Tuesday, 31 May 2011

DfT rebalances the deck chairs...

Exciting news from the Department!

According to industry sources DafT have rebalanced Ministerial portfolios.

  • The Minister of State, Theresa Villiers, will now focus on rail strategy and on our major rail projects. This is in addition to her existing portfolio, which includes aviation, London, Olympics and Europe.
  • Norman Baker will provide support by leading on the Government’s implementation of current Franchise Agreements including commercial matters, day to day contract management and rail performance issues.
  • All other portfolios remain the same.
As pretty a piece of spin as you are likely to see.

Of course the reality is as follows:

  • Cruella takes on a demanding new pan-industry role with top down responsibility for vertical integration, horizontal alignment and parallel fragmentation of strategic trolley and buffet Jammy Dodger supplies.
  • Meanwhile LibDem Norman Baker has been shunted into a non-job managing TOC franchises, performance and contracts on a day to day basis.
How will poor old Norm' live down this evident demotion?

UPDATE: This from Our International Correspondent...

There is much political liability in this!

Norman is now destined to be the man unable to make the trains run on time or get St Alban's Man a seat.

Meanwhile, Cruella will be making the one way trip to spend more time with her family when London2012’s Transport Plan is exposed to operational reality.


All political careers are destined to end in failure...

UPDATE: This from yet another satisfied Eye reader
...

Sir

Am I alone in decrying the corrosive cynicism of your International Correspondent.

The timely decision to negotiate an extension to the Virgin West Coast franchise means that this experienced and much loved operator will continue to run its services through the Olympic period.

With success thus assured, Ms Villiers, bathed in reflected glory, will be ideally placed to become the new Secretary of State.


I remain, sir, yours

R Slicker


Monday, 30 May 2011

Friday, 27 May 2011

Hitachiballs - The IEP's 'green' credentials

This from Ithuriel...

Quoted in the Greenwise Weekly e-Newsletter

"One of the things that our trains will do is they will use less energy per feet than existing trains, because they’re lighter," said Hitachi Europe spokeswoman Daniela Karthaus.

"We will also have more capacity on the trains, so more passengers can travel on them, so that is going to be an environmental benefit."


Karthaus said the lighter trains will lessen the amount of material used in repairs as well.

"They will do very little damage to the tracks because they are lighter, which in turn means less replacement of tracks, which makes them hopefully more sustainable," she said.

But, even Captain Deltic's uncharacteristically uncritical review of the Hitachi SET in the latest Modern Railways has to concede that the five car bi-mode - which represents 70% of the proposed fleet - weighs 800kg per seat compared with only 730kg per seat for the IC125 it is supposed to replace.

Or, to put it another way, the super lightweight train extolled by Ms Karthaus weighs the same as a Voyager or Adelante which are generally regarded as heavy and not exactly track friendly, compared with, say, a Class 158.

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Ithuriel is unkind to Meridians.

They may be heavy but, according to Bombardier, based on current variable track access charges a Meridian causes 10% less track damage than an IC125, 25% less than a Pendolino and 35% less than an IC225.

UPDATE: This from the tediously self promoting Captain Deltic...

This low track wear must be attributed in large part to the Meridian's inside frame FLEXX Eco bogie.

An article on the history of this bogie from its conception by British Rail Research to its selection for DB's new ICx train appears in this month's Informed...
(Boring, boring, boring - next please. Ed)


Pointless signs - Matlock

This is the scene at Matlock where new track has been laid into Platform 2 for the use of Peak Rail.


Or perhaps not.

Pointless signs - The benefits of WiFi

This with a bowler tip to @HolyMoly...


'Nuff said.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

East Coast goes for Scottish hearts and minds

Good news for the North British legal fraternity!

Despite apparently missing out on #Flawsuit there still appear to be plenty of opportunities to turn a shilling.

Not least as Alex Salmond has confirmed his determination to stamp out Sectarianism (and quite right too).

With this in mind Eye wonders what MacLearned Friends will make of this?


Happily for East Coast this should make withdrawing from points beyond Edinburgh that little bit easier...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

If music soothes the savage beast...

