Friday, 22 December 2017

Eye's Exclusive Christmas Telly Guide

This from Michael Port and Stilton-illo...

The festive season is of course the perfect time for opening up the Quality Street and unwinding in front of the TV.  So Eye has selected the very best of the seasonal schedules from the Radio Times-table, perfect for all the #railwayfamily.

15:00 Queen’s Christmas Message
Please stand for Her Majesty.  Unless you’re on the 7.16am train from East Grinstead to London Bridge, in which case you’re already standing.

15:15 Sector Deal or No Sector Deal
Open the boxes to see whether the railways get a sector deal.  And who is the mysterious banker who is leading the project?  This week’s contestants include RSG, RDG, RIA, Rail Alliance, RFEM, DfT, BEIS... (That’s enough acronyms – Ed)

16:00 Gardening Leave World
How to prune orchard fruit trees.  With special guest RDG presenter (to be announced.)

16:30 Pointless
Rail freight experts try to explain to Lord Adonis why platooned lorries will not solve world hunger.

17:00 Film - Titanic 
The East Coast franchise is sinking, and shareholders are in peril.  DfT have launched the lifeboats but can they rescue it before everyone’s reputation is damaged? (Repeat)

19:00 Penn and Teller – Fool Us
Illusionists Penn & Teller sit in the audience whilst Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell describe their plans for the UK railways, including nationalisation, buying back the ROSCOs and national pay bargaining.  There’ll even be enough money left over to cut fares!  Can they fool the magic duo? Can they fool you?

19:45 East-West Enders
Chris and Rob throw a Christmas party to celebrate the start of works, but joy turns to horror as something nasty is discovered in the structural surveys and Peggy realises that half the outputs have vanished!

20:15 DIY SOS
The village wants a new railway station, but Network Rail’s costs are just too high!  Can the community come together to deliver it more efficiently? Presented by Rob Mackintosh with help from a team of friendly Canadian pensioners..

21:00 Antiques RailShow
In this special rail edition, ROSCOs ask the experts to assess whether there is any residual value left in their fleets.  A rare PRM TSI compliant HST causes excitement for Fiona!

22:00 News at Ten
Presented by Nigel Harris

22:15 Regional News
Presented by Chris Grayling (All regions, except Scotland)

22:30 Weather
Network Rail’s new video explains why they can’t run trains when it’s too windy, wet, hot, cold, snowy or leafy.

23:00 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special
Our annual reminder that everything was better in the past. Guest stars include Val Doonican, Christian Wolmar and the British Railways Board.

Wishing all Eye readers. and contributors, a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Greater Anglia aims to slash journey times!

This from a Mr Ed Starr…

I see that Greater Anglia are encouraging existing customers to stop commuting…



Perhaps no wonder they are struggling with their revenue targets?

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

LNW 'Railway Grafters' celebrate staff working over Christmas

This from Network Rail's increasingly impressive LNW Route.

Lest it be forgot, LNW is opening Euston Station for the homeless on Christmas Day.

Here Birmingham New Street staff outline the work of the #RailwayFamily over Christmas.



Words and more information here.

Terrible! But good effort.

DfT leads the pack!

This from Civil Service World...



Presumably nothing to do with the Director of Passenger Franchising being paid more than the PM?

Awkward!


Friday, 15 December 2017

Wizard Required - Apply DfT

Exciting news in the world of recruitment!

This from the Grauniad's job section:



And what special skills are required that needs must disbar 'muggles' from applying for the role?


Eye's man in the North West who peruses the situations vacant ads, asks "who on earth thinks that Ministerial statements should be clear and concise?"

"Perhaps a start could be made by offering a simple yes or no answer to questions like 'will you actually build the extra platforms promised for Manchester Piccadilly?'"

"And in terms of concision, perhaps a date could be given for when these long promised platforms will open for traffic?".

Such Northern naivety. Expelliarmus!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

East West Railway launch sees NIC knacked!

Exciting news from the DfT

A direct rail link between the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge took a step closer today (14 December 2017), as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling officially launched the East West Railway Company.

The Transport Secretary launched the new company, which will oversee the restoration of the link between the two academic powerhouses, nearly 50 years to the day since the closure of the old Varsity Line at the historic Second World War site of Bletchley Park.

Mr Grayling met with Rob Brighouse, interim chair of the East West Railway Company, regional council leaders and Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart for the launch.

He also met with Cyril Bleasdale who worked on the original Varsity Line construction in the 1960s and helped to build the Bletchley Viaduct.

Errr...

Cyril Bleasdale! From when?

The Bletchley Viaduct! Is it still fit for purpose?

