Saturday, 31 January 2009

Best Kept-Secret Station Award

Telegrammed by Our Friend in the North
Its nice to know that the increased income from above-inflationary fare rises is being ploughed back into station facilities.

This is the main and only entrance to Northern Rail's Church Fenton station.

Note the lack of station signs, aimed specifically at those with telepathic tendencies.

Friday, 30 January 2009

ORR proposed decision on ECML access rights

Telegrammed by the Timetable Compiler
For those who missed it yesterday this is what it says in brief:

Yes to HT 7th path,

Yes to GC's 4th path,

Yes to Grand Northern

No to Platinum Trains (Aberdeen - KX)

No to Harrogate trains

Yes in principle to NEEC alterations if conflicts can be resolved.


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Fiends of the NRM

Son of York and railway robber baron George Hudson would be tickled pink.

Moir Lockhead and Richard Bowker have been appointed Vice Presidents of the Friends of the National Railway Museum!

Lockhead, it will be remembered, is famous for misplacing anyone who actually knows how to run a railway.

Meanwhile, Bowker presides over a franchise that appears utterly determined to reduce NRM visitor numbers - by gating the £500k footbridge that the great man himself opened a mere five years ago!

If this is the calibre of the NRM's friends then the Eye hopes it has few enemies!

Down the tubes

***1,000 jobs to go at London Underground and TfL***

Movers and schenkers

***Former LU & EWS man, Patrick Butcher, to be NR's new Director of Finance***

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Deluded fools

Goods news for fans of Guided bus routes.

This from Portsmouth Today...

A high-speed bus route on a disused railway track is set to get county approval tomorrow.

The £20m transport link between Gosport and Fareham looks likely to get backing from Hampshire County Council to reduce congestion on the busy A32.

Lets hope they can actually afford passenger facilities for this one.

UPDATE: Brynley writes...

A cconventional busway or a Guided Bus?

Conventional, I think.

This Fareham-Gosport trackbed was to be the tram route to Portsmouth.

Now intending travellers will have to go bus-ferry-bus to Portsmouth City Centre which is not much better than the present arrangement.

Perhaps it makes sense at the Fareham end?

Why the railways cost so much

This from the Press and Journal...

Scottish train operator First ScotRail, which put up many of its fares by 6% at the start of this year, has reported a 60% jump in profits

An unnamed director received emoluments and pension contributions totalling £466,351 in the latest period, up nearly 70% from the £276,595 payout its best-paid boss received in 2006-07.

Here's a novel thought!

Perhaps if Train Operating Companies paid their fat-cat directors and greedy owner groups rather less, then maybe the railways wouldn't be so bloody expensive to run?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Parking charges parked?

Station car parking charges are unregulated and therefore provide a highly lucrative revenue stream for increasingly cash strapped TOCs.

Normally station users have to bend over and assume the position, whilst avaracious TOCs hoover cash from their glove boxes.

But what's this?

The plucky residents of Liskeard are challenging greedy First Great Western, convinced that free usage of the station car park was guarenteed in perpatuity!

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case expect DafT to impose the charges, or threaten a reduction in the stopping pattern, if Liskeard council doesn't kowtow.

Lookalike lll

Oh no it's not!

When is a franchise commitment not a franchise commitment?

When DafT says so, silly!

Bowler tip to Rail Manager on Line for these gems:

This from DafT on the 14th August 2007:
"NXEC will provide a full restaurant service on 87 train services Monday to Friday with an improved range of full meals".

This from DafT on 6th January 2009:
"Catering is not covered by the franchise agreement with National Express East Coast and is a matter for the train operating company".

DafT - making it up as they go along.

PR News

As any fule kno a good PR man has to be up to date and ahead of the curve.

But what's this?

A quick visit to the website of soi disant "veteran observer" Rupert Brennan Brown reveals the following:

A date fixed at the 29th April

A picture of said veteran with a non-extant Mayor

and a photo of the late Madam Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, who has been enjoying her reward in heaven for some time.

Good to see this particular spinner has his finger on the pulse!

Lookalike ll


Monday, 26 January 2009

First seeks return of Broad Gauge

Exciting news from First Group!

Vehicles maintained by the Aberdeen company's US subsidiary, First Vehicle Services, play an important part in President Obama's Inauguration festivities.

An inquiry is underway to find out how they became out of gauge.

Orders up

This from DfT...

