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30/03/2015 End of the line for FirstGroup, but they bow out with boasts [Evening Times]
COMMUTERS may never have heard of it but from Wednesday Dutch rail operator Abellio will be responsible for running Scotland's trains.The ScotRail franchise covers 2300 trains each weekday, more than 86.3million passenger journeys and 1.6billion passenger miles a year. FirstGroup has been running the rail network for the past decade but last year, lost the £2.5billion contract to an offshoot of Dutch national railways. It was a massive blow for a company which owes much of its success to a former apprentice mechanic. Moir Lockhead left school at 15 to work in a bus garage in Darlington.

A piper welcomes First ScotRail^s inaugural service - a train for Gourock about to leave Glasgow Central on 17 October 2004.
[Ewan Crawford 17/10/2004]

First Group CEO Moir Lockhead is serenaded aboard the FTPE special to Glasgow Central at Waverley on 4 December 2007 celebrating the launch of the First TransPennine Express services linking Edinburgh and Glasgow with Manchester Airport. [The names on the signpost refer to locations featured in a talk by travel journalist Simon Calder at the pre-launch bash in a well known local hotel.]
[John Furnevel 04/12/2007]

Transport Minister Tavish Scott unveils a commemorative plaque marking the official opening of new facilities at Haymarket depot on 13 February 2007. First ScotRail^s Managing Director Mary Dickson looks on.
[Ian Watson, Studio Scotland 13/02/2007]
Evening Times

30/03/2015 Network Rail privatisation rumour rejected by DfT [Rail News]
THE Department for Transport has denied reports that Network Rail could be returned to the private sector. The main cause for concern is said to be NR's debts, which are set to reach £40 billion by 2019 and are now on the public books after NR was reclassified as a government body in the public sector last September. Various possibilities are said to be on the table, including dividing NR into regions as well as the more extreme option of involving the private sector once again. [From Richard Buckby]
Rail News

29/03/2015 Irlam railway station house reopens after £2m makeover [BBC News]
A railway station house, once seen as an 'eyesore', has been officially reopened following a £2m makeover. The building in Irlam, the busiest unmanned station in Greater Manchester, has been restored after lying derelict for nearly 25 years. Salford Mayor Ian Stewart said it had been 'totally transformed from an embarrassment to somewhere the whole community can be really proud of'. More than 240,000 passengers use the station, built in 1893, each year.

Looking west at Irlam, Greater Manchester, on 10 September 2009. The strange set back position of the old station building in relation to the platforms gives away the fact that the line was re-aligned in 1893 when the Manchester Ship Canal opened.
[Ewan Crawford 10/09/2009]
BBC News

29/03/2015 Tunnel works are set to cause delays on main Edinburgh line [Linlithgow Gazette]
For commuters travelling between Scotlands two main cities, this summer is set to be a season of great discontent! As a result of the Edinburgh-Glasgow line summer electrification works the Winchburgh Tunnel is due to close for 44 days causing huge disruption to all rail traffic using the line. Passengers are being advised that from Saturday, June 13 until Monday, July 27 Winchburgh tunnel on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line will close while Network Rail carries out work to prepare the structure for electrification.
Linlithgow Gazette

29/03/2015 Colne Valley Railway forced from its site after 40 years [Halstead Gazette]
A popular heritage railway is being forced out of the village that has been its home for 40 years. The Colne Valley Railway Preservation Society (CVRPS) has announced 2015 will be its last year on the current site as the landowner has decided the railway no longer fits into his plans for the land. [From Richard Buckby]

What a glorious clutter! It truly boggles the mind to think that every structure in this view at Sible and Castle Hedingham was built or re-erected by volunteers. Prior to preservation, this was a bare trackbed in a field. View looks North-West, in the general direction of Haverhill.
[Ken Strachan 20/07/2013]

He^ll never make senior management - he^s thinking inside the box. View looks South-West - vaguely towards London.
[Ken Strachan 20/07/2013]
Halstead Gazette