What happened to the quote from the increasingly excitable Twitter persona and roving VoxPop that is Lord Andrew Adonis?

Lest it be forgot, Admiral Scrumptious is the Chair of the railfreight hating National Infrastructure Commission.

The NIC has championed the re-opening of the Oxbridge Line from Oxford to Cambridge but also suggested that platooned lorries will sort all your housebuilding, shopping and road-safety needs.

The NIC also includes an NR board member amongst its illuminati.

Eye can only wonder why such seers of the railway age, might have been overlooked.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Railway Carol Service - 21st December

It's that time of year again!

The annual Rail Staff Carol Service will be held at 12:30 on Thursday 21st December at St Mary's Somers Town near Euston Station.


All welcome.

Euston to host homeless on Christmas Day

This from Network Rail is great!

Thanks to a partnership between Streets Kitchen, St Mungo's and Network Rail, London Euston station will welcome 200 specially invited homeless guests on Christmas Day.

As colleagues enjoy time off with their families during the festive season, around 30 volunteers from Network Rail will give up their Christmas Day to work alongside volunteers from homelessness charity St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen. St Mungo’s provides a bed and support to more than 2,700 people a night across England, and Streets Kitchen is a grassroots organisation which feeds 1,000 people on the streets every week.

The 200 guests, invited by St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen, will be arriving at London Euston station from 1100 on Christmas Day, Monday 25 December. The station concourse will be filled with decorations and tables will be laid for dinner so that the guests can enjoy a full Christmas dinner and some company.


More here

Good effort!

DfT outsources data collection to Labour

What are we to make of this response?

East Coast Rail Franchise

Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 5 December 2017 to Question 116801, how much Virgin Trains East Coast paid in premium payments (a) from the commencement of the franchise in 2015 to date and (b) will pay in each year until 2023-2024.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys): The current East Coast franchise operated by Virgin Trains East Coast commenced 1st March 2015. An announcement of the expected premium over the duration of the contract was made at franchise award. All premiums due to date under the contract have been paid. Payments by franchised operators are published by ORR annually and can be found on their website. We have set out our plans to end the operational divide between track and train, and from 2020 we are establishing the East Coast Partnership, one of the first of a new generation of integrated regional rail operations. This will be subject to a competitive process, and will include appropriate premiums paid from the private partner to the Government.

This is unhelpful to the point of wilfull obstruction.

DfT has a spreadsheet of premium payments year by year on its website so why not simply provide a link?

Perhaps because the subsidy spreadsheet on the DfT website stops at 2015-16. The next update (for 2016-17) was due in August 2017 but it ain't there.

No doubt the DfT is hoping McDonald can find the information on the ORR website and pass it on to New Minster House?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The future is diseasel - stuff you!

Good news for fans of diminished Air Quality!

This image graces the cover of the Great Western Rail Franchise consultation, published yesterday.

Granted Penzance was not an electrification priority, but surely showing one of these expensive new trains under the wires might have shown that DfT still takes the benefits of electrification seriously?


They're not even trying now, are they?

Partnership falls flat at the Commercial Interface

This from Hazel Grove...

Today’s exciting announcement from Government is the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy, in which Highways England, Network Rail, HS2, TfL and DfT outline their new plans for making everything cheaper, if not better.

But what is this in the small print?

Surely not a suggestion that Network Rail’s efficiency, or lack thereof, is hindered by the quest for passenger franchise revenues?



In the new spirit of the partnership railway, surely its time that this tired old meme was retired?

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Connecting people - a thought

Exciting news - the Government has finally published the Rail Strategy!

Just shy of a year after it was originally announced.

No matter.

Meanwhile, Integrated Partnerships tailored to the franchise de jour have been announced.

Good news indeed.

Especially for operators of passenger trains on both the East Coast and across the East Midlands!

So Eye wonders who will claim ownership of this key junction between the two routes?


The devil remains in the detail.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NIC knacks Railfreight

Oh dear! 

What are we to make of this, from the increasingly excitable twitter feed of Admiral Scrumptious?


Or indeed this, from the National Infrastructure Commission consultation on a National Infrastructure Assessment (p82-83), chaired by Lord Adonis:

Long-distance freight

Businesses need to be able to move goods between ports, airports, production and distribution sites, and to their customers as efficiently as possible...

An argument for shifting freight from road to rail is often made on grounds of congestion and environmental benefits. Rail freight will always have its place, and some enhancements may be cost-effective, but the Commission believes the pilots of “platooning” truck convoys on motorways and major A roads may open the way to radical improvements in the efficiency and capacity of major freight distribution by road in the future (see Chapter 5). This would free up rail capacity for enhanced commuter and inter-city passenger services. The Commission will report further on this in the future.

