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Longer platforms, longer trains

Start of work to extend platform at Hever Stn Credit: Network Rail

The Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat has formally marked the start of a project that will extend twelve station platforms between Edenbridge and Uckfield. The project will allow the introduction of 10-coach trains that will reduce crowding on the Uckfield line and help to meet growing passenger demand. The new longer trains will increase capacity on the line during the morning peak by 50% from July 2016.

Network Rail will build the longer platforms and infrastructure, and Southern Railway will lease, refurbish and run the trains.

“I am pleased that the platform extensions on the Uckfield line are taking place and will be completed soon. This will mean that commuters and other rail users will be able to have a more comfortable journey as trains are able to take extra carriages. Work is now underway and this will be a huge benefit to the local community in providing a better train service. I look forward to the completion of the work early next year”.

– Tom Tugendhat MP

Parents say daughter's death at rail crossing 'could have been avoided'

Sacha Wheeler was hit by a train as she crossed tracks in Whitstable. Credit: ITV Meridian

The family of a Kent school girl killed as crossed a railway line have hit out at Network Rail for failing to make safety changes sooner.

An inquest heard today that 14-year-old Sacha Wheeler was listening to music on her earphones as she walked home for Sunday dinner when she was hit and killed by a train as she used the Glebe Way rail crossing in Whitstable in August 2014.

Sacha' s aunt made a statement outside the inquest on behalf of Sacha's parents Jim and Heather:


Network Rail express 'sympathy' to family of schoolgirl killed on level crossing

Sacha Wheeler was hit by a train as she crossed tracks in Whitstable. Credit: ITV Meridian

Network Rail has expressed its sympathy to the family of a 14-year-old girl killed on a level crossing at in Kent.

14-year-old Sacha Wheeler was hit by a train as she tried to cross tracks at the Glebe Way pedestrian crossing in Whitstable.

The company said they are about to begin a public consultation about safety improvements at the crossing.

We would like to express our sympathy to the family and friends of Sacha Wheeler. Any death on the railway is a tragedy and the impact is felt not only by those who knew the person but also by the train driver and station staff and those who are involved in the aftermath. We want to do everything we can to stop this from happening. “We remain committed to working with the community to find a solution to closing Glebe Way level crossing. The constraints of the site mean that this will not be a simple exercise and we are currently exploring a number of options to replace the crossing. At the end of September we are meeting with Canterbury City Council to discuss those options, we will then be in a position to speak to the wider community to hear their views.

– Network Rail spokesperson

'My wife was begging me to breathe' - Rail worker hit by car trying to jump barriers at level crossing

Doug Caddell was hit by a car at a level crossing

A railway worker has been talking of the terrifying moment he was seriously injured as he closed a gate at a level crossing. Doug Caddell was hurt when a car - trying to jump the barriers - struck the gate, throwing him to the ground.

Network Rail have now started a campaign warning drivers and cyclists of the dangers at level crossings. Tom Savvides reports.

More talks to be held ahead of rail strike

Rail bosses have threatened legal action against one of the two unions planning a 24 hour national rail strike from 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday.

Network Rail said it would seek a High Court injunction against the TSSA union if it continued with plans to take part in the strike.

An NR spokeswoman said: “We have asked the TSSA to withdraw notice of their industrial action as we believe there are numerous defects in the ballot information.”

A senior source made clear that if the union refused to withdraw the action than NR would seek the Injunction to try and prevent it taking part in the walkout. The TSSA, with 3,000 members, is far smaller than the RMT which has 16,000 NR workers including key signalling staff who have the power on their own to halt the railways. Any legal action would not include the RMT and the strike is still scheduled to go ahead.

A second day of talks to try and avert the strike was today taking place at Acas, the conciliation service. If any injunction were successful it would stop TSSA members, which also include senior signal technicians, from taking part in the strike – but a walkout by RMT members would still bring the majority of the national rail network, including most London commuter routes, to a standstill.

The dispute is over pay and working conditions. NR has offered pay increases of RPI for 2016, 2017 and 2018. For this year there would be a £500 non-consolidated lump sum payment – a no compulsory redundancy commitment would be extended until the end of next year.

The RMT has also ordered a 48 hour overtime ban covering all of Bank Holiday Monday and the Tuesday and which would add to the disruption. The union has refused to rule out further strikes if agreement is not reached.


Warning over dangers of level crossings

Pedestrians are risking injury or death by taking shortcuts and climbing over fencing at Grays level crossing in Essex, Network Rail and Thurrock Council have warned.

In the last six months, more than 260 incidents have been recorded. People have been seen by CCTV jumping off the platform, walking along the tracks to the crossing to exit the station or entering the station through the crossing and then coming on to the platform.

Others have damaged the barrier railings making them wide enough for a young child to squeeze through.

"It may be tempting to shave a minute or two off your journey but this a busy line and people are putting their lives at risk by walking on the track or trying to beat the barriers. Some people may think that taking a shortcut along the tracks isn’t really a risk, that they can get out of the way of the train but fatality figures show this isn’t the case. Waiting at a crossing can sometimes be frustrating but ignoring safety measures can result in tragic consequences, something we want to prevent. Over the next few weeks, we will be working with the council and the police by stepping up patrols, leafleting the area and holding a dedicated awareness day to reduce the number of incidents. However, if this situation continues we may have to seriously consider closing the level crossing as a last resort. The level of risk that people are putting themselves in is simply too high.”

– Steve Cassidy, Network Rail area director

Rail boss gives up bonus after weekend of chaos

Network Rail Chief Executive Mark Carne to give up bonus following weekend chaos caused by overrunning engineering works, he has revealed to ITV News Meridian.

It's thought he's missing out on £34,000, but he could have been paid up to £150,000.

The rail boss is at Reading station today apologising to passengers following the delays.

Network Rail boss Mark Carne has given up his bonus following the chaos
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