A group of academics are claiming that speeds on HS2 will be unnecessarily high, adding significantly to the costs. They are calling for an independent assessment of 'less damaging' alternatives. A major cause of their concern is the potential maximum speed of 400km/h, which the group says could be reduced to 300km/h. HS2 Ltd said cost reductions were being examined, and that the head of the civil service Jeremy Heywood is conducting an investigation.
New Thameslink train goes on show in London
A new Class 700 Siemens-built train for Thameslink is carrying invited guests for the first time today (24 May) on a special showcasing trip from London Blackfriars to East Croydon. The new high capacity trains, built in the German Rhineland, have been arriving for several months and have made numerous commissioning trips from the new depot at Three Bridges. Today's event marks the formal unveiling of the trains in Britain, after test runs with guests on board in Germany. The trains are essentially Metro units, with plenty of standing space as well as wide doors. The layout, specified by the Department for Transport, is seen to be essential if the trains are to meet the requirement to maintain 2.5 minute headways through the Thameslink core section between Blackfriars and St Pancras.
Second Spanish rolling stock win confirmed
New trains for Transpennine Express are to be built by the Spanish firm of CAF, after no bids were received from a manufacturer with a British base. The RMT said the decision to choose a Spanish builder was a 'sad indictment' of the railways. The order for two new fleets is the second to be made by FirstGroup for Transpennine Express. It has already signed a contract for 19 five-car trains, to be supplied by Hitachi. TPE managing director Leo Goodwin said the deal was 'great news'.
Govia returns to High Court over union's DOO ballot
Govia Thameslink Railway is returning to the High Court in the continuing and increasingly bitter dispute between the company and unions over driver-only operation on Southern and Gatwick Express. GTR is seeking an injunction which would prevent ASLEF continuing with a strike ballot of its driver members on Gatwick Express, while heated exchanges are continuing in the dispute between the company and the RMT over the extension of driver-only operation on Southern. GTR said around two-thirds of its services ran yesterday, despite another walkout by conductors.
Disruption as Southern conductors strike for third day
Southern services were widely disrupted on Wednesday (18 May) as conductors belonging to the RMT staged their third one day strike in the dispute over driver-only operation. The RMT has claimed that safety is put at risk by DOO, and is opposing Southern's plans to replace conductors on many trains by 'on-board supervisors', who would deal with revenue protection and assist passengers, but take no part in operating the train. Southern denies that there are any safety implications.
No trams to New Street just yet
The launch of Midland Metro services to Birmingham New Street has been postponed. Trams had been due to start carrying passengers through central Birmingham to the city's largest station on Sunday, and a Centro manager has admitted that he is 'bitterly disappointed'. The project to extend the line from Snow Hill to New Street is already running late, and the latest delay has been attributed to 'minor anomalies in some of the track alignment'.
Southern conductors prepare for new walkout
Conductors on Southern are preparing to walk out for a third day from midnight tonight, as the dispute over extensions to driver-only operation appears to remain deadlocked. Both the RMT and Southern have been voicing accusations, with the RMT accusing managers of 'threatening and abusive' behaviour, while Southern has labelled the timing of the strike -- called at the shortest possible notice and originally scheduled for Friday this week -- as a 'cynical ploy'. The RMT has claimed that Southern has refused to negotiate, but the operator insisted that it remained open for talks.