Thursday, 27 December 2012

A belated Merry Christmas to all readers...

This is Catho Style...



Christus natus hodie!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Quiz - Question 94

The Man by the Photocopier writes...

A curious release has just appeared from DafT’s Office of Seasonal Tales.

This purports to be government ‘backing’ for new train orders for Southern, amounting to 216 vehicles. Except that they have already been announced in principle and are not really for Southern, as the lower part of the release admits.

So why is Southern (a departing franchise) involved in ordering trains for the Midland Main Line?

Presumably they could well have their first outings on Thameslink (thus releasing some 319s., etc.) and from 2015 Southern + Thameslink are set to be joined together (depending on Mr Brown, of course).

Ah, Christmas. Always a good time to bury bad – or at least contentious – news...


UPDATE: A little more from The Man by the Photocopier...

Sometimes in spite of best efforts in the Horseferry Road there comes a rare gleam of clarity, even in these well-spun times.

A new Q + A just published by ever-helpful Southern about potential rolling stock orders includes this modest gem ...

Q The original announcement said that the option was for 100 carriages. Why has this changed to 140?

A This is what the Department for Transport has asked us to do.


Quite so.


UPDATE: This from Derbyshire Lad...

Might I be allowed to use your electronic organ to praise the DfT for its vision and insight in ordering more trains from a British factory rather than overseas.

Clearly the arrival of Patrick McLoughlin MP (Derbyshire Dales) at the Department for Transport has resulted in an outbreak of train procurement wisdom.

Patrick is a colossus amongst pygmys, a seer amongst the dullards... (cont in this vein for circa 94 pages. Ed)


UPDATE: This from The Archer...

Not wanting to spoil Christmas cheer in Derby but, the DfT’s release claims to be a year-end boost for train builders with two new train orders.

Note the plural ‘train builders’ rather than the singular ‘train builder’.

Bombardier is one of these train builders as they’ve got an order for another 40 carriages for Southern.

By definition then the second, and larger order, for 116 or 256 carriages, must be going to another train builder.

Merry Christmas Derby!

 

Fact Compiler outed as ladies man - Shocker

Eye's latest column in Passenger Transport, published on 14th December refers...


The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 4th January.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

LM shoddy service rewarded by franchise extension

Good to see that DfT is clamping down on poorly performing franchises.

Concealed amongst the self congratulatory press release from Stormin' Norman (who else!) boasting that the Government had secured £7m worth of ticketing geegaws for hard pressed London Midland commuters was the following:

"The deal that has been struck will also confirm the end date of the franchise as September 2015, ensuring that London Midland is given sufficient time to resolve these problems on a permanent basis."


Way, way back in the heady days of June 2007 when the franchise was first awarded the DfT statement to the Stock Market contained the following fearsome words...

"The new franchise will begin on 11th November 2007 and will run until 19th September 2015. The DfT has the right to terminate the franchise after six years if the operator is failing to meet agreed performance targets."


In fact sources suggest that the franchise contained a break point at six years, with an option for the DfT to extend it for a further 22 months.

Whilst the two other franchises let at the same time (EMT and CrossCountry) had both received notification from DfT some time ago that their franchises would be extended beyond the initial six years, on London Midland not a word!

That is until today.
 

So note to failing franchises - carry on the good work, the Department loves you.

UPDATE: This from Billy No Mates...

Could I point out that the £7m bung to LM commuters equates to just under two Laidlaw Inquiries.

Value for money indeed.

Attention bid teams - The Deerstalker Express!

A little festive cheer for colleagues currently twiddling their thumbs in bid teams.

This from Transport Scotland (396563-2012)...

Transport Scotland is seeking to appoint an appropriately experienced and qualified operator for the Caledonian Sleeper Rail Franchise running the overnight rail services for up to 15 years. The estimated contract cost is indicative only - please see Additional Information section for further details on the make up of the estimated contract costs. Estimated cost excluding VAT: 375 000 000 GBP

Play nicely!


Haines joins Eversholt as Non-Exec

This from Eversholt...

Eversholt Rail appoints Non-Executive Director

Eversholt Rail is pleased to announce the appointment of Andrew Haines as a non-executive director. He will join the Board on 1st January 2013.

Andrew is Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, a role he has held since August 2009.  He previously spent 23 years working within the railway Industry in a number of roles including Managing Director of South West Trains and Head of FirstGroup’s Rail Division.

