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Cardiff railway bridge avoids £40m demolition thanks to electric resistant paint

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In a world first, electric resistant paint combined with voltage-controlled clearance (VCC) has helped make a Victorian railway bridge usable by new electric trains, avoiding weeks of passenger disruption and train delays in the process.

Just over a year ago, electrification of the railway running between London and Cardiff was completed, providing greener and faster journeys for our passengers.

But behind the scenes something innovative was happening, that turned out to be a huge success and will now be used to shape the future of electrification projects at Network Rail.

As diesel trains were replaced with electric ones, Network Rail engineers were tasked with a huge job to install overhead wires and cables to run them.

As most routes were designed during the Victorian times, this often means large structures, like bridges, need to be reconstructed before electrification is installed. 

Richard Stainton, engineering expert, Network Rail said: “Intersection Bridge – situated in the centre of Cardiff, on the Wales route – is a prime example. The structure is too low to safely fit all the kit required.

“Ordinarily, this would force Network Rail to demolish it and rebuild it at a greater height to keep electric trains a safe distance away from the bridge as they pass under, and stop them from electrifying the bridge itself, or anything on it.”

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In this case however, Network Rail used electric-resistant paint – a unique coating applied to the underside of the bridge.

This is a new technology that has been developed with the University of Southampton.

It was used alongside specially developed lineside kit, including: surge arresters and insulated bridge arms, to insulate the bridge from electricity and make it safe for electric trains to pass under.

In a world first, the electric resistant paint was combined with voltage-controlled clearance (VCC) which allowed the electrical clearance gap to be reduced by 20mm from the overhead line equipment (OLE) to the bridge, and 70mm from the OLE to the trains roofs.

This meant around £40m of savings as the bridge did not need to be knocked down to start from scratch. 

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Peter Smith-Jaynes, regional asset manager, electrification, Wales & Western, said: “It’s a really complex situation at Cardiff Intersection Bridge.

“It’s a very busy rail-over-rail bridge, with a canal underneath that, and it’s surrounded by high-rise buildings. Just accessing the bridge would have been difficult but knocking it down and rebuilding it would have been nearly impossible. We had to find another solution.”

With a year of data to back it up, Network Rail is now developing the solution and investigating deploying it nationally across a wide range of bridges.

Richard explained: “Typically, a third of electrification project expenditure is on reconstruction and modifying of civils structures – tunnels, bridges and stations – to allow the installation OLE with the necessary clearances. 

“This solution will create enormous efficiencies; allowing future electrification projects to be installed and energised without multi-million-pound expenditure – potentially saving the tax-payers as much as £100m.

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“It will also significantly reduce the number of rail closures – for access – lowering the disruption to passengers, road networks, and railway neighbours.”

Peter added: “As a Welshman, I’m proud we’ve been able to trial this innovative, new technology here in Cardiff, and can look back on it knowing we’ve made a difference, potentially saving the taxpayer millions as we roll it out on future electrification projects elsewhere.” ​


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Cadw

Welsh Government announces free bus travel for Ukrainian refugees

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A new Welcome Ticket will provide refugees and people from Ukraine with free bus travel and they will also receive free entry to Cadw sites across Wales.

The two schemes, which are announced today, underline Wales’ commitment to be a Nation of Sanctuary to people fleeing conflict and abuse around the world.

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The Welcome Ticket, which will be available to refugees and people arriving from Ukraine, will cover the majority of bus services running in Wales and builds on the free six-month rail travel pilot, which was announced a few weeks ago.

It provides all eligible people free, unlimited travel on local bus services, including those operating into England where the journey starts or finishes in Wales. The Welcome Ticket scheme will run for six months ending on 30 September 2022

Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said: “This free bus scheme – called Welcome Ticket – will be available to all refugees who are already here or are arriving in Wales and will allow unlimited free travel on the majority of local bus services across Wales and those operating to England, if they start or finish in Wales.

“This is a major step forward in ensuring refugees and people from Ukraine can travel freely across Wales – it will help them to integrate into Wales and make a positive contribution to our nation.

“I want to pay tribute to all those bus companies across Wales for taking part in this scheme – it demonstrates their commitment to making Wales a real nation of sanctuary.”

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The Welcome Ticket is a voluntary scheme in which bus companies across Wales can choose to take part in. People will need to show evidence of their eligibility for the scheme, which maybe their passport, visa or biometric residence permit when boarding. They will then be given a Welcome Ticket by the bus driver.

Cadw have also announced their scheme to offer free individual or family entry to all Cadw sites for refugees and those seeking sanctuary in Wales. Visitors to Cadw sites who are refugees, asylum seekers or people from Ukraine will need to show appropriate documentation from the Home Office.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said: “I’m delighted to see Cadw playing its part in showing what being a Nation of Sanctuary means.

“This offer will be in place until 25 October, ensuring all those who come to Wales seeking sanctuary will have the opportunity to view and visit Welsh cultural and heritage sites across the country free of charge.”

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We’ve made great strides in delivering on our promise to be a Nation of Sanctuary in Wales. These announcements show this commitment in action.

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“Being a Nation of Sanctuary means welcoming people to Wales and providing them with help and support to settle into their lives in Wales. We’re very proud we can extend these fantastic schemes to people from Ukraine.”

“We firmly believe the skills, experience and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers are an asset to Wales – that’s why we’re proud to extend the welcome and support their ambitions to thrive in Wales. This is what being a Nation of Sanctuary is all about.

