Friday, 18 November 2022

Fuel Duty - 23% Increase!

In perhaps one of the more unexpected developments in yesterday's 'Fiscal Incident' the Fuel Duty Escalator has returned!

Surprisingly the Chancellor elected not to bellow the 23% rise in Fuel Duty in his Common's statement, which looks like it will add 12p to the price of a litre of fuel from March next year.

According to the OBR this will net the Treasury £6bn a year.

Not a number to be sniffed at and potentially a source of good news for both passenger and freight operators.

Of course it is highly unlikely that the Chief Striver Soaker, Jeremy Hunt, will fold on this decision, once the Mail declares it a War on the Motorist.

Unlike say, every other Chancellor since 2011.

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Iain Stewart elected TSC Chair

Iain Stewart, the Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South, has been elected Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

Iain was first elected MP in 2010 and he has served several times as a member of the TSC: from 2010-2013; 2015-2017; 2017-2018; in 2019 and in 2020.

Previous government roles have included Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Scottish Office (2020-22) and on several occasions as a whip.

The following Conservative MPs also stood in the TSC election:

  • Jack Brereton (Stoke South)
  • Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock)
  • Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble)
  • Chris Loder (West Dorset)
  • Karl McCartney (Lincoln)

Jack Brereton MP, Chris Loder MP and Karl McCartney MP are existing members of the TSC.

Commenting on his win, Iain said:

“I am delighted to have been entrusted by the House to Chair this vital Committee and thank all who supported me.

"I have a real passion for, and experience in, Transport issues and I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues on the Committee to complete the existing programme of work and establish fresh inquiries.

“I want the Committee both to scrutinise and hold to account Government, agencies and operators, but also to do important horizon-scanning proactive work into future opportunities and challenges.”

With today's 'Fiscal Event' and continued uncertainty over the future of GBR there will be much for the new chair and his committee to scrutinise.

Frank Ward elected new GS of TSSA

Congratulations to Frank Ward, the new General Secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA).

This from the TSSA website:

Frank Ward writes:

Part of a family of railway workers my employment history started in BR in the West of Scotland in 1984. I joined TSSA on my first day when the paperwork at my induction included a TSSA membership application form which I was told in no uncertain terms had to be signed before I could begin my railway career! 

I worked as a booking clerk at various locations across Ayrshire before transferring to Glasgow Central as an enquiries clerk where I held a number of roles in our union as a workplace representative, Branch Officer and Divisional Council Officer. I started my employment with TSSA in 1995 as an assistant in what was then referred to as the National Negotiating Department and have held various responsibilities since then including member education, policy and legal advice, communications and political campaigning before taking on the role of Assistant General Secretary in 2012.

A Labour Party member for longer than I sometimes wish to remember I believe passionately that only a Labour government can deliver the opportunities, services and support that our communities so badly need and deserve if they are to thrive rather than divide.

For relaxation my wife indulges my passions for Celtic Football Club, horse racing and American basketball, baseball and ice hockey all because they feed her great passion for travel.

The industry will be watching closely to see if Frank maintains the somewhat polemical tone of his retired predecessor.

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Railway Dictionary update

 This from our lexicographer friend Barry Spotter...

The word for today is:

Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something.

See also: Late, Expensive, Missing, etc...

Sunday, 24 July 2022

CrossCountry restores THE marque

In these confusing and worrying times...

It is nice to see a classic and reassuring brand restored to Britain's Railway - courtesy of the sole national passenger operator, offering scheduled services across all NR Regions (did you see what I had to do there? No matter).

Eye salutes CrossCountry's leadership team for authorising this livery.

A strong brand, that always signified an ambition to deliver a simpler, better railway.

And still cleverer to promote this via viral marketing?

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Varsity Line sent down!

Good news for fans of Scorched Earth Policy.

Following his swift departure from the Tory leadership election, Grant Shapps has now announced the demise of East West Rail.

This via Cambridgeshire News:

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the remaining stages of the East West Rail project should be cancelled. He made the statement during an interview with LBC...

When asked what he would do if he was in charge, he said: "I would cut East West Rail on what's called two and three, the second and third stages. The charges of it, it would save £3-5 million."

This genuinely exciting new cross country railway, aims to restore the lost direct route linking Oxford to Cambridge, serving growing regions in-between and offering new direct connections between the GWML, WCML, MML, ECML and East Anglia 

"Oxbridge" are famed university cities, with global reputations for research, innovation and world beating future technology.

So DfT will restrict the first part of the newly reopened route to errr... diesel traction!

With the smallest of vision, the first part of this new railway reconnecting Oxford and Bletchley, might also have offered a simpler, better railway to passengers and Railfreight customers from across Britain, especially those seeking a direct route between East & West - avoiding congested routes into and out of London?

