A bit of Friday night easy viewing via Raildate:
Friday, 30 November 2012
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?
Thursday, 29 November 2012
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?
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
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.’.
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
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...
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.
Monday, 26 November 2012
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
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
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
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?
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:
- The possibility that passengers may ask for refunds of upgrades; and
- That 1st Class passengers might complain vociferously
- Or more likely, that Control haven't autho!
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.
Monday, 19 November 2012
Telegrammed by 221b Baker Street
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
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)
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.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
This from Henry Trumpet...
A big welcome to Whitehall's brand spanking new interwebby - just gone live today!
A single Whitehall website in which the DfT is the first enlightened member to join, along with Pickles' DCLG (only 22 more Departments to follow!).
Click on the link and then click to go to the new “gov/dft” site to find a beggar's muddle of DfT-DCLG info (Eye thought DafT was cosying up to BIS? Ed).
And what is the headline story on this exciting new window into the non micro-managing department?
Additional 'Santa Specials' from that nice man Stormin' Norman!
Make it up you could not.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
The Fact Compiler is now writing a regular comment piece for Passenger Transport.
Here the article that appeared in the 31st October issue calling for a more representative RDG.
You can subscribe to Passenger Transport here...
Time for an exciting new Eye feature - Britain's Best Bridge Bashes!
These pictures taken today at Ely...
Should have stuck to shooting badgers... (Shome mishtake, shurley! Ed)
This from the Office of Rail Regulation...
ORR appoints Alan Price as Director of Railway Performance
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) today announced that Alan Price has been appointed as its Director of Railway Performance.
Alan is currently Rail Division Infrastructure Director at FirstGroup. He will bring to ORR a wealth of railway engineering and operational experience both from his role at FirstGroup and from former appointments at London Underground, Metronet, and Bechtel. Additionally,
Alan has recently played a significant role supporting the work of the Rail Delivery Group.
With Price D'Off already ensconced in Kemble Street another Price joining the ORR risks causing confusion.
Therefore, as a service to the industry and for the sake of clarity, Eye welcomes 'Price Check' to the ORR.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
This from Alec Trick...
It's all getting very competitive in the Dead Tree Media world.
According to Stop and Examine in the latest issue of RAIL (p79 issue 709) Nigel Harris invented the idea of TRAXX UK in 2010!
Reading through back copies of Modern Railways I discover that one Ian Walmsley, of Porterbook fame, put the idea forward in November 2008 and according to Bombardier sources has been pursuing it tiresomely ever since. (shurely 'tirelessly ever since'? Ed)
Still, success has many fathers whilst failure has none.
Who for instance would be brave enough to claim paternity of the Incredibly Expensive Procurement?
UPDATE: This from a Mr Neil Bennett...
May I gently correct the claims of both gentlemen to the progeny of Traxx UK?
This project was initiated in 2007 by Allco Rail (now Beacon Rail) in conjunction with Bombardier locos (Italy).
So there you have it. Both Harris and Walmsley cuckolded - Official.
This gem spotted by the RMT...
House of Lords - Railways: Third Class Travel
Lord Myners: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether invitations to bid for new rail franchises permit the introduction of a third passenger class.[HL3021]
Earl Attlee: The current franchising system allows bidders to propose the introduction of a third passenger class as long as these proposals comply with the ticketing and settlement agreement and franchise agreement.
Third class travel was abolished on British Railways way, way back in June 1956, although some may not have noticed...
Update: This from Ian...
British Rail introduced third world travel in the 1980s when they introduced the Pacer.
Northern Rail continue to make sure that the standards are maintained!
Update: This from a Mr Sidney Feltcher...
What Attlee actually heralded was the return of a third class of travel, not third class travel.
The new class could for example be second class and it would be up to the operator to decide where the new class sat in relation to the existing ones.
This will open up an exciting range of... (cont' p94)
Update: This from a Mr Bond, Brook Bond...
As this question was asked in the Lords might I suggest the following designations, with MPs' expenses in mind?
In declining class order: Peers, Plebs and IPSA?
Monday, 12 November 2012
This is the same ORR who's summer consultation on freight suggested that an increase in charges leading to a 10% per annum reduction in traffic levels was perfectly acceptable.
Of course should Anna succeed in her audacious bid we may need to think up a new nickname for 'Right Price', her CEO.
RAIL UNION RMT today notified the Government that it will be petitioning the European Commisson over breaches of the Consolidated Directive on Public Procurement (2004) over the planned award of an extension to the current West Coast Main Line contract to Virgin Rail Group.
Solicitors for the union will be tabling the petition this week as the talks over the new contract, due to start on the 9th December, remain log-jammed.
Good to see the brothers ensuring that the only real beneficiaries of rail privatisation can continue to live in the style to which they have become accustomed.
This from Alstom (who actually bother to send press releases to Railway Eye, other PRs please note)...
