Thursday, 31 March 2011

Berlin is not amused!

This from the late Max Weber...

Germany's state owned operator is not best pleased that Arriva failed to prequalify for the InterCity West Coast franchise.

Despite assurances that owning Chiltern, Cross Country and Arriva Trains Wales wouldn't present a problem, the DfT presumably took a more cautious view of potential competition issues.

This combined with the unravelling of Chiltern's latest Evergreen project, Cross Country's continuing failure to provide WiFi and growing industrial unrest at ATW means that Berlin is getting increasingly nervous about how it is perceived in the UK.


Of course DB head honcho Rüdiger Grube has a reputation as a hard task master!

Only last November he took a scythe to the board of DB Fernverkehr, the subsidiary that runs Germany's InterCity network, for poor performance.

Experts in Bismarkian diplomacy suggest that all is well until the summons comes to attend a meeting 'ohne kaffee' with Grube.

Arriva's senior team may care to note, wherever they may be...

UPDATE: This from Rose Hill...

It looks as if Herr Grube has a full plate at the moment.

According to Logistics Manager...

The European Commission has revealed that it is investigating allegations that the German railway group Deutsche Bahn has breached anti-trust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant market position.

The benefits – or not – of pursuing vertical integration.

Evergreen goes from strength to strength!

Hands up everyone who is planning to travel by rail over Easter?

Chiltern passengers - put them down!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Price appointed as new ORR CEO

This from the Office of Rail Regulation...

RICHARD PRICE NAMED AS ORR’S NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE
The Office of Rail Regulation today announced that Richard Price is to be its next Chief Executive, succeeding Bill Emery who steps down in June.

Richard Price has significant experience of economic regulation through his jobs in Government (including being Chief Economist at both the Home Office and Defra) and in the private sector.

Richard led the Enterprise team in HM Treasury from 2002-6. This included leading on the Treasury’s relations with business, helping to shape the Hampton Review of regulation, which resulted in the rationalisation of the regulatory framework for UK business, and negotiating launch investment with the aerospace sector so as to ensure a commercial return for Government. More recently Richard has led a radical change programme at Defra, reorganising the department to meet its future challenges.

Welcoming the appointment on behalf of the ORR Board, Chair, Anna Walker said:

“I am delighted that Richard is joining us to lead ORR during a period of change for the whole rail sector. In doing so, he will be able to draw on a unique mix of relevant experience. As well as his expertise as a top government economist, Richard has a deep understanding of regulation from a private sector commercial viewpoint, knows how markets work and has hands-on experience of leading complex change.

“Richard will join ORR in May and will spend his first month immersing himself in the rail sector before taking up the reins from Bill Emery in June.”

Richard Price, who is currently Chief Economist and Director of Performance at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:

“This is an exciting time to be joining the ORR. The rail sector has much to be proud of in terms of improved performance, safety and customer satisfaction. But it has to demonstrate that it can do even more at much lower cost to ensure the railways play their full part in our economy and society and that continuing public investment is fully justified.

“With the structure of the industry under the spotlight it is only right that the shape and focus of the regulatory framework is too. I look forward to engaging with the industry, its customers and funders, and other stakeholders – and of course working with my new colleagues at ORR on these important future challenges.”

The ORR also announced today that non executive directors Chris Elliott and Richard Goldson are standing down from its Board at the end of their current terms on 31 March 2011.

Commenting on the departures, Chair, Anna Walker said:

"I would like to express my and the Board’s warm thanks to Chris Elliott and Richard Goldson for the commitment and expertise they have both brought to the Office of Rail Regulation's Board over the past five years.

"Chris has been instrumental in guiding the regulator's approach to safety in particular, during a period which has seen safety on Britain's railways improve markedly. Richard's rail expertise has been invaluable in reaching decisions on the 2008 periodic review and in setting the foundations for the 2013 periodic review.

The ORR also today announced that the Secretary of State for Transport has reappointed director of rail policy Michael Beswick to its Board until 14 June 2014.

Commenting on the reappointment, Anna Walker said:

"I am delighted that Michael Beswick will remain on the Board for a further three years. His deep knowledge of the railways will be invaluable as we look forward to helping the rail industry deliver on recommendations from Sir Roy McNulty's forthcoming Value for Money Study."

