Thursday, 25 June 2009

Lookalike XVII - Ride on Time Megamix

Push-bike Peer was the 'good news' piece in yesterday's Evening Standard.

So it seems churlish not to offer the following...

Wolmar, of course, has been banging on about station cycle facilities since before God was a boy.

Perhaps Adonis should take him on as an advisor?

UPDATE: This from the Globetrotter...

Thursday night was DafT’s ‘meet the minister’ drinks reception for the media – everyone was there, from Railway Gazette and Local Transport Today via Bloomberg to Sky News and the Sun!

About 20 mins in, Adonis comes striding into the room, which was gradually filling up with assorted hacks and dozens of DfT press officers, minders, etc.

After quickly shaking hands with all the guests, he makes a bee-line for friend Xian and takes him into the corner for an animated half-hour discussion on cycling policy.

Eye's tongue in cheek suggestions that Wolmar might be appointed as an advisor may not be so far fetched...

NXEC reposition deck chairs

One piece of good news from beleaguered National Express East Coast.

Sources suggest that the instruction has gone out "Fill all vacancies".

Old franchise hands will recognise this as the TOC equivalent of 'Man the lifeboats'.

Can a cost plus contract be far behind?

Pinky and the Brain

NR's Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit has been very quiet recently.

The reason why is now clear.

PJ and co have obviously been busy in another place.

This from Edinburgh North MP, Mark Lazarowicz, during today's Transport Questions...

"In bidding for the franchise, National Express knowingly took a commercial risk and should not be able to just 'walk away' now, but if the franchise is handed back, the East Coast line should be run by Network Rail not put out to tender again."

The Fact Compiler's flabber is truly gasted at the very thought!

UPDATE: This from the Velopodist...

I think Mr Lazarowicz will find there are a number of problems with having Network Rail running InterCity East Coast, among them the competition implications and the fact they wouldn't know how to do it.

But probably the biggest is this: Network Rail's licence prohibits it from running any trains, so much so that it has to employ someone else to drive the measurement trains.

So a juicy long-distance franchise looks out of the question.

WCML squabbles continue

Telegrammed by the Archer
From Virgin’s presentation at yesterday’s Railway Strategies Supply Chain conference:

"Current performance is dominated by infrastructure failures, with 75% of recent performance caused by Network Rail and 15% by Virgin."

Unfortunately, as Virgin had the afternoon 'graveyard' slot Network Rail's contingent had already left the building, after of course they had used their morning slot to explain how investment is meeting NR's current business needs.

Funnily enough they failed to mention the business needs of their customers...

Poop poop! The case for Mr Toad...

This just in from Waterbaby...

Might I offer a different view to that repeated in yesterday's Eye piece on the Virgin/Alstom 'pit stop' event at Wembley?

A couple of weeks ago, the 'Eye' appealed for someone (anyone!) to stand up and defend the industry to the wider media in the face of one of the motoring lobby's periodic assaults over funding for roads and railways.

Intemperate outburst about Virgin's attempts to present the railway as a modern, 21st century technology, show we have such a lot to learn.

Does anybody seriously think that the travelling public doesn't appreciate F1 motor racing for what it is - an exercise in contrived decadence?

I doubt Virgin/Alstom will be receiving too many letters of complaint suggesting they have betrayed rail's green credentials.

I actually applaud Virgin for still having the chutzpah and (with all the downs and, er, downs since 1997) enthusiasm to do such things, it gets the railway noticed in an unusual and glamorous way.

In Italy, on the other hand, Ferrari F1 team President, Luca di Montezemolo, is behind the NTV high speed open-access operation, set to launch in 2011 and what is more NTV's Alstom AGVs will be blood red too!

Would the moaning minnies sampling this 300+km/h service, reject it on the grounds of 'silliness'?

On a wider point, it worries me that any attempt at positive PR risks being dismissed by a cynical 'old guard' as a stunt.

How does this encourage younger recruits onto the railway?

The sooner we all recognise the importance of branding, image and, yes, PR/spin in making rail's case, the better.

I accept Virgin should be spending most of its time trying to get NR to sort the West Coast... but on this occasion, perhaps unusually, the criticism coming its way seems a tad harsh.