Thursday, 31 December 2009

Signal shighting - East Midlands Parkway

This from a Mr Powell...

If there are a spate of SPADs around East Midlands Parkway in coming months, this may be why...

Note the important sign refers to the now non-existent TT415, when the real signal is ST4497!

Does Network Rail know and can't be bothered to sort it, or have they just not noticed yet?

I think we should be told!

Mystic Adonis anticipates High Speed Two report

Telegrammed by Le Flaneur
Do not trust him gentle maiden!

According to a DfT press release, embargoed for 01.00 Wednesday 30 December:

Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has predicted 2010 will be the year of high-speed rail in the UK on the day he received what could prove to be a landmark report for the future of transport in this country.

High Speed Two - the company set up to advise the Government on the development of high-speed rail services between London and Scotland - delivers its highly-anticipated report today.

But what did I see whilst strolling along Victoria Street this very day, 31 December?

Outside No 55. the former home of the Strategic Rail Authority and now containing the offices of HS2L, but reports and engineering drawings galore, bearing the HS2 logo, being loaded into vehicle.

When asked where the load was going the driver replied 'Marsham Street, Guv'.

So why did the Noble Lord claim to have received the report a day early?

Presumably to avoid it being lost in the New Year's Eve news dead spot.

Railway Gongs

With a bowler tip to a Mr Murray...


Christopher BOLT
Arbiter, London Underground Public Private Partnership Agreements and lately Chairman, Office of Rail Regulation.
( Somerset )


Chairman, Chiltern Railway Company Ltd.
For services to the
Rail Industry.
(Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire)


Stuart Kemp BAKER
Deputy Director, National Projects, Rail and National Networks,
Department for Transport.
( York , North Yorkshire )

Michael Clifford HART
Director, Ffestinog Railway Company and Chairman, Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd. For services to the Rail Industry.
(Rotherham, South Yorkshire )

Heidi, Mrs MOTTRAM
Managing Director, Northern Rail.
services to the Rail Industry.
(Holmfirth, West Yorkshire )


John Alfred BIGNY
For services to Edenbridge and District Rail Travellers' Association
( Kent )

Manager, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership.
For services to the Rail
Industry in the South West.
( Plymouth , Devon )

Peter Adrian ROBERTS
Chairman, Association of Community Rail Partnerships.
For services to
Rural Transport.
(Sleaford, Lincolnshire )

Eye offers its congratulations to all the above.

UPDATE: This from a Mr 1.609344 kilometers...

Stuart Baker!?!

Presumably for services to HLOS and the Bionic Duckweed industry I guess!

Surely it can't be for the thinking behind the IEP?

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Eye welcomes back Adonis - Shocker

(With a bowler tip to the latest edition of New Transit magazine...)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Foreign news...

This just in from the Disciple of the Third Rail...

This lesson is brought to us from the American Chapter of Gricers International and is entitled:

"How not to react when an innocent member of the public almost walks into you because they are using their bloody iPod and not watching where they're going as they're supposed to."

And up until 25 seconds in, the cameraman was doing so well...

Regards, Driver Potter (who doesn't own an iPod)

New Year's Honours List - Shocker

A Royal Warrant for the National Passenger Survey?

Or the Order of the Chop for cheeky Passenger Focus!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow way to run a railway

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
At around 08.45 yesterday the National Rail website listed no fewer than six entries that said that due to poor weather conditions buses were replacing trains!

The routes were:

+ Horsham & Littlehampton

+ Littlehampton/Bognor Regis/Chichester & Havant

+ Ebbw Vale & Cardiff Central

+ Gatwick Airport & Horsham

+ Guildford & Effingham Junction (good job the sage has moved)

+ Tonbridge & Hastings

Clearly neither Network Coach nor the Bus Bandits now see rail as the primary all-weather mode of transport.

Underground musings...

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
With Tube Lines over-time on resignalling and way-over the PPP Arbiter's budgetary allowance can it be before the Government calls in its project doctors of choice?

Jubilee Line Extension running late and over budget threatening the opening of the Dome - boot out inefficient old London Underground managers and bring in Bechtel.

West Coast Route Modernisation running late and over-budget - boot out inefficient old Railtrack managers and bring in Bechtel.

How long before the inefficient old Tube Line managers are also booted out and Bechtel are called in to fix the mess?

(Shome mishtake shurley Ed)

Cranmer identifies the elephant not in the room!

Wise words from the Tedious Old God-botherer...

Where is Lord Adonis?


Monday, 21 December 2009

Agency puffs as Eurostar burns

This from PR Week...

