Thursday, 21 September 2017

The wires that came in from the cold.

This from George Smiley...

Russia's influence in Western politics continues to spread.

Expect Transport Secretary Grayling to employ a version of the long-standing Soviet military deception technique of maskirovka when he ventures north to Manchester tomorrow to defend his deferment of the Trans-Pennine electrification.

Instead of repeating claims for the discredited 'innovative' use of bi-mode trains, Grayling will seek to wrong foot his critics by declaring that Manchester-Leeds will become a digital railway, in one stroke overcoming all known problems.

And creating a few more, starting with who will pay for the resignalling and the cab fitment. And Grayling's strategic adviser in the DfT, recognisable by the snow on his boots and known as Commissar Aleksandrovitch, seems to have overlooked the report by David Waboso's Early Contractor Involvement team debunking the 40% capacity gain claims made by the former Digital Railway regime.

As our Russian friends might say: "Net sigary, tovarishch!"

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Knighton

This, belatedly, via twitter…


Nice framing, with the added bonus of a pointless palisade.

Lost Beckett masterpiece discovered in Marsham Street

From a recently discovered Samuel Beckett notebook...


Becket identifies the players only as Rosco - a once wealthy business type in a suit; and Cloggie - a foreign gentleman, possibly Dutch?

Rosco: “Let's go."
Cloggie: "We can't."
Rosco: "Why not?"
Cloggie: "We're waiting for Wilko.”

Curtain falls slowly as they look hopefully into the wings...

Cryptic CrossCountry

This from Antony Furlong…


Has Cross-country re-introduced the mystery tour, or is this Voyager trying to draw a steam loco?

Monday, 18 September 2017

GWR - Back to the future - literally!

This from a Mr Antony Furlong...

I was delighted to receive this email from the GWR marketing team.


Evidently those IEPs are even faster than Mr Kipling and the DfT would have us believe!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Railway Pride - Belper

This from Rerailer...

I wonder if I might propose an Exciting New Eye Feature - Railway Pride?

Railway Pride draws on Noel Coward's beautiful encomium to our indomitable Capital City:

Railway Pride has been handed down to us.
Railway Pride is a flower that's free.
Railway Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.


Alas, not so much Railway Pride in the town of Belper.


Where to start!

National Rail sign, the symbol that binds us all together, our mark of quality!

You get the gist.

More please...

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Ken Harris RIP

This from Mack Brooks Exhibitions...

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our colleague Ken Harris after a short illness earlier this summer.


Ken worked as Editor on all things Railtex and Infrarail with us for many years and was a most valued colleague and a dear friend. His expertise and in-depth knowledge of the history and background on any rail industry development will be missed just as much as his kindness, professionalism and dry sense of humour.

Many of you will have met Ken at one of our shows over the past 20+ years, where he was hosting the onsite Press Offices and enjoying meeting old and new colleagues.

Ken leaves his wife Jean, two daughters Beki and Claire, and new grandson Laurence Kenneth.

Eye and its contributors extend their condolences to Ken's family and colleagues. He was a gent and very much a feature of both Railtex and Infrarail.

Railway Garden Competition - Brighton

This from Ducados...


Brighton's very own Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Silence of the LMs

Herr Professor Erwin Schroedinger writes…

In co-operation with the Britisch Department sum Transport we began an exciting new experiment to validate a more advanced version of mein 'Uncertainty Prinziple'.

The award of the West Midlands replacement franchise to Abellio, JR East and Mitsui was announced on 10th August, but not signed and then surrounded mit ein wall of silence.

With no one knowing what has happened in the following weeks, we have the situation where the franchise award may be in the bureaucratic process, still under negotiation, or deferred.

Railway Eye's science correspondent Prof Fred Bunsen-Berner notes that this triple uncertainty paradox could mark a step forward in our understanding of nuclear physics.

Whether it could be applied to our understanding of franchise procurement is perhaps less certain.

Transport Select Committee membership confirmed

This via Twitter...