Rail freight is already increasingly limited by network capacity as passenger demand increases. The issues with mixed traffic on the network are well documented – freight trains travelling at 70mph on the same track as passenger trains travelling at 125mph results in a significant capacity constraint. 
Whilst freight can travel at night in some areas, this competes with maintenance work, which also needs access to the track at night.

Reducing road freight by only one-third would require more than a three-fold increase in rail freight capacity, which simply could not be accommodated on today’s already busy railway. The Commission believes that upgrades needed for this sort of shift would be prohibitively expensive, whilst the benefits would be questionable, particularly if truck platooning is successful, given the industry’s clear preference for road transport in most cases.

Really?

Platooned lorries (an untried technology) makes more sense than, for instance, running aggregate trains - one train of which typically carries the equivalent of 60 lorries, from quarries where for environmental reasons the use of railfreight is mandated? Not particularly bright when a massive expansion in house building is a key plank of government policy.

And that's before we even start on the centrality of railfreight operations to ports and the wider logistics network.

Most disappointing.

Doubly so, as one of the NIC Commissioners is Bridget Rosewell who also happens to be a non-Executive director of Network Rail.



No doubt Bridget was vigorous in her defence of the rights of Network Rail freight customers when this section of the report came to be written?

Meanwhile, Eye understands that a stiff letter has gone to Lord Adonis, signed by freight customers and operators, objecting in the strongest possible terms to the coverage of railfreight in the NICs report.

Not least because the tone of the NIC's consultation has already created concern amongst those looking to invest now in new or expanded railfreight facilities.

Bizarre that a body charged with developing infrastructure should be acting in such a way as to make it more difficult for the private sector to do so.

UPDATE: It would appear that a signalling problem delayed Admiral Scrumptious, rather than a freight train…

No doubt Adonis will be quick to set the record straight?

RDG - feeling the Maynard love

This written answer from Rail Minister Paul Maynard

Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Rail Delivery Group; and if he will make a statement.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys): The Government is supportive of the Rail Delivery Group’s role of providing industry leadership in the railway to achieve better outcomes for rail users. We continue to work closely with them to ensure they are well placed to provide the strategic leadership needed to deliver key reforms in the railway.

There's lovely.


VTEC - Master of the Interwebs

This from Rob Roy…

Good to see that VT East Coast has their finger on the pulse in this information age.

One would have thought that someone might have noticed that the warning about Cross Country industrial action on Sunday the 19th is no longer current today?



Perhaps they could look ahead to the industrial action this coming Sunday, the 26th?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Shaken and stirred - Murdoch to head NR Comms

A big Eye welcome to Caroline Murdoch, NR's Group Communications Director designate.

Caroline steps into the shoes vacated by Barney Wyld who left NR's top comms role for Rolls Royce last month.

Caroline currently works for the National Crime Agency, heading up the Corporate Affairs function. She has previously worked at the Met and TfL and brings over 20 years’ experience to Network Rail from national communications, public affairs, crisis communication management, marketing and internal communications within both public and private sectors.

Scot Marchbank continues as interim, until Caroline joins NR in late February/early March 2018.

Extension of Young Person's Railcard - A nation speaks!

Today the government announced that the YP's railcard would be extended to 26 - 30 year olds.




The Chatterati on twitter appear underwhelmed by today's exciting announcement…









Tin-eared Hammond does it again!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Rugby club gets new boots

This from the Archer…

I thought BMRFC members might like to see what the Mids Div would be sporting on the field this season (Is there an English version of this? Ed)


Eye can't imagine they've ever lost a match.

Pointless signs - Shoeburyness

This from Strawbrick…

This beauty is to be found at Shoeburyness Station car park



Utterly pointless!

Eurotunnel car crash rebrand

This tosh from Eurotunnel

Groupe Eurotunnel has today changed its name to Getlink.

This new name, reflecting the dynamism of connection and exchange, marks the Group’s passage into an exciting new era for mobility infrastructures.

“Getlink is all that is Eurotunnel and more than just Eurotunnel! Originally the promoter of the Channel Tunnel, itself an historic technological achievement, over the past ten years the Group has transformed and is now in perfect shape to take on the challenges of new forms of mobility”, stated Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Group. “The core mission for Getlink is the development and management
(cont' p94).

Getlink? Get lost!


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

TSC to look at Mobility as a Service

This from the Transport Select Committee…

Committee to explore transformative potential of ‘Mobility as a Service’

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a broad term for a range of digital transport service platforms, from quite niche online car and bike-sharing schemes to hugely popular, high profile taxi and private hire smartphone apps.