In happier news, post reshuffle, Pilot Michael Green can always swiftly fly to speedily address audiences in both Oxford & Cambridge, as well as points in-between; aerodromes and traffic allowing.

Just as well, as Eye hears Senior Common Room invitations may now be less abundant...

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Shapps consciously uncoupled

Alas, the Curse of Eye strikes again!

Mere hours after Steve Strong - Our Man in the Lobby - shared his searing analysis of Michael Green's leadership bid, it crashed and burned.

Shapps has caped, and is now attempting to rescue demic Rushi Sunak, the erstwhile and Machiavellian Chancellor.

Just moments ago, we asked Steve for his exclusive analysis on the very latest developments.

Here is Eye's report, Live from Westminster:

Intern: Hello Steve, what's happening?

Steve: I'm in the pub, who is this?

Intern: I'm from Railway Eye, the...

Steve: Who? Never heard of it! Now, why don't you just pis... (owing to technical difficulties the call ended at this point).

There you have it: Eye - First with all the railway news pixable!

UPDATE: No, we will not offer a reimbursement of any investments in the 100/1 shot! What goes up, can also come down. Evidently.

Monday, 11 July 2022

That there Westminster...

This from Steve Strong, Eye's man in The Lobby...

Even you navvies will have noticed it's all kicking off in Westminster.

Your very own Grant Shapps has stepped up to the plate, thrown his hat in the ring and declared "Michael Green for PM!" (Subs, please check this).

Alas the uber-loyalist Shapps, who stayed true to the PM, appears less well served by his own ministers.

Today Rail Minister Wendy Morton came out for Liz Truss. 

Meanwhile, former HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson (now Co-Chairman of the Conservative party) is probably too busy running the leadership election to actually name a preference?

Late-out-the-gates, Shapps is currently back-of-the-field - having secured single digit MP backers. (Bowler-tip Guido Fawkes).

In happier news, you can currently get 100/1 on a Shapps premiership.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Farewell Lee Rowley

This is a shame. 

Lee Rowley was a very good BEIS minister who actively engaged with and supported the rail supply chain.

Hopefully Lee will return to government under the new Prime Minister. #JustSaying

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

The Race for GBR!

Good news for fans of moving government agencies out of London. 

DfT has published the shortlist of those towns and cities bidding to host the new HQ of Great British Railways. 

No great surprises, although the omission of Darlington, Swindon and anywhere in Scotland may raise some eyebrows? The astute will already have noticed that locations in Wales were entirely absent from the 42 that made the original longlist.

Here is Eye's cut out and keep guide to the shortlisted locations: 
  • Birmingham - already home to the HQ of NR's North West and Central Region, HS2 and parts of DfT. Not so much levelling up as dosing Andy Street on amphetamines. Not Derby 
  • Crewe - definitely the right number of letters but sadly spelt all wrong. Not Derby. 
  • Derby - Heart of the Railway, right number of letters and in the correct order. The centre of Europe's largest cluster of rail supply chain businesses. Very good, carry on. 
  • Doncaster - starts off well with the correct letter of the alphabet, but then goes rapidly downhill from there. Not Derby 
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne - really, I mean really? Far too many letters, some nice bridges mind. Not Derby 
  • York - Famed for being home to lots of old stuff and also the HQ of NR's Eastern Region. Did nobody read the brief about moving away from established NR culture. Also Not Derby. 
Psephologists will now be studying Tory marginal seats backing each location...

Monday, 4 July 2022

GWML & ECML on Go-Slow

This from Rev E Gunter...

Much excitement over on the twitter-snore, following rumours that Hitachi are fitting speed limiters to all 800 series trains.

Apparently the inhibiter will cap speeds at 200kph, perhaps in response to some lively running?


Whilst a pleasingly round number in kilometric terms, in old money this is a mere 124mph (give or take).

So farewell GWR, LNER, TPE and Lumo, your 125 privileges are hereby revoked!

And proof positive that if you give the metric-zealots an inch, they will indeed take a mile.

Celebrating a railway Open to All

This from Barry Spotter...

Seen at Appledore Station:

Good to see Southern providing dedicated parking spaces for seniors.

Railway Euphemisms #1

An occasional series celebrating railway obfuscation.

This from

Alexia Course, Director of Transport Operations at TfW explained more about the issues surrounding the Class 230 introduction...

“There was an issue to do with the threshold of the power outage, we have got to the bottom of that, it was basically to do with a bit of kit.” She said while explaining she couldn’t be more detailed, as “I’m not an engineer.”

She said the part, “had a more sensitive threshold level which then resulted in this (thermal) event happening.”

“We have got to replace that bit of kit and that is what is taking a bit of extra time because we have got to order it as a specialist part, get it delivered, get it installed and get it all tested.”

