Sunday, 31 August 2008

Don't panic

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
The 'IEP Evaluation Process Guidance Document' for the Frankenstein Train was published on Friday.

It promises to beat, with a very large stick, any bidder foolish enough to disclose confidential information:

5.2 Confidentiality
A fundamental requirement of the IEP procurement is that tender information is kept confidential at all times throughout the evaluation process and that the highest standards are applied and maintained in order to ensure that any evaluator’s access to Bidder information is restricted to that agreed with the evaluation team leads and set out herein as defined by the access to information defined in ASITE.

Specifically commercially sensitive tender information must be controlled to:

  • Prevent the prospect of insider trading in share prices
  • Avoid the leakage of undesirable information to Bidders and the undermining of the DfT’s negotiating leverage.
  • Provide confidence in the procurement process
  • Reduce the risk of Judicial Review
Does the stricture against 'the leakage of undersirable information' apply to the MD of one of the bidding groups who has already pointed out that the diesel version is "unfundable"?

Probably not, as DafT is terrified that if just one of the two bidders walks away the whole sorry process will attract even greater censure from the inevitable NAO inquiry.


For richer for poorer

Who would be an ATOC press officer?

Today's ersatz industry ensures that when there is good news TOCs take the credit.

When it's bad news they let ATOC shoulder the blame.

Thus in today's Sunday Telegraph it is an ATOC press officer "on behalf of London Midland and Northern Rail" that defends the eye watering increases that next week's fare revision will impose.

Poor old ATOC - always a bridesmaid never a bride.


Saturday, 30 August 2008

Vote early vote often

Nigel Harris, editor of Rail Magazine, suggests the IEP should be known as the "Camel Class" whilst The Fact Compiler prefers 'The Frankenstein Train'.


Railway Eye readers are invited to say which term best describes this ludicrous DafT procurement exercise by voting in our poll on the right.

Poll closes on Saturday 6th September at midday.


Cheek!

***Leading Labour blogger Kerry McCarthy MP (Bristol East) has discovered a man with £280 in cash concealed between his buttocks.***

Kerry McCarthy: Rock bottom

Friday, 29 August 2008

Sittingbourne is Finnished

Unhappy news from the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway which has announced it will cease operations on Friday 26th December.

According to a posting on the volunteer organisation's website their Finnish landlord, M-real, has served notice on them to quit the land on which the railway operates.

The Fact Compiler understands that younger members of the railway have proposed a poster/car sticker campaign. These can be downloaded from SOS (Save Our Steam railway).

The Fact Compiler suggests a better plan would be to get hold of Andy Roden, quick!

Andy, it will be remembered, masterminded the Save our Sleeper campaign which woke up even dozy DafT!


Thursday, 28 August 2008

Have cake and eat

The increasingly potty Office of Rail Regulation has handed down yet another loopy pronouncement.

The Holborn Mafia announced today that Network Rail is 'turning journeys into marathons'.

It found that only 80% of scheduled weekend passenger services operate without being diverted, cancelled or replaced by buses.

The ORR partly blamed 'cost-cutting' measures.

The Fact Compiler wonders if this is the same ORR that wants NR to implement a whopping 21% 'cost-cutting' measure to reduce its CP4 budget by £3.3bn?

Surreal!


Trebles all round

The Fact Compiler has been coaxed out of his deck chair by the following extra-ordinary announcement:

'Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone is to advise Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on urban planning.'

No doubt our thirsty former mayor's decision to accept this role was unconnected with the cheap price of Venezuelan rum...


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Silence is Golden?

The Fact Compiler is on annual leave...


Normal vitriol will resume on the 1st September...


Monday, 25 August 2008

Humble pie

Seen in the letters page of today's Daily Telegraph:

"Service with a smile

When I travelled by train from London Paddington to Kingham station on August 19, I stupidly alighted without my umbrella.

A guard noticed me trying to return to the coach to retrieve my possession and explained that this would cause a delay. She suggested that if I stood on the platform on the following day at the same time and at the same spot, she would endeavour to find my umbrella and hand it to me.

Without really believing this amazing promise, I drove to Kingham station the following day and waited on the empty platform. The 18.44 train arrived and the passengers alighted. As they left the platform I was seemingly left alone.

Then, through the train door window, I was beckoned by a different guard who asked me whether I was looking for my umbrella. It was returned to me with a wonderful smile and my joy was clear for him to see.

I feel that this incredible gesture of goodwill deserves an accolade for First Great Western and its staff, who are clearly making welcome improvements to its service.

Geoffrey Maitland Smith, Fifield, Oxfordshire"

It would appear that the spirit of the Great Western lives on...


Saturday, 23 August 2008

Have it awayday?

