Friday, 21 July 2017

Beacon Rail buys Voyager fleets

This from Beacon Rail...

Beacon Rail Leasing, a leading Pan-European rolling stock lessor, is pleased to announce that it completed the acquisition of a fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager diesel-electric multiple units from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank plc and the Royal Bank of Scotland plc.

The units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country Franchises. The fleet is comprised of 352 vehicles in 78 sets of 4 and 5 vehicle formations. 58 sets are operated on the Cross Country franchise and 20 sets are operated by West Coast.

So many questions...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sofa broken and HLOS missing

Well, well, well!

An UnHLOS, no enhancements and no Statement of Funds Available!

  1. initial Statement of Funds Available (SoFA), which will be subject to finalisation by 13 October 2017, following the further work described below. 
Not only are there no enhancements but OMR is also looking highly dodgy:
  1. Operations, Maintenance and Renewal
  2. 6  The Secretary of State accepts the advice provided to him by the ORR on the need for increased volumes of renewals compared to CP5, to improve on the outcomes delivered in the context of rising demand and better meet user priorities. However, in the context of overall public spending he is concerned about the affordability of the initial cost estimates, which do not contain an allowance for efficiencies, particularly of operations and maintenance. He is therefore initiating work to provide further assurance on the costs of these activities to provide confidence in setting the level of public funding available to the railway in order to confirm a final SoFA. 
The Revised Guidance from the Secretary of State to the ORR published at the same time also makes interesting reading. A clear could do better!

A three pipe problem Watson!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

How we used to live...

This from the 14th March debate in the Lords on GWML Electrification...

Reproduced now, only because My Lord Bradshaw made such an elegant but pointed observation:

Lord Bradshaw (LD)
My Lords, the Great Western railway electrification scheme was designed in the Department for Transport; it was specified there and the trains were ordered there. However, the new trains and the new system will not provide a faster or better service than was the case 40 years ago, when I was general manager at Paddington. In future, will the Government look very carefully at whether there are better design and procurement methods to ensure that we get a scheme that delivers benefits to passengers and saves the taxpayer money?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I do not agree with the noble Lord’s premise. I believe that the new rolling stock that I referred to will bring passenger benefits. As I am sure he knows from his experience in and vast knowledge of the area, the IEP fleet, which is coming into service on the whole route, will run in both diesel and electric modes. That will provide flexibility in the delivery and appropriate scheduling of the electrification programme, which I accept is challenging.

'Challenging' is certainly one word for it. Others include... *REDACTED FOR REASONS OF TASTE*

NR adopts the Country Mile

This from a Mr Weights and Measures...

According to the Network Rail Rail press release on the annual report and accounts:

A record £3.9 billion was spent on enhancing Britain’s railway last year, 10 percent more than in any previous year, according to Network Rail’s annual report published today. 

Almost all significant project milestones were met, although two were not – Gospel Oak to Barking electrification, and one on the Edinburgh to Glasgow improvement project. The report also highlights that the company’s exceptional safety record has continued to improve in both workforce and passenger safety.

Those 'significant milestones' were of course removed and placed further along the road by the Hendy Review!

A masterclass in avoiding the question...

This from last Thursday's Electrification debate...

Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Lab)
What steps he is taking to electrify the rail network to Swansea and further west. [900455]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling)
I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election to this House. Electrification work is continuing on the Great Western main line, but the good news for her constituents and others in south Wales is that the new generation of electric trains will arrive in Cardiff and Swansea this autumn, providing more seats and better journey experiences. That is good news for rail users in south Wales and the west country.

Remind me, what exactly was the question?

ORR explains benefits of railway disaggregation...

This from William Huskisson...

From ORR's Annual Health & Safety Report of Performance on Britain's railways 2016-17:

National SPAD Strategy
Work continues on the development of a national SPAD strategy and it is now at ready to be presented to the Train Accident Risk Group (TARG) for their endorsement before it goes to System Safety Review Group (SSRG) and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) board. This is the first of three stages. Stage one is to deliver the strategy.

Oddly no mention of UTCAA*

Would it be unkind to suggest that this litany of abbreviations reflects the bureacratic structure of a fragmented railway?

*Uncle Tom Cobleigh And All

Blockheaded blockades - Huddersfield

This from Snapper...

There's never a good time to close a railway for engineering works, but one does wonder if someone looked at an events calender when planning the forthcoming Huddersfield blockade.

The total station closure occurs on the same weekend as the extremely popular food and drink festival, which is held in the Square outside the station. As you can see from last year's event this is very well attended.

Normally, thousands would leave their cars at home and travel by train so as to be able to enjoy refreshments at the many bars which are a popular feature of the event.

We can only hope the rail replacement coaches don't have their toilets locked OOU! 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Shaken and stirred: Paul Francis

This from the Rail Forum...

Announcement from Rail Forum chair, Paul Francis:

"Some of you may be aware that I have announced my forthcoming retirement as CEO of Porterbrook Leasing.

“This will not take place immediately and therefore it is my intention, subject to the agreement of the RFEM executive, to continue as Rail Forum Chairman until our 2018 AGM.

“These are exciting times for our industry and especially the rail supply chain in the East Midlands, I want to continue as your Chairman so that we can work with government and regional stakeholders to capitalise on the huge investment that is being poured into both Classic and High Speed Rail, as well as the opportunities created through Brexit...

