Posted 13th June 2019 | No Comments

13 June: news in brief

Southeastern rescue deal

Updated 12.10
THE Southeastern franchise has been extended until 10 November at least, after two months of talks between Southeastern’s owner Govia and the Department for Transport. Time had been running out for the negotiations, and without an agreement the DfT would have been forced to take over as ‘operator of last resort’ in ten days from now. The deal includes an option to extend the franchise still further, possibly up to 1 April 2020. Govia has agreed to introduce Delay Repay 15 on Southeastern later this year, and will also be improving its website to make claiming refunds easier. ‘Key’ smart tickets will include online purchases of single and return tickets for the first time, while a new ‘Best Fare Finder’ will be added to Southeastern’s website. Southeastern managing director David Statham said: ‘I don’t want any of our passengers to be delayed, but if they are it’s really important that we compensate them properly. That’s why I’m delighted to announce these improvements to Delay Repay, which will make a real difference for people who experience shorter delays of between 15 and 30 minutes. We’re also launching an upgraded website so claims can be submitted in half the time.’ Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: ‘It’s never been clearer that rail franchising is broken beyond repair. Yet the transport secretary today has simply waved through another sticking plaster franchise extension on Southeastern which will further delay investment and the introduction of new trains. This country cannot afford Chris Grayling.’

Hydrogen train breakthrough

A HYDROGEN fuelled train is to be tested on the British rail network, after the government announced funding for the trials as part of its £7.8 million ‘First of a Kind’ competition. The testing will be done by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook. The project has been dubbed HydroFLEX, and a full-scale prototype of the HydroFLEX train will be displayed at Rail Live next week (19 and 20 June) at Quinton Rail Technology Centre in Warwickshire. The DfT’s ‘First of a Kind’ competition was set up to attract ideas that can be adapted to transform rail travel, and each of the winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000. Other schemes being funded include 4Silence’s plan to develop a noise-reducing wall that works by diffracting sound waves from passing trains upwards, making it as effective as a barrier three times its height, and Amey VTOL’s development of a drone system that could carry out track inspections from above. This would reduce or even avoid the need for p-way inspection teams to set foot on the railway itself. Alex Burrows, director of the Birmingham Centre, said: ‘The partnership between the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook has been a trailblazer for academia and industry accelerating ideas into practical application on the railway.  We look forward to the next phase.’