Thursday, 9 April 2020

Go North East Shines a Rainbow Over Its Colleagues and Fellow Key Workers

Go North East is saying a huge thank you to its colleagues and fellow key workers with a series of initiatives during the coronavirus crisis.

The company is finding ways to try and keep colleagues and their families at home busy with some fun activities to show their support for great work being undertaken across the communities it serves.

Colleagues are being encouraged to bring in rainbow posters, which have all been uniquely designed by children and family members of the company’s workforce and these are being displayed on Go North East’s buses, paying tribute to NHS staff and fellow key workers.

The company is also co-ordinating ‘Clap for Carers’ activities across its depots each Thursday to show further support and unity for those on the frontline, playing a fundamental role in keeping the region moving.

Finally, over the Easter bank holiday weekend, drivers and other colleagues are being encouraged to wear colourful clothes, instead of their usual uniform, to show their support for other key workers, allowing them to return the deserved praise they have received.

This follows on from Go North East introducing emergency timetables to cater for key workers and essential travel throughout the coronavirus crisis, with several safety measures introduced.

The bus operator has two metre lines on its buses asking passengers to stand back from driver areas until the doors have opened.

Continual reviews are also being carried out for the use of each Go North East journey, allowing those travelling to social distance safely, whilst safety messages have been added to information screens and poster holders which follow the guidance set out by Public Health England.

The company is additionally urging its customers to only use cash as a last resort. Contactless bankcards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay can be used on Go North East buses, with no minimum spends or transaction fees.

Customers also have the option of buying their ticket in advance on the Go North East app.

Go North East’s managing director Martijn Gilbert, said: “I’m so proud to see our colleagues support fellow key workers at this uncertain time.

“Our workforce has received so much praise from key workers and those making essential journeys, so it’s great that they can say thank you in return for all the hard work that’s taking place across the region.

“The wonderful display of rainbow posters on many of our buses is a heart-warming reminder of the praise and gratitude being shown for key workers, including bus workers, and it’s great so many colleagues’ children and family members have got involved.

“We’re taking the rainbow theme further with our colourful clothes weekend over Easter which, I hope, will go some way to trying to make the Easter bank holiday weekend feel a bit different and special to any other day during this crisis for our colleagues and customers.”

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

ADL Provide New Fleet for Go Cornwall


Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”) has announced that it is providing 92 new buses to Go-Ahead Group subsidiary Go Cornwall Bus for a new tendered bus network. 44 were delivered against exceptionally short lead times for the start of operations.
See here for our previous posting.

Go Cornwall Bus commenced services on the Transport for Cornwall network on Sunday 29th March, less than three months after it was announced by Cornwall County Council as the new operator of all its tendered bus services. Faced with a short mobilisation period and a substantially increased vehicle requirement, the operator ordered 92 new buses from ADL.

Britain’s leading bus manufacturer delivered 44 new Enviro200 single deck buses in time for the start of services, which initially operate to a reduced timetable for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

A further 48 buses, including 17 Enviro400 double deckers, will follow in coming months. These were initially expected by June but their completion may be delayed by the temporary suspension of production at ADL’s British manufacturing sites in response to government advice on social distancing.

Martin Brailey, Regional Sales Director London & the South at ADL, comments: “Setting up the new Transport for Cornwall network in less than three months would have been a formidable task even without the impact of current events, but Go Cornwall Bus have fully risen to this challenge. We are proud to have been chosen to provide the new fleet of buses, and our flexibility and ability to support customers’ requirements allowed us to have 44 of them ready in a matter of weeks.”

Richard Stevens, Managing Director, Go Cornwall Bus and Plymouth Citybus says: “With tight timescales for the contract the two biggest worries would be getting enough drivers and buses. The deal for 92 new buses eased the stain of the second, although a huge amount of work has gone into getting a brand new fleet on the road for the 29th March 2020. With the reduction in service due to COVID-19, we have managed to not use any borrowed buses, but go live with what is a brand new fleet. We look forward to phase two and for Transport for Cornwall having the newest fleet in the country.”