Manchester Traincare Centre hosts second annual war memorial service
Staff and dignitaries at Longsight joined together to remember the dead of two world wars at a special ceremony at the traincare centre.
The memorial service, again led by the Rev Richard Cook of the National Rail Chaplaincy, remembered the 21 men of the Locomotive Department at Longsight who lost their lives during the Great War, as well as the 89 who served in the armed forces, together with those who served and died in the 1939-45 war.
Present on the day were 30 Alstom employees, including Customer Director Tim Bentley, who laid the wreath, and Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch, Manchester’s Lord Mayor, Elaine Boyes, and the Lady Mayoress, Linda Geoghegan.
The ceremony took place in the Memorial Room at Alstom’s Manchester Traincare centre, which was originally dedicated on 13 November 1921, in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the First World War. In 2011 Rev Cook led a service to re-dedicate the roll of honour.
Alstom refurbished the roll of honour in 2011 and in doing so created the Memorial Room for employees and visitors to remember the former railway workers from the site.
Here Tim Bentley, Alstom's Customer Director, honours Longsight's war dead.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn...
UPDATE: This from the Vice Marshall...
"I went over to the National Memorial Arboretum yesterday.
"Couldn't get in initially, until the official ceremonies had taken place, but having got in at about 14.00 we walked down to the Railway Industry Memorial — sadly to find no tributes had been left on it at all, save for a single poppy on a cross resting against one of the surrounding seats. You can see it bottom right of the attached picture.
"Shame — after all the fuss made about its unveiling back in May.
"Most of the other memorials in the Arboretum featured tributes — some wreathes, but mainly lots of poppies on crosses."
Oh dear, this is very disappointing!
Perhaps coordinating a suitable annual Armistice Day commemoration at the Railway Industry Memorial is something that the RDG can take on?
Virgin Trains has issued a timely press release about Christmas travel which includes the following wise advice:
Planning ahead is the best way to ensure you get back home to your nearest and dearest without a hitch this Christmas.
With less than a month to go before the present West Coast franchise runs out of steam and with still no confirmation of what will happen after 02.00 on 9 December let’s hope this release was sent as an advisory to DafT, where there is precious little indication of any kind of planning and absolutely none of actually getting things done.
Indeed, if the present impasse between Euston and Horseferry Road is not resolved pdq, the only way to get home for Christmas on West Coast will be a nice brisk walk.
This from @BrianBlessed...
I'll do the voiceover for @sw_trains if my fee is donated to Samaritans @My6Percent @joekolakowski #MINDTHEGAP
And with the generous offer to donate his fee to the Samaritans, that will do nicely!
Here a gratuitous video of Brian at his best.
The ball, as they say, now lies in SWT's court...
Friday, 9 November 2012
- The East Midlands Route will come under LNE with Martin Frobisher reporting direct to Phil Verster.
- Sussex, Kent and Anglia Routes will come together under a new South East Route led by Dave Ward. Fiona Taylor and Mark Ruddy (and a soon to be recruited RMD for Anglia) will now report to the RMD SE.
With all this consolidation going on Eye wonders what it means for Deep Alliances?
Perhaps Stagecoach can stay ahead of the game by winning the ICGW franchise... once the competition is restarted of course!
Some genuine good news for once!
This from the NR, ATOC and RfG...
Rail industry welcomes MP support for vital Scrap Metal Dealers Bill
Network Rail, ATOC and the Rail Freight group are among a group of companies and industries delighted by the successful third reading of MP Richard Ottaway’s Private Members Bill.
The new Scrap Metal Dealers Bill will now go to the House of Lords to help eradicate the effects of metal theft crimes on Britain’s railways.
The theft of metal is a growing problem in the UK affecting many industry sectors, not just the railway. The current cost to the UK economy is estimated at hundreds of millions of pounds a year and the crime is directly fuelled by the increase in the price of metals, particularly copper and lead.
MPs with concerns on the bill reached a compromise with its supporters to review the bill in three years time, with a sunset clause for five years. This gives time to evaluate the bill in action and revise it if necessary.
Neil Henry, head of operations and performance at Network Rail, said: “These crimes continue to cause significant disruption and cost to rail passengers and essential freight services. Today is a significant and important step towards removing the distress and inconvenience caused to millions of people by metal thieves."
“We are delighted that the bill has passed its third reading and would like to thank Richard Ottaway MP and all the supporters of the bill. We would also like to acknowledge and welcome the compromise reached with Philip Davies MP over his concerns. We believe we can demonstrate that the bill works in the coming years. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with British Transport Police and invest in methods to better protect the rail network."
Maggie Simpson, executive director at the Rail Freight Group, added: “Metal theft continues to be a problem for rail freight customers, and we are very pleased that these new powers will enable more to be done to reduce the disruption and cost to business from this crime.”
Eye applauds all those who helped to move the bill to the next stage and thanks Philip Davies MP for his pragmatic approach to this proposed legislation.