“I have no immediate date for leaving Porterbrook as I will be working very closely with Porterbrook’s Chairman and shareholders in the coming months as we appoint a successor as CEO. I will of course provide a further update once the name of my successor at Porterbrook has been announced.”


What is that sound?

That is the sound of industry CVs being polished.

Right Time Departure Please!

This from Thebel Tolzforze...

A small reminder, for anyone who might be interested?

Under the terms of the Railways Act 2005: the DfT has until midnight Thursday to let the Office of Rail and Road have the High Level Output Specification and Statement of Funds Available for Network Rail, covering Control Period 6, which starts on 1 April 2019.

Thought we'd mention it, just in case it had slipped anyone's mind?

What with all that HS2 excitement an' all.

HS2 - Midlands and North flex their muscles

This from Snapper...

Chris Grayling's late night HS2 statement to the House was interesting.

East Midlands and South Yorkshire MPs asked whether the lack of a firm date for MML electrification meant that the soon to be tendered HS2 fleet would need to be specified as bi-modes, to operate on the as yet unjuiced Chesterfield - Sheffield classic section of the new railway?

Meanwhile, those curious about the change in priorities around Sheffield & the ditching of Meadowhall in favour of Sheffield Midland may wish to ponder on the growing stature of Transport for the North (TfN).

TfN's strategy, to ensure that major Northern cities are within 30 minutes of Manchester Airport, is clearly being taken seriously within Government.

Not only was this stressed in the documents released yesterday - it was also confirmed in by Chris Grayling during his late night appearance before the House last night.

So is this just window-dressing or are we seeing a genuine shift in power and policy from Westminster to the North?

Monday, 17 July 2017

DfT to resurrect OPRAF?

This from a Mr Golding...

The Times today reports that DfT are considering creating an arms-length agency for managing rail franchises.

Those with long memories will remember OPRAF who did that very role in the late 90’s,

OPRAF’s ethical code for staff was based on a principle of ‘We Value Difference’.

In today’s angry social media age, that is something that we could do with resurrecting…

UPDATE: This from the former head of the British Rail Acronym Section...

Given the likely budget available, might I suggest that the new body is called the Strategic Franchising Authority...

TUC welcomes 'shot in arm' HS2 contracts

This from the Trades Union Congress...

Commenting on the awarding of £6.6 billion in HS2 contracts today, TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“This is a shot in the arm for Brexit Britain. It will provide thousands of decent jobs, billions in investment, and help close the north-south divide.

“HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine. The next phase of HS2 should bring jobs and investment to the parts of Britain that need them most

“Government must play its part, working with unions and suppliers to ensure that HS2 and other key infrastructure projects deliver the maximum benefit to the UK.”

DfT written statement to Parliament on contract awards here.

Good news and welcome support from the TUC.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Bangor

This is the entrance to Bangor station car park.

Good to see that in Wales, the Railway Garden plays a part in delivering the total journey experience.

Railway Garden Competition - Watford DC Lines

This from Joe Dunckley...

So many gifts in one image.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

CAF - Newport wins!

This from the Railway Gazette...

UK: Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF has selected the Celtic Business Park at the Llanwern steelworks site near Newport in South Wales as the location of its future UK factory.


And a big #RailwayFamily welcome to CAF.

You got to be in it, to win it!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Election of Select Committee Chairs

Tonight the Speaker announced the results of the election for Select Committee Chairs.

Most importantly, for the Railway Industry, Lilian Greenwood was elected to succeed Louise Ellman as Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

Louise had served for two Parliaments and therefore, under parliamentary rules, was unable to stand again.

Eye welcomes Lilian Greenwood, the MP for Nottingham South, to this important committee that scrutinises government transport policy and decisions.

Industry will be pleased that Lilian specifically mentioned the Rail Supply Chain in her candidacy statement:

"Promises have been made that affect almost all our constituencies, and thousands of jobs (including in the supply chain) are in the balance. As Chair I would be a strong voice for rural and urban transport improvements, as well as a critic of bad schemes."

Old railway hands will remember Lilian as both Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and Shadow Rail Minister in the previous Parliament.

A number of other Select Committee chairs were also announced this evening, all of which are relevant to our industry:

Treasury Select Committee - Nicky Morgan (Loughborough);

BEIS Select Committee - Rachel Reeves (Leeds West);

Brexit Select Committee - Hilary Benn (Leeds Central);

International Trade Select Committee - Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Education Select Committee - Robert Halfon (Harlow)

Eye suggests engaging with all the above early and often - as they may not necessarily be aligned with the government policy of the day!

Maynard on RPI and fares: "policies under review"

This PQ from Lilian Greenwood was answered today...

"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 3 July 2017 to Question 1538, on railways: fares, what plans he has to increase the cost of regulated rail fares by RPI plus zero per cent in 2018?"

Paul Maynard Answered on: 12 July 2017
"The Government recognises that the cost of travelling for rail passengers can seem high – this is why since 2014 we have taken action and capped the regulated rail fares at RPI+0%. 

"Train fare revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations and delivering the investment and massive upgrade programme currently underway, all of which passengers demand and expect.

"We of course keep policies under review."

Eye hopes an open mind means happier passengers!

CAF secures UK footprint!

This from Nottingham headquartered BWB Consultancy...

BWB, one of the UK’s leading design engineering consultants, is set to embark on significant expansion in the UK and abroad after becoming part of the global transport engineering giant CAF Group.

A multi award-winning business which delivers advice and solutions to clients in the property, development and construction industries, BWB employs more than 300 people across seven offices covering England’s main cities and has an annual turnover of more than £23m.

