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Rail News – Early April 2024

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Network Rail has announced the start of its five-year, £45.4bn rail improvement plan aimed at delivering a simpler, better, greener railway that provides the best level of train performance possible and that’s more geared-up than ever before to cope with the extremes of climate change.

Over the five years to 2029, Network Rail will invest around £2.8bn in activities and technology that will help it better cope with extreme weather and climate change, which will help deliver a more reliable and better performing railway. Examples include:

  • Increased investment in looking after thousands of miles of drains, cuttings and embankments to make them more weather resilient
  • Recruiting almost 400 extra drainage engineers who will increase the care and maintenance of our drainage assets to be able to better handle increased and intense rainfall
  • Hundreds of key operational staff will attend Network Rail’s new ‘weather academy’ to help make them ‘amateur meteorologists’, better able to interpret forecasts and make better operation decisions such as when and where to slow trains in stormy conditions
  • More than 600,000 metres of drains will be built or rebuilt, redesigned or see increased maintenance to enable our railway to cope with much heavier rainfall and reduce flooding
  • Targeting over 20,000 cuttings or embankments for attention, with over 300 miles being strengthened through renewal and refurbishment and over 900 miles seeing planned maintenance
  • Installing significantly more ‘smart’ movement sensors to cuttings and embankments giving early warning of any changes enabling engineers to react, hopefully before a full landslip
  • Installing CCTV at high-risk flooding sites to enable better and faster response
  • Introducing new technology that will help us keep services running safely in difficult conditions, such as
  • GUSTO – that uses topography to better predict windspeeds distinguishing valleys, trees and buildings enabling trains to run at higher speeds during stormy weather
  • Precise ‘real-time’ world leading rainfall forecasting, detailing weather conditions every 500m that will link with asset condition data for even better train service management

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British Steel has won a multi-million-pound contract to supply rail for a landmark new route in North Africa.

In total, 9,500 tonnes of track, produced in Scunthorpe, will be delivered for Egypt’s Green Line railway – the country’s first fully electrified mainline and freight network which stretches from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

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Alstom is set to mothball its Litchurch Lane train-making factory in Derby after saying it has “run out of time”.The move puts the future of 3,000 workers at the plant in doubt. The plant also supports around 15,000 jobs in the wider supply chain.Alstom inherited the huge site when it bought

Bombardier in 2021 but doesn’t have enough work in its pipeline for it to Bombardier in 2021 but doesn’t have enough work in its pipeline for it to continue functioning following the Government’s decision to axe the HS2 line
from Birmingham to Manchester

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Hitachi Rail has unveiled its first long-distance hybrid battery train which will help to cut carbon emissions by 83% when it enters service later this year.

At an event in Reggio Calabria, Trenitalia presented its new hybrid intercity battery train, the first of seven due to be manufactured this year. The trains will run on routes between Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia, and are part of a wider €1.23bn framework agreement for hybrid battery trains with Trenitalia. The intercity train is an evolution of Hitachi Rail’s Masaccio fleet, which first entered service in serving urban and commuter routes across Italy in December 2022.

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