This from the Transport & Salaried Staff Association...
It is with some disappointment that I must inform you that following a series of talks at various levels between our union and RMT it has become clear that the differences between us are such that the discussions to create a new union can't currently proceed any further.
Our Executive Committee (EC) recognises that over the last few years, our two organisations have developed a much closer working relationship that has greatly benefited many of you. Our union will continue building on this whilst also looking to pursue joint initiatives with similar sized unions that could develop into the creation of a federation and/or a new union.
Your EC will reflect on this position at their next meeting on the 26 April 2012 with a view to reporting developments to our Annual Delegates Conference in May. This will be supported by an emergency motion.
Conference will be asked to engage in a wide ranging strategic debate that will focus on our union's future, its finances and subscriptions, structures and campaigning and organising activities. This will be done with a view to securing our long-term ability to protect you from the unrelenting attack on jobs, terms and conditions.
We will of course keep you informed of developments.
Saturday, 31 March 2012
This from the Transport & Salaried Staff Association...
Friday, 30 March 2012
Thursday, 29 March 2012
Clearly the East Midlands has learnt the lessons of Derbygate.
Determined not to be caught out again by Ministerial double speak local MPs are turning up the heat to secure the upgrade of the Midland Main Line (MML).
Whilst all sorts of smooth and silken words have discreetly emerged from Marsham Street about the project being a 'dead cert' for CP5, apparently not everyone is convinced.
The Tory party's potential new Robert Adley (Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan) has secured a 16th April adjournment debate on Electrification of the Midland main line.
Good effort but no cigar!
As the below shows the real improvements to the MML comes from Upgrading the route, of which electrification is but a part (click on the image to view).
Eye readers hoping to benefit from this upgrade may wish to invite their own MPs to contribute to this debate?
Meanwhile, this salutary reminder from Simon Carr of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership:
"More money has been spent on improving car parks on the West Coast Main Line in the past five years than on the whole of the Midland Main Line."
This via The Man with the Clapperboard - Take 2!
Definitely one in the eye for McNulty!
What, about these buffer stops, isn't clear?
And how much is all this Elf 'n' Safety gold-plating costing?
UPDATE: This from Best Boy...
Whilst there is a bright red buffer end, a mains-fed red light on a stick, plus a battery tail lamp on each buffer end, and a swanky sign-on-a-stick as well... alas someone appears to have omitted the sand drag.
Still, at least they've got rid of the wall you'd demolish on your way to the GN Hotel.
This from the Daily Mail...
Now it's the wrong kind of sun! Train companies tell drivers to slow down because 'hot weather is heating up tracks'...
Network Rail has imposed a 20mph speed restrictions across a stretch of line in the West Country because of the effect the heatwave could have on the tracks.
The curb on speed - called heat speeds - has been imposed between Bathampton Junction and Sydney Garden near Bath...
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: 'We have over the weekend renewed that small section of track and therefore its heat tolerance level is lower than the norm."
Quite so. But on the plus side...
Whilst this tolerance level is relatively low, it compares favourably with the railway's towards the Mail.
This from Leo Pink...
'A total of 13 firms are in the running to become the next operators of the Great Western, Thameslink and Essex Thameside rail franchises' burbles Theresa announcing today's shortlisted bidders.
Well, yes, if you assume that, say, First Great Western Trains Limited, First Essex Thameside Limited and First Thameslink Limited are different companies - which Cruela probably does.
In reality, it is six of the usual subjects plus the Hong Kong MTR striking out on its own.
What is true, however, is that the owning groups will be spending £5 million a throw on their bids.
This from Black Mac...
Tornado this morning before departing KX at 07.56.
Two wreaths: top one for Malcolm Crawley; ex-Doncaster premium apprentice and vice president A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.
Bottom one on the buffer beam - where he often had his picture taken with Flying Scotsman for Alan Pegler.
Two fine railwaymen. May they rest in peace.
This from the Department for Transport...
Bidders for Great Western franchise:
- First Great Western Trains Limited (FirstGroup plc)
- GW Trains Limited (Arriva UK Trains Limited – DB (UK) Investments Limited)
- NXGW Trains Limited (National Express Group PLC)
- Stagecoach Great Western Trains Limited (Stagecoach Group plc)
These potential providers will receive the Invitation to Tender which is anticipated will be issued in May 2012. It is anticipated that the successful bidder will be announced in December 2012, with the contract commencing in April 2013. The length of the franchise term will be 15 years.