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

A Second Look at Lincoln

During January we showed the first of a selection of pictures from the The Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Open Day
The Society was formed in 1959 and is based at the Lincolnshire Road Transport Museum, Whisby Road, North Hykeham, Lincoln where the museum houses a collection of over 65 vintage cars, buses and commercial vehicles spanning over 80 years of road transport history. 

Here's a second selection of pictures taken by Ken Jones at the November 2019 Open Day.


Monday, 6 April 2020

Grand Central Stops all Services

York-based train company Grand Central has stopped all its services.

The company announced on 3rd April a temporary suspension of train services during COVID-19 restrictions as Coronavirus restrictions continue to affect passenger numbers.

The York-based operator, which runs services between Sunderland, Bradford and London Kings Cross, said the measures were ‘necessary but temporary’ and it anticipated services would cease for an initial two months. The company operates under an ‘Open Access’ business model and does not receive support from the Government.

Grand Central Managing Director, Richard McClean, said: “So far we have offered a rail service, under a reduced timetable, in order to keep key-workers moving at a time of crisis. This comes with all the costs of running a train service, while bringing no ticket revenue to our business.

“This situation is unsustainable and, following several days of discussion with the Department for Transport (DfT), we have no alternative but to suspend our services.

“Customers who have a ticket to travel with Grand Central can claim a full refund from the place they bought their ticket. People who absolutely need to travel, in line with government restrictions, can use their Grand Central ticket to travel on other train companies’ services.”
Blackpool to Euston services, and the launch of our planned extra daily trains on Grand Central’s Sunderland to Kings Cross route" have been delayed until early 2021."

He said Grand Central had held talks with the three main rail unions to ensure the best possible outcome for staff during the hibernation and that the company would make full use of the Government’s furlough scheme.

“A skeleton team will continue working to ensure Grand Central is ready to resume services as a thriving train operator, serving communities across the country, once restrictions ease,” he added.

“We recognise this will be disappointing news and we know how many people rely on our services and we thank all our customers for their fantastic support and understanding.”

Mr McClean also recognised the efforts of Grand Central staff, whom he said had proved ‘professional, understanding and supportive throughout this situation’.

Grand Central has also hired a pool of five locomotives (Class 90s) from DB Cargo UK to operate the now delayed Blackpool to London Euston services.  

“I emphasise that while these measures are necessary now, we are planning for them to be temporary,” he said. “Grand Central enters this new chapter from a strong position. My team and I will do everything we can to get Grand Central back on track once restrictions are lifted. Until then, please stay safe”.

The business has been a rail industry success story since it was founded in 2007, initially running services between Sunderland and London Kings Cross. In 2010, it began services between Bradford and London. Grand Central has been part of Arriva since 2011.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Megabus & National Express Suspend Services

Coach operator Megabus will suspend all services in England and Wales by Sunday, owner Stagecoach has announced.

Services are 'temporarily winding down' and will stop by the end of the week, with anyone whose journeys have been cancelled receiving refunds. Coaches will continue to operate within Scotland.

It comes after rival coach company National Express also announced it would temporarily stop all coach services in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: 'I am proud of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of our people and the country's healthcare workers during such a challenging and uncertain time.
'We are continuing to work hard to ensure Stagecoach comes through this difficult period well placed for the significant long-term opportunities that we still see for public transport.
'We would like to thank the respective governments and our local authority partners for their support through this very challenging period.'  

Stagecoach South West has also announced that the Falcon service which runs between Plymouth and Bristol will will be stopping from April 5 until further notice. 

Stagecoach say that they are working hard to ensure that essential travel routes across the South West are maintained.

National Express said it is halting its national network of scheduled coach services from midnight on Sunday March 5.
It said it had kept a limited network of services running to help people with essential travel but it is 'no longer viable to continue to do so'.

Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express UK Coach, said: 'Passenger numbers continue to fall as the public rightly follows Government advice to avoid non-essential travel.
'The decision to temporarily suspend all services is the right one based on the current unprecedented circumstances and I hope our passengers understand this.'
National Express said that all journeys for before Monday April 6 will be completed and it will 'ensure customers are not stranded'.
Passengers will be able to retain their tickets and amend for future travel within the next 12 months, free of charge, or can be issued with a full refund.
Mr Hardy added: 'Our drivers, customer service teams, customer contact centre and the wider National Express team have been working incredibly hard to keep our services running safely and we thank them for their efforts.
'We are speaking to them about what this means and will continue to do all we can to support everyone who works in our business at this challenging time.
'We know this is a worrying time. We take the welfare of our customers and employees extremely seriously and will continue to take guidance from the Government to ensure we do everything we sensibly can to keep them safe.'

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Almost £400 million to Keep England’s Buses Running

Greater funding to keep bus routes running during the coronavirus pandemic that will protect bus services for people who need to travel, for example to get to work or buy food.

New funding is announced, totalling £167 million over 3 months, comes on top of pledge to guarantee existing £200 million investment.

Up to another £30 million also reallocated to safeguard services.

England’s buses will continue to serve those who rely on them thanks to a funding boost totalling £397 million for vital bus operators, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced on Friday 3rd April.

The package, agreed jointly with the bus industry, will keep key routes running to provide a lifeline for those who cannot work from home, including those travelling to jobs on the frontline of the UK’s fight against COVID-19, such as NHS staff.

New funding of up to £167 million will be paid over 12 weeks under the new COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant. As a condition of the funding, bus operators will be required to maintain necessary services at a level which is sufficient to meet much reduced demand, but also to allow adequate space between passengers on board. This is expected to be up to 50% of normal service levels.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

We have been very clear during the outbreak that the best way to stop the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, is to stay at home if possible.

Our buses are a lifeline for people who need to travel for work or to buy food – including our emergency services and NHS staff – and it’s absolutely vital we do all we can to keep the sector running.

This multi-million-pound investment will protect crucial local transport links across England, bolstering the sector and minimising disruption for passengers in the long term.” 

Operators will also be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.

The government has also promised that £200 million of existing funding under the Bus Services Operators Grant will continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this time.
This funding is usually paid according to fuel consumption, and so the government’s commitment to pay this on pre-COVID-19 levels will help ensure that bus companies are able to benefit despite fewer fare-paying passengers travelling.

This is in addition to up to £30 million of extra government bus funding, originally earmarked for starting new services, which will instead be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

It’s vital people protect our NHS by staying at home during the outbreak – but we also need to ensure that doctors, nurses and other key workers, can travel to and from their jobs.

This funding will provide a lifeline for those on the frontline as well as those who cannot work from home.

Councils have also been encouraged to maintain their existing subsidies for concessionary fares to ensure that older and disabled people can still travel when they need to, for example to reach the shops, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.

CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler said:

Bus operators of all sizes across the country are providing an essential service at a time of national emergency, and we thank the thousands of staff doing an incredible job to keep routes running.

This funding is designed to plug the gap between the costs of running essential routes and revenue currently being received, and will help the country through the outbreak by allowing critical journeys to continue. 

We’re pleased the government is working with us to ensure essential bus journeys can continue and will work closely with them to ensure the network remains viable.

This is the latest step in a string of urgent measures being taken forward by government to support vital public services, including emergency measures to sustain rail services as operators manage the impacts of COVID-19, and support for crucial links to different parts of the UK. 

Friday, 3 April 2020

First Mercedes-Benz eCitaro REX With Fuel-cell Range Extender

Daimler Buses and (SWEG) (Southwest German Transport Company) have signed a letter of intent to bring the first Mercedes-Benz eCitaro REX with a fuel-cell range extender out of series production onto the road. 

SWEG is a transport company in southwest Germany that operates railway lines and bus services.

This further development of the battery-electric eCitaro, which was described during its launch in 2018, is progressing rapidly. In the course of this year, its range will be increased considerably with new battery generations, including solid-state batteries.

The eCitaro REX, another one of the future options described at the launch, uses a fuel cell stack as a range extender, enabling the eCitaro to replace conventionally powered city buses seamlessly, even with very high range requirements.

