Exciting news from the High Speed Evangelist.
The Noble Lord is planning to release the proposed route for HS2 in the New Year and with cross party support!
So convinced is Lord Adonis of overwhelming backing for High Speed rail that he confidently predicts a transformation in Middle England's mindset from Nimby to Pimby.
Please in my back yard!
Friday, 30 October 2009
Exciting news from the High Speed Evangelist.
@transportgovuk: Adonis launches a consultation to convert Watford and St Albans railway into a tram line.
Let's hope this is more successful than the abandoned conversion of the Penistone line.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
This update on the Battle of the Barriers from the BBC...
A rail company is appealing against a decision not to allow ticket barriers at York railway station.
The appeal is apparently to be heard in the New Year, by which time NXEC should have shuffled off its mortal coil.
So there is precious little benefit to be gained by the franchise, NatEx or indeed its hard pressed shareholders in mounting this appeal.
So who is yanking NXEC's chain?
Step forward Lord Adonis, DafT and DOR.
Eye salutes this unholy triumverate for learning from Ireland's experience with the Euro constitution.
Just keep asking the same question until they come up with the right answer.
Good news from the mother of Parliaments...
Former transport minister Tony McNulty has apologised to the House of Commons 'without reservation' and agreed to repay £13,837 of expenses he claimed towards his second home.
Well that makes it all better then.
UPDATE: In his statement to the House McNulty says its time to move on.
Indeed it is.
Directly to gaol without passing go.
This from Beardie Rail...
Virgin Trains has appointed Paul Furze-Waddock as its new Business Development Director.
Paul takes up his new job in the new year and his main focus will be future franchise bidding, including the West Coast franchise, which is due for re-bidding in March 2012. He will report directly to Virgin Trains’ Chief Executive Officer Tony Collins.
Will the First one out last please turn off the lights.
This from The Times...
National Express, the struggling transport group, has walked away from a last-gasp merger with rival Stagecoach over concerns that competition regulators could derail a deal.
State operator 'East Coast Mainline' is expected to take on the NXEC franchise at the December Timetable change.
This from nebusiness.co.uk...
Passenger revenue growth was 1.3% up on the CrossCountry rail franchise during the 42 weeks to October 24 and jumped by 3.8% in the last six weeks. The figure was even higher at Arriva Trains Wales at 6.7%.
Stand down DOR...
UPDATE: This from City Boy...
Remember that Arriva XC needs annual growth of 10% to maintain profitability on the franchise.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
This from the Doncaster Free Press...
Steve Davies will join the NRM at a date to be agreed in the New Year, from his position as Director of the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Manchester.
Judging by this picture he might, just, make an honorary railwayman...
UPDATE: This from Driver Potter...
TFC has clearly lost his marbles; Mr Davies fails to score in the following vital areas;
- No high-vis,
- No hard-hat in case of Health and Safety,
- Looks pleased to be at work.
Clearly his fusible plug has gone...
This from the Daily Telegraph..
If Sir Christopher Kelly has achieved nothing else, he has provoked an unprecedented level of interest in railway timetables among our MPs.
A big welcome back to the Parliamentary Train.
City excitement as Arriva prepares to unveil interim management results tomorrow.
But with the market distinctly twitchy the Eye thought it might be helpful to introduce this splendid new logo.
Just in case.
This gem from Anthony Smith at this afternoon's Transport Select Committee:
"High Speed Rail should be renamed 'Big Rail'."
Let's hope Passenger Focus is never asked to market rail services.
A reader asks if the Fact Compiler can spot any parallels in the following report...
Review into the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230:
"But for the delays in the Nimrod MRA4 replacement programme, XV230 would probably have no longer have been flying in September 2006, because it would have reached its Out-of-Service Date and already been scrapped or stripped for conversion.
"The history of Procurement generally in the MOD has been one of years of major delays and cost overruns. This has had a baleful effect on In-Service Support and safety and airworthiness generally.
"Poor Procurement practices have helped create ‘bow waves’ of deferred financial problems, the knock-on effects of which have been visited on In-Service Support, with concomitant change, confusion, dilution, and distraction as occurred in the post-Strategic Defence Review period..."
He's not wrong!
It's good to see that egalitarian principles thrive and prosper in the Department for Transport.
Whilst the ermine clad Noble Lord luxuriated on the cushions during his Pilgrimage of Grice, it appears that his junior must slum it on the omnibus.
This via Twitter...
