Monday, 23 June 2008

D Notice

Media sections in yesterday's papers reported the likely demise of The London Paper, Murdoch's Standard spoiler.

Despite denials today from News International such a development couldn't come soon enough for London Underground, which has to get shot of thousands of copies left strewn around trains and stations each day.

As well as cleaning up the system, improving Customer Satisfaction Survey scores and reducing a potential fire risk, the demise of one of London's three evening newsheets would save TfL a small fortune in litter picking costs.

Fingers are crossed at 55 Broadway that Associated will also merge Standard Lite and The Evening Standard into one paper.

The Fact Compiler understands that BoJo can see the PR benefits of a cleaner looking Tube and has instructed his minions to help Lord Rothermere make the right decision...

NEEC healthy breakfast

A rail gourmet rants:

08:30 Kings X to Newcastle - No chef

09:00 Kings X to Edinburgh - Chef but no food!

The Fact Compiler wonders whether NEEC might also struggle to combine a brewery and a piss up?


Rail Minister Tom Harris had a difficult end to his week on Friday when there was quite a media brouhaha over his blog question demanding why Britons are "so bloody miserable".

The Fact Compiler fears that he must add to his woes by drawing attention to an extraordinary written reply he gave last Thursday to a Parliamentary question on rolling stock.

Railway Eye readers will recollect the hoots of derision that greeted DafT's Rolling Stock Plan (RSP), published on the 30th January this year.

In this fantabulous document DafT identified the need for an additional 1,300 vehicles for the network and even presumed to guess where these should be allocated (the three vehicles the RSP assigned to East Midlands Trains prompted a senior executive's exasperated response that he hoped they wouldn't all arrive at once!).

Despite considerable concerns within the industry about the paucity of the RSP there was at least a belief that the decisions it contained were based on a degree of knowledge about current rolling stock allocation.

Alas - this is not the case!

Last Thursday DafT released an answer from Tom Harris to the following question from his Tory Shadow:

Stephen Hammond (Shadow Minister, Transport; Wimbledon, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) locomotives, (b) multiple units, (c) freight wagons and (d)carriages were in use on the rail network in the most recent period for which figures are available, broken down by (i) train operating company and (ii) class.

Tom Harris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Glasgow South, Labour): This information is not held by the Department for Transport, but is widely available in the specialist press.

Frankly this is an extraordinary admission and must call into question the whole basis upon which the Department for Transport has drawn up its Rolling Stock Plan.

The Fact Compiler was so shocked by this admission that he sought clarification from wiser heads,

It emerges that at a media briefing with Tom Harris in May the Minister was
told that his Department officials were reliant on an Informed Sources table from Modern Railways as their rolling stock crib!

"Is this true?" demanded the Minister. "Yes Minister" replied the Minister's minder.

So at least it is now official - the Department for Transport really hasn't got a clue what is going on.