Notes to editors:
1. Richard Price joined the Civil Service after gaining his MSc in Economics in 1989. He then spent four years at HM Treasury, before leaving to work as a consultant for NERA Economic Consulting, where he advised businesses and governments on the economic regulation of large infrastructure projects and utilities. In 1997 he returned to the Treasury as a senior policy adviser before moving to the Home Office as Chief Economist and then Strategy Adviser to the Permanent Secretary, working among other things on the funding and performance framework for the police. Richard was also a project director at the Prime Minister’s Performance and Innovation Unit in 2000-01.
2. Between 2002 and 2006 Richard led the Treasury’s Enterprise and Business team, working on the development of industry and enterprise policy to drive UK economic growth. This included putting government support for businesses on a more commercial basis, for example Launch Investment in Aerospace and the creation of the Capital for Enterprise, a publically-owned fund of funds providing finance for small businesses with strong growth prospects. Richard was closely involved in the Hampton Review which led to the rationalisation of the regulatory framework for business in the UK.
3. Most recently he has worked at Defra in the dual posts of Chief Economist and Director of Corporate Performance, where he leads a group of 230 staff. At Defra, Richard designed and implemented major changes in Defra’s organisation, delivery and strategy.
4. Under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, appointments to the ORR Board are made by the Secretary of State for Transport. He has appointed Richard Price to the Board for five years from May 2011.
5. Richard Goldson OBE has been a non-executive Board member since 2 October 2006. He has spent his career working in the rail industry and held senior positions at the British Railways Board and National Express Group. His railways experience has been very valuable in shaping the Board’s regulatory approach.
6. Chris Elliott has been a non-executive Board member since 1 July 2007. He is an independent consultant and visiting professor, with expertise as a systems engineer and barrister, and extensive experience of rail and transport issues.
7. Michael Beswick is Executive Director, Rail Policy at ORR and has been a Board member since 20 March 2006. He holds an MSc in economics and has over 30 years’ experience of working in the railway industry, including roles in operations, planning and business management.


- ENDS -

Pointless signs - Bradford Interchange

This from the Yorkshire Rover...

I snapped this sign at Bradford Interchange today.


In the background is a Grand Central service awaiting departure for London.

According to the Open Access operator you can buy your ticket aboard their trains without penalty.

I wonder who is right?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Ed Chap...

Presumably this is all at the DfT's behest, to make it more difficult for the Open Access operators?

After all, WSMR has gone and I am sure some in Marsham Street would like the rest to disappear as well.

Yes campaigners open new front in war of HS2

So. The battle for the country's hearts and minds over High Speed 2 is hotting up.

Latest into the fray is new campaign group Yes to High Speed Rail.

Led by David 'Beggy' Begg the new group has already signed up a legion of large underpanted individuals as members of its 'National Council'.

And of course Beggy himself is an industry big beast, listing his previous achievements on the new campaign's website...

...a former chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport and has an international reputation as a commentator on transport issues. He is the non-executive chairman of Tube Lines, and is a former Director of the Centre for Transport Policy at Robert Gordon University , Aberdeen.

Ah! Tubelines.

A word to the wise.

Probably best not to ask London Underground for a reference when suggesting PPP as a funding option for the new railway...

UPDATE:This from Leo Pink...

So now we have the 'commentators' lining up in the HST2 wars.

But how does David Begg's 'international reputation' compare with Wolmar's 'enormous depth of knowledge'?

Can we look forward to a commentator's Top Trumps to settle the issue?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

DB to slash Chiltern services by 20% - Shocker

This from @Timetableworks, via Twitter...

Chiltern to REDUCE rail travel on Mainline by 20% !



Now that's German efficiency for you!

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

Hi, here's a new link.

The wrong one was put up, so this has now been removed.


The excitement of this time lapse caused a different kind of lapse... my attention!

A nice fast response by Chiltern. Done - ta.


Monday, 28 March 2011

Turning the tables on the BTP!

This from Robin Hood...

Good news for all the crims and perps out there! (is this right? Ed)

This from the British Transport Police...

You can now follow us on Twitter.

Let's see how they like it! (you're fired!!! Ed)

Pointless signs - Andover

This from SWT Info Guy...


We've had this at Andover station for over a year now.

Wolmar - Saviour of the Railways?

Exciting news from the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent!

According to Wolmar's twitter feed...

My report for co-ops UK on co-operative solutions for the rail industry is now available online.

Wolmar's report even contains these encouraging words from former Secretary of State, Lord Adonis...

I doubt there is anyone better placed than Christian to make the case for reform given his enormous depth of knowledge and would advise anyone with an interest in improving Britain’s railways to study his proposals carefully.

No doubt an invite from Petrol-head to join the High Level Group is already winging its way to Wolmar...

Railway Gob-sh1ttery - LUL continues to delight

This from a Mr Hawken...

The other morning at Embankment Underground station I was enjoined to:

"Make full use of the platform".

It made me wonder what opportunities I had been missing by only using the platform for boarding or alighting from trains.

As opposed to (say) setting up a stock exchange or a three-ring circus?

Curse of Finch?

This from Manchester Guy...

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell:

Failing to be shortlisted for one East Anglian franchise may be regarded as a misfortune.


Not being shortlisted for both looks like carelessness...

Or does someone at DfT have an agenda?

First Group - the old order changeth!

Sad news indeed.

Much loved former Chief Executive of First Group, Sir More Duckweed, had a DMU named after him on Friday at Glasgow Queen Street.

But what's this?


In none of the press shots supplied to the media were there any pictures of Sir Moir's lovely book!


Eye hopes that new CEO, Tim O'Toole, hasn't consigned the last few thousand remaindered copies of this vainglorious publication to the bin?

Behold the EMT Truffet!

Regular travellers on East Midlands Trains will have noticed that the company has dispensed with buffets in favour of trolleys.