MD of conversation shop We Are Social, Robin Grant, has declared the Eurostar crisis as 'good news' for his agency in an interview with PRWeek.

Happy days!

Good to see that promoting the agency comes before safeguarding the reputation of the client.

No doubt this fabulous piece of PR puffery will do much to avert the ire of furious passengers, vindictive media and the governments of both Britain and France?

Eye salutes 'conversion shop' We are Social Jerks.

UPDATE: This from Robin Grant...

Bearing in mind the previous content of the PR Week story, I totally understand the content of your latest blog post.

However, as you'll note, their story has now been edited to reflect the words I actually used:

'From our perspective the way we have managed the social media is good news for us and our relationship with Eurostar.'

Which as I hope you can appreciate, has a different meaning to the way they originally reported it.

UPDATE: Richard Baker suggests how Eurostar should have 'digitally engaged'.

You should be integrating social media into your business to engage with your internal, as well as your external, customers.

Sound advice and no hint of PR Week puffery!

Aslef craps on Eurostar

Earth to Aslef, come in Aslef...

This surreal bollocks just issued by the brothers...

Further strike action will take place on Eurostar on 26 – 27 December.

We hope that we can resolve this dispute with Eurostar so that they can provide full cover to deal with further disruption caused by technical failures.

Is there a Darwin Award for Unions?

Brown apologises - Official

So Richard has gone where Gordon dare not.

About time too.

According to the Southport Visiter:

The high-speed rail company's chief executive Richard Brown said he was "very, very sorry" about what had happened.

Giggling Richard has even set his slice of humble pie to music.

Eye is waiting for something similar from infrastructure operator Eurobungle, who have much to answer for.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Don't for God's sake suggest it's the wrong kind of snow.

Although according to the pretty graphics on the Grauniad website that's exactly what it is.

UPDATE: This from PR Monkey...

Eurostar are clearly missing Simon Montague.

I bet he wouldn't have stuck his half dressed CEO in a broom cupboard and released the footage to YouTube!

If Richard Brown still has a job by the end of Christmas he needs to recruit a new PR team.

UPDATE: This from our man at 222 Marylebone Road...

In a broom cupboard?

Looks more like a wrecker having been persuaded into confessing to his anti-soviet misdemeanours at a 1930s Moscow show trial before being taken out and liquidated.

And has any body seen the so-called Brown on TV again?

UPDATE: This from Charles Yerkes...

This is like the bad old days, immediately after privatisation, when the UK rail industry couldn't talk with one voice.

This is the headline from a Eurotunnel press release:

Eurotunnel rescues Eurostar

Bloody cheek!

Perhaps someone should ask Eurobungle who kept shoving trains into the Chunnell after the first couple failed.

UPDATE: Over to Longrider for words of wisdom...

Hindsight always illustrates missed opportunities.

More here.

UPDATE: Wolmar offers his reflections on the PR disaster over at The Times:

The tone adopted by Richard Brown, the head of Eurostar, said it all. He was vaguely apologetic, but he did not get the enormity of the cock-up. Like a football manager whose team had just lost 7-0 he still thought they had played well.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail has its sights on Eurostar Ops Director Nicolas Petrovic.

Petrovic was due to be promoted to the role of Chief Executive in the New Year when Richard Brown is supposed to become Executive Chairman.

Alas, with both the French and British governments looking for someone to blame the planned succession may now be in disaray.

The sound of industry CVs being burnished is almost deafening!

Friday, 18 December 2009

In between the tinsel, mince pies and frivolity...

...please spare a thought for those whose Christmas will be less than festive.

Help t
he Railway Children reach out to a child on our streets this Christmas by making a donation today.

Hero signalman Bill Taylor recognised

This from the BBC...

A memorial plaque has been unveiled in Cumbria to honour a railway signalman who prevented a potential disaster 25 years ago.

Good effort.

At the forefront of Railway Research

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Good to see RSSB making good use of its £15 million Research Budget and finding topics British Rail Research overlooked.

• T703 Facilitating shared expectations between passengers and front-line staff

That's got to be first for the chop in DafT's value for money review.

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from the late Enid Blyton...

I was disappointed to to see that RSSB ignored my my extensive oeuvre in this latest research project.

I would have thought that naughty goblins not being able to read the safety notices and thus coming to a sticky end would have been a point worth making in these days of falling child literacy.

UPDATE: This just in from Herr Ernst Mach...

Liebe Fact Compiler just to show that we Austrians have a sense of humour can I say that I was blown over by this latest report from RSSB.

Guidance on protecting people from the aerodynamic effects of passing trains

Very funny, ja?

UPDATE: This from our International Correspondent...