@transportgovuk: Suggestions invited for Sadiq Khan’s mystery traveller bus tour
Eye suggests that Sadiq sends his boss!
Eye has received the following Rule Book amendments from Our man in the 4 Foot.
Please ensure that you are fully conversant with them prior to booking on/giving up the will to live.
Elf 'n' Safety - committed to making even the simplest task nigh on impossible to perform.
2D08 reported an ostrich on the track between Ufford and Wickham Mkt. 1D03 confirmed same near bridge 435. Ips MOM attended but nothing found, NWR from 0935.
And before you ask...
No, it wasn't an emu!
This also from NR's RUS press release today...
- 50% cheaper to run electric trains over diesel equivalents
- 33% cheaper to maintain
- Electric trains are 90% more reliable (21k miles per break-down compared to 11k on average for diesels)
- Electrification can pay for itself with cost savings outweighing the up-front investment
- Up to 30% less CO2
UPDATE: This just in from Roger Ford...
According to Network Rail's fighting pro-electrification press release electric trains are 90% more reliable than diesel.
So what has happened to Captain Deltic's provocative champagne challenge for the first IC125 diesel fleet to get above the Class 390 electric Pendolinos in the Golden Spanners rankings?
UPDATE: This from a less than convinced Mr Saltaire...
The current lobbying for electrification by Network Rail could, in the eyes of a cynic, be seen as a supplier that is in a dominant position seeking to cement the market’s dependence upon it.
The railway is a system of which the train is a part.
A recent written answer to a parliamentary question highlighted the fact that train cancellations on electrified routes far outweigh those on diesel routes.
When assessing the reliability of diesel trains vs electric trains, this major factor should be taken into account.
Also, the railway’s ability to promote its green credentials by electrification is heavily dependent upon electricity generators producing green energy.
The UK’s electricity is set to become LESS green over the next twenty years, as older nuclear power stations are shut down, without replacements having been built and brought on stream.
Ironically, it would appear that the UK’s only potential method of maintaining the current proportion of green electricity for the foreseeable future would be to import more electricity via under sea cables from France, where they appear to have got their act together!
Wise words from Network Rail...
Network Rail’s chief executive Iain Coucher said: “Passengers would see enormous benefits from further electrification with faster, quieter, smoother, greener journeys.
"The case for the Midland Main Line is extremely strong. Affordability and bringing down the cost of such projects are key if they're to get the green-light."
Of course were the Midland Main Line to be electrified sooner rather than later the IEP might even start to make sense...
UPDATE: This just in from Chris Milner via Faceache...
Nice to see the dunces at the back of the class have finally woken up.
Add Sheffield to Doncaster and Derby to Proof house jct and you have a decent electrified network.
UPDATE: This just in from Peter Mark Roget...
Sir - Can I point out that the conjunction of 'IEP' and 'Making sense' is an oxymoron
UPDATE: This just in from the Raver...
So the government says it wants two lines to be electrified but rules out Sheffield for the time being as too expensive, then Network rail presses for it, claiming the idea for the first two was all its own, when, in fact, John Armitt was adamantly opposed to electrification of the Great Western, using environmental arguments as well as cost.
NR seems to have a way of winding up the government which does not bode well for its long term future.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Exciting news from Bombardier!
As the recession bites the rolling stock manufacturer is now getting passengers to design their own trains!
According to the HYVE Innovation Community in Munich...
We, the HYVE Innovation Community in collaboration with Bombardier Transportation, are hosting the “YouRail – Visions of modern transportation” - online design competition.
The contest which runs from 26th October to mid-December is all about visionary designs that help create a unique new interior of a future train and that satisfy the special needs of different types of passengers (e.g. leisure or business).
A highlight is an online configurator by which users can develop their custom-made train seat in 3-D.
The monetary prizes and gifts for the winners and most active participants amount to a total in excess of 10,000 Euros with the winning design being presented at InnoTrans 2010.
Eye hopes lots of readers will want to
help Bombardier reduce costs design their own trains.
And don't worry if you know absolutely nothing about rolling stock design.
Nor does DafT but it specified the IEP - the contract for which still hasn't been signed...
UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...
If Ian Walmsley finds out about this the web site will probably crash.
But perhaps they have filters to prevent people designing subversive seats that people might enjoy sitting in?
This obituary from the Grauniad...
Ben Fisher, who has died unexpectedly aged 45, was an inspiring teacher of French at Bangor University and the creator of one of the most visited railway websites in the world, the Welsh Highland Railway Project.
