Railfuture looks forward to a lot of rail schemes coming to fruition in 2016 along with progress on longer-term schemes such as CrossRail, Thameslink and electrification. However, it’s important not to forget about the small things that improves the passenger experience. Railfuture has a wish list for those items too.
There’s no doubt that Britain’s railway and light rail systems are in better shape than 20 years ago (even if they are, unfortunately, a bit more expensive to use). The last decade has seen some projects delivered that many doubted would ever happen. In 2015 passengers benefited from expansion of both the heavy and light rail networks. These included the reopening of the Borders Railway and major extension of the Nottingham Tram system. December 2015 saw a Nine-Day Rail Surge of six schemes coming to fruition.
So what will 2016 bring, and what do we hope it will bring?
Railfuture’s Director of Policy Ian Brown CBE has produced his Top Ten lists for 2016.
We are looking forward in 2016 to:
- Network Rail successfully completing the massive London Bridge station upgrade and restoring the full service giving confidence in major rail development schemes
- Arriva Trains Northern places a contract for new diesel and electric trains for the North West and North East
- Go-Via Thameslink Railway commissions the first new Class 700 Thameslink trains into service between Bedford and Brighton
- New Crossrail trains are ready to start running in 2017 on the line to Shenfield
- In Scotland Network makes major progress on Edinburgh-Glasgow electrification and ScotRail commences delivery of new electric trains
- On the Great Western Railway the new IEP trains delivered, with the depots being prepared, commissioned and ready for service from 2017
- Trans-Pennine Express places contract for new 125mph hybrid trains for the Liverpool to Newcastle/Edinburgh route
- Eurostar announcing the start of Eurostar e320 services from London and Ashford to Amsterdam
- DfT announcing result of the East Anglia franchise competition including new electric and hybrid trains for the region
- In the West Midlands Metro to Birmingham New Street is completed and opened whilst in Manchester and Metrolink Second City Crossing is completed and hopefully opened ahead of schedule
Top 10 New Year Wishes:
- Transport Scotland announces the result of review of the Borders Line by giving the go ahead of the further extension towards Carlisle
- Welsh Assembly Government announce the go ahead for a new rail-based integrated transport network and Welsh Valley electrification
- Network Rail announces firm plans and timescales to complete Midland Line, Great Western, North West and Trans-Pennine electrification
- The UK Government announces the result of a major review of the weather resilience of transport infrastructure including reopening Exeter - Okehampton - Plymouth and Skipton - Colne and sea defences (Cambrian and Cumbrian Coast)
- Following the successful completion of the Chiltern route to Oxford (City) in summer 2016 contracts are placed to reinstate Oxford - Bletchley/Milton Keynes - Bedford with significant milestones reached for route extension to Cambridge
- On the controversial matter of London airports, an announcement by Government of firm commitment to upgrades for Heathrow (Southern Access), Gatwick (including Uckfield - Lewes) and Stansted (4 tracking), rail resilience, speed and capacity schemes
- UK Government announces review into economic severance to be addressed by new rail links including Kirkby - Skelmersdale, March - Wisbech and Bere Alston - Tavistock
- On high-speed rail the UK Government announcement on firm plans to provide regional and city distribution transport services from Hs2 stations and full integration on HS3 and commitment to extension to Scotland
- UK Government announce a strategic initiative for international intermodal rail-freight (TEN-T), including increased infrastructure capacity from ports, connections from HS1, capacity at inland terminals and Eurotunnel pricing
- The Integrated Transport Authorities announcement the go ahead for new light/metro rail schemes in Leeds, Bristol and further extensions to the systems in Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham
And, so he doesn’t have to make it a News Year’s wish for 2017, he hopes that after more than a decade of above (CPI) inflation fare increases that the governments announce train fares (including season tickets), will be reduced by 1% in real terms over each the next five years.
Railfuture has tweeted all of the above on its Twitter Accounts plus some additional wishes for 2016:
- Modern easy-to-use payment systems such as smartcards, contactless bank cards and mobile-tickets rolled out to more stations and routes
- Unused buildings at stations are reopened for passengers (such as coffee kiosks) or community use – it improves station safety and attracts more people to the railway
- Vivarail puts their D-Train into service (on appropriate routes) to overcome diesel train shortage and create more capacity
- Need confirmed date for doubling of Felixstowe branch to ensure trains are not regularly cancelled
- Real progress on March-Wisbech March-Wisbech railway reopening
- Rolling stock crisis is resolved for good - no branch line services abandoned for weeks (like Ipswich-Felixstowe and Marks Tey-Sudbury) because of 'too many leaves on the line'
- Network Rail should take the opportunity to increase line speed as standard when routes are re-signalled. Faster journeys are better value as more passengers will use the trains and it may be possible to run more services with the same number of trains
- Much of the remaining uncomfortable old-fashioned jointed track is replaced with modern continuous welded rail for a gentler ride, which will attract more passengers.
- All new rolling stock should have 13A/USB power sockets and free Wi-Fi as standard.
- Lots of new stations are planned to open in 2016 including Bermuda Park, Cambridge North, Coventry Arena, Ilkeston, Kenilworth, Kirkstall Forge, Lea Bridge, Low Moor and Marsh Barton. All ticket machines should sell tickets to these destinations as soon as they open (not months later). Proper planning by the Rail Delivery Group is needed to ensure that all TOCs are aware.
- Spare car parking spaces at stations for off-peak passengers. Too many stations have a full car park by 9am.
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