Sunday, 30 November 2008

Christmas is a time for giving

Should Wolmar stick to the day job?

Friday night saw the Railway Children Annual Ball at which the great man acted as celebrity auctioneer.

Despite valiant efforts Wolmar was faced with an industry that mostly sat on its hands whilst the bids were called.

Fortunately NRM nemesis, Richard Bowker, manfully stepped up to the crease and shelled out a whopping £18k for a signed Banksy print (pictured).

The well known 'graffiti artist' (don't you mean 'vandal'? Ed) had donated the print especially and specified all monies raised should go directly into Railway Children funds.

Even so the catalogue had to describe the lot as a "blue tank engine with a face" - for copyright reasons. A situation not unknown to our Heritage Railway friends, despite their doing so much to promote and develop the Thomas the Tanks Engine brand.

Perhaps Railway Eye shouldn't be too hard on Wolmar, as he gave his time for free.

Unlike many of those at the bash, who seemed freer with expense accounts at the bar than their own cash at the auction.


Courtesy of Guido

Sauce for the goose and all that...

The wrong trousers

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Railway Eye was delighted to receive the following in a press release from The Stonewood Group:

"Data Breeches A Thing Of The Past - Guaranteed
Stonewood Group, the World’s leading designer and manufacturer of accredited encrypted hard drives, has announced the launch of the first ever fully encrypted, fully portable family of products for today’s mobile workforce".

The Stonewood Group are to be congratulated for abolishing ITSO compliant keks before they've been invented.

Chapter of faults

The battle to be Terry Morgan's successor at Tube Lines has begun.

The Independent on Sunday is touting internal candidates Andrew Cleaves (commercial director ) and Steve Hurrell (finance chief).

Mind you the Sindie also touted Rob Holden for the Crossrail top job.

And yes, The Fact Compiler got it half wrong as well.

Long dark night of the soul

Are civil servants in other departments losing faith in DfT's oft disputed claim that there will be 1,300 new rail vehicles?

This parliamentary exchange from the 25th November:

Theresa Villiers (Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative) Hansard source
"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport of the 1,300 new carriages referred to in the 2007 Rail White Paper, how many will be allocated (a) to First Transpennine and (b) to First Capital Connect; and whether they will be in addition to the new Thameslink carriages."

Paul Clark
(PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Gillingham, Labour)
"The HLOS Rolling Stock Plan published on 30 July 2008 shows 42 additional vehicles allocated to the First Transpennine Express franchise and 85 additional vehicles allocated to the First Capital Connect franchise. These carriages are not part of those being procured for the Thameslink upgrade."

Hmmm... "shows" doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement. How long before DafT explains the number away as a "rounding error"?

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Economic news

This courtesy of The Crown Blogspot via Iain Dale.

Railway Eye's latest poll refers.

A bridge too far?

Richard Bowker, as Chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, played a significant role in helping to deliver a much needed new footbridge, directly linking York station and the National Railway Museum for the first time.

The SRA's intervention removed layers of red tape and ensured that the £500k footbridge could be be built in time for the NRM's high profile 2004 RailFest - showing that todays industry could rise above narrow self interest when required.

As well as shaving 10 minutes off the pedestrian journey between York station and the NRM the footbridge also means passengers and local residents can avoid the deeply unpleasent Leeman Road tunnel - which is possibly the world's longest latrine.

Alas, the direct link to the NRM is now under threat as National Express East Coast have announced their intention to gate York station.

An unintended consequence of which will be the loss of pedestrian access through the station to the National Railway Museum when the barriers are introduced next year.

Interestingly the proprieter of National Express East Coast is one Richard Bowker.

Any chance of coming to the rescue again Richard?

UPDATE: A contributor writes...

"Very interested to see your piece on York, the 'NRM' footbridge and the dreaded gates.

"First of all, a great gag at the time that the bridge was opened by RB was that the bridge was, in fact, 'the East Coast Upgrade'!

"The other interesting point, of course, is that Grand Central sell tickets on their trains... but now their passengers will be denied access to said trains without... a ticket!!

"Surely this didn't play a part in NX's thinking..."

Surely not!

Houston we have a problem

Good to see Transport Scotland setting the very highest standards of public probity.

This from The Herald

"Opposition politicians and unions last night called for an inquiry after a report raised questions of conflict of interest in the award of Scotland's £2.5bn railway franchise.