I fear Herr Mach has not entirely understood the issues about aerodynamics of passing trains. Austria does not yet sport a station sign quite as promising as this one at Penrith.

In Britain the passenger comes first!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Queen FuCCs - Official

From Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph...

Dontcha love Her!

All together now... God save our gracious...

A reader writes...

With a bowler tip to UK.Railways...

You could make a full time job out of correcting the wilful and/or ignorant distortions on that blog. It's worse than the Daily Express, or the worst excesses of the DfT's press release department. I can't believe intelligent people read it.

Eye welcomes another satisfied customer.

UPDATE: This from a gentleman in Tunbridge Wells...


The question is not whether intelligent people read Railway Eye but whether intelligent people write it.

I remain, sir, Disgusted

DB tank directed onto ATOC lawn

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
In summer ATOC announced that the entire National Rail Enquiries call-centre operation would be outsourced, at a cost of nearly 200 British jobs, to Bombay.

But now the trade association for Train Operating Companies has been outflanked by one of its own members. `

Plucky little Chiltern Railway, owned by Deutsche Bahn (one of the worlds largest rail and logistics operators) has dumped The Trainline as their on-line retailer in favour of an undisclosed supplier which also provides a UK based call centre.

The new arrangement will come into force from 1st February 2010, according to a confidential staff briefing issued yesterday.

Under the leadership of Adrian 'Hoppy' Shooter, now happily recovered from his recent knee operation, Chiltern has gained a reputation as a bit of a pathfinder TOC - witness the successful delivery of multiple Evergreen projects compared to the WCML upgrade fiasco.

Chiltern decided on the move due to customer complaints about Trainline failings, not least the Indian call centre's preference for selling Beardie Rail inclusive tickets from Brum and Kidderminster to London, rather than cheaper Chiltern only routings.

Since Chiltern is the model for longer franchises, Exponent Private Equity (who paid an eyewatering £163 million to Natex, Virgin and Stagecoach for the Trainline in 2006) must be feeling a tad nervous.

But not half as nervous as ATOC, whose former Chairman, Adrian Shooter, acts as an unpaid 'informal advisor' to the shadow Tory transport team.

Mystic Wolmar on the ball. Tube Lines not.

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
Mystic Wolmar's crystal ball is working well these days.

On the 13th December he predicted the demise of Tube Lines, the other half of the dead and rotting PPP Siamese twin, Metrodebt.

Lo and behold today Regulator Bolt obliged, favouring LUL's projected £4 billion to Tube Lines demands for £5.7 Billion, creating a new £1.3 billion funding gap for Tube Lines' lucky owners - Bechtel (no laughing at the back) and Gruppo Ferrovial, or a descoping of the work the PPP delivers or, as is most likely, a windfall for Sue Grabbit & Runne.

Say goodbye to more accessible stations on the JNP network, new trains for the Piccadilly Line. And a big cheery welcome to a lot of empty desks at the glitzy Westferry Circus Tube Lines HQ.

Tube Lines was not happy and Dean Finch, outgoing CEO told financial news agency Bloomberg "A settlement at this level is not conducive to private- sector involvement in the Underground, nor does it reflect the reality of the Underground working environment".

Strong words from a man already leaving the troubled world of PPP for pastures new at errrr.... doomed National Express.

Eurostar to break strike with SNCF & SNCB drivers?

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
According to the Daily Mail a spokesman for Eurostar said:

'There will be no cancellations and no disruption to our service - services on Friday and Saturday will be covered by our French and Belgian Eurostar drivers.'

Well, its their train set so they should know if it is a workable plan, but SNCB is such a tiny partner in the driving stakes that it can barely cover its own turns from Brussels Forest, let alone anyone elses.

Although France is a much bigger player in Eurostar, SNCF mechanicians are not famous for strike breaking. They are obligated to work their booked turns, not to do so would be secondary action - illegal. And there is a process under which French drivers can cover London diagrams if London is genuinely short, or the service has fallen apart. Whether they will step in to do a turn for a London driver in legitimate dispute with his employer is a different question.

If ASLEF puts even a notional one man picket at the London booking-on point (which it is legally entitled to do), EUKL falls flat on its arse - the Le Landy driver travels on the cushions from Paris, takes one look at the picket line and retires to consult by phone with his own French trade union about whether he can or should take up the diagram. This will, naturally, take a little while the French union takes its own legal advice on secondary international picketing - a truly Jarndyce v Jarndyce question. Departure time comes and goes. The train doesn't, and hoards of the Great British Disappointed build up in the holding pens at St Pancras check in. Eventually the union in France advises their member it is a matter of personal conscience for him. He suddenly develops a diplomatic headache and declares himself unfit for duty. Chaos descends from the roof of the great Barlow train shed, and at Gare du Nord three hours later when the back working fails to appear.