Visit Ben's website here.
UPDATE: This from Bushy...
Eye readers may be interested to know that there is a memorial service for Ben in Powis Hall, Bangor at 18:00 on Monday 23 November.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Modern Railways is to celebrate best railway operating practice with Golden Whistle Awards.
More details at the MR website.
About time too!
UPDATE: This, surprisingly enough, from the late Mr Churchward...
Is someone having a larf?
The GW Awards?
Involving a whistle!
"Sir, we do not blow whistles at people from Newbury."
No, no, no, no, no!
EU representatives have said that if Mr Blair became President of the EU Council he would expect to travel in a cavalcade and all local traffic to be halted when he made a 'state visit' to member countries.
And when, pray, did we get a say in any of this?
This exciting news from Southern...
The Marketing team have been working with a top advertising agency (sic), who are responsible for the ‘118’ and ‘Compare the Meerkat – Compare the Market’ television adverts.
Our campaign will feature a brand new Southern character ‘Captain Permatan’, a Mexican wrestler who is passionate about trains…(is this right? Ed)
Perhaps Captain Permatan's first task should be to try and rescue doomed sister franchise London Midland?
This from Railnews...
WSMR Managing director Andy Hamilton said: ‘Considering the current revenue position of Wrexham & Shropshire and the pressure put on the business by the current economic climate, I can confirm that if the ATW 38th Supplemental Agreement is approved it is very likely that DB Regio UK will cease funding and it is likely that Wrexham & Shropshire will immediately withdraw from the market.'
Perhaps time to recall the wise words of Beardie himself, after Virgin waved the white flag and withdrew its own plans to serve stations along the WSMR route earlier this year:
In return, I think that the people of Shrewsbury should now receive firm assurances from DB and W&S that they will continue to run this service for years to come.
Perhaps just as well such assurances were never made...
UPDATE: This just in from Scotch Corner...
According to the Railnews story the person leading ATW's London service bid is one Mike Bagshaw.
Could this be the same Mike Bagshaw who was previously Commercial Director at Chiltern?
Strange but true!
This just in from Paul Bigland....
I'm back in the UK now and thought you'd like these images for the international railways gardens.
They were taken in Malaysia on what is known as the 'jungle' railway. The first shot is at Gemas.
The second much further up North near Kuala Perlis, where the chaps are indulging in a bit of jungle clearance with petrol powered strimmers.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
This from the department of the bleedin' obvious and posted round various depots...
Seasonal Weather Warning
Advance reports from Network Rail weather specialists indicate that the Southern region may experience more adverse autumnal conditions during the coming few days.
To remind you, this may lead to the trees shedding their leaves and you experiencing low rail adhesion conditions.
No shit Sherlock!
New-media savy Richard Baker makes it into Revolution's top ten tweeters@richard_baker General Manager for Virgin Trains Liverpool, N Wales & Chester to London. Passionate about leadership, service, social media and innovation.
Good effort and congratulations.
UPDATE: This from a Mr Saltaire...
How times have changed…
Imagine this; You’re the boss of a company. You walk into an office full of your employees and you find they are all sitting at their computers Twittering…
Question is, do you congratulate them – or fire them!?!??
Friday, 23 October 2009
Total Politics has published its list of Top 100 Public Affairs Professionals.
Spot the missing industry.
UPDATE: This from the Major...
That the Falkland Islands should make it into the Top 100 puts the railway's lobbying failure into perspective.
Where's a soi disant veteran observer when you need one...?
Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
Looks like hard-up NXEC is bringing back mixed trains.
Senior Conductor on a packed HST from Newcastle this afternoon:
Will people with bulky luggage please tell the guard who will lock it away in the brake van...
Presumably with the pigs, chickens and smokey anthracite stove?
UPDATE: This from Shiny Shoes...
Just curious why a 'senior conductor' was working a NXEC HST (or any of their trains for that matter) as such grade does not exist on NX.
Admirably and sensibly NX use the correct term guard.
The term senior conductor was part of the 'train crew' concept of the 80's that sought to bring some promotional steps to the role... (cont p94).
In any event, as far as the public were concerned the term senior conductor was all a bit silly, there being no 'junior conductor' on any train worked by a SC.
Network Rail has been busy reminding drivers and pedestrians of the dangers of level crossing abuse.
Such as this story from the BBC...
Network Rail has released footage of pedestrians risking their lives at a level crossing in Dorset, including a mother pushing her baby in a pram.
