Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Round the Hoon #1

'How bona it was to vada Mr Hoon's dolly old eek again'...

...in tonight's Nottingham Evening Post:

"I take a close and deep personal interest in the Midland Mainline as a regular user of that line and I certainly share my predecessor's enthusiasm for electrification.
"It is something that the department will be looking at, I assure him, very closely."

Stop messin' about!


National Express has kindly clarified the industry's view of the Department for Transport.

This from NatEx's response to the competition commission findings:

National Express comment:
"The TfL model involves, effectively, TfL procuring the rolling stock and making it available to its concessionaire.The equivalent of this would be that the DfT would procure the trains and make them available to franchisees. This is the approach being adopted for the IEP and Thameslink fleets.

"However, our close involvement in the IEP procurement has indicated that the DfT may not be the best organisation to specify such vehicles and a more market sensitive approach might have been achieved by having a train operator prepare the specification."

The Fact Compiler has a suspicion that 'Sir' Richard Bowker gets on well with 'Dr' Mike Mitchell.

Shock and awe


Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government: "Further to the Written Answers by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 29 September, whether they direct the hire or use of rolling stock fleets?"

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): "In the normal course of events the Department for Transport does not direct the hire or use of rolling stock fleets."

To paraphrase the 42nd President of the United States: "In the normal course of events I did not have sexual relations with that woman"


Alas all is not well in Kettle-land.

There is much huffing, puffing and wheel spin amongst the clinker cognoscenti about recent media coverage of the 40th anniversary of the demise of UK mainline steam.

Chief complaint amongst the kettle-kranks appears to be the Beeb's use of Steam Railway editor and 'callow youth' Danny Hopkins to comment on the event.

But wait a minute!

Prof Stephen Hawkins often comments on the formation of our universe, and he wasn't there either!

How we once lived

A reader has contacted The Fact Compiler to share the following Hull Trains press release dated from 1999.

The press release reads "Three African women arrived at the Paragon Interchange on Hull Trains this week to attend the launch of a photographic exhibition featuring their work."

Alas, these ladies and their cameras would not receive such a warm welcome in Hull today as, according to our correspondent, it has one of the "top 5 anti-photographer stations on the English network".

He continues "When ATOC provides details of anticipated changes to the enthusiast guidelines (when is the operative word as they have had the consultations for 3 months) then maybe the industry will finally sing from the same hymn sheet about photography on stations".


What's in a name?

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
We understand there was consternation at New Minster House when Lord Adonis rolled up after the recent reshuffle asking for directions to his office.

Apparently when discussing his new team with the PM, Geoff Hoon said that the department really needed someone who knew about railways.

Hoon, as a great admirer of the musicals of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, had been particularly impressed by the grasp of traction technology displayed by the musical lord in 'Starlight Express'.

'Could I have that bloke in the Lords, Andrew Whats-is-name, he seems to know his trains' he asked?

Since our Calvinist PM would have nothing to do with anything as frivolous as musicals he appointed the only Andrew in the Lords he knew.

This may, of course, be idle gossip without a foundation or truth; but it sort of rings true...

Sheffield steal

The gating of Sheffield station footbridge is causing Stagecoach franchise, East Midlands Trains, no end of trouble.

The installation of automatic ticket gates, originally a franchise commitment, is defended by Stagecoach on the grounds of revenue protection and reducing anti-social behaviour.

Meanwhile, the local burghers of Sheffield are up in arms as EMT's gating proposals will prevent pedestrians using a well established walkway linking the city centre with the large estates of Norfolk Park and Park Hill, as well as the station's tram stop (prop. Stagecoach).

In an attempt to defuse the row EMT proposes allowing "every person associated with Sheffield to register for a free smartcard which will allow access across the station".

A further concession will allow mobility impaired people access without restriction.

A reasonable compromise perhaps.

However, each smartcard will be issued against an address allowing EMT to "easily spot and tackle fraudsters".

Is The Fact Compiler alone in worrying about commerical operation Stagecoach creating a vast database of Sheffield citizens and recording their movements across the City?