Tony Cave: Covid measures have made trains safest way to travel

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Train expert and station adopter Tony Cave brings us the latest news from our local railways…

Covid measures

Currently non-essential travel is being discouraged on public transport, however for those who have to use the trains, East Midlands Railway (EMR) now has a third more staff completing cleaning duties, a specialist fog machine has been added to the ‘armoury’, and there is enhanced monitoring and disinfectant usage.

A new Motorscrubber generates micro drop¬lets for enhanced cleaning of touch points. Cleanliness is a top priority for EMR, who are really thankful for all the cleaning staff who work endlessly around the clock to keep our trains and stations clean. Last summer a report by the Rail Safety and Standard Board found the risk of coronavirus infection was less than 0.01% on an average train journey, compared against the average road safety risk being 1.14 times the fatality risk of rail, which means rail travel is marginally safer than road.

Netherfield & Carlton stations

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There were no changes to local train services in the December timetable which lasts until May 15. However, some services are currently cancelled owing to staff having to isolate, the 09.55 Newark and 11.08 return on weekdays appears to be one, and an hourly Nottingham to Worksop service on the Robin Hood Line, with the Mansfield Woodhouse services withdrawn. Always check before travelling.

Smart Ticketing Machines

EMR has been working to deliver a new Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) or Smart Kiosk. The first is currently being tested with two in general use this month. Phase 2 will see 30 machines installed across the network sometime in the summer, including at stations between Nottingham and Lincoln, apart from Thurgarton, Bleasby and Rolleston. Also Netherfield, Radcliffe, Bingham, Aslockton, Bottesford, Rauceby, Heckington and Wainfleet on the Skegness line. More details as they emerge.

Fair increases

Train fares will not increase until March 1 and then by around 2.6% on regulated fares. So an off peak return between Carlton and Nottingham will no doubt increase by 10p to £3.30.

Engineering Work

As far as I am aware there is no planned disruption to services at Carlton until April 3 and 4 when buses replace trains between Nottingham and Newark.

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At Netherfield on Sunday, March 7 a replacement bus runs between Nottingham and Sleaford on Skegness services.

There is, however, major disruption on the East Coast Main Line to Kings Cross at various times until June, which will also affect Nottingham to Norwich services.

East Midlands Regional

Looking to the future…

Some items which will affect our local services and travel to London are as follows:

NEWARK TO LINCOLN RE-SIGNALLING IN 2022 – The last mechanical signal box between Nottingham and Lincoln is at Swinderby, and this is to close with signalling transferred to Lincoln signalling centre. Also 14 level crossings will be upgraded, with one being replaced by a new road at Collingham. Once complete the speed at which trains can run will increase from the present 50 and 70mph limits to 75mph, leading to a minute or two knocked off journey times. 

DIGITAL SIGNALLING – As mentioned last time, there are plans to replace the existing signalling on part of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) with in-cab digital signalling. Now it has been announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) has allocated an extra £1.2million to accelerate development on three key main lines, one of which includes sections of the Midland Main Line (MML) from London St. Pancras.

CLASS 170 ‘TURBOSTAR’ railcars have entered service on the Robin Hood Line and will gradually be rolled out on other local EMR routes. The first in service, 170417, has been named ‘The Key Worker’ in recognition of the contribution from EMR staff, as well as those in the wider transport sector, and all other key workers keeping Britain moving.

Future local developments providing more passengers…

These are all are within a mile of our stations and could provide future potential passengers.

SAINSBURYS SUPERMARKET AT COLWICK: Clearance of vegetation at the site close to the Nottingham to Grantham railway line has commenced, with construction due to start this year.

BETWEEN LINDEN GROVE AND BURTON ROAD, GEDLING. Planning permission for 120 houses has been announced.

A spokesman said: ‘The transport links are excellent and the site is a mile from both Gedling and Carlton and Burton Joyce train stations, with direct trains to Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.’ I presume for Gedling read Netherfield, although Gedling station is within a mile of the site, but the last train left 61 years ago! Not many direct trains to Leicester, why not add Newark?

TEAL PARK – A 30m trade park with Tool Station, Screwfix and Howdens already signed up.

VALE ROAD, COLWICK – housing development near the A612 and Sands Close.

HIGHCLERE LODGE, Burton Road. Application for construction of 22 residential apartments.

Veterans railcard

This was launched in November, and is for anyone who has served for one day or more in HM Armed Forces, and who may not be eligible for other types of railcard. £21 per year or £61 for 3 years (prices held until 31/3/21). Gives a third off most rail fares an6 a companion can also travel for a third off. Up to 4 children travelling at the same time get 60% off.

Looking at the past…

For the first time in my life (from about 12 years old), I am unable to promote rail travel at present, that made me start looking back…

I remember going with my father to put handbills through letter boxes in West Hallam in the early 1960s, advertising an excursion to Blackpool for the Illuminations, which reminded me of the other jobs I did around the station…

I also mixed lime with water to whiten platform edges and a special angled brush was provided so it was easy to keep a straight line. Black leading fireplaces. Mixing glue to paste up posters, one poster board required balancing on a fence to reach it! Priming tilley lamps for the footbridge and trimming and filling paraffin lamps for the platforms. The station buildings had electricity. Plenty of cleaning to do and fetch¬in coal for the fires. Plus issuing tickets which were dated using a heavy cast iron date stamp. When sending cash to Ilkeston North, the leather cash bag once tied had wax melted onto the string then stamped with the brass stamp embossed West Hallam.

A bygone age which I was fortunate to have experienced.


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