MECX Complete Multiple Bridge Renewal Projects Despite Coronavirus

Deborah Lillis

Despite the coronavirus epidemic the MECX signalling team managed to complete a rapid turnaround of a 16 day multiple bridge renewal project on behalf of Network Rail.  Whilst facing enormous engineering and technical difficulties and being surrounded by the chaos being driven by the coronavirus epidemic, the team found themselves right in the heart of this current pandemic. Whilst the Government continued to engage in the swift lockdown of the UK, our signalling team were faced with being evicted from hotels, with only an hours notice, as hotels, pubs, restaurants and certain shops were being told to closed.  Despite all the challenges thrown at the team whilst working to a strict deadline everyone managed to dig deep whilst being inventive & securing food locally through various sources.  Even when en-route to the various project sites the team fully cooperated with the police when they were being challenged during this national lockdown period.

The successful completion of the planned works, on time and to full scope, is nothing but a reflection of the driven dedication and capability of MECX Signalling Staff, making this happen despite all odds. Despite the pandemonium our team persevered right through to the very end of the programme.  And in conjunction with all the other contractors on site, a huge team effort & outstanding volumes of work were delivered in just 16 days.  The speed of such will most probably never been seen again in living history.

Professional Head of Signalling, Oryst Magdij, explains “there is no other company in the UK like MECX Signalling.  We are honoured to be employing a quality signalling team, with true grit and the determination to deliver projects whatever the odds being faced against them.”

MECX Rugby Take on a New Apprentice

Deborah Lillis

As part of our continued investment in securing skilled people, MECX Signalling, based at Rugby, have joined in partnership with Warwickshire College Group and have recruited a Level 3 Business Administration Apprentice – Luke Newey. Luke’s Apprenticeship commenced in January this year and already Luke is working extremely well within the team. His duties have included undertaking analytics and back room support to the engineering teams, resourcing, clerical, alongside starting a business modular learning programme at Rugby College.  The balance of hands-on work experience coupled with in-depth training & a salary, is a great opportunity for Luke’s growth, whilst also providing a real output value to MECX.   Welcome aboard Luke!

New Advert From Avanti West Coast

Deborah Lillis

Avanti West Coast, the service that connects London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow has released a new advert as a way of showcasing what the service is all about. Its a fabulous advert which really demonstrates the heart and soul that the company puts into service delivery. You can see the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wChs1m7_qPc

For too long, our train services have suffered from poor performance and a low level of customer service but Avanti wants to change the public perception through this new advert.

The advert has been cleverly created, showing how people can get together from all walks of life to create a human train, delivering people to where they need to get to. The advert aims to show just how the service is made for everyone and what really lies at the heart of it all – the people.

Creating those special moments underpins the very service and that can be felt throughout the entire advert. The countryside forms the backdrop, conjuring up images of hurtling through the fields and trees on a train, regardless of whether you are travelling up the country or simply heading home. The advert captures the very essence of how the service wants to be seen – as a service that is created by its passengers.

The advert called on hundreds of people as well as animals to showcase the service and send across a message of what the service is all about. At the heart and soul of all that it does is the need to deliver passenger satisfaction and reliability, so no matter where you need to be, Avanti West Coast will get you there.

The slogan “Let’s Get Together” comes across as a heartfelt message from the service and one that leaves us feeling as though a change is coming. There is no doubt that train services around the country have suffered in previous years but this advert could be a signal that things are changing for the better.

Putting money into an advert that shows people getting on at different stages of the human train, some of which are working, some who are with loved ones and some who are travelling to events is a great way of reaching out to a wider audience.

As far as adverts go, this is one that really does resonate with viewers, showing how a connected rail service can bring the country and its people together.

International Women’s Day 2020

Deborah Lillis
Happy International Women’s Day 2020
Celebrations across the UK rail industry ranged from 3 passenger trains entirely run by female staff, to the Flying Scotsman service being rebranded as the Flying Scotswoman for the month of March. And here’s to just a few women who have made inspirational changes across the rail industry including Anna Delvecchio Amey, Loraine Martins Network Rail, Leanne Gregory, Gemma Gillman, Jenny Wai, Victoria Snell winners of the 2019 Women in Rail Awards; and good luck to all those ladies being shortlisted for the 2020 Women In Rail Awards in May being hosted by the lovely Naga Munchetty, TV Presenter. 

