Longest rail tunnel in the world opens in Switzerland

Gotthard TunnelAfter nearly 2 decades of construction work, the Gotthard Tunnel, the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel opened in Switzerland earlier this month.

The tunnel is expected to revolutionise travel between northern and southern Europe by providing a high speed rail link underneath the Swiss Alps, moving freight traffic off the road and onto the rails. It is estimated that more than a million lorry loads of freight will move from road to rail.

Whilst the tunnels have been officially opened scheduled services will not begin until December 2016 when up to 265 freight trains and 65 passenger trains a day are expected to run. Continue reading

Crossrail 2 granted development funding

crossrail 2 tunnel image

Copyright: Crossrail Ltd

Hot on the heels of the reported success of the Crossrail project comes the news that Crossrail 2 has been awarded £80m to develop the project. The project has been identified as a priority and has been endorsed by the National Infrastructure Commission.

What is Crossrail 2?

Crossrail 2 is a proposed new railway serving London and the South East. Its proposed route will serve stations throughout the South East linking South West and North East London as well as brining benefit to other towns and cities across the South East. Many places across the region will benefit from faster or more frequent journeys into London on Crossrail 2 trains and also the National Rail Services on mainline stations. Continue reading

Crossrail update – Project progressing on time

crossrail tunnel

Image copyright Crossrail Ltd

9 months after the tunnelling was complete we thought we’d take a look at the progress of the Crossrail Project; the new line linking rail services from Reading and Heathrow in the West to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East.

In case you missed the announcements in February, the line will be named the Elizabeth line when it opens to passengers in 2018. For those of you wondering which new colour will be added to the London rail service map systems, the new line will be purple. HRH Queen Elizabeth visited the Bond Street station in February where she met with workers and was presented with a commemorative purple Elizabeth line roundel. Continue reading

Flooding and the rail network

rail Industry switchesLess than a week after the good news that Carlisle station is to get a £14.7m upgrade the rail network in the north, and particularly Carlisle has suffered at the hands of Storm Desmond. Stations have no power and long stretches of track are under water causing travel chaos.

Whilst Network Rail are promising to get things back up and running as soon as humanly possible, the safety of rail passengers has to be at the forefront of everything being done. So whilst in an ideal world commuters would love to back to normal as soon as possible, there is much more to getting back to normal than just the water receding. Network Rail’s crews of maintenance people (known as the Orange Army) are clearing fallen trees and landslip debris where they can (read more here), but it’s not just what’s fallen onto the tracks that is the issue. Continue reading

Research into rail switches at the IRR

rail switchesRail switches or ’points’ are used in the rail industry to guide trains to their correct route. They work by using a tapered set of rails (points) lying between the outer rails that can be moved to direct the train travelling across them.

They make up less than 1% of the entire length of railway routes in the UK, yet they account for 20% of the expenditure on track maintenance. With a working life of approximately 3 years, frequent maintenance and replacement of rail switches is needed to avoid disruptions in services. Continue reading