Graham Love, non-executive chairman of Eversholt Rail, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Andrew onto the Board and working with him. His wealth of experience will provide us with an invaluable insight in helping to meet the needs of our customers”.
 

So that looks like Hainesy ruled out for DG Rail!

Right Time Railway!

Apologies, long...

This made when even Norm' was in his nappies.



Right time, means right time!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A 'right time' DfT? Eye thinks not.

This from Rose Hill...

I have been delighted to see that Stormin' Norman and DfT are taking such a keen interest in performance.

They, quite rightly, recognise that if you are to make a commitment to your customers and stakeholders, it is vital to stick to your timetables, and deliver on what you promised.

As you can see from the below, all is going swimmingly!


 
92% PPM? A number DafT can only dream of!



Laidlaw - Now we can all count the costs

This from Third Degree Burns...

"The costs of the Laidlaw Inquiry are yet to be finalised as not all of the invoices have been received. The department's best estimate of the final costs of the Laidlaw Inquiry is £3.55 million".

How much!

Did Centrica Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw demand a gold throne from which to conduct his inquiry?

Evidently the energy sector has little to teach the railways about Value for Money.



Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Laidlaw tells it like it is!

This via the Birmingham Post...

Mr Laidlaw criticised the fact that the bidding was mainly conducted by a relatively junior DfT team, meaning that when transport ministers were briefed by senior civil servants about it, the ministers were "in a sense talking to the wrong people"...

Quite so.

Pretty much the experience of almost everybody who deals with the department.

ECML - It's a wash out!

This from JD Bitterspoon...

Rumour has it that DOR is branching out into a range of new sanitary ware.  

 
With the timetable reliability 'plumbing' new depths, customer service generally 'down the pan', passengers increasingly left with a 'sinking' feeling, East Coast's regular customers hope that they have better luck running this bath than they do a train service.  

Hour-plus delays the third Monday in a row, and no service at all between Peterborough and Kings Cross this morning.  

An absolute shower.

Eye observes:  If DOR entered the bathroom suite market no doubt the ORR would insist the 'plumbing' was provided by Network Rail. Inevitably, therefore, the new venture would fail to 'wash its face'. (that's enough leaky old jokes. Ed)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Odd things happening in the Shire...

Possibly the best Christmas card, ever!


Or possibly not...

Pass the mind bleach.

Uncle Merv's Christmas Quiz...

Time for an exciting new Eye feature - Uncle Merv's Christmas Quiz!

Using your skill and judgement can you explain why there is a shed code attached to this basket?


Answers via email to the Eye, or better still to Barrow Hill Roundhouse, the DfT or indeed anyone else with time on their hands before the 25th!

Pointless signs - Nottingham



Benefits of Nationalisation explained...

This from Ferrero Rocher...

Good to see nationalised East Coast knows what is, and what is not, appropriate reading for its passengers.


I recall that HRH The Prince of Wales once referred to the rulers of another statist regime as "Dreadful old waxworks".

Are they perhaps related?  

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

In my humble opinion this is more a matter of good taste. 

The hackneyed whinnying and whining from Railway Eye is, in my opinion, the childish... (sadly, owing to pressure of space, we are unable to publish the rest of Mr Strong's email. Ed).

UPDATE: This from those nice people at East Coast...

The Railway Eye blog as a whole can be accessed via East Coast’s on-train Wi-Fi, but in common with other websites, content within the blog which involves streaming video and audio can’t be accessed.
 
The reason is that streaming audio and video uses a lot of bandwidth, and can significantly reduce the speed at which others can use the Wi-Fi service on-board the train. 

This is also why audio/video content on sites such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player et al cannot be accessed using on-train Wi-Fi.
 
Hope this helps to explain. (It does, thank you. Ed)
 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

TOC of the Pops!

This from the Cloggies!


Snork!

But good effort.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Kim Wilde delights rail passengers...

Errrr....



Oh dear.

UPDATE: This from Fen Boy...

Kim Wilde must have had a very good evening if she thought that she was singing on the Underground as this was patently an FCC Class 365 speeding its weary load home to Hertfordshire.

The first giveaway was the guy in the distance sitting in the luggage stack opposite the toilet door and then, of course, towards the end with the relief that the torture was over when the train is seen arriving at FCC's Potters Bar station.


Latest exciting RDG news!

And here is the latest on the exciting developments at the Rail Delivery Group:

'Non.'

That is all.
 