"Concerns arose after Guy Houston quit as finance and corporate services director of Transport Scotland following publication of a report by Audit Scotland.

"Mr Houston, thought to earn £90,000 a year, stepped down on Thursday night after it emerged he held shares and share options in FirstGroup, which will receive the £2.5bn in government subsidies over the next 10 years."

Frankly unbelievable. This stinks.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Spot the difference

With apologies to all those who didn't attend the Golden Spanner awards as this will make no sense at all.

Come back Haydn...

Along to Modern Railway's Golden Spanner awards which celebrate the best improvements in fleet performance.

With the police busy locking up MPs who have embarrassed the Supreme Leader it is only right that today's awards ceremony should reflect the Age of Change.

Thus Comrade Deltic addressed the gathering from the podium and unveiled stunning train production figures for the next five years.

A number of comrades were seen to leave early. Their details have been recorded!

Alas, the same cannot be said for Rosco Angel Trains - which owned none of the winning fleets.

UPDATE: Generalismo Deltic writes:

"Generalissimo Deltic asks Eye to point out that the most reliable Intercity fleet is the IC225 trains operated by the East Coast Workers Collective and that it is the aim of the revanchist running dog lackeys of Marsham Street to replace these at an early date with the so called IEP which is likely to be the least reliable Intercity fleet .

"If this adventurism continues, the Generalissimo urges the serried ranks of railway workers, peasant and intellectuals, to rise up! And standing shoulder to shoulder to deliver a stunning rebuff to these decadent
paper tigers, masquerading as rail management, as they cower in their bunkers."

Railway AgitProp Communique No 1

Last supper

Norfolk bon viveurs continue to campaign vigourously for the retention of restaurant cars on National Express East Anglia services.

With mounting local fury and accusations that removal of the caterers will be a breach of the franchise terms it's all looking slightly messy.

However, there is one piece of good news for the beleagured bus bandits.

Unused to the wicked ways of the world the innocents of Norfolk have trustingly petitioned Gordon Brown, emploring him to retain restuarant cars.

Blind fools! Newly enervated Comrade Brown has little time for such bourgeois frippery, especially as The Age of Change will consign all such extravagences to oblivion through the twin agents of recession and tax hikes. Long live the Proletarian Revolution! Long live the Age of Change!

Angry bonce?

More exciting news from the world of Kettles

A reader writes to pose the following interesting technical question:

"If Tornado's test runs have been so successful why did the team have to remetal the inside crosshead?"

Answers on a postcard please to Running (Hot) Foreman, York MPD

UPDATE: A contributor writes:

Surely the purpose of test running is precisely to flush out any minor mechanical flaws?

A hot crosshead resulting from a slightly inadequate oil way is exactly the sort of thing I’d expect during trials and is therefore hardly a valid target for your sharp approach.

Hey, there’s a real argument that to suffer only a hot crosshead on a brand new standard gauge engine is a triumph of testing, not a failure....?

The Fact Compiler will get his coat...

Thursday, 27 November 2008

West Toast Railway

Telegrammed by Jack Ketch
West Coast Railway Company appear determined to continue making their mark, despite losing out to EWS on the operation of Tornado.

Thus on Monday the company treated the residents of Crewe to a splendid fireworks display courtesy of 37712

With four appliances in attendance and the juice switched off for an hour there was much to see.

Although sadly very few of the trains that passengers were actually waiting for.


A banker writes:

According to DafT's press release today about the invitation to tender for 1,200 new Thameslink vehicles:

"Carriages will be joined together permanently to form a train and will stay this way in a 'fixed formation' for the rest of their working life. This will make the manufacturing process simpler and more economical, and allows the trains to work more reliably".

Shame then that these trains, although more economical to manufacture, will be relatively expensive to lease given the residual value risk associated with such an inflexible formation.

Poor old DafT, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

How Green is my kettle

Telegrammed by Eboracum (50A)
The sharp eyed cranks amongst you will have noticed that all the recent test runs of new ‘Uber Kettle’ Tornado have been crewed by EWS rather than the expected operator West Coast Railways.

How can this be?

Alas, it would appear that the A1 Trust declined to paint the loco in BR Brunswick Green.

So the loco, in battleship grey, is now running on an EWS ticket.

Surprisingly the choice of photographic grey has proved surprisingly beneficial to the A1 trust.

Not least because it helped show off the logo of test run sponsor National Express to great effect.

