The new transport secretary Chris Grayling has told an audience in the East Midlands that the case for HS2 remains, and that he will not be ‘backing away from it’. He was addressing business leaders and local politicians in Derby in his first public appearance since he succeeded Patrick McLoughlin in last week’s cabinet reshuffle. Opponents of HS2 have already called on Mr Grayling to reconsider the scheme, but he said: “One of the first things I did in my role was to confirm that there are absolutely no plans to back away from the HS2 project. It’s an integral part of our blueprint for an effective transport system for Britain."
London Bridge trains return
Train services through London Bridge are returning to normal today, after many routes were disrupted by the discovery of a deep sink hole at Forest Hill.
London Bridge disruption continues
Network Rail is warning that train services through London Bridge will continue to be seriously disrupted today, after a sink hole appeared under the railway at Forest Hill. The 15m hole is linked to a sewer, and Network Rail is working with Thames Water to make repairs. Network Rail rushed repair teams to the site last night, but hopes that the problem could be resolved by pouring up to 50 tonnes of ballast into the gap appear to have been dashed, and it is now clear that the work will take longer.
Four-metre hole partially closes London Bridge
London Bridge has been hit by a new problem -- a hole more than four metres deep under the railway at Forest Hill. The hole means that two lines to London Bridge have been closed, and Network Rail is now rushing 50 tonnes of ballast to the site to make emergency repairs. Southern and Thameslink passengers are being advised to avoid the station this evening (18 July), and Govia Thameslink Railway has warned of widespread disruption to its services.
Great Western switches on
The first stretch of the Grest Western Main Line electrification beyond Reading was energised and tested over the weekend. A Hitachi Class 800 intercity express ran successfully between Reading and Didcot on the mornings of Saturday and Sunday up to line speed (125mph/200km/h) in a series of exercises designed to test the new OHLE.
Grayling targets Southern crisis and backs HS2
The new transport secretary Chris Grayling says sorting out the tangled problems affecting Southern will be his first priority, and that he will be meeting managers from Southern's owner Govia Thameslink Railway again today. He took office last Thursday, but has already held preliminary talks with them. He has also backed HS2, and is rejecting calls from opponents to the scheme that he should scrap it.
'Ashamed' rail minister Claire Perry steps down
The transport minister who had been the public face of the Department for Transport over the Southern DOO dispute has resigned. Claire Perry, who is MP for Devizes, became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in July 2014. It is understood that she resigned from her post at the DfT last night, only days after admitting that she was 'often ashamed to be the rail minister'.