UK railway news roundup

This week, the focus very much turns to the heritage railway sector, as railways are forced to close and furlough staff. But, in a sharp turn, new emergency funds and fundraising by the public could mean the heritage railways have plenty of life yet.

Here’s this week’s roundup:

Get your weekend service updates

New £50m emergency fund to support heritage sector

National Lottery Heritage Fund announce £50m emergency fund to support heritage sector
Merddin Emrys hgead towards Blaenau with a mixed Passenger & Slate Empties at Ddualt on 13th November 2005 (Copyright Robin Stewart-Smith)

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is making £50m available in response to the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK’s heritage.

The new Heritage Emergency Fund will help those most in need over the next three to six months with investment in essential digital skills across the sector, providing expertise in digital fundraising, use of social media and communications, and running online events and activities. 

In addition, the National Lottery Heritage Fund is continuing to support 2,500 projects already in delivery across the UK, an overall commitment of £1.1bn. This funding has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. Full story.

Heritage Railway Association supports last gasp bid to save UK coal

Heritage Railway Association supports last gasp bid to save UK coal

The government is days away from deciding whether or not a new UK coal mine should open.

A refusal will mean heritage steam in the UK, as well as the country’s steel and cement industries, is entirely dependent on imported coal. Many heritage railways may have to cease operation.

Banks Mining, the company behind the new mine proposal, says that government indecision over UK coal mining is the result of a drive to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. But importing the five million tonnes a year the country needs, from Russia and the USA, generates many times the CO2 emissions than the transport of domestically produced coal. Full story.

Train refurbishment firm’s closure plan puts about 100 jobs at risk, union claims

Around 100 jobs are under threat with the proposed closure of a train carriage refurbishment firm in East Ayrshire, a union has said.

Wabtec is planning to “consolidate” its operations in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, following a reduction in orders, according to the Unite union.

The plans would result in the closure of its Kilmarnock base – originally opened as Andrew Barclay and Sons in 1840 – which has helped refurbish recent Abellio ScotRail and ScotRail models. Read the full story.

West Somerset Railway funding appeal hits the right notes

7828 7802 Blue Anchor
BR ‘Manor’ 4-6-0 No. 7828 ‘Odney Manor’ and 7802 ‘Bradley Manor’ pass near Blue Anchor with a 14 coach train during the 40th Anniversary Gala – June 8th 2019

Well-wishers have responded rapidly to the West Somerset Railway (WSR) plc’s urgent appeal for desperately-needed funds to help the 22-mile line heritage line get through the coronavirus crisis.

The WSR was forced to suspend operations and shut down on March 17 – before the 2020 running season even got underway planned for Saturday, March 21.

In just two weeks since then, the WSR has received over £30,000 in donations and share purchases to help keep the railway’s wheels turning in the future. Full story.

Over £100k raised in Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust’s appeal

Over £100,000 has poured in to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust’s (GWRT) emergency appeal fund – just 10 days after the railway called out for help. 

The funds will help the popular heritage railway cover the cost of £500,000 to repair an embankment landslip and comes at a time when the railway has no income due to the coronavirus outbreak. Read the full story.

Severn Valley Railway emergency appeal hits £100,000 milestone

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of the Severn Valley Railway, one of the country’s leading heritage attractions. In a turn of fortunes however, the railway’s emergency appeal has already raised more than £100,000.

The fundraising campaign, launched on March 20, aims to raise £250,000 to keep the Severn Valley Railway ticking over during its enforced closure. Full story.

Heritage charities offer facilities to Network Rail during coronavirus period

Didcot Railway Centre and Swindon Panel Society are helping Network Rail prepare for rail service delivery during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The two heritage charities made their facilities available to enable Network Rail prepare for train service delivery in the event of a shortage of regular signallers due to coronavirus or the measures to prevent its spread. Full story.

West Coast Main Line moves a million tonnes of critical supplies every week

Every 24 hours throughout the coronavirus crisis, 188,000 tonnes of critical supplies are being moved by rail between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

That’s 1.13 million tonnes every week – most of it transported along the West Coast Main Line, the busiest mixed-use railway in Europe, and its key spurs.

Ordinarily, rail freight goes largely unnoticed. Much of it travels by night, rumbling in darkness to and from every part of the country to keep shops, pharmacies and hospital stocked. Full story.