Good news for lusty users of timetable website nationalrail.co.uk

Adverts have started appearing on the site from Pabo, a company which offers intending rail users a range of diversionary products including the 'Prince of Namibia', 'Finger ring vibe' and 'Full size rear entry'.

The Fact Compiler compliments ATOC on selecting an advertiser who will reduce the number of passengers willing, or indeed able, to sit on overcrowded rail services.


T-12 (+12)

Network Rail has upped it's game offering Virgin West Coast a magnificent 24 hours notice of timetable changes, judging by an email received today.

"Due to improvement works happening on the West Coast Mainline in August and September, our timetables have been significantly amended to allow Network Rail to undertake major track upgrade work.

The short notice changes to our timetable are only temporary, but essential to accommodate these works which will allow us to offer an even better service in 2009.

Some train times will be changed with very short notice during August and September, so you must ensure you always check the latest timetable 24 hours before you travel.

You’ll find the latest train times at virgintrains.com/changeforgood or call National Rail on 08457 48 49 50.

We’re really sorry for any inconvenience. Thanks Virgin Trains"

The Fact Compiler was about to suggest that Virgin take up this unsatisfactory state of affairs with Chris Bolt, until he remembered that it was the ORR that forced Virgin to accept NR's cock-up recovery plan.


Thursday, 21 August 2008

New loco hire company?

***New company EuroPhoenix in deal to buy 23 cl86 electric locos from HSBC for work in Europe and the UK***

View the EuroPhoenix website here


Scarborough Spa Distress

Good news for passengers aboard today's Cromwell hauled 'Scarborough Spa Express'.

There will be additional time to savour the delights of Yorkshire's premier seaside resort whilst train operator, West Coast Railway, works out how to rerail coach A, the leading bogie of which is currently sitting "in the dirt".

Here's hoping there are no photographers from Steam Railway about...

UPDATE 16:45: NR on site but progress slow due, in part, to the appalling weather.

The Fact Compiler understands that the thunderbird loco normally stabled at York was returned to Carnforth only this morning...


On and on!

A Railway Eye reader in Birmingham has leapt to the defence of London Midland following yesterdays piece about the new "ON" branding applied to LM's fleet:

"The ON is for Network West Midlands the crap new name for Centro. We are subjected to this brand everywhere and no-one really gets it!

"I guess that LM have little option but to put this on the commuter stock in the nation's second city."

To see further examples of Brummie burghers back of fag-packet design click here.

The Fact Compiler wonders how much this "roundel-light" design has cost rate-payers.



Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Sir Mervyn

Friday is the start of the Barrow Hill crank-fest extra-ordinaire 'Rail Power 2008' (22nd - 25th August).

As well as a special guest appearance by Zontar a number of named locos will be in attendance.

The Fact Compiler is personally hoping to cop a seldom seen Cl20 which appears to have been named after the Hill's very own Oddjob.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Whelk stall

It's no surprise that the economy is going to rack and ruin when Government is so profligate with our money.

The Fact Compiler received a gratuitous puff-piece release from DafT today, about Thameslink 3000, which offered the following glad tidings:

"New trains - 92 new class 377 carriages - worth around £53100m - are on order, which will be deployed on First Capital Connect services between Bedford, London and Brighton and Southeastern services between St Pancras International and Bromley South, Orpington and other Kent stations from March 2009"

This was swiftly followed by an arrow from a Rosco chum pointing out that the IEP, at £3m a vehicle, is positively good value compared to the £577m per vehicle that DafT is prepared to spend on the new Thameslink fleet!

Strangely enough the release has disappeared from DafT's website. As a service to the industry it is reproduced in full below:

20/08/2008
12:31

Department for Transport
(National)

(DFT)
Passengers set to benefit from extra carriages

Passengers on one of the UK's busiest rail networks are set to benefit from new carriages, longer and more frequent trains as well as a greater choice of destinations due to changes to franchise agreements agreed between the Department for Transport and the train operating companies Southeastern, First Capital Connect and Southern Railways.

The changes are a key milestone in the wider £5.5bn Thameslink modernisation programme and mean that passengers will see:

* Increased frequency - the number of trains running through central London on the Thameslink route will increase from 8 up to 15 per hour during peak hours from 1 March 2009;

* New trains - 92 new class 377 carriages - worth around £53100m - are on order, which will be deployed on First Capital Connect services between Bedford, London and Brighton and Southeastern services between St Pancras International and Bromley South, Orpington and other Kent stations from March 2009;

* Extra seats on First Capital Connect - the introduction of additional class 319 carriages will boost more peak services to 8-car length on the First Capital Connect Thameslink route. With the class 377 and class 319 carriages, there will be an additional 1150 seats in the morning peak and 2080 seats in the evening peak on First Capital Connect services from March 2009.