The Department for Transport held its second annual Listening to Industry Day on Thursday 22 January.

The purpose of the event was for industry to input to our new approach to development of freight policy, including helping us prioritise future policy and investment decisions.

Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister for Freight and Logistics, said:
Our focus and our approach is now more on the movement of different freight commodities, than on freight modes.

"That is why I arranged this event, because I want to make sure that the needs and impacts of freight are considered in the Department’s investment, regulatory and policy decisions for the future.

A source close to DB Schenker said: "I am happy to say we currently have lots of new orders - which must be obeyed without question!".

UPDATE: The Major asks...

If this is their second annual "listening to industry day" what do DafT do for the other 364?

What indeed.

Fantasy island II

Man congratulates boss on good idea!

This from NCE...

Crossrail executive chairman Doug Oakervee said today that he was 'encouraged' by the idea of an island in the Thames Estuary to replace Heathrow.

Now there is a surprise!

Fantasy island

***Boriswatch has the latest details of Estuary Aerodrome - including proposed links into the rail network***

Fall-Behind capitulates

Go-Ahead must still think they are in with a chance on the South Central franchise.

This from the Kent News...

Train company U-turns on carriage cuts

Fat chance, what with their splendid performance on London Midland and all.

OFFICIAL: Daft does nothing

At last a spot of honesty from the Department for Transport!

A number of trade titles, including Modern Railways, are running DafT ads for Franchise, Finance and Contract Managers.

But what's this?

Can it be true?

Zero £multi-billion contracts?

Zero Heart of Government?

Zero Major Expansion?

We knew it was bad, but surely it can't be this bad?

Tornado avoids scrapmen

This from the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust:

The second run of The Peppercorn Pioneer on Sunday 1st February 2009 will now start from Doncaster with 60163 Tornado, picking up at York and running through to Durham.

This change of itinerary is because the Trust has been advised by Network Rail and the British Transport Police that due to significant concerns regarding crowd control at Newcastle Central station on Sunday 1st February.

Just imagine what all those braying Macums and Geordies would do on seeing a brand new shiny Kettle. Within 10 minutes the local scrappies would be inundated with copper piping...

Resistance is useless

More good news from Europe.

Raedwald has discovered that soon we shall all be Criminals in the eyes of the state, following a decision made by those masters of democracy the EU Council on the 20th January.

The Fact Compiler, ever keen to be ahead of the pack, has therefore taken up Old Holborn's kind invitation to "Insult... the State, Nation or State symbols" on-line.

So below is what our tin-pot Eurocrat friends can do with their tacky duster:

As Patrick McGoohan never tired of saying "I am not a number, I am a free man". At least I used to be...

UPDATE: John H writes...

"Oh come on.

"Get real. Here's a better analysis...

"Link left wing blog to libertarian and retire to safe distance..."

You pays your money you takes your choice.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Official - Great Western is... a railway

***Good news for those who want to see the wires go up."

Portion working

The Fact Compiler has received the following amusing anecdote from a reader:

En route to Wirksworth a colleague catches an EMT service from Luton. Being late in the day, he seeks refreshment from the buffet. On offer is "Soup and a baguette".

Passenger: "Soup please".

Steward: "Sorry sir, we can't sell you the soup this evening"

Passenger: "Why not?"

Steward: "We're out of baguettes."

The Fact Compiler doesn't know whether to compliment EMT staff on their honesty or cry.

Obama says...

Now this is how Network Rail should select Public Members

Teresa Villiers - get on down !

Spotting tomorrow's Executives

Driver Potter knows which side his bread is buttered on!

His latest post offers some splendid shots of 3417 on the main with 73109 "in assistance".

Reproduced below is the YouTube clip of the sparks monster in operation.

Notice how Driver Potter allows a PA announcement, giving the SWT website address, to set the scene.

A management role beckons we feel!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

What a great boss

Another gem from Wednesday's PAC:

"Within two years of the formation of the Rail Service Delivery Directorate in 2005, 30% of the staff had left."

Perhaps the figure would be better if Dr Mitchell had led from the front... and gone first.

Camera unobscura

Dr Death and the Department for Transport knows exactly which TOC's are in the sh1t.

As this under reported session of Wednesday's Parliamentary Accounts Committee shows.

Dr Mitchell declined to say in public exactly how many are close to the wall, for fear of further damaging share prices, but agreed to disclose the information to the PAC in camera.