Pointless signs - Gospel Oak

This, surprisingly, from Sir Barnes Wallis...


Come on London Overground, you can do better than this.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Desperate times: Man inserts ticket

This from Herr Bend o'Ver...

Is this the most desperate press release of the week?

According to FGW...

Newbury MP Richard Benyon will officially open Newbury Station’s ticket gates this Friday following £850,000 investment to improve the station environment...

The MP will tour the station, accompanied by First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood, before opening the new gateline.
 


'Benyon inserts valid ticket' - Hold the Front Page!

UPDATE: This from the Major...

I'm pleased to see that Richard Benyon is to officially open the ticket barriers at Newbury. 


If he could leave them open that would be most useful for all those passengers carrying bags, clutching cups of coffee, pushing prams, nursing arms in slings and everyone else for whom barriers are just that.

Pointless signs - Huddersfield

With apologies to all fans of Marcia...



Sadly, Eye fears that one day something similar may appear at Flinstock.

UPDATE: This from the Ghost of Sir Peter Parker...

The one-up-one-down halt on the Cotswold Line is Finstock, of course, not Flinstock.

Cameron's nearest station is actually here in Charlbury, but as it's a rare Lib Dem redoubt in West Oxfordshire, any statue here would be rapidly tarred and feathered by local militant Bromptoneers. 

But they have given me a memorial garden, for which I'm very grateful. It's even tended by a baronet and former paramour of Princess Margaret.


Possibly the best railway pub... in the world!

The Fact Compiler is in awe!



Go to the Alex', now!

UPDATE: This from Billy Arrows...

Mark Williamson's looking well but has Lord Adonis had a Chimay Blue too many? 

Hard Times - No 94

Good to see the train leasing market acting as a barometer for industry confidence.

So Eye wonders if readers can guess which ROSCO commercial director at yesterday's RfG Christmas Lunch didn't even bother bringing any business cards?

Hard times indeed.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Richard George to Interfleet

This from Interfleet...

International rail consultancy Interfleet Technology has announced the appointment of a new Managing Director, following the retirement of incumbent MD David Rollin after almost 20 years at the helm.

New MD Richard George will take up the position at the end of February 2013, fresh from his recent role as Director of Transport at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOGOC), where he was responsible for the delivery of the hugely successful transport logistics.


In best Spandau Ballet voice... Gold!

Bakerballs: On punctuality...

This from Julian and Sandy...

Compare this from our Norm in the Daily Mail...

Mr Baker, who is fed up with the train companies’ sleight of hand told the Daily Mail afterwards: ‘It is totally dishonest to say trains are punctual when for short distance and journeys they can arrive within 4 minutes and 59 seconds and for long-distance they can be within 9 minutes and 59 seconds and still count as being officially on time. Taxpayers and passengers deserve better than this.

‘That is why we are putting pressure on the rail industry to publish proper real-time performance  figures.'

Taking his cue from two popular BBC Radio4  comedy series, Mr Baker said: ‘Punctuality should be measured by ‘Just a Minute’, not ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a Clue.’


With this from his own department:

"PPM is and will remain the government’s and industry’s key measure of rail punctuality and reliability"
 

So who is the dishonest one, eh Norm?

Pointless signs - Warwick Parkway


Pointless signs - King's Cross/St Pancras


Pointless signs - Rugby



Pointless signs - Finsbury Park

This from Lost in Space...



Classy!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A date for your diary...


Hope to see you there.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Now that's what I call a Santa Special!

This from Deutsche Bahn, with a bowler tip to @JohnMurray1960...


Ho ho ho!

Bid teams beefed up for franchising restart

This from Arriva's HR director...

Senior management changes within Arriva Trains Wales

We are pleased to announce that Arriva Trains Wales’ Managing Director Tim Bell has been appointed to a new role within the Trains Division of ‘Managing Director Franchise Bidding’.
Tim will assume this position from Monday 10 December 2012 and will be based in London.


The Bid Team face a challenging and exciting period over the next 12 months and Tim will give added focus to Arriva’s ambitious programme for growth.


This is initially a 12 month secondment for Tim from his role at Arriva Trains Wales.


In the immediate interim, Ian Bullock, Arriva Trains Wales’ Customer Services Director, will replace Tim as Managing Director while the secondment opportunity at Arriva Trains Wales is advertised within the Group.


I am sure you will offer your full support to Tim and Ian going forward.