And so to business!

Shaken and stirred - Leathley to London TravelWatch

This from the London Assembly...

New Chair of London TravelWatch appointed by Assembly
The London Assembly today announced the appointment of Arthur Leathley as the new Chair of London TravelWatch[1], the statutory watchdog for transport users in and around London.

Arthur has senior level experience as a communications director in the private sector and Whitehall. In particular, he spent nine years at Virgin Trains, during a time of great change in which customer satisfaction became the best in the rail industry. Prior to that, he worked as a political and transport journalist at The Times, covering many of the key debates affecting London transport.

Arthur Leathley, newly appointed Chair of London TravelWatch, said:

“The views of millions of transport users in London are crucial and I am excited to represent consumers during a time of very positive change. Travelling in the capital is likely to be transformed beyond recognition over the coming years and London TravelWatch will ensure that the interests of the travelling public are always put first. The need for an effective consumer champion has never been greater and I look forward to building on the work of the previous Chair, Stephen Locke.”

The appointment was made by the Transport Committee on behalf of the London Assembly.


Older hands will remember Arthur was previously communications director at Virgin Trains, before undertaking various roles across Whitehall.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Transport Select Committee - New Tory members

A big Eye welcome to the following Tory MPs elected to the Transport Select Committee.

  • Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay)
  • Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle)
  • Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes)
  • Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)

They join chair Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) and the following Labour MPs.

  • Graham Stringer MP (Blackley and Broughton)
  • Luke Pollard MP (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
  • Daniel Zeichner MP (Cambridge) 
  • Laura Smith MP (Crewe and Nantwich) 

Eye understands there is one more place to fill, drawn from the smaller parties in parliament.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Rugby

This from Sealink Sam...

See how beautifully crowned with vegetation are the tops of the buildings at Rugby station.


And here the bay platforms, and in the distance walls pregnant with arboreal magnificence!


Decline, what decline?

SWR gets ideas above its stations...

This from the SWR website...



On our network - Cambridge?

Peterborough??

London Bridge!!!

Who knew?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Shaken and stirred: Veitch brings Talgo to the British Isles

This via twitter...


Eye would normally have linked to the press release on the company's website, rather than reposting a tweet, allowing readers to savour all the details...

Alas - still nothing posted yet.

Looks like an ever expanding remit for Mr Veitch!

Problems remain once the circus moves on...

This from Hieronymus Bosch...

Reporting exclusively for Eye from today's exciting SWR launch at Waterloo! 

So the Top Brass turn up at WAT for the launch. Shiny livery, cleaned etc etc. Then..the signalling goes at Eastleigh, points failures at WAT, crews become displaced and chaos starts.

The top brass disappear.

It makes no difference what the livery is and what colour it is if the management of incidents is poor. That is what this railway suffers from.

So, Crew displacement made to work by a roster of split working. The removal of TCS's to be replaced by robot ORM's who are lower paid and cover larger areas. The loss of experienced controllers with the move to the ROC at BSK from the raft at Waterloo. Questions over the adequate training of staff to replace the control. Lack of investment in infrastructure. The signalling loss at EH was caused by a COMs link being eaten by rodents. SnT shortages mean basic maintenance is being deferred.

At the end of the day asset management is key. Both human and bits of rail.

It is no good building shiny new overpriced track and stations if Incident Management is dire. That means building redundancy into the system.

As that costs money, it will not occur.

Shaken and stirred - Mary Grant to Porterbrook

This from Porterbrook...

Porterbrook Leasing has confirmed the appointment of Mary Grant as its new chief executive officer. Mary will be joining the company and its board on 13 September 2017. She takes over from Paul Francis, the retiring CEO who has been with Porterbrook for over 20 years.

Mary has over 20 years’ experience working in the UK and international transport sector including senior roles at FirstGroup, National Express and Eurostar International.

Phil White, chairman of Porterbrook said: “Mary has an excellent reputation within the transport sector and I am looking forward to working with her and welcoming her onto the board. Mary’s experience and knowledge of the industry will be a great asset to the company.”


