by Keri Allan
15 Jul 2022
An independent study has found that the UK’s rail industry lags behind that of water, aviation, roads and energy when it comes to carrying out maintenance of infrastructure and key assets.
The report by specialist infrastructure consultancy Nichols, and published by Network Rail, highlighted that improvements could be made, and efficiencies unlocked, by implementing a number of key changes that ensure maintenance is done at the right time, by the right number of staff with the right skills.
Recommendations include adopting more flexible rostering, better suited to an environment where the workload is variable and unpredictable.
With this in mind, Network Rail wants to have more flexibility to independently roster individual staff based on the size, nature, location and timing of the work.
This could be further enabled by a centralised resourcing function that exists to oversee overall business needs.
This would lead to a cut of 1,800 positions, but the organisation is confident that the changes can be made without compulsory redundancies.
Another recommendation is to upskill more multidisciplinary teams. This would enable first-response staff to fix most faults and therefore get trains moving faster.
Furthermore, the number of employees required to maintain the network, and associated costs, would be reduced.
Such savings could potentially be used to fund a better pay deal and resolve the current RMT dispute.
“Britain deserves a railway maintenance regime that is modern and fit for the 21st century.
“Obstructing vital changes that make the railway and its workers safer, and that improve the reliability of services we provide, is in no one’s interest.
“With common sense and compromise, our proposals can deliver millions of pounds in savings that we can then translate into a better pay offer for all our people.
“It’s a win-win.”
The report also recommended increasing the use of technology, reducing the number of manual inspections carried out by maintenance teams and improving safety.
Network Rail suggests that existing maintenance scheduled tasks could be reduced by up to 50% through better use of technology and data.
However, to take full advantage of the benefits it must implement more flexible and responsive working practices similar to those of other infrastructure sectors.
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The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has approved the introduction of Grand Union Trains between London, Cardiff and South West Wales from 2024.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has visited the new trains currently undergoing testing for the Glasgow Subway in Scotland.
HS2’s tunnel boring machine (TBM) Dorothy has begun its second one-mile tunnel bore under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has invested 4.7 million GBP in a new maintenance depot in Peterborough alongside the UK's East Coast Mainline.
HS2 's Euston site construction team Mace Dragados Joint Venture is trialling a hydrogen fuel cell to power a fully electric JCB telehandler.
In his November column Jonn Elldge considers what the recent Budget means for the rail sector in terms of investment in projects such as HS2.
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a trial of a new bridging device, a ramp specifically designed for step-free stations.
The first of Avanti West Coast's new fleet of Hitachi bi-mode trains has begun dynamic testing at Network Rail’s RIDC.
Network Rail has announced that major improvement works are set to take place on the Bakerloo and London Overground lines.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is funding a series of projects to advance the future of Britain's rail network.
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Transport for Wales has installed the first electrical lines on the Core Valley Lines to power the new South Wales Metro.
CAF's LeadMind platform is improving services on the Serco Caledonian Mk5 Sleeper fleet by providing real-time remote monitoring alerts.
Network Rail has installed the first electric wires between Manchester and Stalybridge as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade.
The latest European Train Control System (ETCS) is being fitted to a DB Cargo UK freight locomotive for the East Coast Digital Programme.
Northern has completed its first ‘Intelligent Train,’ installing technology such as LIDAR horizon scanning cameras on a Class 150 unit.
Network Rail has commenced work on the next phase of electrification along the Midland Main Line between London and Wigston, Leicestershire.
A second 140 metre long, 2,050 tonnes tunnel boring machine (TBM) has begun its journey across London for HS2.
The GCRE has officially acquired the former Nant Helen opencast site and Onllwyn Washery in South Wales, paving the way for construction.
The West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) has revised its strategy on how to grow and develop the region’s rail network over the next 30 years.
HS2’s workforce has almost hit the 30,000 mark. This is down to the recruitment of 2,300 new employees in the last three months.
Network Rail has been testing whether laser beams and superheated plasma jets could be effective at clearing leaves off railway lines.
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Govia Thameslink Railway has sent its first Class 387/1 Great Northern train for ETCS upgrading as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.
Bond Street Elizabeth line station opened today, 24 October, with the first Elizabeth line service arriving at the station at 5.47am.
South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority will take over control of Supertram services, infrastructure and finances from March 2024.
HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB, has started working on two of the project’s longest cuttings in Buckingham and Oxfordshire.
hyperTunnel has revealed the world’s first underground structure constructed entirely by robots as part of a project for Network Rail.
Bristol Temple Meads train station is to become a testbed for new passenger tech having been named the UK’s first ‘Station Innovation Zone’.
Alstom has signed a new services contract with UK rail franchise Govia Thameslink Railway valued at £256 million.
West Midlands Railway's (WMR) new Class 196 train fleet has commenced passenger services on the Shrewsbury Line.
Network Rail is using 21st century technology to fix the Merseyrail underground tunnel in Liverpool without disrupting passenger services.
Due to Avanti West Coast's ongoing problems, Jonn Elledge travels from London to Liverpool via the TPE to see what trains are like up north.
Eversholt Rail, Southeastern and Hitachi Rail are upgrading the Class 395 high-speed Javelin trains that operate between London and Kent.
A new interchange route between Bank station’s Northern line concourse and DLR concourse and platforms has been opened.
Metrolink has announced that all 27 of its new trams have now been delivered in Greater Manchester as part of a 72 million GBP investment.