Indeed so great was the horde of spectators lining the route of the first test run that Railway Eye understand a sponsor for the second mainline test has already been signed up...

UPDATE: A reader writes:

"It appears there is an inaccuracy with your latest post about Tornado - a sponsor for the 'second mainline test' is unlikely to have been found, because all 3 tests (light engine, 60mph and 75mph) have all been completed successfully.

Indeed, her next appearance in a few weeks time will be in apple green with British Railways on the tender.

Railway Eye stands corrected!


David Wilcock, Britain's most senior kettle-crank, has been ritually humiliated on national TV by botox powered witch Ann Robinson.

Poor old David was the second to be dumped in the latest edition of the Weakest Link..

But the greatest indignity to befall Britain's arch-puffer-nutter was when Ann commanded him to imitate an L&Y pug.

Mr Toad like he offered a feeble "puff, puff, puff".

To see David's abject misery click here and forward to 7.50 minutes into the show.

David, you ARE the weakest link....goodbye.

New Thameslink fleet

***Alstom, Bombardier, Hitachi and Siemens have been invited to tender today for 1,200 new Thameslink vehicles***

Read the DafT press release here.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Crossrail Programme Partner shortlist

***Crossrail, today announced that three organisations have been short-listed for stage two of the programme partner tendering process. The short-listed tenderers for stage two are Bechtel, Legacy 3 (a joint venture between Parsons Brinckerhoff, Balfour Beatty Management and Davis Langdon) and Transcend (a joint venture between AECOM, CH2M Hill and Nichols Group).***

Buffhoon Air

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Still trying to find out more about the 200 vehicles being delivered earlier than not expected, it was time to give the DafT press office another go.

'Is that the rail desk' we asked?

'No, replied a clipped 'Captain Speaking' voice, 'this is the Aviation desk'

'Have I dialled a wrong number?'

'No, there's no one on the Rail Desk'.

'Copy that, AvDesk. Over and out'.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

ITSO out-of-date

***The perils of modern technology explained***

Gerrymander Rail

So Geoff Hoon has decreed that Great Western, Northern and Transpennine will be the beneficiaries of "up to 200 new rail carriages".

In particular the Secretary of State wants to see the new vehicles benefit rail passengers in the "Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer distance inter-urban services in Northern England".

The Fact Compiler wonders why?

Thames Valley:
Reading West (Lab)
Oxford East (Lab)
Slough (Lab)
Swindon South (Lab)
Swindon North (Lab)

Around Bristol:
Bristol South (Lab)
Bristol East (Lab)
Bristol North West (Lab)
Kingswood (Lab)
Wansdyke (Lab)

Inter-urban services in Northern England
City of Durham (Lab)
Kingston Upon Hull (Lab)
Leeds Central (Lab)
Leeds East (Lab)
Leeds North East (Lab)
Leeds West (Lab)
Liverpool Garston (Lab)
Liverpool Riverside (Lab)
Liverpool Walton (Lab)
Liverpool Wavertree (Lab)
Manchester Central (Lab)
Manchester Blackley (Lab)
Manchester Gorton (Lab)
Middlesborough (Lab)
Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Lab)
Newcastle upon Tyne East & Wallsend (Lab)
Newcastle upon Tyne North (Lab)
Sheffield Central (Lab)
Sheffield Attercliffe (Lab)
Sheffield Brightside (Lab)
Sheffield Heeley (Lab)
Sheffield Hillsborough (Lab)
City of York (Lab)

You get the idea...

Now if TrainSardine.Org could only force a couple of byelections on the Norwich - Liverpool route...


Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
A friendly call to the DafT press office to see if there were any further details on the up to 200 vehicles being brought forward from a never specified delivery date, brought the following reply:

"We don't have details on how they will be allocated to the TOCs".

According to their Master's statement:

" additional 200 train carriages to relieve congestion on the Great Western, Northern and Transpennine rail franchises."

And the press release says:

"The delivery of 200 new carriages earlier than originally expected for rail passengers in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer distance inter-urban services in Northern England."

What sort of press office is it that claims not to have information that has been published in the House earlier that day?

Come back Miriam the railways need you more than aviation.

Clarification or more spin?

***Westminster sources saying Geoff Hoon statement at lunchtime today on the "up to 200 new rail carriages"***

UPDATE: Ministerial statement now expected at 15:00

Honourable and a member

Our elected members continue to find it easier to have a pop at TOCs over fares increases rather than hold the Department for Transport to account.

