Monday, 12 April 2010

2010 Railway Garden Competition - Halifax

With a bowler tip to Snapper...

Note the tree
line seductively hugging the retaining wall immediately below Halifax station.

Labour manifesto - Transport section

This from the Labour Party manifesto launched today...

Rebuilding our transport infrastructure

At the heart of our growth plan is the commitment to a new high-speed rail line, linking North and South. Built in stages, the initial line will link London to Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds, and then to the North and Scotland.

By running through-trains from day one, cities including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool will also be part of the initial network. Journey times will be slashed – those from the West Midlands to London will be as little as 31 minutes. We will consult fully on legislation to take forward our high-speed rail plans within the next Parliament.

High-speed rail is not just about faster journey times. It will free up capacity on existing intercity rail lines, enabling more rail freight, commuter and local services. We will press ahead with a major investment programme in existing rail services, hugely improving commuter services into and through London, and electrifying new rail-lines including the Great Western Main Line from London to South Wales.

We will complete the new east-west Crossrail line in London adding ten per cent to London transport capacity. Rail passenger numbers have increased by 40 per cent in the last ten years and punctuality and quality of service are improving steadily.

We will encourage more people to switch to rail with an enforceable right to the cheapest fare, while trebling the number of secure cycle storage spaces at rail stations. We will welcome rail franchise bids from not-for-profit, mutual or co-operative franchise enterprises and will look to remove unfair barriers that prevent such bids benefiting passengers and taxpayers.

Tackling road congestion is a key Labour priority. We will extend hard-shoulder running on motorways, alongside targeted motorway widening including on the M25. Too much disruption is caused by local road works: we will increase tenfold the penalties on utilities who allow work to overrun. We rule out the introduction of national road pricing in the next Parliament.

Heathrow is Britain’s international hub airport, already operating at full capacity, and supporting millions of jobs, businesses and citizens who depend upon it. We support a third runway at Heathrow, subject to strict conditions on environmental impact and flight numbers, but we will not allow additional runways to proceed at any other airport in the next Parliament.

Through our investment, Labour has put Britain at the forefront of electric and low carbon vehicle manufacturing. To promote the rapid take-up of electric and low-carbon cars, we will ensure there are 100,000 electric vehicle charging points by the end of the next Parliament.

Tories and LibDems manifestos to be published tomorrow and Wednesday respectively.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

The Labour Manifesto says:

"We will encourage more people to switch to rail with an enforceable right to the cheapest fare..."

Er - so there will only be one fare for every journey then?

The end of any quotas?

Every passenger doing the same journey will have paid the same fare?

That'll make for some interesting renegotiation of franchises won't it?

Sounds a bit like the stuff those Open Access chappies do - surely the Labour Party hasn't suddenly decided it is in favour of free market competition after all?

Or did this come about after they tried to book a load of seats for their trip to the West Midlands today at the last minute and found they couldn't get any of the Advance Purchase bargains?

I presume they'll level the playing field by applying the same rule to the internal airline services - would be good to see everyone having "an enforceable right to the cheapest fare" on FlyBe, EasyJet and RyanAir....

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

So, no mention of Thameslink in a parliamentary term which runs to mid 2015. Although it may be implied.

And no mention of the McNulty review of value for money review.

And no mention of how it's all going to be paid for.

As for 'We will welcome rail franchise bids from not-for-profit, mutual or co-operative franchise enterprises'...

So can we expect to see not-for profit Network Rail taking on the Co-Op?

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from Daisy Daisy...

Trebling cycle storage is all very well, but will this include provision for tandems and tricycles?

Eye detects the hand of the Noble Lord - expect paroxysms of delight from Wolmar...

UPDATE: This from 70s trio the Goodies...

Ecky thump!

Will there be provision for comedy tridems with more than two seats/pedals?

UPDATE: This Lookalike from Henry Macrory, via Twitter

Okay, he's the Tories head of press - but it is funny.

UPDATE: This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

Is it not a licence condition that TOCs must offer passengers the cheapest fare?

So is the Labour Party now suggesting that Train Operating Companies (including state owned East Coast) are in breach of their licence conditions?

UPDATE: This from ATOC's response to the Labour Party manifesto....

“Train companies are already under an obligation to give customers full and impartial advice about tickets.

Which party has the bigger commitment to rail?

Gordon using the train to campaign whilst Cameron uses the plane.

Go figure.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

If Gordon is being prudent no doubt he is using an All Line Rover.

Presumably ATOC will now put the price up in May.

UPDATE: This from @RichardHebditch, via Twitter...

Cabinet ministers all on train to Birmingham for the manifesto launch. In second class, apparently.

General Election 2010 - policy briefings

There is a useful Election briefing on the rail policies of the main political parties over at the Norton Rose website.

Lawyers giving something for nothing - shurely shome mishtake - allegedly.

2010 Railway Garden Competition

How the media works...

This from The Journal...

IN PREPARATION for my meeting with Heidi Mottram, I searched on some railway industry internet forums to see what those in the sector thought of the woman who, until recently, headed Northern Rail, the provider of local rail services across the North.

I soon found an article on the “gossip” website Railway Eye, instructively headed: “Northumbrian Water’s gain, the railway’s loss....

Soon into our meeting, I tell Mottram about the glowing praise in the article.

She’s read it.

Just fancy that!

Railway cost creep explained

This from the BBC...

A £1.3m project to replace an ageing footbridge at a Teesside rail station has been confirmed by council bosses.

Anyone care to calculate the cost per step?

Thameslink 4000 start date - Shocker

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Spot the deliberate mistake...

This from Network Rail's resource library:

The next generation of 12-car trains will begin operating in 2012, with a full fleet in service across the Thameslink route by 2015.

Operating in 2012?

Shome mishtake shurely.

Especially since NR doesn't know when London Bridge will be completed.

Lies, damned lies and ATOC statistics

This from Herr Dr Kalculus...

On April Fool's Day Michael Roberts titillated an early morning audience on Radio 5 with the 'fact' that railways were a mere 1% of total government service spending (or as he put it "a penny in the pound") .

If ATOC were important enough they would be expecting a letter any moment now from Sir Michael Scholar, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, for misusing government statistics.

On the basis that total government support to the railways is £5bn (ORR's figures only go up to 2008/9 when it is recorded as £5.2bn in National Rail Trends) this seems to indicate that £500bn of the government budget goes on services.
This is certainly an imaginative way of looking at the figures

The respected website shows that total central Government expenditure for 2010 is £488.5bn but that includes £247bn of interest payments as well as expenditure on pensions, defence and welfare - hardly services in the way that Michael means.

Also if capital spending on schools etc, paying for running government, such as HMRC, and such mysterious figures as £12bn of accounting adjustments are excluded the amount spent on services in its widest sense, probably does not exceed £200bn.

On this basis ATOC has got its figures completely wrong.

But to help them out a little, if local authority spending on services of some £100-110bn is included the variation is not quite so bad but still a long way adrift.

Almost certainly the Radio 5 audience didn't give a toss when this statistic was produced but it's not going to help the industry if it receives wider exposure and can easily be countered by those who do not mean us well by pointing out thar overall government support has risen from £1.4bn to £5.2bn in a decade.

An increase that is probably the biggest rise in any category of spend across Whitehall.

First for saving shoe leather...

This from Paul Robertson...

I thought you'd be amused by this view of a First Capital Connect 365 whose driver obeyed very strictly the instruction to draw up close to the stop marker on platform 11 at King's Cross last Thursday.

Good to see FuCC reducing interchange times with the Tube.