However, he did confirm that, according to the Department's internal system for tracking franchise health, "A small number of companies are showing red".

Paradoxically DafT's tracking system was introduced following the collapse of previous East Coast franchise holder GNER.

With DafT having form for accepting ludicrously ambitious franchise bids can it be a surprise that history is in danger of repeating itself?

Friday, 23 January 2009

Poetry Korner

In Memorium National Express

So, Farewell


National Express.

Famous for running buses

Coaches and


You asked DfT for help
But they said


Perhaps because
Dr Death
Likes restaurant cars
But not on-board crew.

"Making travel simpler"
That was your

It will be now.

With apologies to E J Thribb

Thursday, 22 January 2009

New Southern Railway 27th SG supplemental agreement

A reader writes...

No student of Britain's railways in the 21st century should miss this gem published yesterday on the ORR website.

It's only 21 pages, so won't take much time to read.

However, comprehending it will take considerably longer.

UPDATE: This from someone, evidently with time on their hands...

My Dear Fact Compiler

It is not so opaque as to be beyond comprehension, although the basis of Beardie Rail's argument probably is.

This document has come about because Virgin based their Moderation of Competition argument without reference to the Railways Act 2005.

Therefore, much time and money has been less than helpfully expended on legal fees in an attempt to define when a train "calls" at a station.

As an aside the 1000 or so front line rail staff awaiting their P45s from Bowker, Ludeman and Souter can draw comfort from the professionalism and added value being delivered to the railway by these £300+ per hour comedians.

To go over the main points

5. informs us that Beardie Rail's Moderation of Competition (MOC) applies to Kenny O - MK flows, even though only XC have ever used it and since 13 December no longer do so at all. A Ghost Bus has been deployed instead.

27. NR says that a train arriving at or departing a terminus station does not "call" there.

33. As does the surviving bit of Beardie Rail, which has never run a train to Kenny O, but is still scared of potential revenue extraction...

44. ORR says this is bollocks.

52 Tells us how the Railways Act 2005 defines a call, the wording of which which accords with ORR.

55 tells us that The Regulator likes cross London services and wishes to protect them, then appears to argue that in the light of 44 above, a train TO Clapham Junction falls under the purview of the protection afforded trains projected beyond Clapham Junc onto WCML.

83 confirms that the Southern service to MK via Kenny O is a franchise commitment.

85. ORR shows us it can spell Kensington. Thank Goodness.

and in 90, ORR tells all concerned to get on with it.

So now someone with dirty hands and an orange jacket can try gauging a Class 375 into the new platforms at MK.


Lets hope it fits.

I hope this is helpful. My account will be with you shortly.

Many thanks for taking the time to explain this Mr Rumpole

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Monday's meeting with the SoS

Somebody, somewhere, is not telling the truth.

The consensus amongst the transport hacks (Grauniad, Independent & Times) is that the owner groups told Geoff Hoon that they needed additional financial support or there was a risk of service cuts.

However, according to a 'DfT Spokesman' today:

"No train operating company has approached us for service cuts or additional financial support. This issue was not raised in the meeting with Geoff Hoon yesterday."

Who is doing the spinning? Railway Eye would be grateful for guidance.

Give us your fooking money

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
The National Railway Museum has its begging bowl out again.

According to the NRM the cost of the Flying Scotsman overhaul has risen as a result of unforeseen problems, including increased prices for raw materials.

The markets appear to disagree about steel prices...

...and aluminium...

...and non-ferrous...

but you'd have to ask Mystic Wolmar about spot prices for unobtainium.

Randall and TOC-groups (Deceased)

Rail hack Chris Randall writes...

"Thought you might be interested to see a piece in last November’s Rail Professional, in which I predicted that DafT would be forced into an embarrassing policy U-turn if TOCs turned up en-masse at Marsham Street with begging bowls in hand.

"Following yesterday’s showdown between Buff Hoon and the increasingly panicky owner groups it appears it’s just a matter of time before DafT is forced to cave in to their demands and hand over billions more taxpayer pounds to keep franchises from going under.

"So much for franchises being non-negotiable!

"All of which brings to mind the all-singing, all-dancing launch of National Express East Coast in December 2007 when I had the temerity to ask National Express boss Richard Bowker if the TOC was prepared for an economic slump.

