Saturday, 28 February 2009

Fraser the Eagle

Good news for fans of Rail Replacement Bus Services

This from the Daily Post...

Things went from bad to worse for Fraser Eagle yesterday as Virgin and Arriva cut ties with them and searched for alternative options for passengers stuck between Holyhead and Llandudno Junction, where improvement works are being carried out.

The Lancashire company is experiencing financial difficulties and has made redundancies in past weeks.

Fraser Eagle, it will be remembered, once had grand plans to move into railway operations.

Mind you, financial difficulties and redundancies hasn't stopped others bidding for franchises.

Sunday travel

This from mhmediaonline

Adolf attempts to take his bicycle on a train... on a Sunday!


Penny wise, pound rich

Bowler tip to Driver Potter for this...

Where the air world leads can the railways fail to follow?

Ryanair is musing over whether to charge passengers for making use of on-board facilities.

How long before cash strapped TOCs follow suit?

Virgin fares farce

Beardie Rail has been caught out offering non-existent fares.

This from the News and Star...

"Virgin Trains is advertising return tickets from Cumbria to Paris and Brussels for £87 – but has now admitted the fare is impossible to obtain."

Here's to fares supremo Graeme Leech being hauled up in front of the Advertising Standards Authority!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Bowker sets out his stall

***This from former Rail hack Will Green, now The Journal's Political Editor***

Perhaps Platinum Trains had a point?

Bowkerballs 2

By his own words shall you judge him!

This from the Daily Telegraph, 15th August 2007...

"We have had a very simple bidding philosophy,'' said Mr Bowker. ''We will not bid at levels we think are unsustainable or undeliverable - there's no point in being a hero for a day and a villain forever more afterwards."

A villain forever more.


Richard Bowker’s performance on the BBC’s working lunch programme may have caused one or two viewers a severe bout of indigestion.

The Silver Surfer argued that National Express East Coast should no longer be liable for the £1.4bn it has promised to pay the treasury, as the deal was signed in "a different economic climate" .

Good effort Rich!

Thanks for explaining this new 'Bowker's Law'.

Where else could it apply...

Suffering negative equity?

Just call your mortgage lender, mention you signed the deal "in a different economic climate" and demand a similar relaxing of repayment terms!

Bound to work - just say Rich sent you!

What an ugly baby!

Extra-ordinary news from the cranktocracy.

The Eye is advised that a Baby Deltic is to be reborn!

The donor vehicle is 37272 and work has already started today at top secret Derbyshire research centre, Llih Worrab!

A spokesman for the project said "first lump gas axed into the pit this morning".

Some conception - some baby!

UPDATE: An excited Captain Deltic asks...

...will the next project be to re-engine a Deltic with a class 50 engine to recreate DP2?

UPDATE: This harsh response from a Rail Professional columnist...

I think it's great if someone is going to recreate a baby Deltic.

Since they were withdrawn after barely a decade's service, it can be a permanent reminder to everyone of everything that was worst about British Rail.

Perhaps a Rosco could pay for its refurbishment as a permanent reminder of the follies of public sector specification?

No point - the IEP is doing the job already.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Adonis ruled "out of order"

Lord Adonis received a dressing down from the Transport Select Committee yesterday for having leaked his evidence beforehand.

"There's extreme concern in the committee that today there was extensive coverage in the media of what it's alleged you are going to say," Louise Ellman said.

"This is really out of order".

He claimed he thought that, since he was merely restating government policy, it wouldn't be a problem.

He's frankly lucky Gwynneth Dunwoody is no longer around to rip him limb from limb.

UPDATE: Meanwhile Nigel Harris excoriates the TSC for piss-poor performance...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Listening government

Where Railway Eye goes, ministers are sure to follow.

Within hours of our Independent Expert posting that rail fares need to fall because of deflation, what happens?

Ministers let it be known that "rail fares will be allowed to fall in line with deflation".

In the land of the one-eyed the blogger is king!

Pigs in space?

It's Network Rail bonus time again.

Confirmation that Iain Coucher and two other senior directors are in line for sizeable bonuses came in a letter to Network Rail public members from Jim Cornell, who chairs NR's remuneration committee.

Last year, Coucher received bonuses totalling £510,000, which are likely to be matched this year.

Of course it is up to Iain, and his fellow directors, to decide on whether or not to accept the additional moolah; especially when the rest of the railway is tightening its collective belt.

The industry, media and Westminster await their decision with interest...

UPDATE: This direct from Network Rail...

What confirmation that 'sizeable' bonuses wil be paid at Network Rail this year?

The year is not over, the final numbers have not been crunched and the remuneration committee has not made a decision.

