Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Ellman is first transport casualty of GE2017?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good news for fans of accessibility!

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

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Randerson: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have been officially informed by Southern Rail that they have withdrawn "turn up and go" access for disabled passengers from 33 stations; and if so, whether they intend to intervene to ensure that this service is restored.

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

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

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

Virgin and Stagecoach partner with SNCF

This from StockMarketWire.com...

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

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

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

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

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

Let's parlez Franchise, indeed!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Four trains celebrate UK railways

Alas, not a kettle in sight!

Just saying.

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

Good effort!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Let's parlez Franchise

Picture the scene: A room somewhere near NW1:

V: Hola, estoy aqui para la entrevista.

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

V: ¿Pero yo pensaba que el espa├▒ol era necesario?

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

V: Meirda, or should je dit, Merde!

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

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

R: Tr├Ęs bon. Welcome to mon team.

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

Thursday, 20 April 2017

HS2 gets a roasting at TSC

A feisty session of the Transport Select Committee yesterday.

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

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

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

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

You can watch the fun and games, here.

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

Beth started off proceedings by telling astonished attendees that:

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

Value for money engineering indeed.

Supply Chain to fill Election gaps?

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

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

But who should we send?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

GE2017 - Rail and the Manifestos

This from Mystic Maureen...

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

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

So what might we expect to see?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rail Sector Deal - the PM offers some clues

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

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

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

Happily Number 10's original announcement made clear that:

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

So far so good.

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

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

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

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

New DG Rail - Who should it be?

Time for an Exciting New Eye Poll!

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

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

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

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

Remember, vote early - vote often!

Kelly appointed as new DfT Permanent Secretary

This from the DfT...

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

A win for the continuity candidate...

Periodic Review 18 v Corporate Memory 0

This from Gilbert Ratchett...

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

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

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

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

Year Zero and trebles all round!

General Election 2017 and Purdah

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

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

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

A reminder about Purdah...

From the House of Commons Library:

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

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

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

General Election - 8th June 2017

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

Some quick thoughts on implications for the railway.

1. The Franchising Process is presumably now stalled?

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

3. What happens to the PR18/CP6 preparations?

Interesting times!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Eye salutes Jeremy Corbyn!

The Labour Party leader visited Wabtec in Doncaster yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Small glasses being raised in the Shire

Lots of chatter about Siemens and Bombardier merging.

Eye recommends not holding your breath, it will be... complicated.

Meanwhile, half glasses are being raised across the Shire, and possibly further South?

You can't beat a home brew.

Tornado does the ton

Good news for fans of Kettles!

A couple of Eye co-respondents (sic) have sent through some images of last night's Tornado test run and PR coup.

Tornado clocked up speeds of 100mph on the ECML between Raskelf and Alne, north of York, as can be seen here...

From Newcastle back to York the loco carried the ‘Matey’ headboard, in memory of Ray Towell whom we sadly lost just over a year ago.

And here is a picture of the test run team (and guests) safely back at York, following the 100mph triumph.

Good effort!

Meanwhile, Eye is unsure what Northern passengers must make of this, as traction across their franchise is both older and slower.

No matter!

Rumours that Tornado is now on Thunderbird duties, to drag VTEC services through crappy OHLE at Retford, have been denied...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Shaken and stirred: Tonkin, Pitt and Rollin...

A quick round up of new appointments in today's glorious railway.

David Tonkin, fresh from being Acting General Manager of the Railway Industry Association, has now been appointed Chairman. David was previously CEO at Atkins. He replaces Gordon Wakeford (who remains Chair of the Rail Supply Group). In his new role David will continue to work alongside RIA CEO Darren Caplan. RIA press release, here.

Andy Pitt has become a NED at Porterbrook Leasing. Andy has had many a varied role in the railway industry, including MD of SWT and latterly Executive Chairman of Cross London Trains which is procuring and leasing new rolling stock for the operator of the Thameslink franchise. In addition Andy is also a Non Executive Director of Transport Systems Catapult. Porterbrook press release, here.

Eye understands that James Rollin has moved into the consultancy world. He was previously Head of PR and Marketing at Bombardier UK.

The Shaken and Stirred section of Eye is always interested in hearing about new appointments, at the usual address.