"The former SRA boss looked at me as if to say, ‘what sort of fool would ask such a bloody daft question’ and smugly insisted that NX had done all its sums and nothing could blow it of course.

"Funnily enough, I think Christopher Garnett said something very similar when he bid £1.3bn for the East Coast!"

Share pledges

This from the Daily Telegraph...

They include Brian Souter, chief executive, who pledged 24m shares worth £28.7m.

With environmental pressure to end the curse of plastic bags perhaps Souter has used the cash to corner the market?

Crossrail Complaints Commissioner

This from the DfT...

Transport Minister Andrew Adonis and London Mayor Boris Johnson today announced the appointment of Tony Gregory as the new independent Crossrail Complaints Commissioner.

Tony Gregory is the former Assistant Complaints Commissioner for Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the Assistant Referee for Crossrail in which he was responsible for adjudicating on issues arising from the dissemination of information about the development of the Crossrail scheme in its early stages.

Where is Bernard Gambrill when you need him?

MPs Expenses

This from the BBC...

Gordon Brown is to order Labour MPs to back a controversial plan to exempt details of MPs' expenses from the Freedom of Information Act.

And these wise words from Nick Clegg:

"At a time when families are having to count every penny, it is outrageous that MPs are seeking to hide how they spend their money.

"MPs should stop trying to hide their work in secrecy and accept that the same rules that apply to everybody else should also apply to them."

Readers of Railway Eye who would like MPs to show how they spend OUR money are invited to sign up to the Facebook Group - I object to MPs concealing their expenses

UPDATE: Bloody hell - that was quick!

This from the Grauniad:

Gordon Brown withdraws plan to keep details of MPs' expenses secret


Telegrammed by Barry Spotter
With the Stourbridge Branch still awaiting the introduction of the comedy Plastic Parry Mover, bustitution remains the order of the day.

However, good news reaches Railway Eye from Cambodia!

For those in a hurry forward to 2mins and 10 secs into the video.

Perhaps this is the new, environmentally friendly, version of the Parry People Mover?

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Railway Eye is to be congratulated on discovering DfT's secret test track for the Bi-mode IEP. No wonder there is so much confidence in the project.

"The awarding procedure has been discontinued."

***Is this an omen?***

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Leading from the front?

So London Midland has apologised for their dreadful recent performance.

Read Steve Banaghan's frank admission here.

As Go-Ahead is obviously imbued with a new spirit of honesty and openness perhaps we will soon see Keith Ludeman apologise for threatening to withdraw services if DafT didn't renegotiate their franchises?

Then again perhaps not.

Year Zero... and some

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
DafT, which of course has nothing to do with new trains allocation, is expected to announce on Thursday that the start of the Thameslink Project has been delayed.

Key Output Zero was due to come into effect on 22 March with 23 new Class 377 Bombardier Electrostar EMUs, a new footbridge at Farringdon and a new walkway at Blackfriars from the platform to the other side of the Thames.

FCC Managing Director Elaine Holt told the Railway Study Association on 7 January, that none of these things existed as she spoke.

This is a stroke of luck for DafT which is hoping to buy its new DMUs from sundry Spaniards, Chinese and Koreans.

It allows 'Buff' Hoon to weep crocodile tears as he explains to Derby MP Margaret Beckett that he would love to buy British but that her constituents simply can't deliver!

No doubt DafT's own creation, Network Rail, will emerge untarnished from the wreckage!

UPDATE: This blatant plug from Captain Deltic...

Of course Andy Mitchell is speaking at the Fourth Friday Club this week!


It's a fare cop!

When faced with difficult questions the Department for Transport prefers others to do their dirty work.

Latest to come to DafT's rescue is ATOC.

This written answer emerged from Marsham Street on Monday 19th January...

Bob Spink (Castle Point, UKIP) Hansard source
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent increase in rail fares has been announced by each train operating company.

Paul Clark (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Gillingham, Labour) The Association of Train Operating Companies issued a press release citing the average fares rises for January 2009. This was published in November 2008 and is available from their website.

Indeed it is - here.

And yes it does include a list of TOCs and their January fares increases.

But what's this?

The list is incomplete!

Where are the entries for the three open access operators?

Could ATOC's deliberate omission of Hull Trains, Grand Central and Shropshire & Wrexham have anything to do with their embarrasing decision not to increase fares?

UPDATE: Tom over at Blairwatch writes...

