This from the Office for Budget Responsibility - Economic and fiscal outlook, Box 4.2, page 98...
the classification of Network Rail:
Network Rail is currently classified as a private sector body. The ONS is reviewing that classification against the revised guidance in ESA10. Network Rail had £30 billion of debt recorded in its latest accounts, up from £8 billion at formation in 2002. Based on published plans, its operations imply the equivalent of around £3 billion of borrowing a year on average over the coming years. A change of classification could therefore increase PSND by about 2 per cent of GDP and PSNB by 0.2 per cent of GDP on average, with implications for future debt;
No doubt both TfL and Scotland are looking forward to managing, maintaining and upgrading their devolved railway assets?
Friday, 6 December 2013
This from the Office for Budget Responsibility - Economic and fiscal outlook, Box 4.2, page 98...
This via @NetworkRailPad...
The Great Western Railway Band performs at Paddington Station every Friday between Easter and Christmas. The concerts start at 19.30 every week, finishing at 21.00hrs.
Accompanied by band mascot Patch the dog, the GWR Band delights passengers at Network Rail managed Paddington Station with a different playlist each Friday
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Good news for fans of the bleedin' obvious!
This searing insight from an ORR press release issued today:
Richard Price, Chief Executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), today gave a keynote speech at the Future of Rail Conference in London.
He said: “Spending the right amount of money, in the right place, at the right time, will reduce delays, bring down costs and secure a safe and sustainable railway now, and for the future.”
Who'd have thunk it?
This from Ithuriel...
The Invitations to Tender for the new replacement franchises, sees bidders get brownie points for quality improvements.
One good way to improve quality is to promise new trains, which generates points and, of course, points mean prizes!
But, new trains cost more money.
And the word on the tracks is that DfT is facing the prospect of all the bids for Thameslink Southern Great Northern being of such high quality that they are all unaffordable.
This from the Chancellor's Autumn Statement:
1.272 To help households with living costs the government will further cap the average increase in regulated rail fares for the 2014 calendar year to RPI. This will benefit over a quarter of a million annual season ticket holders who will, on average in 2014, save £25. For instance, an annual season ticket from Chelmsford to London should be around £35 less in 2014 than it would have been without this change whilst an annual season ticket from Oxford to London should be around £45 less. This measure will complement the decision by the Mayor of London to cap the average increase in Transport for London fares at RPI for 2014.
1.273 Autumn Statement 2013 confirms that the permitted 'flex’ above the overall cap on average rail fares will be reduced to 2%. A commuter with a £2,000 season ticket could save up to £60 because of this measure, in a scenario in which the operator had chosen to apply the maximum permitted increase.
1.274 Autumn Statement 2013 also confirms a trial of flexible rail season ticketing that will take place in the South East. The innovative products being tested will benefit those who work flexibly or part-time.
Putting aside the challenge of recalculating every fare before tomorrow, this is good news for passengers.
Note that our Chancellor even has a sense of humour - focusing on fares from Chelmsford, the home to erstwhile rail minister and the notoriously train-shy Simon Burns MP.
Greater Anglia colleagues, therefore, will be best placed to advise whether this particular policy innovation has been a success
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
So. Government intends to sell its 40% stake in Eurostar.
Danny Alexander said the following on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (courtesy of the Guardian):
"We've set out already, we've started to sell off some of the student loan book, that would be another area, there are assets owned by the London and Continental Railways, things that a lot of people wouldn't have thought the state owned in the first place.
"What I'm setting out today is an ambition with some examples of things we think we could sell. Clearly no final decisions have been made about any of those assets, but clearly the point is that where government owns assets that could be better managed in the private sector, could be more efficiently managed in the private sector and where we can get money in to reinvest in vital infrastructure projects that get this country moving, that support the long-term economic growth of this country, they can back up the vote of confidence that we're seeing from the private sector."
No doubt this announcement came as little surprise to London and Continental, what with government being all joined up and all!
Eye expects there will be vast queues of private investors keen to take on LCR's stake in Eurostar... as well as the obligations of the 1987 Rail Usage Contract, which remains in force till 2052:
After privatisation, Eurostar and English Welsh and Scottish Railway assumed British Rail's preferences and liabilities under the contract through 'back-to-back' agreements, which account for 50% of Eurotunnel's capacity. The contract guarantees a minimum level of income for Eurotunnel, which helped it meet its liabilities for construction costs and now also serves as the basis for how access charges are levied on all railway undertakings using the Channel Tunnel.
Joined up government indeed.
UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...
Well if they do succeed in flogging off the government stake in Eurostar it will save some embarrassment on the East Coast franchise competition.
What with DfT planning to boot off today's state owned operator and possibly replace it with Eurostar, which is errr... another state owned operator!
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
This courtesy of Wolmayor...
What is wrong with the perfectly good English word 'lift'?
UPDATE: This, unofficially, from the News Bunker...
Now just wait a cotton picking minute.
With regard to your elevating tale from Wolmayor: when faced with an increasing number of passengers who carry large amounts of baggage on escalators, often with unfortunate consequences, clarity of message is crucial. Hence, the universally well-known Americanism from our virtual nannies.
Along with platform edge fences and yellow lines everywhere, it is one of those developments you wouldn't think a railway would need - but sadly it does.
Yes siree, bob!
Nope. Not convinced. Why not in French, German or for that matter Chinese. Looks like fanny covering to Eye! Ed.
Monday, 2 December 2013
This from the Gruaniad...
China wants involvement in Britain's first high-speed rail line and an increased role in civil nuclear power, the country's premier said in Beijing after talks with David Cameron on the first day of the prime minister's visit.
