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!

Tory Party manifesto - Rail

Here are the sections on rail from the Tory manifesto launched today...


Pointless signs - Halifax

With the media pack descending on Halifax for the launch of the Tory manifesto Eye has received this:

Coming next: "Remember to breathe".

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

ACoRP launches website promoting Scenic Rail

Here's ACoRP's CEO, Julie Townsend, launching the new Scenic Rail website at King's Cross today.

Eye will of course draw a veil over the use of a t-shirt promoting GWR destinations at a station served by VTEC/GTR/GC and HT, whose services connect into EMT, TPE and Northern CRPs (Pedant! Ed).

No matter!

A nice website and an excellent use of Association of Community Rail Partnerships' resources, in support of their members and the national railway.

You can view the new guide to Britain's scenic railways, here.

Evidently the arrival of 'Jools' (as she prefers to be known) has led to more dynamic campaigning at ACoRP. Good.

LibDem Manifesto - Rail

Here are the key rail elements of the LibDem manifesto...

Taken from section 6.7 'Investing in the transport we need' (page 62ff)..

To build a transport system fit for the 21st century, we will:

●  Ensure that new rail franchises include a stronger focus on customers, including a programme of investment in new stations, lines and modern trains. We will allow public sector bodies and mutual groups involving staff and passengers to bid for franchises. We will continue the Access for All programme, improving disabled access to public transport as a key priority.

●  As a result of severe failings that rise to the level of breach of contract, establish government-run companies to take over the running of Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink, with a long-term plan to  find more effective and sustainable ways of managing these franchises involving greater powers for local government.

●  Pursue the electrification of the rail network, improve stations, reopen smaller stations, restore twin-track lines to major routes and proceed with HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2, including development of a high-speed network stretching to Scotland.

●  Invest capital in major transport improvements and infrastructure. We will:
- Shift more freight from road to rail.
- Deliver the Transport for the North strategy to promote growth, innovation and prosperity across northern England.
- Develop more modern, resilient links to and within the south-west peninsula to help develop and diversify the regional economy.
- Complete East West Rail, connecting Oxford and Cambridge and catalysing major new housing development.
- Ensure London’s transport infrastructure is improved to withstand the pressure of population and economic growth.
- Support the takeover of metro services in London by London Overground.
- Encourage the swift take-up of electric and driverless vehicles.

To protect and extend local public transport, we will:

●  Introduce a rail ombudsman to enforce passenger rights and improve the provision of compensation, with the power to sanction rail companies as appropriate.

●  Provide local authorities and communities with the powers to improve transport and ticketing with the ability to introduce network-wide and smart ticketing systems.

You can read the entire thing, here.

Worthy, but probably pointless...

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Labour party official manifesto - Rail

Here are the key rail elements of the Labour Manifesto launched today...

Taken from the section on Transport (page 90ff):

On our railways, we pay some of the highest fares in Europe for increasingly unreliable and overcrowded services.

The beneficiaries of public funding siphoned off through transport privatisations have been the earnings of directors, dividends for shareholders and the coffers of overseas governments.

Labour will prioritise public service over private profit.  And we will start by bringing our railways back into public ownership, as franchises expire or, in other cases, with franchise reviews or break clauses. We will introduce a Public Ownership of the Railways Bill to repeal the Railways Act 1993 under which the Conservatives privatised our railways.

In public ownership, we will deliver real improvements for passengers by capping fares, introducing free wi-fi  across the network, ensuring safe staffing levels, ending the expansion of driver only operations, and introducing legal duties to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

Labour will introduce regulations to designate and protect routes of critical community value, including those that serve local schools, hospitals and isolated settlements in rural areas.

A publicly owned railway system can be the backbone of our plans for integrated transport. It will be built on the platform of Network Rail, which we will retain whole, working with the devolved administrations. We will ensure new rolling stock is publicly owned and will encourage expansion of public freight services in a publicly owned railway that will leave our roads freer of traffic and our air cleaner. We will facilitate British procurements, including steel, whenever possible.

A Labour government will complete the HS2 high-speed rail line from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester and then into Scotland, consulting with communities affected about the optimal route. We will link HS2 with other rail investments, such as Crossrail of the North (tying together our great Northern cities) and on to the Durham Freight Centre. We will build a new Brighton Main Line for the South East.

In London, to ensure our capital continues to prosper, we will build Crossrail 2.