Interesting!

SWR - master of all it surveys!

This via twitter...

Attention top to detail!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Sleaford

This from Dogboxdriver...

Here is the Sleaford North Jn - Sleaford West Jn single line, showing how well Mr Verster's famed vegetation control policy is working so far.


Photo taken during an assessment ride, in case anyone should ask!

Railway Garden Competition - Derby

A wonderful example of the plantsman's craft.


Outstanding!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

RAIB on Waterloo collision

RAIB has confirmed it is conducting an investigation into the 15th August derailment at Waterloo.

The RAIB statement says:

The collision occurred because a set of points were misaligned and directed the passenger train away from its intended route. The misalignment was a consequence of a temporary modification to the points control system which also caused the train driver and signaller to receive indications that the points were correctly aligned.

Our investigation will examine:

  • the circumstances leading to installation of the temporary control system modification
  • the safety measures provided while the temporary modification was in place
  • the checking and testing procedures applicable to the modification
  • any relevant underlying management factors.
Bloody hell!

Eye thought the IRSE's vice like grip on signal testing was supposed to prevent this sort of thing happening?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Dft Policy Explained via Twitter Meme

This is very good!

Sadly, only too true.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Peterborough

This from Albatross...

Snapped these from the comfort of my Virgin EC Saloon – photographs of just North of Peterborough, around Eastfield SB and the sidings.





It appears that everyone has given up on vegetation clearance here!

Railway Garden Competition - Newquay

This from Talgo Tony...

Who knew that the Cornish branches had been converted to tramways?


Colonel Stephens would be proud!

Bombardier to retraction LUL 92 Stock

Good news for the Shire!

This from Bombardier...

Press Release - Bombardier Wins Contract to Supply New Propulsion Technology to London Underground



- Bombardier to supply new traction systems for trains on London Underground's Central line

- MITRAC propulsion technology will significantly improve fleet reliability, availability and energy efficiency

The project will be led from Bombardier's Västeras site in Sweden, also leveraging the capabilities of other sites in the Bombardier manufacturing network. 

The installation of the first train, plus associated vehicle integration works and testing will be undertaken at Bombardier's Derby site in the UK.

Very good. Carry on.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Pointless sign - Kings Cross

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...

Perhaps not an entirely pointless sign.

Although the branding harks back to an event that took place five years ago.


Is this now an integral part of the much vaunted Olympic Legacy?

Best railway tweet, ever!

And the prize goes to - Greater Anglia!


Run Away!

Pointless signs - St Erth

This from Harry the Voice...

Pictured at St Erth today.



Hmmm... 'regularly patrol', although on an infrequent basis?

Perchance a case of Optimism Bias?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Labour proposes gender segregation on rail

Good news for fans of Chris Williamson MP (Sid and Doris Gricer).

The Shadow Home Office minister has suggested a return to Ladies Only carriages.

Alas, this discrimatory nonsense will not do!

As any ful kno there are now at least 39 genders that will need similarly catering for if the industry is not to fall foul of equalities legislation (40! You forgot to include Mighty Oaks, of which I am one. Ed).

Despite his proposals being subjected to wide spread derision, Eye understands at least one part of the industry has welcomed Williamson's 'bold and exciting' initiative.

Step foward the Roscos, who are expecting a bumper bonanza as all those displaced vehicles are hurriedly pressed into gender specific service!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Osborne undermines his own case for enhancements

So, George Osborne is on manoeuvres, again.

The former Chancellor, and now free sheet editor, made the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail in yesterday's FT and on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

Good news for fans of connectivity and rebalancing of the economy.

But what's this.

Whilst George was busy tripping the light fantastic between green rooms, his own title is running with the following headline:


Not exactly a headline that will enamour readers to the vital works that enable delivery of much needed additional railway capacity, whether in the North or the South (don't forget the Squeezed Midlands! Ed).

