[Skip to content]



Rail chiefs escape prosecution over crash

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to pursue a criminal prosecution against Network Rail over the Ladbroke Grove rail crash in which 31 people were killed. It had been influenced in its decision by the outcome of the Hatfield rail crash enquiry, but agreed that there would still be health and safety offences to be investigated.

Financial Times, 7 Dec 2005. p 3

Beijing lends support to Philippine rail project

The North Luzon Railway Project in Indonesia, providing high-speed links between Manilla and northern Luzon economic zones, linking the capital firstly with Malolos and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport' and currently approximately 10 years behind plan, may commence almost immediately as a result of a decision by China to provide technical and financial support. Several Chinese-Filipino conglomerates are participating in the project.

Nikkei Weekly, vol.43. no.2,211. 28 Nov 2005. p.42.

Corus begins work on Scunthorpe plant that will replace Workington

The state of development of the new rail production facility at the Scunthorpe section mill is described. The unit will be able to roll rail up to 120 metres long. A full standard range of European rail profiles will be offered plus other rail sections, crane and bridge rail, and a full range of steel sleepers will be available.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.686. Dec.2005. p.12.

New ultrasonic test system for grooved tramway rails

A 'walking stick' style ultrasonic tester has been developed by Balfour Beatty Rail Technologies Ltd. to cope with tramway grooved rails. The system will be adapted to a road-rail vehicle-mounted option. The Dublin Luas light rail system is presently field testing the equipment.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.686. Dec.2005. p.12.

Chinese order 300 km/h trains

Siemens, in partnership with Tangshan Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works, is to supply Chinese Railways with 60 high speed trainsets. The trains will be a derivation of the Siemen's Velaro family, will be 200 m long, with seating for over 600 passengers.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.12. Dec.2005. p.749.

Alstom to build 350 km/h AGV demonstrator

Alstom Transport is to develop an ultra-high speed demonstration train with distributed power. The work is the next stage in the Automotrice à Grande Vitesse. Its articulated cars will be slightly shorter than those of the TGV allowing the use of 3 m wide bodies. Markets in China and France are in the company's sights.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.12. Dec.2005. p.763.

Rail freight may need own tracks. Channel tunnel fails to attract predicted volumes. Tough challenge coping with growth in traffic.

Rail freight is increasing in the UK, mainly because of import of coal and manufactured goods. Carriage of shipping containers increased from 3.5bn tonne kilometers in 1989-1999 to 4bn in 2004-2005 (still well below the late '80s). A number of rail routes need modification to handle the new larger containers and lines to some ports are seriously over-crowded so new rail may be laid to handle bottlenecks. Only 2.4% of Britain's rail freight traffic is making use of the Channel tunnel.

Financial Times, 22 November 2005. p.5.

China's railways lined up for listing / Foreign investors poised to be asked to come aboard

Two articles outline the preparations being made in China to list parts of its rail network on the domestic or international stock markets within the next two years. In addition, China is expecting to phase out steam engines from its remote country lines within the next year. This will be part of a dramatic rail network expansion from its current 74,000 km to 100,000 km of lines, and to increase the percentage of double track from 40% to 50%, and of electrified lines from 30% to over 50%. The cost is estimated to be $250bn, so outside backing is being sought through the listing.

Financial Times, 1 Nov. 2005. p.12.

Contractors warned over chaos on Underground; Suspension of Tube line demanded

London Underground's engineering director is prepared to use emergency powers over contractors to maintain safety standards and improve reliability. There have been four failures of emergency braking systems on Northern Line trains in the past four weeks, with the result that only half the fleet was available for the morning rush hour on 7 October. Northern Line trains are maintained by Alstom.

Following a fifth failure on 12 October union leaders have demanded total suspension of the Northern Line service.

Financial Times, 12 Oct 2005. p 6; 13 Oct 2005. p 4

How much should the railway cost?

Informed Sources looks at how much a halfway decent railway should cost the taxpayer. Figures show taxpayer support for the railway (2003-2009) and Railtrack/Network Rail income (1994-2014).

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.685. Oct.2005. pp.18-19.

Periodic Review: the process starts now.

The biggest review of railway services and costs since the Serpell inquiry into railway finances in 1983 is to be carried out. The history behind the review is given and its need to be accurate in determining the costs of the whole railway is emphasised. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is calling it Periodic Review (PR) 2008, and it will shape the railway over the next 20 years. The High Level Output Specification (HLOS), which defines the railway the Government wants to buy, and the Statement of Funds Available (SoFA) are provided by the Secretary of State for the Department for Transport. Building the HLOS, the gap between the embryo HLOS and SoFA, the role of the ORR, and the spending review cycle, are amongst topics discussed.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.685. Oct.2005. pp.19-23.

Refurbishment on a roll

The refurbishment sector of the rolling stock industry is reviewed, looking at a number of projects and workshops around the UK.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.685. Oct.2005. pp.31-32,34,36.