This from the late Roy Plomley...

Philip Hammond's been uploading his Desert Island Discs on the Radio 4 website.

I thought Eye readers might appreciate a sneak preview of his favourite tracks..

Elvis Costello - Trainbuilding

The Vapours - Turning Japanese

Style Council - Costs come tumbling down (12" McNulty megamix)

Bay City Rollers - Bye Bye Bimode, Bimode Bye Bye

Eurythmics - Thorn in My Side (Grand Central remix)

Pet Shop Boys - East Coast Girls

Simon and Garfunkel - Scarborough Fare (£3.60 single, £4.20 off peak return, £1.54 book ahead super Apex 1, £2.27 with plus bus add on)

And last and not least...

The Cars - Drive (XJ Limited Edition)


With a copy of the Baker Atlas for his book and a set of highlighters for a luxury he should be all set.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

What about:

Eddie Grant - Electric Avenue

Black Box - Ride on Time

Bob Dylan - Slow Train Coming

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street

And given the DfT's decision to reject a loco hauled replacement for the HST perhaps there should also be room for the traditional shanty "Haul Haul Away"?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Milner...

Might I also suggest:

Doobie Brothers - Long Train Running (specially shortened Pendolino nine coach version)

Gladys Night - Midnight Train to Georgia (Olympic mix)

The Monkees - Last Train to Clarksville (McNulty special cut)

and perhaps in recognition of the role of the Heritage sector, Tina Turner - Steamy Windows

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Can we all play?

The Monkees - What am I doing standing round (Kings Cross karaoke version)

Kraftwerk - Trans-Europ Express (DB Eurotunnel remix)

And what about Aqua's Barbie Girl?

UPDATE: Yet more from Captain Deltic...

Might I be permitted to add that the relevant section of Barbie Girl is the line 'Life in plastic, it's fantastic'.

This is, of course, a reference to the growing use of composites in transport and the slowness of railways in adopting the technology behind such icons as the Boeing 787 and the Reliant Scimitar (except for its use on Sexy Front Ends for
multiple units).


And to illustrate here is the Delticmobile - showing that life in plastic is indeed fantastic (Stop it! This is all getting jolly silly. Ed)

UPDATE: This from yet another satisfied reader...

Once again I have to take up my pen to correct yet another of Eye's solecisms.

Music calms the savage breast!

I would like to think that this was a missprint, but given your past record I must assume that it betrays your ignorance of culture and is yet another indictment of the low standard of writing in the so called railway press.

When one remembers the limpid prose of past giants such as O S Nock and Cecil J Allen I can only echo Horace in his plangent ode: eheu! fugaces labuntur anni.

I remain, Sir
R Slicker


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lookalike - Mattel's Railway Managers


Coucher exonerated by White inquiry

This from Network Rail...

NETWORK RAIL WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF WHITE REPORT

Network Rail today welcomed the publication of the independent report of Antony White QC into "Allegations of misuse of public funds and serious financial impropriety within Network Rail."


The 143 page report, commissioned by Network Rail's board, but conducted independently concluded that "all of the allegations about illicit payments to Mr Coucher (Network Rail's former chief executive), and the use of offshore accounts, or huge amounts of cash, to make payments under compromise agreements to departing employees were groundless."

The report also said, "it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the TSSA (Transport and Salaried Staff Association)...introduced a series of increasingly serious allegations of financial impropriety against Mr Coucher for which it had no substantial evidence."

Twelve allegations of misuse of public funds and serious financial impropriety, presented by the TSSA and present or former employees were investigated. The allegations related either to illicit payments to Iain Coucher and related financial impropriety or the misuse of compromise agreements and the behavious of Peter Bennett (HR director). Of the 12 allegations, 11 were found to be groundless or unfounded. The remaining allegation, about misuse of compromise agreements, had two components. On one of these components the report found no misuse of public funds. On the second, there was no basis for allegations on three out of four cases put forward by the TSSA. However, in the fourth case the report concludes that there was misuse.

