Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Railway Carol Service - 21st December

It's that time of year again!

The annual Rail Staff Carol Service will be held at 12:30 on Thursday 21st December at St Mary's Somers Town near Euston Station.


All welcome.

Euston to host homeless on Christmas Day

This from Network Rail is great!

Thanks to a partnership between Streets Kitchen, St Mungo's and Network Rail, London Euston station will welcome 200 specially invited homeless guests on Christmas Day.

As colleagues enjoy time off with their families during the festive season, around 30 volunteers from Network Rail will give up their Christmas Day to work alongside volunteers from homelessness charity St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen. St Mungo’s provides a bed and support to more than 2,700 people a night across England, and Streets Kitchen is a grassroots organisation which feeds 1,000 people on the streets every week.

The 200 guests, invited by St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen, will be arriving at London Euston station from 1100 on Christmas Day, Monday 25 December. The station concourse will be filled with decorations and tables will be laid for dinner so that the guests can enjoy a full Christmas dinner and some company.


More here

Good effort!

DfT outsources data collection to Labour

What are we to make of this response?

East Coast Rail Franchise

Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 5 December 2017 to Question 116801, how much Virgin Trains East Coast paid in premium payments (a) from the commencement of the franchise in 2015 to date and (b) will pay in each year until 2023-2024.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys): The current East Coast franchise operated by Virgin Trains East Coast commenced 1st March 2015. An announcement of the expected premium over the duration of the contract was made at franchise award. All premiums due to date under the contract have been paid. Payments by franchised operators are published by ORR annually and can be found on their website. We have set out our plans to end the operational divide between track and train, and from 2020 we are establishing the East Coast Partnership, one of the first of a new generation of integrated regional rail operations. This will be subject to a competitive process, and will include appropriate premiums paid from the private partner to the Government.

This is unhelpful to the point of wilfull obstruction.

DfT has a spreadsheet of premium payments year by year on its website so why not simply provide a link?

Perhaps because the subsidy spreadsheet on the DfT website stops at 2015-16. The next update (for 2016-17) was due in August 2017 but it ain't there.

No doubt the DfT is hoping McDonald can find the information on the ORR website and pass it on to New Minster House?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The future is diseasel - stuff you!

Good news for fans of diminished Air Quality!

This image graces the cover of the Great Western Rail Franchise consultation, published yesterday.

Granted Penzance was not an electrification priority, but surely showing one of these expensive new trains under the wires might have shown that DfT still takes the benefits of electrification seriously?


They're not even trying now, are they?

Partnership falls flat at the Commercial Interface

This from Hazel Grove...

Today’s exciting announcement from Government is the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy, in which Highways England, Network Rail, HS2, TfL and DfT outline their new plans for making everything cheaper, if not better.

But what is this in the small print?

Surely not a suggestion that Network Rail’s efficiency, or lack thereof, is hindered by the quest for passenger franchise revenues?



In the new spirit of the partnership railway, surely its time that this tired old meme was retired?

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Connecting people - a thought

Exciting news - the Government has finally published the Rail Strategy!

Just shy of a year after it was originally announced.

No matter.

Meanwhile, Integrated Partnerships tailored to the franchise de jour have been announced.

Good news indeed.

Especially for operators of passenger trains on both the East Coast and across the East Midlands!

So Eye wonders who will claim ownership of this key junction between the two routes?


The devil remains in the detail.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NIC knacks Railfreight

Oh dear! 

What are we to make of this, from the increasingly excitable twitter feed of Admiral Scrumptious?


Or indeed this, from the National Infrastructure Commission consultation on a National Infrastructure Assessment (p82-83), chaired by Lord Adonis:

Long-distance freight

Businesses need to be able to move goods between ports, airports, production and distribution sites, and to their customers as efficiently as possible...

An argument for shifting freight from road to rail is often made on grounds of congestion and environmental benefits. Rail freight will always have its place, and some enhancements may be cost-effective, but the Commission believes the pilots of “platooning” truck convoys on motorways and major A roads may open the way to radical improvements in the efficiency and capacity of major freight distribution by road in the future (see Chapter 5). This would free up rail capacity for enhanced commuter and inter-city passenger services. The Commission will report further on this in the future.

Rail freight is already increasingly limited by network capacity as passenger demand increases. The issues with mixed traffic on the network are well documented – freight trains travelling at 70mph on the same track as passenger trains travelling at 125mph results in a significant capacity constraint. 
Whilst freight can travel at night in some areas, this competes with maintenance work, which also needs access to the track at night.

Reducing road freight by only one-third would require more than a three-fold increase in rail freight capacity, which simply could not be accommodated on today’s already busy railway. The Commission believes that upgrades needed for this sort of shift would be prohibitively expensive, whilst the benefits would be questionable, particularly if truck platooning is successful, given the industry’s clear preference for road transport in most cases.