And to get just to this state of perterbation, Le Landy must even now be trying to find 10 spare drivers to send to London this afternoon, because if they are going to do the whole London-Paris-London job tomorrow, they have to lodge here tonight. Presumably the French Train Crew Managers must think they can do it, and have told London they are confident of getting them, otherwise the UK spokesman is being (delete as appropriate) improbably optimistic/economical with the verite/spinning out of control.

Luckily we can take comfort from some good news - on the very day the operational and HR side of EUKL were falling out with ASLEF, the marketeers announced this.

Tres Bon et triples tout circulaire.

UPDATE: This from the Major...

How does the Le Landy man get home once he's decided not to drive?

UPDATE: Our International Correspondent advises...

He will travel home on the little jump seat in the front cab of the next Paris train, which will be a booked Le Landy working.

He can't go in the passenger saloons because they will be heaving under the strain of a double load of passengers - its own booked complement and his sweaty delayed masses, and the latter will tear him apart limb by limb when they work out who he is.

So far this morning, (10.00hrs) the departing London turns have been covered by EUKL Driver Managers, who are not in dispute.

Lets hope for the sake of the passengers they have enough management to keep this up for two days.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Beardie discovers the Strategic Reserve - Official

This from Railnews...

Virgin Trains is planning to double its service between Glasgow and London after British Airways cabin crew said they would be striking over the Christmas period.

Errr... how?

Has Beardie discovered a Strategic Reserve that can run at 125mph?

Or have a crack team of Virgin engineers perfected tilt on Mk2s and 3s?

Perhaps NR plans to slap a draconian speed restriction across the entire WCML?

Eye thinks we should be told!

UPDATE: This from
Chionanthus Virginicus (no relation)

Now come on FC!

Virgin say:

"...25 additional services that it plans to run on the London – Glasgow via Preston route over the Christmas and New Year holiday period ..."

Let's say 12 operational days - that's two extra trains per day - 1 Up , 1 Down?

Meanwhile the original Railnews' story has 'gone off-line'!

So who's the spinner and who's the spun?

So farewell Heidi Mottram!

This from the Times...

Northumbrian Water Group has hired one of the rail industry’s leading lights as its new chief executive. Heidi Mottram, managing director of Northern Rail, will join the water company... in March...

Northumbrian Water's gain, the railway's loss.

When Northern was formed it was generally held to be a basket case.

Without new trains and prevented from doing a desperately needed timetable recast little was expected of the franchise.

However Heidi won over key stakeholders, welded together her geographically vast empire and actually succeeded in growing traffic.

Eye wishes Heidi all the best and hopes she returns to the industry soon.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Geoff Brown...

Reading the rest of the Times story, I see the Finance Director is a Mr Chris Green!

Can it be long before our water pipes are painted red?

The Fat Controller brings out the SLC2 big guns!

Regular Eye readers will recollect that the proposed new timetable for the East Coast route has run into a spot of bother.

Known as SLC2 it was due to be introduced, to great fanfare, at the December 2010 timetable change.

And for this date to be achieved it needed to be set in stone, with all parties agreeing to it,
by the 8th of January 2010.

All was going swimmingly until, alas,
the Noble Lord himself took an interest.

For some inexplicable reason it now appears that there has been a degree of slippage.

Sources close to the Department indicate that SLC2 is now more likely to be implemented at the May 2011 timetable change rather than at the December 2010 target date.

No matter.

Even May 2011 is looking highly optimistic, judging by this letter from the 'independent' Office of Rail Regulation to Network Rail requesting a review, and if necessary amendment, of the East Coast RUS

As any fule kno a Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) seek(s) to balance capacity, passenger & freight demand, operational performance and cost, to address the requirements of funders and stakeholders".

As the timetable is the physical embodiment of the balance achieved by the RUS, presumably the former must follow the latter?

So is anyone now brave enough to suggest when SLC2 might actually be implemented?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Pat Bell...

Mr. Lee wants an answer by 8 January 1010?

Railways won't have been invented for another 815 years.

You have to applaud ORR for being ahead of the curve!

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from the late Sir Arthur Bryant...

But if the railways had been invented King Harold could have taken his army on the LNER to Stamford Bridge, duffed up Harald Hardrada, then returned (taking refreshments on route) and caught the Southern electric to Hastings, arriving in good time to repulse William the Bastard as he tried to land.

RT: BBC Caves in to Carter Ruck Threats Over Trafigura Film

Reposted from Ian Dale's blog...