A little something for Easter Week

Those of you looking to round-off the Easter week may be interested in the below.

The Epping Ongar Railway is running a real ale train on the 22nd April.

Apparently it features all the following goodness:

  • £10 fare from 5pm, includes heritage bus connection from Epping Underground.
  • 5 cask ales from New River Brewery + bottled selection from Redemption
  • 1 draught cider (producer TBC) supplemented with bottles of London Glider
  • Souvenir beer festival glasses for sale for at £3
  • Classic diesel traction – locos TBA
  • Pint Prices: £3.20 (ale), £3.50 (cider).

Bookings can be made, here.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Bi-modes not necessarily the answer...

Good news for fans of electrification!

This from the Sunday Times, yesterday....

"The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued the warnings because diesel fumes have been reclassified as a “grade 1 carcinogen”, meaning they are a “definite cause of cancer”. As many as 500,000 UK jobs are affected."

No doubt ORR and RSSB will soon be issuing appropriate guidance?

Local Government elections and Purdah

Purdah for the May local government elections starts on the 13th April.

From the House of Commons Library:

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

Therefore expect the 'Gibb Report' on Southern to be slipped out at the back-end of this week, or held over until after the 4th May.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

May a thousand plandampfs bloom!

This from Lella Lombardi...

Great news for petrolheads as Transport Minister Andrew Jones announces plans to allow motor racing on urban streets.

Imagine the delight as every High Steet, Acacia Avenue, and Station Road hosts its own Formula One race, filling the air with the joyous sounds of roaring engines, screeching tyres and whoops of delight from residents. Not to mention the fumes.

But why stop there?  

Shouldn't we also allow every community it's own Railway Steam Gala and Diesel Haulage Weekend?  

One for DfT's summer Rail Strategy perhaps?

Friday, 7 April 2017

Power PR to new First/MTR LSWR franchise

Apparently Southern have misplaced Jane Lee, the PR of choice for third-rail networks!

No matter.

Eye understands that First/MTR have snapped up Jane to handle mobilisation comms for the new London and South Western Railway.

Good appoint!

To give you an idea of how good Jane is - just try searching for an image of her on Google.

The very best PRs are always behind the camera.

That is all.

TfL getting a bit tetchy on Twitter...

Good point and well made...

Leave him bruv, he ain't wurff it!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Her Majesty's Chief Railway Inspector invites DOO comments!

This from Ian Prosser, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Railways; and director, railway safety.


Play nicely.

First/MTR brand for South Western emerges?

After 94 years of lobbying... pre-grouping companies are back!

Back in the day of course, the livery was Dark Brown and Salmon Pink.

UPDATE: @Commuter29 suggests that this may be a spoof from someone on RailUK. A good one if it is!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Railway investment strategies explained...

This from Kaizen...

Featured as the Daily Telegraph’s Fund of the Week in last Saturday's investment feature was John Laing Infrastructure.  

Its manager explained: 'The key idea is focusing on assets where we get paid regardless of how much they are used. This means it doesn't matter how many patients are at the hospital or how many people drive on the motorway'.

Listed at Number 8 in the Trust's Top 10 holdings is, a 27.5 year deal that meets all these criteria - our very own Intercity Express Programme.

Inspire the next, indeed!

Maynard on DfT 'effective governance' of Network Rail

This written answer given by Paul Maynard yesterday:

John Redwood (Wokingham): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the cost overruns on major projects at Network Rail have been in the last five years.

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys): The rail regulator, Office of Rail and Road, publishes annual efficiency and finance assessments of Network Rail. These includes their assessments of Network Rail’s performance in relation to both major enhancement projects and other areas of spend. In their assessment of 2015/16 the ORR noted an ‘enhancements underperformance of £115m’.

These annual assessments can be found here:- http://orr.gov.uk/rail/economic-regulation/regulation-of-network-rail/monitoring-performance/efficiency-and-finance-assessment

This Government has been clear about the affordability and deliverability challenges faced in the current investment programme (Control Period 5 2014-2019). This is why in 2015 Sir Peter Hendy was asked to replan the programme to put it on a more sustainable footing.

Following Sir Peter's review we have revised our approach to major projects. The effective governance the Department has put in place is helping to manage the programme within the fixed funding available.

