UK railway news round-up

Network Rail

After warnings for the bosses of HS2 from the Wildlife Trusts last time out, this week a leaked government review has revealed HS2 could cost up to £106bn. Here’s this week’s round-up:

South Western Railway franchise ‘not sustainable in the long term’

South Western Railway
Workers on South Western Railway went on strike for 27 days in December in the long-running dispute over guards on trains, the RMT union said. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

South Western Railway finances indicate the franchise is “not sustainable in the long term”, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Mr Shapps MP said the operator’s performances have been “significantly below expectation” since the franchise started in August 2017, claiming poor punctuality and operational performances combined with slower revenue growth are to blame. Click here for the full story.

South Western Railway workers vote to continue strikes in guards dispute

Workers on South Western Railway (SWR) have voted to continue taking strike action in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union backed more walkouts by 416, with 88 voting against.

A bigger majority voted to take other forms of industrial action – the sixth time the union has balloted its members on SWR over the issue because of industrial action legislation. Full story.

Great Central Railway to restore Thornbury Castle

Unrestored Collett ‘Castle’ No. 7027 Thornbury Castle is to be restored for operation at the Great Central Railway (GCR) following its sale to a private buyer by Jonathan Jones-Pratt.

The 1949-built 4-6-0 was purchased by Mr Jones-Pratt’s firm, JJP Holdings, from music mogul Pete Waterman in 2016, but has not received any significant restoration work since then.

There was a plan to send the locomotive to Tyseley Locomotive Works for a contract restoration, but with ‘Hall’ No. 4936 Kinlet Hall and ‘94XX’ 0-6-0PT No. 9466 to maintain, Mr Jones-Pratt admitted in December that he would consider offers for the ‘Castle’ if he felt they were in the best interests of the locomotive. There’s more here.

Veterans railcard for cheaper train fares to launch on Armistice Day

Veterans railcard for cheaper train fares to launch on Armistice Day

A new railcard offering discounted train tickets for military veterans will be launched later this year, the government has announced.

More than 830,000 veterans will be eligible for a third off their train fares with the railcard – set to be released on Armistice Day in November.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the new railcard, which forms part of the government’s veterans strategy, will open up opportunities for veterans in employment as well as strengthening links with friends and family.

Network Rail being investigated for ‘poor performance’

Network Rail

Network Rail is being investigated over its poor performance on routes used by train operators Northern and TransPennine Express.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it has put the Government-owned company “on a warning” in relation to its work in the North West and Central region of England.

Performance deteriorated in 2018 and “failed to substantially recover during 2019”, according to the regulator. Full story.

HS2 costs could rise to £106bn, government review says

HS2 should be scrapped according to a free market think tank.

HS2 could cost up to £106 billion, according to a widely leaked Government review.

An inquiry led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Doug Oakervee reportedly found there is “considerable risk” that the high-speed rail project’s cost will rise by up to 20% beyond the £81 billion to £88 billion range set out in a report by current HS2 chairman Allan Cook just four months ago. Full story here.

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