Carter-Ruck have succeeded in persuading the BBC to remove all reference to the Trafigura story from its website, according to the New Statesman. They really don't learn do they - Carter Ruck or the BBC. You cannot suppress things like this in the modern media age. If one organisation caves in, there will the dozens more only to willing to step up to the plate.

So do enjoy this Newsnight film, which I really wouldn't bother to have posted had the BBC caved in.

Could I encourage every single UK blogger to embed this video in their blogs too?

Footnote: For the history of this sage click HERE.

Done - ta.

Spot the difference - BRB(R) land disposal

Using your skill and judgement can you spot the difference between the following two events which occurred today:

1. Railway land for possible station pulled from auction

2. Railway land with station car park sold for £360k

Evidently a station on the never never is more important to rail users than a overspill car park in the here and now.

What a perfect example of the government's transport policy - announce endless new schemes for the future but ignore the problems of today.

Eye salutes all involved.

Adonis comes clean on 'Autumn' Rolling Stock Plan

This from Lord Adonis yesterday...

In July I undertook to review the Department’s rolling stock plan in the light of the electrification announcements and other developments. The Government remains committed to providing an additional 1300 carriages by mid-2014.

Until commercial negotiations on the Thameslink programme are completed, I am not in a position to update the rolling stock plan, which is critically dependent on the determination of the Thameslink rolling stock contract.

No shit Sherlock (see Eye passim)

UPDATE: This from a Mr Chips with Everything...

The ex Thameslink Class 319 units appear to be the answer to all Lord Adonis’ prayers.

According to various sources, following:

  • “thorough refurbishment, including the installation of air conditioning”;
  • electrification of various lines; and
  • completion of the new Thameslink fleet,
they will be used: -
  • to operate all suburban services between Oxford, Newbury, Reading and London;
  • to replace Class 323 EMUs, which would be transferred to the West Midlands;
  • to operate regional services on the Liverpool & Manchester (Chat Moss, Bolton and Wigan); and
  • to enable sufficient cascades from above, to bring about the replacement of all the Pacers.
Given that there are only 86 x 4-car Class 319 units in total, and that seventeen 323s will apparently move south (so a net of 69 units), that leaves only the “soixante-neuf” to replace all 102 x Class 142 and Class 144 units on Northern.

And that's before you’ve even touched the other 38 Class 142 and Class 143 units on ATW and FGW.

No way Jose!

And if they're so good why not leave them on Thameslink?

Is this another case of favouring the South East with new rolling stock whilst the rest of the country has to put up with cast offs?

Pointless signs - Taunton station car park

Lost and found #2

This just in from the Archdeacon...

This is what happens when the engine mountings of your (German built) DMU fail when travelling at speed:

How unlike the home life of our own dear Pacers.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Eye welcomes Pierre Attendu

Bombardier UK customers might find the below of interest.

Always worth knowing who is on the up.

UPDATE: This from

Pierre Attendu = Train et Perdue !

So if he loses Thameslink, will he be on the "Down Fast" ?

Gordon Brown breaks Javelin embargo

Oh dear.

It looks like the PM is off message.

This from the Number 10 website:

Gordon Brown called the Javelin train’s first weekday journey, “a momentous day in the long and glorious history of British railways” during the official launch of the UK’s first domestic high-speed rail service at St Pancras International station this morning.

Putting aside the interesting quote about the 'glorious history of British railways' hasn't the dear leader committed a faux pas by referring to South Eastern's high speed train as a 'Javelin'?

This name, we are constantly reminded, cannot be used before the London 2012 Olympics (copyright ODA).

Can it be long before threatening letters are sent to Downing Street?

UPDATE: This from Lobby Fodder...

I'm amazed at Brown's bare faced cheek!

Take this quote from the same release:

“I know some people who think this is not the time to be investing in infrastructure but I believe it is essential to do so and we will be investing £20 billion in our rail infrastructure in the next few years.

Talk about making spending commitments with someone else's budget.

I suspect the "we" he is referring to will be in opposition within six months and therefore not in a position to invest in anything.

Apart from cleaners and painting summer houses obviously...

Bloke with 'tash is to be new EU transport commissar

Good news from the European Union!

A bloke with a 'tash has been nominated for the role of Transport Commissar in Manuel Barroso's new European Commission.

Bloke with Tash comes from Estonia and lists the following amongst his achievements:

  • 1972-1990: Member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  • 1991-1995 and 1999-2004: President of the Estonian Cyclists Union
  • 2002: Elected among "100 Great Estonians of the 20th Century"
  • 2003: Order of the National Coat of Arms 2nd class
  • 2009: Order of the Hair Dryer 3rd Class (is this one right? Ed)
The appointment is expected to be rubber stamped on the 26th January.