To harness the economic potential of new technologies and science, we will complete the Science Vale transport arc that runs from Oxford to Cambridge through Milton Keynes. and we will deliver rail electrification and expansion across the whole country, including in Wales and the South West. We will also consult with local communities to re-open branch lines.

Read the whole thing for yourselves here.

Compared with last week's leaked version Birmingham appears to have lost its port(!),  Brighton will gain a new mainline to London and commitments to get rid of DOO have been watered down.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Pointless signs - Duffield

This from a Mr Highbrow...

The ticket machine was relocated to the front of the station several years ago.

Waterloo - it was the WON what won it.

Amazingly, since Eye's return to the fray, we have not been inveigled into giving a blatant plug for the industry's stealth newsletter Rail Business Intelligence.  

So here is an item from last week's issue:

Commissioning of the resignalling between Platforms 20-24 at Waterloo Station and International Junction, scheduled to be brought into use on May 15, has been postponed. This is part of the programme to bring the former Waterloo International platforms into domestic use as part of the CP5 Waterloo Capacity enhancement programme.  Availability of these platforms will allow the partial blockade at Waterloo from August 5-28 for the lengthening of Platforms 1-4 

It would appear that someone at the Sunday Times is an avid readers of RBI?

Eye's man with the safety critical software notes that, unusually, the Weekly Operating Notice containing this information (on Page 95 of 102) did not give a revised commissioning date.

Ooh er!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

All The Stations - worth a watch

A Pilgrimage of Grice undertaken by Geoff and Vicki, supported by RDG...

From the All The Stations website:

All The Stations is a project to travel to ALL the national railway stations in Britain in just three months, and to create an online documentary film about the journey.

Here is a vlog the team filmed yesterday:

Good effort!

Worth a watch. Worth a follow.

Meanwhile, Eye hopes that RDG will contact RFG and RSG so that freight and the supply chain can also offer to showcase their contribution to Britain's railway?

Three percent (3%) will take some nudging, so every channel counts.

If we are serious about 'One Railway', Eye would expect nothing less.

Shot in arm for Corbyn nationalisation plans!

No, sorry. Eye lied. 

It's actually a huge shot in the foot, or other more sensitive parts of the anatomy!

Readers of today's Sunday Times will no doubt have seen the following story about state owned Network Rail:

Key take away:

Engineers for Network Rail have warned train company bosses and government officials that a plan to upgrade Waterloo station in August is in trouble and disruption could be worse than forecast.

Well-placed sources believe the impact on passengers will be so severe the entire project could be delayed for a year or scaled back.

Full article can be found here.

Eye salutes Network Rail's Infrastructure Projects (IP), for consistency in delivery. 

IP - tasked with enhancing the railway. Sadly, not in the eyes of our industry, its stakeholders and customers (FFS!)

Friday, 12 May 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Latest on LSWR plans for SWT!

Exclusive Eye footage of First/MTR's bid director outlining the management plan and new train strategy!

You can run, but you can't hide!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

TfL shows how we deliver the service

This from TfL, is brilliant!

Finally somebody acknowledges those who make our industry happen.

Day in. Day out. And safely. We get you home!

The Worrying Case of the Global Market

Overheard at Railtex...

I must says, Holmes, it certainly makes you proud to see that so many rolling stock manufacturers see such potential in the British market that they have taken such large stands at Railtex this year. One can only hope that many are thinking of building their new trains here in the UK?

Indeed so, Watson, and I noticed the enthusiastic manner in which you attacked the buffet on the Stadler stand.

Speaking of which, Holmes, I could not but observe the cordiality with which the Swiss welcomed you.  Do you have some connection with their agent?

No, Watson, while I am not averse to a bottle of Mr Wilson’s Crémant, the connection goes back much further.  You will not need to be reminded that the Reichenbach Falls are also in Switzerland.

Ah, yes indeed, Holmes.

Now to business Watson! You will have noted the significance of Derby based Bombardier’s contribution to Railtex,  especially as they are rumoured to have won the order to build new trains for the London and South Western franchise?

But Holmes, I don’t think I have seen a Bombardier stand here today or heard any mention of train manufacturing in Derby.

That, Watson, is the significance.  

RFG publishes rail freight 'manifesto'

As ever the Rail Freight Group is quick off the mark!