CAF, which is headquartered in Spain and has annual revenues in excess of €1.3 billion, designs, manufactures, maintains and supplies equipment and components for rail systems across the globe.

In addition to rolling stock, CAF provides integrated rail solutions for all types of rail systems - feasibility studies, design of civil engineering, electrification and signaling works, maintenance and system operation services.

Good news indeed.

And with the King of Spain in the UK today, who knows what else may follow...

Railway Garden Competition - Brixton

This from Matthew...

I'd like to enter Brixton into the railway Garden competition.

It's nice to see that SouthEastern have resisted the encumbrance of gentrification and instead chosen to pay homage to Brixton's weed based past with a literal interpretation

Transport Select Committee - Production Values

This from SNP MP Stewart McDonald, via twitter...


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Pointless signs - Pwllheli

This from Wheaty...

Keep 'em coming!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Chester sabotaged!

Shocking scenes from an Eye correspondent in Chester on Friday!

This member of staff is wilfully clearing the platforms of weeds and other detritus, risking Chester's elimination from this year's Railway Garden Competition!

Good effort.

DfT opens the door to Room 101

This from The Times...

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is preparing to delay the electrification of huge swathes of the railway network amid a deepening funding crisis at Network Rail.

Plans to upgrade core stretches of track on the TransPennine, Midland Mainline and Great Western routes to run electric trains are set to be put back by years in favour of new “bi-mode” trains that run on both diesel and electricity.

Instead, the state-owned Network Rail will be told to focus on its day job of maintaining and repairing existing tracks, amid growing concern that this has been neglected in favour of “trophy” electrification projects.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Shaken and stirred - NR Silver Ghost off to Royces

This from Rolls-Royce...

Rolls-Royce today announces the appointment of Barney Wyld as Director, Corporate Affairs. Barney will join Rolls-Royce later this year in a new enhanced role.

Barney is currently Group Director, Corporate Communications at Network Rail. He is responsible for all internal and external communications, public affairs and community contact and relations. Barney joined Network Rail from Unilever where he was Global Vice President, Communications. He was initially responsible for global media relations and digital channels and, after that, global employee engagement and stakeholder campaigns. Barney began his career as a speechwriter for a frontbench MP in the UK parliament.

Barney will leave Network Rail in 'about five months time'.

Of course, as any ful kno, some of Royces most important engineering facilities are to be found in Derby - which just happens to be the city at the Heart of the Railway industry!

Yet further proof, should it be needed, that all roads ultimately lead to the Shire. That is all.

Railway Garden Competition - Finsbury Park

This from Adam the Gardner...

Just south of Finsbury Park:

What a splendid scene of neglect.

Railway Garden Competition - Vauxhall

This also from a Mr Greg Tingey...

Vauxhall – between the Windsor Lines.

More please.

Railway Garden Competition - Stratford

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...

Stratford – westbound Central line is at left of picture, which is taken looking East (ish) – the Buddleia is growing up a good couple of yards or so!

Keep 'em coming.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Vote for the new Chair of the Transport Select Committee!

Time for an exciting new Eye poll!

Using your skill and judgement, select who you think should be the new Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

These are the Labour runner and riders, in no particular order (I see what you did there. Ed):

  • Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South); 
  • Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South); 
  • Geraint Davies (Swansea West) 
  • Clive Efford (Eltham); 
  • Gavin Shuker (Luton South)
Note: The honour of Chairing the Transport Select Committee falls to the Red team, in line with Parliamentary arithmetic and as agreed today (alternative colours can be found on different select committees).

The poll is on the right hand menu bar...

Remember: Vote early, vote often!

Rachael Maskell MP - new Shadow Rail Minister

A big Railway Eye welcome to the new Shadow Rail Minister Rachael Maskell!

Ms Maskell is the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for York Central and was first elected for the seat in 2015.

Biog details from Rachael's website:

Rachael graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in physiotherapy in 1994. On starting work, she rapidly became a trade union rep in the hospital, going on to becoming a Regional and then National Official for Unite, where she led many campaigns and was a strong voice in speaking out for those she represented.

On the national stage, Rachael led the union’s equality agenda, campaigning against discrimination and for equal pay. She then spent seven years representing the charity sector on improving voluntary organisations and the opportunities for those that work in the sector....

In September 2015, Rachael was appointed as a Shadow Defence Minister for Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans and served in this position for nine months before being appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2016.

Eye understands the portfolios for the rest of the Shadow Transport team are still being finalised.

RIA socks it to the man!

RIA supremo Darren Caplan has taken to Conservativehome in a push for more Treasury funding.

In the sponsored post Caplan argues:

An estimated shortfall of £500 million in Network Rail’s budget over the final 20 months of Control Period 5 is already translating into significant falls in renewals demand for contractors, primarily in the track, signalling and consultancy disciplines...

The problem we’re facing currently is particularly acute, because of high expenditure in the early years of the Control Period and partly because of increases in renewals unit rates. As a result, suppliers are reporting falls in demand of between 20 per cent and 45 per cent: this is already resulting in redundancies, short-time working, and reduced or frozen graduate and apprenticeship recruitment in the sector.

Furthermore, it is possible that some smaller or niche suppliers may not survive until Control Period 6 (which starts in April 2019) and some larger suppliers may choose to use resource in areas where there is a more stable workload – especially in the resurgent overseas railway market. This would reduce the supply chain available to Network Rail and potentially increase future costs....