Thank goodness the "effective governance" put in place will ensure there are no more nasty surprises in CP5...

Lookalike - 'Time on their hands' edition...

This from the Yorkshire Post...

"Engineering services group Renew Holdings said the chief executive of transport group Go-Ahead has joined the group.

"David Brown has join​ed Leeds-based Renew as a non-executive director with immediate effect."

Remind you of anyone?

Monday, 3 April 2017

Southern drivers say 'No' to ASLEF - Again

This from ASLEF...

ASLEF drivers have rejected a proposed resolution to the long-running dispute with Southern Rail. The following question was put to our driver members employed by Southern. Do you accept the proposed agreement on driver only operation and related issues on GTR Southern services?

Yes: 346 [48.2%]
No: 372 [51.8%]
Papers despatched: 953
Papers returned: 718
Turnout: 75.4%
Invalid papers: 0
Papers to be counted: 718

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: ‘We understand and support the decision arrived at in a democratic vote by our drivers and will now seek new talks with the company and work to deliver a resolution to this dispute in line with the expectations of our members.’

This is beginning to look like a vote of 'no confidence' in ASLEF's Executive.

Greater Anglia shows off new train designs

Greater Anglia has posted images of its new Stadler and Bombardier trains.

The new 'Flirt' trains will "operate on InterCity services between Norwich, Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Manningtree, Colchester, Chelmsford, Stratford and Liverpool Street".

Only one set of doors per vehicle - should make for interesting dwell times.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Exclusive: ECML tunnels to be opened by Private Sector

Private sector to break Welwyn bottleneck

Eye understands that Treasury is close to signing a significant deal on ECML capacity enhancement, involving private sector finance.

The ECML’s greatest capacity limitation is the two track section at Welwyn North. In 2000 Railtrack proposed widening the viaduct and boring new tunnels to provide four tracks throughout, and Eye understands Provisional compulsory purchase orders were put in place.

With the demise of Railtrack these schemes lapsed and the 2000 plan is now, of course, seen as politically unacceptable, not least by local MP Michael Green.

An internal NR document seen by Eye headed - Project: Rail-Loop (F) - which has already cleared most GRIP stages, proposes Welwyn North Base Tunnel (WNBT).

Engineering studies are believed to suggest a tunnel built to the same maximum 2.5% gradient specified for HS2 would be both feasible and less intrusive. As well as an acceptable alternative to doubling the viaduct plus second tunnels parallel to the existing bore.

The document says:

"Within the HS2  parameters the 1.4  mile ramps would  place the southern portal of the WNBT on the disused sidings to the East of Welwyn Garden City station.  At its deepest the tunnel would run some 25 metres, below the surface of the Mimram Valley and the viaduct, before climbing to the surface and joining the existing ECML alignment beside the North  portal of the existing tunnel near  Woolmer Green Junction. At Crossrail speeds tunnelling would take around a year."

Eye understands that final sign off from Treasury and DfT on WNBT is dependent on Chris Gibb’s review into  the 2018 Thameslink timetable. As the proposed Thameslink TT renders EMT and VTEC service enhancements almost undeliverable additional capacity is desperately required.

The construction of WNBT would be independent of the existing railway aside from the connections at each end.  Making an ideal candidate for private finance, attractive to both funders and existing consortia, especially those with suitable tunnelling machines released from current schemes.

Operational benefits would include separation of local and Thameslink services from long distance trains. Depending on the speed in the new tunnels there could also be a slight reduction in journey times.

DfT and NR were unable to comment.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Track renewals to be further hit in CP5?

The Independent has published a piece that will further fuel concerns in the infrastructure supply chain.

It quotes the following from an 'NR memo':

“The last time the track renewals industry had a cost challenge of this magnitude, 7-8 years ago, the supply chain suffered massively (we lost a principal contractor and many second tier suppliers)…this is going to be a tough couple of years for the whole industry.”

Full article, here.

UPDATE: The Campaign for Better Transport are quick off the blocks!

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"These cuts are likely to mean more delays and worse journeys for passengers. We know from previous experience with roads as well as railways that maintenance backlogs are easy to build up and hard and expensive to get rid of.