RFG managed to publish their manifesto the day before Labour's was leaked!

Headlines here:

Rail Freight Group (RFG) has set out its priorities for the new Government and called on party leaders to include rail freight as part of their transport commitments.

Rail freight is a key part of UK’s freight and logistics, moving a quarter of all containerised imports from the nation’s port to consumers, delivering 40% of the construction aggregates used in London and the South East’s building boom, and underpinning key industrial sectors such as steel. Government action is key to providing a framework which allows rail freight to prosper, and allow the private sector operators and customers to invest for the future.

Our five priorities are:

1. Put Rail Freight at the heart of post Brexit trade links

2. Invest in rail freight infrastructure and technology

3. Provide a stable environment for freight to enable private sector investment

4. Restore and promote rail freight grants to support new services

5. Enable the development of modern fit for purpose terminals


The full Rail Freight Group manifesto can be found here.

Leaked Labour Manifesto - Transport

Here is the Transport section of Labour's leaked manifesto:

Labour will invest in a modern, integrated, accessible transport system that is reliable and affordable.

Our transport systems illustrate the abject failure of Tory policies: relentless deregulation, privatisation and fragmentation.

They say we get choice and efficiency but the reality of their transport privatisations has been that services are less reliable, safety is compromised, fares have risen, ticketing has become complicated and public health has worsened.

On rail we pay the highest fares in Europe for an increasingly unreliable and overcrowded service.

The beneficiaries of public funding siphoned off through transport privatisations have been the rocketing earnings of directors, dividends for shareholders, and the coffers of overseas governments. 

A different system is possible. A Labour government will prioritise public service over private profit. and we will start by bringing our railways back into public ownership, as franchises expire. 

A Labour government will introduce a Public Ownership of the Railways Bill to repeal the Railways Act 1993 under which the Conservatives privatised our railways.

In public ownership, we will deliver real improvements for passengers by freezing fares, introducing free wi-fi across the network, ensuring safe staffing levels and ending driver only operation, and by improving accessibility for disabled people. 

A publicly owned railway system can be the backbone of our plans for integrated transport. It will be built on the platform of Network Rail, already in public ownership, and consider establishing a new public rolling stock company. 

A Labour government will complete the HS2 high speed rail line from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and then into Scotland, consulting with communities affected about the optimal route. 

A Labour government will invest to regenerate the local and regional economies across the whole country, so that every area gets its fair share of transport investment. 

A Labour government will link HS2 with other new investments, such as Crossrail of the North.

To harness the economic potential of new technologies and science we will complete the Science Vale transport arc, from Oxford to Cambridge through Milton Keynes. To prepare for global new trade arrangements, we will study the feasibility of port development in Southampton and Avonmouth as well as Liverpool, Hull and Birmingham. 

In London, to ensure our capital continues to prosper, we will build Crossrail 2 and devolve responsibilities for running the commuter train lines to the Transport for London authority.

We will invest in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, too, working with devolved administrations through the National Infrastructure Commission.

Our plans for will encourage and enable people to get out of their cars, for better health and a cleaner environment.

Across the country we will enable the creation of municipal bus companies, publicly run for passengers not profit.

We will introduce regulations to designate and protect routes of critical community value, including those that serve local schools hospitals and isolated settlements in rural areas.

We will better regulate the licensed taxi and private carriage hire sectors in the knowledge that new technologies, consumer service and public safety all require competitive playing field between these sectors to be levelled.

We will invite the National Infrastructure Commission to recommend the next stages for developing and upgrading the National Cycle Network.

We will continue to upgrade our highways and improve road works at known bottlenecks. !he A1 North, the Severn Bridge and the A30 provide essential connections and require our urgent consideration.

We will refocus the roads building and maintenance programmes on road safety, connecting our communities, feeding public transport hubs and realising untapped economic potential.

Our rail freight programme on a publicly owned railway will leave our roads freer and our air cleaner.

Labour supports the expansion of aviation capacity and we will continue to support the work of the Airports Commission. 

We will continue working with our neighbours through the European Union’s Highways of the Seas and by negotiating to retain membership of the Common Aviation Area and Open Skies arrangements.

Unclear at this stage whether Labour is looking to nationalise rail freight.

UPDATE: An Eye notes that the Airports Commission hasn't existed for two years!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Eye signs legendary 'Chris Crossrail'

This from Chris Crossrail, Fleet Street's legendary 'burrower for news'...