This from Dick Murray in today's Evening Standard.

"AN MP today warned of riots by rail passengers after fares were increased by more than twice the rate of inflation.

"Roger Gale, Tory member for North Thanet, described the increases, due to come into force in January, as "intolerable" and said that with people already suffering the effects of the credit crunch they could "lead to civil disobedience.

"Mr Gale has written to Charles Horton."


Earth to Roger Gale: Talk to the organ grinder rather than the monkey.

I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.

As Lord Kinnock might say:

"A totally and utterly wicked slur has been perpetrated on the literally millions of totally and utterly welsh speakers by denying them the opportunity to hear their native tongue aboard services totally and utterly serving parts of Wales."

Hansard: Written answers 20th November, Railways: Welsh Language

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with First Great Western Trains and Virgin Trains on the use of the Welsh language in respect of (a) rail services provided in Wales and (b) cross-border rail services. [237845]

Paul Clark: The Secretary of State has had no discussions with First Great Western or Virgin Trains on the use of the Welsh language.

Pictured are Sir Beardie and Moir Lockjaw dressed totally and utterly as druids.

Agreeable luncheon

Good news for lawyers.

The Norwich Evening News reports on the campaign to save National Express East Anglia restaurant cars.

'Labour's Sue Whitaker, who raised the issue, said the franchise agreement was riddled with inconsistencies.

It could be a field day for the lawyers,” she said.In one part of the franchise agreement it talks about providing a buffet service, but elsewhere there is reference to a restaurant service on some trains."

Thank goodness one sector of the economy appears recession proof... allegedly!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Pre-Budget Report and the railway

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
According to Alastair Darling's 2008 Pre-Budget Report today: "Up to 200 new rail carriages will be delivered earlier."

Since the egregious 'Rolling Stock Puzzle' does not contain a timetable for the delivery of any the 1300 (sic) new vehicles in the High Level Output Specification, how can vehicles be delivered earlier?

Elsewhere in the Report it says that there will be '£300 million to accelerate the delivery of up to 200 new carriages to expand capacity on the rail network'.

How can DafT accelerate delivery?

Only by placing orders in its own right before negotiations to changes in Franchise Agreements are concluded.

Which means telling TOCs, 'You're going to have these Electrostars we've bought as a job lot when they are delivered'.

This is an admirably sensible approach - which is why we don't think it is what the Pre-Budget Report means.

And that 'up-to 200' sounds distinctly fishy.

The only additional vehicles remotely capable of being 'accelerated ' are the 30 four car EMUs for NXEA and the 42 - oops 24 - extra DMU vehicles for TransPennine.

Predictably the running dog lackeys at ATOC welcomed this meaningless commitment.

UPDATE: Tom from Blairwatch writes:

"It did occur to me that since there's only one place you can build trains in the country, and it's full of people building trains, what was the point? If you ordered 200 Electrostar vehicles the delivery date would pattern-match 201x anyway - they've got those South African Electrostars, the Class 378s for Boris, the 2009TS for Boris and the 'S' stock for Boris to build first. My goodness, Boris is getting a big new trainset, isn't he?

"What might be fun is to engage in stimulus trading with the Germans. For instance, we could start by buying a job lot of off-the-peg Desiros (beefing up the Class 450 fleet would be favourite, guys), in return for the German police buying an equal cost in Jaguars, or something.

"Alternatively put some cash into refurbishing and life-extending the Class 150 fleet."

UPDATE: Sim Harris writes...

"That makes Bombardier sound too busy to take on any more, but not so.

"There is capacity for 8 lines at Litchurch Lane and only 5 are in use (not at all bad, but that still leaves 3). Gautrain is nearly complete, too.

"Bring the work on!"

Longrider rides out


Pre-Budget Report and the environment

Wolmar also gives a thumbs down to the Pre-Budget Report, on environmental grounds.

Read Christian's piece here.

It looks like the Chancellor is struggling to win support.

As Ali D might say: "Is it because I is in the black?".

Unholy Trinity

A splenetic press release reaches Railway Eye from campaign group TrainSardine.

They write:

"Angry passengers have launched a fight back campaign against East Midlands Trains by sending tinned sardines to rail boss Tim Shoveller. The campaign is in protest at the poor service provided on the troubled Liverpool to Norwich line."

Alas, such is the campaign group's ire that they manage to misspell the address of their own website:

"The also launched its website, a newsletter and revealed a poster." (pictured below).