- ENDS -

The case of the missing numbers

Telegrammed from 221b Baker Street
I say, Holmes,  this report by Mr Samuel Baker on the strange case of the Intercity West Coast franchise is a deuced three pipe read if ever I saw one.

Indeed so, Watson, but since I observe that you have reached page 29 I am sure you will have noted the significance of the different Subordinated Loan Facilities required of messrs Virgin and First Group.

But Holmes, all the figures for First Group have been redacted!

That, my dear old friend Watson, is the significance.
 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Not much blogging today...

Today I will mostly be burying my father, Passenger Transport of 30th November refers...


The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 14th December.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

DfT publishes Laidlaw Inquiry report

This from the DfT (includes links to the actual report)...

West Coast Main Line: Final report of the Laidlaw Inquiry

06 December 2012 11:40
 

The independent inquiry into the cancelled West Coast Main Line franchise competition has concluded that the project failed because of an accumulation of significant errors related to inadequate planning and preparation, complex organisational structure, and a weak governance framework.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin asked Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica and a non-executive DfT board member, to conduct an urgent investigation following the discovery of unacceptable flaws in the procurement process that led to the competition being cancelled on October 3.

His final report, published today by the Department for Transport, finds that:

  • The DfT used flawed and inconsistent methodology when guiding bidders on the amount of risk capital (known as the Subordinated Loan Facility) they would need to offer to guarantee their franchise against default (Inquiry report paragraph 4.31, p22);
  • The Subordinated Loan Facility figures resulting from the flawed methodology were then varied in a way that contravened franchise competition rules (3.4, p11);
  • Ministers made the original August 14 provisional contract award without being told about the critical flaws (2.12, p8) and having been given “inaccurate reports” (3.8, p12).
  • But the Laidlaw Inquiry also concluded that:
  • The report’s recommendations to strengthen accountability and governance structures “if acted upon quickly and effectively, will help to restore confidence in the DfT’s ability to conduct effective rail franchising and procurement” (paragraph 8.6, p79);
  • While there were inconsistencies in the way First Group and Virgin Trains Ltd were treated during the franchise process, the report finds that there is no evidence of a culture of bias against Virgin at the DfT (paragraph 2.6, p7);
  • There is nothing in the report to suggest that the flaws discovered in this franchise competition exist in any other DfT procurements (paragraph 8.3, p79).
  • The DfT is today publishing its formal response to the report which commits the Department to implementing swiftly a series of actions that will enable it to resume the franchising programme, with the confidence of the rail industry, as soon as possible.
These include:
  • Ensuring future franchise competitions are delivered at a good pace based on sound planning, a clear timeline, rigorous management, and the right quality assurance;
  • Creating a simpler and clearer structure and governance process for rail franchise competitions, including the appointment of a single director general with responsibility for all rail policy and franchising;
  • Ensuring we have the right mix of professional skills, in-house, and where necessary from professional external advisers.
Sam Laidlaw said:

“Building upon and confirming the conclusions from my initial findings, the final report provides an in-depth analysis of the events that led to the flaws whereby the InterCity West Coast competition was cancelled. Alongside this I have also made a series of recommendations for the future.

“I have explained in detail the technical nature of certain errors, specifically around modelling flaws and the Subordinated Loan Facility sizing process. In addition, the report outlines an accumulation of contributory causes including a lack of transparency, inadequate planning and preparation, as well as a complex and confusing organisational structure with weak quality assurance and insufficient governance oversight.

“While it is clear that a number of serious and regrettable errors have occurred, I believe that if acted upon quickly and effectively, my recommendations will help to restore confidence in the DfT’s ability to conduct effective rail franchising and procurement.”

Patrick McLoughlin said:

"The final report from the Laidlaw Inquiry makes extremely uncomfortable reading for the Department. It has identified precisely what went wrong, revealing serious failures, as well as offering us a number of sensible recommendations to put things right.

“We will not allow these mistakes to be made again and the Department is determined to ensure all future franchise competitions are conducted on the basis of sound planning, the rigorous identification and oversight of risk, and the right quality assurance.”

He added:

“Sam Laidlaw has delivered an uncompromising report that offers us a way to face up to a number of shortcomings and I would like to thank him and his team for producing these findings with such diligence and speed.”

DfT Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam said:

“There is no question that this has been a serious blow for the Department and I am determined that we learn everything we can from this episode.

“We will implement all of Mr Laidlaw’s recommendations, and go further, to ensure we have the right set of skills, support and training to ensure failures like this do not happen again.”
 