The bus will be tested in Hamburg in 2021.

From 2022, SWEG will probably use the two-door solo bus initially at the company’s headquarters in Lahr. The company is currently developing a concept for supplying the city bus with hydrogen.

SWEG operates bus transport in urban and interurban transport as well as local rail freight and rail passenger transport in Baden-Württemberg and partially adjacent areas. The company uses around 400 of its own and around 60 rented buses. SWEG employs more than 1,300 people.

Over the past few years, SWEG has tested many alternative drive types, including natural gas buses. The transport company also uses electric and diesel-electric hybrid buses.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Rules Relaxed on Driver CPC's

The government has released guidance confirming temporary changes to allow bus and lorry drivers who cannot complete compulsory CPC training to continue to drive.

Most professional lorry and bus drivers must complete 35 hours periodic training every 5 years to maintain a driver qualification card (DQC). During the coronavirus outbreak it may be difficult for drivers to complete the required training.

The Department for Transport has therefore put in place temporary changes in professional driver qualification requirements.

This means that drivers whose DQC expires in the period from 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 can continue driving.

In addition military drivers (who have different training) will be allowed to drive in civilian situations during that period.

Drivers will not be subject to enforcement action by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in respect of the DCPC regulations. Police forces have been advised of this position.

If drivers are stopped by an enforcement officer they can check to see that you have previously recently held a CPC or are in the military (including reservists acting under instruction).

Drivers should carry their expired DQC if they have it.

The drivers that this measure applies to will be required to comply with driver CPC rules from 1 October 2020.

For international road transport drivers should have a Driver CPC, unless the type of transport is exempt from the requirements.

The end date will be kept under review. The proposed schedule includes a substantial period to recover missed training, whose duration will need further assessment.

The Department of Transport are considering options for drivers with the HGV or PCV entitlements who have never held a Driver CPC and who want to start driving professionally.

More information on these temporary changes can be found here.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Hull Trains Suspend Services

Hull Trains has temporarily suspended all its services as a result of “unprecedented circumstances” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it took the decision in a bid to safeguard the future of the business.

Despite running a revised timetable, numbers of people travelling on Hull Trains have dropped significantly since national guidance was issued for people to stay at home and stop all non-essential travel.

The company said revenues from ticket sales were vital, and its business model means it must survive purely as a commercial operation.

As one of three open-access operators in the country, it has not been offered additional financial support from the Government, which franchised rail operators have.

Louise Cheeseman, managing director of Hull Trains, said that suspending services was a difficult decision but it would help to safeguard the future of the business.

“We have explored every avenue to try and keep trains running but sadly it is not currently financially viable to run our services. We play a vital role in the regional economy, as recognised by our local MPs, and we fully intend to resume operations as soon as we can.

 November's Launch of the new Paragon Trains
“It’s been a very difficult week for the business but the reluctant decision to temporarily suspend services is the right one based on the current unprecedented circumstances and I hope our passengers understand this.

“The move protects the long-term future of Hull Trains and our people’s jobs which is important as it will allow us to reinstate operations quickly when possible.

“We will continue to review the dynamic situation as it unfolds and we plan to return as a resilient train operator for the city of Hull and East Riding as soon as we can.”

Steve Montgomery, managing director of the rail division for FirstGroup, which owns Hull Trains, said: “We are very sorry to all Hull Trains passengers that we will be suspending services.

“In line with the entire rail industry, passenger volumes at Hull Trains have reduced substantially since mid-March and even with the steps we have taken to reduce the timetable we’re operating, current passenger numbers make it impossible to maintain the ongoing level of losses we have seen.

“We have sought agreement to be included in the Government emergency measures but, as an open-access rail operator, this has not been afforded to us.

“Hull Trains brings much-needed connectivity to the local area providing a direct, frequent link to London that supports the local economy.

“Our commitment to Hull Trains and the entire East Yorkshire and Humber community is as strong as ever, as evidenced by our recent introduction of a £60 million fleet of new trains and we look forward to re-starting the service as soon as we can.”

