​TransPennine Express and Angel Trains orders 95 Inter City rail carriages from UK manufacturer Hitachi

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Thursday 31st March- The new TransPennine Express (TPE) franchise, operated by FirstGroup, is a step closer to delivering improvements in capacity, reliability and comfort having been given the go-ahead by government to complete a new rolling stock contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to supply 95 brand new, state of the art train carriages.

The contract, for the fleet of AT300 ‘Inter City’ trains is the first to be finalised by TransPennine Express, which will operate the franchise from April. The deal, which has been financed by Angel Trains, will lead to the procurement of 19 five-car Hitachi AT300 bi-mode trains, capable of operating on both electric power and diesel power.

The AT300 trains have been designed with the customer in mind and will completely remodel the experience of train travel in the North. They will be amongst the most advanced Inter City trains in the UK, running at speeds of 125 miles per hour. The modern interior and spacious seating will offer significant improvements in comfort, while free, fast and unlimited Wi-Fi will provide extra entertainment options on every train and allow customers to stream movies and TV on mobile devices. On board catering facilities will allow for hot and cold food options.

Each of the new trains will provide an extra 161 seats compared to the average class 185 train and will offer excellent reliability and efficiency as well as advanced customer information systems.

Hitachi Rail Europe was successful in securing the contract following a comprehensive procurement process. The majority of the carriages will be assembled at Hitachi’s Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. The new trains will be introduced to the network from December 2019.

Hitachi will also provide full service provision, including all maintenance, cleaning and stabling, at its Doncaster Carr and Craigentinny (Edinburgh) maintenance centres, while overnight stabling and servicing will be undertaken at the Edge Hill, Heaton and York depots.

TransPennine Express Managing Director designate Leo Goodwin said:

“The signing of this contract is the first major step for the new franchise. These brand new state of the art Hitachi trains will lead to significant improvements in seating, capacity and provide a more reliable and efficient service. These trains will be able to run at speeds of 125 miles per hour but they also have the capability of running at 140 miles per hour if the network allows for it in the future. These speeds will reduce journey times across our network, bringing our great towns and cities in the North closer together. The overall comfort and experience will also be enhanced with more entertainment options, free Wi-Fi, better catering and real-time information systems. Hitachi is a reliable train manufacturer with a great reputation. We are very pleased to be working with the Hitachi to build these intercity trains which will help to better connect the North and Scotland.”

Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe said of the deal announcement;

“Hitachi is thrilled to be delivering a fleet of new Inter City trains for TransPennine Express, connecting cities and people with greater speed, comfort and capacity across the Northern Powerhouse region. Last September, Hitachi brought rail manufacturing back to its birthplace in the North East of England and so it is entirely fitting that our facility at Newton Aycliffe is where these new AT300 trains will be built.

“Building on our contracts to deliver new IEP trains for the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines, commuter trains for Scotland, Inter City trains from London to Devon and Cornwall, as well as our existing HS1 ‘Javelin’ services operating from London and Kent, Hitachi is on track to transform rail travel for millions of fare-paying customers throughout the UK.”

The new TPE franchise will deliver a total of 44 new state of the art trains. A deal for the procurement of the remaining 25 new trains is expected to be finalised soon. The first of these trains will be delivered in Spring 2018.

TransPennine Express will lease the carriages from Angel Trains which financed and will own the new trains.

Malcolm Brown, Chief Executive Officer for Angel Trains, said:

“We are delighted to be procuring, financing and leasing these new bi-mode trains that will transform intercity travel in the North. Passengers will be able to travel seamlessly across the TransPennine network, regardless of whether the route is electrified or unelectrified, on reliable and comfortable new trains offering modern amenities, including Wi-Fi. We are committed to providing value and meeting passengers’ needs both now and in the future, and this new fleet is further demonstration of that commitment.

We have already invested over £3.8 billion in the UK rail industry and, working with our partners in the industry, we look forward to continuing to make further significant investments in rolling stock in future.”

The fleet of AT300 trains for the North will be closely related to the Class 800 bi-mode trains designed for the Department for Transport’s InterCity Express Programme (IEP), but will utilise higher engine operating power to cope with the gradients in the region. They will run as electric trains on the electrified network, and are equipped with bigger fuel tanks and brake resistors to cope with the challenging terrain.

TPE will also retain around half of its current Class 185 trains with them all undergoing a £20million+ refurbishment programme. The refurbishment will include improvements throughout first and standard class, improved catering, the installation of modern customer information systems, free Wi-Fi and entertainment servers.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said of the contract award;

“This investment by FirstGroup will deliver more capacity and modern, high quality trains for passengers on the TransPennine Express Franchise.

