company insisted no final decision had been made and was committed to supporting staff who may be at the risk of redundancy. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said the announcement was 'devastating news'. [From Mark Bartlett]
BBC News

16/10/2016 Plaque for railway pioneer Sir Nigel Gresley [BBC News]
A blue plaque commemorating the man who designed the Flying Scotsman steam locomotive is to be placed at a Lancashire railway station. The tribute to Sir Nigel Gresley, who helped modernise the rail network in the early 20th Century, will be installed at St Annes Station. It celebrates his connection to the town in which he met and married his wife, Ethel Frances Fullagar in 1901. Sir Nigel had worked for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. He designed the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard steam locomotives Sir Nigel was an apprentice at The Horwich 'Loco' works and later became a locomotive foreman in Blackpool. He was knighted in 1936.

Statue of Sir Nigel Gresley by Hazel Reeves at Kings Cross.
London King^s Cross
[Bill Roberton 23/06/2016]

Scene on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway on 1 June 2013 as A4 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley brings a train over New Bridge level crossing on the approach to Pickering.
[John Furnevel 01/06/2013]

The memorial plaque to the life and work of Sir Nigel Gresley 1876 - 1941, Waverley station.
Plates, signs and notices
[Brian Taylor /03/2013]
BBC News

16/10/2016 Transport Minister Humza Yousaf warns Abellio to improve Scotrail service or face losing £7billion contract [Sunday Mail]
THE Dutch company operating Scotland’s trains have been warned they could be stripped of their contract within months. Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has vowed to terminate Abellio’s deal to run ScotRail if train delays and cancellations get worse.
Sunday Mail

15/10/2016 ITV 'disappointed' after trams cleared to run past Coronation Street [BBC News]
ITV has said it is 'disappointed' that the government has given the go-ahead for a new tram route over fears it will disrupt filming on Coronation Street. ITV objected to a plan to build a tram line past the soap's set in Manchester because of potential noise from squeaking wheels, rumbling and horns. But Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has approved the plan, with conditions that he says should reduce the noise. ITV said it will study the conditions before deciding whether to appeal. [From Mark Bartlett]

15/10/2016 Our broken rail system: now Transport Scotland joins Scotrail in the dock [Sunday Herald]
LATE trains, overcrowding, not enough seating, not enough carriages. Many rail travellers, as the petitions and protests of the past few weeks demonstrate, blame the current crisis in Scotland’s rail service solely on its operator ScotRail owned by the company Abellio. However, a growing number of campaigners also believe the chaos is down to the government agency Transport Scotland too.
Sunday Herald

14/10/2016 £80million rail link could take travellers from new station to Glasgow Airport [Evening Times]
AN £80million rail link could take travellers from a new station in Paisley to Glasgow Airport. The scheme is one of two being considered for City Deal funding by senior councillors from Glasgow and surrounding areas. The personal rapid transit system, which would run from a relocated Paisley St James station, is similar to that introduced at Heathrow terminal five in 2011. A new airport rail link is the flagship project of the £1.1billion City Deal which will result major infrastructure projects across the city and neighbouring councils.
Evening Times

14/10/2016 MPs told 'get a grip' in midst of Southern strike woes [BBC News]
MPs have attacked the government's handling of rail franchises, saying passengers have been let down badly. A Transport Select Committee report cited the 'woeful' experience of Southern passengers, who have faced months of industrial action and staff shortages. Ministers were urged to 'get a grip' on monitoring rail franchise agreements. The Department for Transport (DfT) said improving Southern services was a priority for the government. The RMT union, which is locked in a bitter dispute with the rail operator over the future role of conductors, said the report was an indictment of the failure of rail privatisation. It was published as Southern timetables returned to normal after a three-day strike by union members.
BBC News

13/10/2016 Contenders named for next Welsh franchise [Rail News]
THE Welsh Government has chosen four possible operators of the next Welsh franchise, which starts in 2018 when Arriva's 15-year contract comes to an end. The aim is to create a 'not for profit' organisation, which the government said will be modelled on Transport for London. The Government has selected Abellio Rail Cymru, Arriva Rail Wales/Rheilffyrdd Arriva Cymru Limited, KeolisAmey and MTR Corporation (Cymru) Ltd, all of whom will now move on to the next stage of the competition. A public consultation will also start in the New Year. The successful bidder, to be known as an Operator and Development Partner, will run trains in Wales, assist with the evolution of the South and North Wales Metros and manage the transition to electric trains in several parts of the Principality. [From Richard Buckby]
Rail News