So we hope the Treasury, and a supportive Chancellor, is willing and able find a way to address the current shortfall. Moving forward to a suitable funding mechanism needs to be found which avoids another repeat of the current situation again in five years’ time.


Although we might be in with more of a chance if NR hadn't already blown the CP5 budget...

Shaken and stirred: Andy Mellors

This from First Group...

FirstGroup and MTR announce that Andy Mellors has been appointed as Managing Director of the new South Western rail franchise, which launches on 20 August.

Andy Mellors has 25 years of experience in the industry. He has held a number of senior leadership roles since joining FirstGroup in 2002 and is currently Engineering Director and Deputy Managing Director at Great Western Railway, having previously held a similar role at First ScotRail. 

A good appointment and a loss to Great Western Railway

Monday, 3 July 2017

Branson outlines East Coast strategy - Shocker!

This from @Virgin...


Good effort @Virgin and an interesting picture choice.

Shaken and stirred: Long appointed CEO G&W (Freightliner)

This from Freightliner...

LONDON – Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) today announced the appointment of Gary R. Long as Chief Executive Officer of its UK/Europe operating region, which is led by the UK’s Freightliner. He succeeds Russell Mears, who will transition to the role of Senior Advisor in the third quarter of 2017.

Long was President and CEO of the North American freight railroad holding company OmniTRAX, Inc., prior to joining G&W in 2013. He has nearly 35 years of transportation industry experience, including roles related to rail, motor carrier, port, maritime and intermodal terminals, and currently heads one of G&W’s U.S. operating regions. “Gary’s strong operational, commercial and management background in the rail, trucking and maritime industries make him particularly well suited to lead G&W’s UK/Europe businesses,” says Jack Hellmann, G&W Chairman, President and CEO.

Eye welcomes the news of Mears' 'transition'. Whatever that may mean.

Hong Kong and UK railway procurement

Eye notes with interest that companies owned by the Chinese state are bidding for HS2 contracts.

Meanwhile, the same Chinese state is adopting an increasingly authoritarian approach towards Hong Kong citizens and has announced it has abandoned the joint declaration with Britain; the 1997 deal which guaranteed Hong Kong’s way of life and granted it a high degree of autonomy until 2047.

As a nation we still have a duty of care to the people of Hong Kong.

Whilst our options may be limited, it would be a great shame if our government rewarded China for this breach of faith with a slice of Britain's railway, or used UK taxes to procure Chinese manufactured equipment for HS2.

Just saying.

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade...

Having insisted on bidders for the West Coast Partnership including experience of high speed operations DfT seems to be taking a generous view of 'high speed' in the case of the Chinese team. 

The 300km/h plus experience of Trenitalia (FirstGroup) and SNCF (Stagecoach/Virgin) contrasts with the 200km/h quoted on the Guangshen Railway web-site.

'But Minister, think of the embarrassment if there were only two bidders for this flagship franchise'.

Friday, 30 June 2017

15,000 rail staff trained by Samaritans

This from the Samaritans...

15,000 rail staff trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention

Around 1 in 6 rail staff is now trained to prevent people taking their lives on the railway, as part of the suicide prevention partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider rail industry. Potentially life-saving interventions are increasing at the same time.

Between April 2016 and the end of March this year, 1,593* interventions were made across Britain’s rail network by staff, British Transport Police, local police and the public, an increase of 40 percent on the previous year.

In the same period, suicides and suspected suicides on the rail network dropped from 253 to 237**, showing a decline in rail suicides for the second year in a row. This is a fall of 18 percent in two years and 2016/17 represents the lowest yearly figure since 2010.

Good effort.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Alstom gears up for UK manufacturing

This from Alstom...

Alstom today opens the biggest and most sophisticated centre for train modernisation ever in the UK. In a major boost to the rail industry in the North West of the country, this facility was officially opened by Lord Prior of Brampton – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and some of Alstom’s newest apprentices and graduates.

Of course, as any ful kno, Alstom are also hoping that the Widnes facility will give it the edge when bidding to supply new trains into the UK.

So it is good to see Alstom joining Hitachi and Bombardier in putting its money where its mouth is.

Come on Siemens, your turn next. (Unusual for the Germans to be late to a party. Ed)

The Case of the Chained Hound

The scene: A room at 221b Baker Street...

I say Holmes, what do you make of that whole VTEC thing? Pretty bullish of them to take so many hits on the nose?

But Watson, did you not notice the significance of Stagecoach’s reference in their market statement to Independent Economic Regulation?

Can't say I did Holmes, in fact I'm not even sure I saw the ORR mentioned at all.

That, Watson, is the significance.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Virgin déjà vu!

This from E. L. Bowe...

Stagecoach's apparent sang froid in the face of the Virgin Trains East Coast losses is easily explained - they have been here before.

An infrastructure owner fails to deliver upgrades vital to an ambitious intercity franchise plan?

Sounds familiar? Of course, it's the West Coast Route Modernisation debacle all over again.

True, Stagecoach and Virgin don't have the nuclear option of the WCML PUG2 contract which could have holed Network Rail below the waterline, but that's not needed when Network Rail is on the job, with vital capacity schemes like freight loops, Werrington grade separation and Woodwalton four tracking are sliding to the right and are now well into the second half of CP6 .

We'll know it really is groundhog day when Mr Kipling is recalled to descope the scheme and devise a rescue timetable.