* Extra seats on Southeastern - passengers travelling on Southeastern's Kent suburban routes will benefit from longer trains, providing 3700 extra seats each morning and evening from March 2009.

* More direct journeys - from March 2009, some Southeastern services will join First Capital Connect Thameslink route services, meaning passengers can travel between Sevenoaks, St Pancras International and stations in north London without changing trains.

Rail Minister Tom Harris MP said:

"We are committed to improving the travelling experience for passengers on one of the country's busiest rail routes. That's why we have secured a range of improvements, from more frequent train services, to newer trains and more seats that Thameslink passengers will benefit from for years to come."

"The changes we are making are part of the £5.5bn Thameslink programme, which will deliver a dramatic increase in capacity for passengers in London and the South East."

Notes to Editor

1. The franchise changes are part of the wider Thameslink modernisation programme. The £5.5bn Thameslink modernisation programme will transform the Thameslink network by 2015. The programme will deliver:

* Up to 50 per cent longer trains across the current Thameslink route;

* New direct services from the southern Home Counties to destinations on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes;

* A dramatic increase in capacity, with up to 12 carriage trains running up to 24 times an hour through central London by 2015;

* New trains across the Thameslink route - there will be an entirely new fleet of trains by 2015, with extra carriages providing around 14,500 extra seats each day for passengers;

* Three London mainline stations, Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge stations, will be improved, giving the stations the capacity to handle more passengers and easing bottlenecks.

* Blackfriars station will become the first station to span the Thames and by the end of 2011 the station will be able to handle 12 car trains for the first time.

* Platform extensions at 50 stations outside central London, including stations along the Bedford line.

2. First Capital Connect's extra class 319 carriages form part of FCC's current franchise agreement.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3108
Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

Client ref 136

COI ref 164745M




Airhead

Rail Minister Tom Harris has written an article in homage to Pendolino loos.

View Tom's blog here.

Strangely the piece is entitled "'In-flight' entertainment"!

The Fact Compiler now feels obliged to offer his unreserved apologies to London Midland for his previous post.

He now understands why LM add international pictograms to their trains.


It's obviously to help modally ignorant Government Ministers tell the difference between a train and plane.

No, no, no!

With the demise of ONE and the promised end to C2C The Fact Compiler was hopeful that ludicrous names were beginning to disappear from the network.

But what's this?

London Midland sets are running round with branding that appears to say the word 'ON' (see below).

Obviously the perma-tanned geniuses at GoVia/GoAhead/GoHome believe this is smart marketing.

Alas it falls to the The Fact Compiler to disabuse them of this view.

Why for instance does the logo involve an international pictogram of a train - isn't it self evident what the vehicle is?

Perhaps it's been put there to help dim managers from the franchise's bus bandit parent?


The sooner ON comes OFF the better.



Mustn't upset the sponsors

Leafing through the latest edition of Rail Professional the Fact Compiler stumbled across the following strange headline:

"Aldridge makes mystery departure from HSBC Rail".

What's the mystery?

Big falling out at HSBC over the Rosco's future direction - Aldridge buys lawnmower!

If Rail Amateur needs further clarification perhaps the editor should speak to one of her own correspondents - one Peter Aldridge - who usually appears on pages 1-32 of the mag.

Alternatively she could try reading Railway Eye where Aldridge's departure was revealed as far back as the 26th June.



More bored (TfL)

The Fact Compiler is grateful to a number of correspondents who have offered further insights into members of the new TfL Board.

Captain Deltic offers the following additional biographical details for mystery man Kulveer Ranger:

"Isn't Kulveer Ranger Han Solo's sidekick in Star Wars prequel episode 2, 'Attack of the Privateers', in which Darth Vader's great uncle attempts to turn the Jedi Knights into a pan-galatic franchise?"

Probably not Captain but thank you for your thoughts all the same.

Meanwhile Colin Redman ventures:


"Curious you did not mention that Steve Norris is also CEO of Jarvis, who just happen to be in the track renewals business - well, when they remember not to leave bits out in front of class 91s at KX..."

Thank you Colin, Norris is actually the company's Chairman but your point is well made - unlike Jarvis's.


South Central bidders

***DfT has shortlisted the following bidders for the South Central franchise:

NedRailways - South Central Ltd, National Express - NXSC Trains Ltd, GoVia - Southern Railway Ltd and Stagecoach - Southern Trains Ltd***


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Synchronicity

***Is The Fact Compiler alone in noticing that the RMT called off tomorrow's Tube Lines' strike within hours of Tim Parker leaving Transport for London?***

Oh happy circumstance.


Official - Amey f*cked

Sir Richard Mottram has been appointed Chairman of Amey.