MaaS apps can provide value for money, convenient, on demand services and are transforming how people, particularly younger people in cities, use urban transport. But, while door-to-door journeys in cities tend to utilise several transport modes— walk/cycle/minicab; train; bus; walk/cycle, for example—the most popular smartphone apps to date have tended to be single mode, typically taxis and minicabs.

Proponents of an emerging model of MaaS, in which multiple modes of transport are brought together under a single app, believe it has the potential to make getting around via public and shared transport so convenient it will negate the need for people in and around cities to own their own car, with potentially massive benefits in relation to urban congestion, air pollution and health.

The Transport Committee is launching a new inquiry into the transformative potential of this type of integrated, multi-mode MaaS app, and overcoming barriers to implementation in UK cities and regions.

Lilian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, said:


Integrating urban transport modes into a single, integrated MaaS app represents a really exciting opportunity to transform how we get around in our cities.

“An integrated MaaS app can create a single, seamless journey, cutting out the hassle of separate ticketing for different legs of a journey. The app can plan and book your whole journey from door-to-door in the most efficient way possible, using real-time service data across all the transport modes in the city. This could substantially reduce reliance on the private car; ease congestion; increase productivity; and lead to more pleasant, healthier cities with better air quality.

“Integrated MaaS is a much talked about concept, but it is not generally well understood. We want to increase public understanding; find out if the bold claims are justified; and, if they are, recommend ways the Department for Transport and others can support and facilitate its implementation in the UK.
"

Submissions can be made here.

Timely for the Rail Supply Group, as it seeks a Sector Deal.


Monday, 13 November 2017

Shaken and Stirred: Chaudhry-van der Velde MD West Midlands

This from Abellio/Mitsui...

Merseyrail’s Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde appointed Managing Director of West Midlands Trains
Merseyrail Deputy MD Andy Heath to succeed Jan at Merseyrail

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde has today been appointed as Managing Director of West Midlands Trains, which will take over the next West Midlands franchise on 10 December. He joins from Merseyrail where he has been MD since 2015.

Prior to joining Merseyrail, Jan spent three years as Abellio UK’s Deputy MD. In this role he was a member of the Merseyrail board and played a critical role in the company’s successful bid for the ScotRail franchise.

Jan has also held a number of director roles outside of Abellio including Operations Director at South West Trains, Commercial Director at Southern and Operations & Retail Director at Thameslink. He first joined the sector in 1989 as a British Rail general management trainee.

Merseyrail’s new managing director will be Jan’s former deputy, Andy Heath. Andy first joined Merseyrail as Trains Manager in 1998 and has been Operations Director since 2005. 


He will be stepping into the role on 10 December, following Jan’s departure.

TSC Inquiry into Rail Infrastructure

This from the Transport Select Committee...

The process for deciding the funding and outputs of Network Rail for the control period 2019-2024 is underway. Against this background, the Committee wishes to understand whether the current system of planning and delivering investment in rail infrastructure is adequate. The Committee is particularly interested in submissions addressing:

The impact of postponing renewals from the current control period into the next and the implications of the Secretary of State’s decision to remove enhancements from the control period process
The adequacy of the control period process in enabling the delivery of long term rail infrastructure objectives

Whether Network Rail’s long term planning process is effective in providing the industry with strategic direction beyond the five year control period.

As usual, RIA was quick off the mark, punting this out at close of play on Friday...

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) said: “The Railway Industry Association has been urging politicians since the summer that there is a £500m shortfall in the current Control Period of railway funding, CP5. This shortfall needs to be addressed to avoid cancellations and delays on the railway system up to March 2019, when CP5 ends. However, we have also been calling for a look at the wider long-term issues around funding the railways, and so we strongly welcome the news that the Transport Select Committee has committed to investigate this.

“The current Control Period system creates boom and bust cycles in the industry, meaning rail suppliers need to increase their capacity at the start of the funding period, but then see a sharp drop off in workload near the end, jeopardising jobs and the ability of small and medium sized enterprises to survive. Ultimately this boom and bust increases the cost of renewing and maintaining the railway system by up to 30%. So we look forward to working with the Transport Select Committee to see how the funding system can be improved, to enable the best possible service to passengers and freight, and the best value to the taxpayer”
.

Inquiry Terms of Reference here, and submission can be made via here.

Bigland made an honest man!

Many congratulations to railway snapper Paul Bigland and ACoRP fixer Dawn Wolrich.

Paul and Dawn tied the knot on Saturday with friends and family in Huddersfield.


