Flooding at Bridgwater Somerset

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Engineering apprenticeships, digital radio and Internet-connected devices all see a rise in popularity according to this month’s figures.


Transport company FirstGroup has used targeted SMS messages to locate and deploy 1,500 rail replacement buses at short notice after the recent widespread UK flooding interrupted services. Using the PageOne Connect service, national controllers receiving reports of disruption have been able to contact coach suppliers within a 20-mile radius of each incident in a matter of minutes. More than 100,000 messages were sent in just 14 days in February.



More than twice as many young people are choosing engineering apprenticeships as degree courses. Figures from the Skills Funding Agency show that in 2012/13, 66,410 young people started an apprenticeship in engineering and manufacturing, while 27,155 were accepted onto engineering higher education courses, according to UCAS. IET membership director Michelle Richmond said: “Engineering is one of few professions with a range of entry routes.”



IHS Technology forecasts that over 6.18 billion Internet-connected devices will be produced worldwide this year, up 6 per cent from 2013 and representing the largest market increase for four years. Products will include not only mobile phones, tablets and computers but also games consoles, liquid-crystal display televisions and set-top boxes, as well as falling numbers of digital still cameras, camcorders, desktop PCs, DVD players and portable media players.



Over half of UK radio listeners tune in using a digital platform at some point each week, up 10 per cent year on year, according to Rajar data released by Digital Radio UK. Around two-thirds of digital listening is via DAB radios, with the rest split between online/apps and digital TV. However, most listening is still analogue, especially in cars, but in 2013 there was a significant increase in the proportion of new cars fitted with DAB, led by BMW, Audi, VW and Ford.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular station is BBC Radio 2, while BBC Radio 6 Music is the most listened-to digital-only station.



The dynamic behaviour of more than 2,000 railway bridges on the Great Western and East Coast routes has been assessed as part of the programme to introduce new Hitachi-built Intercity Express trains. As a result of the analysis, eight bridges required onsite monitoring to see if they would be susceptible to unacceptable resonance. Six were cleared, but the remaining two will need advanced resonance-damping remediation work or deck replacement.



The capacity of London Array wind farm in the Thames Estuary will stay at 630MW as the developers cancelled plans for a second phase. Consortium members Dong Energy, E.On and Masdar cited technical challenges and environmental uncertainties, especially the need for a three-year delay to assess the impact of additional turbines on overwintering birds.

The announcement was made on the same day that the Offshore Wind Programme Board released its annual report, with energy minister Michael Fallon calling the UK the world leader in offshore wind and promising a policy framework to retain a global lead.

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