In November of 2019 the company launched their new fleet of class 802 Paragon bi-mode trains which offered a high standard of comfort and service, including at seat food and drink for both first and second class passengers. see here


LNER has stepped in to plug some of the gaps in the former Hull Trains timetable. The open access operator withdrew all its services from the start of this week as a result of falling demand. 
LNER had removed its Hull services as part of the general reduction in timetables last week, but will now run four trains from today. 
These are 05.47 Doncaster to Hull, 06.58 Hull to London King’s Cross, 17.18 London King’s Cross to Hull and 20.29 Hull to Doncaster. LNER said its priority was to ‘provide immediate assistance for key workers relying on trains between Hull, Selby, Brough and London.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Northern Rail Announce New Measures to Deal with Corona Virus

NORTHERN rail has introduced a raft of new measures to combat the Coronavirus crisis.
All waiting rooms at its railway stations have been shut until further notice.

A spokesman however said they may be reopened in bad weather.

All ticket barriers have also been opened, meaning passengers do not have to pass paper tickets through the barriers or present them to staff.

It's furthermore suspended the issuing of penalty fares until further notice.

Customers will still need a ticket to travel and should buy before they board trains at stations or online.

The company is only accepting card payments at the moment but cash payments can only be made at a small number of ticket machines.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “Our trains and stations remain open for business to help key workers get where they need to be across the north of England.

“For those who have to make essential journeys, and for our staff who continue to work across the network, we want to make the railway as safe as possible.

“The measures we have introduced further limit person to person contact and help staff and passengers follow the advice from government on social distancing.

“Our ticket offices remain open to provide help and advice to passengers.

"Customers who want to pay by cash will be asked to use ticket machines if they are available.

“These are unprecedented times for the rail industry and everyone at Northern would like to thank our customers for understanding.”

Monday, 30 March 2020

All North East Operators to Share Tickets

By Monday 30th March all the region’s main bus operators will be running to emergency timetables in the face of the current Coronavirus crisis resulting in a 80-90% reduction in the demand for bus services as people follow the Government’s stay at home advice, balanced with the need to keep services running for key workers and access to essential shopping and healthcare.
All routes will continue to operate, but at reduced frequencies. Bus operators’ websites and social media channels should be checked for full details.

To help those still needing to get around for essential journeys and to maximise the use of the combined frequencies of the emergency timetables, as well as providing a safety net for any unforeseen issues, the North East’s bus operators and the Local Authorities and Transport bodies who commission supported services, have all agreed an emergency arrangement through the NEBus partnership for the duration of the Coronavirus crisis and bus operators’ emergency timetables.

This will mean that valid bus tickets from all operators in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland, County Durham and the Tees Valley, including Arriva, Go North East, Stagecoach, Stanley Travel and other smaller operators operating Local Authority contracts, can be used across any bus operator on the routes or fare zone that the original ticket is issued for. This includes return, day and season tickets.
Martijn Gilbert, Chair of NEBus, said “Since the launch of NEBus last August, bus operators and Local Transport bodies have increasingly been working together in a growing partnership on ways to make bus travel even better and for more people. The current stay at home advice means demand for bus services is down by nearly 90%, but keeping services running for all communities is critical for the travel needs of many key workers and those needing to access essential shopping and healthcare. Service levels are being reduced in line with demand and a need to manage resources and minimise people movements in line with Government advice to help us all beat the Coronavirus.

The remaining bus journeys are more reliable than ever because there is virtually no traffic on the roads, so this helps customers depend on specific journeys when they are running at reduced times, but all the bus operators and Local Authorities working together are now enabling any valid bus ticket to be accepted on any other bus operator for the duration of these emergency timetables to help maximise the coverage of the local bus network for essential users, and provide a contingency for any unforeseen issues with customers journeys.
Bus operators, Local Authorities and their teams are doing all they can in some very trying and unsettling circumstances, with a fantastic job being done by bus drivers, engineers, cleaners and those behind the scenes in planning, support and management roles, and we want to assure everyone that we are still here and that buses are still running for essential journeys across the region”.