- Abellio Essex Thameside Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
- First Essex Thameside Limited (FirstGroup plc)
- MTR Corporation (Essex Thameside) Limited (MTR Corporation Limited)
- NXET Trains Limited (National Express Group PLC)
These potential providers will receive the Invitation to Tender which is anticipated will be issued in June 2012. It is anticipated the successful bidder will be announced in January 2013, with the contract commencing in May 2013. The length of the franchise term will be 15 years.
- Abellio Thameslink Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen)
- First Thameslink Limited (FirstGroup plc)
- Govia Thameslink Railway Limited (Go-Ahead Group plc and Keolis SA)
- MTR Corporation (Thameslink) Limited (MTR Corporation Limited)
- Stagecoach Thameslink Trains Limited (Stagecoach Group plc)
These potential providers will receive the Invitation to Tender which is anticipated will be issued in October 2012. It is anticipated that the successful bidder will be announced in May 2013, with the contract commencing in September 2013. The length of the franchise will be a minimum of 7 years, with pricing also required for a potential extension of up to 2 years at the discretion of the Secretary of State
More details here.
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
This from Network Rail...
Network Rail today confirmed the appointment of its chairman-designate, Professor Richard Parry-Jones CBE.
The confirmation of his appointment follows a meeting with Network Rail's members.
Professor Parry-Jones will start with the company on 28 March 2012 as a non-executive director, taking up his position as chairman if his appointment is ratified by members at the company’s AGM in July when Rick Haythornthwaite steps down.
Looks like Network Rail will be off iDave's Christmas Card list.
The Prime Minister, keen to get back on the front foot over Gideon's disastrous Pie-Tax, offered the Beeb the following wibble:
The PM continued: "I am a pasty eater myself, I go to Cornwall on holiday, I love a hot pasty.
"I think the last one I bought was from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. I seem to remember I was in Leeds station at the time and the choice was whether to have one of their small ones or large ones, and I have a feeling I opted for the large one and very good it was too."
@NetworkRailPR was obliged to point out:
For the record: West Cornwall Pasty Co vacated Leeds Stn 31/3/2007. However, Cornish Bakehouse was open there until last week (23/3/2012)
Either way, both retail outlets have now closed.
Back to the VAT free Caviar, eh Dave?
This from the Sleeper...
Indeed some vehicles now have rusty holes adorning their body sides.
Happily necessity is the mother of invention, leading to this wonderful solution.
This illuminating contribution from Rock Sniffer...
Pampas grass on the Up platform at Ryde Pier, Isle of Wight.
I'm informed by a learned source that in the 1970's a crop of this in the front garden signified the owners of the property were into 'swinging'.
This frowned upon practice apparently having something to do with fastening a vehicle to the end of a train without the benefit of continuous brake.
This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...
From the Command Paper
Executive remuneration has been the focus of public debate.
As a private sector company, Network Rail sets performance pay levels for its senior staff. In response to questions from the wider public about bonus awards that have been perceived as excessive in relation to Network Rail performance levels, Network Rail has worked with the ORR under the terms of its licence to adapt its remuneration approach.
The ORR has made clear throughout this review that its objective is to ensure that Network Rail’s executive bonus payouts are simple, transparent and clearly aligned with performance, meeting long-term taxpayer objectives by rewarding only sustained out performance of long-term financial targets, notably efficiency, while also reinforcing the need to hit overall non-financial regulatory targets, including safety and reliability.
So why was Ms Greening prepared to vote down the Annual Incentive Plan which Network Rail and ORR had worked together to adapt and ORR had cleared?
I ask only out of curiosity.
This from Ithuriel...
From the Command Paper:
Government believes that these principles can best be delivered within the current Company Limited by Guarantee structure. We therefore welcome the governance proposals that Network Rail is announcing, including:
- reducing the number of members to a more sensible level, thereby improving the quality of decision-making. This could include removing industry members, who are prevented by conflict of interest from playing a substantial role;
This from the Public Accounts Committee...
NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE: The completion and sale of High Speed 1
A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
I am yet to be convinced that HS1 will prove to be value for money. Yet again we hear that value for money will depend on uncertain benefits which have not been quantified. We will want the department to do all it can to realise the benefits and turn this sorry story round.
Compared to the staggering mismanagement of the West Coast Mainline upgrade, the department did relatively well with the construction of HS1. But that is damning with very faint praise indeed. It’s a sad state of affairs when it comes as no surprise that HS1 was based on dodgy assumptions and bad planning.