New CEO at MECX Group

Deborah Lillis

Mecx Group has announced the appointment of Mr. Greg Salisbury as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Group

Having left university with both Batchelors and Masters Degrees to his name, Greg Salisbury started his career with Balfour Beatty, in the old Railtrack Southern Track Renewals region. Today he is a highly-regarded infrastructure specialist, and brings with him, some 20+ years of experience of working in the rail and civil engineering sectors, both nationally and internationally.  Greg has undertaken numerous leadership roles, from Project Manager, as part of the Balfour Beatty UK rail business, through to Executive Operations Manager in Australia.  These roles have seen him deliver large scale multi-disciplinary projects, set up dedicated specialist business units, as well as heading up delivery teams and overseeing divisional contracting units within large blue chip plc contractors and client organisations.

In a statement released today, Greg said, “I am extremely excited to be joining MECX, and very much looking forward to working with both the board of directors, and our various business units. We will set out what the vision and strategy needs to be for MECX to fulfil the huge potential it holds, and to deliver on the development plans we have for the business. In railway terms this will take us through control period 6 and beyond, with a clear focus on supporting our key clients and developing the skills of our core staff.”

Greg goes on to say, “These really are exciting times, with MECX Group being able to offer a comprehensive nationwide service across all railway assets and interfaces, on both mainline and light rail systems, plus overlapping infrastructure sectors such as Power, Utilities and Highways. As the incoming CEO of an aspirational Tier 2 contracting organisation, I will be looking to work with our clients to galvanise and expand the existing service offering, and further extend the MECX capability across Signalling Systems, Vegetation Management, Building & Civils Works, Support Services and multi-disciplinary project delivery.”

Chris Mariner, who will now step up to more of a strategic lead for the group, focussing on business development activities and acquisitional opportunities in addition to supporting Greg in his new role as CEO, released the following statement…  “Greg is a tremendous tactical acquisition for MECX Group. He brings with him an infectious enthusiasm and passion for delivering business and contracts in both the railway and associated transportation markets.  Under his leadership I am confident that MECX will achieve the shareholders plan to grow the Group and surpass the targets we have set.  Greg has significant track record in attracting and developing the best teams of talented individuals, enhancing corporate relationships and exceeding client expectations. He is ambitious, articulate and truly professional. My shareholders and I are confident and comfortable that MECX is in good hands with Greg at the helm as CEO, and we are better placed than ever to maximise the opportunities for growth within the rail industry and extended infrastructure markets of UK and Ireland.”

North is Promised High-Speed Rail By HS2 Minister

Deborah Lillis

Boris Johnson confirmed at the beginning of February that HS2 would continue between London and Birmingham while the second phase of HS2 which would connect Manchester to Leeds would also go ahead. This meant that certain areas of the Northern Powerhouse Rail would be prioritised. Along with this, a HS2 minister would be put in place and this turned out to become the role of Andrew Stephenson.

Following his first speech, Mr Stepehenson said “  “It was a huge honour last week to be given responsibility for HS2 and for Northern Powerhouse Rail in this new government. Like so many other northerners, I’ve been frustrated over the years as all the decisions seem to be taken away by civil servants and ministers in London, and we’ve had so little say on the decisions that affect us directly. But thankfully, that is now changing.”

 “We’ve established Transport for the North. And through our Transforming Cities Fund, we’re delivering more than £1 billion to Metro Mayors over the next five years.”

He also discussed the way in which the government had stepped in to make changes to northern rail services with a focus on reliability and passenger trust. To do this, he focused on a need to increase capacity with new rail links between the north and south and east and west. This is the reason why HST and Northern Powerhouse Rail is going ahead.

There are critics who are claiming that HS2 will only benefit London but that is not the truth. This is because there is a real need for better rail links in the north. However, all of this can only be achieved by having a greater grip on the costs.

So, the project has to be delivered correctly and so, this will involve bringing forward legislation for the high-speed line into Manchester as soon as possible. With this will be the presentation of the one Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands. Mr Stephenson went on to say  “The plan will examine how HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail can best work together, alongside wider investment in Transport for the North and the Midlands. To make sure people see the benefits of better services as quickly as possible.”

Now is the time to give the people of the north something to be proud of.

 

 

Cost Gap HS2 and Contractors

HS2 is Proof That The Funding System is in a Bad Shape

Deborah Lillis

The ever-increasing cost of HS2 is proof that there are significant issues with financial management in the UK and that it also affects further investment in infrastructure, a claim made by Rob Whitemane, the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy.