Customers are reminded of the social distancing public health advice and are requested to pay for their fares, wherever possible, with a contactless bankcard or buy their tickets in advance on operators smartphone apps (which all the main operators now accept and have available).

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Closures & Appeals from Heritage Railways

The Measures to deal with the Corona Virus have closed down the country, hitting heritage railways hard. They depend on income from visitors and now face difficult times. Below are statements from two of the well known northern based railways. 

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Government advice is being strictly adhered to, and the wellbeing of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our absolute priority and matters of health and safety have our complete attention.

Please rest assured that we’re closely monitoring the situation and will of course post any updates or changes to these plans across our social channels, and here on the website.

Due to this WE NEED YOUR HELP. The NYMR is a registered charity (501388) and without operating this would have a substantial impact on its future. Please help by donating to give the railway a fighting chance to be able to ‘steam on’ in its current form once the pandemic is over.

👉 The NYMR can’t claim insurance compensation for business interruption.

👉 The government has not offered monetary aid to charities yet.

👉 The only government help currently available would put the railway into significant debt, which may take years to pay off.

We could potentially lose up to £1 million over the upcoming weeks. Figures of this magnitude could threaten the very existence of the railway. Please help now and support the NYMR to ensure we survive.

To donate, text 'NYMR' to 70085 to donate £10. This costs £10 plus a std rate message. Alternatively, you can opt to give any whole amount up to £20. E.g. If you text 'NYMR 1' = £1, 'NYMR 4' = £4. Thanks! If you would like to donate via cheque or BACS please complete this Donation Form or click 
here to donate on line.

Keighly & Worth Valley Railway  

As a result of the continued situation with COVID-19 the KWVR is now closed until further notice. No passenger services will be operating for the foreseeable and all work on the Railway has now ceased.

We’ve tried really hard to keep things as normal as possible and had hoped to continue running our advertised passenger trains to the published timetable. 

We’ve been closely monitoring the situation and as the health and well-being of our passengers, volunteers and staff is our top priority, we’ve made the decision to close the railway.

This means that there will be no passenger trains, shop or café facilities until further notice.

2020 has been a challenging year so far. We’ve had to replace a 115 year old bridge at the cost of £150,000, have been hit by the worst flooding in years leaving us with a heavy repair bill, and now we are expecting further financial loss due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

On 19 March, increased measures put into place by the government meant that we had to close the railway. Our volunteers are at the heart of our railway and their health and well-being as well as that of our passengers and staff is our top priority.

We are unsure how long the railway will be closed, but as a registered charity the cancellation of our passenger trains, events and the closure of our commercial outlets will hit us hard.

This appeal is the first in a possible series of fundraising initiatives we will be delivering. Please help support us through this difficult time by donating whatever you can. We will share more information on our other fundraising plans through our website and social media and directly to our members through the Push and Pull magazine.

Your donation will go towards keeping the railway afloat, and with your help we’ll be able to continue doing what we do best.

Thank you for all your support and donations.  
Click here to donate.

The events below have also been cancelled, please keep up to date on developments with future events via this website and social media:

Sparkle & Steam: 11 April & 8-9, 23 May
Haworth Haddock: 25 April & 30 May

If you have pre-booked any of the above events you should have received an email from us outlining your options. If you haven’t received this please email:, but please bear with us for a reply as it’s a very busy time for the admin team.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated with any further changes.

As a registered charity you can imagine that these cancellations have hit us hard, and we really appreciate all your support at this difficult time.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

SNCF Hospital TGV Train

SNCF has started transporting Covid-19 patients using a TGV train that has been has adapted as a mobile hospital unit. It is being used to evacuate recuperating patients from hot spot areas where the hospitals are saturated to regions which have spare capacity in their intensive care facilities.

Described by Minister of Health Olivier Véran as ‘a first for Europe’, the train was first deployed on March 26 to move 20 patients from the Grand Est region to Pays de Loire, the French region least affected by the pandemic. 
The patients were collected by ambulance from hospitals in Strasbourg and Mulhouse, and will be taken to teaching hospitals in Angers, Nantes, Le Mans and La Roche-sur-Yon.