Eye commends this decision to abolish outdated and 'unpopular' (sic) buffets...



...as it cleverly makes space for errr... trolleys!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Tyne and Wear Metro - the musical!

This from TwopTips, via Twitter...



Extraordinary!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Railway Gob-sh1ttery - Everbody

This from the Globetrotter...

Whilst on the subject of meaningless or illiterate announcements, a personal gripe is:

'The train now arriving into the platform'.

This conjours up images of hideous scraping noises, dust and coping stones flying in all directions.

I think it began with London Underground, but it seems to be spreading like wildfire across the national network as well.

What is wrong with 'the train now arriving' or 'at platform X' if really essential for disambiguation.

And don't get me started on the iniquities of 'train station'!

Railway Gob-sh1ttery - Southern

This from Jules...

Every day, at South Croydon my train pulls in and the announcement rings out:

"Please stand clear of the train at platform 4. This train is ready to depart."

Sadly this is before train has even stopped.


Railway Gob-sh1ttery - LUL again

This from a Mr John Bull...

I always get more annoyed than is probably fair at the LU classic:

"[List of Closures followed by]... there is a good service on all other London Underground Lines."

There's an old (possibly apocryphal) story about Lord Reith issuing a decree that the adjective "famous" must not appear in BBC news broadcasts.

This on the grounds that if the person or thing was genuinely famous then it didn't need saying.

The same is true here - the statement is redundant.

We KNOW there's a good service on those lines because if there wasn't they'd have been covered in the list of disruptions.

No need to waste words on it!

The Fact Compiler observes... but what a lovely piece of PR.

Railway Gob-sh1ttery - All TOCs

This from a Mr Leyland National...

My favourite is:

'This train is now approaching its final destination.'

Presumably to be welcomed by an assemblage with gas-axes in hand?

Sassenachs pillage Arthur's Seat, again!

This from Our Man by the Photocopier...

The Edinburgh Tramless saga grinds on, and provides today's Transport Joke.

Q. Where's the best place to wait for an Edinburgh tram?
A. East Croydon station

It's true!

According to Railnews Transport Initiatives Edinburgh is set to offer ten of the trams it doesn't need to Transport for London, which is looking for some extras.


TIE has asked for the formal tender documents from TfL, competing with someone obscure in Poland. With the 'mediation talks' stalled for at least a fortnight, the good people of Edinburgh should be glad they already have a more than half decent bus service.

And sadly some worse than useless, rather expensive and cyclist dismounting rusty tram rails.

Railway Gob-sh1ttery - London Underground

This from 5741 Duck...

London Underground is always very insistent that passengers "Please use all the available doors".

Getting on/off/on/off... etc until you've used all available doors takes ages.

And that was on a quiet day. Imagine if everybody obeyed this in the rush hour: even if they all started at the same end of the train it would be bedlam.

But I don't think LUL really means it, as the doors closed while I was on the platform between cars.

UPDATE: This from Theydon Bois...

Whilst I am still greatly enjoying the mental image of 5741 Duck working along the train in a heroic effort to comply with the perceived instruction to use all the doors, I do rather suspect that LU is addressing passengers collectively rather than individually and that 5741 Duck is misinterpreting this for (undoubted) comic effect.

Mind you, that does not therefore mean the announcement is sensible or necessary, just that it is somewhat more sensible than 5741 Duck would have us believe.

I wonder how long you would get away with trying to do this before the BTP's finest felt obliged to come and discuss it with you.

And whether citing the LU announcement would be an effective defence under Rail Rozzer interrogation.


I do hope it would.

Railway Gob-sh1ttery - Pendolinos

This from a Mr Weinberg...

Heard on Virgin Pendolinos:

Please don't attempt to open doors till train has come to a complete stop

In my experience you can't open the b----y doors till several minutes AFTER the train has come to a stop!

UPDATE: This from a Mr West in the Dominions...

"Complete stop" - do any pendolinos do a "partial stop"?

Maybe a return to GWR-style slip coaches might be one way to serve more stations without increasing journey times.

Pointless signs and pointless announcements

This from Captain Deltic...

Whilst on the subject of Pointless Signs, what about Pointless Announcements?

Has anyone ever seen any passenger get up and 'familiarise' themselves with the safety notices following pre-departure announcements?

UPDATE: This from the Warton Wizard...

At Leeds we have:

"Due to today's wet weather surfaces may be slippery when wet" even when it's sunny

"It is an offence to trespass on the railway, please keep off the tracks"

"This station operates a no smoking policy"

"Security staff patrol this station 24 hours a day"

plus a ludicrous one about a left luggage facility as well as many, many more.


Perhaps Eye should start a feature called Railway Gob-Shittery?

An excellent idea, thank you Warton Wizard.

Have you examples of fatuous announcements, railway gob-shittery or pointless noise pollution? If so send them to Eye at the usual address.

National Express statement on Greater Anglia

This from Dean Finch...

Dear Colleague

I am sorry to report that National Express has not been short-listed by the Department for Transport to bid for the short Greater Anglia franchise, due to run from February 2012. We are seeking urgent clarification from the Department for Transport to explain this decision.