“This will also help support jobs and the economy of the North, as the majority of the vehicles will be assembled at the facility in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham. It is deals like this, supporting this Government’s record investment in transport in the North, that are helping to build a Northern Powerhouse.”

Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Rail North, which will co-manage the delivery of the TPE franchise under the terms of a ground-breaking devolution agreement, said;

“This brand new inter-city rolling stock is a major step to transforming services across these routes, linking together the major economic centres of the North. It’s great to see that passengers will benefit from more seats and more modern trains on longer journeys”

  • The carriages will become 19 five car bi-mode AT300 trains.
  • AT300 Inter City trains will be capable of operating on both electric power and diesel power, providing TPE with resilience and flexibility.
  • These trains will be able to run seamlessly across electrified and unelectrified routes.
  • In times of disruption on electrified routes, these trains can switch to its diesel engines or be diverted around the disruption on non-electrified routes.
  • The initial trains will be built at Hitachi’s Kasado Works in Japan, with the majority to be assembled at Hitachi’s Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham

Other features of the Hitachi Bi-mode trains:

  • capable of running at 125 miles per hour
  • modern interior with spacious seating and improved comfort
  • five carriages in length
  • Wi-Fi and entertainment servers to allow customers to stream movies and TV shows on mobile devices
  • better reliability and efficiency
  • advanced customer information systems
  • air conditioning
  • power sockets at every seat
  • extra space for luggage

ATSB: Collision between track worker and passenger train at Guildford, Western Australia on 10 February 2015

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Meadow St pedestrian gate

On 10 February 2015, a Public Transport Authority (PTA) maintenance crew commenced work at Meadow Street in Guildford. The crew was maintaining the pedestrian gates adjacent to the level crossing.

At about 10.35 am, one of the track workers was struck by a Perth-bound suburban passenger train. Tragically, the track worker died in the accident.

The ATSB investigation found that the PTA maintenance workers had not implemented any form of track worker protection at the work site. This was partially due to the PTA not having documented instructions specifying the level of protection required, preferring that track workers make their own assessment based on their knowledge of the Network Rules. The ATSB found that, under these arrangements, track workers could make an incorrect assessment, placing themselves at a greater risk of being struck by a train.

A review of the safeworking training provided to the track workers found that the training material did provide a suitable level of safe-working knowledge.

Following the occurrence, the toxicology report on the deceased track worker identified the presence of amphetamine and methamphetamine; methamphetamine being a prescribed drug under the Rail Safety Regulations 2011. The use of stimulants such as methamphetamine is associated with a range of neurocognitive effects in humans that may affect performance.

The ATSB found that in this instance, the presence of a prescribed drug within the worker’s system appeared to be a relatively isolated case. An examination of the company’s drug and alcohol policy/procedures found them to be generally effective in managing drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

The PTA issued a safety alert following the incident to highlight the importance of implementing the correct level of track worker protection. The subsequent introduction of new safeworking rules, track access accreditation levels and training further supported this.

Further, the PTA has created the role of Workplace trainer and assessor with the task of ensuring track workers comply with the network rules by way of competency-based assessments. Implementation of a new track access accreditation system, with improved training and job mentoring, has also commenced.

Safety message
This incident strongly emphasises the need for rail transport operators to provide clear and concise work instructions to employees working within the railway corridor. It also highlights the potential for recreational and other drug use to impair performance and affect workplace safety.

ATSB investigation report:

Collision between track worker and passenger train at Guildford, Western Australia on 10 February 2015


Read more about Safe work on rail

Union Pacific: Safest U.S. Railroad in 2015

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Union Pacific employees set an all-time reportable personal injury rate record in 2015, improving 11 percent from 2014 to 0.87, making Union Pacific the safest Class 1 railroad in the United States, according to data reported by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). A railroad’s reportable injury rate is the total number of injuries reported to the FRA per 200,000 employee hours, which is equivalent to 100 employees working a full year.

“Successfully finding and addressing risk in the workplace clearly is having a positive impact, as we seek to achieve annual records on our way to an incident-free environment,” said Cameron Scott, Union Pacific executive vice president-Operations.

Union Pacific’s relentless focus on creating an incident-free environment extends beyond employee safety. The company continuously looks for innovative approaches to enhance the safety and security of the communities in which it operates and the customers it serves.

In 2016, Union Pacific celebrates 20 years of Total Safety Culture (TSC) – a voluntary employee-led initiative that teaches employees safe behaviors while providing observations and feedback. Led and implemented by Union Pacific’s union employees, and fully supported by the company’s senior management, TSC empowers employees to address at-risk behaviors. Additionally, employees continue demonstrating their Courage to Care. Introduced in 2012, the company’s Courage to Care initiative represents employees’ commitment to prioritize working safely and looking out for one another.