Freight focus

A number of papers on the subject are presented. 'Railways battle in a competitive freight market' looks at the rise in UK rail freight; 'Case study one - Road haulier runs 46 trains per week' profiles W.H. Malcolm (Scotland), a company that has switched from road to rail for the bulk of their capacity; 'Case study two - GBRf expands market niche' looks at the success of GB Railfreight; 'Rail freight forecasts' presents figures from the industry for tonnes moved in 2003 (thought to be more accurate that those published by the Department for Transport). The article includes 5 maps showing average actual freight trains operated in 2003 (UK), demand for freight train paths in 2014 (UK), paths available for freight in 2005 (UK), and demand for freight train paths in 2014 (London and West Midlands); 'Getting Crossrail right' considers the impact of Crossrail on the freight industry. For further information on rail freight see www.rfg.org.uk.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.685. Oct.2005. pp.48-60.

Let's get going on a north-south HSL!

Track Miles looks at how the UK fares in the provision of High Speed Links as compared to Japan, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The concept of a new north-south link, running from London (and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) to the West Midlands, the North and on to Scotland is put forward. Such a link is becoming a normal transport investment in mainland Europe, and the author calls for the same to happen here.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.685. Oct.2005. p.71.

Three-stage programme puts combino trams back on track

Progress in the programme to overcome the problem of higher than expected torsion forces in the bolted aluminium bodyshells of the Siemens Combino trams is reported. The torsion led to cracking of the Alugrip fastening. Rectification measures and their knock-on effects are discussed.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.10. Oct.2005. pp.615-618.

China digs deep

China's development of underground rail systems for its major cities, and the resultant boom in joint ventures with Western companies, are described.

Professional Engineering, vol.18, no.15. 17 Aug.2005. p.4-42.

As attitudes change, engineers see an industry evolve

Mass transit projects in the USA are to receive US$52.6bn up to 2009 as a result of federal funding. The light rail, bus rapid transit and other projects to commence in the 2006 financial year are outlined.

ENR - Engineering News Record, vol.255, no.6. 8 Aug.2005. pp.30-32,34.

Rail passenger growth is fastest in Europe

Figures given by the Association of Train Operating Companies show that the number of passengers on Britain's railways is now amongst the fastest growing in Europe, with the number of passenger journeys growing 38.1% between the base year (average of 1993, 1994 and 1995) and 2004. During the same period tonne kilometres of freight rose by 48.9%, to become third in the world, and includes more carrying of containers.

Financial Times, 20 Sept. 2005. p.5.

The future of rail freight in Europe

The Adam Smith Institute inaugural conference is being held in Amsterdam, 21-22 November 2005. Sessions cover the following topics: liberalisation - how is it shaping the industry?; assessing rail's future role in the freight market; increasing rail freight's market share - raising awareness; revitalising service - improving reliability and interoperability; evaluating emerging business models; establishing efficient infrastructure to support growth; and future growth - where next for European rail freight? For more details on the conference see www.marketforce.eu.com/railfreight.

London; Marketforce Communications, 2005. 8pp.

Europe's fastest trains start trials

A description is given of the Velaro E trainset built by Renfe (Spain) at its La Sagra workshop. Two units are to start service in January 2006 and are undergoing trials on the Madrid-Barcelona high speed line, running up to 385 km/h. An initial fleet of 16 trains, to be known as AVE S103, will be delivered by the end of 2006.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.9. Sept. 2005. p.538.

Comparing the life-cycle costs of standard and head-hardened rail

Studies to examine the life-cyle cost of different types of rail are reported. Track tests and a technical assessment of standard carbon R260 and head-hardened R350HT rail were carried out under different conditions. Comparisons of the net present value of R260 and R350HT rail (euros per metre of track) and maintenance intervals, assuming 90,000 gross tonnes/day, are given. Work was carried out by German Railway and voestalpine Schienen GmbH.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.9. Sept. 2005. p.549-551.

Tubular Track offers continuous rail support at a competitive price

The Tubular Track (TT) system, invented by Peter Küsel, which consists of a ballastless trackform with twin reinforced concrete beams laid on a specially-designed formation and held in place with galvanised steel gauge bars spaced to suit lateral forces, is being trialled on a 25 km section of main line in Namibia. Special shoulder fastenings welded to the gauge bars and to intermediate elements between the gauge bars hold the rails in place. Some details of the TT system, its development and early applications, advantages over conventional systems, trials and future development are discussed.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.9. Sept. 2005. p.553-554.

A rail vision for the capital

The package of major projects, upgrades and smaller schemes planned to create the extra capacity, required to meet a forecasted 30% rise in peak demand on London's commuter railways over the next 20 years, are described.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.9. Sept. 2005. p.566-567.

Government says it does not intend to stifle development of rail freight

The Department for Transport's policies on rail freight, following the transfer of responsibility from the SRA in July, are briefly described. Since privatisation in 1995, freight has risen 55% by tonne/km.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.684. Sept. 2005. p.13.

Boom time for track renewals

An insight into Network Rail's large track renewal programme is presented in an interview with David Ventry, Head of Track Engineering. When renewals are carried out (condition not age); where renewals take place; what is renewed; what track is renewed with; switches and crossings; and pro-activity in track renewals are discussed. A figure lists Network Rail track renewal contracts, giving location and companies involved.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.684. Sept. 2005. p.36-38,40-42.

Track renewals key in on-track plant sector

High output track renewal equipment aimed at increased productivity are described and reviewed.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.684. Sept. 2005. p.50,52.