It's simple, you're confusing 'Train Operating Companies' with 'Companies that Operate Trains'. Do try to keep up, old chap.

Let us hope that the Honourable Member for Castle Point isn't as easily confused!

Lengthy inquiry

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch was formed to help improve railway safety.

It is tasked with investigating accidents and incidents on the railways, without apportioning blame, and publishing the results so that lessons can be learnt and safety improved.

On the 22nd of January 2008 a young man lost his life on the foot crossing at West Lodge, Haltwhistle.

Today, almost exactly a year after this tragic event, RAIB finally published its report.

Why has it taken so long?

UPDATE: J M Gold writes...

A serious point, and there may be a serious answer.

RAIB are frequently advertising for accident investigators.

The pay looks more than reasonable, but they seem to have to offer lengthy training, which suggests that experienced railway people aren't coming forward.

No less worrying is the content of the report.

Network Rail's procedures call for regular review of level crossing safety. The two most recent reviews identified clear shortcomings at this crossing, but no appropriate action was taken.

I think this is a real problem with modern management methods, which respond to problems by creating procedures. This generates a constant stream of reports which are passed into the "system".

Much time is spent filling in paper (or perhaps nowadays a computer database) to provide a record that the procedure has been followed, but all too often nothing is actually DONE.


***More froth from SWT!***

Zimbabwe election

Good news for fans of corporate governance.

This from the national infrastructure owner....

Network Rail today announced its new designate chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite.

His appointment will be made by the Board following a meeting with Network Rail’s Members with the matter being put before the company's AGM in July as a normal election resolution.

Rubber stamps and trebles all round !

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Repentant sinner?

The Sunday Times has further details on the company DafT has set up to progress HS2.

The business section names top civil servants Bob Linnard and Timothy Wellburn as directors.

But what's this?

No mention of who the Chairman is!

With DafT having read Eye's take on that particular appointment it's perhaps no surprise that they may now wish to play it down!

30/- short

Good to see The Observer has been paying attention!

Dan Milmo reports
today that potless National Express East Coast is planning to charge for reservations

A story broken by the Eye way back on the 6th January.

However, the Observer still appears to have only two fifths of the details correct!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Going for a song

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
Mysteriouser and mysteriouser.

Could the case of the missing Victorian ironwork from Primrose Hill station be one for Inspector Knacker?

The heritage lobby are furious about Network Rail's razing of the historic North London Line station in December, a day after campaigners handed out leaflets urging the case for its reopening.

The vandalism was compounded as a photo was published of the ornate Victorian spandrels piled ignominiously on the demolition site.

Now the local paper, the Camden New Journal is reporting that they might "end up in Gloucestershire".

How? Why? Who at NR made the decision?

It is a re-run of what happened in 1988, when Wolverton residents were shocked to find their famous station, also on the former LNWR, with its historic refreshment rooms, was smashed to a pile of rubble overnight by BR.

The Wolverton spandrels found their way to BR's junkyard, "Collectors Corner" where they were bought for a few quid and saved for posterity by a north London collector who recognised them for their significance.

So where are the Primrose Hill spandrels now?

Locals have asked Network Rail to prove they're not in a skip, or haven't been flogged down the pub for a fiver.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Herod opens kindergarten

Dear God!

This from Transit...

The DfT’s former permanent secretary Sir David Rowlands is to chair a new company to take forward plans for a high-speed rail line from London to Scotland.

For pity's sake is there no one else available?

UPDATE: Captain Deltic asks...

'Where is Sir David Serpell when we need him?'

Thursday, 15 January 2009

You lucky people!

Telegrammed by the Archer
Heathrow gets a third runway

The roads get another £6bn

The railway gets….

...a new company to help consider the case for HS2 and further work to consider the case for further electrification

Is there no end to the bounteousness of this government?

It's off, it's on, it's off, it's on...

***The Conservatives will cancel the expansion of Heathrow if they win the next General Election, Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said today.***

Meanwhile, on the real railway...

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
Transport Secretary Geoff "Doom" today announced grandiose plans for a new "HS2" from Heathrow to Birmingham in his Commons statement giving the OK to Heathrow's third runway – and global warming meltdown.

Back in the real world of travelling to the West Midlands, Beardie's lieutenants are counting their blessings, as trains to and from Euston this week have been merely "late" rather than running as "buses" or not running at all.

But as a precaution, Virgin's canny PR people are givng away Chiltern Railways' Birmingham timetables in prominent displays alongside the Euston booking office.