Don't be so coy Margaret, tell us what you really think!
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Monday, 26 March 2012
This from the Metro...
Anthony Smith’s salary as chief executive of Passenger Focus has risen from £95,000 in 2008 to £122,000 last year.
Despite claiming to be independent, the bulk of Passenger Focus’s £6.4million budget last year came from Ms Greening’s department...
‘At no time during our sponsorship by DfT have they ever tried to control what we do or say,’ he told Metro.So that's all right then.
In other news the DfT denied micro-managing the railways.
UPDATE: This from a Mr Fieldmouse...
I remember a time when Passenger Focus’ predecessor was sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry to avoid precisely this apparent conflict of interest.
Compare and contrast.
This from the Daily Telegraph on the 28th February 2012:
Boris Johnson pledges to introduce driverless tube trains within two years
This from the BBC today:
Boris Johnson promises driverless Tube trains within 10 years
Better stick to the wiff-waff BoJo!
This from the Department for Transport...
Douglas Oakervee appointed as new chair of HS2 Ltd
Douglas Oakervee has been appointed as the new chair of HS2 Ltd, the independent company set up by the Government to deliver a high speed rail network between London and the North of England. He will commence working with the HS2 Ltd team in April.
Mr Oakervee has had a long and distinguished career, with significant experience of working on major infrastructure projects. Between 2005 and 2009 he was Executive Chairman of Crossrail Ltd during the project's Hybrid Bill phase. He has also been a Project Director at Chek Lap Kok International Airport in Hong Kong, with responsibility for planning, design procurement and construction.
As Chair of HS2 Ltd, Mr Oakervee's primary responsibilities will be:
- Formulating the Board's strategy;
- Ensuring that the Board, in reaching decisions across its full remit including the route design and environmental assessment, takes proper account of guidance provided by the Department for Transport or the Secretary of State;
- Encouraging high standards of regularity and propriety; and,
- Promoting HS2 to the general public.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: "HS2 is a railway which will transform the economic shape of the UK, so finding the right person for this role is vital. I am delighted that Doug has agreed to take on this important position, bringing with him decades of experience of working on major infrastructure projects. The next few years include a number of key challenges and milestones for this project and Doug's input will be invaluable as we move forward. I would also like to thank the current Chair, Brian Briscoe, for his invaluable work in leading HS2 Ltd this far."
Doug Oakervee said: "I am excited about my appointment and passionate about the development of UK’s high-speed rail network and HS2 is a great step forward. I believe that HS2 offers a unique chance to address the capacity issues facing the British transport network and to promote growth in our major cities. I will use my experience of the Hybrid Bill process at Crossrail to ensure that HS2 Ltd is best able to efficiently navigate this stage of the project."
This from Pedantic of Purley...
This sign is approximately 60 yards (less than a train length) from the buffer stop at the London Overground bay platform at New Cross.
You cannot see it if the train is leaving the platform because the train itself obscures the sign and on its inward journey the train is traveling at walking pace due to TPWS slow speed control when entering terminus platforms.
If it is logical to put this sign up then presumably logically this ought to apply to all terminus platforms and these signs should decorate the London termini stations?
Needless to say there is no such notice by the track at platform B which is a through line and does have trains passing either way at a much higher speed.
Friday, 23 March 2012
A nice touch from DB Schenker at Manchester Victoria this morning.
The railfreight and logistics company invited Her Majesty the Queen to name a locomotive Diamond Jubilee.
The loco will be used to haul the Royal Train to Jubilee events throughout the year.
Sadly no pic of Her Maj doing the deed, so instead here is the loco in all its glory with the Royal Train Team.
Thursday, 22 March 2012
This from the Catholic Herald...
Commuters forced to ponder the inscrutable workings of London Underground’s Circle Line were this week offered a new diversion. An anonymous artist has designed a pamphlet depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross and has arranged them so they sit alongside stations of the Tube line.
The artist created the beautiful paper-cut illustrations having "found idle train trips an amazingly fruitful time for prayer & contemplation".
The non-profit project, dedicated to JM, can be viewed on-line at the Stations of the King’s Cross website.
This from Arthur Leathley in Marketing Week...
A crisis affects the whole business, he says, not just those people directly dealing with it. Leathley says that staff were asking what the crash meant for the business or if it would affect their jobs if the company lost income. He explains: “It’s very easy to thank the 50-odd people on site helping out, but there were people from revenues and finance who came in to help out the communications team.”