As DafT's celebrated Rolling Stock plan only allows EMT three new vehicles, perhaps TrainsSadrine would be better focusing their anger at Messrs Hoon, Adonis and Mitchell.

Wonders of modern medicine

Good news from Captain Deltic!

In today's Informed Sources ePreview the good Captain shares the results of a recent visit to the doctor:

"Meanwhile, thanks for all your good wishes ahead of last month’s internal exam. The colonoscopy showed every thing to be normal."

To paraphrase Evelyn Waugh on Randolph Churchill: "It was a triumph of modern science to find the only part of Roger that wasn't indignant!".

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Wolmarvision HD

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
No expense has been spared in this super colossal production!

Fire and Steam includes the recreation of the building of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway complete with toiling navvies, bowler hatted ganger and topper wearing engineer.

Sadly, none of these are moving and the rostrum shot is one of several taken from that fount of all railway wisdom: "The story of railways" (a Ladybird achievements book).

Alas, this excellent publication failed to survive our passion for dumbing down.
A search on the Ladybird Books web site brought the following response:

"Sorry, your search for Railways has not returned any results."

Perhaps Team Railway should invest in our future and help Ladybird to fill the gap?

Gordon is a moron

Splendid news. The Prime Minister shares passenger outrage over fares increases.

This extra-ordinary statement was quoted in Saturday's Daily Telegraph:

'A spokesman for Gordon Brown said "It is clear that passengers have concerns about the value for money they receive from train companies. It is a matter for the rail companies to explain why they have made the decisions they have made".'

The Fact Compiler is speechless.

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler is grateful to a distinguished Railway Eye reader for the following:

"The tragedy of much government mishandling of the industry is that no-one - including Atoc, which is meant to be their industry association, for goodness' sake - is willing to make a fuss about it.

"First got plenty of stuff wrong on Great Western but they also took flak that should rightly have gone to the government for the reassignment of the Class 158s to areas that just happen to have lots of Labour MPs.

To quote (in expurgated fashion) Bunk, the coolest detective in cult TV series The Wire, "Sometimes it makes me sick how far we done fell."

Quite so.

A pedant writes

Railway Eye was delighted to receive an invitation to Balfour Beatty's 100th anniversary bash.

It has a picture designed to illustrate the company's involvement in the electrification of the West Coast Main Line captioned "1969".

Alas, BB decided to use a photo of a Class 87 locomotive to illustrate the piece.

As any fule kno these mainstays of the West Coast Main Line weren't introduced until 1973.

Such lack of attention to detail will come as a surprise to many in the industry.

Bah humbug

Festive cheer!

Network Rail stations have entered into the Christmas spirit!

Here's to January's New Year Grandmother sale.

Crisis, what crisis?

Telegrammed by The Master
Anyone travelling through Kings Cross on Saturday morning could be forgiven for thinking 'crisis, what crisis?'

There certainly seemed to be no sign of passenger numbers slackening in the wake of the economic downturn.

NXEC departures were rammed, with a mid morning Glasgow service full and standing.

Arrivals were equally busy, including Grand Central's first train of the day.

No doubt the cheeky decision by all three Open Access Operators to freeze fares in 2009 will continue this trend.


Is Christian Wolmar in danger of becoming a national icon?

Wolmar's book Fire and Steam has been transferred to DVD in time for Christmas.

Does the Fact Compiler detect a faint whiff of arch-crank and poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in Wolmar's agreeable cadences?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Fat head

The Fact Compiler is grateful to a reader for sending in the picture below which was taken at St Pancras station.

The Fact Compiler fears that passengers may have to wait slightly longer than the weekend for this particular train to appear at Agincourt International

Sense and sensibility

Is My Lord Adonis a good or bad thing?

Does he know his stuff or is he talking through his coronet?

You picks your commentator, you takes your choice.

For instance Nigel Harris made the following observation in a blog posting on Monday:
"What most of these commentators missed – or got completely wrong – was Andrew Adonis’ deep and detailed interest in railways. He comes to the transport job with an existing knowledge and support for rail which is going to be intriguing to watch."

Intrigued, we watched.

And lo it came to pass, a mere three days later, that Lord Adonis made clear his existing knowledge and support for rail:

Lord Adonis, House of Lords, Thursday 20th November (Hansard source)
"However, a perfectly sensible report was published, commissioned, I think, by the Department of Transport and possibly British Rail. This was the Serpell report, although it, too, proposed options that could have led to significant network cutbacks in the 1980s."

