TfL has released its annual budget, revealing that it can now fully cover operational costs and invest in new and improved services.
Coventry Very Light Rail has completed construction on a new test site for its unique track system at Coventry City Council’s Whitley Depot.
The ORR has given authorisation for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to operate its Class 717 fleet with Level 2 ETCS digital signalling.
Rail industry leaders were brought together at Accelerate Rail to discuss the nation’s transition to Great British Railways.
UK: The government has announced that Derby, one of the six shortlisted locations, will be the headquarters for Great British Railways.
DB Cargo UK has collaborated with Group Technical Support and Toton TMD to test the impact of using HVO to power locomotives.
The Department for Transport has extended Avanti West Coast's contract for 6 months following the operator's improved performance.
Greater Manchester has announced a new devolution deal with the UK government to grant it more influence over regional rail services.
Train operator, Avanti West Coast has launched a low-cost Superfare 'standby' ticket for flexible travellers.
Over 40bn GBP will be invested in the UK's transport network over the next two years, with a focus on delivering the first phase of HS2.
The UK government is working with Network Rail and Northern Rail to restore regular train services to the Northumberland Line from 2024.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) reveals significant potential to electrify UK rail freight operations.
Transport for London (TfL) has appointed Morgan Sindall Infrastructure as the main delivery partner to enlarge the DLR's Beckton Depot.
The two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) digging HS2’s longest tunnels has passed Amersham shaft on their 10 mile drive under the Chilterns.
TfWM and the WMRE have announced plans to explore the feasibility for five new railway stations within the West Midlands.
Stadler has successfully delivered the first of 46 new Tyne and Wear Metro trains to Nexus' Gosforth Metro Depot in the North of England.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has visited the new ticket hall at Bank Underground station, which completes its 700 million GBP upgrade.
Network Rail has selected SNC-Lavalin Group to deliver signalling renewal projects across the south of England.
The East Coast Digital Programme has further progressed, thanks to new signalling in the Wood Green – New Barnet area of north London.
GWR is to buy several assets from Vivarail, securing the future of trials of fast-charge battery technology.
Engineers have begun work to alleviate a long-time bottleneck on the Hope Valley Railway line at Bamford as part of upgrade project.
HS2 has proposed changes to the construction design of its Manchester route following work with the UK Environment Agency.
Avanti West Coast has begun testing its new Hitachi fleet on the West Coast Main Line. The trains are due to enter service later this year.
Network Rail is refurbishing the Chepstow Viaduct bridge over the river Wye to ensure the longevity of the Severn Estuary railway line.
New plans have been put forward to improve access to the proposed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail station at Manchester Airport.
The High Speed Rail Group and HS2 Ltd have both hit back at a report created by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust about HS2's environmental impact.
Network Rail has started work to upgrade Derby station’s platform one, with resurfacing work underway to improve the platform’s resilience.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper set out the government's key priorities for the railways in his George Bradshaw address on 7 February.
Network Rail and TfL have announced a new partnership that will see thousands of new homes and commercial properties built across London.
Birmingham City Council has granted planning permission approval for HS2's Washwood Heath Depot, north-east of Birmingham city centre.
The UK and Welsh governments are working on a 2.7m GBP study to explore options for new rail stations and services between England and Wales.
A feasibility project led by Porterbrook and Eminox to to help reduce NOx emissions in enclosed stations has delivered positive results.
Scotland's Transport Minister has opened Inverness Airport rail station, with passenger trains arriving and departing from 3 February.
The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the University of Sheffield are developing an AI tool to predict low adhesion track conditions.
HS2's tunnel boring machines, Florence and Cecilia have passed the halfway point on their 10-mile journey excavating the Chiltern tunnels.
HS2 Ltd’s contractor, Align JV has installed the last of 292 concrete piles, forming the foundations for the UK’s longest railway bridge.
Network Rail has upgraded Banbury train depot to keep trains moving on the Chiltern main line during HS2 construction.
Work has begun on the expansion of the West Midlands Metro depot, which includes extended and updated workshop and maintenance facilities.
Network Rail is upgrading almost three miles of railway tracks to improve the reliability of trains running through Scarborough.
Progress is being made towards Network Rail’s goal to upgrade the UK railway’s ageing telecoms infrastructure.
The first five-metre-tall V-shaped pier for the Curzon No. 3 Viaduct into HS2's Curzon Street Station in Birmingham has been installed.
Varamis Rail has collaborated with Network Rail to launch a 'zero-carbon freight service' between Scotland and the Midlands.
New funding has been announced for Network Rail to deliver transformational rail projects in the South West of England.
Liverpool City Region’s new fleet of publicly-owned trains could enter service as soon as 23 January, the city mayor has announced.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has confirmed the first instalment of its 72 million GBP investment in Coventry Very Light Rail.
A total of 130 metres of double track has been installed along Lower Bull Street as part of the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension project.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has signed a new 10-year locomotive leasing deal with rolling stock leasing company, Akiem.
EMR and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre are developing a simulation tool to improve depot efficiency.
The West Coast mainline near Carstairs has been reopened for passenger services after emergency engineering works was completed.
Network Rail has completed a series of improvement works for the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York.
A bridge that will carry direct rail services between Oxford and Cambridge has been positioned over the HS2 route near Calvert, Bucks.