We are naturally very disappointed. We believe we submitted a very positive and high quality pre-qualification document. We are also proud of the significant improvements delivered since we started running NXEA and the on-going industry-leading performance of c2c.

In the meantime we will remain focused on delivering services for our customers, including the introduction of new trains on West Anglia.

We have had a very strong start to the year across the rest of our business. I am confident we can maintain this momentum for the rest of the year and look to many other opportunities in the coming months.

Please cascade as appropriate.

Regards,

Dean Finch
Group Chief Executive

West Coast franchise prequalification

Sources suggesting that Virgin, Abellio, First, and a Keolis/SNCF joint venture have prequalified for the West Coast franchise.

Happily, for fans of WiFi, DB/Arriva failed to make the grade.

More to follow...

UPDATE: This from the DfT...

SHORTLISTED BIDDERS FOR GREATER ANGLIA AND INTERCITY WEST COAST RAIL FRANCHISES

The Department for Transport has today announced the names of the companies shortlisted to bid for the new Greater Anglia and InterCity West Coast franchises.

They are:

For Greater Anglia

  • Abellio Greater Anglia Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
  • Eastern Railway Limited (Go-Ahead Group PLC)
  • Stagecoach Anglia Trains Limited (Stagecoach Group plc)
For InterCity West Coast:
  • Abellio InterCity West Coast Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
  • First West Coast Limited (FirstGroup plc)
  • Keolis / SNCF West Coast Limited (Keolis SA and SNCF)
  • Virgin Trains Limited (Virgin Group Holdings Limited)
Today's short listing comes after the Government published requirements for the two franchises, seeking expressions of interest.

The Invitation to Tender for the Greater Anglia franchise will be issued in April.

The Government has set out the following objectives for the franchise:

  • Delivering a quality of service for passengers for the entire rail journey.
  • Working with the Department and other stakeholders to ensure value
  • for money.
  • Managing and delivering changes required to accommodate Crossrail.
  • Implementing the station responsibilities if required.
  • Working effectively with Network Rail to maintain performance.
  • Delivering the plans around the Olympics.
  • Managing the introduction of the Class 379 HLOS vehicles.
  • Controlling operational costs and maximising revenue.
The consultation on the InterCIty West Coast franchise is still ongoing and closes on 21 April.

Responses to the consultation will inform the Invitation to Tender which will be issued in May.

The Government has set out the following objectives for the franchise:

  • To exploit the full potential of the route and maximize capacity.
  • To manage effectively the integration of new rolling stock vehicles.
  • To improve overall passenger satisfaction.
  • To deliver the agreed Olympic services.
  • To improve accessibility to services and stations.
  • To improve the environmental performance of the franchise.
  • To manage effectively any changes during the franchise.
  • To achieve sustainable value for money.
- ENDS -

Greater Anglia franchise prequalification

Sources suggest that Go-Ahead, Stagecoach and Abellio have prequalified for the Greater Anglia franchise.

So farewell National Express!

More to follow...

UPDATE: This from the DfT...

SHORTLISTED BIDDERS FOR GREATER ANGLIA

They are:

For Greater Anglia

  • Abellio Greater Anglia Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
  • Eastern Railway Limited (Go-Ahead Group PLC)
  • Stagecoach Anglia Trains Limited (Stagecoach Group plc)
See post above for full text of the DfT announcement.

Pointless signs - East Midlands Parkway

This from the Wicked Weaver...

Here, at East Mid's Parkway - a virgin site upon which to build a multi-platform station - they've ended up with errr... 'steep' stairs.



It would be amusing, were it not so sad!

There must be thousands of such staircases, all to be labelled steep?


Who comes up with these things - is there a British Standard?

Pointless signs - St Pancras

This from Trailer Second...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in this hectoring nonsense lovingly crafted by someone with far too much time on their hands.

Seen at the bottom of the escalator at St Pancras.




Fortunately nobody stops to read it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

District Dave RIP

Sad news from London Reconnections...

Dave Maloney, a London Underground Instructor Operator on the District Line, perhaps better known to many as District Dave, has died aged 59.

Obit here.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Grauniad wants questions for Petrol-head!

This spotted by The Archer...

Exciting news from Andrew Sparrow, the Grauniad's Political Blogger!

"What do you want to ask Philip Hammond, the transport secretary?

"I'm interviewing Hammond on Thursday. What would you like me to ask him?"

Eye readers may care to... ahem... fill their boots!

Villiers vignettes - On plucking figures out of thin air!

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
According to St Theresa, in a written answer.


"Introducing the bi-mode option for the Intercity Express Programme is estimated to save around £200 million (net present value) as compared to introducing a fleet of all-electric trains to be coupled to a diesel locomotive beyond the electrified sections of the railway."

Can it be that her advisors have failed to tell her that the original specification for an ultra-lightweight IEP has turned into a Voyager DEMU clone?

And that a five car EMU ought to have a capital and whole life maintenance cost a darn sight less than the same train with three diesel engines underneath?