This is possibly the only photograph of Paul you will ever see without a camera in his hands...


Remembrance at Derby station

Friday saw an act of Remembrance at Derby station.

Led by Railway Mission Chaplain Ralph Coleman, the short service saw wreaths laid by EMT, BTP, the Rail Forum and other local groups.


The Derby station war memorial, on platform one, features the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice from the former Derby loco works.

This year, courtesy of the Railway Heritage Trust, there is now a plaque to honour the heroism of railwayman Private Jacob Rivers VC.



And also attending for the first time in an official capacity was the Derby Railway Engineering Society, represented by President Jonathan Wragg of SNC Lavalin, sporting a rather fetching DRES presidential chain of office.



At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Railway Pride Restored - Hampton Court

Regular Eye readers may recall these sorry images from Hampton Court station.



But what's this?

Railway Pride is being restored at Hampton Court!


Not quite complete, but definitely a major improvement.

Good effort!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Unusual coupling caused Azuma issue - Official

Oh dear!

This twaddle from Beardie Rail on the East Coast.



"It's like a a train and a lazer made a baby while on holiday in Japan."

Really?

If so, who was the Dr Moreau that brought this bizarre creation into this world?

Why it's our very own DfT, who paid an absolute fortune for a one night stand between a flash and a pan.

And then decided to roger us all, by adding NOx emissions as well.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Railway Pride - Manningtree Co-op

This from a Mr T…

While at the Post Office in my local Co-op in Manningtree, I happened upon a few Network Rail A4 Lever Arch files dumped on a shelf amongst some boxes



On closer inspection I noticed that they were full of Anglia Level Crossing Closure proposals.  Had a contractor or employee carelessly left them there whilst out shopping?

On the contrary I thought, for surely it must be part of Network Rail’s consultation on Level Crossing Closures. And no doubt they leave their proposals across a range of local shops and libraries etc as part of that consultation, as well as to meet their legal responsibility.

However, I'd have at least expected an NR branded poster at the entrance to the supermarket, advertising the consultation and informing members of the public as to where in the shop the plans might be found. And perhaps even some sort of explanation near the files, as to why they are there and how residents can engage with the process?

Alas, of such, there were none.

Come on NR. A bit of Railway Pride please!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Grauniad rivals GTR for up to date information

Good news for fans of the bleedin' obvious!

This from the Grauniad:

Britain’s biggest rail franchise, which includes the strike-hit Southern service, is likely to be broken up when it expires in 2021, the government has said.

Passengers on Southern have experienced widespread disruption since it was incorporated into Britain’s biggest rail franchise, run by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), in 2015.


Why, yes. Yes indeed!

And what's more DfT have confirmed this is what will happen.


Except they confirmed it way back... in 2014, before the GTR contract even started.

Good to see the Graun so quick on the uptake,  a mere 38 months after the original announcement.

DOO - the long view

This from an Eye reader with a long memory…

As those who read RSSB reports may recall - there is a view that "on platform" cameras give a much better view of the Passenger Train Interface than "on train" cameras.

BUT there is a feeling in the industry that this was ahem... overlooked to ensure the cost and resposibility for maintaining DOO equipment didn't fall on Network Rail.

So - imagine my surprise at finding this letter from 24 years ago, which appeared in the September issue of Modern Railways.


I wonder if Modern Railways is actually responsible for the whole DOO debacle and THAT's why they keep calling it "Modernisation"?

DfT consults on Community Rail

The DfT has issued a consultation document on Community Rail.

This follows a passionate speech by Pete Wilkinson last month, in favour of community rail, at the ACoRP awards in Derby.

The consultation introduction sets the scene:

The Government believes community rail is well placed in ensuring the railway reflects the communities and customers it serves. Community rail policy was last reviewed in 2007 and in the decade since there has been considerable change, with community rail continuing to develop amid an evolving and growing rail network.

The purpose of this consultation is to provide those with an interest in community rail in England and Wales an opportunity to inform future policy

The consultation document can be found here.

Remember. Vote early, vote often.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Chiltern re-brand

Suffice to say it has not been universally welcomed...


 








That is all.

EGIP expands railway footprint

This from a Mr Euroland…

Spotted just outside the railway, outside Stirling. 


EGIP's obviously going well....

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Pay attention Mr Hammond!

Some interesting research by Ipsos MORI.

The research was undertaken across 28 countries in September.

Key findings for the UK railway and ahem… anyone planning a Budget!

Ipsos MORI found 46% of Britons choosing tracks and stations from a list as priorities for investment, ahead of new housing supply (43%) and flood defences (38%). These were last year’s top three, but rail was in third place a year ago.