A good piece that every railway PR should read, just in case they ever have to face that God-Forbid-Moment.
This from Electra - and the 7 x 77's...
I was amused to see yesterday's Pointless Sign which came all the way from Upside Downland.
However, Eye readers will be pleased to see that our own railway can still give the Dominions a run for their money!
I have yet to snap the equally superfluous STOP boards planted in the 4-foot at Platforms 9-11 about 2 yards away from the rather obvious buffer ends and red lights.
UPDATE: This from @raretrack, via Twitter...
Wemyss sign NOT pointless - you can see how the wires angle away from the track just after the sign!
Big dewirement risk!
UPDATE: This from Chionanthus VIrginicus...
Is the "No Sand" sign to tell passengers when the tide is in?
This from Bloomburg...
Arcapita, formerly known as First Islamic Investment Bank, filed for Chapter 11 March 19 along with five affiliates, listing assets of $3.06 billion and liabilities of $2.55 billion. Arcapita Investment Holdings Ltd., already in U.S. bankruptcy, has also filed a bankruptcy in the Cayman Islands in aid of the Chapter 11 proceeding.
Arcapita acquired Freightliner in 2008.
Freightliner's website was unavailable for comment, or indeed anything...
UPDATE: Happy Friday! Freightliner now back on-line...
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
This from the Chancellor's Budget statement today...
I confirm today that Network Rail will extend the Northern Hub, adding to the electrification of the transpennine rail route, by upgrading the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield – and improving the Manchester to Preston and Blackpool, and Manchester to Bradford lines.
NR's Northern Hub twitter account, @NetworkRailNH, said:
#NorthernHub has been given £130m in today's Budget for three parts of the project - improving journey times and increasing capacity
And confirmed that the Hope Valley line will be:
Upgraded - extra track and platform at Dore, loop at Dore/Grindleford, capacity at Chinley, also line speeds.
Despite the Chancellor's ambiguous words no mention of electrification.
And, alas, no announcement of wires for the Midland Main Line either.
UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...
So, @NetworkRailNH, said: #NorthernHub has been given £130m in today's Budget for three parts of the project - improving journey times and increasing capacity
Good grief, if Network Rail doesn't understand how the privatised railway works we really are in trouble.
The Government doesn't 'give' money for NR investment. It authorises NR to borrow the money to pay for the upgrade the value of which is then added to the Regulatory Asset Base where it then earns a return which is added to NR's agreed income determined by the Regulator much of which comes from the Direct Grant paid to NR by DfT.
In other words the Budget committed to paying the interest on the borrowing to fund the extra Northern Hub work on the 'never-never'.
(Shakes head in disbelief and goes back to writing about the last days of Railtrack where there was similar naivete).
UPDATE: This from NR's Internet Rapid(ish) Rebuttal Unit...
Of course we understand how RAB funding of projects works at Network Rail.
What we wanted to do yesterday is amplify the great news about the Northern Hub via Twitter.
Here's a challenge for you (and indeed other Railway Eye readers):
Using 140 characters or fewer, explain RAB funded-projects and permitted rate of return funded by network grant as agreed by the regulator.
This from Sue La Manche
The first TGV to visit St Pancras carried not passengers but parcels, as a demonstration of the potential for high speed freight on high speed rail.
Next stop, Birmingham in errr... 2026?!?
So much for just in time delivery.
UPDATE: This from a Mr Rabid Burns...
I note with some surprise that the usual tests for electromagnetic interference, turning cows inside out, boiling brains and scaring pigeons have not taken place.
In fact, bold as brass, it flew through Kent in broad daylight.
Does this mean that we will now be inundated with TGV's, Thalys and the like, just so that the DfT can prove how the virtual IEP is a better train? (Shurely shome mishtake! Ed).
I think we should be told.
UPDATE: This from Dreadnought...
The reason that the usual tests for "electromagnetic interference, turning cows inside out, boiling brains and scaring pigeons" did not take place is that the unit was hauled up HS1 at a "steady" pace (somewhat lower than line speed) by 2 of Eurotunnel's diesels.
A nifty bit of shunting at SPI in the small hours saw the diesels retreat, leaving the TGV on its own in the platform.
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Monday, 19 March 2012
Eye is indebted to Mr Rand for this photo and also salutes Network Rail!
This sign points unequivocally to the entrance of a station that was built on the site of a cross, which was erected to the memory of King George IV.
So no more of your 'Kings Cross' nonsense if you please!
This telling tale from the Newcastle Journal...
