ESA in partnership with Europe’s railways


Copyright ESA

Europe’s railway network plays a vital role in keeping our continent on the move. A new ESA initiative is considering the ways that space can add value to the network as it enters its third century of operations.

Space4Rail aims to support the railway community by raising awareness of the added value that space systems can deliver, and highlighting ESA funding programmes with the potential to support their use.

Plenty of work has already been done through these programmes, including the use of satellite navigation both to monitor trains and check the integrity of rail infrastructure, provide broadband to train passengers via satellite and harness Earth-observing satellite data to help predict landslides or subsidence.

Space technologies offer multiple means of boosting the capacity, safety and competitiveness of the rail network – and ESA, as a research and development agency, has various programmes dedicated to supporting such activities.


Deimos system to track train arrivals, now installed at more than 400 train stations in Spain.

As it can sometimes be difficult for potential partners to find their way around the ESA organisation, Space4Rail has been set up as a one-stop shop for the rail industry to learn about the Agency and submit proposals for partnerships in a simple, streamlined way.

ESA can offer financial and technical support to projects – including access to its specialists and Agency laboratories – while acting as a broker between the space industry, the railway industry and service providers.

ESA is already contributing to the Next Generation Train Control (NGTC) project through a satellite expert group, providing technical expertise on integrating satnav into future railway signalling systems.

Coordinated by the European rail manufacturing industry association UNIFE and supported through the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme, NGTC is a consortium made up of all the main rail system signalling suppliers, together with mainline operators and infrastructure managers as well as urban rail operators.

For more information on ESA’s work with the railway industry, check the Space4Rail website here.


Virgin Trains introduces free Wi-Fi at Warrington Bank Quay


Virgin Trains has made free Wi-Fi available to all Warrington Bank Quay station users. The free high speed Wi-Fi service can be used with any Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as smartphones, tablets or laptops.

The move is part of a wider project by Virgin Trains to install free Wi-Fi at all of its managed stations on the West Coast Mainline. (See list of stations below).

At Warrington Bank Quay, the Wi-Fi is available on the concourse and across all platforms. The smart system remembers users’ devices so you only need to register (with your email address) once and it will automatically connect whenever you visit the station.

Harry Dunning, Customer Experience Manager at Virgin Trains commented: “We’re proud of our record in customer service and are always looking for new ways to improve the experience at all stages of a customer’s journey. Now everybody visiting Warrington Bank Quay can browse the internet for free from their device. This is just one of a range of technology solutions and innovations we have planned for the coming year, all of which are aimed squarely at the most important person – the customer.”

Stations where Virgin Trains Wi-Fi will be introduced in March 2016

On the concourse and platforms:
Carlisle, Coventry, Rugby, Stafford, Stockport, Wolverhampton

In the Virgin Trains ticket office and First Class lounge:

Glasgow Central and Liverpool Lime Street

Stations where Virgin Trains Wi-Fi is available

In Virgin Trains ticket office and First Class lounge:

Birmingham New Street**,London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly

**First Class lounge only

On the concourse and platforms:

Birmingham International, Crewe, Lancaster, Macclesfield, Oxenholme, Penrith, Preston, Runcorn, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan*

*To be activated week commencing 15th February

Former Union Pacific Chairman Drew Lewis Dies at Age 84


Andrew Lindsay “Drew” Lewis Jr., who died Feb. 10, at age 84, served as Union Pacific Railroad chairman and chief executive officer from April 1986 to April 1987. Lewis then served as Union Pacific Corporation president and chief executive officer from 1987 to 1997.

Lewis played a central role in the Union Pacific leadership team that completed key mergers including the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad in 1988, the Chicago & North Western Railroad in 1995 and the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1996. These mergers set the stage for Union Pacific’s exceptional freight rail performance continuing today.

Lewis joined Union Pacific from Warner Amex Cable Communications where he served as chairman and chief executive officer. Prior to joining Warner Amex Cable Communications, Lewis was Secretary of Transportation in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1983. Before his service in Washington, Lewis pursued a successful business career for more than two decades serving in various roles with American Olean Tile, Simplex Wire and Cable, National Gypsum Company and Snelling & Snelling, Inc. After Reading Railroad declared bankruptcy in 1971, Lewis oversaw the company’s successful reorganization. He began his career in 1955 with Henkels & McCoy, Inc.

In addition to his leadership role with Union Pacific, Mr. Lewis served on the boards of American Express, Ford Motor Company, Gannett Company and SmithKline Beecham.

Lewis was also heavily involved in politics throughout his adult life. Lewis was Richard Schweiker’s campaign manager during Schweiker’s successful runs for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Lewis himself was the Republican nominee in Pennsylvania’s 1974 governor race. Lewis later held leadership roles in Ronald Reagan’s successful presidential campaign and with the Republican National Committee.

Lewis held a B.S. from Haverford College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He also completed postgraduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An Eagle Scout, Mr. Lewis was a lifelong supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, the United Way, Catholic Charities, Ursinus College and Haverford College.