Although now fully retired and resting I can't help but notice things are not quite so ahead of the game on Crossrail.

Little things.

The quarterly newsletter that used to boast of Stakhanovite targets being met, and even exceeded, is now a month overdue and the January edition was pretty lame.

Through the grimy windows of an HST yesterday I noted that track laying trains are still working the tunnels from Ladbroke Grove. As I understand the track has got to be in before other ancillary services can be fitted out this is beginning to look a bit tight.

My guess is that the project is not in real trouble but a lot of irreplaceable float time is being used up and the unions are on to this. Big 'productivity' deals are being negotiated at Liverpool Street etc... following the excellent lead of The Brothers at Paddington.

Perhaps Eye readers can burrow further? All submissions at the usual address (see right hand menu bar).

Shaken and stirred: Graham Coombs

Eye hears that Graham Coombs is departing RIA.

After two decades as Communications Director at the Railway Industry Association (the UK's supply chain trade association) Coombs has decided he's had enough of erecting stands at exhibitions!

Speaking exclusively to Eye, Coombs said:

I can’t grumble at a job that has taken me everywhere from Blackpool to Beijing, but it is time for a change. 20 years of supporting suppliers is more than enough for anyone.

"Now isn't it your round old man?

Coombs, a former BR Board Press Officer, has accumulated an astonishing 36 years of rail PR experience since he joined the Southern Region Public Relations and Publicity Office in 1981.

Colleagues who wish to see Graham off in 'old railway' style can find him on or about the RIA stand at Railtex this week.

Eye's Summer Special Offer!

This from Barry Spotter Enterprises...

Having trouble with air conditioning controllers going walkabout?

Do you find yourself unable to keep your office or mess room at just the right temperature to allow restful sneaky snoozes on company time?

Have no fear! The Southern Region has the answer!

Just attach your air-con hoofer-doofer to a spare insulating pot using cable ties and flummox any remote control pilfering miscreants!!

Price: Just a fraction of the cost of all that knitting nonsense that is going so well elsewhere in the country.

Note: Offer only available on the Southern Region, London Underground and Merseyrail*.

*Customers on the Eastern, London Midland, North Eastern, Scottish & Western regions will need to install proper traction supply systems before purchasing.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Railway Sculptures - Hall Royd

The return of an occasional series celebrating the rich diversity of artistic forms that Network Rail have left in strategic locations to delight the passenger...

Behold, Hall Royd Scrapyard... sorry, Junction!

This sculpture was installed in 2015 to commemorate the opening (finally) of the Todmorden curve.

Exclusive - DfT proposes new DOO train design!

Despite purdah, Eye sources have leaked this revolutionary DfT design for a DOO compliant train...

Perhaps surprisingly, no mention of how it will draw juice from the Apostle of the Third Rail!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Barry Spotter, for it is he...

Further to your enquiry regarding shoe gear on the exciting new DfT approved DOO train.

Potter Rail has been assured by operators that all drivers will be fitted with shoes. Or boots.

Wet Toast - warming the market for rail

How the heart swells when you see traditional scenes like this on today's railway!

What's that you say?

It's not from a kettle!


Shaken and stirred: Ross to Scotrail

This from The Herald...

David Ross, one of the most senior figures in [Labour leader, Kezia] Dugdale’s team, will leave after June 8th to join transport firm Scotrail on a temporary basis.

His social media biography describes him as “official spokesman” to Ms Dugdale and states: “I am a senior staff member in the Scottish Labour Party's communications team, reporting directly to the leader.”

A big gain for Scotrail, but the timing of the announcement is interesting, just before the local and general elections.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

PM commits to HS2

This from The Grauniad...

Theresa May has committed to delivering the HS2 high-speed rail link.

The prime minister was reportedly coming under pressure from Tory MPs in the south to cancel HS2, which the government projects will cost £55.7bn.

Her announcement ends speculation that she was preparing to drop the new north-south railway from the Conservatives’ general election manifesto.

That sound? That is the sound of the Chilterns weeping into their skinny lattes.

The crumbling edge of quality: Manchester Piccadilly

This from Charlemagne...

It looks like NR's cutting back on renewals is good news for the makers of tie-bars. 

The road through platform 13 at Manchester Piccadilly is held together by dozens of them!

Pointless signs - Northallerton

This courtesy of 'BA'...