Hatfield accused acquitted by jury/Hugs as jury clears rail crash accused

A jury has acquitted five senior rail executives of breaching safety standards before the Hatfield rail disaster. However the same jury has also found Railtrack (now Network Rail) guilty of offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Network Rail, together with the track maintenance company Balfour Beatty, now faces heavy fines when it is sentenced in October.

Further articles discuss: how a gross miscalculation of the risks arising from gauge corner cracking and other errors led to the accident; how the jury system has been vindicated in a long and complex trial; and how tough lessons appear to have been learnt by the rail infrastructure industry in the years following.

Financial Times, 7 Sep 2005. pp 1, 2

Taiwan bullet train to run a year late

Taiwan High Speed Rail has announced a delay of one year in the plans to open the new rail service, putting launch back to 31st October 2006.

Financial Times, 9 Sept.2005. p.28.

Hatfield tragedy has brought "revolution in rail repairs"

An executive of Network Rail has said that maintenance has been revolutionised by the introduction of new technology and ways of working, most significantly by taking back control of maintenance from outside contractors. A new computer system had also been installed to allow all staff to plan maintenance in the same way.

Financial Times, 8 Sep 2005. p.6.

Keeping training on track

Summaries of papers presented at the latest Institute of Rail Welding seminar on developments in training and competence assurance in rail welding are given - Network Rail's requirements; approval of welder training centres; European standards for rail welding training and qualification; experience with the new harmonised aluminothermic welder training package; training in arc welding of rails; the RAILSAFE project; and competence in NDT.

Welding Lines, no.14. July 2005. pp.1-3.

Bombardier takes Dutch regional order

A Bombardier/Siemens partnership has been awarded a 248M euro contract by Netherlands Railways for supply of 18 four-car and 17 six-car EMUs. Options for further units could increase the contract to 1.2bn euros. Delivery of the EMUs is to be from autumn 2008. Another contract covers the supply of spares.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.8. Aug.2005. p.461.


Two articles cover developments and plans in China. 'Network expansion plan aims to reach 100,000 km by 2020' discusses the principal elements in Chinese Railway's long-term expansion strategy, which includes the development of duplicate corridors to segregate freight and passenger services, and new lines to open up the west of the country. 'High speed trainsets take shape' looks at the three fleets of high speed trains ordered by Chinese Railways for the operation of 200 km/h regional inter-city services.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.8. Aug.2005. pp.479-487.

Coal spearheads traffic growth

Substantial growth in rail freight is reported in the Strategic Rail Authority's National Rail Trends Yearbook. Traffic rose 9.5% to 20.7bn net tonne kilometres in 2004/5, compared to 2003/4. This represents a 60% growth in 10 years. Coal movements rose by over 20%. Rail freight replaced 1.43bn lorry kilometres in 2004/5, 5.9% up on the previous year. Further figures are reported.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.683. Aug.2005. p.10.

Network Rail to offer three-year apprenticeships

Changes at Network Rail since the company regained responsibility for maintenance include increases in training and recruitment and the reinstatement of an apprenticeship scheme. Planned expenditure on training includes: £30m on the apprenticeship scheme in Gosport; £20m on regional schools for track maintenance engineers; £15m on signalling training facilities in Watford and Leeds; £20m on a management training centre in Coventry.

Financial Times, 15 August 2005. p.3.

Economic doubts over high-speed link

A National Audit Office report has warned that the economic case for the high-speed rail link between London and the Channel is still unclear. The cost to the taxpayer was likely to be around £260 million, and justifying the project would depend on "wider benefits" such as economic regeneration. But a joint statement from the builders and Eurostar remarks that the NAO makes no comment on the implications if the link had not been built.

Financial Times, 21 Jul 2005. p 4

Balfour Beatty admits safety breaches

The long-running trial stemming from the Hatfield rail crash was dramatically curtailed after Balfour Beatty, which was involved in track maintenance, admitted breaching health and safety laws. The change of plea effectively ends Balfour Beatty's part in the jury proceedings, and sentencing will take place later. The trial continues against Network Rail, three of its employees and two former Balfour Beatty managers, all of whom are also facing health and safety-related charges. Yesterday lawyers for four of the defendants as well as those representing Network Rail indicated that they would not be calling any evidence. The curtailing of the proceedings comes after the judge dismissed manslaughter charges against the five individual defendants and Balfour Beatty last week.

Financial Times, 19 Jul 2005. p.4.

On track for Swedish biogas train

The world's first biogas train has been launched in Sweden. Powered by two biogas bus engines the vehicle can carry 54 passengers 372 miles without refuelling at a top speed of 80 m.p.h. The train goes into service in September.

The Engineer, vol.293, no.7678. 27 June - 10 July 2005. p.7.

GB Railfreight wins long-term mail deal

Royal Mail has contracted GB Railfreight to move its mail until 31 March 2006, with an option on a further 12 months. Two trains a day will operate between the Princess Royal Distribution Centre in Willesden and Shieldmuir Royal Mail Terminal via Warrington Royal Mail Terminal.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.682. July 2005. p.12.

Crossrail requests additional £150m for studies

The Crossrail project is requesting a further £150m for studies to be carried out into its design. £300m has already been spent on feasibility work. The link is likely to cost £10bn. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, is thought to have offered to supply the funds from the TfL resources on condition that it is refunded by the transport department later. The further studies are designed to drive down the price.