Always hedge your bets, as Bernie Madoff used to say!

Feint praise

Good news for SWT passengers

Whilst DfT has prevented the TOC closing many ticket offices there may be no one left to staff them.

This just in from SWT...

...a reduction of 480 roles... 200 to leave the company

Nice touch SWT, slip this out whilst the media are busy with the Heathrow announcement!

DafT surrenders!

Good news for the Roscos.

Following the embarrassment of the Competition Commission pointing out that it was DafT's own franchising policy that made rolling stock expensive rather than monopolistic Roscos, the Department appears to have retreated into its Marsham Street bunker.

This defeatist written answer on the 18 Dec last year

Adrian Sanders (Deputy Chief Whips, Torbay, Liberal Democrat) Hansard source
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the economic downturn on rolling stock operating companies; and if he will make a statement.

Paul Clark (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Gillingham, Labour)
This is a business issue for the rolling stock leasing companies and is not for the Department for Transport to determine.

Perhaps if DafT had adopted this approach in the first place it wouldn't have jizzed several million quid of our money up the wall in initiating a pointless Coco investigation.

UPDATE: Captain Deltic snorts...

Several million??

More like £25 million minimum!

Heathrow Terminal 3

The interesting bits from DafT's announcement:

  • The creation of a new company - High Speed 2 - to help consider the case for new high speed rail services between London and Scotland and tasked initially with developing a proposal for an entirely new line between London and the West Midlands which could link to Heathrow and Crossrail through a new international interchange station.
  • Further work to consider the case for electrifying two of Britain busiest railway lines - Great Western and Midland Mainline - with decisions to be announced later in the year.
More to follow...

Greater Reichs Bahn

Despite earlier denials Deutsche Bahn have now confirmed that they are interested in Eurostsar.

This from Reuters...

'LCR, whose principal stakeholder is Britain's Department for Transport, is open to selling Eurostar UK Ltd. "We are aware of Deutsche Bahn's interests and would be interested in hearing their proposal," said a government spokesman.'

DB it will be remembered is still owned by the German government

Meanwhile the Labour government continues to oppose state ownership of the railways... unless of course the state doing the owning is German, or French, or indeed anyone as long as it isn't British.

Better Housekeeping

As SWT evidently need to save money The Fact Compiler has a suggestion.

Why not fire your media agency?

After all there is not much point in placing an ad on the Hamilton Advertiser website offering £8 SWT tickets to London.

That's probably kept one booking office open an extra hour.

UPDATE: Telegrammed by a geek...

Was that screen shot sent in by someone in Hamilton, or from someone living/working in the SWT area?

A lot of advertising is triggered not by the site but by where the user is located.

Your IP can be used to determine your location, and then appropriate advertising served.

It might not be a phuk-up at all.

Clever chaps these IT johnnies!

Train formation changes

Good house keeping or signs of a deepening recession?

You decide.

This from the BBC...

Brings back happy memories of NSE in the 1980s...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

New Rosco

The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Corporation (BTMUCC) has launched a new rolling stock leasing company.

The new entity already has 27 locomotives and 50 freight cars on lease to lessees in the UK and Belgium.

As railway wags will quickly transform BTMUCC into 'Butt Muck' it comes as no surprise that the new ROSCO will be known as Beacon Rail.

Toot, toot

Good news from our caring, sharing, modally-agnostic Government:

According to Downing Street "The 450 Jaguar-Land Rover staff who have been told today that they are to lose their jobs, will be given Government help to find work".

Presumably railway workers, who have been losing their jobs hand over fist, can go stuff themselves?

Not guilty!


'Zeppelin raid fatalities blamed on railway'.

Presumably Prince Harry's nick-name faux pax means we can no longer finger the Hun for this one!

UPDATE: Our man with a wind turbine on his chimney writes...

"The Zeppelin attack on Nottingham completely explodes rail's so called 'green' credentials.

"At a time of national emergency, when every ton of coal counted, the direct ancestor of East Midlands Trains was wasting precious energy, and increasing global warming, by leaving gas lights burning all night.

"Who will hold Tim Shoveller to account?!?"

UPDATE: Biggles writes...

"Maybe Chiltern or LOROL could bring back the Schienenzeppelin (pictured below)?"

Right. Stop this. it is getting silly!

I'd like to thank my accountant...