Eye suspects that DfT civil servants are even now wondering how to tell their boss that she somehow transposed their NPV and omitted the sentence explaining that:

"Whilst a bi-mode would cost more, it provides valuable insurance against the UK nuclear power programme - and with it electritifcation - being delayed."

Perhaps we will never know. Unless one of Eye's Parliamentary readers feels like asking the question...

UPDATE: This from an Eye reader in the supply chain who wishes to remain anonymous...

Amazing that Villiers can have such an accurate NPV saving for bi-mode against EMU+Diesel when suppliers of modern diesel locos (Builders and Lessors) were not even consulted on relative costs both capital and whole-life.

Pointless signs - Bottesford

This from the Scavanger...

Discovered in Leicestershire, on the formation of the former GN & LNW line from Market Harborough to Bottesford.

This photo was taken looking north to the site of Bottesford South Junction.



Local sources suggest that the Permanent Way ceased to be 'permanent' in the late 1980s.

UPDATE: This from @Gav678, via Twitter...

Bottesford sign is for the access road which leads to the signalbox. So very valid and relevant.

Not pointless at all

Monday, 21 March 2011

DafT determined to reduce delays - Not!

This from John...

The DfT press office today confirmed that an announcement on the preferred bidder for new Thameslink rolling stock will be made in Spring 2011.

When confronted with the fact that it is already Spring, and that Spring could last until early May, the spokesman just kept repeating "Spring 2011".

So it could be any time - we still don't know.


When asked why the announcement was already a year late, and why they still couldn't confirm a firm date, the spokesman just commented that the bids had to be given "due consideration".

No wonder TOCs are complaining that government involvement delays the whole process.

Even a year after their first target, they seemingly still have no idea when they can make an announcement.


A Thameslink train arriving 5 minutes after time is officially classified as late - what are we supposed to term the delay of a whole fleet by a year?

UPDATE: This from Theydon Bois...

It is perhaps time to remind ourselves of Captain Deltic's Third Law of Informed Sources: -

"Always mistrust schedules based on the seasons"


Born out of bitter experience waiting for the APT to enter revenue service.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Informed Sources Third law refers:


Mistrust all forecasts based on the seasons.

Pointless signs - Tile Hill

This from the Viceroy...

Despite the fact that Tile Hill is many miles beyond Northampton in the direction of Birmingham, this silly information relating to the 10.54 departure appears whenever a service is formed of trains that start off from Euston with eight cars before dividing at Northampton with the first 4 only going forward to Birmingham.


The staff at Tile Hill tell me they have complained to management but nothing has been done to stop this happening.

Similar nonsense appears at other stations, too, between Northampton and Birmingham.

Beardie Rail unveils 'simplified' catering offer

This from the late W E Johns...

Beardie rail has finally thrown in the towel and provided menus on its services.


It has gone further by providing food on some of them too, although you will need to be an aficionado of railway geography to understand whether you will get a Kipper or a cuppa.

This is because of the footnotes, which would be a credit to the Sunday table 65, circa 1973. But more later.


To begin (literally), one has to choose whether one is on a 'Breakfast' or 'Light Breakfast' train.

This is not determined by the time of day; rather the time that the train started its journey.

Thus, if one is feeling peckish at Preston, then the 10:17 departure has crossed the line and only a light breakfast will be served.
If, however one waits until 11:56, ('full') breakfast will be served as the train leaves Glasgow before the 1000 watershed. Of course, Lancastrians expecting to tuck in to a mid day lunch might be perplexed to find a full breakfast (these days sans black pudding) on offer.

It doesn't stop there.

Trains between 11:00-17:00 and after 19:00 have what are optimistically described as 'a choice of two seasonal hot options (that's the stuff that lurks in vats on the trolley, clad in tin foil) and sandwiches'.


Between 17:00 and 19:00 an evening meal is served, leading to a whole string of possible anomalies across the WCML.


However, Beardie has a clever plan to outwit even the greatest pedant.


This is a return to the 12-hour clock on the menu, together with a disclaimer that 'times are approximate and may vary according to your journey'.

Thanks for that!


Now to the footnotes...


*on Wolverhampton-Euston, cereal served in First Class Lounge only (translation-you've missed out stupid)
** selected services only (cheese and biscuits).

And the best for last...

'Customers travelling between London and Milton Keynes may enjoy a cup of tea/coffee' (translation-'that is all you deserve. We already have to share the revenue with London Midland. And don't anyone else think they will get anything until after MK going north').

The outcome of the latter means that it is practically impossible for some London to Coventry passengers to enjoy a relaxed meal if they are on a train which calls at Milton Keynes.

Labour launches Transport Policy Review

The Labour Party has launched its Transport Policy Review.

A website inviting contributions can be found here.

Compare and contrast: Equinox and Dispatches

This from EE507...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in this as an antidote to Channel 4's latest Dispatches offering...

Remember the pre-Big Brother C4 that screened well-researched and soundbite-free docs, cutting-edge drama and international cinema?

Try this edition of Equinox from 1990 called Trouble on the Line (parts 2 to 4 can be found in the video responses):



Then compare it to tonight's Dispatches.