Aside from being a former president of the Estonian Cyclists Union the BWT has no previous experience of Transport.

Eye salutes this triumph for demoracy and 'tash wearing.

UPDATE: This just in from Lu Ki Liki...

May I submit the following for the delectation and delight of Eye's readers?

I wonder if they are in anyway related?

UPDATE: An anonymous source volunteers....

Surely Eurotash's British relative is spin doctor Steve Fleming of "The Thick Of It" fame.

He makes an appearance from just after 3.20 on this clip.

Not in front of the kids... & volume off in the office.

Peace breaks out between NatEx and DafT

Happy news for beleaguered National Express share holders.

Today there will be a veritable love in between the doomed company and the Department:

Chris Mole MP, The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport and Andrew Chivers, Managing Director, NXEA will launch the Service Improvement Plan by naming a train at Liverpool Street station at 10.00am and unveil a customer information brochure giving details about the improvements.

Good to see Moley out and about on the network, but a shame the Noble Lord couldn't make it.

Perhaps a late and unexpected diary conflict?

UPDATE: This from the Master...

Sadly 'twas not to be.

Someone at DfT must have 'contacts' as a cable theft at Chelmsford caused the event to be cancelled.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Adonis couldn't do it because he was at a meeting with Hitachi "discussing IEP".

To suffer one ministerial cancellation may be regarded as a misfortune...

DafT invests in flower power

Telegrammed by Patience Strong
More profligacy from the men at the ministry...

Written Answers — Transport: Departmental Plants (10 Dec 2009)

Grant Shapps (Shadow Minister (Housing), Communities and Local Government; Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much has been spent by his Department on (a) cut flowers and (b) pot plants in each of the last three years.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Ipswich, Labour)

The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Department for Transport spent £87,401 on pot plants and £3,419 on cut flowers in 2008-09. This excludes spend incurred at the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency as the information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

No doubt that includes the cost of flying in chrysanthemums for IEP meetings.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Thursday, 10 December 2009

LU leads way in motivating staff to communicate

This from bitterwallet with a bowler tip to Is 1A03 out of Chester yet, Bert

The platform announcer at Farringdon refused to stop talking for nearly half an hour, giving a blow-by-blow account of what was occurring.

Follow the link to hear it in all its glory.

The guy's a natural - who needs The X Factor?

UPDATE: This from
A Despairing Member of Staff...

I note your post on the quality of LUL Passenger annoucements; is there any chance of SWT using this gentlemen on their services in the future because I for one have had enough of Digital Doris telling me to "please take my personal belongings with me when I leave the train."

What other belongings would she like me to remove? Public belongings, perhaps? Does she honestly believe that I boarded the train carrying a bench I stole from the park? Or perhaps she means that I may leave the train with belongings which in actual fact belong to persons other than myself?

Please could someone have a word with Lord Carrier-bag of Double-Decker; call it a Christmas request from his chums at the sharp end.

Darling announces 200 earlier vehicles - again!

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Exciting news from the Chancellor's Pre Budget Report...

Introducing a green stimulus – ensuring part of the fiscal stimulus supports low-carbon growth and jobs by accelerating £535 million of capital spending on energy efficiency, rail transport, and adaptation measures. 76,000 low income households will benefit earlier from better heating and energy efficiency, up to 200 new rail carriages will be delivered earlier and 27,000 homes will benefit sooner from flood defences (cont. p94)

Earlier than what?

And could those 200 carriages refer to to the 202 DMU vehicles announced in similar terms in last year's Pre-Budget Report and subsequently abandoned.

We'd ask DfT if we thought the press office would understand the question.

We'd ask Stephen Hammond to raise it in Parliament, if we thought he would understand the question.

But as we suspect it's a cut and paste job from last year's Pre-Budget Report we'll do nothing but bury our head deep in our hands and weep.

After all does anyone believe a word that the 2009 Pre-Budget Report contains?

UPDATE: This, amazingly, from Hammond's 5th Surgeon...

Has 222 been on the Christmas gin?

The reason why the reference to 200 new vehicles looks like a cut'n'paste from the 2008 PBR is because it is from the 2008 PBR!

Not even this Chancellor would be craven enough to try and get away with the same nonsense twice... surely?

Lord Adonis flogs off Kings Lynn station car park

Not many outside the industry know that the British Railways Board still exists, albeit in a residuary capacity.

Known, surprisingly enough, as British Railways Board (Residuary), it is the repository for much of the former nationalised industry's liabilities, in particular claims relating to industrial disease - asbestosis, emphysema and other unpleasantness suffered as a consequence of working on the railway.

