Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ken's little eggs

Today is the day that BoJo took over Metronet and it's £1.4bn obligation to upgrade the BCV & SSR lines.

It is also the day when a number of the little eggs that Ken left behind are starting to hatch...

Egg 1: Ken did a deal with the RMT to avert a threatened Metronet strike last month.

An 18th April RMT press release quoted Crowbar Bob as saying:

"We now have in writing undertakings that when the Metronet contracts are taken back in-house by TfL there will be no outsourcing, and that all Metronet staff will be entitled to join the TfL pension fund and enjoy the same travel facilities as other TfL employees".

The Fact Compiler wonders if anyone in BoJo's office has priced up providing all that free travel?

And membership of the TfL pension fund won't exactly come cheap...

Of course many existing Metronet employees (inherited from LUL) are already members of the scheme.

Which means that under the law of unintended consequences the biggest beneficiaries of Ken's largesse will be those Directors and Senior Managers brought into Metronet by the former shareholder companies!

RMT - fighting for the rights of senior private sector employees!

Egg 2: On March 16th TfL announced a £98m deal to bring Croydon Tramlink back in house.

The Fact Compiler again wonders who will pay for this?

Perhaps BoJo could ask the then Transport Commissioner who agreed both deals, one Peter Hendy?

FGW can't let sleeping dogs lie

The decision by First Great Western to end joint occupancy in standard class sleeping car compartments has been greeted with mixed reviews.

A FGW spokesman justified the change on the grounds that "You wouldn't expect to share a hotel room with a stranger and nor should you expect to share a sleeper carriage with someone you don't know."

Ben Webster in The Times highlighted concerns that the new policy will result in a reduction in berths per coach from 24 to 12 and this at a time of rising demand.

Whilst on the Radio4 Today programme this morning William Shawcross, a regular sleeper user, expressed concern about whether this might be a ruse to stop the service altogether on cost and usage grounds.

The change will impact on both with the number of berths in a Standard Class coach, when compartment sharing is removed, being reduced from 24 to 12 .

To make up for this in revenue terms FGW will increase the sleeper berth occupancy rate to £40 from the current rate of £30 each if shared (or £60 per compartment).

Of course this doesn't take account of lost point-to-point ticket revenue. For instance the standard fare from London to Penzance is £74. The loss of 12 of these per coach is a lot of lost revenue!

Readers may remember that Worst Group and Daft received a good kicking from the great and the good of Kernow when last they tried to put the sleeper to bed. Let's hope this isn't an attempt to repeat the process, justified by hari-kiri economics.

Meanwhile chums in the South West fear that this is the real reason behind Worst Group's decision, not least because a large number of passengers will start to desert the service once they can no longer secure a berth on the service they want.

The Fact Compiler, minded of the preface to the Book of Common Prayer warning against too much stiffness in refusing and too much easiness in admitting any variation, suggests a better via media. Why not offer, on a first come first served basis, the option of a single occupancy at £50 versus a shared occupancy at £30. By so doing both revenue and loadings could be maximised.