But speaking to, the Transport Secretary said the North was getting a fairer deal on cash for transport schemes - so much so that South East MPs had complained.
"I think it probably shows we are really starting to get that balance of investment. What's most important to me is to understand local priorities," she said.
Meanwhile Met-Cam and his NSE MPs still can't understand why they fail to capture seats in Northern metropoleis.
This via the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway website...
Alan Francis Pegler OBE
It is with great sadness that we report that Alan Francis Pegler passed away on Sunday 18th March 2012 after a short illness. He was 91.
As well as being the President of both the Ffestiniog Railway Society and the Ffestiniog Railway Company, Alan was also responsible for preserving Flying Scotsman after she was withdrawn from service by British Railways.
Rest in Peace.
This from the Mad Hatter...
The picture below came with a press release from South West Trains announcing the new look Basingstoke station.
Surely an early winner of this year's Railway Garden Competition?
UPDATE: This from The Man By The Photocopier...
After some years of press pics taken at silly angles, is the new craze going to be vegetation in every shot?
Friday, 16 March 2012
YOU could own a part of 2012!
Eye Enterprises is offering a unique opportunity to acquire a 1.76th representation of national icon Flying Scotsman carrying the Olympic Torch!
THIS is your opportunity to relive the role played by Flying Scotsman in Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, the Para-Olympics and Railfest!
PRICED at just £2.6m and lovingly reconstructed from the finest military-hubris, etc... etc... etc... (details here from Railway Herald and Railway Magazine).
Eye would just like to point out that the A3s were introduced into traffic in 1927.
Her Majesty was born in 1926.
Eye wonders which is more reliable and provides best value for money?
God save the Queen!
That is all.
This from our Racing Correspondent...
With the Invitation to Negotiate for the Crossrail fleet issued, bookmakers Paddy Hill have published the odds for the runners in the Crossrail Rolling Stock Stakes which come under starter's order on 29 August.
Kaiser Bill's Batman 5/2 (Fav)
Canuck's Folly 4/1
Tora Tora Tora 5/1
Medina Sidonia's Revenge 10/1
Cuisse de Grenouille - scratched
Thursday, 15 March 2012
Network Rail was today fined £1m after the company pleaded guilty to Health and Safety breaches at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Network Rail issued the following statement...
NETWORK RAIL STATEMENT FOLLOWING ELSENHAM HEARING
Following today's hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court, David Higgins, chief executive, Network Rail, said:
“On behalf of Network Rail I apologise for the mistakes made by us in this tragic case that contributed to the deaths of Olivia and Charlotte.
“Nothing we can say or do will lessen the pain felt by Olivia and Charlotte’s families but I have promised the families that we will make level crossings safer, and we will deliver on that promise.
“Fundamental changes to the way we manage and look after the country’s 6,500 level crossings have, and are being made. In recent years we have reassessed all of our crossings and closed over 500. There is still much to do and we are committed to doing what is necessary to improve our level crossings.”
This from Ithuriel...
From a written answer by Theresa Villiers on 6 March.
DfT asked the rail industry to look into the possibility of improving the existing fleet of diesel Cross Country Voyager trains by adding an additional carriage with a pantograph and upgrading the rest of the train.
DfT asked the industry?!?
Do they take us for fools?
Bombardier and HSBC Rail were pushing Project Thor for months, with zero interest, or rather, active opposition, from DfT which saw it as a threat to IEP.
Now they claim it is their own idea!
No doubt the next claim will be that Marsham Street had to lean on Alstom, Angel, East Coast and Virgin to run Tuesday's Pendolino trial.
A brief reflection on the truly magnificent new western ticket hall at King's Cross.
At Broad Street we lost a station to development.
At Liverpool Street we gained retail and office space with platforms.
At King's Cross we actually get a station first and foremost, offering some retail opportunities.
Meanwhile, this picture from last night's gala opening.
Eye is tempted to caption it 'Partnership'...
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
This from Gricerbritannia...
Two new “Help points” were installed at Diss station during the dying days of NXEA.
At the same time the PIS-poor TV style departure screen was switched off.
So, what do we have now?
The “Help point” on the Norwich bound platform has been taped over with brown sticky tape as “Out of use” while the one on the London bound platform is as shown here.
Not only does it have water ingress but careful examination will show that there is no information shown in any case (except computer-speak nonsense).
So, with the TV screen turned off and the new Help Point showing not much but water droplets Diss passengers have gone from PIS-poor information to no information.