Along with new housing supply, rail infrastructure is given higher priority in Britain relative to other G8 countries. In Britain, 38% rate the quality of rail as very/fairly good, compared to 51% in France and 60% in Japan (it is, though, 29% in Italy).

The higher priority given to investing in rail infrastructure compared to other countries does not reflect experience. Seven in ten (69%) rate the experience on their last journey positively, higher than the global average of six in ten (62%). However, British rail users are significantly more negative about the value for money of their last journey.


Details here.

More tracks a greater priority than new homes!

This ought to give one or two people pause for thought.

PAC unconvinced by DfT grip on project costs

Meg Hillier taking no prisoners at Monday's Public Accounts Committee hearing into TramTrain…

Chair: I have to say that whatever you take from Mr Carne’s comments about the regulator—we as a Committee have been critical about the role of the regulator in the past—it is staggering that the Department did not challenge the costs more. We cannot quite believe that that happened.

Bernadette Kelly: Without question, we would provide much greater challenge and seek far greater assurance on these project costs now than we may have done back in 2012.

Chair: Can I make you an offer, Ms Kelly? The next time you are looking at a project, this Committee would love to look at it prior to the point at which it is agreed, just to have a good rummage through the numbers. I would be very happy to do that.

Bernadette Kelly: I hope that what you would see now is that there is a really rigorous process. If it would be helpful to the Committee to provide some further information on exactly the process that Mr Carne and I have outlined, we would be delighted to do so.

Chair: We would be interested to see that. As I said, the offer stands: if you have a future project that you would like us to look through in detail before it spends taxpayers’ money, we would be very happy to do that. Thank you very much.

Ouch!

Air Quality and bi-modes...

Notwithstanding accusations about this MP's behaviour...

This is a good question and one that Eye suspects will be the first of many in similar vein:

MIDLAND MAIN RAILWAY LINE: CARBON EMISSIONS

Jared O’Mara (Sheffield Hallam): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the level of carbon emissions that will be caused by diesel bi-mode trains compared to electric trains on the Midland Mainline.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool and North Cleveleys): Passengers expect high quality rail services and we are committed to electrification where it delivers passenger benefits and good value for money for taxpayers, but we will also take advantage of state of the art new technology to improve journeys.

In line with the Department for Transport’s processes for appraising transport investments, an economic appraisal including the environmental impacts has been carried out using the DfT’s Transport Analysis Guidance, incorporating DEFRA guidance on transport related environmental impacts.

Using this methodology, benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions are assessed over a 60 year appraisal period. We expect the new bi-mode trains to deliver an overall better environmental performance than the existing diesel trains on this route and so contribute to further improving this record.


With air quality of increasing concern, particularly in urban areas, many passenger and freight operators will need to be ready to answer similar questions.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Arriva pulls out of Wales and Borders

This from the twitter feed of Ken Skates…


Ken is 'the Official channel of the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure' at the Welsh Assembly Government:
This leaves the following in the running:
  • KeolisAmey;
  • MTR; and 
  • Abellio
Interesting, possibly even unexpected...

Digital railway's missing link

The latest organisation trying, belatedly, to get inside the digital railway bubble are civil engineers Balfour Beatty.

What, Eye ponders, do a bunch of chaps in rigger safety boots and hard hats know about the digital railway?

Eager to find out we followed the instruction at the foot of the press release (below).

Mark Bullock, Managing Director, Balfour Beatty’s rail business said, “The Digital Railway will be transformative, bringing the UK’s railways into the 21st century. Making the Digital Railway a reality calls for a shake-up of the way the rail industry does business by better connecting the constituent parts, aligning the objectives of multiple stakeholders and bringing track and trains closer together. This will require robust planning and coordination, funding and a concerted effort to address the skills shortage.

Above all, the new approach will have to be more collaborative and more inclusive. Although the challenges are significant, the potential prize is great. The industry must come together to unlock the benefits of the Digital Railway and Balfour Beatty is committed to making this happen.”

ENDS

To read the paper in full, please click here and get involved in the conversation using #ExpertEngineers

Alas, link was there none!

Perhaps a good old fashioned analogue fax address would have been more reliable?


Industry 'improved finances' - a gentle reminder

This from Benjamin Disraeli...

According to the Rail Delivery Group Notes to Editors on today's launch of the 'Landmark coming together':

"The plan details the progress that the industry has made since it was restructured in the 1990s, when Britain’s railway ran a £2bn a year operating deficit (1997-98) compared to generating a £200m surplus today, benefiting taxpayers. The plan says that improved finances have helped to sustain improvements in the railway that see Britain’s network now ranked by passengers as the best major railway in Europe".