Presumably his Lordship means sensible in the sense that Raymond Ian Burns might understand it?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Silver lining

Telegrammed by The Raver
Which senior LUL director was overheard saying that Metronet's collapse was a blessing in disguise?

The reasoning from the 7th floor of 55 Broadway is that Crossrail would have been almost impossible to build due to the over complicated PPP contracts.

These would have provided greedy private sector Metronet with infinite opportunities to hoover up vast sums of public money in frustrated access compensation claims.

Presumably Tube Lines, under Terry Morgan's direction, will be taking a more pragmatic approach; unsurprising as the wily poacher will turn gamekeeper at Crossrail in 12 months time.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

70% listen on the wireless

Railway Eye surveys continue to confound the so called experts and the industry chatterati.

Last week readers were invited to express their views on the recent redesign of Railways Illustrated; a subject which has excited much debate on other internet fora.

Unsurprisingly, it emerges that this debate was entirely spurious, as a massive 70% of you usually listen to Railways Illustrated on the wireless.

For those of you who haven't yet had the opportunity to hear the mag over the airwaves here is a taster of the latest issue:

A splendid result for Pip and his team.

Divergence of opinion

A reader has kindly sent in these images of the Loram rail grinder in action at Crewe on the 11th November.

Perhaps an occasion for grinding of teeth rather than rails?

Timing 2

Just a week ago National Express alerted the media to an exciting "cook off" for the coveted title 'Chef of the Year'.

The press release burbled "The winners and runners-up from both (NXEC) heats are now preparing for the final cook off, where they will join the winning chef from National Express East Anglia".

Alas, yesterday's announcement of swinging redundancies also saw NEG admit that its East Anglia franchise is "proposing to remove the restaurant service, and improve our buffet and at-seat service".

With restaurant cars in East Anglia on the way out The Fact Compiler fears that the souffles of the NXEA chef may not rise to the occasion.


Yesterday NEG announced swinging redundancies at it's East Anglia TOC.

Time for the struggling owner group to keep its head down some might say.

Fortunately not a view shared by NEG's brave PR monkeys, who decided to proceed with last nights special sponsored run of A1 Tornado, which saw the National Express logo emblazoned on the kettle's tender!

A sight surely designed to gladden the heart of those facing the dole queue.

Harumph, snorts our man at 222 Marylebone Road!

"From where in National Express did the outburst of Kettle Mania come from that saw the company's logos plastered on the £3million carnot cycle prototype?"

Perhaps from the very top?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

What's missing...

...from this over-excited tosh?

"Eurostar... has appointed RAPP (formerly WAVV RAPP COLLINS) to support its Pan European Customer Relationship Management, Loyalty and E-commerce programmes.

"RAPP has been appointed to the consolidated account and will be tasked with supporting Eurostar across these three core areas. Over the coming months, Eurostar will be further developing its traveller communications and refining its award winning website to continue to push the standards of the customer experience."

Etc... etc... yawn.

Perhaps a big fat capital 'C' ?


***LNWR sold to Arriva***

Crewe should be so lucky. Lucky, lucky, lucky

Float like a butterfly...

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
...answer like a weasel!

Written answers Monday, 17 November 2008, House of Lords

Lord Bradshaw (Spokesperson in the Lords, Transport; Liberal Democrat) | Hansard
Whether the 40 additional vehicles which First Great Western will receive for Paddington suburban services will be new vehicles, as stated in the Department for Transport's Rolling Stock Plan of January 2008.

Lord Adonis (Minister of State, Department for Transport; Labour)
The Government's Rolling Stock Plan of January 2008 stated that the assumed actions and numbers of vehicles were not prescriptive. The update to the plan, published in July 2008 and available on the Department for Transport website stated that different numbers would be announced only when the Government contracted with the operator for more or fewer vehicles. Discussions with First Great Western on detailed plans are in progress.

Errr.... Yes Minister.

FOI shock horror

Tom Harris has pre-empted a highly embarrassing Freedom of Information request by publishing the offending document on his own blog.

Read Tom's shock disclosure here.

12 out of 13 ain't bad!

High premia costing dear

National Express is to shed 300 rail jobs according to The Independent.

Read the Indy piece here.

Or indeed Railway Eye from October if you like your news a little earlier.

Boiled Frog

Bowker's Law says there are only two sources of railway funding - from the fare box and the tax payer.

