Government funding could lead the way to the introduction of self-charging battery trains, according to the Department for Transport. This year’s ‘First of a Kind’ competition has resulted in 24 innovators receiving grants of up to £400,000, as their share of more than £5 million. Other technologies being developed include removing harmful emissions from train exhausts. The competition was run in partnership with Innovate UK, which is the government’s national innovation agency. Transport secretary Mark Harper said: ‘The UK has a long history of leading the way in railway innovation and the First of a Kind competition is getting the great brains of today to create the trains of tomorrow. Through millions of pounds worth of government funding, we are breathing life into ideas that will revolutionise our railways and make them greener than ever before.’
Crossing risks ++ Network Rail and British Transport Police have issuing a safety warning following a number of incidents involving young children misusing Toffles foot crossing just south of Topsham, on the Exeter to Exmouth line. Network Rail said the ‘most alarming’ of these involved two young boys, thought to be around six years old, who were playing on the crossing on their bicycles. One of the boys got his foot stuck in the line, and a passing adult was able to free him in time to save him from an approaching train, but not before the driver had made an emergency brake application. Four trains pass over the crossing every hour, and there have been several other near misses when pedestrians did not pay attention before walking across the single line. Network Rail will be installing gates at the crossing so that people cannot wander unthinkingly into danger.
Restrictions scrapped ++ Normal train services have been restored between Salisbury and Exeter St David’s, after the clay formation under the track had shrunk in the dry summer weather, making the line uneven. Speed restrictions had to be imposed until engineers could restore the track, helped by cooler conditions and regular rain. South Western Trains celebrated the return of normal services yesterday by offering free £5 vouchers for passengers to use at most catering outlets along the line, which will be valid until 23 November.