According to SNCF President Jean-Pierre Farandou, the double-deck train can carry up to 25 patients. There is provision for four people in each trailer car, where the stretchers are supported above the seats, which have not been removed. Each vehicle has a six-strong medical team, comprising an anesthetist, a junior doctor, a nurse anesthetist and three nurses. The buffet car has been adapted as a ‘medical space’ in case the condition of a patient deteriorates en route.

The onboard medical teams have been drawn from the Paris hospitals public assistance service and regional hospitals in Nantes and Angers, under the co-ordination of the Paris-based Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente, which has an established co-operation arrangement with SNCF. 
The TGV carries a double strength crew, with two drivers and additional onboard staff.

Transport Minister Jean-Baptise Djebarri said SNCF would also be making available overnight train stock for use by the medical services if required.

Last year, SNCF and the Paris SAMU undertook a joint exercise to test the concept of a mobile rail hospital in the event of a pandemic or terrorist attack. On May 21-22 2019, 400 people took part in Exercise Chardon, which simulated the transfer to Paris of seriously injured victims from a supposed terrorist attack in Metz. 
‘We took the example of a terrorist attack but the same approach could be used for pandemics or technological disasters’, the head of SAMU Paris Professor Pierre Carli told local media at the time.

Friday, 27 March 2020

East Coast Signaling Scheme Announced

Network Rail has confirmed Siemens and Atkins as its partners in a major programme to introduce in-cab signalling on the southern section of the East Coast Main Line – a scheme that will reduce passenger delays by thousands of hours.


The partners will play a critical role in delivering the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP). The first £350 million investment in the ECDP by the government is already being used to begin the introduction of real-time digital signalling on the route, and lay the foundations for wider national roll-out.

The ECDP will be the first intercity digital railway in the UK, trains being fitted with the latest in-cab signalling technology and removal of the old lineside signals. It will mean that signallers will be able to talk to trains continuously rather than only at fixed points, instructing and responding in real time and reducing delays and significantly improving performance.

Network Rail launched a procurement process to find private sector partners to help deliver the programme back in September 2018. It was an entirely new way of working, to team up with suppliers from the start to design, develop and deploy the European Train Control System (ETCS) technology. The procurement has concluded with Siemens confirmed as the programme’s train control partner (TCP) and traffic management partner (TMP), and Atkins as rail systems integration partner (RSIP).

Toufic Machnouk, programme director of the East Coast Digital Programme, said: “This is a major step forward in transforming the network for the millions of passengers that use the East Coast Main Line.

“We have adopted a partnership approach across the rail industry to deliver Britain’s first inter-city digital railway, moving away from traditional procurement and bringing together technology providers to set a standard for how digital railway is deployed.

“This is just the beginning of a truly exciting journey that will eventually see digital signalling improving the railway right across the country.”

Rob Morris, Managing Director of Rail Infrastructure for Siemens Mobility in the UK, said: “We’re thrilled to be appointed both Train Control Partner and Traffic Management Partner for the East Coast Digital Programme. This is a significant step forward for the UK rail industry as we move towards a fully digital railway, and we are delighted to work in partnership with Network Rail to deliver this ground-breaking programme.”

Scott Kelley, Strategic Rail Director, Atkins said: “This is a genuinely game changing transformation programme at the leading edge of rail industry integration. Our team will bring together unique skills and experience to enable the industry collaboration to deliver the East Coast Digital Programme, establishing the gold standard for future delivery programmes.”

The section of the East Coast Main Line, which covers from King’s Cross to just north of Peterborough, currently operates with 1970s signalling that is reaching the end of its life and due to be renewed over the next few years. Staged migration to ETCS level 2 with no lineside signals will now take place, with 300 passenger and freight trains to be installed with the new technology.

The East Coast Main Line is one of the network’s busiest and most important economic routes.

A third of the population lives within 20 minutes’ reach of an ECML station, and together produce 41% of the total UK’s GDP. The line carries in excess of 80 million passenger journeys, and tens of millions of freight tonnes worth £30bn, every year.