“However, this isn't all about austerity - some of it is about waste and incompetence in Network Rail, which as they admit, has mismanaged several upgrade projects. Network Rail needs to get a grip and the regulator needs to help them do it."

Lookalike - 'Days of future past' edition

RDG unveils radical plan for Lincolnshire services

People of Immingham - rejoice!

Those nice people at the RDG have promised you a significant uplift in services.

According to the FT today, reporting on the decline in coal traffic:

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said there would be space for “potentially thousands” of extra passenger services every year.

707s to Grimsby? That'll do nicely.

Roscos and RMT make unlikely bedfellows

This from the Brothers!

Anyone care to tell RMT the difference between classes 707 and 458?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Silence of lambs as South Western fleets displaced

This from from Daddy Warbucks...

First MTR seem intriguingly reticent about the collateral damage from their new train bonanza for the South Western franchise.  

Asked by the jackals of the railway press about the implications for SWT's existing fleets all they will confirm is that the Class 707s (Angel - £240 million investment) will definitely be replaced.  

As for the expensively reconstructed Class 458/5s (Porterbrook £65 million) and currently-being-expensively-retractioned Class 455s (Porterbrook £40 million), the rest is silence - at least until after the standstill period.

Still Angel had the foresight to specify dual voltage for the Class 707s. And also now has the opportunity to spend even more millions on refurbishing and retractioning the 18 Plastic Pigs, AKA Class 442.

Our man who prefers letters to Class Numbers points out that under the Mk 3 Coach bodies of the  5WES is traction equipment from the legendary 4REPs which weighed 175 tonnes, had the power of a Class 55 Deltic and a notional maximum speed of 100 mile/h if someone was looking.

Let's hope whoever gets the contract to re-traction the Class 442s maintains this hooligan tradition. After all, they do hold the speed record on 750 Volt DC third rail.

RIA ups its lobbying game

New Railway Industry Association CEO Darren Caplan is making his mark.

According to both Railnews and Railway Gazette International RIA issued a statement yesterday on the back of the Article 50 activation:

"Brexit presents the industry with both challenges and opportunities’, said Chief Executive Darren Caplan. "The Railway Industry Association will seek to be specifically included in any Brexit agreement negotiated, ensuring UK railways sit alongside automotive and aerospace as one of the Department for Exiting the EU’s top transport sectors.

"Additionally, we will work with the UK government to maintain trade in as frictionless a manner as possible, for example on standards and tariffs; and we will seek to ensure our industry continues to have access to an adequate supply of skilled labour from the UK and around the world, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations."

Although perhaps a shame that you can't yet find it on the news section of the RIA website...

A couple of good causes for your attention...

If you have a spare minute or two?

Wolmar has asked that you consider signing this petition to have the provision of on-train defibrillators discussed in Parliament

And here, Driver Potter is after the price of a pint to return the 4VEP to the mainline.

Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

CH2M pulls out of HS2 Phase 2b

This from PA...

More over at Guido, here.

DfT DG for HS2 departs for Oxford

David Prout off to the Dreaming Spires

Not a great week for HS2.

And so it begins...

HS2 abandons classic compatible fleet - shocker

Welcome to the world of HS2 Nuspeak!

Gone is the fuddy duddy old fashioned term "classic compatible'.

In comes the snappy and exciting "conventional-compatible"!

Why use seven letters when twelve will do?

HS2 simplificating railwaytrainvehicle procurementpurchase for benefit travelpassenger! 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Railfreight and Article 50

This from Hildegard of the Vinzgau...

As Parliament triggers Article 50, and starts the process of Brexit, let's remember that our railways have always been for moving trade, connecting people and opening up new horizons.

Long may it continue!

Mystic Wolmar on rolling stock procurement

This from Henry Hectare...

In the past Eye has been somewhat critical of a certain Mr Kipling's role in the procurement of new rolling stock.

The latest fleets for Thameslink, East Coast and Great Western were specified and procured by the DfT, often against the best advice of those who actually have to operate them, and not withstanding passenger (sorry - customer) fury about uncomfortable seating and the absence of wifi and sockets. 

No matter!

Surely this could all have been solved by simple recourse to the wise words of the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent?