Notes to Editors

1. The Laidlaw Inquiry final report to the Transport Secretary is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-of-the-laidlaw-inquiry

2. The Department’s response to the Laidlaw Inquiry’s final report, setting out the actions being taken immediately to resolve the report recommendations, is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/response-to-the-report-of-the-laidlaw-inquiry

3. The Transport Secretary’s oral statement to the House of Commons is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/laidlaw-inquiry-final-report

4. The Laidlaw Inquiry’s final report is only part of the work the Department is doing to review its rail franchising policy. It will also take into account the forthcoming NAO report into the lessons from the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast franchise and the conclusions of Richard Brown’s review of the future of the rail franchising programme, due to be submitted to the Secretary of State by the end of December.



- ENDS -

Virgin gets 23 month extension on ICWC franchise

So Virgin gets a 23 month extension to the InterCity West Coast franchise.

  • Revenue and cost remains with DfT (so risk transfer went well then).
  •  Virgin to get a guaranteed 1% of revenues under 'management contract'
  • The mad midi franchise of two years that was to follow this extension will now not take place.

Here the DfT press release...

Virgin Trains to run improved West Coast services

Rail passengers will experience better services including 28,000 more seats a day under an agreement announced today for Virgin Trains to continue operating rail services on the West Coast Main Line.


The new franchise agreement will run for up to 23 months after which the West Coast Main Line will be let under a long-term franchise.

It coincides with the early completion of a Government-backed deal to roll out 106 new Pendolino carriages, providing passengers with four new 11-carriage trains and lengthening 31 existing trains from nine carriages to 11. A new hourly service between London and Glasgow will also be introduced.

Patrick McLoughlin said:

“We are determined to ensure not only that passengers continue to experience the same levels of service they have in the past, but that services improve. There will be a new hourly service linking Glasgow and London and we will also work with Virgin Trains to explore other service improvements.

“I am also extremely pleased that passengers will benefit from up to 28,000 more seats daily thanks to the delivery of 106 new Pendolino carriages onto the West Coast Main Line which has happened on budget and ahead of schedule.”

Passengers travelling on Virgin Trains will also find it easier to claim compensation if their train is severely delayed thanks to plans for Virgin Trains to introduce an improved Passenger’s Charter incorporating a Delay Repay scheme from 1 April 2013, subject to agreement.


Notes to Editors


1. The 23 month franchise will run from 9 December 2012 until 9 November 2014 after which the West Coast Main Line will be let under a long-term franchise. The Department for Transport (DfT) will be able to shorten this period by up to six months if a subsequent franchise can be let on a shorter timescale.

2. The franchise will operate as a management contract with both revenue and cost risk being borne by the DfT. In return Virgin Rail Group (VRG) will receive a margin of 1% on revenue for operating services. The franchise also makes a provision for the DfT and VRG to agree revised commercial terms that would see VRG take greater revenue and cost risk in the period to 9 November 2014.

3. The 106 Pendolino carriages project has been delivered on budget and ahead of schedule and has resulted from a successful collaboration between the Department for Transport, Virgin Trains, Alstom, Angel Trains and Network Rail.



- ENDS -

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

West Coast franchise agreement reached?

Sources suggesting that Virgin and DfT have reached agreement on the ICWC franchise.

Believed to be an extension for 13 months.

No information on contractual details.

Expect an announcement shortly...

UPDATE: This from @Captain_Deltic, via twitter...

Taking a punt, look for Virgin to get a 2 year extension with DfT's bonkers idea of bidding for an interim 2 year ICWC franchise binned.

Interesting! Anymore for anymore?

DfT appoints David Prout to be DG HS2

This from the DfT...

Full speed ahead as Government appoints new Director General to oversee HS2

The Government’s commitment to delivering a new national high speed rail network has been underlined by the appointment of a new Director General to oversee the crucial project.


David Prout, currently a Director General at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), will join the Department for Transport (DfT) in the New Year in a newly-created post taking charge of the delivery of HS2.

HS2 is a national high speed rail network linking London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, the East Midlands, with each other and cities beyond it, to drive regional growth, improve connectivity and create extra space and capacity on our railways and roads.

In his current role, David Prout has been at DCLG since 2009, with responsibility for localism, and additional responsibility as deputy for Sir Bob Kerslake given the latter’s role as Head of the Civil Service.