Northern Rail has upgraded its TrainCare Centre in Hull to increase its maintenance and servicing capacity and improve service reliability.
HS2 has revealed designs for the Curzon 2 bridge: a 150-metre section of viaduct on the approach to Birmingham’s new Curzon Street Station.
Construction is now complete on the Metro Flow project in Tyne and Wear, enabling contractors to being testing and commissioning.
Midlands Connect has unveiled plans to deliver 1.5 billion GBP in infrastructure improvements to enhance east-west rail connections in the UK.
Network Rail has launched an audio guide to help blind and partially sighted people navigate their way around Bristol Temple Meads Station.
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.
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.
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.
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by Jonn Elledge
03 Feb 2022
When I was a child, I was oddly fascinated by the idea of Clapham Junction.
Visited by every train out of Waterloo, and most of those out of Victoria, it was said to be the busiest station in Britain, and quite possibly in Europe, too, served by over 100 trains every hour. It was, what’s more, on the other side of London from the Essex suburbs where I lived, which gave it an exotic air that seems quite funny now. I remember one day realising it wasn’t even really in Clapham, but in Battersea, and struggling to contain my delight.
I was, now I come to think of it, quite a strange child.
Strange or not, however, I would have been equally delighted to realise that there was another station, much closer to home, which would one day be even busier – just so long as you counted by number of passengers instead of number of trains. That station is the unassuming, and frankly unglamorous, Stratford. It’s known officially as Stratford (London) so as to avoid confusion with the much fancier Stratford-upon-Avon, and, come to that, its own near neighbour, the strangely international service-free Stratford International. But Stratford (London) dwarfs them both: in the most recent full year for which we have figures, it saw more passengers than any other station in Britain.
This was, to be clear, a side-effect of the pandemic, and the lockdown that accompanied it. The Office of Rail & Road has been publishing figures on passenger numbers in pretty much every year since the late 1990s. Only the very end of the 2019–20 financial year was affected by lockdown, so the rankings that year look pretty much like normal. The busiest station was London Waterloo, with 87 million entrances and exits, followed by London Victoria (74 million) and London Liverpool Street (66 million). In fact, eight of the top ten were London terminals; the only exceptions were Birmingham New Street (6th, with 47 million) and Stratford (8th, 42 million).
Total entrances/exits, 2019/20
For more than half of 2020–21, though, Britain was in lockdown, and millions worked from home even when it wasn’t. This, predictably, had a huge impact on the railways, with passenger numbers falling by nearly 80%.
It also had an impact on the busiest station rankings. The number in brackets is the fall from the previous year’s figure. Spot the difference.
Total entrances/exits, 2020/21
The number of London terminals has halved, their places taken by four extra outer London hub stations, including my old friend Clapham Junction. Topping the chart, though, the busiest station in Britain, is Stratford.
The reason for this pattern can be found in those percentages. The London terminal stations, plus Birmingham New Street, all saw huge drops in passenger numbers, ranging from 78% for London Bridge to 86% at London Waterloo. Numbers at the outer London stations, though, fell by smaller numbers, from 73% at East Croydon to just 51% at Barking.
It’s tempting to find part of the explanation for this in poverty: people whose journeys start and end in Barking are less likely to have the sorts of cushy office jobs that allow for working from home. But much of it is about the sorts of journeys being undertaken. “Bigger drops in usage at central London stations,” an ORR spokesperson told me, “may be associated with a greater reduction in longer distance journeys and/or office-based commuters in central London working from home instead.”
Numbers at outer London stations, though, proved more resilient. Journeys taken on the London Overground, which serves all but one of those outer London stations, are as likely to be taken for purposes of leisure as commuting, and were thus – outside lockdown, at least – less affected by the shift to working from home. As a result, passenger numbers at Highbury & Islington fell by less than those at Waterloo or Liverpool Street.
As to why Stratford saw more passengers than any other station, this, it turns out, is the culmination is a very long-term trend. Between 1997–98, the first year for which the ORR has data, and 2019–20, the last year before the pandemic, the number of entrances/exits recorded at Clapham Junction increased from 7.3 million to 28.9 million, a factor of nearly four.
At Stratford, though, they increased from 2 million to 42 million, a frankly mindblowing factor of 21. Part of this probably reflects the amount of new housing that has popped up in the area over the last few years; partly it’s that today it serves both the huge Westfield shopping centre and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, neither of which existed a dozen years ago.
But much of it is simply that Stratford station has become a lot more useful. Back in the 90s, it was served by the Great Eastern mainline and the Central line of the tube, plus a single platform on the DLR and the rather unloved Silverlink North London line. Since then, the Jubilee line has arrived, plus three more DLR platforms, and that Silverlink service has been transformed into the Overground; if all goes to plan, Crossrail might finally open before the year is out, too.
And so, what was once a rather grotty station convenient mostly for some rail yards and the world’s largest fridge mountain has quietly become one of the most useful interchanges on London’s entire rail network, as well as a destination in its own right. No wonder it’s the busiest station on the network.
And unlike Clapham Junction, it’s actually in the place its name suggests, too.
About Jonn Elledge
Jonn Elledge is a journalist and editor who specialises in transport and local government. Former assistant editor of the New Statesman.