Alexia said the fix will “increase the threshold levels, which means that the batteries can operate before going into a kind of thermal event mode.”

A Class 230 post 'thermal event mode'.

Or 'getting on fire' as we used to say...

Sunday, 3 July 2022

A gentle step back into the water...

Someone has to say what we have all seen...

Due to popular demand (thank you Mx GBR Twistedrail-Thienes) Railway Eye is restored!

Never one to bite the hand that feeds it, Eye offers you a lovely look-a-like:

Normal service has resumed.

Usual email address: 

Sunday, 24 April 2022

It's good to be back!

Not withstanding the Treasury...

More to follow...

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Shaken and stirred - Franksy to Upside-downland

This from Eye's friends in the Emerald Isle…

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know after five enjoyable, exciting and challenging years, I will be leaving Iarnród Éireann in the coming months to take up a position in the public transport sector in Australia.

Since I joined Iarnród Éireann at the beginning of 2013, we have worked together through a most challenging financial era.  However it is an era of which all Iarnród Éireann colleagues can be proud, as we ensured a safe, progressive and customer-focused service was delivered.    Your support, commitment and professionalism have been invaluable both to me personally and to the organisation during that time.

There will be plenty of time to reflect further on, and thank you for, what we have achieved.  However, opportunities and challenges remain which we must face together, and my focus until I leave will remain on working with the entire Iarnród Éireann team in delivering our service to our customers and preparing Iarnród Éireann for a secure and sustainable future.

David Franks,
Chief Executive

Eye wonders whether IE will once again seek a replacement from mother railway?

Friday, 22 December 2017

Eye's Exclusive Christmas Telly Guide

This from Michael Port and Stilton-illo...

The festive season is of course the perfect time for opening up the Quality Street and unwinding in front of the TV.  So Eye has selected the very best of the seasonal schedules from the Radio Times-table, perfect for all the #railwayfamily.

15:00 Queen’s Christmas Message
Please stand for Her Majesty.  Unless you’re on the 7.16am train from East Grinstead to London Bridge, in which case you’re already standing.

15:15 Sector Deal or No Sector Deal
Open the boxes to see whether the railways get a sector deal.  And who is the mysterious banker who is leading the project?  This week’s contestants include RSG, RDG, RIA, Rail Alliance, RFEM, DfT, BEIS... (That’s enough acronyms – Ed)

16:00 Gardening Leave World
How to prune orchard fruit trees.  With special guest RDG presenter (to be announced.)

16:30 Pointless
Rail freight experts try to explain to Lord Adonis why platooned lorries will not solve world hunger.

17:00 Film - Titanic 
The East Coast franchise is sinking, and shareholders are in peril.  DfT have launched the lifeboats but can they rescue it before everyone’s reputation is damaged? (Repeat)

19:00 Penn and Teller – Fool Us
Illusionists Penn & Teller sit in the audience whilst Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell describe their plans for the UK railways, including nationalisation, buying back the ROSCOs and national pay bargaining.  There’ll even be enough money left over to cut fares!  Can they fool the magic duo? Can they fool you?

19:45 East-West Enders
Chris and Rob throw a Christmas party to celebrate the start of works, but joy turns to horror as something nasty is discovered in the structural surveys and Peggy realises that half the outputs have vanished!

20:15 DIY SOS
The village wants a new railway station, but Network Rail’s costs are just too high!  Can the community come together to deliver it more efficiently? Presented by Rob Mackintosh with help from a team of friendly Canadian pensioners..

21:00 Antiques RailShow
In this special rail edition, ROSCOs ask the experts to assess whether there is any residual value left in their fleets.  A rare PRM TSI compliant HST causes excitement for Fiona!

22:00 News at Ten
Presented by Nigel Harris

22:15 Regional News
Presented by Chris Grayling (All regions, except Scotland)

22:30 Weather
Network Rail’s new video explains why they can’t run trains when it’s too windy, wet, hot, cold, snowy or leafy.

23:00 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special
Our annual reminder that everything was better in the past. Guest stars include Val Doonican, Christian Wolmar and the British Railways Board.

Wishing all Eye readers. and contributors, a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Greater Anglia aims to slash journey times!

This from a Mr Ed Starr…

I see that Greater Anglia are encouraging existing customers to stop commuting…

Perhaps no wonder they are struggling with their revenue targets?

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

LNW 'Railway Grafters' celebrate staff working over Christmas

This from Network Rail's increasingly impressive LNW Route.

Lest it be forgot, LNW is opening Euston Station for the homeless on Christmas Day.

Here Birmingham New Street staff outline the work of the #RailwayFamily over Christmas.

Words and more information here.

Terrible! But good effort.

DfT leads the pack!

This from Civil Service World...

Presumably nothing to do with the Director of Passenger Franchising being paid more than the PM?