Financial Times, 5 July 2005. p.4.

China paves way for first foreign-owned rail track

Shandong in eastern China has called for overseas investment in up to six new railway lines. They are expected to cost more than £332 million, but potential investors may be deterred by the weight of regulation, which is sometimes self-contradictory.

Financial Times, 15 Jun 2005. p 9

Base tunnel holed through

The final breakthrough has been made in the 34.6 km Loetschberg base tunnel in Switzerland. Due to open in 2007 the tunnel will handle over 150 trains a day, including 110 freight trains, and six international Cisalpino trains each way between Basel and Milan.

Railway Gazette, June 2005. p 302

Scottish rail plans

The Scottish Executive and the Strategic Rail Authority have commissioned Arup to prepare a long-term strategy for the development of rail services in Scotland.

Railway Gazette, June 2005. p 308

Broad gauge ICE3 in sight

Russian Railways is nearer to concluding a contract with Siemens for high-speed trains, in which the German company will assemble the trains in Russia. Russia is committed to modernising its 86,660 km of railways and a high speed link between Moscow and St Petersburg is viewed as a priority.

Railway Gazette, June 2005. p 312

New train shifts inertia of French rail freight

An outline of changes over recent years in Europe in the privatisation of rail freight operations. Under European Union legislation state track owning and operating arms have been separated from the operators to allow competition. The running of the first privately owned freight train in France from Dugny, near Verdun, to Germany occurred on 13 June, operated by Connex, and faced protesting trade unionists, fearing that the power of the French rail workers will be undermined. Operators from elsewhere in Europe are to follow. It is hoped that more customers will be interested in using rail freight if the services is improved over the former state system.

Financial Times, 14 June 2005. p.8.

New standard structure

An outline of the new structure set up within the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB) to improve delivery of standards to support delivery of performance, efficiency and safety in the rail industry. The team put in place to do this is detailed.

Rail Safety & Standards Board Information Bulletin, issue 79. Apr.2005. p.1.

Tube group 'fail to deliver' track, signal and station upgrades

A report by the London assembly's transport committee has shown that Metronet and Tubelines, the two consortia in charge of maintaining the London Underground, have not dealt with necessary improvements to the track, signals, lifts, escalators and stations. In addition overnight engineering works were overrunning and causing problems with morning commuter services. There are also concerns that heavy or difficult maintenance work may be delayed by the companies until their contracts come to an end.

Financial Times, 7 June 2005. p.4.

DLR orders 24 LRVs from Bombardier

The Docklands Light Railway has ordered 24 automatically guided light rail cars from Bombardier, with an option on a further nine. The contract is worth up to £66.5 million and the vehicles are scheduled for delivery in 2007/8.

Modern Railways, Jun 2005. p 6

Crossrail in the Parliamentary process

Prompted by the passage of the Crossrail Bill through Parliament this article reviews the Crossrail project. It describes the route across (and under) London from Maidenhead to Shenfield (Essex) and Abbey Wood (Kent) and the main construction works that will be needed.

Modern Railways, Jun 2005. p 28-33

Mitsubishi wins $3.4bn Dubai light railway deal

Details are given of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries led consortium's success in gaining the contract for an urban light railway, Dubai Rapid Link (DURL), in Dubai. Other companies in the consortium are: Obayashi and Kajima Corporations of Japan and Yapi Merkezi of Turkey. Construction will take 5 years, and the contract includes a 15 year, $152m maintenance services contract.

Financial Times 30 May 2005. p.20.

[Rail Safety Standards Board Annual Safety Performance Report 2004]

Details are given of the report published 3 May. The headlines given are: two fatal train accidents resulting in 8 fatalities; 9 members of the workforce killed. Changes in figures between 2003 and 2004 are: number of SPADs decreased from 379 to 42; public accidental fatalities fell from 57 to 42; reported assaults on staff increased from 3,640 to 3,847; serious 'line of route offences' reduced by 14% from 4,128 to 3,545; rail breaks fell from 380 to 334; buckled rails fell from 137 to 32.

Rail Safety Standards Board Information Bulletin, issue 80, May 2005. pp.1-2. Also: http://www.rssb.co.uk/aspr.asp

Huge industry interest in change to road trail vehicle acceptance standard

An outline is given of the changes to GM/RT 1300 - Engineering acceptance of road rail vehicles and associated equipment being worked on by the RSSB. The new standard and associated guidance note is expected to be published in the autumn.

Rail Safety Standards Board Information Bulletin, issue 80, May 2005. pp.2-3.

Tube milestone

Bombardier has started production of new trains for the Victoria Line. In all the company will build 376 cars (47 trains) and will also install a new signalling system. The trains will enter service between 2009 and 2011.

Railway Strategies, May-Jun 2005. p.26.

Texas on track for largest Skylink

A new airport train system, claimed to be the world's largest, is to open this week at Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The automated Skylink covers a distance of 5 miles, 50 feet above ground, at a cost of $880m.

Financial Times, 19 May 2005. p.14.

