Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Leading from the front?

So London Midland has apologised for their dreadful recent performance.

Read Steve Banaghan's frank admission here.

As Go-Ahead is obviously imbued with a new spirit of honesty and openness perhaps we will soon see Keith Ludeman apologise for threatening to withdraw services if DafT didn't renegotiate their franchises?

Then again perhaps not.

Year Zero... and some

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
DafT, which of course has nothing to do with new trains allocation, is expected to announce on Thursday that the start of the Thameslink Project has been delayed.

Key Output Zero was due to come into effect on 22 March with 23 new Class 377 Bombardier Electrostar EMUs, a new footbridge at Farringdon and a new walkway at Blackfriars from the platform to the other side of the Thames.

FCC Managing Director Elaine Holt told the Railway Study Association on 7 January, that none of these things existed as she spoke.

This is a stroke of luck for DafT which is hoping to buy its new DMUs from sundry Spaniards, Chinese and Koreans.

It allows 'Buff' Hoon to weep crocodile tears as he explains to Derby MP Margaret Beckett that he would love to buy British but that her constituents simply can't deliver!

No doubt DafT's own creation, Network Rail, will emerge untarnished from the wreckage!

UPDATE: This blatant plug from Captain Deltic...

Of course Andy Mitchell is speaking at the Fourth Friday Club this week!


It's a fare cop!

When faced with difficult questions the Department for Transport prefers others to do their dirty work.

Latest to come to DafT's rescue is ATOC.

This written answer emerged from Marsham Street on Monday 19th January...

Bob Spink (Castle Point, UKIP) Hansard source
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent increase in rail fares has been announced by each train operating company.

Paul Clark (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Gillingham, Labour) The Association of Train Operating Companies issued a press release citing the average fares rises for January 2009. This was published in November 2008 and is available from their website.

Indeed it is - here.

And yes it does include a list of TOCs and their January fares increases.

But what's this?

The list is incomplete!

Where are the entries for the three open access operators?

Could ATOC's deliberate omission of Hull Trains, Grand Central and Shropshire & Wrexham have anything to do with their embarrasing decision not to increase fares?

UPDATE: Tom over at Blairwatch writes...

It's simple, you're confusing 'Train Operating Companies' with 'Companies that Operate Trains'. Do try to keep up, old chap.

Let us hope that the Honourable Member for Castle Point isn't as easily confused!

Lengthy inquiry

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch was formed to help improve railway safety.

It is tasked with investigating accidents and incidents on the railways, without apportioning blame, and publishing the results so that lessons can be learnt and safety improved.

On the 22nd of January 2008 a young man lost his life on the foot crossing at West Lodge, Haltwhistle.

Today, almost exactly a year after this tragic event, RAIB finally published its report.

Why has it taken so long?

UPDATE: J M Gold writes...

A serious point, and there may be a serious answer.

RAIB are frequently advertising for accident investigators.

The pay looks more than reasonable, but they seem to have to offer lengthy training, which suggests that experienced railway people aren't coming forward.

No less worrying is the content of the report.

Network Rail's procedures call for regular review of level crossing safety. The two most recent reviews identified clear shortcomings at this crossing, but no appropriate action was taken.

I think this is a real problem with modern management methods, which respond to problems by creating procedures. This generates a constant stream of reports which are passed into the "system".

Much time is spent filling in paper (or perhaps nowadays a computer database) to provide a record that the procedure has been followed, but all too often nothing is actually DONE.


***More froth from SWT!***

Zimbabwe election

Good news for fans of corporate governance.

This from the national infrastructure owner....

Network Rail today announced its new designate chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite.

His appointment will be made by the Board following a meeting with Network Rail’s Members with the matter being put before the company's AGM in July as a normal election resolution.

Rubber stamps and trebles all round !