In 1997-98 all Government subsidy to the railway went to the train operators who then provided all Railtrack's income through track access charges. In other words, they met their full operating costs.

Today Network Rail's income comes from a combinatioon of track access charges and a direct grant from DfT.

According to the ORR, in 2016-17, only South West Trains and Virgin Trains East Coast made a net contribution to DfT after Network Rail's Direct Grant had been allocated to the TOCs. The rest ran an operating deficit requiring subsidy. 

And SWT was in revenue share, while VTEC is running at a loss

Railway Pride - Hampton Court (update)

Good news for fans of Railway Pride and Hampton Court station.

Regular Eye readers may recall this sorry image of the buffer stops at Platform 2 from a post on the 14th October?


The situation is now much improved as this photo from the weekend shows!


As the legend on the billboard behind notes: 'Ever onwards' indeed!

Railway Garden Competition - North Dulwich

This, apparently, from Dicky Davis…



As you might expect in North Dulwich, they have gone one better: hanging gardens!

Railway Garden Competition - Bury St Edmunds

This from the Lady Mallet…


Arboreal greetings from Suffolk!

Partnership Railway - more gloom for the Roscos?

So, today the rail industry launched its ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity’ plan.

Backed by all passenger train operating companies and Network Rail, as well as rail freight companies and the supply chain acting in partnership as one railway for Britain the plan contains the following commitments:

  1. Strengthen the railway’s contribution to the economy, keeping running costs in the black, freeing up taxpayers’ money
  2. Increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe
  3. Boost local communities through localised decision making and investment
  4. Create more jobs, increase diversity and provide our employees with rewarding careers
The RDG press release contains a host of supportive quotes from business and the industry, as well as this from NR CEO Mark Carne:


Over the next 18 months passengers and communities across the country will see a transformation in the services that they receive. Thousands of new trains will be introduced as the culmination of years of heavy investment in improving our railway comes to fruition, stimulating the economy by delivering new job and housing opportunities."

'Thousands of new trains'?

Has anyone told the Roscos? Or did Mark mean 'vehicles'?

Friday, 27 October 2017

Prior departs for Henley

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Supply Chain tonight!

Lord Prior, the BEIS minister championing the rail Sector Strategy, resigned from the government today.

Lord Prior brought insight, energy and enthusiasm to his role, most recently displayed when he addressed the Rail Forum conference in Derby last Thursday.


No matter!

In the words of the late, great Sir Robin Day ' just another here-today, gone-tomorrow, politician.'

So a big Eye welcome to our new Supply Chain minister the Rt Hon Lord Henley!

This from Lord Henley's biography on the government website:

Lord Henley was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 27 October 2017.

He was a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions from 21 December 2016 to 15 June 2017, and a Lord in Waiting (Government Whip) from 21 November 2016 to 15 June 2017.

He is a Conservative member of the House of Lords.

Lord Henley served as Minister of State for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction from September 2011 to September 2012. He served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2010 to 2011.

Lord Henley held a number of positions in the previous Conservative government, including Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Social Security, the Department for Employment and the Ministry of Defence. He was also Minister of State for the Department of Education and Employment. In Opposition, he served as Chief Whip, Deputy Speaker and was Opposition spokesperson for Legal Affairs and Justice.

He was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and Durham University. He was called to the Bar in 1977.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Responsibilities include:

  • industrial strategy
  • Lords lead on all BEIS issues
  • industrial policy (with the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry)
  • technology and emerging sectors
  • infrastructure/construction
  • professional services
  • rail supply chain
  • defence
  • maritime
  • life sciences
  • EU on-going business
  • better regulation and regulatory reform
  • Land Registry
  • Ordnance Survey
  • Companies House
  • corporate minister
A long list of responsibilities, we can only hope he exhibits the same enthusiasm for the rail supply chain as his predecessor.

On the plus side, no doubt the Rt Hon Lord Henley can bend the Rt Hon Chris Grayling's ear at Privy Council meetings.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Shaken and stirred: DfT appoints 'Directors General' for Rail Group!

This announcement from the Department for Transport, via a number of chums…

Director General, Rail Group
Polly Payne and Ruth Hannant have been appointed as Directors General for Rail Group, joining DfT from the Department for Education where they currently lead the Government’s work on Higher Education reform. 

Polly and Ruth are a very well established job-share team who together bring extensive commercial, financial and strategic policy experience to DfT, having worked in a range of roles in HM Treasury, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and UK Government Investments.