The story that provoked this latest furore is the TSSA's brandishing of a 'leaked' letter which talks about NEXT year's management incentive plan - a plan that stretches incentives and further aligns them to passenger benefits.

Unlike the banks, Network Rail's bonus scheme (which encompasses everyone, whether signaller, maintenance worker, humble press officer or board member) rewards success.

It is also a licence condition and agreed with the ORR.

If train performance improves, assets are well managed and costs are controlled then bonuses are triggered.

We welcome this debate.

O'Toole - the reason why shocker

This from the Currant Bun.

"O’Toole – known as the Invisible Man – masterminded the huge transport operation."


Gone to the dogs?

Captain Deltic reporting that Rotem has not submitted a bid for the 200+ DMU vehicles brought forward by the Pre Budget Statement:

"With Hyundai Rotem of Korea having pulled out for the time being, the bidders, in alphabetical order, are Bombardier Transportation, CAF of Spain and CSR Nanjing Puzhen of China."

DafT is still claiming it's an open race, despite strange words from my Lord Adonis at the IEP press conference...

Legs crossed

This from DMPS at Newcastle...

An announcement on departure of the 16.06 Transpennine Express from Newcastle to Manchester Airport yesterday:

"Ladies and gentlemen we are sorry to announce that this train has no working toilets. We will be making toilet stops at Darlington, York and Huddersfield".

The Lord said smile, things could be worse, so I smiled and tied a knot in it.

At least we now know that the maximum time between permitted loo stops is 48 minutes! (York - Huddersfield).

IEP horsepower revealed

This from Andy Roden, over at the IRJ...

The real number of horsepower for the IEP is two!

At least it could be, judging by the very odd picture to be found at the ONCF's website:

Zut alors!

Mystery 377

This from Peezedtee...

Not sure if this is of any interest, but for the last few days an empty Class 377 (in Southern colours) has been whizzing back and forth through Elephant and Castle, a beast not previously seen in these parts, as far as I know.

Presumably this is something to do with Key Output Zero (route testing?) ready for 22 March.

Yeo off message?

Telegrammed by the Master
The Master attended Monday night’s Railway Study Association annual dinner.

An occasion where the great and the good of the railway industry get to meet the strange fraternity of men with an over abundance of pens in their top pockets.

The guest speaker was Tory Tim Yeo MP, a choice which puzzled many as he’s not known for his knowledge of the rail industry.

Tory Tim quickly alienated many by needlessly sticking the boot into the corpse of BR in a poor attempt to defend privatisation.

But it was his remarks about Colchester station which confused the most.

Tory Tim criticised the station as being an unpleasant place to use because it didn’t offer “an airline experience”.

Presumably he meant that you can just pitch up, buy a ticket and board a train.

Rather than have to turn up two hours before and queue for security with your shoes in your hand whilst your luggage is sent to another country.

Mind the gap

So farewell then Tim O'Toole, top man at London Underground.

Eye understands that Tim will return to the States for personal reasons.

Even so, should provide an interesting topic of conversation when Boris meets Gordon today to discuss moving Crossrail forward.

Monday, 23 February 2009

A clue to the IEP decision

Those holding Long positions on Thameslink Key Output 0 completing by the 22nd March may yet keep their shirts!

Apparently the first of the new build class 377s, that Southern is sub-leasing to FuCC, may finally turn up this week!

Leaving Derby with just a month to make good it's promise of delivering 13 more.

Bombardier of course had already traded Long for Short, as the original commitment was for 23 !

Air leak

This just in from the Transport Select Committee...

23 February 2009: For immediate release
SCA 10/2008-09



As Dr Death will not be giving evidence the TSC must already have a view on the best "use of airspace".

TSSA flexes muscles

TSSA threatens NR with strike action.

This from Professional Pensions...

THE Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) is balloting members on strike action in response to proposed changes to the Network Rail section of the Railways Pension Scheme.

NR sources report panic hoarding of paper-clips.

Ticket to be taken for a ride?

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
My old colleague Simon Calder rallied to the defence of rail fares in his Indy column this weekend.

But I fear he misses the point.

It's fine to claim there are bargains to be had, but in this deflationary world they are simply not good enough.

It's all about public perception. My petrol is cheaper, my gas bill fell last week, my mortgage is down, I can name my price if I want a new car. Last week I booked exactly the same summer holiday for my family as last year but it is £300 cheaper.

By contrast train fares seem to most people to be extortionate and inflexible.

Last week I went from Preston to a meeting in Carlisle, a couple of stops up the WCML. My standard class one-way ticket cost the best part of £30. My colleagues, using their cars on the M6 for around a fiver, thought I was insane. And come to think of it maybe I was.

Oliver Price from Chislehurst, published on the Telegraph letters page last week is more realistic than Simon Calder.

