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.

Hitachiballs - On opening up Japanese markets

Regular Eye readers will recall that UNIFE reacted with fury to Petrol-head's decision to award the IEP contract to Hitachi.

In particular the Euro rail group pointed out that:

Thanks to clear and transparent public procurement rules transport-related tenders in Europe are largely open to foreign companies, while the Japanese market remains completely inaccessible to European rolling stock suppliers. Indeed, only 2% of the Japanese rail equipment market is opened to foreign suppliers. This de facto market closure is achieved through the extensive use of the so-called “Operational Safety Clause” by which foreign bidders are brutally excluded.

Happily, Hitachi addressed these concerns head-on yesterday when it issued the following inscrutable statement:

UNIFE should not be so alarmed (in reference to its statement dated 3 March 2011) by the British Government’s award of the IEP (Intercity Express Programme) contract to Hitachi...

Hitachi believes in free market access between Europe and Japan in the rail industry and other sectors. We respect our European competitors, but we also think we have something unique to contribute to Europe. Hitachi Rail Europe is a European company led by Europeans, and Europe will gain, economically and competitively, from having a new quality player in the market.

So that's all right then!

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

So can we expect to see Hitachi inviting bids from European suppliers to fit out its trains for Japanese railway companies?
(No, don't be silly! Ed)

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

You may (or not) know that the biggest brake supplier for Shinkansen is Knorr Bremse from Europe.

Frenchies advance to the rear - again

This from Bloomburg...

The French government said it won’t bar Siemens AG (SIE)trains from the Channel Tunnel if Europe’s rail- safety agency backs their introduction, a shift that should clear the way forDeutsche Bahn AG to begin services to London.

France will respect the European Railway Agency’s advice on operations planned by the German state railway using a variant of Siemens’s InterCityExpress train, said a government official who declined to be identified, citing official policy.

Eye wonders if the government official was called Pétain...

UPDATE: This from 5741 Duck...

Helped, no doubt, by your headline, I misread Pétain as Pétomane, the legendary French flatulist - a trumpeter who was never without his instrument!

No, I'm not making this up - google it.

Not somebody you'd want to share a tunnel with...