UPDATE: Ministerial roles and responsibilities

Latest list of ministerial roles and responsibilities:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Oversight of all areas
  • EU Exit

Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP
  • Legislation Minister, and Lead Minister for Parliamentary Liaison and Coordination
    • Package Holiday Bill
    • Autonomous and Electric Road Vehicles Bill
    • Spaceflight Bill
    • Contingency planning EU Exit
  • Maritime, including London International Shipping Week
  • Skills
  • Taxis

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Dr Jesse Norman MP
  • Strategic and local roads
  • Road freight and safety
  • Buses
  • Cycling
  • Light rail
  • Devolution, including Northern Powerhouse
  • Environment and Technology
  • Housing

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Paul Maynard MP
  • Rail
  • Crossrail
  • Smart Ticketing
  • HS2 Policy and Legislation
  • Accessibility (across all modes)
  • Rail Security

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Lord Callanan
  • Aviation
  • International relationships
  • Security
  • Legislation in the House of Lords

East Coast - a franchise that keeps on giving

Stagecoach have published their results today.

And they make painful reading, with the company recording an £84.1m exceptional charge to provide for anticipated losses under the VTEC contract over the next two years and a £44.8m non-cash write down on the franchises value.

Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said: “We are engaged in discussions with the Department for Transport regarding our respective contractual rights and obligations under the current Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and reflecting the reprioritisation of Network Rail's infrastructure programme. 

"However, separately we have made financial provisions to reflect the short-term outlook for that business over the next two years, including in view of the weak growth environment affecting the UK rail sector as a whole. 

"We are disappointed to report losses at Virgin Trains East Coast. However, I am confident that we can return the business to profitability and build on the significant benefits we have delivered to date for customers and taxpayers."

Stagecoach remains optimistic that the franchise will be profitable by 2019.

Of course much of this may depend on whether NR can deliver on the upgrades to the ECML it promised in CP5? 

Oh, and a recast of the proposed Thameslink timetable?

We shall see.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Humza, I'm not sure that this is a great idea.

The SNP has decided to disaggregate the BTP!

Of course even in Scotland, it is rumoured that, fine Malts are watered down.

Why would you do this?

Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Tom Winsor, Philip Rutnam and Bernadette Kelly please note:


TSC: Farewell Ellman - runners and riders

This from Roger Ford...

Sad news from Westminster.

Under Parliamentary rules Select Committee chairs are limited to two Parliamentary terms, which means that a replacement must be found for Eye's favourite inquisitor Louise Ellman (Didn't we do this back in April? Ed)

Her modest, almost diffident, demeamour in the chair of the Transport Select Committee concealed a shrewd grasp of the issues and an interrogation technique which, unusually, generated more light than heat.

An abiding pleasure is her, and her Committee's dissection of DfT Permant Secretary Philip Rutnam over the Great Western Electrification Programme.

At her hearings you knew someone was in trouble when she gave them that quizical look over her spectacles before asking a seemingly simple question, which was often almost impossible to answer honestly without political fall out.

Louise - the railway industry will miss you!

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Eye understands that the following MPs are likely to appear on the ballot to be Labour's new chair of the Transport Select Committee:

  • Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South);
  • Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South);
  • Clive Efford (Eltham); and
  • Geraint Davies (Swansea West)
Of course Eye is completely non-partisan about this election, so may the best man win! (Which in this case is Lilian Greenwood - a noted friend to the railway and its supply chain over many years. #JustSaying. Ed)

Alstom obtains ISO37001

Good news from Alstom...

Alstom obtains ISO 37001 certification for its anti-bribery management system

27 June 2017 – Alstom has obtained the first AFAQ ISO 37001 certification awarded by AFNOR Certification following an audit carried out between March and May 2017 at seven sites in France and Europe, confirming its commitment to fight corruption.

The international standard ISO 37001, introduced in October 2016, advocates a series of measures to help organisations of all sizes, both private and public, to prevent, detect and tackle bribery through the implementation of an anti-bribery management system.

Move along people, nothing to see here.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Khan sets his face against railfreight

This from Bruce Grove...

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set out his plans for supporting railway investment in the regions.

His draft transport strategy calls for upgrades to routes outside London so that freight services can be diverted away from the capital, making space for extra passenger trains.

At this rate he’ll be lobbying for HS3 next!

Sadly no mention of rail’s role in delivering the construction materials he needs for all those new homes, offices and cycle lane he’s planning to build.

Crossrail 2 anyone?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Farringdon

This from a Mr Mike Wallis...

Keep 'em coming!

Gibb Report published

Chris Gibb's report into Southern's performance has been published.

It's a chunky 163 pages so will take some reading.

However, some of the headline findings here:

  • Industrial action is the main cause of problems
  • Unions should accept ORR regulates safety and should work with GTR to modernise working practices
  • Need for NR to establish a System Operator function (done)
  • Need for two track timetable at night on BML to enable maintenance (done)
  • Electrify Uckfield (see relevant appendix)
  • Withdraw the 442s (done)
  • Transfer East Croydon - Milton Keynes to TfL Overground, and Ashford - Hastings to SE franchise
  • Sort out Thameslink 2018 train stabling, provide for future stabling to handle more trains
  • Review Thameslink driver depot strategy
  • Restart stalled station capacity schemes at Victoria, Gatwick and East Croydon
  • Improve despatch at Victoria, London Bridge and Brighton
  • Improve suicide prevention
  • Implement Thameslink 2018 plan in small stages between Dec, 17 and Dec, 18
  • Review off peak and small station service levels
  • Align TOC and NR incentives and targets using joint delay repay
  • Set up 2018 Thameslink industry readiness board (done)
Eye understands not much has been redacted from the final report (although Appendix 9 containing 'Recommendations regarding the GTR franchise agreement' is missing).