View the Amey release here

Sir Richard may be better known to Railway Eye readers for the insight he offered into Whitehall thinking following the simultaneous resignations of Byers, Moore and Sixsmith:

"We're all f*cked. I'm f*cked. You're f*cked. The whole department's f*cked. It's been the biggest cock-up ever and we're all completely f*cked."


Amey - sometimes it's best just to shut the f*ck up and not bother with a release.


Deputy Mayorless?

***Rumours that BoJo and Tim Parker may have had a falling out. The Fact Compiler may need to revise his entry of yesterday on TfL Board runners and riders.***

Story confirmed at 11:22.

View the Standard Story here

To lose one deputy Mayor, Mr Johnson, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.



Monday, 18 August 2008

New TfL Bored

Where Captain Deltic leads Mystic Wolmar is sure to follow.

This is not necessarily a good thing.

Regular readers of Railway Eye will be aware that Roger Ford received a big raspberry from NR's troughocracy when he applied to become a Public Member.

Alas Christian Wolmar's application to join the Board of TfL has received a similar brush-off from Mayor BoJo.

With Wolmar out the frame The Fact Compiler thought he would offer a quick 'dullards guide' to TfL's new Board.

Tim Parker – Transport Commissioner – NON-RUNNER

Steven Norris – Big political beastie – Hero

Kulveer Ranger – Who he? – Zero

Christopher Garnett – GNER – Hero (BUT if ODA overspend continues - Zero)

Tony West – 'The Godfather' – Massive Hero

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson – Olympian – Hero

Bob Oddy – Brother of Bill? – Zero

Steve Wright – No good on Radio 2 – Zero

Eva Lindholm – Crazy name – crazy gal – Hero

Keith William – Ex BA and brother of Just? – Hero

Patrick O’Keeffe – Untie, gets Dyslexic 'brothers' vote – Hero

Peter Anderson – MD Canary Wharf Group – Zero (have they paid for the JLE yet?)

Judith Hunt – Inclusion, blah, blah, blah – Hero (PC and Bar)

Sir Mike Hodgkinson – If Baronet – Hero

Charles Belcher – Railwayman and Gent – Hero

Daniel Moylan – Must have Polaroids of BoJo – Zero

If Railway Eye readers have any additional insights into TfL's new Board then please forward them to the usual address...


Saturday, 16 August 2008

Tomorrow's railway

Ceri Evans, Communications Director of the late, and strangely much lamented SRA, was better known to the industry as Chemical Ceri.

A shame really.

Alongside Ceri's tenacious loyalty was a genuine vision about how to deliver the passengers of tomorrow.


Which annoyed Number 10.

As the PM's transport wonk made clear at an industry lunch:
"It is not the job of the SRA to promote the railways!"

And thus the SRA was abolished.

Back to today.

The Fact Compiler has revisited one of Chemical's visions.


It was for a 'Classroom on rails' - using rail as both the 'message' and the 'medium'; and for which budgets and plans were laid

In short - the SRA was to create a classroom on rails for Key Stage 2 Children and visits towns and cities across the nation offering lessons aboard.

"Children are taught, as part of the National Curriculum, about how the future of the railway is every bit as integral to national life as it was in the past... (and)... how the railway continues to transform and enrich our nation."

Alas the SRA was abolished before this wonderful scheme could be delivered.

Who has the vision in today's railway to win tomorrow's customer?

Perhaps Iain Coucher of Team Railway fame?

Perhaps not.


Friday, 15 August 2008

Train-u-like

Telegrammed by The Master
Overheard this afternoon...

... as traincrew boarded the 1611 Worcs - Padd (formed of an HST rather than an Adelante).

"It's nice to have a proper train!"

Hull Trains take note!

A two pipe problem

To whom does 31468 belong?

Owners RMS Locotech were convinced it belonged to them.

However, prior to its move from Barrow Hill to Derby the following signs were found plastered inside the loco's cab.

"A case of mistaken identity Holmes?"

"Certainly one of trespass Watson!"


Sayonara Voyager

Plenty of media noise over the young infantryman turfed off an Arriva Cross Country service for having a discounted ticket and no supporting Forces Railcard.

The strongest condemnation was rightly reserved for the alleged comments of the Senior Conductor: "I don't know what you are complaining about. It is not as if you've taken a bullet or anything".

These words may well come back to haunt Arriva.


Seeking to cut through the media noise The Fact Compiler visited the insider forums on WNXX where he found the following pithy analysis of the event:

Squaddie gets train with discounted ticket
Squaddie has no railcard on his person
Gets gripped, offers lip, gets chinged
Goes to papers, makes money

None-the-less perhaps the former Virgin Voyagers should now be renamed Arriva Bullet Trains?