“We want to ensure that these individuals are supported to rebuild their lives and make a full contribution to Welsh society.”

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Motoring

New study from leading safety charity RoSPA finds e-scooters five times safer than bicycles

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A new study into the safety of e-scooters has been published today by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), which found that e-scooters are significantly less risky than many other forms of transport on Britain’s roads.

The report recorded an incident rate of 0.66 collisions for every million miles travelled on an e-scooter – five times lower than bicycles with 3.33 collisions per million miles travelled and nine times lower than the figure of 5.88 for motorcycles.

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The study was carried out by the UK’s leading accident prevention charity RoSPA, with technical assistance from safety-focused e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility. It assessed the scale and nature of injury risk associated with e-scooters in comparison to other modes of transport. It covers data gathered by the Department for Transport (DfT) and provided by Neuron for the 2020 period.

With the numbers of e-scooters in the UK increasing sharply since 2020, both as part of the Government’s ongoing trials and often illegal use of private e-scooters, there is a pressing requirement for further research into how the safety of these devices shapes up against other vehicles.

In fact, of the incidents that did occur on e-scooters, figures showed that the overwhelming majority of them (94 per cent) took place in local authority areas that were not operating an e-scooter trial as opposed to areas with shared e-scooters available, further highlighting that so far, the UK’s shared e-scooter trials have proven to be remarkably safe.

Shared e-scooter schemes tend to feature a range of safety innovations and stricter rules and regulations when compared to privately owned e-scooters which are currently illegal for use on public land.

For example, Neuron’s rental e-scooters, which have been approved by the DfT, are fitted with GPS and geofencing which controls where they can be ridden and parked and their speed in different areas.

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With this technology, Neuron is able to set riding area boundaries, slow-zones, no-parking zones, and no-ride zones. Every trip is logged and all e-scooters have insurance, integrated safety helmets, identification plates, topple detection, and with daily safety checks and regular servicing, they are widely regarded as a safer option than private e-scooters.

Almost all incidents analysed as part of the study were confirmed to have taken place on the roads (94 per cent), mostly on unsegregated single carriageways.

The vast majority involved a collision between an e-scooter and a larger powered vehicle like a car, truck or lorry, highlighting the need for improved infrastructure and protection for riders.

The data also shone light onto the types of riders involved and the time of day incidents were most likely to take place, with the majority of collisions happening during daylight hours, between 2pm and 7pm, with peaks at 3pm and 6pm. Men (77 per cent) were far more likely to be involved than women.

Based on these findings, the report makes a set of recommendations to improve the safety of e-scooters further, including:

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  • Given the rate of crashes that take place on single carriageways, further investment in road design improvements, including segregated bike and e-scooter lanes, would be beneficial.
  • Safety standards should be applied to improve the visibility of e-scooters on the road, including those that relate to indication, lighting and braking.
  • Providing mandatory training on the Highway Code and the practical operation of e-scooters would be beneficial for all users.
  • Awareness and training on e-scooter behaviour for other road users, in particular car drivers, would be beneficial.
  • e-scooter users should be encouraged to wear helmets when riding

Nathan Davies, Executive Head of Policy and Portfolio at RoSPA said: “e-scooters are clearly set to be a long-term feature of our transport mix and it’s of pressing importance that we understand their impact on road safety and how they can be made safe for everyone to use.

This report shows that e-scooters compare favourably to other kinds of vehicles and do not represent any greater safety risk to other road users and pedestrians. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure they are integrated on our highways and make sure both e-scooter riders and cyclists are offered greater protections from motor vehicles, which were the source of the vast majority of incidents.”

RentaleE-scooter operators, like Neuron, taking part in the Department for Transport’s trial schemes have demonstrated a strong commitment to safety and rider education. However, we need to see these initiatives filter across to private sale models, where the majority of incidents occur, to ensure any wider rollout is done with safety as a priority.”

George Symes, UK Regional Manager at Neuron Mobility said: “As a relatively new mode of transport there is often a misperception that e-scooters present a greater risk than some other forms of transport, but the data shows this simply isn’t true. We welcome RoSPA’s report which shows that e-scooters – particularly rental e-scooters – compare very favourably to bikes and motorcycles when it comes to the number of incidents.

“Neuron’s number one focus is safety. We evaluate every incident that takes place in our cities to assess how we can reduce the risk of it happening again. Across the UK we have implemented a range of initiatives to make our operations safer, including an online safety course developed with RoSPA, regular ScootSafe events in city centres and universities and incentives for helmet use and safe parking.”

“We know that with the right investment in technology, education and infrastructure, e-scooters can be made even safer and more accessible.“

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(Lead image: Dirk Vorderstraße / Creative Commons)

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British Transport Police

Police want to speak with this man after a teenage girl was sexually assaulted on train to Llanelli

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British Transport Police have released a photo of a man they want to speak with after a teenage girl was reportedly sexually assaulted in a “prolonged” attack.

The attack took place on a Heart of Wales line train between Llandovery and Llanelli.

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A spokesperson from British Transport Police said: “At 4.40pm on Saturday 26 March, a teenage girl boarded the train and sat opposite a man on a table seat. The man then proceeded to sexually assault her.

“Officers believe the man in the image may have information which could help their investigation.

“If you recognise him, or have any information, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 538 of 26/03/22.

“Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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