But what do we find when we turn to an epistle from Mystic Wolmar, penned for the pages of RAIL Magazine in 2004, as Virgin Trains launched its first "tilting" Red Revolution timetable:

"It is obvious that the Voyagers or Pendolinos must not be used as the model for new rolling stock for inter-city services and let us hope the lessons from their failings are learned. The HSTs are going to need replacing, probably by the end of the decade, and the same mistake of having modern trains that are less pleasant than the ones they are replacing must not be repeated...

"The sensible option would be for the SRA – or, rather, its replacement – to commission a new design for the trains and insist that they be used on the Great Western franchise where most sets are required and for any other similar routes. Why should a franchisee design trains when they are but temporary holders of a management contract, especially given that when things go wrong, we all know who foots the bill."

Wise words indeed. If only Mr Kipling and his legions in the DfT had listened to Woemar's sage advice! (Is this right? Ed)

ORR fires starting gun on PR18

The ORR has issued a review initiation notice beginning the statutory process for the periodic review.

In a note sent yesterday to interested parties the ORR stated:

As part of PR18, we have today issued a formal notice confirming our intention to carry out a periodic review (known in law as an ‘access charges review’) of all track and station access agreements relating to Network Rail’s network. PR18 will determine what Network Rail Infrastructure Limited is expected to deliver and the funding that it is given in control period 6 (CP6), which we expect to run from 2019 to 2024. 
The notice also requires that the Secretary of State and the Scottish Ministers each provide to us certain information by 20 July 2017. We expect this information will take the form of a high-level output statement (HLOS – setting out what should be achieved by railway activities in CP6) and a statements of funds available (SoFA – setting out the public financial resources that are expected to be made available to support the HLOS).
Our original timetable for PR18 envisaged that the HLOSs and SoFAs would be provided in May/June 2017. The date in our notice does not prevent the governments providing this information in line with this timescale, but provides additional time up to the UK Parliamentary recess, should this be required. This is consistent with the deadline given by us in previous periodic reviews.
Summer recess is expected to be on the 20 July 2017.
A generous right-time measurement from ORR.

Who will be the new MD of First/MTR SWT?

Time for an exciting Eye poll!

Using your skills and judgement select who is most likely to be new MD of First MTR South Western Trains.

The exclusive Eye poll is on the right hand side menu bar.

Remember, vote early vote often!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Lookalike: 'What a lovely day' edition

First & MTR take South Western

This from the DfT, in what is a remarkably scrappy press release...

"And today (27 March 2017) we can announce that First MTR South Western Trains Limited has been awarded the South Western franchise which will run for 7 years from 20 August 2017. This is the first franchise awarded since the Secretary of State set out his vision for the future of the railways in a speech on 6 December 2016, and marks a new era in joined up working between train operators and Network Rail.
"First MTR South Western Trains Limited will use the experience of one of its major shareholders MTR, who operate the busy Hong Kong metro, to deliver smooth and rapid journeys for passengers travelling around London’s suburban network. Faster journeys will be delivered through a consistent fleet of new suburban trains offering a regular, metro-style service. Passengers can look forward to more space, ensuring that the railway can support London’s growth.
"Passengers travelling across the South Western network will also benefit from more space and faster rail services as the new 7 year South Western Franchise has been awarded today to First MTR South Western Trains Limited."
This announcement was expected last Thursday, but events... 
Not an unexpected result, with significant changes to fleets on the route.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

HS2 and UCR 2016

Not a good week for HS2.

The Guido Fawkes website is running a number of articles on the project; suggesting that a crisis board meeting is being held today and calling into question the use of 17 PR agencies.

Meanwhile, UK companies looking to supply into the new railway are getting increasingly frustrated by HS2’s apparent insistence on strict adherence to the Utility Contracts Regulations 2016.

The UK rolling stock supply chain, having been burnt by previous government procurement exercises for both Thameslink and the IEP, is calling for UK content to be a contractual requirement for the new HS2 fleet.

HS2 remains adamant that under the EU mandated Utility Contracts Regulations this cannot happen.

If Chris Grayling is serious about securing a post Brexit Bounce for Britain's rail supply chain then a more flexible approach to HS2 procurement, that favours UK suppliers, must be mandated.