Perhaps time for George to focus on the day job and exercise some editorial judgement?

Monday, 21 August 2017

SWT - the brand that refused to die!

Top tweeting here from the new incumbents of the SWT franchise...


But what is that cheeky logo on the bottom left of the message?

Surely not!


Come on First/MTR social media peeps - it really isn't that difficult to update the on-line branding!

UPDATE: They are getting there!


Note the subtle, but important, change to the hashtag.

Paddington - an expert speaks!

This via Twitter...


Scorcio!!!

RMT reaffirms commitment to work with minorities

This from The Brothers...

Union calls on new Chinese operator to honour commitment to South West Trains passengers to keep guard “legends” on every train

As Chinese State owned MTR takes over the South West Trains contract RMT has called on SWT Chinese owner’s operator to honour previous commitments made to South West Trains passengers to keep a guard on every train.

What could possibly have induced RMT to lobby a Communist government company?

Alas, South Western Railways is only 30% owned by MTR.

MTR's partner and the majority shareholder in SWT is also red, but only in tooth and claw. Step forward the resolutely private sector and capitalist First Group!

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Case of the Green Aspect

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

I say Holmes dashed bad luck about Tuesday’s early morning derailment in the middle of the Waterloo possession, eh?

Indeed Watson, the train crew behaved impeccably, but I suspect the consequences of the derailment may impact on the project’s overall timeline.

Quite so Holmes. It was nice of SWT to afford Season Ticket holders 10 days of free travel for putting up with the disruption?

A welcome gesture Watson. Now have you noted the significance of Aslef’s statement on the derailment?

Can’t say I have Holmes, in fact I’m not sure they’ve said anything about it?

That, Watson, is the significance.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Shaken and stirred: New South Western directors

This from First/MTR...

FirstGroup unveiled the senior management team for the new South Western train operating company today, ahead of the franchise starting on Sunday 20 August.

In addition to Andy Mellors, previously announced as Managing Director, several senior directors have now been appointed. The senior team at the new South Western rail franchise contains a wealth of railway experience and brings experience in customer service from a world-leading airline.

Jacqui Dey has been appointed as Operations Director with responsibility for the driver, resourcing, planning, performance and operational standards teams.  Jacqui has previously held senior rail leadership roles, including Operations and Safety Director at First ScotRail. 

Gerard O’Hanlon, from FirstGroup’s franchise bidding team, will provide additional support to Jacqui, particularly in relation to planning and performance activities where we will continue to operate joint teams with Network Rail.

Neil Drury, who led the rolling stock planning in the successful South Western franchise bid, has been appointed as Engineering Director.  Neil is a Chartered Engineer who joined FirstGroup in 2004. He has had a number of roles in First Rail franchises, including Head of Engineering at First Capital Connect, prior to joining FirstGroup’s franchise bidding team in 2014. 

Alan Penlington joins from Virgin Atlantic as Customer Experience Director to lead the on-board, stations and revenue protection teams. He brings valuable experience to help transform customer experience having most recently been Head of Cabin Crew Operations and Senior Manager Customer Experience-Innovation at the transatlantic airline. 

Joost Noordewier will be Commercial and Business Development Director. Joost joined FirstGroup in 2005 and led FirstGroup’s successful bid for the TransPennine Express franchise, as well as the subsequent mobilisation of the franchise. 

Chris Cornthwaite has been appointed as Finance Director. He brings a wealth of experience to the new franchise having previously been Finance Director at First Capital Connect, as well as a number of roles supporting franchise development within FirstGroup.

Seamus Scallon, Safety Director, First Rail, will act as Safety, Sustainability and Security Director, pending a permanent appointment into this role.

Eye notes that none of the existing Stagecoach senior team are transferring over to the new First/MTR franchise.

That sound? That is the sound of corporate knowledge trickling away...

Monday, 7 August 2017

NR slaps down the Daily Star over #Fakenews

Nice use of social media by Network Rail today.

