UK railway news roundup


This week’s roundup of news from the UK railway industry.

Shapps: HS2 will be critical ‘unless humans can teleport themselves’

HS2: Grant Shapps says project is critical
Photo: PA

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told a Transport Select Committee that the HS2 project will be vital for enabling people to meet each other unless teleportation becomes a reality.

Mr Shapps continues to back the high-speed rail project despite the collapse in demand for travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He told the Commons Transport Select Committee that “humans will always want to be in touch with humans” and HS2 will be vital “unless we think that people are going to be able to move around in some other form… teleport ourselves or some other way of getting around”.

Mr Shapps cited the pre-pandemic usage of the West Coast Main Line – originally built in the 1930s – as a reason why HS2 will be popular. Click here to see more.

HS2 protesters will stay in tunnels ‘for as long as it takes’

Anti-HS2 protesters say they will stay in underground tunnels for as long as it takes even after a judge rejected a legal bid to halt efforts to evict them.

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Environmental campaigners have spent six nights underground after digging a network of tunnels beneath Euston Square Gardens, next to Euston station in central London, and are prepared to sit it out for weeks despite an ongoing eviction process.

HS2 Ltd said it has “legal possession” of the land and urged protesters to leave “for their own safety” before they are removed by High Court enforcement officers. Click here to see more.

Rail industry marks Captain Tom Moore achievements

Captain Sir Tom Moore

Captain Sir Tom Moore died in hospital this week at the age of 100, after testing positive for COVID-19.

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The veteran, who raised more than £30 million for NHS Charities Together to mark his 100th birthday, died in Bedford Hospital on Tuesday morning.

After raising so much money for the NHS, the Captain had a Great Western Railway (GWR) Intercity train named in his honour. Five-car 800025 was named Captain Tom Moore on his 100th birthday in April. The naming followed requests from GWR staff and the general public. Click here to see more.

Report warns ‘forensic focus’ needed to deliver Crossrail

Photo: PA

A “forensic focus” is required to complete Crossrail within its revised budget and timescale, an inquiry has found.

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In a report, the London Assembly Transport Committee urged Transport for London (TfL) and mayor Sadiq Khan to ensure “past mistakes are not repeated”.

It recommends they keep a tight grasp on the project’s leadership structures and financial stability. Click here to see more.

Government want Eurostar survival ‘but will not lead the rescue’

The UK will not take the lead in rescuing Eurostar as it is majority-owned by France, a Cabinet minister has said.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs that the Government is “very keen for Eurostar to survive” but insisted “it’s not our company”.

The cross-Channel rail operator revealed in November that it is “fighting for its survival” after suffering a 95% reduction in passenger numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to see more.

Minister defends inflation-busting rise in rail fares

The Government has defended the 2.6% rise in rail fares due next month.

Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton said the taxpayer has been “spectacularly generous” to the railways during the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to see more.

Rail unions slam ‘kick in the teeth’ pay rises decision

The Government is on a collision course with rail unions after revealing that pay rises for workers in the industry will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Unions said the decision is a “kick in the teeth” for frontline staff who have kept working throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

They have launched a campaign aimed at halting the threat of pay freezes and cuts to standards of living of rail workers. Click here to see more.

Victorian T9 No. 30120 to remain at Swanage Railway

T9 30120 Harmans Cross Swanage Railway
T9 30120 Harmans Cross Swanage Railway. Photo: Andrew PM Wright

The Swanage Railway have announced an agreement with the National Railway Museum for their LSWR T9 steam locomotive No. 30120 to remain on the Swanage Railway.

The agreement will see the locomotive, built in 1899, stored at the Swanage Railway following expiry of its boiler certificate in August 2020.

Also, there are provisions for limited disassembly, including a boiler lift, for the Swanage Railway Trust to assess the potential for the locomotive to be returned to steam. Click here to see more.