So much thought, so little point!

Phillips chairs BTPA as McVey contests Tatton

This from the British Transport Police Authority...

I am writing to inform you that Esther McVey has formally resigned her position as Chairman and her membership of the British Transport Police Authority following her selection as the Conservative Party candidate for the Tatton Constituency in the upcoming General Election. Esther, who was formally selected as a prospective parliamentary candidate on 26 April, has been Chairman since November 2015.

Mark Phillips, the current Deputy Chairman, will be fulfilling the duties of Chairman until a permanent replacement can be appointed. Mark, who has been a member of BTPA since September 2013, has a background in rail, having worked for British Rail, Railtrack and National Express. He is currently Chief Executive of the RSSB.

Tatton was the constituency of the former Chancellor, George 'Many Jobs' Osborne.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Urmston

Back due to popular demand (thanks Sid and Doris Gricer) Eye's Railway Garden Competition!

Keep 'em coming!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Shaken and Stirred: Nick Joyce takes on DG Rail role

Nick Joyce is the acting Director General, Rail Group, at the DfT

Previous incumbent Bernadette Kelly took on the role of DfT Permanent Secretary on the 18th of April.

Joyce became acting DG Rail on the 25th April, and was previously DfT's Corporate Finance Director.

Fans of the West Coast Franchise fiasco will remember Joyce as a safe pair of hands, after the event.

Presumably this dreadful photograph of Nick, from the equally dreadful website, was taken at that time? (Why do DfT insist on publishing awful photos of officials on their own website? Ed)

It will be interesting to see how quickly this key role is filled with a permanent appointment.

Scotrail celebrates #EdBallsDay

Alas, not taken in passenger service...

No doubt the Cybernats will soon demand this tweet is deleted?

Good effort!

Eye's powerful intervention in Nationalisation debate!

As any ful kno evidence based arguments are the way forward!

That is all.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Shaken and Stirred - RDG's Quigley and new arrival Thomas

Word reaches Eye of some changes at the Rail Delivery Group.

Christine Quigley, Head of Public Affairs, has been poached by Keolis as their new Director of Communications. Prior to joining RDG Christine was special advisor to then Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Mary Creagh. In her spare time Christine treads the boards as a stand-up comedian (Shurely a mandatory skill for anyone in railway comms? Ed). Christine starts her new role at Keolis in June.

John Thomas will join RDG as new Policy Director in July. John has railway form, from 2001 to 2011 he was an economist at ORR. Most recently he has been in the Middle East developing new railway networks across the region and has advised the World Bank.

Presumably the arrival of Thomas at RDG will be causing palpitations in One Kemble Street?

Gibb Report spiked - Official

This written response from Paul Maynard confirms what Eye predicted last week...

Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answers of 20 January 2017 to Question 60337 and 21 March 2017 to Question 67853, on what date he received the (a) advice and (b) set of recommendations developed from the advice from Chris Gibb; if he will publish all documents received from Chris Gibb in full before Parliament prorogues ahead of the 2017 General Election; and if he will make a statement.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): Chris Gibb’s findings were received by the Department on 30 December 2016. The Department will not be publishing Chris Gibb’s findings before Parliament prorogues however we intend to publish Chris Gibb’s report in full, with minor redactions to protect commercially sensitive material, and the Government’s response in due course.

So no, you can't see the Gibb Report before the election on account of the fact that it is probably too embarrassing for DfT.

Jones unlucky at Hornchurch and Upminster

Further to yesterday's post on Simon Jones seeking selection as Tory candidate for Hornchurch and Upminster

This from Conservative Home...

Cllr Julia Dockerill... won [last nights] selection in Hornchurch and Upminster by an outright majority on the first ballot.

Back to business as usual in the DfT SpAds office...

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

BTP promotes early age safety culture

This from the Inverness Courier...

TWO Inverness schoolchildren are to become rail safety ambassadors after trespassing on a main line near the city. 

The girl and boy aged five and six were caught with a group of older children on the railway line at Woodside Burn, Smithton...

PC Andrea McGhee said: “When the schools go back after the Easter holidays I will be speaking to the local primary school on the dangers of being on the line and I have asked the two children to be my wee helpers during my presentation.

“I have already had a chat with them and made them aware of the dangers of going onto a railway line.”

Always good to see Scotland leading the way.