Viewers will no doubt end up wondering what has really changed in 21 years, given the doc's criticism of civil service meddling and ineptitude, and the lack of a long-term coherent strategy for developing the railway...

Pointless signs - Refurbed Northern 155s

This from David, in sunny Yorkshire...




Happily no orange strip...

Pointless signs - Dronfield Station

This from the latest Friends of Dronfield Station Newsletter, via a Mr Wheat...


UPDATE: This from a Mr Cherry...

I wish to complain!

Re "Dronfield Trian Station" -- this should be "Dronfield Rialway Station" !!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Luvvie Wilson faces lifetime rail ban - Shocker

Much excitement in railway press offices across the land!

Luvvie Wilson has taken to the media trail to promote tomorrow's Channel 4 Dispatches programme.

The Sunday Times even devoted a whole page to the 74 year old, and former 90's celebrity, noting that he has:

"...never made a secret of his twin tastes for champagne and socialism.

"For the past twenty years Wilson has rarely encountered the ignominy of second-class..."


Indeed!

Eye is frankly surprised he can remember what class he travels nowadays, as clearly the years have taken their toll.

Sadly on a recent rail journey to Sheffield, with amazingly enough a film crew in tow, it emerged that the old boy had forgotten both his wallet and Senior Railcard!

Having paid a mere £15.85 for a first class return!!! the absent minded voice of the Labour Party manifesto, when asked to show his correct travel documentation, accused a hapless Gripper of calling him a liar.

Ed Balls would be proud!

No matter.

The industry will be watching tomorrow's programme with interest.

On the plus side Eye has spotted grounds to ensure that Meldrew cannot take advantage of the industry again!


Meanwhile, the Railway Benefit Fund may wish to consider their links with such a partial observer?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Hammond upstaged by Railway press - Shocker

Disturbing scenes at today's official launch of NXEA's new Stansted Express fleet at London's Liverpool Street!

Petrol-head did the honours, ensuring that the Railway Media were out in force.

But what's this?


Was RAIL's Phil Haigh, an officer in the TA, making a political point about how stretched our armed forces are?



Eye thinks we should be told!

Meanwhile, Captain Deltic insisted in appearing in every shot...



Eye fervently hopes that there are continued opportunities for similar Gricerati hilarity at future launches of British built trains...

UPDATE: This from Pike...

Diagramming 'Roger' was a nice touch from NXEA's Ops and Fleet teams.

Although unfortunate that he is looking quite so careworn these days.

Time for a visit to the paintshop methinks, or at very least the wash plant!


Channel 4 Dispatches has one foot in the grave

Good news for devotees of incisive reporting!

Channel 4 Dispatches is airing a programme on Monday night boldly entitled "Train journeys from hell."

Clearly balance will be at the very heart of this particular televisual feast.

Aside from walk on parts by the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent and Steven Norris of Jarvis fame, Channel 4 has evidently spared no expense to recruit a suitably qualified journalist and transport expert to host the prog.

So step forward then errr... uber-luvvie Richard Wilson!

Clearly oratorical declamation and hyperbole will be the order of the day.


Wilson of course was once famous in the 1990s and more recently became the voice of the Labour Party manifesto (the party, lest we forget, responsible for the structure of today's costly and over complicated railway). Sweet irony.

Somewhat bravely the DfT is rumoured to be putting Cruella into the firing line to respond to the Groucho's Greatest.

Meanwhile Eye has already put a wager on how quickly misenthrope Meldrew can utter his trademark line "I don't believe it!".

For what it's worth Richard, nor do we.

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Before anyone dismisses Richard Wilson as a luvvy who knows nothing about railways it's worth noting that he's a vice president of the Railway Benefit Fund.

UPDATE: This from Andrew E...

Do you really think Labour are responsible for the structure of today's railway?


Surely the [justified] complaint is that they did nothing to repair the disaster they inherited from the Tories!

Japan - Book of condolence at NRM

This from York's The Press...

A BOOK of condolence for victims of the Japanese earthquake will be opened tomorrow at the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York.

The book will remain open until the end of the museum’s forthcoming Japan Festival on April 28.

Tesco up to its old tricks

What is it with supermarket giant Tesco and structures across the railway?

Who can forget the debacle in 2005 when Chiltern services were suspended for seven weeks due to the collapse of a new tunnel at Gerrard's Cross, upon which would sit yet another of Sir Terry Leahy's finest.

Of course Leahy has moved on, but Tesco's unhappy relationship with the railway continues.

This from the Welwyn Hatfield Times 24...

Cllr Cowan said: “It’s frustrating to have got so far, persuading both Network Rail and Tesco to co-operate, and then see work stopped. I’ve had no explanation from Tesco for this change of mind. The work was not costing them anything – Network Rail, which owns the bridge but not all the land the bridge sits on – were paying.”

Every little helps? Eye thinks not.

NRESballs - Liverpool Street

This from the National Rail Enquiries website yesterday...



Mr Scales empire goes from strength to strength!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Evergreen 3 - Berlin is in charge!