27/03/2015 G&W completes Freightliner acquisition [IRJ]
GENESEE & Wyoming (G&W) confirmed on March 25 that it has completed the £492m acquisition of approximately 94% of Freightliner Group, Britain, from Arcapita and other shareholders, plus approximately £19m of net debt and capitalised leases. [From Richard Buckby]

Freightliner locomotives 70014 and 66598 bound for Southampton alongside the platform at Eastleigh on 9 July 2014.
[Peter Todd 09/07/2014]

Freightliner 66536 working the 6E06 Hunterston - Cottam power station loaded coal hoppers through West Kilbride on 8 November 2013.
[Ken Browne 08/11/2013]

Freightliner 66610 on a ballast train just north of Tynehead station on 10 November 2014. Sister locomotive 66605 is on the other end of the train.
[Ewan Crawford 10/11/2014]

27/03/2015 High Cumbria winds 'blew freight container off train' [BBC News]
High winds blew a container off a freight train travelling at 75mph (120km/h), investigators have said. The empty 30ft (9m) cargo crashed through trees and a wall on an embankment near Scout Green, Cumbria. No-one was injured but the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the potential for more serious consequences was evident. There were 62mph (99km/h) cross winds when the container fell on on 7 March, investigators said.
BBC News

27/03/2015 Abellio giving cause for concern [Scotsman]
SCOTRAIL’S new operator is in danger of a having shaky start to its tenure, writes Alastair Dalton. Alarm bells are going off in my head about the Scottish taxpayer’s biggest contractor – and it hasn’t even officially started the job yet. Dutch firm Abellio takes control of ScotRail on Wednesday, funded by the Scottish Government to the tune of £2.5 billion over the next decade.

26/03/2015 ScotRail chief Steve Montgomery to quit after all [Scotsman]
SCOTRAIL managing director Steve Montgomery is to quit - despite new Dutch operators Abellio saying last week he was staying on, the train operator confirmed to The Scotsman today. He will step down “sometime in May”, a spokeswoman for ScotRail said. The news came as it was also confirmed that senior Network Rail executive Phil Verster would lead a new ScotRail-Network Rail closer-working “alliance”, and start work shortly.

26/03/2015 Abellio tell ScotRail staff to alter old uniforms [Scotsman]
THOUSANDS of ScotRail staff have been told to snip off old logos from their uniforms when the franchise changes hands next week because new outfits won’t be ready in time. The instruction was met with derision by rail unions, who said members would refuse to take scissors to their clothes or turn hats back to front.

26/03/2015 Train line to Ellon could be re-opened as part of £3billion City Deal [Press and Journal]
Ellon’s railway line could be reopened as part of the City Region Deal, the Press and Journal can reveal today. The ambitious plans to reinstate the 14-mile track, which would run to Dyce, were first put forward earlier this month during talks on the £2.9billion deal for the north-east. [From John Yellowlees]

BR Standard 2-6-4 tank 80028 runs through Ellon station with a fish train in May 1959.
[G. H. Robin collection by courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. 15/05/1959]

Classic BR uniforms glimpsed at Ellon from the 12.25 Aberdeen-Fraserburgh train on Saturday 1st May 1965, with driver and secondman hanging out of the NBL Type 2 at the front (yes, a diesel locomotive). The Station Master - identified by the copious gold braid – is Alastair Farquhar, who hailed from Buckie. He had previously been based at lonely Riccarton Junction, and would face yet more change in five months’ time when passenger trains were withdrawn from the Fraserburgh and Peterhead lines. [With thanks to Bruce McCartney]
[Frank Spaven Collection (Courtesy David Spaven) 01/05/1965]

NBL Type 2 D6148 arrives at Ellon with a northbound train in July 1963.
[Colin Miller /07/1963]
Press and Journal

25/03/2015 Edinburgh rail workers to strike on Good Friday [BBC News]
Workers at Virgin Trains East Coast in Edinburgh are to stage a one-day strike over the dismissal of an ex-colleague. Mark Doughty was sacked when the firm was operated by UK government-controlled East Coast Trains. The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has confirmed the walk-out will take place on Good Friday, April 3.
BBC News