It is also tasked with the management and disposal of the industry's remaining land and buildings, which are surplus to the needs of the operational railway.

In most cases this relates to disused tunnels, bridges and viaducts, old track formations, abandoned goods yards and the like - which today's railway has no interest in.

Where possible BRB(R) tries to sell these disused assets off - raising a couple of bob in the process for HMG and getting shot of the liability at the same time.

The BRB(R) is chaired by Doug Sutherland, the former SRA's finance director, and he reports directly to the Secretary of State.

So far so good.

And mostly the BRB(R) does indeed do a pretty good job.

But there are exceptions.

Take the overspill car park at Kings Lynn for example.

Almost four years ago a 96-space overspill car park was built on a plot of land owned by BRB(R).

The BRB(R) has now decided to sell that land, complete with overspill car park, and it has been entered into a Residential Auction to be held by Allsops next Tuesday the 15th December (Lot 83)

The sale could raise as much as £400,000 for the Treasury, which in these fiscally challenging times is not be sniffed at.

After all the BRB(R) is merely fulfilling its remit.

However, according to the BRB(R)'s website:

Land is only disposed of when it has been agreed with the Department for Transport that there is no need for it to be retained for future railway purposes.

Surely a well used overspill car park serving a busy station like Kings Lynn is very much a railway purpose and it ought to be retained for use today, let alone in the future?

Therefore, it is unimaginable that the Department for Transport (prop. Lord Adonis) could have sanctioned the sale of the land to a developer who will not have the interest of rail passengers in mind.

So Eye wonders whether the Noble Lord is paying lip-service to modal shift or whether he continues to be badly advised?

The buck stops with you My Lord - what will you do?

UPDATE: This from the saintly Driver Joseph Locke...

After reading your item on the Kings Lynn car park, I turned to the alliteratively titled section 6.46 ("Prioritising projects and programmes") of the Pre-Budget Report.

The section where it promises to save £170 million by (among other things) increasing the capacity of station car parks.

I wonder if the BRB(Residuary) has read it yet?

UPDATE: This from Charles Yerkes...

Forget whether BRB(R) has read it.

Has the Department for Transport, they approve land sales.

Lord Berkeley bigs up Hammond at RFG lunch

Is ace railfreight lobbyist and Labour peer, Lord Berkeley, mellowing with age?

Despite harbouring republican sympathies Lord B had secured the services of Her Majesty's very own Scots Guards to lead revellers in a medley of Carols at yesterday's Rail Freight Group Christmas Lunch.

The canny political operator had also invited shadow Rail Minister Stephen Hammond MP to address members before luncheon.

There was a collective choking on bread rolls when Lord B confidently predicted that Hammond "would make a very good Secretary of State"!

Of course the wily old fox was clever enough to add... "or opposition spokesman".

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Hammond may not have endeared himself to any railway hacks present.

He told a joke about five surgeons discussing who in the industry was easiest under the knife.

The punch line had the last saw-bones saying he preferred operating on railway hacks; as they had neither heart nor backbone and their lips and ar$eholes were interchangeable...

UPDATE: This from the Lobby Correspondent...

Could this be the same Stephen Hammond who was observed entertaining one Roger Ford in the the cafe area of Portcullis House earlier this year, in what was clearly an unsuccessful attempt by the good Captain to explain the break down of the 1300 (sic) vehicles in the HLOS?

I think we should be told!

UPDATE: This from NR's Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

'Bigs up'?

Tfc will be 'repping his endz', next.

UPDATE: This from 5741 Duck...

You say that Lord Berkeley is a "cany political operator".

Is that because they frown on whips in the House of Lords?

Thank you 5741. Noted and corrected!

Eye suggests how to improve value from the railway

Exciting news from the Department for Transport!

DafT is undertaking a study into: Improving value for money from the railway.

According to the department's website blurb the study will:

...examine the overall cost structure of all elements of the railway sector and to identify options for improving value for money to passengers and the taxpayer while continuing to expand capacity as necessary and drive up passenger satisfaction.

Eye suggests that the Department starts this study by examining its own role in recent doomed or about-to-be-doomed rolling stock procurement exercises, where millions have been wasted with nothing to show for it (eg IEP, the cancelled DMU project, the pointless and very expensive Coco inquiry into Roscos, etc... ).

There's a good £50m of waste identified before we even begin to look at the debacle of franchising.

Sadly turkeys don't vote for Christmas so expect the usual Whitehall whitewash.

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

By far the best way to improve value for money on the railways would be to bring back Tom Winsor as the Waste-Finder General.