13/10/2016 Rail delays: New plans to compensate passengers [BBC News]
Rail passengers will be able to claim compensation for delays of more than 15 minutes under new government plans. They can currently only make claims when services are delayed by at least 30 minutes. The Department for Transport said its new scheme will initially launch on Govia Thameslink Railway services in the next few months before being expanded on other networks. Passenger and rail industry groups said they supported the plans. The changes would also see compensation of 100% of the single fare ticket value for delays of between 60 and 119 minutes.
BBC News

13/10/2016 ScotRail to spend £100,000 on 'secret shoppers' [Herald]
SCOTRAIL is to spend £100,000 on undercover ‘mystery shoppers’ to ride its trains amid growing criticism of the services being provided by the Dutch operator of the franchise. A London-based firm, BDRC Continental, has been awarded the lucrative contract to carry out the audits and will see up to 220 journeys taken by people tasked with discretely monitoring services every month. The secret shoppers, who are paid “a small incentive” in addition to train fares, will visit stations and interact with staff before going on their journeys, even riding on replacement buses when necessary. They will then report back on their experience in a bid to help bosses understand its service from a customer’s perspective.

13/10/2016 ScotRail Alliance 'committed' to Far North Line [BBC News]
The operator of Scotland's railway network has reiterated its commitment to the Far North Line in the Highlands. ScotRail Alliance, which involves Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail, has been criticised for the quality of services on the line. A railways expert and MSPs have concerns about the long-term future of the line that links Inverness to stations in Sutherland and Caithness. But ScotRail Alliance said it was investing in the line.
BBC News

12/10/2016 ScotRail warn of disruption during central belt upgrade works [BBC News]
Scottish rail passengers are being warned to expect disruption as upgrade work begins across the network. ScotRail said a revised timetable would come into place on 22 October, lasting until December. Some services are being cancelled and many journey times will be longer during the works. The engineering is being carried out to increase 'overall reliability' and to pave the way for new electric trains, ScotRail said.
BBC News

12/10/2016 Blackpool tram sets sail once again [Gazette]
Another of Blackpool's famous illuminated trams is back in service after a £46,000 restoration. The Fisherman's Friend Trawler tram carried its first passengers through the Lights on Friday after three years off the tracks. It was withdrawn in 2013 but is now brighter than ever after its 524 old-style lamps were replaced with 24,500 modern LEDs. It means there are now three illuminated trams in service, with the Western Train and HMS Blackpool Illuminated Frigate being the others. And for the first time in many years Blackpool Transport has all five illuminated trams back under its wing. [From Mark Bartlett]

^L^ Plates displayed but is that for a tram driving licence or a skipper^s ticket? Trawler Tram 737, promoting Fleetwood based ^Fisherman^s Friend^ lozenges, is on training duties at the Pleasure Beach turning circle but being driven from the stern end. After several years out of service the tram was restored for the 2016 illuminations.
Pleasure Beach
[Mark Bartlett 11/05/2011]

11/10/2016 Southern rail services 'significantly affected' as three-day strike begins [Guardian]
The owners of the troubled Southern rail franchise have made a fresh appeal for unions to end their dispute with the company as another three-day strike got under way and caused yet more disruption. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out at midnight in their long-running dispute over proposed changes to the role of conductors. A last-minute legal challenge failed to prevent the latest action. Southern said services on Tuesday had been significantly affected by the strike but claimed it would run around 61% of its normal timetable.

10/10/2016 Scottish electrification suffers delays as NR withdraws planning application [RTM]
Electrification of the Edinburgh-Glasgow line will be subject to delays after Network Rail withdrew an application for planning permission to build a temporary road. Network Rail applied to West Lothian Council for planning permission to build a 360m diversion to the A71 near Parkhead Primary School in West Calder while a bridge over the railway was closed. The bridge must be rebuilt to create enough height for the electrification of the railway line beneath. A report by West Lothian Council planning inspectors acknowledged that the electrification project will have “tangible local and national benefits” and that denying planning permission will affect other works within the programme. However, they recommended denying permission because the “significant adverse environmental affects” of the project would be disruptive to the school. [From Richard Buckby]
Rail Technology Magazine

10/10/2016 Virgin Trains recruiting £57,000 drivers for east coast line [Scotsman]
Nearly 80 trainees are being sought to drive Britain’s newest express trains, Virgin Trains East Coast (Vtec) announced today. The 78 drivers will earn more than £57,000 when qualified. They are required for the operator’s new Azuma fleet, which is to run between Scotland and London from 2018. It will be the first time new drivers have been recruited for the route since before British Rail was privatised in the 1980s. They are needed because the fleet of 65 new trains will operate more frequent services between King’s Cross and Edinburgh, some of which run on to and from Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow. [From Richard Buckby]