While HS2 is supposedly a new chapter in the future of the UK transport system it is also a hindrance in the way that the cost has spiralled out of control. This proves that the government needs to take a change in its approach to infrastructure.

As a result, it is believed that the government should focus on the outcome instead of delivery at the lowest possible price. As a result, HS2 is a clear example of the management issues that are causing problems in investment. Along with this, the Chancellor has also said that the Budget will bring with it a turning point in relation to spending on public service. Therefore, it is not about short-term injections of cash but more about the way in which the government evaluates infrastructure investment and manages it.

MECX Rail Vegetation Team Remove Precarious Tree

Deborah Lillis

MECX specialist Vegetation Management Team were asked to carry out an emergency job for Network Rail in Baschurch. A silver birch which displayed rot was leaning precariously over the tracks. Our on site team were instructed to remove this tree as it posed a serious risk to the infrastructure. It was a complex job due to the high winds being experienced. Line blocks were taken by the team and they used all of their skillsets to successfully dismantle the tree and remove the impending risk.

Alstom logo

Alstom Take Over Bombardier

Deborah Lillis

Train builder Bombardier is soon to be taken over by French company Alstom.

Bombardier already employs around 2,000 people in the UK at its Derby factory while it also has several maintenance depots located around the country.

Following the release of its statement, Alstom has confirmed that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bombardier Inc. and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec as they begin to acquire Bombardier Transportation. After the transaction has taken place, Alstom will have a backlog of around €75bn as well as revenues of approximately €15.5bn. The cost of acquiring all of Bombardier Transportation shares will range from €5.8bn to €6.2bn and this will be covered through cash and new Alstom shares.

The chairman and CEO of Alstom, Henri Poupart-Lafarge has said they the acquisition is a very proud moment and that it gives them a chance to enhance their position globally, at a time when the mobility market is growing. Therefore, the acquisition will improve their reach and their ability to respond to the demands for sustainable mobility.

What this will offer Alstrom is a presence globally as well as a foothold in many growing markets as well as technological platforms. As a result, they can work more innovatively, while also improving both smart and green innovations. Therefore, the company is looking forward to welcoming all of the Bombardier workforce while also looking to add value to stakeholders and customers in particular.

Danny Di Perna, the president of Bombardier Transportation has said that the announcement is welcomed and that they see the product and both the geographical abilities will complement each other. As a result, it will enable the company to meet the growing demand for rail on a global scale. As green and digital rail solutions form the next generation of the rail industry, they are committed to meeting these changes and so, through improved investment innovation capabilities, the company will have the chance to deliver on a new level.

The takeover will need to be approved at an Extraordinary General Meeting by the end of October 2020 but the indications are already there that the deal will be agreed. Regulators will also need to approve the transaction but the deal should be completed by the middle of 2021.

West Midlands Trains Receives Government Action.

Deborah Lillis

As a result of poor services and bad experiences for passengers, the Transport secretary Grant Shapps has requested that West Midlands Trains invests an additional £20m to make improvements.

As a result, this funding will improve the experience for passengers in relation to timetables and new train drivers to help deal with staff shortages. What’s more, there will also be discounts on season tickets and off-peak fares as a way of compensating for the dire service they have received.

This is a clear indication that the Department for Transport is aiming to take action on those operators who fall way below the expected standards when it comes to performance and the way in which it has an impact on passengers. Along with this, action will also be taken should they fail to meet their contractual obligations.

Therefore, the £20m will be used to:

  • Give compensation to passengers through a 3% discount on season ticket renewals.
  • Make improvements to the timetable, with changes in place for May 2020 and December 2020
  • Employ additional conductors as well as drivers to help deal with the staff shortages
  • Invest in day to day operations in order to create a more reliable service

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “One of my priorities is getting the trains to run on time, and as a commuter myself I understand all too well the frustration caused by endless delays and cancellations.

“West Midlands Trains have failed to fulfil their obligations – to their franchise agreement and, most importantly, to their passengers. The action we’re taking means they must invest in rapidly improving services so that passengers have reliable, punctual trains they can rely on.”

The Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has monitored the performance of West Midlands Trains and is concerned and so, the action is being taken as a way of ensuring they fulfil their commitments so that passengers get the service they expect and deserve.

The delays have become frequent and passengers are being constantly let down by poor service, all of which has to be put right. As a result, the trains must run on time as a rule and not the exception. Despite all of this, this is a warning that other operators should take notice of.

 

 

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