He says: 'You highlight the scandalously high cost of rail fares. I can only endorse this. Since the rise in the cost of tickets coincided with a lowering of petrol prices it's now cheaper to drive to my work in Chiswick (about 20 miles) than to take the train.'

Rail buffs still chant the mantra about 'managing demand'.

But what demand?

I'm posting this on the almost empty 10:46 Euston to Lancaster.

Privately I hear that Virgin first class bookings are down by thirty per cent.

Well it may be even worse - there were probably as many ticket staff at the barrier as there are passengers in all four first class coaches this morning.

Wakey, wakey, My Lord - UPDATED

Telegrammed by the man on the Bernina Express
This from the the DafT release announcing further gating of stations in the South East:

The announcement follows the recent installation of Europe's longest ticketing line at Waterloo station, where security has improved on trains...

Transport Minister Andrew Adonis said: "As the experience at Waterloo has proven, these measures will improve station security by increasing staffing at night seven days a week."

Sorry, this "security" thing is total shiite.

I happened to pass through Waterloo last Wednesday, 18th, at 21:45 and ALL ticket gates in vicinity of platforms 16-19 were OPEN.

There was no security.

And wouldn't you think those chaps at SWT, desperate for revenue, would ensure the barriers are working.

Oh, silly me, SWT staff man the barriers.

with the company having announced a further 180 job cuts, including revenue protection staff, this can only occur more often.

Time my Lord Adonis left his Marsham Street ivory tower and went out and about on the real railway!

UPDATE: Captain Deltic explains patiently:

It's like this, Andrew:

A gate line like that at Waterloo is quite labour intensive because you need staff to cope with anomalies such as people using warrants, tickets that refuse to be read, people with bags or buggies who can't get through and so on.

Employing barrier staff in the evening is not economic in commercial terms, when you've signed up to a diminishing subsidy.

On the other hand, if like TfL you believe that staffing stations during operating hours is the right thing to do, and you are taking revenue risk., then gating is not an on-cost and you can slash fare evasion from over 15% to under 5%. .

Why not get your officials to organise a day out bashing LOROL?

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Virgin unspun?



And in the Daily Telegraph of all places!

The train service may be more punctual and getting faster, but both expense and discomfort are going up, too. There were strikes, and it was all filthy, but otherwise – what exactly was wrong with British Rail?

The Fact Compiler's flabber is gasted!

Calder on the nail

Unusual words of wisdom in the Independent this morning.

This from Simon Calder...

Plenty is still wrong with Britain’s rail pricing: if you miss your train, you can throw away your Advance ticket... But much is looking good – and, as business travel declines, leisure travel deals should get even better.

Indeed they should. What with several InterCity TOCs already recording a 30% year on year fall in first class traffic.

Heir of kettles

***This from the BBC, with a Bowler tip to Behind the Water Tower***

Randy Shooter

Bowler tip to Vincent for this...

Chiltern have out PR'ed Virgin!

Good effort!

Gates reduce headcount?

Telegrammed by the Archer
This from DafT...

Tackling fare dodgers and making stations in South London safer

New measures to clamp down on fare dodgers and make stations in south London safer were announced by Transport Minister Andrew Adonis today.

The new £5.5 million project will improve security at 14 south London stations using new ticketing gates which could save train bosses from incurring substantial revenue losses.

Perma-tan Rail will be happy, RMT less so.

Hurrah for the weekend!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Dans la merde?

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
It's all hands to the pump at Bombardier.

The French Canadians at Derby are so deep in the mire that they are reported to have called back heavy hitting train production veteran Peter Doolin to get the disastrous LOROL Class 378 and Thameslink Class 377 contracts out of deep sh one t !

According to Tony Mercado - the engineer who defected to the DafT side and has been lost without trace - speaking in January 2005 "Peter Doolin delivered the 53 (Pendolino) trains by the end of last year as promised from a production line that was closing around him".

With the Japanese taking the Super Excess Train contract, the Chinese offering five for the price of three on DMUs and Alstom resurgent it could be deja vu all over again.

First for vanity

An over excited missive thuds into The Fact Compiler's inbox.

It reads:

A book about the history of Aberdeen based transport giant, FirstGroup, is to be published today in line with the company’s 20 year celebrations.

"An Incredible Journey, the First Story" is written by Martin Helm, a former journalist and Transport Department Information Head who went on to advise FirstGroup.

Incredible indeed!

So here's is a picture to cherish.

But what's this?

Also attached to this gag inducing piece of PR puffery is the following extraordinary image.

Good to see that Sir More Duckweed is content for his hapless customers to risk life and limb negotiating a growing mound of unsold copies that had been strewn across the platform.

UPDATE: This from Graeme...