Telegrammed by 222 Marylebone Road
With the credit crunch tightening and even Eurostar revenue flat, industry black tie bun-fights - sorry - awards ceremonies, are looking to be ever more relevant and quantifiable.

So instead of 'Railway manager of the year' and 'Prettiest station' expect 'Most profitable TOC', 'Largest reduction in head count' and, if DafT can find enough change down the back of Dr Death's office sofa 'ROSCO with the lowest profit margin on its ex-BR fleet'.

Other possible categories include 'Network Rail territory with the lowest spend per mile on OHLE maintenance' and 'Operator with shortest booking office hours' and 'Most protracted rolling stock procurement exercise'.

Eye has already offered to sponsor the 'fleet with the longest unchanged livery' category.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Chester upon Hamlyn

Something to delight those who know Chester station.

This from the Chester Chronicle ...

Dozens of pet rats dumped at Chester Railway Station

How did they know?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Cancelled due to lack of interest?

How fairs the new, improved, DafT specified, Arriva CrossCountry network?

All is much the same except that it is nigh on impossible to travel North to South with ease.

No matter - Marsham Street knows best!

In the matter of timetables however, Arriva certainly doesn't.

Awaiting a train at York a reader was shocked to see a CrossCountry train departing at 18:24 for Guildford!

Believing these to be extinct he quickly consulted the lurid orange CrossCountry pocket timetable to see if this was indeed the case.


Despite a pretty map showing Guildford as a destination on the cover, not one mention of that station could be found on any of the timetable pages within.

Courtesy of NRES it emerges that this is the only train of the day that links the North East with Guildford.

But with potential passengers unable to find this solitary train in CrossCountry's own timetable how long can this rump service survive?

UPDATE: An 'Anonymous' reader writes...

"There are a number of calls missing from the main parts of this timetable, but shown as notes in the back, it was always done this way by XC previously. For instance look up some of the minor stations in Cornwall or Scotland.

"However the Green SE/NE/NW timetable, with less stations to show, clearly shows the Guildford times in the main timetable."

The Fact Compiler still can't understand why Guildford is shown on the timetable's cover map, but the station isn't listed inside.

Mind you, if it was good enough for BeardieRail...

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Poll pot

The latest Trainsadrine survey sounds nearly as scientific as those of Railway Eye.

According to their latest press release...

"The results of the first rail passenger poll of 2009... revealed that over 78 % of passenger travelling on the Liverpool to Norwich train line said they were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the service.

"This is the worst customer satisfaction results in the UK .

In a second poll, over 65% of passengers also called for east Midlands train company MD, Tim Shoveller, to resign."

The Fact Compiler tried to follow the link to the rest of the story, alas, Trainsardine still can't type their own web address correctly (hint: one dot too many before the org).

No matter.

From the sublime to the ridiculous.

The results of the latest exciting Eye poll shows that more than three quarters of you believe that Iain Coucher is in the sh1t.

Whatever that may mean.

Less froth please Trainsadrine and a little more substance.

Police evidence

They can't mean this can they?

This from the BBC...

Acting Sgt Sarah Price, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "There has been an unfortunate accident involving a male in collision with a train."

Some collision!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Wessex was brilliant!

All appears not to be well in Devon & Cornwall judging by a naughty video that has appeared on Photobucket.

Not for the feint hearted, or those easily offended, it explores the difficulty of booking a day's annual leave.

As there are bound to be loads of complaints please direct them to FGW Rosters Section in Swindon.

UPDATE: This from Fidothedog over at The Lone Voice...

Although having never worked on the railways, that video could apply to many a company I have worked for."

And this from a Teutonic reader...

"Die Bahn ist die Bahn...Heil Bahn!"

Friday, 9 January 2009

Going, going, gone?

Timing as they say is everything.

Smart money suggested that Go-Ahead would keep it's head down after turning London Midland into a disaster zone in recent weeks.

So full marks to Go-Ahead for deciding to announce 300 job losses on the South Eastern today.

A move designed to gladden the hearts of Ministers battling growing unemployment figures, especially after Go-Ahead recorded profits of £131.1 million last year.

With DafT due to announce the winner of the South Central franchise in the summer, Go-Ahead must hope Ministers have short memories.....

Prepare for Opposition!

Railway Eye salutes the generosity of Lord Adonis!

This self serving tosh from DafT...