Rick Haythornthwaite, Network Rail's chairman, said: "I am grateful to Antony White for his thorough investigation and report. His conclusions have confirmed earlier internal investigations findings that there was no case to answer regarding financial impropriety.

"However, in concluding that public funds were misused with regard to one compromise agreement, Antony White is essentially expressing disagreement with the conclusions of internal investigations undertaken in 2008. With regard to the implied criticism of the company's internal governance and levels of transparency, the new Network Rail board has been alive to the issues raised and already taken action to make significant changes. Network Rail is profoundly different today in terms of both its leadership tone and standrads of acceptable behaviour.

"The scale of the excoriating campaign waged by the TSSA against the company, and in particular against Iain Coucher regarding these groundless allegations, was unacceptable and has done great damage. I very much hope that those of the Network Rail team who are members of the TSSA reflect on whether this is how they wish their union to represent their best interest and urge it to move to a more collaborative footing."

- ENDS -

The White report can be found here.

UPDATE: This from TSSA, who are clearly deeply in the pooh...

Union general secretary Gerry Doherty said:

"We want to thank Antony White QC for all his careful and detailed work over the past four months and we fully accept his conclusions as set out in his summary published today.

"We accept his findings that Network Rail did misuse public funds buying off one of its employees race and sex discrimination claims.

"We unreservedly accept his findings that all allegations of financial impropriety against Mr Coucher were unfounded.

"The time has come to move on and we now look forward to building a more constructive relationship with David Higgins and his new management team in the future."

Presumably transport minister Norman Baker MP will soon add his own mea culpa?

Underground Arms Race

This will not go well.

According to the Indie...

Mr Hammond said: "The Government has been considering the resilience of the overall police armed capability and has concluded that it would be beneficial to enhance this by providing the BTP with an armed capability of its own.

"The timing of this is not as a result of any specific threat: it is a sensible and pragmatic approach to ensuring that our police forces have the right resources to be able to respond as and when needed to protect the public."

He went on: "We will continue to work with the BTP and others to assess the use of this capability and its effectiveness and impact"

Perhaps Eye can explain the 'impact' - a relatively small hole resulting in a dramatic adjustment in one's social life.

Lest we forget - a previous deployment of armed officers on the Underground was not exactly a triumph for either policing or innocent Brazilians.

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Arming the BTP does not worry me in the slightest.

However, if they also receive ammunition then I'll admit to some concern.

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus virginicus...

Following the announcement that BTP officers will carry guns, and the previous announcement that BTP will take over control of police helicopters across the UK, (Eye passim) can we expect these machines to be replaced with more "appropriate" equipment?

Almost certainly, as soon as the MoD finishes biking them back from Romania.

What a difference a word makes.

This spotted by the Railwaywriter and others....

According to the ORR:

Merseyrail operator fined £85,000 for runaway train incident

Today’s sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court follows an Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) investigation into the incident which led to a stationery train undergoing repairs at Kirkdale depot in Liverpool running onto the main line and crashing into a buffer and a wall.

Was the train being chartered by WH Smug?

Baker a smart card?

This from Thomas Edmonson...

Norman Baker has reportedly pulled out of the Smart future for Transport conference this week.

Instead he is attending the reopening of a couple of old railway tunnels as part of a cycle path.

What does Norm' know about the state of ITSO that McNulty doesn't?

Quite a lot, judging by the unworldly comments on smart cards in Sir Roy's study...

First confirmed as Evil Empire - Official

This from Rail.co...

Link
How long before the Alliance does for the Aberdeen Death Star?

Lookalike - Doc Wolmar!

Flying Adonis - East Coast gets carried away

This from Ithuriel...

In a press release hailing the new one train a day 'Flying Adonis' Edinburgh-London service, East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said:

East Coast’s fantastic new locomotive and service writes an exciting new chapter in the 149-year history of the Flying Scotsman."

Er Karen, it's a 23 year old loco tarted up with some flashy vinyls.

But no doubt your political masters and ill informed stakeholders will fall for the line that it is new.

UPDATE: This from Neversholt...

We have spent a small fortune upgrading and updating the Class 91s.

They are now even better than new. Now can I have my large cheque please?