System on fast track to a crisis

An outline of the congestion on the US railroad system and the stockpiling of freight around the country is given. The reason given is under investment and poor planning as railroad companies failed to plan for the high rise in imports from Asia via California. Last year there was a cut-back in locomotive orders and a retirement scheme led to the exodus of experienced workers. Both trends have been reversed. Most investment is in maintenance of existing track, and any additions to capacity are relatively modest as the industry fears being left with excess equipment and track if demand slackens. Proposals are outlined of methods of raising finance for road and rail projects in southern California.

Financial Times, 23 May 2005. Special Report: World Ports. p.4.

Network Rail blacklists Mowlem

Network Rail has banned Mowlem from renewal work on the UK's rail system. After only a few hours of use, newly-commissioned track on the West Coast main line started to drop and give trains a bumpy ride. Inspectors found that Mowlem had used the wrong clamps and equipment to join the new track to the old.

Financial Times, 11 May 2005. p 22

RSSB reorganises

The Rail Safety and Standards Board has established a new organisational structure, aligned with European requirements, "to provide a clear focus on delivering standards to support the rail industry in the delivery of performance, efficiency and safety". A new standards team will focus on the alignment of domestic standards with technical specifications for interoperability, and on simplification of domestic standards. The number of mandatory standards is expected to halve over the next two years, allowing greater flexibility, say RSSB.

Modern Railways, May 2005. p.9.

Rail staff deaths worst since 1991

During 2004 eight track workers died in railway accidents, following only three deaths in 2003. In 1991, the previous highest, the total was twelve. The number of assaults on railway staff also went up 6% to 3847, but the number of accidental deaths involving the public fell from 57 to 42.

Financial Times, 4 May 2005. p 4.

No duty to promote the use of rail

A last-ditch attempt to get a clause into the Railways Act 2005 that allows for the promotion of rail services has failed. The Act also fails to maintain the role of Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) in developing services in conurbations. A former British Rail executive has accused the government of making it easier to substitute bus services and leaving the PTEs to shoulder the burden of making unpopular choices about the future shape of the rail network.

Railway Gazette International, May 2005. p 239

Merseytram ready to start

Merseyside PTE has selected Grant Rail and Laing O'Rourke as prime contractor for Merseytram Line 1 between Liverpool and Kirkby. Work is due to start on 1 July 2005 for completion by December 2007. Bombardier is to supply 21 low-floor trams for Lines 1 and 2.

Railway Gazette International, May 2005. p 244

10,000 km in next master plan

Chinese Railways' master plan for 2006-2010 proposes 10,000 km of new railways. These include 11 dedicated high-speed passenger lines, which will release pressure on existing lines and enable the carriage of more freight. It is expected that by 2010 the railways could be carrying 1.5 billion tonnes of coal per year.

Railway Gazette International, May 2005. p.241.

Hitachi V-train passes test on CTRL

Details are given of testing the Hitachi dual voltage verification V-train in the Channel Tunnel rail link (CTRL) in Kent. The company is the preferred bidder to build 30 trains for domestic services along this line, and compatibility with the route infrastructure has been proved. It is also reported that Alistair Dormer has been appointed general manager of the rail group business of Hitachi Europe Ltd.

Railnews, Issue 99. May 2005. p.8.

Port launches rail consultation

Details are given of public consultation by the Port of Felixstowe on proposals to improve the rail hub and rail operations at the port, to accommodate traffic from the proposed Felixstowe south project and include a third terminal, three additional wagon sidings and a double track on the Trimley St Mary branch line between Nacton and the Suffolk Showground.

Business Weekly, No.412. 28 Apr. - 8 May 2005. Relocation and Property p.5.


IHS Technical Indexes (IHSti; Bracknell, Berks, UK) has launched an online resource covering the most up-to-date rail documentation. The site provides access to the National Hazards Directory; Network Rail's Company Standards; IHSti's construction and health and safety information services; and full text product catalogues of over 5,500 UK suppliers and manufacturers. For further information tel: +44 (0) 1344 404434, or e-mail: marketing@ihsti.com.

Press Release. Bracknell, UK; IHSti, 2004. 2pp.

Sixty-five dead in Japan train crash

A Japanese commuter train jumped the rails in Amagasaki, west of Osaka, and crashed into a block of flats, killing at least 65 people. The train had previously overshot a station and had to back up to let passengers off, and then started wobbling as it picked up speed. The article also reported Japan Airlines as saying its commitment to safety was insufficient due to excessive focus on keeping to schedules. It has also been reported that japan's worst nuclear accident in August 2004 was caused by lack of oversight and the 'demise of safety culture'.

Financial Times, 26 Apr.2005. p.9.

Prescott brings rail plans back on line to underpin growth

Details are given of a relaunched initiative by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and the Department for Transport to re-open a public enquiry into the Thameslink 2000 in September 2005. In addition he is working with the Department for Environment, Food and Regional Affairs to consider the East-West rail link, to provide a passenger rail link between Cambridge and Oxford, and to underpin the Sustainable Communities plan in Milton Keynes and the South Midlands region.

Business Weekly, 24-31 Mar.2005. p.9.

An energy saving program for train drivers

Deutsche Bahn, the German national railroad company, is expecting to save 10% of energy consumption using a program which enables good train drivers to reduce energy consumption dramatically by making use of gradients and weather conditions. Details are given of the figures that can be achieved.

Wind Power Monthly, vol.21. no.4. Apr.2005. p.8.

