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?