UPDATE: This from Almost Traction...

And we have made a lot of the bits that our valued client has bought.

UPDATE: And this, unsurprisingly, from Captain Deltic...

Money wasted on a name plate that should read John Dowling

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

I hear that yesterday's inaugural run was late into King's Cross by 2m 35s - held up by East Coast's sole service from Hull.

Perhaps better to leave such complicated non-core services to Hull Trains?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Farmers to support HS2?

This from Eye's friends at Merseyrail...

If you're not familiar with 3rd rail systems, the message below would cause you to imagine all sorts of weird scenarios:

Sun 22 May at 12.49 hrs: Services from Chester meeting with delay due to being tripped by a dead badger between Bache and Capenhurst. MOM en-route.

Sadly it looks as if old Brock strayed too close to the conductor rail.

Ratty and Mole will no doubt need counseling?


On the plus side, Eye understands that the NFU will shorty come out in favour of HS2 - providing it's 3rd rail...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Virgin in ageist slur on DBS fleet - Shocker

Someone at Virgin clearly has a sense of humour.

This Tyrell posting by Virgin on Friday...


So how would Virgin choose to describe the even older Mk3s they use on their Pretendolino?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Brooks...

60010 is also a ‘Streak’ (A4 Pacific built by Sir Nigel Gresley) which is presumably where the ‘heritage’ label presumably comes in.

However, as its currently residing in Canada, it might be a bit extreme to suggest that its being towed in a consist over here - unless President O'Bama has included it in his entourage of many vehicles?

Back to the future?

Much excitement amongst the Gricerati!

Word reaches Eye that Murray Brown may be polishing-up his editor's chair!

But which Class 1 publication will he oversee?

Mediaballs - On painting the Forth Bridge...

This from Our International Correspondent...

An interview with Network Rail's HR Director in the Recruiter magazine kicked off with a contrived reference to his role as being “like painting the Forth Bridge”.

Meanwhile, up some scaffolding a very long way from the HR Director’s big desk and even further from the offices of the Recruiter, in a remote place near South Queensferry called The Real World, work is concluding on a £180 million (gulp!) project to paint the iconic structure in clever stuff that will last 40 years, thus no painting of the bridge between 2012 and 2052.

The Recruiter, fingers on the pulse of business? We can but hope.

UPDATE: This from Nick...

I presume this was a clever and up to the minute reference to McNulty's concerns over the feast-then-famine nature of maintenance, err sorry investment, in British Rail, err sorry the National Rail network !

Friday, 20 May 2011

DfT issues West Coast franchise Super Injunction

Amidst yesterday's McNulty excitement Petrol-head also confirmed that re-franchising of InterCity West Coast has been delayed.

"Because relaxation of full prescription of train services in line with Sir Roy's recommendations was not signalled in the consultation document that we published on 19 January, I have decided that it is right and proper to consult on these proposals again, starting today, and ending on 17 August.

"As a consequence of this decision, Mr Speaker, I can inform the House that the new franchise on the Intercity West Coast will now be awarded in August 2012, after a competitive process involving the four shortlisted train operators, and will commence operations on 9th December 2012.

"The Department will seek to agree acceptable terms with the existing franchisee for a contract extension to 9th December 2012, but Directly Operated Railways Ltd, the Government-owned company that runs East Coast, will be ready to operate the franchise between April and December 2012 if necessary."

Good news indeed.

And comforting to see that the ICWC ITT contains its very own Super Injunction:


Here's to transparent bid processes and Open Government!

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

As the British Transport Police are soon to be armed presumably any bidders who transgress this injunction will be shot?

Villiers vignettes - Customer focused franchises

This from Cruella...

Written answers and statements, 18 May 2011

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for the Great Western franchise beyond 2013.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)

The specification for the new franchise, to commence in 2013, will be developed over the next year in consultation with the railway industry and stakeholders.

No mention of listening to actual passengers then?

IEP's first test run - Exclusive Video

This from Barry Spotter...

The video below shows the benefit of the bi-mode design to full advantage, as the prototype unit makes headway by making best use of its available traction packages.