Potters Bar derailment: report and recommendations

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has issued this week the formal enquiry report into the rail crash at potters Bar on 10 May 2002. The main conclusion is that parts of the points were moving as the train passed over them and as the third carriage passed over the right hand switch rail closed against its stock rail with the left hand switch rail closed and locked against its stock rail. Wheelsets then met both switch rails simultaneously and were squeezed into derailment. The movement of the right hand switch rail was the result of the fracture of the lock stretcher bar at the right hand end when the switch rail was not properly restrained. The lock stretcher bar had been subject to stresses greater than its design stress which caused fatigue cracks to develop. The panel could not establish how the stretcher bars came to be in this condition. Immediate recommendations included providing a detailed specification to contractors on fitting adjustable stretcher bar assemblies, in particular positioning and locking stretcher bar nuts. This was undertaken in June 2002. Further recommendations have now been made including: reviewing guidance in the Good Practice Guide for stretcher bar installation; developing a training programme; additional managerial control to manage risks; reviewing systems for reporting defects; reviewing the design of some of the components; reviewing inspection systems; reviewing related standards and technical documents; clarifying staff responsibilities and Rail Incident Officers competence.

Rail Safety &Standards Board report summary. 14 Apr.2005. RSSB website http://www.rssb.co.uk/index.asp

Keeping our trains on track

From 2011 EU emissions regulations for non-road vehicles will include new railway engines. As a response the UK rail industry is funding trials of sulphur-free diesel, and the investigation of alternative technologies for powering trains. Some options - hydrogen fuel/fuel cells, electrification - are discussed.

The Engineer, vol.293, no.7671. 29 March - 7 April 2005. pp.16-17.

NR takes on bigger role from 4 April

From this date, Network Rail is to become the single point of responsibility for rail industry performance, implementing performance improvement plans locally in partnership with train companies. NR will also be responsible for the collection of railway performance data, formerly undertaken by the Strategic Rail Authority. The data will be published by the Office of Rail Regulation as before.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.679. April 2005. p.6.

Network Rail launches apprenticeship scheme

A new advanced apprenticeship scheme, consisting of a three year course, has been launched by Network Rail. Training will be carried out at HMS Sultan with accommodation at HMS Collingwood; the latter facilities are Europe's largest engineering training centre. Railway track, signals and other rail infrastructure are being constructed in a hangar. Training will be given by Network Rail, Royal Navy and Flagship Training Ltd personnel, and those completing the course are guaranteed work in the Network Rail maintenance team.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.679. April 2005. p.7.

Work starts on Manchester TPE depot at Ardwick

Construction of the Siemens Traincare Depot (Ardwick, Manchester) by Taylor Woodrow Construction commenced on the 10th March. The depot will carry out maintenance for the Class 185 Desiro DMUs due to enter service in early 2006. Atkins Rail is to construct the depot rail connection. Some details of the facilities the depot will provide are given.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.679. April 2005. p.9.

Petrochemical deals

Contracts won recently by GB Railfreight, Freightliner Heavy Haul and EWS from Petrochem Carless, ConocoPhillips and Total UK Ltd respectively are briefly described. All feature the transport of petrochemicals (gas condensate, drilling mud oils, transport and heating fuels, aviation fuel, bitumen), replacing other forms of transport.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.679. April 2005. p.10.

AMEC upgrade contract in Northern Ireland

The AMEC/FP McCann joint venture has been selected to carry out the renewal of all track, physical infrastructure upgrading and the installation of replacement signalling between Belfast and Larne (2.5 miles of single track/7.5 miles of double track). The contract is valued at £17M and is to be completed by the end of the year.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.679. April 2005. p.14.

Corus to concentrate rail making at Scunthorpe

Work is under way to upgrade the Scunthorpe section mill to become the UK facility for rail production. Longer rail lengths will be offered (up to 120 m) and a new customer service centre established. Rail production is to be transferred from Workington.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.679. April 2005. p.14.

Rise and shine for Japan's first Maglev

Chubu HSST Development Corporation has designed and built Japan's first magnetically levitated train. The Linimo was launched in early March to carry visitors to 2005 World Expo in the Nagoya Eastern Hills. The 8.9 km track runs between Nagoya City and Toyota City. The three carriage Maglev travels at 62 mph.

The Engineer, vol.293, no.7670. 11-24 March 2005. p.7.

Taking a different line

Development of an ultrasonic rail checking device for operation on conventional passenger trains is being supported by Network Rail and London Underground. Work is to be carried out at Warwick, Birmingham and Bristol Universities over a three year period, starting this summer. The limitations of conventional systems used today (operating speed) are looked at briefly. The team is to commence with the detection of near surface defects at speed; new approaches to inspecting the whole railhead at high speed will also be developed. The project, funded by EPSRC, also includes Corus, Serco Railtest, NDT Solutions and RWL (Roger West Laboratories).

The Engineer, vol.293, no.7670. 11-24 March 2005. p.12.

The prospects for light rail in Britain

The reasons behind the conclusion last year by the UK National Audit Office, that the UK's light rapid transit schemes rate as 'disappointing' are examined. A way forward is offered and two critical issues (method of procurement and competition) are highlighted.

Railway Strategies, no.29. March/April 2005. p.96-98.