This from Globetrotter...

In your story of yesterday about the Evergreen 3 engineering works overrun, you end:

Let's see who fesses up?

The wait is over: Von Shooter speaks!

This arrived by flying Tweet:


And here is the link to Von Shooter's apology.

Eye wonders if Berlin insisted on this public display of contrition?

Just try reading the last line of Von Shooter's mea culpa in a cod German accent and say it ain't so...

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

The last line of Adrian's apology says:

"Once again I am very sorry for the significant disruption to your day yesterday. We will do better."

Does this mean that in future Chiltern will aim for complete disruption of their passengers' day?

NR's new Public Members training programme

Sharp eyed readers of the Sunday press will have seen that Network Rail is advertising for Public Members.

In the past the likes of Captain Deltic have fallen foul of NR's demands that Public Members must be "people with a strong belief in accountability and a thorough understanding of, and commitment to, good corporate governance" (Shurely 'willing to rubber stamp board decisions'? Ed).

No matter. The past is behind us.

With Huggable Higgins at the helm things are changing for the better!

Apparently NR is even involving train operators in training new Public Members so they better understand customer needs.

This exclusive top secret photo from Northern shows one such joint NR/TOC joint training session for Public Members in action...


Although Eye is not entirely convinced that waving empty bonus envelopes at NR Directors will necessarily drive the right behaviours...

UPDATE: This from a Mr Saltaire...

Actually, this is the link aspiring Public Members need.

On the form, it asks where one heard about the opportunity.

Whilst The Hindustan Times is amongst the list of options, sadly, Railway Eye is not.


Such is the influence of new media.

Annoying man being rude at King's Cross

Eye is alerted to a televisual feast by the Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

It's not just King's Cross that is getting a makeover!

Gok's Clothes Roadshow will see three ladies from the Kings Cross Redevelopment Programme, Lisa (39), Karen (45) and Jenny (40) get a makeover (whatever that may be? Ed)


Brix Smith-Start hopes to prove designer fashion is best by drafting in a show-stopping Best of British floor-length gown by top designer Matthew Williamson (who writes this guff? Ed).

For those who care (Sid and Doris Bonkers) there will be the opportunity to see an annoying man being rude to his betters on the Devil's Lantern this very evening (20:00 on Channel 4).


Meanwhile, The Fact Compiler can't help but feel that NR could have added to the general gaiety of the nation by plugging Gok directly into the OHLE...

UPDATE: This from the Safety Elf...

I presume that the shining radiance of his presence and his hard headed persona render it unnecessary to don a bright orange coat with reflective stripes and a PPE lid?

Monday, 14 March 2011

A statement from East Japan Railway Company

This from the East Japan Railway Company, sent to members of the UIC...

Dear UIC Members

As you may already know, on Friday, March 11, 2011, Japan suffered an extremely severe earthquake, stronger than any other earthquake in Japan for as long as records have been kept. The earthquake caused an unbelievably large tsunami which brought destruction and especially heavy casualties to the eastern part of northern Japan along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Our station facilities, railway tracks, and rolling stock suffered enormous losses.

As far as we know at this point, none of our customers or employees suffered casualties or serious injuries on our operating trains or at our stations. At least 3 of our regional line trains were washed off the track by the massive tsunami, but very fortunately, all the customers and our employees that were on the trains and at the stations in the devastated regions had successfully evacuated to safety. Also, no derailment was caused on our operating Shinkansen. However, we have not been able to confirm whether or not all of our employees who were not on duty that day and the families of all employees survived this tragedy, and we are very deeply concerned that there may be some who did not survive or have suffered injuries.

Also, several electric generation plants (both nuclear energy plants and thermal power plants) located in the eastern part of northern Japan along the Pacific coast were heavily damaged, and since then, there has been a serious shortage of electrical power supply for train operations.

Because of this, even in our Tokyo Metropolitan Area (within the 100 kilometer range from Tokyo), we had to cancel, suspend or reduce a great amount of our train service, including Shinkansen trains, that otherwise would have been operated. By Monday morning, March 14, for our Tokyo Metropolitan Area, we had checked our facilities and trains and were generally ready to resume normal service, starting with the first scheduled morning trains, except for the power shortage. In the short term, there is no clear prospect as to when this enormous shortage of electrical power supply will be over. One fortunate aspect for us is that we have two electric generation plants (a thermal power plant and a hydroelectric power plant) of our own, and we hope that, by careful management of our overall electrical power supply including purchased electricity, we will be able to expand the number of trains that can be operated in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no way for us to predict when we will be able to resume our train operation, both Shinkansen and conventional lines (urban and regional trains), in the regions along the Pacific Ocean coast that suffered massive casualties from the earthquake and the tsunami. In the western part of northern Japan where the damage and casualties from the earthquake and the tsunami were relatively limited, we have pretty much been able to resume our train operation on both Shinkansen and conventional lines, though a few sections are still closed.

We are very grateful for the words of condolence and strong words of encouragements that we have been receiving since immediately after the earthquake on Friday, March 11, from many of the members of UIC. We would like to express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all our friends around the world who share with us the same "spirit of the railway men and women.'

