Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has given the go-ahead for a new Park & Ride station for Horden/Peterlee. Costing an estimated £10.55m, £4.5 m is to come from the DfT New Stations Fund, with the rest from Durham County Council and the North East Combined Authority. It is expected that the new station will open in 2020 and be served by Northern’s coast line trains and possibly Grand Central’s Sunderland-Kings Cross service. Coastliners has been lobbying for this station for many years, as has Durham County Council.
Northern Railway guests at the meeting were Northern Railway’s Mike Paterson (Regional Director North East Business Unit) and Pete Myers (Stakeholder Manager North East).
The Arriva Trains franchise had now been running for a year. Mike noted that the NEBU was about the size of the Chiltern Trains franchise. There were now ten partially refurbished 156s (new disabled toilet, customer information screens, new seat fobs, repaint) in service of which three had now replace Pacers in the North East. They would get new carpets later. The refurbishment contract has been changed from WABTEC Kilmarnock to Arriva Traincare Eastleigh, and it was planned that 253 refurbished coaches would be in service by the end of 2018. North West electrification was behind schedule, hence the decision to fit eight refurbished 319 EMUs with diesel engines so that that they could run onto as yet to be electrified lines. There was a possibility of still more conversions for running in the North East
Other projects that were progressing well include
- The digital trains project enabling on train CIS displays to be updated from Control as well as performance data to be feedback from the train
- New ticket machines & smart phones for conductors
- Recruitment of more drivers (vacancies still available)
- New integrated travel centre at Whitby
- Arriva integrated tickets (for Northern, Cross Country, Grand Central & buses)
- Replacement station ticket machines would enable users to talk to a customer services assistant for help & advice. These would take cards only including contactless. Hartlepool would get three in the first tranche
- Barriers & ticket gates at Hartlepool due for installation in September along with staffing for longer hours.
- Early morning commuter service from Whitby starting 2019 (with an 05xx service from Middlesbrough to form this train)
- Horden/Peterlee station expected by 2021 (Grand Central have applied to stop here)
- A Tees CRP for Sunderland/Nunthorpe & Bishop Auckland/Saltburn – Northern taking the lead
- Study of timetable paths for Middlesbrough-Durham-Newcastle-Carlisle Northern Connect service delayed to October this year; expected to be operated by 4-car 158s
- Nunthorpe station to be moved 1km south in the next decade to a new development with P&R car park
- The possibility of some 3-car 170s from ScotRail instead of delayed 150’s from FGW
The draft May 2018 timetable was out for consultation and includes
- Better weekday connections between Coastline, Saltburn & TPE services at Thornaby
- An hourly train cycle Carlisle – Nunthorpe(or Whitby) – Metro Centre – Morpeth – Carlisle
- A franchise commitment for a late evening service (after 2245) from Newcastle to Middlesbrough subject to agreement from Network Rail regarding engineering possession time south of Sunderland
Pete advised that the latest performance for the North East sector was of 93% with a right time arrival of 81% despite temporary speed restrictions at Billingham, Fellgate & Pelaw. There would be a ‘Performance Improvement Week’ in October and Coastliners were invited to send a representative to a Network Rail/Northern Coastline Improvement meeting
Grand Central has now received 180108, the first of five former First Great Western Class 180s destined for the fleet. This is currently in service in its previous operators blue livery, to cover for 180114 which is at Arriva Train Care’s depot in Eastleigh being fitted with ETCS (European Train Control System) equipment by Alstom. This equipment forms the on-train part of the new signalling system that Network Rail plan to implement on the ECML (East Coast Main Line) in the future. The aim will be to fit this to all of the Class 180s, where possible during a refresh, to ensure that GC are best prepared for when Network Rail look to implement it. The new equipment, which involves a new cab layout, additional underframe equipment and a new electronics cubicle in the passenger saloon, will all be switched off in the meantime.
Once 108114 returns, 180108, will go to Eastleigh at the start of July for refurbishment. This will last approximately two months and include a full interior and exterior repaint, overhauled seats, new flooring and catering modifications.