Hmmm... admittedly UK PLC may be a little behind the People's Republic on high speed rail but Li Keqiang may find a clue in the new railway's title: HS2.
Meanwhile, there is one area where Britain could certainly learn from our Chinese friends.
An equally robust approach to our own former railway ministers would do much pour encourager les autres!
Saturday, 30 November 2013
The Department for Transport, a clarification...
Regular readers may have gained the impression that Railway Eye has less than the very highest regard for the Permanent Secretary and team at the Department for Transport.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Headlines such as You're all bloody useless!, Marsham Street couldn't organise a soiree in a brewery! and Fire the lot of them! were merely motivational posts, designed to shine a light upon the intellectual powerhouse and strategic acumen that resides in Great Minster House.
In fact Eye would go further and say that the very best possible outcome for the railway would be for Philip Rutnam to have direct oversight of both infrastructure and operators, so that the entire industry can face in one direction, led by a single guiding mind.
In Eye's view this is a statistical certainty and cannot happen soon enough! (Will this do? Ed).
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
As Leonard Cohen used to sing: I've got a little secret!
A tune evidently close to the heart of Eye favourite Stephen 'Gone-native' Hammond, as evidenced by this written answer given on the 26th November:
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 4 November 2013, Official Report, column 45W, on railways: south west, for what reasons lease costs for rolling stock are considered to be commercially sensitive.
Stephen Hammond: The leasing costs for rolling stock are the result of negotiations between two private sector commercial entities, the train operating company and the rolling stock leasing company. Putting such information in the public sphere would give advantage to each party's competitors and hinder future negotiations between such commercial entities throughout the industry.
Hmm... Advantage and Hinder?
Surely the name of an act in this year's DfT Christmas panto?
Of course the real hindrance 'to future negotiations' on allocation of scarce trains is done by DfT's random-rolling-stock-cascade-generator, which inhibits the effective operation of the entire train leasing market.
A point made transparently clear from section 25 on page 9 of the summary section of the Competition Commission's 2007 'Rolling Stock Leasing market investigation'.
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
The friend of railway users across the nation has offered its latest wheeze to delight regular travellers.
Not content with providing spurious costings for HS2, the Institute of Economic Affairs latest brainwave is to call for less seats on trains (Less seats? Try fewer pounds in your pocket! You're fired!!! Ed)
According to the Metro...
Seats should be ripped out on the most overcrowded train services to create cheaper, standing-only carriages, a report suggests.
The return to third-class travel would see passengers pay up to 20 per cent less than in standard class, under the Institute of Economic Affairs proposal.
Head of transport Dr Richard Wellings said: ‘For too long, the government has squandered taxpayers’ money on the wrong transport projects and failed to deliver value for commuters."
Forcing more passengers to stand? A novel way to 'deliver value for commuters'.
Monday, 25 November 2013
Good news for fans of the new North - South Railway.
Today's small demonstration in Parliament Square against the vital project even witnessed some Damascene conversions!
The lady on the left is apparently conveying the message that High Speed One is a success.
Whilst her colleague on the right, evidently won over by capacity arguments, is making the internationally recognised symbol demanding a second High Speed route, or something...
People, let's try and respect deeply held views out there...
UPDATE: This from @TransportNathan...
@TheFactCompiler very good. I thought the lady on the right was perhaps endorsing the Y shape of the route
— TransportNathan (@TransportNathan) November 25, 2013
So. The Government has published the HS2 Bill for phase 1 of the new North - South Railway.
According to the National Farmers Union...
The record-breaking 55,000-page Bill details exactly what ministers want to build and what the expected impact on the environment might be.
Fifty five thousand pages?
Compare and contrast!
Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, here is Churchill's 1942 memo on the construction of another project with national significance - the Mulberry Harbours for D-Day:
Less really is more!
UPDATE: This from Deep Stoat...
55,000 pages. Certainly not our idea.
But less than 60 protestors standing in Parliament Square, versus the 4000 people standing on trains into Euston this morning?
Now there's a number we want to bring down.
As Winston frequently said... "we must just KBO!"
UPDATE: This from Lord Derby-Bypass...
Deep Stoat makes the case for HS2 based on the '4000 people standing on trains into Euston'.
And quite right too.
But isn't it supposed to 'balance the economy' by creating jobs in the Midlands and North?
Rather than help get even more workers into 'The Smoke'?
This apparently from Barrett Homes...
Noted on an East Midlands Trains Class 153 Sandbox Lid at Lincoln earlier this year.
Why would anyone think to use anything other than 'dry sand' or do E.M.T. consider their Fitters to be somewhat challenged?
Speaking as a former Railway Fitter it makes me wonder.
UPDATE: This from Dogboxdriver...
The signs were fitted after a number of EMT's 15x units were failed by drivers during preparation over the last year owing to non-working sanders.
The reason for the non-working sanders?
You got it: they'd been filled with wet sand...
This from Siemens...
In an email headed: Change of location for Siemens plc's Rail Systems Division from Westminster to Euston, we discover...
Siemens' new home at 24 Eversholt Street is of course better known to old railway hands as Euston House, the former HQ of the British Railways Board!
With one symbolic action the German takeover of Britain's railways is now complete.
This from Flora McDonald...
From the ScotRail draft ITT:
"The train should contain appropriate tourist information, in an ambience that promotes the local heritage, scenery and tourist attractions with the aim of capturing the imagination of and leaving an impression of Scotland on the passenger."
Perhaps a saltire shaped lump in every seat cushion?
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
This from the Metro, referring to the buffer shunt at Chester today...
The 10.10am service from London Euston completely failed to stop at the station and partially derailed, smashing into the buffers.
Perhaps a case of 'completely' hyperbole 'reporting'?