Bid to reduce costs of signalling systems

The Office of Rail and Road is working with Network Rail to encourage greater competition among suppliers of signalling equipment and so reduce costs. The ORR carried out a study of the market, which is worth £800-900 million a year, and published its recommendations in November 2021. Network Rail has been working for several months on the development of a revised commercial approach for how it procures signalling systems in Control Period 7, which starts in 2024. In particular, its forthcoming ETCS contracts will be ‘materially different’, because they will lower barriers to new entrants and reduce the investment suppliers need. Network Rail has also agreed with the ORR to develop and provide additional information to improve transparency and aid future decisions about the signalling renewal market.

First tram runs on WMM extension

A West Midlands Metro tram has tested the newly-built extension from Birmingham Library to Five Ways and Edgbaston. Midland Metro Alliance director Peter Cushing hailed the successful run as a ‘significant milestone’. However, no trams are expected to run on any part of the network in passenger service until the end of May, as work continues to rectify cracks in the bodywork of the system’s CAF trams. After the problems were revealed repairs were attempted to the affected body panels, but these panels are now being replaced entirely at the Metro’s Wednesbury depot.

Wheel flat detection trials successful

Technology to identify wheel flats is being extended to all vehicles in the East Midlands Railway fleet, after trials. EMR said it had saved many hours of staff time since installing radio-frequency identification tags on around 50 vehicles. Vibration from a flat activates the system and alerts the operator. Now the remaining 150 are also to be tagged.

Clampdown on ticket cheats

Northern has completed a month-long clampdown on fraudulent travel on a route which had become notorious. Services between Doncaster and Leeds had the highest proportion of fare evasion on Northern’s network, and the ticket cheats have been branded ‘Doncaster Dodgers’. During the campaign 570 people were caught without valid tickets and 352 were charged a penalty fare.