Electrification benefits explained!

Good news for fans of electrification!

This from the Scotsman...

Plans to close Breich Station in West Lothian, used by just three passengers a week, have been announced by Network Rail. 

The move has been prompted by the £1.4 million cost of replacing its footbridge as part of electrification of the line, which would be saved. 

It is understood the station is likely to have stayed open otherwise.

The Sparks Effect, indeed!

Just imagine how many more of those annoying station things we could close if NR electrified the entire network!

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

If the clever traction engineers at Derby can fit an aluminium tube with seats and air conditioning and braking equipment and doors and bogies and lots of clever electronics and charge £1.2 million a throw for an Aventra vehicle how on earth can civil engineers justify £1.4 million for a footbridge? 

And does that include leaning-on-a-shovel-looking time?

South Eastern and West Coast Partnership bidders

This from the DfT...

South Eastern franchise

The companies which want to run the next South Eastern franchise are:

  • South Eastern Holdings Ltd, a joint venture company that on franchise award will be wholly owned by Abellio Transport Group Ltd and East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd
  • London and South East Passenger Rail Services Lrd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia Ltd
  • Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group plc
  • Trenitalia UK Ltd, wholly owned by Trenitalia SpA

West Coast Partnership franchise

The WCP will be responsible for services on the West Coast Main Line from April 2019 and will design and run the initial HS2 high speed services between London and Birmingham from 2026.

The shortlist contains bidding consortia which sees UK rail network experts working in partnership with companies that operate high speed railways around the globe, supported by businesses which have an excellent track record in customer services.

They are:
  • First Trenitalia West Coast Ltd, a joint venture between First Rail Holdings Ltd and Trenitalia SpA
  • MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTR Corporation (UK) Ltd and Guangshen Railway Company, with the following key sub-contractors:
    • Deloitte MCS Ltd
    • Panasonic Systems Europe
    • Snowfall AB
    • Ltd
    • WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff
  • West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group plc, Virgin Holdings Ltd and SNCF C3
Can't help but feel that DfT must be disappointed by yet another small field, containing mostly the usual suspects, for these key competitions.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

DfT Ministers - Roles and Responsibilities

Here are the published roles and responsibilities of the refreshed DfT Ministerial team:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Overall responsibility for the Department’s policies
Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes MP
  • Highways England
  • Modern Transport Bill
  • maritime (including Maritime and Coastguard Agency)
  • maritime security
  • freight and logistics
  • environment and technology
  • skills and innovation
  • built environment
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State (Rail Minister) – Paul Maynard MP
  • rail (including housing development)
  • rail security
  • light rail
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State – Jesse Norman MP
Responsibilities to be confirmed but likely to include:
  • HS2
  • devolution including Northern Powerhouse
  • sustainable accessible travel (including walking and cycling)
  • smart ticketing
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State – Lord Callanan
Responsibilities to be confirmed
  • Transport spokesman in the House of Lords 
A big Railway Eye welcome back to Paul Maynard (and note the 'housing development' role in Paul's remit).

First/MTR suffers from premature evacuation - Official

Good news from the Shire this morning!

The great and the good are gathering in Derby for an announcement about an order for 750 new 'Aventura' vehicles for the London and South Western franchise, worth £895m

This from First Group:

PRESS CALL: Announcement of South Western rail franchise rolling stock procurement

FirstGroup and MTR will take over the South Western rail franchise from 20 June 2017. This is an opportunity to find out more about the new rolling stock being planned for the new franchise, with new trains to be built in the UK and introduced into service from mid-2019.

Members of the reality based community will of course realise that the new franchise is due to start on the 20th August, rather than June.

No matter.

Regular readers of Eye will recognise today's announcement from this, posted back in April...

Meanwhile here is a tip for other rolling stock manufacturers without a UK footprint:

You've got to be in it, to win it!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Windsor and Eton Central

This from Windsor Lad...

Windsor and Eton Central last week:

A sorry sight these days, especially when compared to the Riverside station.

Railway Gongs - Queen's Birthday Honours

Some of those honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honour's list...

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Managing Director, Phase 2, HS2 Ltd. For services to the Rail Industry.

Head, Transport Security Co-ordination and Operational Response, Department for Transport. For services to Transport Security.

Order of the British Empire
Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Roger Toby Soames HARGREAVES
Director, Hybrid Bill Delivery, High Speed 2 Ltd. For services to Transport.

Ms Linda Jean MILLER
Project Manager, Crossrail. For services to Engineering and to Promoting Gender Equality.

Ms Wendy Patricia SPINKS
Commercial Director, St Pancras International Station. For services to Rail.

Order of the British Empire
Members of the Order of the British Empire

Chairman, Archway - the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network. For services to Network Rail and Diversity in Transport.

Patricia Lorraine, Mrs THOMAS
HR and Redeployment Adviser, Transport for London. For services to Transport in London and the community.

Order of the British Empire
Medallist of the Order of the British Empire

Steven Barry GREENWOOD
Special Chief Inspector, British Transport Police. For voluntary service to Policing.

For voluntary service to the Arts, Healthcare and Steam Railway Preservation in London, Edinburgh and Derby

Good effort.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Eye prepares for Brexit!