Really?

Platooned lorries (an untried technology) makes more sense than, for instance, running aggregate trains - one train of which typically carries the equivalent of 60 lorries, from quarries where for environmental reasons the use of railfreight is mandated? Not particularly bright when a massive expansion in house building is a key plank of government policy.

And that's before we even start on the centrality of railfreight operations to ports and the wider logistics network.

Most disappointing.

Doubly so, as one of the NIC Commissioners is Bridget Rosewell who also happens to be a non-Executive director of Network Rail.



No doubt Bridget was vigorous in her defence of the rights of Network Rail freight customers when this section of the report came to be written?

Meanwhile, Eye understands that a stiff letter has gone to Lord Adonis, signed by freight customers and operators, objecting in the strongest possible terms to the coverage of railfreight in the NICs report.

Not least because the tone of the NIC's consultation has already created concern amongst those looking to invest now in new or expanded railfreight facilities.

Bizarre that a body charged with developing infrastructure should be acting in such a way as to make it more difficult for the private sector to do so.

UPDATE: It would appear that a signalling problem delayed Admiral Scrumptious, rather than a freight train…

No doubt Adonis will be quick to set the record straight?

RDG - feeling the Maynard love

This written answer from Rail Minister Paul Maynard

Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Rail Delivery Group; and if he will make a statement.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys): The Government is supportive of the Rail Delivery Group’s role of providing industry leadership in the railway to achieve better outcomes for rail users. We continue to work closely with them to ensure they are well placed to provide the strategic leadership needed to deliver key reforms in the railway.

There's lovely.


VTEC - Master of the Interwebs

This from Rob Roy…

Good to see that VT East Coast has their finger on the pulse in this information age.

One would have thought that someone might have noticed that the warning about Cross Country industrial action on Sunday the 19th is no longer current today?



Perhaps they could look ahead to the industrial action this coming Sunday, the 26th?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Shaken and stirred - Murdoch to head NR Comms

A big Eye welcome to Caroline Murdoch, NR's Group Communications Director designate.

Caroline steps into the shoes vacated by Barney Wyld who left NR's top comms role for Rolls Royce last month.

Caroline currently works for the National Crime Agency, heading up the Corporate Affairs function. She has previously worked at the Met and TfL and brings over 20 years’ experience to Network Rail from national communications, public affairs, crisis communication management, marketing and internal communications within both public and private sectors.

Scot Marchbank continues as interim, until Caroline joins NR in late February/early March 2018.

Extension of Young Person's Railcard - A nation speaks!

Today the government announced that the YP's railcard would be extended to 26 - 30 year olds.




The Chatterati on twitter appear underwhelmed by today's exciting announcement…









Tin-eared Hammond does it again!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Rugby club gets new boots

This from the Archer…

I thought BMRFC members might like to see what the Mids Div would be sporting on the field this season (Is there an English version of this? Ed)


Eye can't imagine they've ever lost a match.

Pointless signs - Shoeburyness

This from Strawbrick…

This beauty is to be found at Shoeburyness Station car park



Utterly pointless!

Eurotunnel car crash rebrand

This tosh from Eurotunnel

Groupe Eurotunnel has today changed its name to Getlink.

This new name, reflecting the dynamism of connection and exchange, marks the Group’s passage into an exciting new era for mobility infrastructures.

“Getlink is all that is Eurotunnel and more than just Eurotunnel! Originally the promoter of the Channel Tunnel, itself an historic technological achievement, over the past ten years the Group has transformed and is now in perfect shape to take on the challenges of new forms of mobility”, stated Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Group. “The core mission for Getlink is the development and management
(cont' p94).

Getlink? Get lost!


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

TSC to look at Mobility as a Service

This from the Transport Select Committee…

Committee to explore transformative potential of ‘Mobility as a Service’

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a broad term for a range of digital transport service platforms, from quite niche online car and bike-sharing schemes to hugely popular, high profile taxi and private hire smartphone apps.

MaaS apps can provide value for money, convenient, on demand services and are transforming how people, particularly younger people in cities, use urban transport. But, while door-to-door journeys in cities tend to utilise several transport modes— walk/cycle/minicab; train; bus; walk/cycle, for example—the most popular smartphone apps to date have tended to be single mode, typically taxis and minicabs.

Proponents of an emerging model of MaaS, in which multiple modes of transport are brought together under a single app, believe it has the potential to make getting around via public and shared transport so convenient it will negate the need for people in and around cities to own their own car, with potentially massive benefits in relation to urban congestion, air pollution and health.

The Transport Committee is launching a new inquiry into the transformative potential of this type of integrated, multi-mode MaaS app, and overcoming barriers to implementation in UK cities and regions.