Public service announcement

Paul Bigland, Pictographer Royal to the railway industry, has been sending out frantic emails to all and sundry:

"I managed to lose my Blackberry out of a train window at the weekend - so I've lost all your phone numbers.

Please feel free to text me with abuse, but please put your name to it so that I know it's your number!"

If you know Paul perhaps you could oblige...


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Trying Scotsman

Further to the piece earlier this week on the 'Crying Scotsman' a missive reaches The Fact Compiler from the editor of Model Rail magazine.

Ben Jones, a man knows his scale models, commends The Flying Scotsman cuckoo clock to Railway Eye readers.


As Ben sagely points out "It moves".

Not much like the real thing then.


Come back Ceri all is forgiven

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
When it comes to erasing inconvenient historical truths the ATOC press office makes the airbrush artists of the Soviet Union look like rank amateurs.

Here a spokesman, quoted in today's FT, responds to the Great Slow Trains scandal:

"Punctuality had improved significantly to 90% plus after languishing around 80% a decade ago".

In the real world a decade is equivalent to 10 years.

Therefore 2008 minus 10 years takes us back to errr...1998.

According to the former SRA's ineffable National Rail Trends publication PPM in 1998/99 was 87.9%.

Just one year earlier (1997/98) PPM was actually a stonking 89.7%!

And, of course, in those dim and distant days the railway needed half the cash it soaks up today.

So is it the policy of the new brooms at ATOC to be 'economique avec la veritie'?


On the rocks

Now that the dust is settling following BoJo's shock announcement last week that TranSys' Oyster Card contract is to be terminated, perhaps it is time to ask a question or two.

When the contract with TranSys was originally signed Bob "the rebuilder" Kiley was the man in charge at TfL.

Despite expanding vast amounts of energy (and public money) on unsuccessful attempts to stop the PPP, little attention appears to have been paid to those areas that TfL did have direct control over - eg the TranSys contract.

So why was there no breakpoint written into the original contract?

Perhaps something that vodka Bob overlooked between visits to the offy?


Rail Power 2008

Much excitement amongst the Barrow Hill fraternity.

Word on the grapevine has it that alien rock legend 'Zontar' will be making a special guest appearance at the Hill's 'Rail Power 2008' event (22nd - 25th August).

Devotees of the surreal will have the opportunity to be pictured alongside Zontar as he cranks the gas turbine, in return for donations to the DPS fighting fund.

It promises to be an event that's out of this world...


Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Half full or...

Retail Price Inflation for July published = 5%

Regulated fares increase in January by RPI+1 = 6%

What impact on demand?

UPDATE: More in today's FT here


Monday, 11 August 2008

Spin spin sugar

Is this yet another example of the decline in proof reading at ORR since Tom Winsor left?

We quote from KPMG's report (for the Office of Rail Regulation) into strengthening NR Governance:

"Possible options for further exploration regarding information provided to members include:

  • Amending ORR briefings
As previously mentioned, these reports are not, however, produced specifically with the membership’s skills, experience and perspectives in mind."

So that's alright then.

KPMG advises the independent economic regulator to dumb-down its briefings to suit the "mixed abilities" of NR's public members?

Perhaps a Sir Richard Mottram moment?

Crying Scotsman

The Fact Compiler has received the following missive from Andy Roden, saviour of the Cornish sleeper and author of an excellent book on the 'Flying Scotsman'.

"As you’ve been covering a lot of heavy politics recently, I thought you might be interested in a wee distraction to amuse and entertain.

The link is below, but as a taster to whet your appetite…"


Andy - thank you. Our joy is full.

Hurry to buy the 'Romance of Steam Flying Scotsman Village Clock' here.

The Fact Compiler wonders who at the NRM "Officially Authorised" this magnificent illuminated geegaw?


Money for old rope

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
One of KPMG's insightful suggestions on how to improve Network Rail governance is:

  • establishing a mission statement for members, setting out the members’ aims and values.

Did ORR really use our hard earned money to pay for this guff?


Sloppy work by KPMG

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Railway Eye readers have already noted that KPMG appear unsure what infrastructure NR is actually responsible for (see post below).

Further inconsistencies have emerged.

In the executive summary of its review of Network Rail governance, the consultants list:

Possible options for further exploration regarding organisation of members.

These include:

  • increasing the number of members;
  • reducing the number of members;
How could they have missed the third option - Keeping the same number of members?

Who says accountancy is all about detail?

(Note to ORR. This advice has cost you £75,000 at the standard hourly billable rate for Railway Eye Consultants)


Spot the difference...

...between the railway line pictured on the front cover of the ORR report into NR Corporate Governance and any assets that NR are actually responsible for. Perhaps NR's new Midlands & Continental territory is looking to expand?