25/03/2015 HS2: Government has no 'convincing case' for £50bn rail line [BBC News]
The government has no convincing case for spending £50bn building the HS2 rail link between London and the North, a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee says. The government's main arguments in favour of HS2 - increasing railway capacity and rebalancing the economy - were still to be proven, peers said. There are less-expensive options than HS2, they said on Wednesday. A government spokesman said HS2 would deliver big benefits.
BBC News

25/03/2015 Newton Aycliffe's Hitachi train plant connected to main line [BBC News]
The construction of a train factory in County Durham has reached a significant milestone with the plant being connected to the main line network. The £82m Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe will employ 750 people, with the first trains coming off the production line in 2017.
BBC News

25/03/2015 DB looks to revitalise long-distance rail market [Rail News]
Deutsche Bahn (DB) is aiming to attract 50 million more passenger a year from now until 2030 as part of a major initiative to strengthen its long-distance rail services. By 2030, DB will be operating 150 more services than it does today and up to two ICE services an hour between almost every major city. [From Richard Buckby]
Rail News

24/03/2015 Borders to Edinburgh railway 'golden ticket' up for grabs [BBC News]
A competition giving Borderers the chance to nominate a deserving person for a special journey on the Borders to Edinburgh railway has been launched. The golden ticket will see members of the public given the chance to ride on a train on Saturday 5 September - the day before regular journeys start. Scottish Borders Council is looking for nominations of people from all walks of life and all ages across the region.
BBC News

24/03/2015 Derby to build new trains for First Great Western [Rail News]
NEW Bombardier Electrostars are included in the plans for the new First Great Western franchise, which will be a boost for jobs in Derby. The main fleets for long-distance services will be Intercity Expresses and hybrid AT300s, both from Hitachi. However, Thames Valley electrification will need large numbers of suburban electric multiple units, some of which will be 21 Class 365s cascaded from Great Northern. Also heading west will be 29 Class 387 four-car sets, which are currently being delivered from Bombardier in Derby to Thameslink on a temporary basis. [From Richard Buckby]
Rail News

23/03/2015 Longannet power station to close next year [BBC News]
Scottish Power has announced plans to close its huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife early next year. The move comes after the energy firm failed to win a crucial contract from National Grid. Scottish Power said it was 'extremely disappointed' at National Grid's decision. It had previously indicated Longannet would have to shut if it lost out in a contest to help maintain voltage levels in the nation's electricity supply. The SSE-operated gas-fired power station at Peterhead won the contract at the expense of Scottish Power and a third bidder.

66227 brings Longannet empties south past Inverkeithing Central Jct on 31 May.
[Bill Roberton 31/05/2007]

Coal - swallower extraordinaire. Longannet power station looking south towards the Forth in June 2005. Longannet consumes approximately 10,000 tonnes of coal per day and has an installed capacity of 2,400 megawatts, making it the third largest coal-fired power station in Europe after Belchatow, Poland and Drax, North Yorkshire.
[John Furnevel /06/2005]

EWS 66 004 passes through Alloa on its way back to Hunterston on 4 March with Longannet empties, dwarfing the 3-car 170 at the station platform forming the next service to Glasgow Queen Street.
[David Panton 04/03/2009]
BBC News

22/03/2015 FirstGroup's Great Western rail deal extended to 2019 [BBC News]
Transport company FirstGroup has extended its deal with the government to run services on the Great Western rail network until 2019. The new franchise covers a period in which a series of upgrades will take place along the Great Western network. Those improvements include electric train services for the first time on the network, starting with services in the Thames Valley.
BBC News

21/03/2015 'Young' steam train driver qualifies on London-Surrey run [BBC News]
A 33-year-old man has become the youngest steam train driver to qualify on the mainline for nearly 50 years. Jim Clarke 'passed out' as a qualified driver after he drove the Belmond British Pullman from London Victoria to Guildford, Surrey. It is believed he is the youngest person to qualify since 1968.

