Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Monday's meeting with the SoS

Somebody, somewhere, is not telling the truth.

The consensus amongst the transport hacks (Grauniad, Independent & Times) is that the owner groups told Geoff Hoon that they needed additional financial support or there was a risk of service cuts.

However, according to a 'DfT Spokesman' today:

"No train operating company has approached us for service cuts or additional financial support. This issue was not raised in the meeting with Geoff Hoon yesterday."

Who is doing the spinning? Railway Eye would be grateful for guidance.

Give us your fooking money

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
The National Railway Museum has its begging bowl out again.

According to the NRM the cost of the Flying Scotsman overhaul has risen as a result of unforeseen problems, including increased prices for raw materials.

The markets appear to disagree about steel prices...

...and aluminium...

...and non-ferrous...

but you'd have to ask Mystic Wolmar about spot prices for unobtainium.

Randall and TOC-groups (Deceased)

Rail hack Chris Randall writes...

"Thought you might be interested to see a piece in last November’s Rail Professional, in which I predicted that DafT would be forced into an embarrassing policy U-turn if TOCs turned up en-masse at Marsham Street with begging bowls in hand.

"Following yesterday’s showdown between Buff Hoon and the increasingly panicky owner groups it appears it’s just a matter of time before DafT is forced to cave in to their demands and hand over billions more taxpayer pounds to keep franchises from going under.

"So much for franchises being non-negotiable!

"All of which brings to mind the all-singing, all-dancing launch of National Express East Coast in December 2007 when I had the temerity to ask National Express boss Richard Bowker if the TOC was prepared for an economic slump.

"The former SRA boss looked at me as if to say, ‘what sort of fool would ask such a bloody daft question’ and smugly insisted that NX had done all its sums and nothing could blow it of course.

"Funnily enough, I think Christopher Garnett said something very similar when he bid £1.3bn for the East Coast!"

Share pledges

This from the Daily Telegraph...

They include Brian Souter, chief executive, who pledged 24m shares worth £28.7m.

With environmental pressure to end the curse of plastic bags perhaps Souter has used the cash to corner the market?

Crossrail Complaints Commissioner

This from the DfT...

Transport Minister Andrew Adonis and London Mayor Boris Johnson today announced the appointment of Tony Gregory as the new independent Crossrail Complaints Commissioner.

Tony Gregory is the former Assistant Complaints Commissioner for Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the Assistant Referee for Crossrail in which he was responsible for adjudicating on issues arising from the dissemination of information about the development of the Crossrail scheme in its early stages.

Where is Bernard Gambrill when you need him?

MPs Expenses

This from the BBC...

Gordon Brown is to order Labour MPs to back a controversial plan to exempt details of MPs' expenses from the Freedom of Information Act.

And these wise words from Nick Clegg:

"At a time when families are having to count every penny, it is outrageous that MPs are seeking to hide how they spend their money.

"MPs should stop trying to hide their work in secrecy and accept that the same rules that apply to everybody else should also apply to them."

Readers of Railway Eye who would like MPs to show how they spend OUR money are invited to sign up to the Facebook Group - I object to MPs concealing their expenses

UPDATE: Bloody hell - that was quick!

This from the Grauniad:

Gordon Brown withdraws plan to keep details of MPs' expenses secret


Telegrammed by Barry Spotter
With the Stourbridge Branch still awaiting the introduction of the comedy Plastic Parry Mover, bustitution remains the order of the day.

However, good news reaches Railway Eye from Cambodia!

For those in a hurry forward to 2mins and 10 secs into the video.

Perhaps this is the new, environmentally friendly, version of the Parry People Mover?

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Railway Eye is to be congratulated on discovering DfT's secret test track for the Bi-mode IEP. No wonder there is so much confidence in the project.

"The awarding procedure has been discontinued."

***Is this an omen?***