New station opened for Inverness Airport

Airport station ++ Trains are calling at the new station serving Inverness Airport from today, after the Scottish Government’s transport minister Jenny Gilruth opened the station yesterday. The station at Dalcross is part of a £42 million Scottish Government investment which has also paid for a 950m passing loop to improve capacity north of Inverness on the line towards Aberdeen. Transport Scotland said the new station will also improve transport links to the new town of Tornagrain and to the growing Inverness Airport Business Park. Welsh upgrade study ++ The Welsh Government and the Department for Transport have announced a £2.7 million study into improving the main line in South Wales, and adding five more stations to attract people away from the congested M4. Although the DfT has not named the potential station sites, the contenders could be Newport Road (Cardiff), Cardiff Parkway (St Mellons), Newport West, Newport East (Somerton), Llanwern and Magor. Cardiff Parkway is already planned. Wales secretary David T.C. Davies said: ‘Good transport connections between south Wales and western England are essential for the economy in Wales, enabling businesses to grow and flourish. I’m pleased to work with the Welsh Government on plans that could have a huge impact on the many thousands of people who use the transport network in south Wales every day.‘ Free TfL travel ++ The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has agreed to provide free travel to the cleaning staff employed by firms who have contracts with Transport for London. Their union the RMT had been campaigning for years on behalf of the 5,800 cleaners, and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘This is another step in the right direction by the Mayor of London and we’re calling on him to extend it to all TfL sub-contracted workers. Sadiq Khan’s welcome action stands in stark contrast to the Tories who earlier in the week forced legislation through the House of Commons that would remove these workers’ right to strike. Instead of attacking cleaners, the Tories should be following the Mayor’s lead and ensuring all rail cleaners have free travel.’ 

Railway graffiti vandals sentenced

Vandals sentenced ++ Members of a graffiti gang who repeatedly sprayed trains at Northern’s Heaton depot in Newcastle have been sentenced, although the trial was delayed by the Covid pandemic. Adam Smith, 28, of Hedgeley Road in Hebburn, was described as the ‘ringleader’, and he has been jailed for 18 months by Newcastle Crown Court. His accomplices were Jordan Shone, 26, of Lumley Court in Hebburn, Mark Marshall, 28, of Greenbank in Jarrow and Colin Bell, 47, of St Vincent Street in South Shields. They all received suspended sentences between nine and 18 months and were also ordered to undertake unpaid work. A further offender, David McGuire, 28, of Winskill Road in Simonside, South Shields, was given a community order and ordered to undertake 18 months’ unpaid work. The five all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause criminal damage between January 2018 and June 2019. Northern said it welcomed the sentences, and that the damage had cost thousands of pounds. Passenger landmark ++ More than 100 million journeys have been made on the Elizabeth Line since the central section opened in May last year. Transport for London said the number of passengers had reached 600,000 a day, and that the new route is ‘on track to break even by the end of the 2023/24 financial year’. TfL also said it will introduce ‘the final version’ of the Elizabeth Line timetable as planned on 21 May, and that headways between Paddington and Whitechapel will then be shortened to 2.5 mins in the peaks. Leaves battle ++ The Rail Safety and Standards Board is collaborating with the University of Sheffield to use artificial intelligence to help predict slippery rails. The new project is investigating how more detailed information on local conditions can be used to tackle the seasonal challenge associated with ‘leaves on the line’. Low adhesion track is a serious problem, which costs £350 million a year and can threaten safety if a train fails to stop as intended. The RSSB said temperature, humidity and the presence of leaves or other contaminants can all affect the adhesion between wheels and rails.