More of this please British Transport Police, as part of your national programme.

Precisely why we need a specialist, nationwide, transport police service. 

Just in case Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, is listening?

RMT backs Corbyn for GE2017

This from The Brothers...

"The union said that, following a decision of its ruling NEC, RMT is supporting a maximum Labour vote at the 2017 General Election to defeat the Tories and for there to be a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn."

In other news, bears have confirmed that their PNBs are wood centric.

Simon Jones shortlisted for GE2017 seat

According to Guido, Simon Jones is on the Tory shortlist to contest the Hornchurch and Upminster seat.

Jones is Chris Grayling's special adviser. He is in a three-way for the Conservative candidate nomination against Mark Field’s parliamentary researcher Julia Dorkerill and former Cameron adviser Shaun Bailey.

Hornchurch and Upminster was held in the 2015 election by Angela Watkinson for the Tories with a 13,000 majority. Watkinson is standing down as MP for health reasons.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Ellman is first transport casualty of GE2017?

An early casualty of Theresa May's general election is likely to be the Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

Commons rules say that an MP can chair a select committee for eight years or two parliaments, whichever is the longer.

Louise Ellman, the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, was first elected chair of the Transport Select Committee in 2008, following the untimely death of 'Madam Chairman' Gwyneth Dunwoody MP.

Louise has served on the Transport Select Committee for twenty years, since she was first elected to Parliament in 1997.

Although held by a Labour MP over many years, the chairmanship of the Transport Select Committee (and indeed the party affiliations of all the select committee chairs) will be dependent on the share of seats held by each party in the new Parliament.

Ellman has presided over an increasingly influential Transport Committee, and it is be hoped (voters willing) that her experience will not be entirely lost to TSC after June.

Southern's 'Turn up and go' turns out to have gone?

Good news for fans of accessibility!

This written answer from Lord Ahmad given on the 24th April...

Baroness Randerson: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have been officially informed by Southern Rail that they have withdrawn "turn up and go" access for disabled passengers from 33 stations; and if so, whether they intend to intervene to ensure that this service is restored.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have advised the Department for Transport that passengers do not have to book assistance before travelling with them; GTR only recommend this to ensure they have staff prepared with ramps or that alternative travel is in place if a station is not accessible.

We take the issue of accessibility on our railways extremely seriously. It is vital that all passengers, including disabled passengers, are able to use public transport and we look to train operators to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate unbooked assistance.

In other words; you don't have to book ahead, unless you actually want to get on the train.

UPDATE: Courtesy of @LeeRender...

Eye's 'Rule of Railway Trials' has always been that this is how we hardcode customer benefits into daily service!

Alas, apparently it is now more advantageous to inconvenience the passenger by removing, rather than retaining and enhancing, the status quo.

But this is Southern, the franchise that slaughters customer service on a daily basis.

No matter.

Virgin and Stagecoach partner with SNCF

This from

Stagecoach Group and Virgin Group are joining forces with France high speed operator SNCF to bid for the West Coast Partnership rail franchise.

The government has announced that the West Coast Partnership franchise would run from 2019. 

It would include current West Coast services and the first few years of operation of High Speed 2 (HS2) services.

Stagecoach had a 50% share in the bid vehicle, West Coast Partnership Ltd, with a 30% share held by SNCF and the remaining 20% owned by Virgin. 

"It is envisaged that services under a successful bid would carry the Virgin brand," the companies said in a statement.

Let's parlez Franchise, indeed!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Four trains celebrate UK railways

Alas, not a kettle in sight!

Just saying.

UPDATE: Now this is grown up coverage (with added kettle):

Good effort!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Let's parlez Franchise

Picture the scene: A room somewhere near NW1:

V: Hola, estoy aqui para la entrevista.

R: Vous est dans le wrong chambre, mon old mate. C'est le salle de franchise bid.

V: ¿Pero yo pensaba que el español era necesario?

R: Era. Mais now la grande alliance avec comedores de caracoles!

V: Meirda, or should je dit, Merde!

R: C'est not a problem. Ave vous l'ability être completely sans service de customer, avec les professional disinterest et hauteur?

V: Ci... er... Oui!

R: Très bon. Welcome to mon team.

Coming to a railway near you soon, possibly...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

HS2 gets a roasting at TSC

A feisty session of the Transport Select Committee yesterday.