First for quality branding

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
First no drivers - now no paint...

This quality offering seen at Agincourt International on Tuesday.

Daily sex on the guided sub

This from the Daily Mail with a bowler tip to a Mr Terris...


East Coast blows sugar up the Noble derrier...

This with a bowler tip to Anon.

Read carefully...

We are not worthy!

UPDATE: This from A N Other...

As it took over a year to get the EPOS to work at all, I expect we may have this treat for a while.

Of course it may be easier just to change the plaque on the Marsham Street door.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

EU rail liberalisation

***Norton Rose provides a useful primer here.***

SatNav directs walkers on to the mainline!

This just in from transport hack and author Andy Roden...

A good friend of mine was given a whizzy satellite navigation system by his employers to help him find his way by road to the various bits of the rail network in Devon and Cornwall he has to work on (despite the fact that he knows the county’s rail network as well as everyone).

After a meeting in Bristol he thought he’d try this new box of tricks out on the train back to see what it could do.

Initially it was very confused, constantly trying to point him onto the nearest road, but around Par my mate decided to try its walking function and asked it to give him directions to Penzance from the railway station.

Lo and behold, it suggested he walk all the way down the Cornish Main Line as far as Hayle, where it finally opted to send him on the main road back to Penzance, presumably having dodged the HSTs, Voyagers and Sprinters along the way.

It’s a bit worrying though – after hearing about people driving down railway lines because they’ve had their brains surgically replaced by Satnavs, is the next thing a plague of hikers getting confused between country tracks and Country Tracks?

FGW and Arriva XC drivers beware!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Lookalike: The Big O...

Steve Bell tells it like it is...

This from the Grauniad...

'Nuff said... (with a bowler tip to Dan)

Southern abolishes 'Boxing Day' bank holiday - Official

This just in from Sussex Driver...

Southern are being a bit naughty and refusing to recognise the 28th Dec as a Bank Holiday and so the brothers aren't best pleased.

Cue a ballot for industrial action... and the results from ASLEF (633 Votes Cast)...

Yes 94.8%
No 5.2%

Big Bob is also balloting his members over the same issue.

Happy Christmas!

Perhaps cost conscious Capt Permatan is merely being careful, having just splashed out on a brand new Aston Martin and all?

Cheeky Merseyrail slips one in!

This from Rudi over at Merseyrail...

Our walk-on fares aren't quite the same level as those for "Newquay to Kyle of Lochalsh" but then your whole family can travel with us for a Fiver!

During December up to two adults and three children can travel anywhere on Merseyrail's Northern or Wirral lines for only £5 on any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday after 15:00hrs.

This great offer will be valid until 30th December 2009. For more details, ring our customer relations team on 0151 702 2071 or ask a member of staff.

And there is free parking at our stations too...

If you're travelling to Merseyside over the Christmas period why not take up Rudi's seasonal suggestion.

Not only is the train fast, cheap and easy, it's also less likely to be jacked up on bricks when you want to go home.

Arriva brings together staff and passengers

Exciting news from Arriva Cross Country

Judging by traincrew announcements aboard an XC service to Edinburgh this morning the introduction of new catering rosters has not gone well.

Parched and starving passengers certainly shared this view.

DfT cancels talk on how to order new trains

Telegrammed by the Archer
Sad news from the Derby Railway Engineering Society.

A planned lecture on how to order new trains was threatened with cancellation when the booked DfT speaker unexpectedly withdrew.

Eye cannot imagine why.

However, good news.

Apparently some chap called Wormsley (subs - please chk spelling) from an outfit called Portaloo (ditto) has manfully stepped into the breach.

What a shame that DRES members will now have to listen to someone from an organisation with no experience of succesfully introducing new trains (shurley shome mishtake. Ed)

UPDATE: This from our man at 222 Marylebone Road...

I understand that this chap Malmsey works for a ROSCO, so he must be well placed to lecture on DfT Rail's procedures for not ordering trains while spending massive sums of money on consultants.

No doubt balance will be maintained by your friendly local rolling stock consultancy, which is receiving squillions for helping with the late running Thameslink trains procurement and will no doubt be there in force to defend its client?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Walmsley...

I think you maybe referring to a talk on DfT procurement that was due to take place in Derby tomorrow.

Unfortunately the advertised speaker has been called away on family business (so no jokes there).

The funny bit is who is standing in – me!

I will be talking about new DMUs but I can’t really imagine not referring to the previous subject just a tiny little bit...

Ian's talk on
'New DMUs – Class 172 Turbostars & Parry People Movers' will take place at 19:00 tomorrow (8th December) at the Derby Conference Centre, London Road, Derby.