Tea break at Okehampton, 30 July 2006. The driver takes a break after bringing in a train from Meldon Quarry.
[Ian Dinmore 30/07/2006]

Driver G Cockburn poses for the photographer on the footplate of Holden F4 2-4-2 tank no 7164 at Fraserburgh in the summer of 1947. The train about to depart is the 4.15pm to St Combs. The 1907 Stratford built locomotive survived until August 1951, when it was withdrawn from Kittybrewster shed as BR 67164.
[G. H. Robin collection by courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. //1947]

Railwaymen. Scene on the NYMR at Grosmont station on 20 April 2009. Locomotive 76079 is preparing to leave with a train for Pickering. [Editors note: Alan Hardie tells me (24 March 2015) that the fireman leaning over the door is Darrin Crone, the newly appointed engineer of the Sir Nigel Gresley Loco Trust.]
[John Furnevel 20/04/2009]
BBC News

20/03/2015 Multi-billion pound plans to overhaul rail in North of England [BBC News]
Plans to overhaul transport across the North of England, including with multi-billion pound rail schemes, are being laid out by the government later. The Northern Transport Strategy report details what George Osborne believes will create a 'northern powerhouse'. It contains a long-term plan to improve road links and speed up train times between major cities.
BBC News

19/03/2015 £130m tram route decision announced [Rail News]
THE route of an extension to Midland Metro in Birmingham has been chosen after a public consultation. Centro has now announced that a new tram route serving the Digbeth area will run along High Street Deritend. The headline cost will be £130 million, but that includes some additional trams. The line will improve connections to the new HS2 station at Curzon Street as well as the city's coach station and the Custard Factory complex. [From Richard Buckby]

A tram heading for Snow Hill stops on a quiet Sunday evening at Lodge Road. West Midlands Metro
[Ken Strachan 09/02/2014]

Looking north west from Birmingham Snow Hill during heavy rain in March 2001. A Midland Metro tram is departing on the right.
[Ewan Crawford /03/2001]

Midland Metro tram 04 arrives at the Wolverhampton St. Georges terminus on an early evening service from Birmingham Snow Hill in June 2011. Although the station was built for two track working, and a possible extension, all trams arrive and depart from the same platform. Most of the route follows the old GWR main line apart from a short street running section here in Wolverhampton. [See image 34444]
[Mark Bartlett 08/06/2011]
Rail News

18/03/2015 'World's oldest railway tunnel' awarded protected status [BBC News]
What is believed to be the world's oldest railway tunnel - dating from 1793 - has been given protected status. Fritchley Tunnel was built as part of the Butterley Gangroad, a horse-operated railway linking the Cromford Canal with quarries at Crich. The Derbyshire tunnel has been scheduled as an ancient monument. [From Richard Buckby]
BBC News

17/03/2015 Railfreight 'contributes £1.6bn to British economy' [Rail News]
A NEW report says that railfreight is now contributing some £1.6 billion to the British economy every year. The figure is an estimate of the benefits, which include reduced road congestion and favourable environmental factors. Two years ago these benefits were valued at £1.5 billion, but the sector has continued to grow since then. The report comes from the Rail Delivery Group, which says the five major railfreight operators between them move goods worth more than £30 billion each year, including groceries, luxury cars for export and half of the fuel used to generate electricity. Container traffic has risen by 30 per cent since 2006, partly because of the growing market in consumer goods. One in four of the containers entering the country are now moved from port to inland destination by train. [From Richard Buckby]

Freightliner 70018 runs through Eastleigh on 9 July 2014 with a freight heading for Southampton container port.
[Peter Todd 09/07/2014]

Freightliner Heavy Haul 66515 draws a train of empty coal hoppers out of Abington Down Loop on 30 May.
[Bill Roberton 30/05/2011]

And there^s more... Stobart Rail liveried 92017 runs north over the Clyde viaduct at Crawford on 11 May 2010 with a long, long train of Tesco containers.
[John Furnevel 11/05/2010]
Rail News

17/03/2015 Borders to Edinburgh railway promoted by artwork [BBC News]
A massive 'artwork on wheels' has been unveiled to promote the new Borders Railway throughout the country. Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown revealed the 70m long train wrapped in specially-designed livery. It aims to promote some of the top attractions of the areas served by the new railway, due to open in September. [From Richard Buckby]