The Public Accounts Committee have kindly provided last year's figures for these.

In 2006/07, passengers paid £5.1 billion into the fare box.

Whilst the Department for Transport gave £3.4 billion to Network Rail and a further £1.7 billion to the Train Operating Companies.

Total amount of our taxes spent on the 'privatised' railways in 2006/07 = £5.1bn

Total amount of our taxes spent on the nationalised railway in 1993/94 = £1.46bn (figure corrected for inflation).

Future in the past

Telegrammed by The Master
Inter TOC co-operation and holding connections for late services isn't always the stuff of myth, as passengers on todays 0845 Padd - Swansea have found out.

Those punters using the train to get to Fishguard anxiously scanned their watches (or admired flooded fields) as their train was held outside Bristol Parkway due to an AXC service blocking its path.

Perhaps Arriva felt guilty, as the TM on the FGW train came on the PA to apologise for the delay and announce that ATW had agreed to hold the connection and allow punters to make their train.

So, if it can be done on this occasion...

McNaughton to Balfour Beatty?

***Balfour Beatty, the international engineering, construction, services and investment Group announces the appointment of Andrew McNaughton to the new role of Chief Operating Officer and to the Board of Balfour Beatty plc. The new appointment becomes effective from 1 January 2009.***

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler is grateful to a reader for the following observation:

"The McNaughton in question joined Balfour Beatty in 1997... so it can't be the good prof - unless he's been moonlighting for the last decade!"

Shame - was looking like such a great story...

Masters and servants

FCC certainly knows how to win friends and influence people.

As Enfield North MP, Joan Ryan, discovered when she handed out leaflets at Enfield Chase station, encouraging passengers to complain to FCC about a lack of ticket issuing facilities.

So enraged was the sweary-sounding-franchise that it threatened to charge the MP for processing any resulting complaints!

But wait a minute, perhaps such an arrangement might prove beneficial to hard pressed tax payers.

Were FCC to charge Ms Ryan for processing any complaints resulting from her leafleting campaign, then it would only be fair for Ms Ryan to charge FCC for handling the not inconsiderable number of complaints her office receives about their services.

In 2006 Joan Ryan MP claimed expenses and allowances of £173,691 - making her the third most expensive MP in Parliament.

Bring it on FCC!

Monday, 17 November 2008

I'm alright Martin!

Telegrammed by our Poor-industrial Relations correspondent
Much anger at the NRM after it was revealed that National Museums of Science and Industry head man, Martin Earwicker, was awarded a £15K pay rise last year.

This is proving a very bitter pill for the keepers of our rail heritage in York to swallow, coming as it does at a time of belt tightening and financial uncertainty at the National Railway Museum.

With staff pay awards in recent years falling well below the inflation rate there have been repeated threats of strikes and other industrial action by public service unions PCS and Prospect.

To quote a popular ditty 'There may be troubles ahead...'

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Crossrail new chairman

So Terry Morgan will be the new chairman of Crossrail.

Morgan, currently boss of Tube Lines, will start work in November next year, according to a story filed by Dan Milmo last Thursday.

But what's this?

There is still no mention of this key non-executive appointment on the Crossrail website.

Perhaps unsurprising therefore, that none of the Sunday's could be bothered with the story either.

A multitude of sins

One of the delights of summer is the traditional Railway Garden.

Alas, with winter upon us Mother Nature is in retreat, revealing a multitude of sins previously obscured by the Railway Garden.

Above is the delightful vista that welcomed passengers awaiting trains from Crewe's platform 4 on Friday.

FT does TT

***An interesting piece on German Timetable planning***

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Black tie or 'tuxedo'?

The Fact Compiler prefers black tie.

Mind you, wearing one doesn't automatically make one a gentleman.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Drop light on the world

Another example of the law of unintended consequences.

On the 11th June 2003 a drunken student fell between the gap in the platform and a Silverlink train at Gunnersbury station.

Despite attempts by onlookers to alert the guard the train moved off, resulting in the student being dragged under the train.

As a consequence he lost fingers from his left hand and his left leg had to be amputated.

The High Court ruled this week that Silverlink must bear an equal responsibility for the accident, despite the student exhibiting "foolhardy behaviour".

Therefore, the student has been granted the right to claim a six-figure sum in compensation.

So far so reasonable.

Judge John Reddihough also ruled that the guard should have had an “openable” window in their carriage, to allow them to monitor platforms right up to the moment of departure.

