The new chairman of the Rail Delivery Group will warn today that trying to recreate a non-existent ‘golden age of rail’ is not the way forward for the modern industry, which instead needs to ‘embrace change,’ having arrived at a ‘crucial turning point’. Chris Burchell is giving the annual Bradshaw address in London this evening, when he will say: “We are at a crucial turning point, and must manage change, embrace change and lead change now.”
New tram line opens in Manchester
A key link taking trams on a second route through Manchester city centre has opened for business, marking another phase in the system’s expansion. The Second City Crossing connects St Peter’s Square with Victoria station via Exchange Square, for the Arndale Centre. It is carrying trams from East Didsbury on the lines to Rochdale and Shaw & Crompton, but Metrolink has said trams from the airport, which currently terminate short of the city centre at Deansgate-Castlefield, will also use the 2CC. Councillor Andrew Fender, who chairs the TfGM Committee, had said 2CC ‘will provide much-needed operational flexibility and resilience’.
Storm Doris continues to delay trains
The effects of the high winds of Storm Doris have left a legacy of railway delays and damage. Yesterday’s storm tracked from west to east across the centre of Britain, felling trees, blowing debris on to lines and forcing Network Rail to impose speed restrictions on many routes. Network Rail has dealt with hundreds of incidents over the past 24 hours – from trampolines, chairs and trees blown on tracks to bags becoming entangled in overhead power lines.
HS2 Bill receives Royal Assent
Construction of Britain’s second High Speed railway has been given the legal go-ahead today, because the Hybrid Bill authorising the construction of HS2 Phase 1 between London and Birmingham has received Royal Assent. The complex and controversial Bill has taken more than three years to move through both Houses of Parliament. Hundreds of petitions from property owners and other members of the public, as well as pressure groups, have been heard. Construction can now start as planned in the spring.
RMT prepares strike ballot for Night Tube staff
London Underground has urged the RMT to start talks over a dispute about all-night services. The union says the terms of employment of Night Tube operators are ‘blatantly discriminatory’, because the part time staff involved have been barred from moving to vacant full-time positions for at least 18 months. They are also not eligible for overtime pay until they are working 35 hours a week. The union is now preparing to ballot Night Tube staff for strikes or action short of a strike.
Last-minute bid to block HS2
The complex Hybrid Bill authorising Phase 1 of HS2 is set to return to the House of Commons this week for the final approval of MPs before receiving Royal Assent, but two opposing groups have launched a last-ditch bid to block the project before it has been legally authorised. The two groups are the Taxpayers' Alliance, which refuses to accept the official cost of £56 billion for all phases, and Friends of the Earth, who back high speed rail in principle but say the HS2 routes are badly chosen and do not connect with HS1.
Railfreight grants drop could mean ‘thousands of additional lorries’
Railfreight campaigners are concerned that a reduction in government support for railfreight facilities could bring thousands of additional lorries on to the roads, if hauliers decide that using rail is too expensive. It's being claimed that a loss of £4 million in railfreight grants could mean another 190,000 lorry journeys each year.