Severn Valley Railway gearing up for Easter reopening

6960 Raveningham Hall runs through Arley.
6960 Raveningham Hall runs through Arley. Photo: John Titlow

Severn Valley Railway has announced that the railway will reopen to visitors for Easter.

From April 2, rail enthusiasts will once again be able to travel along the historic Severn Valley Railway. Mark space in your calendars for two special events in the first couple of months of reopening, which will appeal to heritage rail enthusiasts. Click here to see more.

Latest service updates

Latest National Rail service updates

CrossCountry – Train services are now able to run normally between Bristol Parkway and Newport.
Gatwick Express – Gatwick Express services remain suspended until further notice. Southern and Thameslink are still running to and from Gatwick Airport, and will provide journey options to both London and Brighton.
Grand Central – From Saturday 9 January until Sunday 28 February, Grand Central service will be suspended, as a result of the national restrictions that are in place. You can find more information here.

Great Western Railway – The railway line has now reopened between Bristol Parkway and Newport following an engineering problem that occurred earlier this month on a bridge near Patchway.
Hull Trains – The latest timetable can be downloaded here

Transport For London Status

To help stop the potential spread of coronavirus, the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments have decided that the wearing of face coverings when travelling by train or other public transport is compulsory in all parts of Britain. So, if you travel by train, make sure you bring a face covering to wear.

We will continue to run as much of the network as possible and will update our website with any service changes. Please check before you travel.

We’re doing all we can to make sure those who need to travel can continue to use public transport safely and everyone must continue to take the simple steps of good hand hygiene, wearing a face covering in stations and for your whole journey, and social distancing wherever possible.

London Underground Status

Due to Crossrail works the following services will be affected. Please check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Circle Line: Minor delays due to train cancellations.
Hammersmith and City Line: Minor delays due to train cancelations.
Waterloo & City Line: No service until further notice.

See the latest status updates on London Underground, including a map of closures.  

London Overground

No service between Romford and Upminster while we fix a faulty train at Romford. London Overground tickets are being accepted on London Underground via any reasonable route.

Monday 1 to Friday 5 February, there will be a reduced frequency between Richmond and Stratford. There will generally be two trains per hour between Richmond and Willesden Junction, which will continue to Stratford. There will generally be six trains an hour between Willesden Junction and Stratford, which will start from Richmond or Clapham Junction.

Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Metros around the country

West Midlands Metro

From Tuesday 1 December, there will be no step-free access available at The Hawthorns stop as Network Rail begin work to replace the lifts that serve our tram stop. Once completed, in March 2021, the lifts will provide a more reliable step free access for train and metro customers using this stop.

Tyne & Wear Metro

National lockdown: Stay at home. Only use public transport for essential purposes. Avoid travelling at busier times if you can, wear a face covering (unless exempt), open train windows to help with ventilation, stay apart from others and wash or sanitise your hands frequently.

For more timetable information visit

Manchester Metrolink

Stay at home and avoid travel, except for work, education, or other legally permitted reasons.

Nottingham Express Transit

Following the latest government announcement, we want to reassure customers that still need to travel with us during lockdown that we will be operating a full service during this time.


We are currently working towards reintroducing passenger services on a line-by-line basis this morning with the aim of running our timetabled service from approximately midday. Services may be subject to delay and passengers are advised to continue checking @merseyrail on Twitter and the website before they travel.

Sheffield Super Tram

Due to the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic we are having to make short notice changes to our services.

All routes will operate to the current timetables but services will end at around 8pm every day. There will be no service on any routes after around 8pm.

The current frequencies of service are unchanged;

YELLOW & BLUE: Up to every 15 minutes during the day, every 20 minutes at other times and on Sunday

PURPLE: Every 30 minutes

TRAM TRAIN: Every hour

Please be aware that due to the short notice of these changes, timetables on tram stops may be incorrect until updated information can be posted. Additionally, some journey planning tools and websites may also offer incorrect journey information.

Edinburgh Trams

The first tram and last tram will run at their usual time, but customers should expect trams to operate every 15 minutes during the day with this being kept under constant review.

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