Philip Rutnam, DfT Permanent Secretary, said:

“HS2 is a hugely important programme for the future of the UK. I am very pleased that David Prout will be taking charge at such an exciting time. He will be leading a team which is already hard at work delivering this project, as well as liaising closely with HS2 Ltd, as we work together to introduce the legislation into Parliament on time next year that will make HS2 a reality.”

David Prout said:

“Making HS2 a reality is absolutely crucial to our country’s future prosperity and I am very pleased to have been asked to take leadership of this much-needed programme at this time. I look forward to helping to take the project through Parliament and continuing to demonstrate the very real need for more capacity for people and freight on our railways, which will help make Britain a more prosperous and less congested country.”
 

Notes to Editors

1. Prior to his current role at DCLG, David was Executive Director for Planning and Borough Development at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Before that he was Director of Local Government Policy in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

2. David has held a range of high profile civil service positions including Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister in the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Cabinet Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

3. From 1995 to 1998 David was environment attaché at the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels. Prior to that he held a variety of posts in the Department of the Environment. He also worked in the planning department of Westminster City Council from 1990 to 1993 and for the Victorian Society from 1991 to 1993.


-ENDS-

Attlee calls for metal thieves to be shot!

This from the Mother of Parliaments...

Lord West of Spithead (Labour)
My Lords, does the Minister agree that although metal theft is a heinous crime and has caused damage to war memorials and danger to hospitals and railway lines, shooting those involved might be a little over the top?

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
My Lords, in the case of a war memorial, I am sure that the noble Lord and I would have some doubt over whether that would be over the top. Police officers have a range of options. It is important to note that British Transport Police armed officers have not only a firearm but a Taser and other weapons, such as pepper sprays, so they do not need to resort to the firearm immediately.


Errr... up to a point Lord Copper!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Laidlaw evidence delayed - no sh1t, Sherlock!

This from the Transport Select Committee...

RESCHEDULED ORAL EVIDENCE – RAIL 2020: WEST COAST MAINLINE FRANCHISE

The oral evidence session with Transport Committee scheduled for Tues 04 December with Sam Laidlaw and Ed Smith has been cancelled.

Commenting on this decision, Louise Ellman, Transport Committee Chair said, 


“I am very disappointed that the Government has delayed publication of Sam Laidlaw’s final report into the collapse of the West Coast Main Line franchise competition. It was expected that the report would be released last week and, as a result, we arranged to hear oral evidence from Mr Laidlaw and his colleague Ed Smith on 4 December.

“Not only has the report not appeared, but the DfT has not had the courtesy to contact us directly about the delay nor explain when this document will be made public. It is regrettable that the DfT should have added to the confusion caused by the abandonment of the West Coast Main Line competition with this episode.

“We have reluctantly decided to postpone the evidence session on the Laidlaw report until Tuesday 18 December at 10am, by which time the Laidlaw report should be in the public domain.”


Tuesday 18 December 2012

Witnesses:
10.00 am

Department for Transport

•         Sam Laidlaw, Non-Executive Director

•         Ed Smith, Non-Executive Director


The DfT delaying something and failing to communicate - now who would have guessed it?


Pointless signs - Crewe


Pointless signs - SWT Class 450

This from the Grin Reaper...


Nice!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Wyvern Rail in one and a quarter minutes

A bit of Friday night easy viewing via Raildate:




Lovely
.

McLoughlin signals end to micro-management!

Yesterday the Secretary of State visited NR's Western Route to look at flood damage. 

Here Patrick is being interviewed by the Beeb at the site of the Westerleigh landslip between Swindon and Bristol, where a falling away of part of the track’s foundations is resulting in service alterations and delay.

 
And here the Route Managing Director, Patrick Hallgate, describes mitigation measures and plans to restore full service, as well as pointing out that this site is one of dozens his team are currently dealing with across the Route.


Note that the SoS has resisted the urge to dress up as a member of railway staff!

An encouraging sign for the future?


Melbourne Metro: Dumb ways to die

This Australian safety video has gone viral...



Not sure why Boris Johnson features at the end though!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Macquarie enters Rosco market

This from Macquarie

Macquarie Acquires Rolling Stock Business From Lloyds, Launches New Rail Business

Macquarie Group has launched a new rail business, Macquarie European Rail, and agreed to acquire a European rolling stock leasing business from Lloyds Banking Group.