The realities in front of our eyes are extremely harsh and difficult for us. But we must not look away from those realities. We must be strong and accept them as they are with our firm determination, gather our courage, and make our full concerted efforts for the earliest possible recovery and to fully resume our train operation. And whatever the situation may be, we will continue to thoroughly pursue our most important management policies of "safety" and "customer satisfaction."
By sending out full and accurate information to our friends around the world about what we experienced through this tragedy, we will continue to aim for even greater contributions towards the development of railways around the world.

Although we expect it will take a very significant amount of time for the full recovery of our railway system, starting from May, we are planning to be able to resume welcoming visitors from abroad. We are also planning to host the meetings and seminars in May as originally had been planned.

Finally, and once again, we would sincerely like to ask for your very kind and even deeper understanding and cooperation. And through this occasion, it is our true wish to be able to strengthen our relationships even more than before.


Sincerely yours,

Yoshio lshida Vice-Chairman, JR East. Chairman, UIC
Satoshi Seino President & CEO, JR East

Rail Barbie's empire to expand?

This from Virginia Water...

I see in yesterday's Observer that First Group are considering handing back the keys on the Great Western franchise in 2013, rather than 2016.

Given the DfT's already packed reletting agenda, does this raise the prospect of Directly Operated Railways taking on its second InterCity operation?

And why not!

After all Rail Barbie's first franchise has been highly successful in reducing costs, raising performance and improving the timetable. (shurely shome mishtake? Ed)


The future's bright, the future's dull grey and purple...

UPDATE: This from the late Adam Smith...

This is wonderful news.

If First Group elects not to continue with its franchise beyond 2013 this will provide the most marvelous opportunity to test Villier's exciting ideas about residualising investment beyond franchise length.


What with First Group owning 12 power cars and numerous trailers upon which the Great Western franchise is utterly dependent if it is to deliver the DfT specified timetable.

Evergreen 3 - who is in charge?

So who is running Evergreen 3?

Two weeks ago Michael Lee, the ORR’s director of railway planning, said: "The risk of not completing it on time to introduce new services in May had been growing and that was behind the decision to hand project management to Network Rail."

This produced an explosion from Von Shooter who insisted Chiltern was still in charge.

Happily all this confusion will be swept away today!

Line problem between Oxford and Banbury.
Train services are being disrupted due to over-running engineering works between Oxford and Banbury.

Engineers are working as fast as possible to restore services to normal. Short notice cancellations and delays of up to 30 minutes can be expected.

Last Updated: 14/03/2011 06:38

Let's see who fesses up.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Special Adviser pay-scales published

So the Cabinet Office has published the list of Special Advisers and their salary ranges.

The Secretary of State for Transport's SpAds are:

  • Sian Jones
  • Paul Stephenson
As might be expected Petrol-head has driven a hard bargain when recruiting these titans of the political world.

Sian and Paul's salary ranges are in Civil Service Pay Band 2 (£52,215 - £69,266) but presumably, as no further details of their income are given, below £58,200 (other less penny-wise ministers may care to take note).

Railway Eye readers not versed in the Machiavellian world of Westminster and Whitehall may wonder why Special Advisers, of whatever political hue, are known as SpAds.

Eye suspects it has something to do with an inability to acknowledge clear danger signals...

Pointless signs - XC Comfort Zone

This with a bowler tip to

"Nice to see Cross Country Trains have designated areas for masturbation."



Welcome to the Tafia Express

This from Owain Glyn Dour...

According to the BBC...

A north-south rail service that takes in Wrexham will begin in May, the assembly government has said.

A second Arriva Trains Wales "express" service will run once a day between Holyhead and Cardiff and back.The service will stop at Wrexham in both directions, unlike the first service started in December 2008.

But Wrexham council leader Aled Roberts said that, while welcome, the new service will mean the loss of a direct service to Birmingham from the area.

The new service, costing £620,000 to run until December when a different locomotive will be used, will run Monday to Friday and take four hours and 17 minutes.

The evening train is timetabled to leave Cardiff at 1818 GMT, stopping at Newport, Abergavenny, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Ruabon, Wrexham, Chester, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, and Bangor to arrive at Holyhead at 2234 GMT.

So a popular local service from Wrexham to Birmingham is being sacrificed to provide paths for a £620k vanity train linking North and South Wales.

As disgruntled Birmingham bound passengers have pointed out, there are already frequent daily trains running north and south via Wrexham. Unfortunatley these exisiting services don't offer first class accomodation which apparently our new rulling class can no longer live without.

Happily the new Tafia Express will offer first class and catering facilities; all for a paltry subsidy of just £4,750 a day!

Despite going all round the houses and taking over four hours to travel between Cardiff and Holyhead there
is likely to be at least one regular user of the Tafia Express.

Step forward Deputy First Minister and holder of the transport portfolio, Ieuan Wyn Jones, who today announced the new service, which provides a direct rail link between his Yns Mon constituency and Cardiff office
.


Trebles all round and one for yourself boyo.