This from the Daily Star this morning...

Was followed up by this response from NR's press office...
Fancy!

Fake news from the Daily Star?

Colour me surprised.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Liverpool Lime Street

This from a slightly off route Solent&Wessex...

I've always liked the annual hanging gardens display on the approaches to Liverpool Lime Street, but this year it is particularly green, with some ground level displays on the middle and right too.



Perhaps Network Rail could spend some time during the forthcoming station closure period to tend to the greenery too?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

RSSB goes all Virtual Reality

What sort of fresh hell is this?

RSSB's 2017/18 Business Plan eschews old fashioned nonsense like photographs for vibrant avatar style imagery.

Here is the image that graces CEO Mark Phillips' forward...


My eyes... they burn!

Railway Garden Competition - Sapperton Tunnel

This from The Duke...

The p-way near Sapperton Tunnel on the Swindon Gloucester line.




Surely GWEP hasn't sucked all the money out of the Western route's weed spray programme?

Exciting news ahead of BTP merger into Police Scotland

This from The Scotsman...

Officers have begun leaving the British Transport Police ahead of its controversial integration into Police Scotland, it has emerged.

The British Transport Police Federation said a small number of officers had left to join specialist forces elsewhere in Scotland, while others were seeking transfers to England.


Fancy!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Nicky Morgan shoots two ministers!

Interesting fact!

Nicky Morgan was tasked by the last Government with assembling views from East Midlands MPs on the new EMT franchise.

This from the dim and distant past.

In fact the 12th January 2017:

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South): This time two years ago, when the Blackpool North electrification scheme faced delays and the rail Minister was a Back Bencher, he rightly demanded answers from Ministers. There is now real concern that the electrification of the midland main line will be further postponed or even cancelled north of Corby and Kettering. Will the Minister provide the House with the clarity that he sought for his constituency and give an unequivocal assurance that this key Conservative manifesto promise will not be broken?

Paul Maynard: We are continuing to work towards the key outputs that matter most to passengers. I recognise the importance of the network, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) will work on a cross-party basis to identify the key regional priorities that we want to be reflected in the new franchise. I look forward to working with the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood).


Presumably this tweet, from today, is completely unconnected?


Outstanding!

Good effort.

Outstandingly good effort!

Rail minister races to reassure the Supply Chain!

Good to see that the art of the non-answer is alive and kicking in the Department for Transport.

Or so it seems judging from this clutch of hapless responses to Stephen Hammond's pertinent questions:

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Network Rail on ensuring that the railway supply chain receives a sufficient volume of orders through to the end of Control Period 6 to its maintain skilled workforce.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): We have regular discussions with Network Rail throughout the year on a number of topics, including supply chain capability. We are currently undertaking the biggest investment in our railways for over a century and our HLOS, published on 20 July, makes clear that we expect in the volume of renewals and that funding will be available to meet this increase, subject to further work to assure the costs of this activity. This signals to the supply chain that there will continue to be demand for their services in the current and future control period.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, which projects his Department expects Network Rail to complete in Control Period 6; and what the cost will be for each such project.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): Network Rail published an update to its Enhancement Delivery Plan (EDP) on 30 June 2017. This sets out the outputs, scope and milestones for the projects that Network Rail is delivering, indicating which schemes are due for completion in CP6.

No doubt readers and the supply chain will be reassured to note that schemes originally scheduled for completion in CP6 include the, now very dead, electrification of both the Midland Main Line and Cardiff-Swansea route.

Make it up, you could not.


Hayes stands up to be counted

This from the Catholic Herald!

John Hayes, who is Minister of State at the Department of Transport, was speaking at an event organised by the think tank ResPublica, as part of their Backing Beauty project...

However, he said, “We have lost our faith in beauty, because we have lost our faith in ideals. As Pope Benedict lamented: ‘We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires.’”


Extraordinary!

A minister in this torpid Tory government who is actually willing to espouse Conservative principles.

How refreshingly Sound!


