Thursday, 26 November 2009

4th Friday Shocker: Nemesis meets its err... nemesis

As any fule kno the railway industry is leakier than a vacuum brake.

So it came as no surprise when Eye received the following cyptic message from "NFRIP Insider"...

Nemesis advised to go short on lunchtime champagne at tomorrow's Golden Spanners.

What can this mean?

Hopefully such austerity will allow the Railway Children to benefit later that evening?

Freightliner Ugly Sisters - What not to wear

UPDATE: This from The Water Baby...

Enough slating of the PowerHauls please!

Surely we live in a society already spoilt enough by pressure to conform to visual stereotypes of a certain body[shell] image?

I have a hunch the distinctive '70's will one day be regarded as cult classics.

So, in keeping with the Eye's recent pop penchant, allow me to paraphrase an excellent Sugababes track: 'if they're ugly, then so are we...'

Mediaballs - Beeb taking DafT line on 'early termination'

This just in from Brian Ayre (the low cost railway pundit)...

Will somebody please explain to the BBC that ending the c2c franchise on the date it was due to end, and not giving NXEA an optional three year extension, isn't "Stripping National Express of its remaining franchises".

I've had three calls from Aunty Beeb today - all using that phrase and when I tell them it isn't correct they go all glum, like someone has spoiled their party!

Still, never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

UPDATE: Captain Deltic calls to say...

Young Mr Miles did a sterling job on putting the record straight on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours.

UPDATE: I.K. Gricer has obviously kept Alistair Osborne up to speed over at the Daily Telegraph...

"Adonis backtracks on threat to take back franchises from National Express"


This for Lord Mandy of Unelected and Freebie

With a bowler tip to Guido

Daft dances on NatEx grave and ignores FuCC

Whilst Lord Adonis is busy tidying up lose ends at National Express, the piss-poor performance over at FuCC continues.

This from Bacon Butty...

At least NXEA can run a full timetable.

FuCC still on half-service for a second full week

Come on Adonis, time for action...

Meanwhile infuriated passengers are being invited to get their own back on the shabby operator by tweeting FCC acronyms to the I hate Thameslink blog.

Perhaps frustrated Eye readers might like to have a go.

Noble Lord cuts off nose to spite face?

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
According to Lord Adonis:

In determining the future of the C2C and NXEA franchises, my overriding concern has been to minimise disruption to passengers and staff, and cost to the taxpayer, while ensuring that train companies stand by their commitments. I judge these objectives are best served by:

  • Terminating NXEA’s franchise in 2011, causing them to forego three years of profit; and
  • Beginning the refranchising process immediately so that a new operator is in place in early 2011.
Since NXEA is receiving revenue support under cap and collar, which for 2008-09 was double this year's subsidy, future profitability is, at best, unclear.

Subsidy rises dramatically to £23 million in 2010-11 and £41 million in 2011-12 but this is because NXEA is managing the acquisition of 30 new four car Electrostars and the transfer of 17 Class 321s to increase capacity. The extra subsidy is to pay for extra lease rentals, depot upgrades and other associated infrastructure work.

According to the Lib Dems NXEA is a 'lame duck franchise' and should be terminated immediately.

That would do wonders for the team procuring £155 million of new trains.

On the other hand, the Old Leftie has cleared the decks for the NatEx rights issue.

Eye remains to be convinced that this is either a good thing for the squashed NXEA commuter or the tax payer.

Northern plays its part in reconnecting Workington

Network Rail played a blinder in providing flood stricken town Workington with a temporary new station to help reconnect the two halves of the divided town.

Now Northern have managed to magic up some 'spare' resources to strengthen existing and provide additional morning and evening services:

This from the News and Star...

It has doubled capacity on its normal services and the extra services begin today and continue tomorrow.

They are:

0845 Workington - Maryport
0900 Maryport –Workington
1645 Workington - Maryport
1700 Maryport - Workington
1730 Workington - Maryport
1750 Maryport - Workington

Good effort. Eye congratulates all involved - makes you proud to be a railwayman.

UPDATE: This from Bendolino via Twitter...

Wonder if Eye knew that NR allowed BT to run temp. cables over viaduct to back up dodgy links over road bridge?

Thameslink 4000 - fleet update - doomed

Alstom may be counting its blessings, now that it is out of the running for the new Thameslink fleet.

This response from Moley to a question by Stephen Hammond MP given in the House on the 24th November:

Stephen Hammond (Shadow Minister, Transport; Wimbledon, Conservative)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer of 12 November 2009, Official Report, column 639W, on Thameslink: Rolling Stock, when he expects to (a) announce the preferred bidder and (b) place the final order for the Thameslink rolling stock programme.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Ipswich, Labour)

The identification of a preferred bidder prior to final award will depend on the progress of the evaluation and negotiations with the remaining bidders. As set in out in my answer of 12 November 2009, Hansard, column 639W, the Department for Transport is currently planning to award the order around autumn 2010.

So the order for these new trains will not be placed until Autumn 2010.

Which is of course after the date of the General Election (presumed to be the 6th May 2010).

And the Tories have promised an austerity budget within 50 days of taking power.

Is the Eye alone in thinking that this order is now doomed?

Of course it's a nice poison chalice to pass on to the Tories who will get the blame for cancelling the order.

NatEx counts its blessings as East Anglia franchise ends 'early'.

Much excitement from the Chatterati over the 'news' that National Express is to lose its remaining rail franchises.

This, for instance, from The Times...

National Express is to be stripped of its remaining rail franchise three years early, leaving the troubled transport company with just its bus business.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said today that it was terminating National Express’s East Anglia franchise after a decision to nationalise its East Coast main line rail service this year.

First point to make - this is not the application of Cross Default as promised by the Noble Lord during his slightly excitable interview with the Today Programme on the 1st July.

As pointed out by The Archer on Tuesday...

Sources suggest that the late change in the handback date of NXEC, from December 09 to November 09, means that NXEA will now fail the good behavior test so DfT can appoint a new franchised operator on this route in 2011 rather than 2014, so a sort of cross default half-way house.

However, as the franchise payments agreed between NXEA and SRA were very back-end loaded, what the lack of extension of the franchise could actually mean is upwards of £200m that NX won’t now have to pay to DfT so I can’t image NX would be too disappointed to lose the extension.

And to further complicate matters, there’s the small matter of 120 new EMU vehicles that are due to be delivered to the Greater Anglia franchise “between March and May 2011”.

So we have a manufacturer (Bombardier) that has developed something of a reputation for late delivery, a ROSCO - Lloyds TSB General Leasing (No. 8) Limited - that has never procured new trains before and a TOC (National Express) that is about to lose its franchise and be expelled from the railway industry.

A recipe for success this does not make.

Eye wonders if DafT has really thought this out?

UPDATE: This from our man at 222 Marylebone Road...

Send in the clowns!

The theme of this year's Railway Children Ball is Circus Acts.

Should be a walk over for DfT Rail then.