Welcome to the latest instalment of our monthly media insights, led by Martin Gleadow, Solution Architect at 3Squared, reflecting on July’s top news stories in the rail industry, from rail safety to innovative approaches.
Read Martin’s thoughts on the industry’s recent news stories, below:
“In July, extreme weather made waves in headlines of both trade publications and national news, impacting all aspects of life here in the UK, including the railways. During the heatwave, a number of areas in the UK reached 40 degrees Celsius, which can lead to steel rails hitting temperatures of up to 20 degrees above air temperature – almost 60 degrees Celsius.
“As those working in the rail industry know, this level of heat can have an intense impact on the railway creating unsafe conditions, with tracks buckling and power lines down. With these safety concerns in mind, passengers were advised not to travel, and many services were cancelled.
“In response to the heatwave, we saw Network Rail establish a taskforce aimed at developing an approach for future heatwaves. News outlets also showcased the innovative technology currently in development such as data-driven weather mapping technology which aims to predict weather patterns and indicate the impacts that extreme climates could have on the rail network.
“The extreme weather we have seen highlights another key theme: sustainability. At 3Squared, the aims to create a greener railway and combat climate change have always been part of our vision. The heatwave has highlighted just how destructive climate change can be causing environmental damage, widespread disruption and almost bringing the UK to a standstill. It’s clear that action needs to be taken when it comes to our climate and with rail’s green credentials, our industry is key to unlocking this.
“Following on from sustainability, safety is always a theme of focus for us at 3Squared. First of all, a delightful book Arlo’s Adventures was launched in July, exploring all things rail safety for children in an engaging way. Educating the public, particularly children and young people, about rail safety is always important, especially when we see safety concerns more and more in the media. Secondly, RSSB has emphasised the need for Non-Technical Skills, such as maintaining concentration and checking, which underpin technical tasks and overall safety.
“Excitingly, this month the shortlist for the Great British Railway Headquarters was announced. After bids initially from 42 locations, only 6 have been included in the shortlist: Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and York.
“In a previous blog, we highlighted the benefits that making Doncaster #DestinationGBR could bring to our wider region of South Yorkshire, including increased investment and job opportunities. Transport for the North (TfN) has also shared a campaign to bring GBR HQ to the north stating that ‘Great British Railways national headquarters can be anywhere as long as it’s based in the North’, citing geographical, heritage-based and ‘levelling up’ factors.
“When it comes to our local areas here in Sheffield, we’ve also seen some interesting news in terms of the regional transport network. Following the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority’s (SYMCA) bid for the Barrow Hill line reopening as part of the Restoring Your Railways scheme, the government have approved the bid to go forward to the next stage, one of only 9 in England and Wales. This restored line will run from Chesterfield to Sheffield, via Barrow Hill. Furthermore, this news could also strengthen the case for the revival of the Don Valley Line, from Stocksbridge to Sheffield, and the re-opening Victoria station.
“Whilst on the subject of regional transport networks, a recent study found a disparity between the North and South in terms of public transport. It observed that people living in the Midlands and North find it harder to use public transport to cut carbon emissions. Accelerating access and connectivity in these areas is therefore important when it comes to decarbonisation and creating a greener rail network in general, as well as ensuring we have a public transport system that serves everyone across the UK.
“In rail investment news, at the start of July, we saw the announcement of £1 billion investment in digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line. This funding will replace ageing signalling systems with new digital upgrades. We’re pleased to have been involved in this project transforming the East Coast Main Line by developing part of the training and simulation solutions for the East Coast Digital Programme. This project is an exciting step toward creating the digital railway of the future, using digital train control technology to enable a more dynamic, reliable, and sustainable rail network.
“The TransPennine upgrade is another positive story in terms of investment and plans to bring full electrification and digital signalling to the route upgrade. This investment will also support the creation of a greener, digital railway.
“As always there has been plenty going on in the world of rail, we hope you enjoyed hearing more about our insights and we look forward to sharing our thoughts on August’s top stories.”
If you would be interested in hearing more from Martin and the team on 3Squared on how they can support you, get in touch today.