Infernal combustion at the heart of government

So that nice Mr Gove has decided that diesel cars will be phased out by 2040.

Meanwhile that nice Mr Grayling has decided to 'phase out' further rail electrification immediately.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to joined up government.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Wimbledon

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...


Tastefully placed between the NR & LU tracks.

Crossrail 2 announce like 'cup of cold sick' in North

Righteous fury from elected Northern Mayors over Grayling's backing for Crossrail 2 today:



Welcome to the Northern Showerhouse!


RSG and RDG merge

This from the Rail Delivery and Rail Supply Groups...

WORKING TOGETHER – NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN RAIL SUPPLY GROUP AND RAIL DELIVERY GROUP

  • New partnership will give supply chain a stronger voice
  • Move will ensure both groups are better joined-up
  • RSG chair Gordon Wakeford will join RDG board
  • RDG chief executive Paul Plummer will join RSG council
  • RSG council remains independent and becomes RDG’s fourth ‘strategic board’
The Rail Supply Group (RSG) and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have announced a new partnership to coordinate shared objectives better and to strengthen further the industry’s voice.

The creation of a new partnership, using the resources of RDG to better support and join-up the work of the two groups, will:
  • Maintain a clearer, independent voice for the rail supply chain within RDG;
  • Offer closer alignment and collaboration between train operators, Network Rail and their supply chains;
  • Streamline activities and avoid duplication, ensuring more efficient use of combined resources;
  • Continue to jointly sponsor groups relating to technology and skills;
  • Give government and stakeholders a ‘one-stop-shop’ for relations with the industry;
  • Give clearer focus on unique RSG activities around exports, imports and inward investment;
The arrangement, while maintaining the RSG’s necessary independence, will see the RSG become a new strategic board of the RDG and its chair will become a full member of the RDG’s board. The partnership has also appointed Programme Director Anna Del Vecchio as an industry secondee from Amey, who will ensure that the supply chain’s independence is maintained.

Notwithstanding the super-abundance of bullet points in the release, this is good news.

Not least because the supply chain lobbied to be part of the Rail Delivery Group when the body was first set up in 2011, following the McNulty Review.

UPDATE: This from George Ramshaw Curry (via the digital ouija board)...

Meanwhile back in the world of work the sons of Martha at the Railway Industry Association continue with the hard slog of actually helping British industry to export more, innovate, become more efficient and try and understand their domestic monopoly customers etc etc. 

Not to mention actually trying do do something about Network Rail renewals falling off a financial cliff edge in the last year of CP5.

Greening rides to rescue of the railway!

Good news for the railway via Justine Greening!

The equalities minister has announced that those over a certain age will be able to self define their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Eye understands that, in recognition of this momentous change, the vibrant Rosco community has already decided to self define their Pacer fleets as IEPs.

Unlike traditional IEPs the Greening IEPs will run at much slower speeds and will lack the ability to erect a pantograph, which traditionalists claim means they are nothing more than buses on rails. A spokestree for Angbrook said "Piss off bigot, if we say it's an IEP, it's an IEP."

Similarly, RDG has now decided that all services on the national network will have the ability to self define whether they are on-time or not. A spokesfish for RDG said: "Binary concepts like 'on-time' or 'late' have really had their day. Time is fluid and can be anything we say it is." There are expected to be additional benefits to this 'huge step forward', not least the complete abolition of Delay Repay.

Meanwhile, sources close to Network Rail suggest that the infrastructure giant is also considering allowing signals to self define their status. It has long been felt that certain colours are gender laden and that the old fashioned sequence of danger, caution and clear doesn't allow 'dollies' to express their true personalities, suppressed as they are under the leaden weight of patriarchal command and control structures.

Unbelievably, Theresa May's government self defines as strong and stable.

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...

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Project Thor, anyone?


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.”


Interesting.

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.

Indeed.

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...




Winning!

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.

Indeed.

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...


Indeed.

Good effort @Virgin and an interesting picture choice.