Rail Accident Investigation Branch has today released its report into a tram collision with a pedestrian near Market Street tram stop, Manchester, 12 May 2015.

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At about 11:13 hrs on Tuesday 12 May 2015, a tram collided with and seriously injured a pedestrian, shortly after leaving Market Street tram stop in central Manchester. The pedestrian had just alighted from the tram and was walking along the track towards Piccadilly.

The accident occurred because the pedestrian did not move out of the path of the tram and because the driver did not apply the tram’s brakes in time to avoid striking the pedestrian.

Recommendations

As a result of this accident, RAIB has made three recommendations. One is made to Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd in conjunction with Transport for Greater Manchester, to review the assessment of risk from tram operations throughout the pedestrianised area in the vicinity of Piccadilly Gardens.

A second is made to UK Tram, to make explicit provision for the assessment of risk, in areas where trams and pedestrians/cyclists share the same space, in its guidance for the design and operation of urban tramways.

A further recommendation is made to Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd, to improve its care of staff involved in an accident.

Rail Accident Investigation Branch has today released its report into a passenger train derailment at Godmersham, Kent, 26 July 2015

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At around 21:40 hrs on 26 July 2015, a passenger train derailed after striking eight cows that had gained access to the railway at Godmersham in Kent, between Wye and Chilham stations. There had been a report of a cow on the railway an hour earlier, but a subsequent examination by the driver of the next passing train did not find anything. There were no further reports from other trains that passed before the accident occurred.

The train involved in the accident was travelling at 69 mph (111 km/h) at the point of impact. There were 67 passengers on board plus three members of staff; no injuries were reported at the time of the accident. Because the train’s radio had ceased to work during the accident, the driver ran for about three-quarters of a mile towards an oncoming train, which had already been stopped by the signaller, and used its radio to report the accident.

The accident occurred because the fence had not been maintained so as to restrain cows from breaching it, and because the railway’s response to the earlier report of a cow on the railway side of the fence was insufficient to prevent the accident. In addition, the absence of an obstacle deflector on the leading unit of the train made the derailment more likely.

Recommendations

As a result of this accident, RAIB has made five recommendations addressing the fence inspection process, clarification of railway rules in response to reports of large animals within the boundary fence, the fitting of obstacle deflectors to rolling stock (two recommendations), and the reliability of the train radio equipment.

RAIB has also identified two learning points for the railway industry, relating to the railway’s response to emergency situations, including the response to reports of large animals within the boundary fence and the actions to take following an accident.

​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.

ESA in partnership with Europe’s railways

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

More passengers on VIA Rail’s Ocean train during the Holidays

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MONTRÉAL, Jan. 11, 2016 / VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) welcomed 8,000 Holiday travellers on the Ocean train, operating between Montreal and Halifax, during the period of December 16, 2015 to January 5, 2016.

The total volume of passengers travelling from one destination to another within the Maritimes during this period increased by 9.5%, and those travelling from the Maritimes to other parts of Canada increased by 1.5%.

“The Holidays boast the highest ridership of the year on our trains,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of VIA Rail, “Our investment in the addition of six additional departures of the Ocean over the Holidays is a tangible demonstration of our desire to provide greater opportunities to our Eastern Canadian customers to celebrate with their loved ones. This investment of over $500,000 did not yield the expected increase in passenger traffic. Extra capacity of over 840 seats was added, but only 262 of them were filled.  Regardless, we intend to continue working with our customers and key stakeholders throughout the year to find ways to make VIA Rail more relevant and increase ridership in this region.”

Nationally, VIA Rail saw its highest passenger revenue in over four years, with an increase of 10.3% since 2012, and the busiest day, December 23, 2015, had VIA Rail trains transporting 16,377 passengers to their destinations. In the Québec City-Windsor corridor, over 237,000 passengers travelled on the 1,118 trains serving communities in and between Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, London, Sarnia and Niagara Falls. The Montréal-Toronto line was the most popular route: 32,527 travelled between these two points over the period.Meanwhile, the Canadian, which connects Toronto to Vancouver, saw over 5,100 passengers onboard.

VIA Rail trains safely transported all passengers to their destinations without any major disruptions.

Thanks to its world-class on board Wi-Fi service offered throughout the Québec City – Windsor corridor as well as on the eastern long-haul train, the Ocean, VIA Rail allows its passengers to stay connected and online throughout their journey. During the Holidays, over 176,000 devices connected to VIA Rail’s Wi-Fi system and transmitted over 17,000 GB of information through the web.

Eurotunnel Group simplifies the structure of its debt

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Eurotunnel completed on Thursday 24 December 2015 the removal of the monolines Ambac1 and FGIC2 as guarantors of the Channel Link Enterprises Finance (CLEF) Notes.

In June 2007, as part of the financial restructuring of the business, Eurotunnel borrowed £1.5 billion and €2.0 billion under a term loan facility. This facility includes tranches of inflation-linked, fixed rate and floating rate loans with final maturity dates ranging between 2041 and 2050. In August 2007, all of the loans under the facility were purchased by a newly incorporated special purpose vehicle CLEF Plc. These CLEF Notes included a number of inflation-linked tranches of notes credit-enhanced by either Ambac, FGIC or Assured Guaranty3. In return for providing these guarantees the monolines received a fee over the full duration of the loans.

In order to simplify its capital structure and benefit from increased flexibility going forward, Eurotunnel has sought the removal of Ambac and FGIC as guarantors of the CLEF Notes; this is rendered possible by the high degree of predictability of the Group’s financial results. Assured Guaranty will remain as the sole guarantor of certain index-linked tranches of the CLEF Notes and is currently rated AA by S&P and A2 by Moody’s.

The fees incurred in the removal of Ambac and FGIC (including payments to FGIC and Ambac in lieu of payment of their ongoing guarantee fee and various consent fees) will be compensated by a net reduction in the on-going interest costs over the life of the inflation-linked loans.

This simplification will enable Eurotunnel to pursue a possible refinancing of its floating rate debt, subject to market conditions.

1 Ambac Assurance (UK) Limited
2 FGIC (UK) Limited
3 Assured Guaranty (Europe) Ltd (formerly Financial Security Assurance (U.K.) Limited