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14 June: news in brief

FLIRT accepted

NEW trains being built for Greater Anglia by Stadler have received their first approval from the Office of Rail and Road. The ORR has authorised the use of four-car bi-mode FLIRT units, although they can only start to carry passengers after a testing and commissioning programme has been completed. It’s the first time that one of Stadler’s FLIRT trains has been approved in Britain. Test runs began in January, and Stadler is paying tribute to the ‘excellent co-operation’ between the parties involved, including Greater Anglia and the ORR. Meanwhile, train type approval for the 14 three-car bimodal FLIRT units and the 20 twelve-car electric versions is expected towards the end of the summer. The complete fleet of 58 units will replace the present Mk3 sets on London-Ipswich-Norwich intercity services, and also on local and regional routes. A separate fleet for Greater Anglia’s commuter lines is being built by Bombardier in Derby.

First train

THE first train has run the length of the London Underground 3.2km extension from Kennington to Battersea. A battery-powered engineering train entered the new tunnels at Kennington, travelling through the newly-constructed step-plate junction with the existing Northern Line tunnels. It then continued to the new Nine Elms station before terminating at Battersea. The train carried 750 metres of power cable into the extension, which was installed by 15 engineers. The test trip has marked the completion of the tunnels and track, and attention will now turn to installing the power supply and signals, and fitting-out the new stations. The line is due to open in 2021.

Bids invited for Heathrow line

NETWORK RAIL is holding a bidders’ day next month to set out its plans for a 6.5km line which will connect the Great Western Main Line with Heathrow Airport. The Western Rail Link will allow through running from the westerly direction, so that trains could run directly to the airport from stations like Reading. The junction will be between Langley and Iver. The cost of the project, which will bring more trains to Terminal 5, has been put at between £700 million and £900 million. The work is being planned in three separate packages. The first will be the junction with the GWML, including a new flyover. The second will be the construction of two 5km tunnels, and the third will be the final fit-out, including the installation of overhead power lines. The bidders’ day will be held at Swindon on 23 July, from 09.00 to 16.00.

Something to say

TODAY is ‘Chat Day’ on trains, trams and buses in Britain. It’s an initiative called Crossing Divides On the Move, and was inspired by a BBC team. Today, even London Underground commuters will be encouraged to talk to their fellow-passengers, while Virgin Trains has designated Coach C in every West Coast train as the ‘chat carriage’. Transport for London, Greater Anglia and Go-Ahead are among the transport operators who are taking part, and TfL has also provided posters at three Underground stations encouraging passengers to talk to staff. The idea is to reduce the isolation of people who have few or no family members or friends. Emily Kasriel, the BBC editor behind the project, said the aim was ‘to encourage people who are up for it to get out of their comfort zone and emerge from their screens to interact with the adult sitting next to them. Many people are reluctant to talk to strangers, but perhaps someone is battling loneliness and an exchange could provide a meaningful moment that changes their day.’

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