Sleeping partner

Stiff competition

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
Passengers on the first run of the "Hope Valley Executive", Cargo-D's Deltic-hauled dining train at the the weekend, were mystified to find a Mk 3 sleeping car marshalled on the rear.

There was much speculation over the reason for this as customers noshed their way across the Pennines behind 55022.

Was it for "executives" to take power naps after the port and stilton?

Or was it, as someone suggested, to provide the ultimate "have-it-away-day."?

Either way, it could perk up the flagging charter market!



Guinea pig

Red Faces All Round at the West Coast Railway Company this morning.

Despite being their most prestigious charter train ever, passenger loadings on yesterdays 40th anniversary re-run of the 1T57 '15 Guinea Special' were described by on-board hacks as 'abysmal'.

Thousands lined the route from Liverpool to Carlisle yet it would appear that few travelled on the train itself.

The original 15 Guinea Special ran with 440+ plus passengers. Yesterdays re-run had less than half that number despite being the first public train to be hauled by celebrity kettle 70013 Oliver Cromwell following its recent overhaul.

High ticket prices were blamed by some potential punters not to mention the ridiculous return time into Liverpool (after 11pm on Sunday night).

But the recent high profile spat between 'Wet Coat' and Steam Railway mag, over allegations of 'over the wall spying' before the recent Carnforth open day, may have also played it's part.

So poor are Wet Coat's relations with Steam Railway, the UK's best selling kettle rag, that no ads for the charter appeared in the magazine, this despite its readers paying the lions share of Cromwell's overhaul. Staff on the mag were also advised that their presence on the charter would not be welcome.

All this on top of the recent Cumbrian bridge barbecue and reported poor loadings on the thrice weekly 'Scarborough Spa Express' means that these are not exactly happy times for 'Britain's Premier Charter Train Operator'.


Crossrail lite?

While Crossrail has received Royal Assent it is unlikely that the proposed scheme will ever be built.

In tandem to the design put before the Select Committees of the Houses of Parliament a 'secret' plan with much reduced engineering (for example, smaller tunnels for tube-train sized rolling stock rather than the proposed 'mainline' sized carriages) has been prepared.

This 'value-managed' scheme is much more likely to be the one to be constructed.

Anyone fancy putting in an FOI request?


Sunday, 10 August 2008

Railway Garden Competition #8

This particular entry is the subject of some debate amongst the judges of the Railway Garden Competition.

Is it a Railway Garden or a Station Garden?

The foilage says Railway but the even spacing suggests Station Garden.



Either way a commendable effort by Network Rail's new Midland and Continental team.


Railway Garden Competition #7

The railway garden is no different to those apogees of the Horticulturalists' art - the gardens at The Royal Hospital Flower Show, Chelsea.

Too little water and all your best endeavours are in vain.

At Crewe this particular problem has been overcome.

Such is the shiite state of the guttering that it pours endlessly over pillar, platform and passenger alike.


Lest Network Rail protest that the image above was taken during abnormal levels of rainfall (in August!) the Fact Compiler would like to point out the verdigris - attacking brick and dissolving 'gobbo' alike - a clear sign of long term neglect.


The First Trumpet Blast Against...

There was much angst in the media over Linda Buchanan who rebuked two young men for smoking on a platform and was thrown onto the railway for her troubles.

Victoria Coren in today's Observer took a different view.

Good on you Victoria!


Friday, 8 August 2008

Negligent discharge

Regular readers of Railway Eye will be aware that Captain Deltic has offered his services to Network Rail, as a Public Member, on more than one occasion.

They will also be aware that for the third time this selfless and gracious offer has been declined.

Those who know the good Captain had assumed he had taken this set-back with his customary sang-froid and that even now he is steeling himself to respond once more to the nations call, should Network Rail allow.

Alas! Great sadness and shocking news!

It would appear that Saturday's rejection has had more than a passing effect upon that English Electric heart of gold, if a recent thread on Tom Harris' blog is to be believed.

As a service to the industry the Fact Compiler reproduces the disturbing exchange below:

His spin doctor should have pointed out that if you really want to look credible with an AK47 you should have a spare magazine gaffa taped to the one in use. and the version with the folding tubular stock is even more warry.

So not impressed. What’s your weapon of choice?

  • You’re a strange and disturbing man, Captain


  • The Fact Compiler fears that the good Captain may be preparing his very own unique route-and-branch reformation of NR's corporate governance!


    Gap analysis

    Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
    The Competition Commission report into the ROSCOs makes more and more interesting reading.