Metronet builds virtual tube

Metronet, the consortium responsible for the majority of the London Underground, is using a Railway Engineering Simulator to reduce the time it takes to carry out work on track and signals. Repairs and modifications are usually only carried out during the few hours in the middle of the night when the trains do not run but the simulator allows detailed planning, preparation and testing in advance.

Computing. 17 Mar.2005. p.20.

Is high speed link back on track?

The transport secretary, Alistair Darling, has stated that a high speed rail link between London and Scotland is one of the issues to be considered in planning the direction of the rail industry over the next 20-30 years. Another major matter to be considered is the need to replace the UK's ageing fleet of high speed trains.

Railnews, no.97. March 2005. p.6.

Intelligent trains provide real-time feedback

The increasing role of rolling stock manufacturers and service specialists in maintenance provision is considered, using Bombardier's Service Division as an example. The company has a vehicle information system which transfers data via the mobile phone network to a centralised database. Records can be accessed via the internet providing real-time tracking of equipment condition. Some of Bombardier's maintainance contracts are described.

Railway Gazette International, vol.161, no.3. March 2005. p.156,158.

Hatfield safeguards 'not observed'

In a report of the Old Bailey trial related to the Hatfield crash, Railtrack's head at the time, David Ventry, said that correct standards were in place and if they had been followed the accident would not have taken place.

Financial Times, 8 Mar.2005. p.2.

Blair seeks MagLev election boost

It is expected that the proposed north-south high speed rail line will aim to use magnetic levitation technology and an announcement to this effect will be made in the run up to the General Election to associate the government with a 'high tech' image. This surmise comes as a result of a recent meeting between the Transrapid Consortium and the prime minister.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.678. March 2005. p.5.

Mowlem suspended from track renewal

Following a report of ride problems on the down fast line at Bushey in January, a rail inspection revealed rail clips out of place and a rail section 'not fit for purpose'. Mowlem had been working on track renewal activities on this section as part of the alliance for West Coast main line works; they were suspended from work. Mowlem is not a Network Rail territory track renewal contractor.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.678. March 2005. p.12.

NR [Network Rail] steps up track renewals

The roll out of NR high output track renewal plant is described. £3.3bn is being spent on track renewals between 2004/5 and 2008/9, coupled with a drive to achieve 30% efficiency on the unit rate of delivery. The NR objectives of 'high volume, cost down, quality up', and investment in equipment are discussed.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.678. March 2005. pp.61-62.

Tube track renewal

The problems facing contractors working on the London Underground - short possessions, poor accessibility, nowhere to store materials - are discussed from the Tube Lines' perspective. The latter is responsible for the Jubilee/Northern/Piccadilly Public Private Partnership concession, which includes a 25 km underground section between Morden and East Finchley. Means to improve accessibility are under consideration. The use of battery-powered trolleys and long welded rail trains is described.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.678. March 2005. p.68,70-72.

Lightweight composite meets fire demands for train interiors

GE Advanced Materials offers Adzel Rail-Lite, lightweight thermoformable composite sheet material for large semi-structural panels inside passenger trains, which is designed to meet flammability and smoke emission requirements.

British Plastics & Rubber. Feb.2005. p.30.

Corus invests £130m in long rail track production

Corus is investing in new casting equipment at its site in Scunthorpe to enable it to supply modern rail track from the UK rather than import it from France. The sections, at up to 120 metres, will require less welding & so be smoother and intrinsically safer. This will however lead to the closure of the Workington plant, and the loss of jobs at Scunthorpe, as the process is less labour-intensive.

Financial Times. 18 Feb.2005. p.22.

Made to measure

The measurement train, used by Network Rail for monitoring track quality, is described. Costing £8M, the two vehicle roving laboratory provides track geometry data; non-contact overhead line inspection, thickness measurement and tension data; gauging of the railway line width; video footage of the rail; ballast profiling and railhead condition monitoring. The units can operate at 125 mph. Wheelchex units, manufactured by AEA Technology Rail, are being used on the network to detect wheel flats on passing trains that can lead to rail damage. Network Rail has reported a fall in broken rails from 954 in 1999 to 345 in 2004.

Railnews, no.96. Feb.2005. p.8.

Ministers gagged SRA [Strategic Rail Authority] over rail closures

In the middle of 2003, UK government told SRA not to publish a document which reported that an estimated 25% of the rail network would need to be shut down within three years, as it became unsafe, since no additional funds were being made available for repairs identified as necessary in the aftermath of the Hatfield crash. The controversial estimate was removed from the network output statement before it was published in September 2003. The increase in costs of using track due to start in April 2006, the 2004 review of the structure of the industry, and the abolition of the SRA can be traced back to this statement.

Financial Times, 10 Feb.2005 p.2.

East-west Crossrail route finalised

The route to be taken by the proposed rail link across London has been decided. Running from Maidenhead, Berks. to Shenfield, Essex, the rail will run in tunnels between Paddington and Whitechapel and across the Isle of Dogs. Branches will link to Heathrow and Abbey Wood. Cost of the project is estimated at £10bn.

Financial Times, 11 Feb.2005. p.2.

Hatfield line 'had broken rail before crash'

During evidence given at the Old Bailey, five senior managers at Railtrack were said to have known that there had been similar broken rail incidents in the same line a year earlier. They were also aware that there were concerns over the spread of a particular type of rail fatigue. The case still continues.