An Eye chum in Europe has sent the following screen grab...

Hopefully RENFE and CAF are regular browsers...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Shaken and stirred - David Brown to Northern

This from Northern...

David Brown has been appointed as Managing Director of Arriva Rail North Ltd which operates the Northern rail franchise.

David, who is currently Chief Executive at Transport for the North, will take up his role at Arriva during September and will succeed Alan Chaplin who has been Acting Managing Director since February.

An interesting case of gamekeeper turned poacher!

Of perhaps greater interest is what this says about TfN...

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Crumbling Edge of Something...

No comment.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Blackburn

This from Kettledrummle...

As you will see Blackburn is well on track to achieving "garden" status. Unfortunately what was in the 4 foot where the train has stopped was not so green.

Probably better classed as fertiliser!

Railway Garden Competition - Eastleigh

This from Rover...

Keep 'em coming.

Rail minister returns!

No. Not that one.

Claire Perry, who is now a minister at BEIS looking after the Industrial Strategy.

A positively glacial formation of a new government.

Strong and stable my arsenal.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Dust settling - GE2017

This from Daisy Hill...

Well that was interesting!

Grayling returned to transport following a very minor reshuffle.

We await news on who will be the rail minister.

Meanwhile,  those wondering what the election result means for transport policy are reminded that Northern Ireland's railways are both state owned and vertically integrated.

Eat your heart out Jeremy Corbyn!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Charing Cross

This from Dan D. Lion...

It's not as if those cables and cabinets control anything important after all.

Pointless signs - Newark

This from a Mr InterCity Swift..

A contribution for your pointless signs series.

Or should that be pontless signs?

It's been there for a couple of years now.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Retford

This from a Mr InterCity Swift...

Much to the annoyance of VTEC, it's back - bigger and stronger!

Are there any hardy Railway Garden perennials near you? If so do send them in!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

BTP first in the line of duty at London Bridge

This from our 'Railway Plod'; which is very much part of the Railway Family.

Which makes it somewhat personal!

Statement from Chief Constable on British Transport Police officer injured at London Bridge

Following the horrific attacks at London Bridge last night, the British Transport Police officer who was injured is now in a stable condition.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “Having visited the officer in hospital shortly after he was admitted for treatment, I was able to hear his account of what happened last night.

“It became clear that he showed enormous courage in the face of danger, as did many others who were at the scene and rushed to help.

“Although he is seriously unwell, he was able to recount how he faced the attackers armed only with his baton, outside London Bridge station.

“For an officer who only joined us less than two years ago, the bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud.

“All of us at BTP wish him a swift recovery, and I know he will be touched by the hundreds of messages of support from across the UK and the world.

“Our thoughts are with all of those who died or were injured, and their loved ones as they try to come to terms with what happened.”

Big respect!

Good effort.

And our prayers and thoughts are with the officer, his colleagues, family and friends.

Also... thank you to all our BTP colleagues for all that you do to keep everyone safe, day in and day out, on or about the railway.

Of course, the BTP has often been at the forefront of policing.

This from the British Transport Police History Group...

The railway police were the first force in the country to use trained police dogs (1909), one of the first to use drug sniffer dogs (1974), and the first to introduce a computerised crime reporting procedure (1970s). 

The force took a national lead in football intelligence in the 1980s, and developed a bomb threat analysis procedure, later adopted nationally, as a result of dealing with twenty high explosive devices, forty incendiary devices and more than five thousand bomb threats during one three year period (1991-94).

Perhaps Theresa May will consult with the railway industry, before attempting to merge the specialist BTP into the constabularies of very different industries?

Meanwhile, Hands off our Bobbies!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

EGIP costs contained - sort of?

This from 'My Laird'...

Truly, the world has gone mad. And budgets madder?

EGIP taking over a public path to Plean south of Stirling!

Railway Garden Competition - Dorking (Main)

This from @NickRH14...

Looking lush at Dorking (Main)...

Keep 'em coming (and remember the rules - only UK railway gardens are eligible)!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Sleaford

This from a Mr Dogboxdriver...

Lincolnshire's first entry of this year's contest is this fine effort at Sleaford station. 

Note especially the distant jungle waiting to swallow the railcar...

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Newhaven Harbour

This via @mikewallis11...

Keep 'em coming!

Friday, 26 May 2017

VTEC in Fake News - Shocker

This from Captain Deltic (for it is he)...

You can imagine the good Captain's consternation when PR firm Hope & Glory sent out a photo of the recent reconstruction of a 1977 East Coast Main Line line-up featuring the handover of the blue riband of high speed traction from the Deltic to IC125.

They kindly attached a black and white print of the original 1977 event.

Which only emphasised that there was something missing from the 2017 line up. Something big and green, with a smokey exhaust and not Flying Scotsman?

But, wait a minute, or 31 minutes to be precise.  Here's a correction from  Hope & Glory with a new photo and caption featuring  D9002 in all its two tone glory, plus some other trains.

And the correction arrived before Captain D had a chance to register his protest.

So who in VTEC spotted this faux pas and ordered a prompt re-issue by their PR agency? (Eye's money is on one D Horne Esq. Ed)

Court backs ORR on Heathrow TAC

This from the ORR...

Court upholds ORR decision on Crossrail charges

As the independent regulator for the UK’s railways, we have a statutory role in ensuring charges to run trains on relevant networks are underpinned by evidence and comply with legal requirements.