It has acquired from Lloyds a fleet of rolling stock leased to the franchisee of the Stansted Express airport rail service, and also a rail freight portfolio of locomotives and wagons under operating lease to two operators in the United Kingdom.

The deal also involves the acquisition of a continental European rail freight and passenger portfolio of locomotives, passenger trains and wagons on operating lease to operators in Europe.


For those interested in such things this involves CB Rail (the continental rolling stock lessor), the Stansted Express Electrostar (cl379) fleet and some UK freight assets (including some 66s, the Class 70s and wagons).

What is unclear at the moment is whether this deal includes the Cross Country and West Coast Voyager fleets?

Siemens buy Invensys

This from the Graun...

Engineering group Invensys shocked the City on Wednesday night when it sold its rail business to German rival Siemens for £1.74bn, in the latest foreign takeover of a British technology firm.


If you can't beat them, buy them!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dods tells it like it is!

This, surprisingly, from the 'Tash of Dickie Davis...

Trust you saw the influence of Freud in this recent email from Dods!

Highlighted for ease of reading…



'Laidlow' indeed!

RDG: They were only playing leapfrog!

Exciting news from the latest minutes of the Rail Delivery Group! 
 
‘The working group continues to discuss how to help inform DfT’s response to the consultation on the role of the ORR.’.

Hmmmm!

So an RDG Working Group (staffed from NR and TOCs) is telling DfT how to respond to a consultation (which was co-written by DfT and ORR, and has now closed) on what ORR might, or might not, do in the future.

Cosy.

Altogether now: "One staff officer jumped right over another staff officer's back. And another staff officer jumped right over that other staff officer's back..."

Grand Central abolishes Christmas!

Oh dear.

It looks like Grand Central is about to fail the Daily Mail test!

The Arriva owned company is offering a 'Festive Timetable' covering the period between 22nd December and 1st January.

But of 'Christmas' and the 'New Year' not a word.

No doubt this one will run and run!

Open Access? Bah humbug!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Armitt to National Express

This from Sky News...

The former head of Network Rail, Sir John Armitt, is to become the new chairman of National Express, the bus and rail operator.

The smooth and urbane Armitt should compliment the more forthright style of NatEx's Chief Exec.

Come to think of it perhaps National Express should consider a rebrand to something more up-market?

Armitt & Finch has a nice ring to it!

UPDATE: This from the Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

You may want to on-pass the following to National Express.

My spell checker always wanted to correct 'Armitt' to 'Armpit'.

Fortunately it never got into a press release...

Ticket simplification explained

This seen at St Pancras, with a bowler tip to @13milepost...


What could be simpler?

Will legal action delay Laidlaw report?

This from the Daily Telegraph...

Kate Mingay, one of the three civil servants suspended over the West Coast rail bid fiasco, has filed legal proceedings against the Department for Transport over the way she has been treated.


With the preliminary hearing due to take place in the High Court on Thursday Eye wonders if this will have an impact on the publication date of the Laidlaw Inquiry's findings, due out at the end of this month?
 

The involvement of m'learned friends may also mean that Sam Laidlaw's appearance at the Transport Select Committee next Tuesday will be rather less than illuminating.

Pointless signs - St Pancras

Good to see that nanny is alive and well at St Pancras...



Do we really need to treat passengers as if they are idiots?

Floodballs - Rail Freight to the rescue

This from the Oxford Mail's flooding update page...

Really?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Brown Review - update

Interesting.

Sources suggesting that Richard Brown was appointed directly by Patrick McLoughlin rather than being selected by Marsham Street mandarins.

Clearly, in Derbyshire at least, blood is thicker than water.

Indeed there is a growing view that Brown may even be prepared to rock the boat with his report.

We shall see.

Meanwhile those interested in making constructive contributions to the review may do so via: Brown.Review@dft.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively, you can post correspondence to:

The Brown Review
Hercules House
Hercules Road
Lambeth
London
SE1 7DU

Eye readers will be reassured to see that the SE1 address means contributions are unlikely to be opened by purveyors of the failed franchising orthodoxy.

UPDATE: This from The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water...

Mr Brown at Hercules House?

This used to be the home of the late lamented Central Office of Information – the body that once delivered government advice with less of nudge and more of a supportive hand on the shoulder, whilst the other was firmly clamped on the nads.

Meanwhile I greatly enjoyed Gwyn Topham's story in today’s Grauniad, which accurately reflects what the RDG 'privately told the man shaping the future of franchising'.