The committee quizzed Grayling and Higgins on the latest developments at HS2, and in particular about CH2M's decision to withdraw from a major contract.

Key take-away was from TSC Chair Louise Ellman, as captured by CityAM:

Chair of the committee Louise Ellman expressed her incredulity that the onus to flag any issues lay with the bidders as opposed to the government or HS2, “the procurer of this major, major contract with very large amounts of public money” behind it.

“Is that right? Who is responsible for identifying conflicts of interest, apart from whistleblowers or the media? Who within the company?” she asked

You can watch the fun and games, here.

Eye is sure that all this committee-room unpleasantness could have been avoided, if only Higgins had used the surreal ice-breaker deployed by his Commercial Director, Beth West, at a rolling stock event for the supply chain held on the 27th March.

Beth started off proceedings by telling astonished attendees that:

"Under your seats you will find a supply of sticky backed plastic, cardboard tubes from toilet rolls and yoghurt pots and in the next 15 minutes I'd like you all to build a prototype of the high speed train you would like to build for us."

Value for money engineering indeed.

Supply Chain to fill Election gaps?

Guido suggesting that the Conservatives may be shy sufficient candidates for the General Election.

Ever keen to assist, Eye wonders whether our very own Supply Chain might help fill the void?

But who should we send?

It needs someone with experience, someone who has fought a by-election and has form for high octane politics...

Step forward Darren Caplan, CEO of the Railway Industry Association!

Darren, a former Central Office staffer, stood for the blues in the 2010 General Election against motorcycling fan Diane Abbott.

Alas the good voters of Hackney North and Stoke Newington placed him third, but from small acorns...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

GE2017 - Rail and the Manifestos

This from Mystic Maureen...

As the nation leaps into action ready for yet another thrilling polling campaign (Shurely "runs around screaming, not again!" Ed) , spare a thought for all those now tasked with rapidly drawing up Party Manifestos.  

It will be interesting to see how each party balances Brexit with the wider issues facing the country, and in particular their policies relating to transport and rail.

So what might we expect to see?

The Conservatives: Expect much of the manifesto to be taken up with Brexit and future export opportunities (Rail Sector Deal please BEIS, if you're listening). Of greater interest to the operational railway will be any movement on the rail reforms currently being developed at Marsham Street and expected to be outlined in the Rail Strategy (currently being penned by Bernadette Kelly, before she takes up her new role as Perm Sec). Eye wonders whether Grayling will lobby hard to poke a stick in the hornet's nest by proposing a concession for a Network Rail Route (or Routes)? Despite the unpopularity of 'rail privatisation' this must be tempting, with the Tories anticipated to win a landslide majority. However, lack of parliamentary time may mean that only a vertically integrated East West Railway makes the final cut?

Of course, elections aren’t just about choosing a Government, but also about choosing an opposition, so what about the other parties? (Aren't you prejudging the 8th June results somewhat? Ed)

The SNP: The ScotsNats position is fairly clear, with a desire for a publically owned railway north of the border likely to  feature strongly.  Will Scottish Ministers use the opportunity to pre-annouce rail investment plans for CP6?  A rail upgrade of the Highland Main Line could well be a vote winner?

The LibDems: Liberal Demcrats will be keen to retake the centre ground (From whom! Ed) so expect to see a focus on soft Brexit and trade links making best use of rail.  Domestically, something on part time season tickets and fares seems probable, and would they be brave enough to commit to a continued role for the guard?  The latter would certainly be a vote winner on Southern’s patch and will place tanks firmly on the lawn of many target constituencies currently coloured blue on the Railway Political Map.

The Labour Party: Labour's policy on rail renationalisation is both well understood and electorally popular, so we should expect to see that headlined.  Could we also see broader action on air quality measures, drawing on Sadiq Khan’s popular initiatives in London? A commitment to reinstating rail electrification would also play well in heartlands outside London, where there are concerns once again that all the investment is being poured into London and the South East. A public commitment to resurrecting or accelerating wiring the Midland Main Line and Transpennine routes might also place some significant pressure on the Tories in marginal seats?

Whatever the result on June 8th, the railways will not escape ever increasing scrutiny.

Contributions, informed or otherwise, welcome at the usual address.

Rail Sector Deal - the PM offers some clues

Word reaches Eye that the great and the good are meeting tonight to discuss what a Rail Sector Deal might look like.