A video shows the woman running across the track with her child moments before a train passed.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail chief executive, said: "The rules around level crossings are clear and simple.
"When the lights flash or the barriers are down, don't cross - a train is approaching."
However, this particular footpath crossing is not gated and the miniature warning lights, of either hue, are steady and do not flash.
Which means that here the 'clear and simple' rules don't actually apply.
And if they don't apply then the rules are not consistent.
Inconsistent safety messages and procedures actually import risk rather than reduce it.
Yet one more reason to undertake a thorough review of the methods by which level crossing users are alerted to on-coming rail traffic.
UPDATE: This from @swlines via Twitter
Although the crossing in question does have a siren that goes off before it goes red.
And that CCTV vid is from signal box.
This from the National Rail website:
|TOC Affected||Arriva Trains Wales|
The following changes will apply:
This from the RMT...
RAIL UNION RMT revealed today that Network Rail have threatened to sack their entire maintenance workforce of 13,000 and to re-employ a reduced number of workers on new terms and conditions in a bid to bulldoze through a multi-billion pound cuts package.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Telegrammed by the Velopodist
This nonsense has just reached me from National Express:
Fares from £13* – it's a mystery how we do it
*One-way fare from London to York
It's no 'mystery' - they just lose lots of money.
UPDATE: This from a Mr Saltaire...
The ad might have read London to York once upon a time…. but now it says Edinburgh to York.
Perhaps NXEC is paying attention to The Eye?
Judging by a conversation yesterday with one of their senior execs that is indeed the case...
A mournful email reaches The Fact Compiler from NR's Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...
Look at Nigel's expression when he had to award Network Rail the 'outstanding press office of the year' prize at the NRA a few years ago.
We won it in successive years but strangely enough the award was 'retired'…
Would Eye be right in thinking that all is not well between Media House and the New Black Tower?
This issued today...
"Discussions continue on the hand back of the East Coast rail franchise.
"At 30 September, £34 million of the available £40 million Group loan to this franchise had been utilised.
"Ongoing losses have been charged against the contract exit provision established at the half year.
"We are working towards agreeing a formal handback date for the franchise, prior to year end."
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Good to see that penny pinching on the Street of Shame delivers quality reporting.
When well respected transport correspondent Barrie Clement left the Independent some years ago the title didn't replace him, relying on PA for most of its railway coverage.
So when the City Desk attempts to cover industry news this is what happens, with a bowler tip to @GarethBeazant:
There have also been grave concerns about the company’s £1bn debt pile, its lack of a chief executive and the precarious position of its two remaining rail franchises, East Anglia and e2e.
Surely no more preposterous than c2c, which is the actual name that NatEx has blighted the London, Tilbury and Southend franchise with.
However, somewhat wide of the mark!
Eye presumes the subs desk is also vacant?
This from Human Resources magazine...
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has begun an investigation into Network Rail, following claims from a trade union that the organisation "paid off bullied staff".
This one will run and run...
This from Your Leek Paper...
MCR is in the process of acquiring the disused railway line which runs from the main line at Stoke up to the Cauldon Low quarries — a distance of about 20 miles.
During the next two years, MCR intends to renovate the line completely.
Exciting news from Montreal!
This from The Gazette...
Bombardier Inc.'s rail- equipment unit is in line to win a $2.4-billion U.S. order for 1,100 cars for the ThamesLink passenger system in southern England and the value could rise to $4 billion U.S. if the contract includes long-term maintenance.
Good of the Canadians to let us know.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
The Gruaniad Travel Awards have just been announced (with a bowler tip to Chiltern):
Best train company:
Eurostar takes the honours for the third year in a row.
Top five: 1. Eurostar 2. Chiltern Railways 3. Eurotunnel 4. First ScotRail 5. Virgin Trains
Eye supposes it would be churlish not to congratulate First ScotRail for making it into the top five.
UPDATE: This from the Archer...
So two of the top three are non-franchised operators and the third got the only twenty-year franchise.
So, in terms of the usual 7 or 10 year franchises; First did indeed come first.
Shocking but true.
Next week: Network Rail voted The Gruaniad's top Infrastructure provider.
When you're small you have to try that little bit harder...
"You will not get that on United Airlines, I guarantee you."
With apologies to those who already follow The Fact Compiler on Twatter and FaceAche.
UPDATE: This just in from 'Is 1A03 out of Chester yet, Bert?'
On second thoughts The Fact Compiler will take his chances with God's Own County Airways...
UPDATE: This from Inspector Blakey...