Varamis Rail has signed an agreement to lease a Class 321 Swift Express freight train from Eversholt Rail.
Network Rail has announced that its 4.5 million GBP project to upgrade the tracks at Newcastle Central Station is now complete.
The DfT and FirstGroup have agreed on a short-term contract extension for Avanti West Coast, which will last until the end of March 2023.
HS2 has launched the first of six tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig more than 26 miles of tunnels under London.
HS2 Ltd has opened applications for tech start-ups and SMEs to join the fifth group of its Innovation Accelerator programme.
Transport for London (TfL) has announced that the Bond Street Elizabeth line station will open on 24 October.
Stadler presented its IPEMU - independently powered EMU - at InnoTrans today in the presence of Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
Stadler formally presented its FLIRT tri-mode and CITYLINK tram-train for Transport for Wales at InnoTrans today.
ETCS testing for Class 43 trains has been complete, marking the achievement of a new milestone for the East Coast Digital Programme.
The Birmingham Eastside Metro extension has reached a new milestone with the installation of 45 metres of double track.
A new DLR timetable will be introduced on 26 September in response to changes in passenger use of the network since the Elizabeth line opened.
Network Rail has opened a new entrance building with step-free access for Elizabeth Line passengers using Ilford station in London.
Transport for London (TfL) has reached a funding agreement with the UK government to support its transport network until March 2024.
Stadler has completed its first two Class 555 metro trains for Nexus, the owner and operator of Tyne and Wear Metro.
Refurbishment of Romford station has been completed as part of a programme to upgrade existing stations providing Elizabeth line access.
The first JNA-X Box Wagon prototype for GB Railfreight and Porterbrook has rolled off Greenbrier’s production line in Romania.
Avanti West Coast has been in the news, more so than other TOCs during this period of rail strikes. Jonn Elledge looks into what's going on.
The UK Transport Secretary has signed a new partnership agreement with Israel to share expertise on large scale rail projects.
Abellio UK has announced a management buyout deal that will pave the way for a new UK-based company to take over its existing UK services.
Lines from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will connect with the central Elizabeth line section from November.
HS2 has commenced work on the thirty-eight cross passages that will link the northbound and southbound Chiltern tunnels.
Oxford station will undergo a 161 million GBP upgrade that will enable more freight and passenger services.
Eversholt Rail and Vivarail have signed an agreement to develop a battery power and range extension system for Class 321 ‘Renatus’ trains.
At the Future Mobility Showcase Day hosted by WMGC, Coventry City Council presented its ongoing Coventry Very Light Rail Project.
Network Rail has signed a contract with EDF Renewables UK for the supply of 49.9MW of solar power for non-traction power requirements.
South Western Railway (SWR) has begun a three-month trial of a new app designed to improve station accessibility.
Network Rail has formally begun the legal consultation process with the necessary trade unions regarding its planned maintenance reforms.
Stadler has started production of the Class 93 locomotive fleet for Rail Operations UK at its plant in Valencia, Spain.
Dorothy, HS2’s 2000-tonne tunnel boring machine, has made its first breakthrough on the UK's high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham.
Transport for London (TfL) is trialling a cooling panel solution to reduce platform and tunnel temperatures at deep Tube stations.
Network Rail is investing 30 million GBP into reducing platform congestion and improving accessibility at London Victoria station.
Off the back of Europe’s latest record-breaking heatwave, Network Rail has commissioned a new resilience taskforce.
The UK Government is more than trebling its investment into the Transpennine route upgrade (TRU) to nine billion GBP.
Passenger tram services have now begun on the Birmingham Westside Metro extension from Library to Edgbaston.
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The ORR, the safety regulator of Britain's railways, has published its annual health and safety report covering April 2021 to March 2022.
New electric overhead wires have been installed on a Yorkshire mainline for the first time in 25 years thanks to upgrade project.
Jonn Elledge considers some of the railway lines that were cut due to the Beeching Report that might reopen under Restoring Your Railway.
HS2 Ltd has contracted Laing O’Rourke to build the HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull at the heart of the high-speed rail network.
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Northern is using the same light detection and radar (LIDAR) scanning technology as NASA on its fleet to improve safety and efficiency.
Network Rail is investing more than 120 million GBP of Scottish Government funding to increase the power supply of Scotland’s railway network.
The Secretary of State for Transport has approved Network Rail's plans to carry out multi-billion-pound rail upgrades in West Yorkshire
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Hitachi Rail is installing a world-first monitoring system on GWR's high-speed fleet to provide digital data on train wheelset performance.
TfL has launched a Power Purchase Agreement tender as the first step for powering the London Underground with 100 percent renewable energy.
The first design images have been revealed for HS2’s maintenance and control centre at the Washwood Heath Depot in Birmingham.
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Birmingham City Council has granted planning permission to HS2 Ltd to construct two viaducts in Birmingham.
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Static testing has begun on the first of Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of trains at Hitachi Rail’s Newton Aycliffe factory.
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Network Rail has moved all signalling equipment from the outdated signal box near Philips Park to Manchester’s modern rail operating centre.
Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture is trialling an electric, high-capacity drilling rig for construction in Warwickshire.
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Phase two of work on Nexus’ Gosforth Metro depot has been completed with the installation of three more sections of line on the site.
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Porterbrook has completed successful Level 2 testing on three Class 43 power cars retrofitted with the European Train Control System (ETCS).
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