by Keri Allan
11 Jul 2022
Northern is using the same light detection and radar (LiDAR) scanning technology as NASA to improve the safety and efficiency of its fleet.
Not only was this technology used by NASA to map out the surface of the moon, it is regularly used by meteorologists to measure both clouds and pollution.
Starting this month, the train operator will begin installing horizon-scanning cameras on to its 345 trains to detect environmental threats, infrastructure defects and maintenance issues.
For example, the technology will be able to detect ‘bumps on the line’ as the train passes over them and automatically send GPS co-ordinates to maintenance teams responsible for repairs.
In addition, sensors will able to spot energy saving opportunities, such as station lighting being left on unnecessarily during the day.
Thermal imaging systems will also be rolled out to monitor passenger loads and provide accurate information to the necessary organisations if an incident was to occur.
Northern is also providing the British Transport Police with access to its on-board CCTV systems so it can see what’s happening on its trains in real time.
“This is the beginning of what we’re calling ‘Intelligent Trains’. With these modifications, our fleet won’t just travel the network, it will actively monitor and report back on issues that could have an impact on our operation.
“The result will be greater efficiencies in terms of resource allocation, faster responses in terms of maintenance programmes and an overall smarter – and safer – way of working.
“We are sharing details of this new software with other train operators so that passengers the length and breadth of the country can benefit from the approach we have pioneered in the North of England.”
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.
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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.
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Porterbrook has announced that the first 25 new JNA-X Box Wagons have arrived in the UK and are now on lease with GB Railfreight (GBRf).
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.
Lumo has attracted one million passengers and seen rail overtake air travel as the preferred mode of transport between Edinburgh and London.
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.
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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.
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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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In a recent poll more than 2,000 respondents were asked their views on the recent rail strikes, pay and modernisation reforms.
The ORR, the safety regulator of Britain's railways, has published its annual health and safety report covering April 2021 to March 2022.
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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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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
Network Rail will carry out essential upgrades in the Severn Tunnel between South Wales and Bristol during July and August 2022.
The UK Government will provide funding of over £1bn to install digital signalling along the entire East Coast Mainline South.
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.
Transport companies have to have resilient cybersecurity systems in place so they can protect their assets and detect and respond to incidents.
Rail upgrades at the end of July will extend platforms and provide power for the Elizabeth Line in preparation for its next stage of opening.
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.
A new project has begun that will help Reading station lower its carbon emissions and optimise its energy performance by approximately 20%.
HS2 has begun construction of the first of five ‘green tunnels’ that have been designed to blend into the landscape.
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.
All signals at Birmingham New Street station have now been digitalised to meet 21st Century signalling standards.
Phase two of work on Nexus’ Gosforth Metro depot has been completed with the installation of three more sections of line on the site.
Testing of the Northern City Line’s new digital signalling system has begun, marking a milestone in the East Coast Digital Programme.
HS2 has announced that OpenSpace Group Ltd is using artificial intelligence (AI) and LiDAR sensors to develop future train stations.
Porterbrook has completed successful Level 2 testing on three Class 43 power cars retrofitted with the European Train Control System (ETCS).
Construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct has now started, overseen by HS2’s main works contractor Align JV.
More than one million passengers have used London's new Elizabeth line during its first week of operation.
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