Sunday, 14 February 2010

Euroscuffle - Fiennes would have spoken to 'the brains'!

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
The list of interviewees grilled by Messrs Garnett and Gressier is an impressive Who’s Who of senior cross-channel suits.

Director of This, Head of That, CEO of The Other, not to mention a couple of household name woodentops.

The Independent Review had some very good access to some very literate people; all of whom, no doubt, had an interesting chat with their corporate legal teams before facing the panel.

What might leave some of the Grumpy Old Railway Operating Managers (who have experience of chairing such incident enquiries), a tad discombobulated is the apparent lack of interface with any front line operating staff.

Which left the resulting report denuded of first-hand evidence from anyone who was actually on duty that night (whether from the two operators at either end of the Chunnel, or from the tunnel operator itself).

A conversation with the Eurotunnel chief controller, who had a succession of failures unfold under him, about the spirit and actualitee of how he, Eurostar and SNCF actually worked together, is reduced to a recommendation about upgrading the existing telephone link to a video facility and some training courses.

As a consequence the rest of the non-engineering parts of the review end up being concerned with the provision and distribution of emergency pastries (shurely croissant? Ed).

For instance it fails to mention that the relationship between the tunnel operator, the infrastructure controllers either side, and the passenger train operator, is just pants. As evidenced by Eurotunnel’s unprecedented 'Not Us Guv' press release on the 19th December.

Further proof, were it needed, that the current operational framewok is an artificial construct – a set of flaky interfaces imposed by bankers with their main eye on collecting every penny from a projected 16 million Eurostar passengers, made even worse by the intrusions of HM Customs.

It is the most over-complicated interface between any two railways in Europe, and perhaps the world.

And things won't get any better until it is simplified.

Judging by this report we won't hold our breath waiting...