The original announcement of possible Sector Deals in January, managed to, ahem... overlook Rail, in favour of:

  • Life sciences
  • Ultra low emission vehicles
  • Industrial digitalisation
  • Nuclear industry; and 
  • the Creative industries
No matter!

Happily Number 10's original announcement made clear that:

"This is not an exclusive list and the government is prepared to work with any sector which can organise behind strong leadership to address shared challenges and opportunities".

So far so good.

And with almost perfect timing for tonight's RDG/RSG discussions, Theresa May made clear at today's PMQs that the Industrial Strategy would be regionally focused "tailored to the needs of particular parts of the country".

Surely the PM had the rail industry in mind, with places like Derby, Doncaster and the North West having vibrant rail clusters with the capabilities to become global centres of excellence!

One can only hope, therefore, that said 'particular parts of the country' are well represented at tonight's dinner?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

New DG Rail - Who should it be?

Time for an Exciting New Eye Poll!

With Bernadette Kelly elevated to role of Permanent Secretary the search is on for a new Director General, Rail at the DfT.

In the spirit of open-government Eye has offered to crowd source a suitable candidate!

Despite one of the candidates being somewhat busy with elections, editing the Standard, making huge amounts of money and stuff,  this is your chance to influence the future of our industry! (It really isn't. Ed).

Use your skill and judgement to select from our candidates on the righthand menu bar...

Remember, vote early - vote often!

Kelly appointed as new DfT Permanent Secretary

This from the DfT...

Bernadette Kelly has been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport. This follows Philip Rutnam’s recent move to the Home Office which was announced in February. The appointment has been made by the Cabinet Secretary with the approval of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport.

A win for the continuity candidate...

Periodic Review 18 v Corporate Memory 0

This from Gilbert Ratchett...

Now that the Office of Rail Regulation has published the Initiation Notice for Periodic Review 2018, the phoney war of consultation documents is over and the Government has to say what it wants (the High Level Output Specification) and how much money it can scrape together to pay for what it wants (the Statement of Funds Available).

And there is now a firm deadline for delivery of these documents - better known as the HLOS and SoFA . And that date is 20 July.

Which, from past experience of Periodic Reviews, is when the infighting between the railway industry and its political and regulatory overlords gets serious. And talking of experience, Eye can't help but notice that not one member of the Network Rail Executive Board which over-saw the 2013 Periodic Review remains in post.

As the Periodic Review is all about Network Rail's funding, this total loss of corporate memory in five years means raw recruits are being thrown into the battle that will determine the railways' future.

Year Zero and trebles all round!

General Election 2017 and Purdah

Currently we are in Purdah for the 4th May local elections.

If the PM secures her two thirds majority tomorrow for a General Election then Parliament will be dissolved on the 3rd of May.

Purdah for the General Election will begin on the 4th May (same day as the local elections) and run through to the 8th of June.

A reminder about Purdah...

From the House of Commons Library:

"The term ‘purdah’ is in use across central and local government to describe the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants are in place. The terms ‘pre-election period’ and ‘period of sensitivity’ are also used."

This means that we are unlikely to see the Gibb Report on Southern (or any other significant government announcements) until after the General Election.

This may suit one or two people in Marsham Street...

General Election - 8th June 2017

Subject to securing a two thirds majority in the Commons tomorrow, the PM proposes going to the country on the 8th June.

Some quick thoughts on implications for the railway.

1. The Franchising Process is presumably now stalled?

2. Fast tracking a bi-mode fleet for the Midland Main Line in advance of PRM compliance, ditto?

3. What happens to the PR18/CP6 preparations?

Interesting times!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Eye salutes Jeremy Corbyn!

The Labour Party leader visited Wabtec in Doncaster yesterday.

Wabtec in the UK, as any ful kno, is one of the key players in rolling stock re-engineering and refurbishment.

More importantly it takes very seriously growing skills; employing 30 graduate trainees and over 100 apprentices.

With the DfT keen to off-shore skills by encouraging new franchises to buy fleets from overseas, rather than refurbishing perfectly serviceable trains in the UK, this is precisely where the Leader of the Opposition should be.

Eye salutes the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP and hopes he puts government ministers on notice!

Here some pictures from the visit (some of which feature industry celeb Jodi Savage):

Eye hopes Jeremy will be citing an epistle from 'Chris W' at the next PMQs?