ScotRail ^Borders wrap^ unit 170414 at Haymarket on 20 March 2015 forming the 1900 Edinburgh Waverley - Glasgow Queen Street. [See recent news item]
[John Yellowlees 20/03/2015]
BBC News

16/03/2015 Network Rail to deploy Easter army of 14,000 [Rail News]
NETWORK RAIL has revealed that engineering works over the Easter holiday will involve 14,000 people and more than £100 million worth of investment. Following the problems with engineering overruns after Christmas, the infrastructure owner is emphasising that transport is being co-ordinated to ensure that 'Britain keeps moving' over Easter, even though fewer people than usual use the railways because most commuters do not travel. The work includes more reconstruction at London Bridge and the installation of freight lines under the recently-opened viaduct at Reading. A bridge over the West Coast Main Line will be replaced at Watford Junction, while overhead lines will be renewed at Chadwell Heath, Romford and Ilford on the Great Eastern Main Line. [From Richard Buckby]

16/03/2015 Longannet plant axe could be green light for trains [Scotsman]
A NEW “Forth Circle” rail loop could be created if the threatened 40-year-old Longannet power station was to shut, campaigners have proposed. The end of coal trains to the Fife plant would free up tracks so passengers could travel on the Forth-side line between Alloa and Dunfermline for the first time for 85 years. The scheme could include re-opening a station at the historic village of Culross to improve access for tourists. Trains supplying Longannet used the route until the £85 million Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line re-opened in 2008. [From Mark Bartlett]

Union of South Africa passes Cairneyhill with the first SRPS Forth Circle special on 23 August 2009.
[Bill Roberton 23/08/2009]

After an unscheduled stop at Elbowend Junction because of apparent track circuit problems, GWR 4-6-0 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe restarts the Forth Circle special in the direction of Kincardine on 27 May 2012, with the overgrown remains of the Charlestown branch on the left. Never thought I would see the day when a GWR Castle would pass let alone stop at Elbowend Junction!
[Mark Poustie 27/05/2012]

The Scottish Power Express about to leave the temporary platform at Culross on 21 June 1992 for the return trip to Edinburgh.
[Craig Seath 21/06/1992]

16/03/2015 Are superfast trains speeding down the tracks? [BBC News]
At the time the UK was completing its first stretch of high-speed rail in 2007, China had barely left the station. Nearly a decade on, Britain still has only that same 68-mile (109km) stretch of track, but China has built itself the longest high-speed network in the world. At more than 12,000km (7,450 miles) in total, it is well over double the length of the European and Japanese networks combined. So if you want to get a sense of what the future of rail travel might look like, China would seem to be the place to come.
BBC News

13/03/2015 Chiltern rail line reopens after 350,000 tonne landslip [BBC News]
A section of railway closed by a 350,000 tonne landslip in January has reopened. It was originally thought the stretch of the Chiltern Line between Leamington Spa in Warwickshire and Banbury in Oxfordshire would be out of action until Easter.

An up DMU heads South-East through Harbury cutting, between Leamington Spa and Fenny Compton in September 2014. I^m afraid those apples on the left will go to waste.
[Ken Strachan 21/09/2014]
BBC News

13/03/2015 Anger at ‘Comatose’ Trams inquiry over delays [Evening News]
THE inquiry into Edinburgh’s trams fiasco is in danger of taking longer than the project 
itself, an MSP claimed today. Marco Biagi, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central, said that three months after inquiry chairman Lord Andrew Hardie asked for the help of the public, there was still no opportunity for people to submit evidence. [From Richard Buckby]

Edinburgh tram 252 heads east along Princes Street on 30 May 2014, the day before the commencement of fare paying passenger services.
[Bill Roberton 30/05/2014]

Now just a normal part of the day-to-day traffic on the city streets. An Edinburgh tram passes the Haymarket stop on 11 April 2014 during a test run to York Place - without turning a head.
[John Furnevel 11/04/2014]

Cleaning out debris affecting the operation of the normally spring loaded points at the west end of York Place tram stop taking place during the afternoon of 11 February. The yellow lever is used to manually move the points between tram movements at the stop.
[David Pesterfield 11/02/2015]
Edinburgh Evening News

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