    Providing of course that you can read between the commercially confidential lines:

    a) Fifty-five of Angel’s 70-vehicle fleet of seven-year-old Class 180 Adelantes were returned by First Great Western following replacement by HSTs - [REMOVED] of these vehicles have been subsequently placed with [REMOVED], leaving [REMOVED] off-lease at the end of April 2008.

    April?

    It's now August and H*ll Tr**ns has got f**r on a t*n year lease. and V*rg*n Tr**ns signed a lease for two on J*l* 18th.

    That leaves **ght still up for grabs. So Gr*nd C*nt*al is still in with a chance then?


    Read all about it

    Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
    Today the ORR published the report it commissioned into aspects of Network Rail’s governance.

    Entitled "Network Rail: Membership aspects of governance", the KPMG report drew attention to a number of serious structural weaknesses in the role of Public Members including:

    • a lack of clarity about the role of members and the way members are selected
    • issues around members having access to appropriate information and analysis in order to take an informed view of Network Rail's performance, including future prospects, so that they can hold Network Rail to account efficiently.
    Perhaps the simplest solution would to be to give all Public Members a wi-fi enabled laptop set to the Daft endorsed uber-rail web-site Railway Eye!.

    That really would challenge Ian McAllister's legendary schmoozing powers.


    Mr Norris to you

    Rob Holden has been lobbying hard in the dead tree media over recent months to secure the top job at Crossrail.

    Only last weekend the Independent on Sunday ran yet another puff piece saying the "Crossrail chairmanship interested Holden".

    Alas it is not to be.

    As predicted in Railway Eye last month BoJo will pay his electoral debt of gratitude to Steve Norris by making him Chairman of Cross London Rail Links; the TfL subsidiary tasked with taking the project forward.

    With the top job sorted the next big question is who Shagger will bring with him to beef up the current Crossrail team. The Fact Compiler has a premonition that the supply chain may be in for a surprise!


    Mouth activated, brain in neutral

    Pre-recorded announcement on an SWT Juniper at Richmond station this morning.

    "The door buttons are now activated"

    Our correspondent wonders what particular problem this is a solution to?

    Meanwhile no mention that the train is 12 late.

    More fatuous on train announcements please

    Thursday, 7 August 2008

    A World Class Railway

    Read and weep:

    *** 05/08/08 14:10 #QCTDA03 *** CREATED

    SUMMARY: POO HIGH ST LC CCTV FLR

    SOURCE: TSID, CCF, CCIL

    FULL DETAIL: CCIL REF 320760

    13:14 Advised by Poole signaller that he has no CCTV picture from High Street LC. He has tried swapping the cameras and monitors to no avail. Unable to lower the barriers until an attendant is onsite due to the volume of pedestrian traffic over this crossing.

    1W29, 1105 Waterloo to Weymouth trapped.

    13:20 1W31 1135 Waterloo-Weymouth will be held in platform 4 at Bournemouth pending developments at Poole.

    13:33 Advised by Poole signaller that he now has the CCTV picture

    1W31 1135 Waterloo-Weymouth will be held in platform 4 at Bournemouth pending developments at Poole.

    13:33 Advised by Poole signaller that he now has the CCTV picture and trains are on the move again. Signaller had tried hitting the monitor to no effect but the late shift signaller has just arrived and hit the monitor a bit harder, now has a picture again.

    START TIME: 1314

    LINES AFFECTED: UL/DL

    TRAINS AFFECTED: 1W29/1W31

    EQUIPMENT INVOLVED: CCTV

    REPORTS REQUESTED Y/N: NO

    *** 06/08/08 01:47 #QCIAM05 *** AMENDED

    *** 06/08/08 08:46 #QCTDA10 *** AMENDED

    FMS 131870

    End of report

    What is it with those late shift boys?


    CoCo - Rosco response

    Angel Trains issued the following terse statement at 12:18 today:

    “Angel Trains is studying the document and will be responding to the Competition Commission in connection with the proposed remedies in due course”. ENDS

    And here is the missing last line of the release:

    "Yesssss... Mr Brown, Ms Kelly, Dr Mitchell - your guys took a hell of a beating!"



    Competition Commission Report

    The CoCo's Provisional Findings into allegations that the ROSCOs abused their market position was published this morning at 07:00.

    Section 20 of the Provision Findings Summary gives a flavour of the rest of the document.

    20. This lack of alternatives arises from the factors identified in paragraph 10. Some of these factors arise from the DfT placing restrictions on the choice of rolling stock in franchise ITTs, or because of obligations to retain particular rolling stock as a result of section 54 undertakings. We expect that the DfT’s Rolling Stock Plan will result in further limitations on the TOCs’ choices when negotiating with ROSCOs as the DfT seeks to influence the deployment of existing and new rolling stock to enhance capacity on the network.

    Who will carry the can for this embarrassing debacle?