(Having had first-hand experience of colleagues undertaking a job-share role, this can work really well. And impressive that the DfT is prepared to create our first ever Directors General. 

More importantly the connection with the Department for Education will be especially valuable as the industry collectively seeks to improve skills and diversity, which will need the active support of the DfE. 

This is beginning to look inspired! Ed).

Director General, Resources and Strategy
After 6 months as Acting DG for Rail - Nick Joyce will be taking up the role as Director General, Resources and Strategy. He will succeed Jonathan Moor who is leaving DfT in December to go on secondment to the Canadian Government as Chief Financial Officer for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Building on his experience both as Director of Corporate Finance and as Acting DG for Rail, Nick has been asked to strengthen and lead DfT's shareholding function for Network Rail, High Speed 2 Limited and Highways England.

Precise timings of handover will be determined shortly, but we expect that Ruth, Polly and Nick will be in post before the end of the year.

Director General, High Speed Rail and Major Projects

Clive Maxwell was appointed as Director General, High Speed Rail and Major Projects earlier this month. Clive will formally take up his role on 20th November.

Clive joins DfT from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where he has held the role of Director General, Energy Transformation since 2014. He has extensive experience of working across Government, including leading work in HM Treasury in response to the financial crisis, and on consumer and competition issues at the Office of Fair Trading.

Clive’s experience of infrastructure, regulation and delivery of complex programmes will be an asset to the Department. His recent responsibilities include overseeing a number of Government Major Projects, including on Smart Meters and Heat Networks, as well as leading wide-ranging policy on energy and tackling climate change.

As well as HS2, Clive will lead our work with Transport for the North on Northern Powerhouse Rail, and be responsible for East West Rail as well as working with Transport for London on the Crossrail 2 project.

(Another example of a helpful flow of talent between BEIS and DfT, both departments having a common interest in the success of the railway's supply chain. Ed)

Non-Executive Team
DfT have also been refreshing our Non-Executive team and the Prime Minister and Secretary of State have approved the following appointments to the DfT Board:
  • Ian King, CEO of BAE Systems from 2008 to 2017, to succeed Ed Smith as DfT Lead Non-Executive.
  • Richard Keys, Director of Merrill Lynch International and previously Senior Global Chief Accountant at PWC. Currently Non-Executive Director at NATS and Wessex Water. 
  • Tracey Westall, Executive Director at SCC (Specialist Computer Centres) and Non-Executive Director on Innovation Birmingham, TechUK and Governor of Birmingham City University.
  • Richard Aitken-Davies, an independent consultant with wide experience in Executive and Non-Executive roles in the infrastructure sector in particular in rail and electricity.
Ian, Richard, Tracey and Richard will join Tony Poulter to make up the Department’s Non-Executive team, and we expect them to take these roles from early-November.

All in all, much to be pleased with here. Good effort.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Thin gruel at DfT threatens Open Access!

Exciting news from Great Minster House!

This important announcement seen today…



We may safely assume that DfT's former chilly support for on-rail competition, will now be as stone-cold as their canteen food.

Hitachi goes on the front-foot!

This, from Hitachi, is impressive...


How many other suppliers would have done this and so quickly?

Great Western IEP Launch - the highs and lows...

A day of mixed blessings…














To put the carping to one side, eight years after the contract was originally signed the new trains are finally entering service. 

Therefore, on balance, very good news!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Pointless signs - East Midlands Parkway

Not so much a Pointless Sign…


…as a sign that missed its own point.

Wolmarried!

Wolmar wed today!


Any suggestions that this is a publicity stunt prior to the publication of his new book 'Railways and the Raj' have been strongly denied.

'Railways and the Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India', is being launched at Daunt Books on the 30th October. Priced at a very reasonable £25, it is available… (That's quite enough gratuitous puffery, Ed).

Many congratulations to the happy couple: Deborah and Christian!

Railway Pride - Hampton Court

This from a Mr Penson...

What a reassuring sight to greet you on arrival at Hampton Court's platform 2.


As Henry Francis Lyte observed: 'Change and decay in all around I see'.

The Case of the Silent Krankie

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

I am sure Watson, that you will have noted the significance of the Scottish Statement of Funds Available

But Holmes, the Scottish SoFA has yet to be published

That, Watson, is the significance!


Friday, 13 October 2017

Railway Pride Restored - Belper

This from the Weaver…

'Railway pride restored in Belper - thank you to all involved'.

Older Eye hands may remember this image from Belper in September.



Great joy!

Pictures from today!




Railway Pride is restored in Belper.

A reminder, as the late great Noel Coward might have said…

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.


Good effort!