Does Eye have any idea qui bono?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Eye goes soft in Dead Tree Media - Shocker

A surprising encomium in the latest contribution to Passenger Transport published on the 16th November...


The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 30th November.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Directive 91/440/EEC - Just fancy that!

This from Reuters...

The European Union's Transport Commissioner wants rail companies to separate their passenger and freight train business from their railway network management activities by 2023 to make it easier for new entrants to compete, a German newspaper reported.

So obviously not a requirement in 1993, eh Mr Major?
 

First for the new Third Class

This from Rover...

Charging a first class fare for standing or squatting in the vestibule?


Every penny counts!

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus Virginicus...


Presumably where it is necessary to use an external door of a First Class vestibule when joining/alighting at stations with short platforms, a punishable offence has been committed?


Better extend the dwell times then!!


UPDATE: This from Strawbrick...

The no standing in a 1st vestibule with a 2nd Class ticket rule has been in force for at least 57 years. I was 10 years old when I was so told by a Ticket Inspector (sic) when he found me standing in the Corridor (sic again). 

Happily my Mother was able to show him both our first class tickets.

Also, I think you will get short shrift on a flight if you went and stood in Upper/Business/Executive/Club/etc... class with an Economy Ticket ...

I also think something similar applies aboard ships.

The problem is that passengers get upset when they see empty 1st Class seats when Standard Class is full and standing and the train crew do not see fit to exercise the option to declassify the 1st sections. 


They do not do this for a number of reasons:
  1. The possibility that passengers may ask for refunds of upgrades; and 
  2. That 1st Class passengers might complain vociferously
  3. Or more likely, that Control haven't autho!
And yes, I do travel 1st Class because... (err... so do many Eye readers! Ed) And yes, I do ask guards why they have not declassified. 

The answers include "I didn't know I could", I have been told not to" and (best of all) "I would have done, but i could not get through the train to check because it was too full"(!).

One final point, when I started commuting on 310's the 50% uplift in fare was matched by a 50% uplift in space (no knocking of knees) and much more comfortable seats. 


The uplift is still 50% (and some off-peak savings are not available) whilst the extra space has typically shrunk to something like 20% and on the Southern Trains to CLJ the seats appear to be exactly the same.

But of course I take your point on the unnecessary aggression in the notice.

There is no automatic "fine" as the notice would imply, as you have the option of moving or staying but paying for an upgrade.


Britain's Best Bridge Bashes - Bustitution

This from BB...

This is my particular favourite! 


Note the destination blind...

Pointless signs - Essex Road


Monday, 19 November 2012

The Case of the Silent Committee

Telegrammed by 221b Baker Street
Mornin' Holmes.

Good morning, Watson.  I observe you have been reading Mr Samuel Laidlaw's initial report into the strange case of the ICWC franchise competition cancellation

Indeed so, Holmes.  And given the limited time available it is an excellent piece of investigation.

You will, of course, have noted the significance of the section covering the deliberations of the Contract Award Committee?

But Holmes, dashed if I could see any reference to any deliberations by that Committee in the report.

That, Watson, is the significance.


Friday, 16 November 2012

DfT: An apology!

Over recent years Eye may have given readers the erroneous impression that officials hadn't a clue about rolling stock procurement.

Headlines such as 'Sell out to the Boche', 'IEP in your Dreams' and 'Lets make Pendolino Extensions Really Complicated'  may have led readers to believe that the Department wasn't fit for purpose, or indeed couldn't organise a soiree in a brewery.

In fact nothing could be further from the truth, as has been revealed by DfT's inspired decision to allow Southern to exercise an existing option for 40 new Electrostar carriages from Bombardier, and develop proposals with the Department for a new procurement competition for 116 electric (dual voltage) new rolling stock vehicles, with an option for a further 100.

Such a masterful and visionary approach is of course entirely unconnected with the potentially embarrassing scenario of diesel trains running under newly electrified lines in the North West.

Eye is sorry for any confusion that previous coverage may have caused and looks forward to welcoming the expected announcement that the £1.4bn Thameslink fleet order will now be transferred to Bombardier. (Is this right!?! Ed)

Pointless signs - Newport

This from Chef Ellwood...

This sign recently went up at the entrance to Newport station.



A classic statement of the bleedin' obvious, in any language.

What really adds insult to injury though is that fact that the internal signage is so appallingly bad that passengers unfamiliar with the station layout are frequently left wandering around in a confused state trying to find their way out of the infernal place.