Lilian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, said:


Integrating urban transport modes into a single, integrated MaaS app represents a really exciting opportunity to transform how we get around in our cities.

“An integrated MaaS app can create a single, seamless journey, cutting out the hassle of separate ticketing for different legs of a journey. The app can plan and book your whole journey from door-to-door in the most efficient way possible, using real-time service data across all the transport modes in the city. This could substantially reduce reliance on the private car; ease congestion; increase productivity; and lead to more pleasant, healthier cities with better air quality.

“Integrated MaaS is a much talked about concept, but it is not generally well understood. We want to increase public understanding; find out if the bold claims are justified; and, if they are, recommend ways the Department for Transport and others can support and facilitate its implementation in the UK.
"

Submissions can be made here.

Timely for the Rail Supply Group, as it seeks a Sector Deal.


Monday, 13 November 2017

Shaken and Stirred: Chaudhry-van der Velde MD West Midlands

This from Abellio/Mitsui...

Merseyrail’s Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde appointed Managing Director of West Midlands Trains
Merseyrail Deputy MD Andy Heath to succeed Jan at Merseyrail

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde has today been appointed as Managing Director of West Midlands Trains, which will take over the next West Midlands franchise on 10 December. He joins from Merseyrail where he has been MD since 2015.

Prior to joining Merseyrail, Jan spent three years as Abellio UK’s Deputy MD. In this role he was a member of the Merseyrail board and played a critical role in the company’s successful bid for the ScotRail franchise.

Jan has also held a number of director roles outside of Abellio including Operations Director at South West Trains, Commercial Director at Southern and Operations & Retail Director at Thameslink. He first joined the sector in 1989 as a British Rail general management trainee.

Merseyrail’s new managing director will be Jan’s former deputy, Andy Heath. Andy first joined Merseyrail as Trains Manager in 1998 and has been Operations Director since 2005. 


He will be stepping into the role on 10 December, following Jan’s departure.

TSC Inquiry into Rail Infrastructure

This from the Transport Select Committee...

The process for deciding the funding and outputs of Network Rail for the control period 2019-2024 is underway. Against this background, the Committee wishes to understand whether the current system of planning and delivering investment in rail infrastructure is adequate. The Committee is particularly interested in submissions addressing:

The impact of postponing renewals from the current control period into the next and the implications of the Secretary of State’s decision to remove enhancements from the control period process
The adequacy of the control period process in enabling the delivery of long term rail infrastructure objectives

Whether Network Rail’s long term planning process is effective in providing the industry with strategic direction beyond the five year control period.

As usual, RIA was quick off the mark, punting this out at close of play on Friday...

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) said: “The Railway Industry Association has been urging politicians since the summer that there is a £500m shortfall in the current Control Period of railway funding, CP5. This shortfall needs to be addressed to avoid cancellations and delays on the railway system up to March 2019, when CP5 ends. However, we have also been calling for a look at the wider long-term issues around funding the railways, and so we strongly welcome the news that the Transport Select Committee has committed to investigate this.

“The current Control Period system creates boom and bust cycles in the industry, meaning rail suppliers need to increase their capacity at the start of the funding period, but then see a sharp drop off in workload near the end, jeopardising jobs and the ability of small and medium sized enterprises to survive. Ultimately this boom and bust increases the cost of renewing and maintaining the railway system by up to 30%. So we look forward to working with the Transport Select Committee to see how the funding system can be improved, to enable the best possible service to passengers and freight, and the best value to the taxpayer”
.

Inquiry Terms of Reference here, and submission can be made via here.

Bigland made an honest man!

Many congratulations to railway snapper Paul Bigland and ACoRP fixer Dawn Wolrich.

Paul and Dawn tied the knot on Saturday with friends and family in Huddersfield.


This is possibly the only photograph of Paul you will ever see without a camera in his hands...


Remembrance at Derby station

Friday saw an act of Remembrance at Derby station.

Led by Railway Mission Chaplain Ralph Coleman, the short service saw wreaths laid by EMT, BTP, the Rail Forum and other local groups.


The Derby station war memorial, on platform one, features the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice from the former Derby loco works.

This year, courtesy of the Railway Heritage Trust, there is now a plaque to honour the heroism of railwayman Private Jacob Rivers VC.



And also attending for the first time in an official capacity was the Derby Railway Engineering Society, represented by President Jonathan Wragg of SNC Lavalin, sporting a rather fetching DRES presidential chain of office.



At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Railway Pride Restored - Hampton Court

Regular Eye readers may recall these sorry images from Hampton Court station.



But what's this?

Railway Pride is being restored at Hampton Court!


Not quite complete, but definitely a major improvement.

Good effort!