"Passengers who have suffered during a week of misery on the West Coast Main Line should claim compensation under the Passenger's Charter, Transport Minister Andrew Adonis said today."

Putting aside the fact that it was DafT which demanded the completion of the West Coast Mainline Upgrade by Christmas (which may, or may not, have contributed to this week's chaos) it is of course Network Rail who will pay TOCs for the disruption caused.

The TOCs then reimburse passengers for the 'week of misery'.

So why a Government minister feels compelled to remind passengers that they can claim money from private sector companies for the latest West Coast Woe is a mystery.

This is the sort of grandstanding one expects from an opposition party.

Perhaps Adonis is preparing for the back benches?

UPDATE: Wolmar of course takes a contrary view...

The Case of the Silent Dog (Episode 2)

"I say, Holmes, aren't you being a little hard on the ORR? They have produced a statement after all."

"Indeed, Watson, and what did it say?"

"Well, Holmes, it said they are taking it all 'very seriously indeed' and are 'closely monitoring what NR is doing to get things working again'."

"And what do you deduce from this Watson?"

"That they are watching, Holmes."

"So Watson, which is more deserving of supper; a watchdog that watches, or a watchdog that barks?"

Highway robbery

If only DafT and Cambridge County Council had listened to Cast Iron - the lobby group seeking to return a railway line to St Ives.

This from Transport Briefing...

"Fears that the Cambridge to St Ives guided busway project could cost more than planned have prompted promoter Cambridgeshire County Council to delay the construction of passenger facilities."

How splendid. The UK's first freight busway.

Baggage train

Exciting news from Network Rail!

According to a press release Waterloo passengers are to "benefit from Europe's largest ticket gate line".

The Fact Compiler had always thought that ticket barriers were designed to prevent fare evasion.

How old railway!

Apparently today's ticket barriers actually enhance the travel experience!

They're also great for staff morale - just watch heavily loaded passengers try to use them. Chortle!

Road to nowhere

Looks like BoJo's decision last year to cape the Dagenham Dock extension has hit the DLR hard.

Indeed if this page, on the TfL website, is anything to go by it rather looks like the project team have entered a state of denial!

Perhaps they hope Boris will think again.

Deluded fools.

The Case of the Silent Dog

Telegrammed by 221b Baker Street
'I say, Holmes, what do you make of the mysterious case of the falling West Coast Main Line catenary?

'Watson, you will of course have noted the significance of the Office of Rail Regulation's pontification on this matter.'

'But Holmes, ORR has said nothing!'

'That, Watson, is the significance'

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Ghost bus

This from The Times...

"The 'ghost bus' runs simply to allow the Government to escape the embarrassment of admitting that it has closed several sections of railway in West London to passenger trains."

Network Rail did a splendid job yesterday of closing the rest...

Ozymandi'm back again

Thought for the day

As a 110 mile/h TSR is imposed on the WCML fast lines between Euston and Rugby, Iain (WCML Job Done) Coucher might recall these lines of Kipling:

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre.

Mystic Wright

This in today's FT...

Virgin demands rail reliability

A spot of prescient reporting by Mr Wright.

The 25kv Group

Telegrammed by 222 Marylebone Road
The current daily, or even twice daily, major failures of the overhead line electrification on the WCML are statistically so improbable that they cannot be attributed to normal maintenance errors.

Interestingly they are clustered at the southern end of the route.

Conspiracy theorists suggest that the cause may be sabotage!

Perhaps by a renegade group of DafT civil servants with the dual aim of discrediting electrification and justifying investment in the ludicrous dual powered IEP?

UPDATE: Tom from Blairwatch writes...


It's Boris Johnson and his transport team campaigning to discredit those nasty bendy foreign trains preparatory to holding a competition to design a 21st century Britannia Pacific.

Perhaps the Tornado team need to clear their diaries...

An end to electrification woes

Telegrammed by Barry Spotter
Worried about pulling down the wires?

Concerned that you might have to rebuild dozens of bridges and lower the floors of tunnels?

Well worry no more, for the Southern has the answer!

It's the all-old, all-tried, tested and almost-nearly-sometimes completely reliable in snow and ice Juice Rail!

Why spend silly money on dangling bits of 25Kv-fed wire across the scenery when you can keep drivers and track-workers nervous for longer with 750dc on the floor?

Contact the Southern Region General Offices, Waterloo Station, for further details.

Remember - it's sunnier down South!