Bit of a stretch to call Southwest Airlines small, old man. It's the biggest airline in the world in terms of passenger numbers...
From an ex-pat temporarily marooned in the States.
Please see forum entry posted today at 7.29:
43321+43357 on 1V50....
Set ran ECS EC - Edinburgh Waverley then Edinburgh Waverley to Berwick on Tweed.
1V50 starts from Berwick on Tweed, 22 late and the reason...
wait for it...
A shortage of available staff to dispatch the train at Edinburgh Waverley!
Don't want to put the poor dears at NXEC out do we?
The Eye finally understands why Alan Titchmarsh is rolling in lolly.
This from the BBC with a bowler tip to AlanG...
Network Rail... says there are are 21,000 miles of track to keep clear and the cost of pruning and felling trees is between £20,000 and £50,000 per mile.
UPDATE: This, somewhat unbelievably, from Capability Brown...
As one who has supervised the felling of countless trees when improving country estates, may I comment on the costs of removing arboreal features alongside the rail-way?
Say 500 guineas to fell a tree. Then 20,000 guineas a mile represents 40 trees or one every 132 feet, which does not seem too high a frequency in my personal observations.
Might I crave your indulgence to add that nothing so pleases the eye of God and man as a well ordered estate and that Mr Coucher Esq would do well to restore his linesides to the pristine nature of yesteryear by razing embankments and cuttings within his way leave to grass.
I would hope to see, in particular, the elimination of that abomination the Buddleia.
I remain, Sir,
Your Humble and Obt Svt
UPDATE: This just in from Captain Deltic...
Is Capability Brown related to the well known PR hack Incapability Brennan-Brown?
UPDATE: This just in from Rupert Brennan Brown...
Monday, 19 October 2009
This from Dreaming Spires...
Much raising of Oxford mortar boards when Lord Adonis announced in July that his alma mater should join the electrified network.
Indeed the Noble Lord rushed back from cabinet in Cardiff to confirm the good news in person!
Magnum cum laude.
However, judging by this ATOC faux pas, at least one Oxon alumnus needs to try harder.
Produced by ATOC's press office to promote additional electrification schemes, it suggests that Didcot to Oxford is now relegated to a 'proposed route'.
Let's hope that St Benets Hall is suitably forgiving of M Roberts MA.
This from New Civil Engineer...
Former Metronet CEO Andie Harper has joined AECOM as director of programme management for transport and infrastructure.
Is Transport for London planning to takeover AECOM over as well?
This just in from the Wicked Weaver...
Informed yesterday that LM have lightened their HQ by about 100 people during the last week, and that there will be more downsizing before Guy Fawkes Day.
Also: that 'economics' is the reason why two of XC's five HST sets will be stood down at the December TT change.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Nigel Harris has returned to the blogosphere and he's in fine form too.
It therefore shocked me that behind the apparent sharp focus and some very expensive TV commercials, a toxic culture of complacency - arrogance, even – seemingly contaminates NR's approach to this appalling risk.
That'll be one less Christmas card for Iain Coucher to sign.
Friday, 16 October 2009
This from Liss station with a bowler tip to Turbostar...
This was taken in June - anyone know if it's still there?
UPDATE: This just in from SouthWestTrains Guard
Not really a pointless sign, more of an out of date sign.
When Desiros first came to SWT we had both 444 (5 car) and 450 (4 car) stops as well as 442 (5 car) and the older 4,8,12 the latter being for the slam door stock, Desiros and 442's being longer.
These should have all been changed by now to 3,4,5,6,8,9,10,12 and variations of these (4-5, 8-12) and of course 'S' to allow for all the differing formations of our stock.
It is quite possible this one was overlooked
Looks like the wheels have come off the Cosmen CVC deal and with it Stagecoach's rescue of the C2C and NXEA franchises.
Whilst this leaves National Express in the brown stuff it may prove even more embarrassing for the Noble Lord.
City lawyers are rumoured to be dusting off wheelbarrows in the expectation of huge fees for sorting out Cross Default.
UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...
So that's 'rescued' as in 'Blackbeard the Pirate' rescued' the passengers on passing merchant ships?
See also 'liberated' as in my dad 'liberated' the Iron Cross in my medal collection.
UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...
So does this mean that wee Brian's court battle against the Department of Dogs' Breakfasts over the timing of cap and collar, the delays to ITSO smartcards and compensation for the missing £200 million is on again?
Will the lawyers have enough wheelbarrows to go round?