    Perhaps the same Civil Serpant who originally promised he could shave £1bn off Rosco annual lease costs and when he couldn't suggested taking this to the CoCo in the first place.


    We suspect not.


    Wednesday, 6 August 2008

    Bullshit Bingo Challenge #1

    The Fact Compiler is grateful to Arriva Cross Country for sponsoring Railway Eye's first Bullshit Bingo Challenge.

    CROSSCOUNTRY APPOINT HONEYCOMB AS CRM PARTNER
    Software specialist Honeycomb has been appointed by CrossCountry as their CRM partner.

    As one of the UK’s leading train operators, CrossCountry has selected Honeycomb to help ensure a customer-centric approach and to improve customer insight through their database management practices. This approach will not only support the Company’s growing marketing activity but also ensure that CrossCountry is speaking to groups of customers about the opportunities available to them.

    CrossCountry’s CRM Manager Stephanie Adams said; “Here at CrossCountry our strategy is to put the customer at the heart of everything we do, to communicate with them and to understand exactly what they want from a train operator. Therefore after an extensive selection process we are delighted to be working with the highly experienced team at Honeycomb. The sophisticated CRM system that Honeycomb provides has a simple user interface and a highly professional eMarketing capability. These features will help build and improve on the dialogue between ourselves and our customers.

    “We believe that Honeycomb is in a position to deliver an holistic approach and implement appropriate solutions that meet our needs.”

    Further information etc...

    The Fact Compiler would like to save Arriva a couple of bob by explaining that what customers "want from a train operator" is something called a train; preferably one which runs on time and goes where the timetable says it should go.

    Was the PR monkey who wrote this tosh paid in money or bananas?


    Oh the irony

    Guido Fawkes points out the dangers of being indiscreet on a train.

    View Guido's post here.

    The Fact Compiler rather enjoys listening into other people's on-train conversations.

    Only last week two ladies were discussing a business meeting with a client.

    "I was only 10 minutes late and they gave me a really hard time!" moaned one.

    It transpired the meeting was with London Underground and the ladies had been commissioned to work on a new staff campaign.

    The name of the campaign? "Valuing Time"!

    Tuesday, 5 August 2008

    Spot the difference

    There was much media interest at Darlington this weekend for the first steaming of the splendid new Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific locomotive 60163 "Tornado" (pictured below).


    As the newest vehicle on the railway network The Fact Compiler thought it might be instructive to compare the 60 year old A1 Peppercorns with the the brand new IEPs.

    Readers are therefore invited to guess which of the following statements apply to Tornado and which to the Frankenstein train


    1. The vehicle's design assumed that carbon based fuel was cheap and plentiful.

    2. It avoids the need for further electrification

    3. These vehicles were originally to have a 30 year life. This soon became only 20 years.

    4. Not many suppliers were willing to work on this design - which added dramatically to cost

    5. Just one vehicle of this type will set you back £3m

    6. It's jolly slow compared to its European equivalents

    Tie breaker

    I believe the Department for Transport is qualified to specify a new InterCity train for Britain because

    A. I am Ruth Kelly

    B. I am Mark Lambirth


    C. I am bonkers


    The winner of this competition will receive two first class tickets on the first revenue earning service of the IEP (as currently specified) or a guided tour round the Strategic Reserve as a guest of Sir Ernest Marples.


    Cheek

    As ever, it is a case of who you know, not what you know.

    There have been a growing number of complaints about ride quality on South West Trains 458 (Juniper) units that ply the Waterloo - Reading route

    As part of a planned programme of modifications vehicle 8017 has just been fitted with new springs, anti-roll bars and dampers to improve the ride.

    Similar modifications are to be rolled out across the fleet.

    But what is this?

    Priority is to be given to modifying those vehicles with First Class seating.

    Could this be connected with the deluge of emails and videos about ride quality that have landed on the desk of SWT MD Stewart Palmer, from a "powerful senior figure in London Underground"?

    The Fact Compiler understands that there is no truth to the rumour that SWT staff have been instructed to collate similar evidence of piss-poor track quality on LU's roller-coaster District line.


    Rounding error?

    Telegrammed by The Raver
    Rewriting history is plainly becoming something of a habit for the denizens of rail privatisation.

    Railway Eye readers may recollect Nigel Harris's recent confusion over the average age of rolling stock at privatisation

    The latest purveyor of samizdat history is one Richard Bowker who, in a Sunday Telegraph puff-piece this weekend, claimed that 14,000 trains a day were running on the network in 1997 compared to approximately 20,000 today.

    The true figure for the number of trains operating on the network in '97 is much closer to 18,500.

    In the scheme of things not overly important, but National Express shareholders may wish to scrutinise this year's annual report and accounts a little more closely - just in case.