Otherwise the project's multi-billion pound spend risks disappearing off-shore.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Brothers field nag in The National

This from The Liverpool Echo...

"Merseyrail will be hit by a 24 hour strike on April 8 - the day of the Grand National."

Meanwhile, here is an image of the RMT, possibly at Brecher's Brook...

On they go, and on they go; with Public Opinion, Furious Passenger and Withdrawn Funding in the lead...

Racegoers, Merseyside and Eye ask if colleagues might think again?

World Poetry Day - Adelstrop

So today is World Poetry Day...

Not that you ever need an excuse to hear this.

Beardie Rail (East) plays trains

This from Virgin Trains East Coast...

"Four trains spanning four generations will travel side by side, in the same direction, along the East Coast Main Line on April 23 2017.

"This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world famous Flying Scotsman travel alongside two trains from Virgin Trains’ revitalised fleet - an HST (Class 43), an intercity225 (Class 91) - and the rail operator’s brand new train, the Virgin Azuma (Class 800) which is being built by Hitachi in the North East, and will come into service in 2018.

"The four trains will travel together for several miles north of York to showcase the past, present and future of rail travel."

A nice of bit Beardie Rail PR that should look stunning from the air.

The event is being supported by Welcome to Yorkshire, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum.

Does Eye detect the hand of Stanton?

NR sources 96% of steel rails from UK

Some nice NR infographics appearing on Twitter...

Let's hope tax-payer funded HS2 will match NR's commitment to UK industry?

Monday, 20 March 2017

BRoR: First national TV ad campaign for 20 years

Coming to a Devil's Lantern near you...

Due to run for 'more than three weeks' on TV and at cinemas; and will be supported by posters on trains and at stations.

Good to hear both goods and passengers mentioned.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

That's some confidence in the product.

Not a train to be seen!

UPDATE: This from Paul (Brigg Line) @Saturday_Only...

UPDATE: This apparently from ‘Tulyar’…

Good to see the Rail Delivery Group embracing both the tradition and diversity of today's railway in their new logo.

Much as new nations emerging from former colonies, or ethnic/cultural reformations attach significance to the colours and symbols (cont’ p94)…

I wonder if there is (or readers might attribute) significance to the colours used and their positions on the logo. 

Eye suspects it had something to do with not using any existing TOC house colours (future franchise winners - fill your boots!).

Industry simplification - Supply and Deliver!

Eye exclusive: Inside the office of the RDG CEO!

An Aldersgate mole has supplied extraordinary footage of recent high level discussions between leaders of the RDG and RSG.

Here Paul Plummer offers the Supply Chain a seat at the table:

Truly, Master of all he surveys!

Super Inquiry into Air Quality announced

This from the Transport Select Committee:

"MP’s from four select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots.

"The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution.

"The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July."

This joint inquiry creates both opportunities and potential threats for the rail industry.

Passenger operators into London termini may wish to consider their idling policy for diesel trains?

Whilst station owners may want to look at whether their stations offer adequate ventilation...

On a more positive note, with the London Mayor particularly keen to introduce low-emission zones, Eye wonders whether railfreight operators can work with TfL and DfT to utilise passenger stations at night (and dormant Royal Mail facilities) to offer logistics services to the Capital?

Either way, hopefully RFG and RDG will see fit to submit evidence?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Lookalike - 'Dr Lazarus' edition

By Grabthar's hammer, by the Suns of Warvan...

...shippers, passengers and Treasury shall be assuaged!

VTEC ups its game on Accessibility

That's the way to do it!

Although asking whether people might 'need this' appears a little superfluous?

On a two hour journey who can tell?

So best assume we all will?

But it's a start!

A song for Thursday?

Just going to leave this here.

But who knows?

Lookalike - 'Careful what you wish for' edition

Eye is always keen to respond to reader requests!

How's that working for you Alfred?

Wheel flat fails first Okehampton to London train

Oh Dear!

This from CornwallLive:

"An historic train journey which was supposed the first train to run direct from Okehampton to London in 50 years has been scrapped after the engine slipped down the line this morning, damaging the wheels."

A nice shiny green HST as well, with not a kettle in sight.

Friday, 17 March 2017

There have been requests...

On St Patrick's Day, a reminder to Whitehall.

You're wasting your time!