In May 2016, taking into account representations and evidence from affected parties, including considerable documentation and submissions from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL), we decided HAL is not permitted to introduce all of its proposed new charges for train operators to use its track, which links Heathrow ‎Airport to the Great Western main line.‎

HAL launched a judicial review of our decision and after a three day hearing, the court has dismissed HAL’s application and upheld our decision. We welcome this judgment and we will now work with all the affected parties to enable Crossrail services to start running as scheduled into the airport.

Perhaps just as well. 

Not much point in being too greedy when you need your TfL friends to support your exciting expansion plans...

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Clapham Junction

This week sees the Chelsea Flower Show!

So with this in mind here is the railways contribution at Clapham Jct.

Keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

RMT makes welcome gesture

Amidst all the ghastliness of recent hours, a small but significant gesture from The Brothers...


Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:

“In light of the horrific bombing in Manchester last night, and the heightened safety and security alerts on our transport services, RMT’s executive has taken the decision to suspend the 24 hours of strike action scheduled for Tuesday 30th May on Merseyrail, Northern Rail and Southern Rail.

“Our thoughts and solidarity at this time are with the people of Manchester.”


Monday, 22 May 2017

Tory manifesto - Welsh railways

This from Julian and Sandy...

With the Prime Minister facing a difficult day in Wales over her U-turn on the 'dementia tax' I thought it might be worth looking at what the Tory party manifesto had to say about rail in Wales.

Here's the relevant section:

Wales plays a crucial role in our modern industrial strategy, in the promotion of growing industries in Wales and in the additional powers handed to Welsh local authorities and businesses to promote local growth. Welsh businesses will be central to our new trade and export policies, and our investment in improved infrastructure will help Welsh companies bene t even more from the UK single market than they do now. We will modernise the railway infrastructure across Wales, including new and improved stations, and explore ways to harness Welsh natural resources for the generation of power. 

Not sure whether this applies to narrow gauge lines as well as standard gauge, but clearly it is all jolly promising...

I found it by searching the Tory party manifesto for 'single market' and in the Wales bit there is an intriguing reference to the benefit of the UK single market. I had no idea that was under threat too.

A new Welsh border would make accounting on the English leg of the Holyhead-Cardiff Red Dragon Express extremely tricky.

Hammond Eggs: The memories of glories past...

So Philip Hammond has been on the election trail in Derby...

Let's hope nobody mentioned his role in the Thameslink fleet award!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Railfreight - the movie!

This from our North American cousins is nice.

As all three major parties made specific reference to Railfreight in their manifestos this week (Round of applause! Ed), perhaps there should be a similar version for British Railfreight?

Over to you FOCs, RFG, RDG and the MD of NR's FNPO?

Shaken and stirred: Caledonian Sleeper

Eye understands that there is a new MD at Caledonian Sleeper!

Although it is Keith Wallace who has been appointed, rather than his namesake William.

Current incumbent Peter Strachan has been promoted to Chairman of Serco Rail UK!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Manifesto responses - Germolene or Iodine?

This from Howard Wade...

Interesting to compare and contrast trade associations responses to the recent spate of manifestos.

Here is Rail Delivery Group  Chief Executive, Paul Plummer, who may be in danger of sleepwalking over a cliff...

"Working together, by the end of the next parliament, we will be running 6,400 extra services a week and 5,500 new carriages. On top of this, train companies are making a range of changes to improve the experience of passengers from simpler ticket buying to better information. This is all part of a £50bn-plus upgrade plan to improve journeys and to make local economies stronger and fairer, now and for the future.

Plummer was, of course, speaking on behalf of RDG's 'train company members' (ie the TOCs and FOCs, pointedly excluding Network Rail which is gagged during Purdah).

Compare this with recently appointed Railway Industry Association Chief Exec, Darren Caplan. He pulls no punches, as many of his members are fighting for survival as Plummer's "£50 bn plus" is consumed by both Treasury and boiling frogs:

"We hope that [insert party of choice] recognise and share our concerns about the need for continuity of year-on-year funding for the rail supply sector, which faces the ongoing challenge of planned projects being postponed due to funding limits and which could ultimately lead to passenger and freight services suffering as a result. 

"The current 'Control Period 5' (CP5) will see significant reductions in spending in 2018/19, which could lead to asset degradation, reductions in sectoral employment, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises in the supply chain going bankrupt, and a negative impact on productivity. This in turn could lead to capability gaps and increased costs when the delayed work is commenced, perhaps several years into the next Control Period, CP6."

No doubt about who is speaking for the real railway industry.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Steve Strong...

Reading the words of Mr Plummer I can't help but feel that it lacks key references to 'strong and stable' and 'for the many, not the few'?

Perhaps RDG could amend their statement to read:

This is all part of a £50bn-plus upgrade plan to improve journeys and to make local economies stable and strong; for the many, not the few.

You are welcome!

The Case of the Missing Project

The scene: A room at 221b Baker Street...

I say Holmes, what do you make of the Tory Manifesto, it looks pretty thin gruel to me?

But Watson, did you not notice the significance of the reference to Crossrail 2 and perhaps more interestingly Network Rail?

Can't say I did Holmes, in fact I'm not even sure I saw them mentioned at all.

That, Watson, is the significance.

Tory Manifesto - Farewell BTP?

This from Politics Home...

Other pledges include the creation of a national infrastructure police force, bringing together the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence Police and the British Transport Police to improve the protection of critical infrastructure such as nuclear sites, railways and the strategic road network.

Not sure that this will be universally welcomed!