Financial Times, 2 Feb.2005, p.3.

London's transport plans unveiled

Details of the next 5 year investment programme funded by Transport for London are given. The £10bn of works are listed under two headings - rail elements (underground line extensions, new trains, etc.) and specific improvements to the Underground (upgrades to track, signalling, station modernisations, etc.)

Railway Strategies, no.28. Jan.-Feb.2005. p.5.

Shipshape rail services

The FINESSE project (Freight INtermodality and Exchange on Seas and Straits in Europe) is briefly introduced. Supported by the European Regional Development Fund North West Europe Programme, the project is a partnership between ports and regional authorities (Belgium, France, UK) focusing on moving freight from road to rail, helped by the reintroduction of technologies such as the train ferry, plus other intermodal rail services and the shipment of containers, trailers, etc. For further information see www.finesse-project.net.

Railway Strategies, no.28. Jan.-Feb.2005. p.13.

Freight transport gets back on track

A review of the ports policy is to be undertaken by the UK government, with particular emphasis on road and rail improvements required to meet future developments. ERM has carried out transport assessments of the proposed new container terminal at Bathside Bay (Essex) and the improvements at Felixstowe. The Strategic Rail Authority and Network Rail are considering the rail improvements that would be needed to meet extra capacity requirements if the plans go ahead.

Railway Strategies, no.28. Jan.-Feb.2005. p.36.

The International Benchmarking project

A brief overview of the three year International Benchmarking study, being carried out by Imperial College (London), of UK and overseas railways, to provide a resource for information sharing and the comparison of different aspects of railway performance, is presented. Sources used in the project, some findings to date, and problems faced during benchmarking are discussed, and the future direction of the project is considered. A table gives a comparison of the scale and efficiency of railway networks in China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA with figures for population, area covered, route length, route per area, passenger km, freight tonne km, freight efficiency, passenger efficiency and overall network efficiency relative to the UK.

Railway Strategies, no.28. Jan.-Feb.2005. p.70-72.

Tube's new Land Rover tracks down rail cracks

The new innovative road-rail modified Land Rover, designed specifically for the open sections of the London Underground system, operated by Metronet and Tube Lines, is described. Designed by Sperry Rail, the unit is driven onto the rail track where its ultrasonic probes measure rail depth every 5 mm at 10 mph. Metronet/Tube Lines are planning to introduce a fully automated inspection train, equipped with ultrasonic track-recording and thermal imaging equipment, to move closer to their goal of zero broken rails.

Railway Strategies, no.28. Jan.-Feb.2005. p.80-81.

Rail journeys record broken again

The Association of Train Operating Companies has announced that the highest number of passenger rail journeys since 1959 were undertaken in 2004. Details of the types of journeys and growth flows between major centres (e.g. Manchester-York, Cambridge-London) are given.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.677. Feb.2005. p.9.

West Highland freight back on rail

3,500 lorries per annum are to be removed from the Fort William to Glasgow road following the signing of a contract between Alcan and EWS. 4,000 tonnes of aluminium ingot from the Fort William smelter is to be taken by rail to Mossend (Monday to Friday) en route to the Newport rolling mills (South Wales) by sea. On Saturday the service between Mossend and Fort William is available to others.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.677. Feb.2005. p.16.

Train manufacture rollercoaster ride on the downswing

A round-up of new rolling stock on order is presented. It is considered that privatisation has accentuated the cyclical peaks and troughs in the industry. Tables list post-privatisation rolling stock orders; Bombardier Transportation in the UK; and Alstom Transport in the UK.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.677. Feb.2005. pp.32-35.

'Pioneers': Bombardier cracks on in Brugge

The string of orders coming into the Belgium manufacturing unit of Bombardier are reviewed. The Brugge unit specialises in steel bodies, whereas the Derby (UK) plant fabricates in aluminium. Meridian and Voyager train manufacture are compared; testing and delivery are also considered.

Modern Railways, vol.62, no.677. Feb.2005. pp.44-46,48.

Network Rail and HSBC in court clash

HSBC Rail is claiming nearly £6 million from Network Rail for rolling stock that was damaged or destroyed in the Hatfield rail crash.The QC for HSBC said that negligence and causation were admitted by Network Rail but the issue was whether HSBC and GNER had suffered permanent loss and could recover the damages. On 31st Jan a criminal trial is to start of 5 former executives at Railtrack and Balfour Beatty face charges of manslaughter and breaches of health & safety law.

Financial Times. 20 Jan.2005. p.4.

Gov't opens spending spigot for 3 new bullet train lines

A rare budget boost has been agreed to construct three new shinkansen routes in the year 2005. 70.6 billion yen ($672 million) will be earmarked for the construction of the lines, two in North Japan and one in the south west. Completion of the first lines is planned for 2014 and 2015.

Nikkei Weekly, vol.42. no.2,163. 20 Dec.2004. p.7.

Five face Hatfield manslaughter charges

Five managers from Railtrack and Balfour Beatty who are facing manslaughter charges over the Hatfield rail crash in 2000 have all pleaded not guilty at the Old Bailey. The case will probably last for 9 months.

Financial Times. 11 Jan.2005. p.3.