10/10/2016 Come clean on failing ScotRail [Express]
TRANSPORT bosses have been urged to come clean about overcrowding on Scotland's failing railways. Labour warned passengers were being kept in the dark over the scale of jammed ScotRail services. It challenged Dutch-owned operator Abellio and quango Transport Scotland to publish statistics on clogged routes. Under the £6 billion franchise ScotRail has to compile capacity reports on the flagship Glasgow-Edinburgh line every four weeks and audit passenger numbers across the network twice a year. But the data is not released to the fare-paying public, unlike south of the Border where the 10 most overcrowded peak services are regularly published. It comes amid a growing political row over the deal with Abellio making £1 million a month from the franchise since taking over from First Group last year. ScotRail trains on a third of routes are late more often than they are on time, despite rising fares.

09/10/2016 Saying goodbye to one of the last railway signal boxes [BBC News]
There were once 10,000 on traditional signal boxes on Britain's railways, at stations and level crossings, beside goods yards and junctions. Soon, there will be just 12 remaining. Nick Higham visited one of the latest to close, in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Not long left. Scene inside Banbury North signal box on 1 October 2016, with 2 days before it will be dismantled with parts going to locations around the UK for spares, museum displays, or putting back into use in other signal boxes. [See image 46737]
[Brad Payne 01/10/2016]

The 11.46 Southampton Central - Newcastle Central CrossCountry Voyager heads north from Banbury on 6 March 2014. Banbury North signal box stands on the left.
[John McIntyre 06/03/2014]
BBC News

09/10/2016 Thousands sign petition calling for Dutch firm Abellio to be stripped of ScotRail contract [Sunday Mail]
NEARLY 14,000 people have called for the controversial Dutch firm in charge of ­Scotland’s train ­service to be stripped of their contract unless ScotRail improves. The online petition urges the Scottish ­Government to take action against ­Abellio over the delays and cancellations suffered by commuters using ScotRail. The firm have already been hit with £1.5million in fines for poor service, the ­Sunday Mail can reveal. The petition and the ­experiences of 7000 ­passengers on the failing ­service will be delivered to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf at Holyrood this week.
Sunday Mail

09/10/2016 Hell on wheelsLife for commuters on Scotland's over-crowded trains [Sunday Herald]
THINGS don't look good for ScotRail. Latest figures show that trains on a third of routes are late more often than they are on time. Figures also show that at stations like Arbroath, Glasgow High Street and Ardrossan Harbour only 10% are running on time. We've also learned that the Dutch company Nederlandse Spoorwegen, which owns ScotRail operators Abellio, admitted Scotland's trains are run for the benefit of commuters in Holland. Documents show the contract is used to make healthy profits on “limited investment”. The boss of Nederlandse Spoorwegen said passengers in the Netherlands must benefit from the firm’s work overseas - and there were calls for the deal to be scrapped and the rail service returned to public ownership.
Sunday Herald

08/10/2016 Swanage Railway: Official opening for Norden level crossing [BBC News]
A level crossing allowing passenger trains to run between a heritage line and the mainline network for the first time in 40 years has been opened. The £500,000 crossing, near Norden Station, completes the upgrade of the Swanage Railway to link to the main line to Wareham, Dorset. It was officially opened by High Sheriff of Dorset Sir Philip Williams. Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said it had been a 'hugely complex infrastructure project'. The work marks the completion of the 18-month restoration and upgrade of the three miles of former Network Rail line, to within a quarter of a mile of Worgret Junction and the main line to Wareham.

An open day at the Swanage Railway sees N Class 2-6-0 31806 and King Arthur 4-6-0 777 Sir Lamiel departing from the branch terminus with the 15.15 service.
[Bruce McCartney 15/10/2015]

Bulleid West Country Pacific 34072 257 Squadron at Norden on the Swanage Railway in July 1999.
[Peter Todd 18/07/1999]

Standard class 4 no 80078 with a train on the Swanage Railway, near Corfe Castle, on 29 June 2000.
Corfe Castle
[Peter Todd 29/06/2000]
BBC News

07/10/2016 Plans lodged for new Inverness Airport rail station [Press and Journal]
A new rail station at Inverness Airport could be built by next year after the plans were officially lodged yesterday. The application for the £5million development at Dalcross has been submitted to the local authority after more than a decade on the drawing board. The 568ft platform will be built by December next year, if the plans are approved, and the station will be open before the end of 2018. The first phase of development will incorporate car parking for 150 vehicles, including park and ride facilities. [From Crinan Dunbar]
Press and Journal

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