Captain Deltic will be delighted to see that the suspected weight-versus-performance issues have clearly been recognised and remedied through lightweight body construction.



So let us hear no more criticism of DfT's excellent HST replacement programme!

Rail Delivery Group membership analysed

This from John...

I read with interest your recent piece on the new Railway Delivery Group.

What an interesting selection of people who have been chosen to deliver our new-and-improved railway.

They are:

  • The head of one owner group who publicly referred to DfT as 'dysfunctional and deceitful'
  • The head of a nationalised TOC that replaced two failed private sector operators
  • A representative of the group that last ran the failed franchise above and which is in the process of losing its remaining two franchises
  • A formerly successful British transport company which has since been bought by German State Railways and has had its assets sold off to the Italians
  • A nominee of the Dutch State Railways
  • A major British franchise operator whose only franchise may be nationalised next year as the government can’t decide what to do with it when it expires
  • The transport group that is handing a major franchise back early to save money
  • An executive from one owner group who will shortly join Network Rail's board
  • A successful British freight operator, which is now owned by the Baharainis
  • A nominee of German State Railways
  • Two representatives from the Infrastructure controller
  • And all records to be kept by a member of the Railway Heritage Committee
All bodes well for a bright new future!!

UPDATE: This from Bacon Butty...

Interestingly there is no financier representation on the new Rail Delivery Group.

Perhaps private sector investment in our railways is no longer required?

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

One unintended consequence of nationalisation is that the new Rail Delivery Group will not fall foul of Harriet Harperson's Equality Act...

UPDATE: This from the Globetrotter...

Whoops, I see no French freight operator amongst the forward-looking membership of this dynamic new industry leadership group.

Like all of the new entrants and open access competitors, the blue team appears to have been passed over in favour of the usual suspects from the ex-incumbents and/or state-owned nominees.

The green team, which I think is the organisation in question, is in fact owned by a Bahrain investment group, so the boys in red braces are not entirely overlooked.

Of course, the German-owned red team is represented by a French-Canadian, so at least the linguistic pot-pourri remains intact.


With the Scots supplying an American and the thin controller hailing from Brisbane, we have a truly British line-up going forward.

The Fact Compiler stands corrected - post amended.

McNulty - Transform Scotland gets it!

Exciting news for ScotRail passengers!

This press release from Transform Scotland...

Not so much a request as a dead certainty.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Membership of Rail Delivery Group unveiled

This from the new Rail Delivery Group...

RAIL INDUSTRY SETS UP POWERFUL NEW GROUP IN RESPONSE TO CHALLENGE FROM McNULTY

Rail industry leaders today set-up a powerful new group to lead the industry forward in delivering a higher performing, more cost effective and sustainable railway network for Britain's rail users and taxpayers.

The new Rail Delivery Group (RDG) will be made up of the most senior figures in the rail industry - the chief executives of the passenger and freight train operating owning groups and Network Rail - and will be chaired by Tim O'Toole, the chief executive of FirstGroup.

Mr O'Toole said: "This important group will form the nucleus of a new rail industry order that will provide leadership on cross-industry issues to enable delivery improvements for rail users and for the taxpayer. The train operating companies and devolved Network Rail teams will remain accountable for delivery at a local level."

Sir Roy McNulty highlighted the need for such a group in his final report: "The study is strongly of the view that the rail industry needs to be given, and needs to accept, greater responsibility for its own future. The study therefore recommends the establishment of a Rail Delivery Group (RDG) with responsibility for cross-industry leadership of a substantial programme of change."
The RDG will normally meet bi-monthly, but for the rest of the year, it will meet monthly and be joined by Sir Roy McNulty, to help the group, and the railway as a whole, take forward his recommendations.

The group will focus on industry-wide issues, including the strategy and long-term vision for the railway. It will seek to inform key choices facing governments and the development of plans in response to governments' output specifications. It will consider and implement change in response to key recommendations from McNulty, including the proposal for a rail systems agency.

