Battery trains ++ Great Western Railway has bought equipment from battery train manufacturer Vivarail, which went into administration in December. The purchase has included rolling stock, FastCharge systems and other items. Nine former Vivarail staff have also joined GWR, as it continues to prepare for using a battery unit on the West Ealing to Greenford branch. GWR engineering director Simon Green said: ‘There have clearly been some setbacks that mean we will need to review the existing plans and timescales, but we will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to get the project back on track.’
Cheaper tickets ++ Govia Thameslink Railway has launched two initiatives in a bid to attract more passengers during the traditional rush hours on Mondays and Fridays. GTR’s division Southern is offering peak hour Advance tickets on these two days discounted by up to 15 per cent between East Croydon and London Victoria, and also from the Eastbourne and Chichester lines as far as Three Bridges. GTR said that on Monday mornings around 40,000 fewer people (210,000 in all) catch rush hour trains compared with the middle three days of Tuesday (250,000), Wednesday (230,000) and Thursday (240,000). The new tickets can be bought up to the day before travel, but the number is limited. GTR has also launched a loyalty scheme, which will provide points for every pound spent on fares which can be used for various rewards, such as cinema tickets. On average, travel by Southern commuters remains at 70 per cent of the total before the Covid pandemic.
Modal shift ++ Midlands Connect has unveiled new research about railway improvements which it says would boost rail travel in the Midlands by 48 million kilometres a year. The scheme, to improve connections from Birmingham to the east Midlands, the south west and south Wales, could reduce car travel by almost the same amount. The Outline Business Case for the Midlands Rail Hub was sent to the government by Midlands Connect and Network Rail towards the end of last year. The £1.5 billion project would include two new chords in Bordesley and the reinstatement of platform 4 at Snow Hill, which is no longer needed for trams. There would also be new freight loops between Nuneaton and Leicester to increase the capacity of that route.