Further to yesterday's post about the risk to Richard Ottoway's Metal Theft bill...
Here is the MP's apparently standard reply on the subject:
Thank you for your email.
This Bill is badly worded, vague and not fit for purpose and it does the House of Commons no credit simply to pass bad legislation on the nod with no scrutiny.
I have tabled an amendment which would allow the Bill to progress tomorrow and it would expire in a year to give the Government time to bring forward a more considered Bill with proper scrutiny. If the Bill does not progress tomorrow it will be due to Government intransigence and nothing to do with me.
Philip Davies MP
Of course if the railway were a real commercial enterprise we could decline to serve Mr Davies for being quite so unhelpful.
Just for a year you understand, to allow him to bring forward a more considered response...
Thursday, 8 November 2012
Good news from today's RDG Second Industry Forum!
According to the man himself, the Richard Brown Review aims to deliver a "minimum fix" to ensure that the three, currently stalled, franchises can be got out the door as quickly as possible, with a vague promise of further reforms down the line...
So those hoping that the Brown Review might actually explore a range of options to ensure that the provision of passenger services deliver actual Value for Money, to both tax and fare payer, are doomed to disappointment.
In happier news Richard confirmed today that he had already asked the views of half the people he wanted to consult as part of his Review.
Judging from the blank looks amongst the great and good assembled today at the appropriately named Pullman Hotel on the Euston Road this must be a very select group indeed!
No doubt as part of its commitment to transparency the DfT will be publishing these exalted names ere long?
This from the Local Government Association...
On the eve of Remembrance Sunday, local authorities are pressing for urgent action to be taken to tackle a crime which has seen memorials desecrated, caused transport chaos and costs the country hundreds of millions of pounds every year.
The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is warning that a long overdue overhaul of scrap metal legislation will fail to materialise if the report stage of Richard Ottaway MP's Private Members Bill ends in deadlock on Friday.
Cllr Mehboob Khan, Chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
"MPs owe it to their constituencies to do everything in their power to turn the tide on this mindless crime which is spiralling out of control.
"Scrap metal thefts have caused transport chaos, closed down churches and schools, and caused heartache for families who have seen memorials to loved ones plundered for scrap.
"To steal at all puts public safety at risk but to take cherished memorial plaques is a heartless and offensive crime
"The legislation for regulating the scrap metal industry has long ceased to be fit for purpose and we can't afford for Parliament to stall any longer on bringing it up to date.
"It will be a devastating blow to the millions of people who have been inconvenienced, injured or distressed by the metal theft epidemic if this opportunity to make a stand against metal thieves and rogue scrapyards is squandered."
According to the Daily Telegraph, Ottoway's bill is likely to be derailed by Christopher Chope, a former minister and Philip Davies MP for Shipley who have tabled more than 100 amendments.
In a tweet earlier today @PhilipDaviesMP said: I have met with people in the scrap metal business and am doing so again tomorrow. Feel free to email me with any points
Philip Davies email is: firstname.lastname@example.org and Christopher Chope MP can be contacted at email@example.com
As ever, Eye readers are encouraged to vote both early and often, but politely putting the case for the Ottoway bill!
UPDATE: For those interested...
The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill: Committee Stage Report can be found here
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
This from Aslef...
Scots derailment: Union calls for action
Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, today called for rail safety modules to be introduced into UK schools as it was confirmed that last Sunday’s train derailment in Inverkeilor was the result of vandalism. British Transport Police officers found an obstruction at the scene which they said today they believed to have been placed there deliberately.
‘An understanding of the dangers and potential tragedies on railway lines at a young age is vital,’ he says. ‘It needs to be embedded in our young people. We can’t simply say that whoever did this is a wicked person and leave it at that. It is not one person. It is not an isolated accident, and it would be wrong to treat it as such.’
Trespass on the track and hurling missiles at trains, causing the risk of murdering train drivers and passengers, is, he says ‘an endemic sickness in our society’. ‘Whoever did this must be tracked down and punished. But that is not enough. We need to educate to prevent as well. ’
This is one Aslef campaign that we can all get behind.
Good news indeed from ATOC...
Buy your rail ticket on the move with National Rail Enquiries
It is now even easier for passengers to buy train tickets on the move using their smartphone, thanks to National Rail Enquiries (NRE) updates and improvements to its mobile website and smartphone app.
Wherever they are and whenever they want, people using either the NRE mobile website or the NRE downloadable app can for the first time get the latest up-to-date train travel information and buy their rail tickets in one place.
So does this mean that passengers can now buy tickets whilst on the train without being treated like criminals? (No, of course not! Ed)
UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...
When I first saw this I got quite excited, thinking that the franchised TOCs had taken a leaf out of the Open Access Operators book and were now allowing passengers to buy tickets aboard trains, through their Smart Phones.
If you can't do this what is the point of announcing this 'improvement' to the app and claiming you can 'buy a ticket on the move'?