3Squared’s Monthly Media Insights, November 2022

After an eventful summer in the world of rail, Martin Gleadow, Solution Architect at 3Squared, reflects on the recent news stories making the headlines from across the industry:

“During the month of September, the nation lost its longest reigning monarch, HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Like many companies, we observed the mourning period by temporarily pausing all communication as a mark of respect. The loss of Queen Elizabeth II created a sombre tone across the industry and led the industry to reflect on the role of rail in the life of Queen Elizabeth II. We also look to the future and the impact that King Charles III and his environmental pedigree will have upon the industry and how the rail industry can support his aims in return.

“The modal shift has been a consistent theme over the course of the past few months, for both people and freight within the industry. For instance, The University of Birmingham and Pass Logistics, a multi-modal freight company, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to look at ways of shifting containerised goods from road to rail to support modal shift and decarbonisation; key priorities that resonate with us at 3Squared.

“Through this collaboration, they aim to help organisations better understand their carbon output, and the relative impacts and costs of alternatives. Pass Logistics estimates that a full train could replace 80 lorries and bring a 75% reduction in carbon emissions.

“The UK’s rail sector represents the most environmentally friendly option in terms of public transport, often seen as the most sustainable method for mass travel and commuting. In a further step towards creating a greener, more sustainable railway, Network Rail has revealed an agreement with EDF Renewables UK which will see railway stations, offices and depots powered through solar energy.

“There are increasingly positive stories in the rail media about the creative ways in which businesses are considering doing things to cut demand upon carbon. For instance, in a time of high temperatures and low rainfall, solar energy is making a bigger contribution than is generally realised, and rail has plenty of property where solar panels could reduce the demand on the grid.

“On the subject of greener rail, there is an interesting development on potential areas for decarbonisation. As an article in Rail Advent recently addressed, ‘[The TP-UK range of shunting locomotives] offer significant improvements over the Class 08, lower fuel consumption is an obvious benefit – for example, to move a 1,000-tonne train, the TPUK 3-63 (comparable with the TP-70 shown at Long Marston) will consume just 34 litres of diesel per hour, compared with a Class 08 which will consume 437 litres. Over a 16-hour working day (including five hours’ idle time), this could potentially save more than £4,000 compared with a Class 08.’

“It was fantastic to read about HS2’s annual Equality, Diversity and Inclusion report which found that the company continues to challenge its supply chain, and the wider rail engineering and construction sectors, to advocate for inclusivity.

“Across the supply chain, HS2’s performance continues to beat industry averages for the number of female and BAME employees working on the project, with the supply chain achieving 28% and 18% respectively. The article highlights the positive impact of rail on society, which ties into the industry working for the country.

“In September, we celebrated an East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) key milestone with the successful completion of testing with digital signalling for High Speed Train (HST) Class 43 power cars forming part of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train (NMT).

“As 3Squared have been involved in the East Coast Digital Programme project, it’s great to track the progress and see another milestone achieved. Enhancing the railway through innovative technology is key to achieving the digital railway of the future.

“The last three months has seen a great deal of political change, which can’t be ignored. Although, at the time of writing, we are still awaiting updates on what the policy direction will be for rail including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. There has been news of potential delays to Great British Railways due to other priorities in the legislative agenda, but we are hopeful the plans will still go ahead.

“With all the uncertainty surrounding the political landscape of rail, the ECDP continues to be a positive force and something we are proud to have played a role in. Rail Technology Magazine (Rail Technology Magazine : August September 2022), highlighted how pioneering the digital upgrade of the East Coast Main Line has been, and how it has remained relatively unchanged since the Victorian times, until now.

“More positive news in October came from a report by the Office of Rail & Road (ORR) which revealed that Network Rail had been able to make efficiencies of £840 million surpassing their target by £10 million, thanks to the adoption of new technologies. It is important to be able to showcase that rail is delivering on commitments.

“Finally in October, we saw a great initiative from Northern, offering residents of North Yorkshire and Cumbria half price rail tickets throughout winter. Not only will it help people to save money on travel, but it will also reduce the amount of cars on the road, cultivating new ways for the industry to contribute to society and build relationships with local communities.”

If you would like to hear more from Martin and the 3Squared team on how they can support your business, get in touch today.