The Fact Compiler wonders whether this judgement now makes such modifications mandatory? And if so whether the ROSCOs will be willing to pick up the bill, especially for MOLA fleets which DafT already claims are overpriced.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

For you Timmy, the journey is over!

What is it with Germans and trains?

Children ordered off trains.

Put them in a uniform...

Curse of Capt Deltic

Bad news for wheel barrow manufacturers.

According to today's Times the Tories will give the ORR powers to veto or amend NR Directors' bonuses following "serious failure".

The Tories also plan to get shot of the majority of Public Interest Members - who have proven completely useless at holding the company to account.

Railway Eye readers will recollect the national fury that greeted the announcement earlier this year that NR's three executive directors would trouser £1.2m in bonuses between them; this despite the company being fined a record £14m by ORR for Christmastide engineering overruns.

The new scrutiny body will number 20 (down from 106) and will have additional powers to hold NR to account.

The Fact Compiler is confused. If Network Rail is a private company then surely the Tories cannot change the company's corporate governance, unless they nationalise it first. If they don't need to nationalise it, then it must already be under state control, in which case it can't be a private company.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

He shoots they score

Is the Virgin media machine losing it's legendary PR prowess?

Only yesterday Railway Eye reported that a couple had been caught in most unfortunate circumstances aboard a Pendolino.

Today's media is full of scare stories about a major national shortage.

Surely Beardie Rail won't look this gift horse in the mouth.

Entente cordiale

An RMT press release announces that the brothers are off to France tomorrow.

The union has organised a Eurostar train to Paris so that members can demonstrate against the privatisation of Europe's rail networks.

The Fact Compiler assumes that Privs won't be valid on RMT's Eurostar either.

Silly money

Oh dear. Network Rail is at it again.

The Borderlands line connects Bidston to Wrexham, a distance of 27 miles.

Merseytravel and local user groups are keen to see the line electrified to link up Deeside with Liverpool.

Merseytravel consultants have costed the job at £66m.

Alas, Network Rail has quoted a price of £207m, to predictable local fury.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Merseytravel is well aware that the methodology used in the first two reports on this project were flawed.

They did not take into account everything that needed to considered.

The Fact Compiler can only assume that Merseytravel omitted to consider NR 'Bonus Trough Weighting'?

UPDATE: An 'anonymous' reader has contacted The Fact Compiler.

He writes:

"Oh dear - more factual inaccuracy and misplaced vitriol from Railway Eye - what a suprise!

"The things that Merseytravel missed that caused the price to increase were small things like:
  • The new stations required
  • The platform lengthenings needed
  • Getting up from behind the desk and basing a quote on on-site surveys
  • Updating increases in raw materials costs since three years ago (when the desktop study was done)
"A few small things then!"

The Fact Compiler hopes Merseytravel and WAG understands.

Prince Sardines

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
How long before Lord Adonis, the Prince of Daftness, realises that the complacent reassurances he is being given to read out by his civil serpents are in fact total bollocks?
For example on the 4th November he stated that his Department has "a very keen interest in ensuring that the 1300 vehicles in the High Level Output Specification are procured as rapidly as we practically can".

Oh how we all laughed!

In the case of Northern Rail, discussions on the 125 new DMUs (well that's what Captain Deltic's table claims) will not be concluded until some time in 2010!

Of course, it's all the Franchise owners' fault.

If Lockjaw, Wee Brian and Ludo were to go to Marsham Street to give their old mucker Dr Mike and the Prince of Daftness the same hard time their TOC MDs receive, then the message might start to get through.

But Eye can't see them biting the hand that so generously subsidises them.

Meanwhile TOC MDs will continue to take the flak from long suffering and overcrowded passengers.

Caveat Emptor

The Fact Compiler has received an invitation to subscribe to a new weekly industry briefing note.

Called XBriefing it promises, for the princely sum of £745, to "remove noise and allow higher productivity".

But what's this?

The 'emaciated' edition attached to the email did not quite deliver on the promise.

For instance an article on First Group's results appeared to be heavily dependent on the PLC's press release for content.

Furthermore the publication's editorial team are unnamed and appear to inhabit an accommodation address in SW1.

Alas, the Xbriefing "team" were out when Railway Eye called to discover the editors name.

The Fact Compiler will keep an open mind but suspects that he will continue to rely on Rail Business Intelligence and Rail Management for his on-line industry news and analysis.