The group will also steer and take ownership of the vitally important Initial Industry Plans (IIP), due to be published in September as part of the regulatory review process. The plans will detail the rail industry's view of the scope for improved efficiency and the key choices relating to the next five year funding period (CP5) from 2014 to 2019.

Note to editors

  • The owning groups will be represented on the RDG by the chief executives of Abellio, Arriva, DB Schenker, Directly Operated Railways, FirstGroup, Freightliner, Go-Ahead, National Express, Stagecoach and Virgin
  • The vice-chairman of the group will be David Higgins, chief executive, Network Rail
  • The secretary of the group will be Graham Smith who has been a key member of Sir Roy McNulty's study team
  • Paul Plummer, Network Rail's director of planning and development, has also been invited to join the group
  • Government and the ORR will not be members, but will be invited to provide input to the group on key issues as will other industry bodies (such as ATOC and the Rail Freight Operators Association), suppliers (such as the Rail Industry Association) and trades unions
  • The IIPs produced by the industry are intended to inform choices about the outputs which governments in England, Wales and Scotland specify as part of the periodic regulatory review process
  • The full membership of the RDG is:

COMPANY

NAME

Abellio

Anton Valk

Arriva

David Martin

D B Schenker

Alain Thauvette

Directly Operated Railways

Elaine Holt

First Group

Tim O’Toole (chair)

Freightliner

Peter Maybury

Go-Ahead

Keith Ludeman

National Express

Dean Finch

Network Rail

David Higgins (vice-chair), Paul Plummer

Stagecoach

Brian Souter

Virgin

Patrick McCall


Graham Smith (secretary)


- ENDS -

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

First IEP arrives in UK - Exclusive Picture!

And entirely under its own power...


Eye wonders if Mr Kipling regularly holidays in Malaysia?

Man hoofs it on to train...

Exciting news from the BBC...

Apparently a man tried to board a train at Wrexham with a pony!


Makes a change from the usual sheep...

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from Kendo Nagasaki...

Honourable Fact Compiler.


I believe that is Baker San with the latest motive power for the IEP Donkey Engine, which has been upgraded to Pony Propulsion.

Waterfront declares war on railway industry!

This from Captain James Bigglesworth, DFC and Bar...

Can someone at Waterfront can explain the significance of this Ilyushin Il 76 strategic transport aircraft to a conference on 'Connecting the UK.'


The Il-76, NATO code name 'Candid', first flew in 1971. It was designed to operate from short rough airfields and carry up to 40 tonnes of tanks and guns.

Do Waterboard know something about McNulty that we don't?

Sleepy Derbyshire wakes up!

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Good grief, Margaret Becket has finally realised that there is a train factory in her constituency under threat from the Axis.

This written answer given by Cruella on the 16 May 2011...

Margaret Beckett (Derby South, Labour):
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to announce the successful bidder for the Thameslink rolling stock order.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)
My officials are continuing to evaluate the bids from the two remaining bidders in the competition to build the new trains for Thameslink. We are planning to announce the preferred bidder shortly.

Perhaps all will all become clear on Friday?

Silver Fox plans to take railway by storm?

Telegrammed by Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road
Tally Ho!

The Silver Fox has broken cover, with quotes on vertical integration post McNulty, in today's Pink 'un.

But given that our Graham is now a Network Rail non-exec his utterances must have greater significance than just another old-railway man venting his atavistic two penn'orth worth on John Major's fragmentation of his railway..

Could this be the early stages of an old-railway putsch, with Mr Eccles emphasising the importance of having a single guiding mind for the Network in future? Who could this guiding mind be?

We'd vote for the Silver Fox like a shot, but we suspect he could be acting as Richelieu to Robin Gisby's Louis XIII .

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Barbielino confirmed!

This from the FT...

Britain’s most profitable train franchise could be taken back into state hands following a government decision to delay the auction of the West Coast service amid an overhaul of the rail system...

Virgin may have its franchise extended for the intervening nine months but, with a deal yet to be resolved, the government is considering handing the management of the service to Directly Operated Railways, the taxpayer-funded organisation that runs the East Coast line.

Eye presumes that the Competition Commission will take a close interest in one operator running both East and West Coast franchises...