Free parking for key workers across UK’s major stations

Free parking for key workers across UK's major stations

Network Rail is offering key workers free parking at 24 locations across Britain, as the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By downloading the APCOA Connect App and following a set of simple instructions, key workers from nurses and carers, to transport workers and supermarket employees, can park for free at locations across the country, including at London Paddington, Birmingham New Street and York, until the end of April.

At Edinburgh Waverley, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham Ellis Street and Reading, the car park barriers will automatically open and therefore there is no need to use the app. List of all the locations can be found here.

Manchester Piccadilly station launch new social distancing measures

Passengers making essential journeys at Manchester Piccadilly station will be able to keep a safe distance from each other during the coronavirus crisis, thanks to new measures in place this week.

The station has installed vinyl stickers on the floor around the station to highlight the two metre distance people should keep between themselves and others. Full story here.

Network Rail appeal for former signallers to keep vital rail services moving

Network Rail is appealing for former professional signallers across the country to help keep the railway running during the coronavirus crisis.

Network Rail is working hard to keep signal boxes and control centres across the region open round the clock. This allows key workers such as doctors and nurses to travel to work and means essential food and medical supplies can be transported across the country on freight services. Could you help?

Hull Trains suspends ALL services

Hull Trains has taken the decision in what it calls ‘unprecedented circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic’ to temporarily suspend all train services from 00.01 on March 30 to safeguard the future of the business. For the full details, click here.

Network Rail supports army to deliver vital medical face masks to NHS frontline

Railway workers have driven hundreds of miles through the night to deliver two lorry loads of protective medical face masks for frontline workers in the NHS.

Network Rail lent its staff and vehicles for the special delivery from Merseyside to army barracks in Hampshire this week.

The 230-mile journey was part of an army logistics operation to provide protective equipment to hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full story.

Important service updates

National Rail Service Indicator

Gatwick Express

Gatwick Express services suspended until further notice

Hull Trains

Hull Trains service temporarily suspended until further notice.

Transport For London Status Updates

Thank you to everyone who is following the Mayor’s and Government advice to stay at home and not travel. You are saving lives. 

The number of people using Tube and rail services plummet by around 95 percent. This is essential to stop the spread of coronavirus. Services are for essential journeys by vital workers in the NHS and other critical services. No one else should be travelling. 

Staff are working hard to support the NHS and protect all Londoners. Please help them and continue to follow the instruction not to travel for as long as it takes to defeat coronavirus. 

With that in mind, be aware of the following closures this weekend, 4 and 5 April, and the following week.

London Underground

There are no planned track closures on the Tube this weekend, but Roding Valley and Theydon Bois stations now open at 08:00 and close at 22:00 every day. This is in addition to the other stations already closed on the Tube network.

London Overground

Network Rail are carrying out works which will affect the following services.
On Sunday 5 April, there will be no service between:

  • Wandsworth Road and Clapham Junction until 10:15. Use local buses or Southern Railway services between Battersea Park and Clapham Junction. London Overground trains to/from Wandsworth Road will divert and start/finish at Battersea Park
  • Richmond and Willesden Junction. Use District line services between Richmond and Gunnersbury. Rail replacement buses will run between Gunnersbury and Willesden Junction New Cross Gate and West Croydon/Crystal Palace. Rail replacement buses will run.
    See an overview of planned track closures for the next six months.

Buses and roads

We are running a reduced service on all bus routes. Due to the following works, some buses may be diverted or stop short of their normal destination. Make sure you check before you travel.

Victoria Coach Station – From Monday 6 April, Victoria Coach Station will be closed. This is as all operators have temporarily suspended services in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The station will reopen once operators resume services.

Coach services that do not use Victoria Coach Station will also be significantly reduced, including the temporary suspension of the Oxford Tube (London to Oxford) and Green Line 702 (London to Windsor, Bracknell and Reading).

Passengers should contact their operator for more details.

Strand Underpass – Until Monday 13 April, Strand Underpass will be closed northbound. This is due to Westminster Council works.

Shoreditch – Until 30 September 2020, Shoreditch High Street will have a contra-flow reducing the width of the carriageway in both directions between Holywell Lane and New Yards Inn. This is due to Shoreditch Village development works.

