The Government has given its approval for a new fleet of hybrid trains which are being bought by First Great Western in an unusual privately-funded deal worth £360 million. The fleet of 29 Hitachi AT300 units will be used on routes to the far south west, beyond the presently-planned limits of Great Western electrification, and will replace the current fleet of HSTs, which are now in their fourth decade and were unlikely to be worth upgrading for service beyond 2020, according to operator First Great Western. The AT300s are being described as similar in design to the Intercity Expresses but will differ in some respects, such as having larger diesel tanks which will be needed when they are working west of Newbury or Bristol.
Calais crisis: 120 French police to reinforce security
The government's emergency COBRA committee has met today to discuss the growing crisis at Calais. Meanwhile Eurotunnel has confirmed that another migrant has died, after a collision with a lorry. The Tunnel was closed again yesterday, and last night an estimated 1,500 migrants attempted to breach the security zone boundaries and invade lorries and Eurotunnel services bound for Britain. The Freight Transport Association wants the army to be brought in, while the French authorities are calling for the border to be moved from Calais to the English side. The prime minister, speaking during his visit to Vietnam, said the situation was 'very concerning'.
Cows derail train in Kent
A railway line in Kent has been closed after a Southeastern train collided with cows on Sunday evening. Southeastern said the accident near Chilham involved a train travelling between Ashford and Canterbury West.
Latest Calais incidents risk 'long-lasting damage' to railfreight
Protesting French ferry workers at Calais have again started fires and blocked Channel Tunnel traffic, and the crisis is now directly affecting businesses in Britain, the Rail Freight Group has warned. Some of the 5,000 migrants in the area have been attempting to take advantage of the disruption by boarding lorries and Eurotunnel Shuttles. One migrant died on Tuesday, having been electrocuted last week when he climbed on top of a Eurotunnel shuttle, while Kent police have reported finding another body today.
CrossCountry train damaged by empty car
A 35-year old man has been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway near Burton upon Trent, after a train collided with an empty car on a level crossing. No one on board was hurt and the train stayed on the rails, but the front of the diesel unit was damaged by the crash.
Transport secretary admits NR costs are still not clear
The transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has admitted that the extent of Network Rail's costs uncertainty will not be known before the autumn. In giving evidence to the House of Commons transport committee, the transport secretary quoted Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne as saying that running NR was like 'open heart surgery'. Mr McLoughlin also insisted that he had not known about the problems on the Midland Main Line electrification scheme until 15 June, well after the election, which led to his statement in the Commons ten days later.
Transport secretary faces grilling over rail project delays
The House of Commons transport committee is expected to take a tough stance when it hears evidence about the railways from transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin today, while the RMT has condemned what it sees as 'creeping privatisation'. The transport secretary has been faced with major problems at Network Rail after recently published Board minutes revealed that some enhancement projects were known to be threatening to break the limits of their budgets as long ago as March. In the past 24 hours, the Welsh secretary has warned that Great Western electrification to Swansea could be delayed.