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Good to see the Pink 'un catching up with the story in Sunday's Observer by Dan Milmo confirming the suspension of the Intercity West Coast Franchise bidding (actually a story Eye broke last Thursday! Ed).

And even better to see that the FT stylebook still mandates the adjective 'lucrative' in the first reference to any franchise.


Sooo 1990s.

Pointless signs - Glasgow Central

This from the Rover...

This pointless sign pictured at Glasgow Central station on Sunday

Good to see the word 'passengers' in there, as well as a stray apostrophe for amusement.


In the spirit of the new Scottish politics presumably the entrances have already voted for independence?

Pointless signs - Leeds station

This from Steve...

Taken at Leeds on Sunday prior to the departure of the 09:44 EMT service to St. Pancras. You may notice that whilst Loughborough and Wellingborough get full listing Market Harborough doesn't.

The stops for East Midlands Parkway and Luton Airport Parkway seem to have been processed through an Enigma coding machine before being listed in text speak SHOUTING fashion.


One hopes that this trend isn't extended across the system - Penis for Penistone, WANCOM for Wandsworth Common?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

PRballs - Level Crossings & Pelham Bell Pottinger

This exciting news from Pelham Bell Pottinger...

Network Rail - Level Crossing Tragedies

On the back of today’s reports of failures by Network Rail to respond to warnings of tragedies at level crossings, IndigoVision wishes blah, blah, blah...

IndigoVision’s CCTV systems are based on digital IP technology. They are thus blah, blah, blah...

IndigoVision believes that:

a) The installation of proper CCTV equipment blah, blah, blah...

b) If combined with stringent financial penalties, this will act as a blah, blah. blah...

c) It is surely incumbent on Railtrack and other operators to install blah, blah...

Wait a minute!


Railtrack?

Eye salutes IndigoVision's PR agency.

Clearly they have their fingers on the railway industry pulse!


Railway Gardens - Bethnal Green

Railway Gardens - Freightliner at Peterborough

This from the Albatross...

No measurable rain in the Eastern half of the UK for several months has eased the workload of those responsible for vegetation control.

And yet, in spite of this, the bountiful Buddleia is fighting back!

At Freightliner's Nene Valley Depot on platform 3 at Peterborough station it looks like the vegetation has already won!


Rumour has it that two drivers entered the 'depot' a few weeks ago and have not been since...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Moonlighting at Network Rail shocker!

Let's hear it for that doughty fighter after truth and defender of middle England, the loveable Daily Mail!

It would appear that Dacre's minions have discovered that our hard pressed judiciary is having to take up second jobs on the railway to make ends meet!


Eye congratulates the Mail's picture desk on this particular journalistic triumph!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Eye's latest list of Twittering TOCs

This for those not on Twitter.

Eye is maintaining a list of Twittering TOCs.

Remember, to be in the list you must be interactive. Not just broadcast.

Be there or be square!


New submissions always welcome (via Twitter of course - @TheFactCompiler)

That includes you Freighties, Network Rail and Heritage Railways!

Petrol-head declares war on staff costs

Philip Hammond has declared war on industry staff costs!

And quite right too!

At a conference today he said:


"A 21st century rail network needs 21st century employment practices, from the boardroom to the shop floor."

"With fares and levels of taxpayer support already so high, it would be simply irresponsible for us to ignore this issue any longer.

"Addressing inefficient working practices and excessive wage demands will form a key part of the strategy for building a sustainable and affordable railway" added the multi-millionaire Secretary of State.

'Nuff said.

Pointless signs - King's Cross Platform 0

This from John...

I am glad they have provided a useful yellow label on this item at the new Platform 0 at Kings Cross...


...just in case anyone doesn't know what the pretty illuminated numbers are for.

UPDATE: This from Mark...

Sorry, but you're being daft with your clock posting.

That "clock" sign was put there as part of the installation process so that contractors knew what the bracket was for and what wiring it needed.

Knowing what can go wrong with "simple" jobs like this, I think shows evidence of good planning for a change.


So it wasn't a pointless sign at all. There are plenty of these on the railway - but not this one.