London Bridge – Until 31 October 2020, London Bridge is closed to general traffic (except buses, licensed taxis, motorcyclists and cyclists). Diversions are in place and there are changes to the junction either side of the bridge. Please take extra care when driving while all users, including pedestrians, get used to the new layout.

Drivers using Blackfriars Bridge or Tower Bridge should expect queues while crossing the river. Travel outside of peak times and use alternative river crossings including Vauxhall, Westminster and Lambeth bridges where possible for an easier journey. This is for essential maintenance works being carried out by the City of London Corporation. Please visit our London Bridge works page for more information.

Santander Cycles

All Santander Cycles docking station staffed hubs are temporarily closed. Every docking station is still operational and being serviced. All TfL services are now solely focused on ensuring critical workers can move around as needed.

  • The following docking stations will be out of service this weekend:
  • Nesham Street, St Katharine’s Docks – due to a power failure
  • Sopwith Way, Battersea Park – due to a power failure
  • Paddington Green Police Station, Paddington – due to a power failure
  • Kensington Gore, Kensington – due to a power failure
  • Hoxton Station, Hoxton – due to a power failure
  • Eaton Square, Belgravia – due to a power outage
  • Ilchester Gardens, Bayswater – for utility works
  • Eagle Wharf Road, Shoreditch – for utility works
  • Castlehaven Road, Camden – for utility works

West Midlands Metro

As people follow the latest government advice on avoiding non-essential use of public transport, the number of people travelling with us has reduced and we’re adjusting our services to meet the current needs of customers.

We’ve also recognised the need to maintain a regular, robust service for key workers and people who still need to travel for medical reasons, to support a vulnerable person, or for the collection of essential supplies. To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, protect the NHS, and save lives we would urge you to only travel for these reasons.

The key changes to our timetable are as follows:

The frequency of service Monday to Saturday will be:
Start of service until 06:30 – Trams every 15 minutes
Between 06:30 and 20:00 – Trams every 12 minutes
From 20:00 until the end of service – Trams every 15 minutes
The first trams travelling the full route will leave Wolverhampton St George’s at 05:15 and Library at 05:07
The last trams travelling the full route will leave Wolverhampton St George’s at 23:27 and Library at 23:34
There will be no change to our Sunday timetable
We will continue to keep you updated via our website and Twitter page (@WMmetro), and customers can also speak to a member of our team using the assistance button located on the shelter at every stop.

Tyne & Wear Metro

Travel only if absolutely essential.

Trains are running to a reduced frequency. A train every 24 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes on an evening. Please leave extra time for your journey. For train times view the ‘Timetable Change’ section

Manchester Metrolink

Do not travel unless it is absolutely essential.

Nottingham Express Transit

The number of people travelling has reduced as people follow government advice and avoid non-essential use of public transport. We recognise however that some people still need to travel and you need certainty from us on what services we can provide. As of Tuesday 24 March 2020, a Sunday timetable will operate throughout the week:
6AM – 7AM: every 15 minutes
7AM – 7PM: every 10 minutes
7PM – 11PM: every 15 minutes
We are reviewing the situation daily, and should further timetable changes become necessary we will provide notice to all passengers via our website, newsletters and social media channels.

Merseyrail Service Status

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be further significant changes to Merseyrail services from Thursday 2 April 2020. Trains will now operate a 30-minute service on all lines between 07:00 -19:00 Monday to Saturday, with a limited additional service from 19:00 to 22:00 on some lines. Trains will operate between 08:00 – 20:00 on Sundays.

Glasgow Subway

From Saturday 28 March the Subway will operate on one circle only.  We will continue to run the Outer Circle operating clockwise from Govan and stopping at all stations offering an eight-minute servicefrom 6:30am to approx. 9pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 6pm on Sunday. The last train from Govan to the City Centre will depart at 20:42.  The last train will leave the City Centre for Govan at 20:55. The last train to leave the City Centre and go to all stations is 8:30pm.

Edinburgh Trams

Due to the current government guidelines surrounding the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the use of public transport we have seen a reduction in customer demand.

We have decided to tailor the service to the needs of the customer, while taking into account the availability of staff.

The first tram and last tram will run at their usual time, but customers should expect trams to operate every 15 minutes during the day with this being kept under constant review.

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