Photoshopped, you don't see that number and those kind of people coming off platform 6N at Aberdeen ;-)

A cry for help

***Anyone willing to help the Kent & East Sussex Railway with a spot of Pway work is invited to pay a quick visit to Driver Potter's blog***

Jobs for the foreign boys

After the debacle of the British Train for British Workers going to errr... Japan, you would have thought that Gordon and co might have learnt their lesson.

Not so, if Construction News is to be believed!

Bids from two American firms have emerged as the favourites to oversee work on Crossrail and its central tunnelling section.

Sources close to the project said that Bechtel and Legacy 3 – a joint venture between Parsons Brinckerhoff, Balfour Beatty and Davis Langdon – are set to take the programme and project delivery partner roles.

Can't you just hear those opinion poll points draining away?

Good news for the economically illiterate.

This tosh from the RMT:

THE UNBROKEN growth in profits by rail privateer group Govia is an insult to passengers and rail workers alike, Britain’s biggest rail union says today.

Govia posted a ten per cent increase in rail-operating profits to just under £35 million in the second half of 2007.

As regular readers will be aware The Fact Compiler carries no particular candle for Perma-tan Rail.

However, he feels compelled to point out that as Govia's three rail franchises have a joint turnover of circa £1bn a year the sum of £35m represents a margin of just 7%!

And of course this figure was for the six months before we were all plunged into Gordon's Great Depression....

Turning to ashes

Can it be long before ATOC members run out of patience with their Chief Executive Michael Roberts?

Aside from his love for producing briefing papers, Roberts' sole achievement to-date appears to be in the field of TV interviews.

Rather than up his game, he has bravely decided to shoot the messenger - dispensing with the services of Communications Director, Ed Funnell!

ATOC Board members, who only heard about Funnell's departure via the grapevine, are absolutely furious.

Despite similar anger amongst TOC PRs and transport hacks there is one piece of good news!

Roberts' remains a Director of the Carbon Trust.

What better background for a man whose railway career is in danger of being fossilised?

UPDATE: This from The Master...

It's not just his TV appearances either.

Roberts rule at ATOC has coincided with it hemorrhaging experienced and respected staff who have either jumped or been pushed.

These departures have not gone unnoticed by stakeholders or the media.

But they have seriously undermined the credibility of an organisation whose morale has been shot to pieces.

Ed Funnell was a seasoned PR man who was respected and liked by all who dealt with him.

Words which may not be heard about his former boss...

UPDATE: This from ATOC...

I am writing to let you know that Edward Funnell left ATOC last week, as one of a number of wider changes we have been making to the organisation since April last year to reflect the priorities of the Board and new senior executive team.

Edward has made a major contribution as Director of Communications over the past six and half years in defending the industry's reputation and promoting the interests of train operating companies. We wish him every success with his future career.

We are now looking to recruit a permanent successor for this important post.I have appointed Paul Atkinson, a communications professional with over 20 years' experience, as interim Director of External Affairs, with immediate effect and I know he will want touch base with you and other key contacts in the near future.

Michael Roberts
Chief Executive, ATOC

Please pass on to your colleagues as you see appropriate.

NXEC exposed

Telegrammed by the Archer
This from the Gruaniad:

Women railway workers on the East Coast line between London and Edinburgh are refusing to wear their new uniform, which includes a see-through blouse that leaves "little to the imagination" of passengers.

National Express staff have posted the blouses back to the company in disgust and demanded new, more opaque ones, according to The Transport Salaried Staffs Association.

Union official Brian Brock noted that National Express chief executive Richard Bowker was famous for not wearing jackets or ties, but pointed out that "he doesn't wear see-through shirts and we don't see why our female members should wear see-through blouses. The blouses are simply too thin and too cheap. This is yet another example of National Express cutting costs at every corner."

Expect to see a short term firm growth in ticket revenue before sales return to flaccid levels...

Monday, 16 February 2009

No tongues

***It seems appropriate that this nonsense (shurely witty idea. Ed) comes from Virgin***


This from Trailer Second...

Bet on railwayana, not banks

In a week when Lloyds Bank shares went through the floor, punters were backing railwayana futures at Virgin Trains nameplate auction at Waterloo station on Saturday.

Voyager and other modern traction plates auctioned in aid of the Railway Benevolent Fund fetched what the organisers reckon were "astonishing" prices.

Class 86 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh went for £4,700.

Even the most modest Voyager names went for £500-plus, with Super Voyager "Doctor Who" exceeding £2,000, as £106,000 was raised by Virgin for the charity.

"Amazing prices," said one insider connected with the auction. "Many of these nameplates hadn't been on the trains for more than five minutes."

Well done, Virgin PR boss Steve Knight, whose idea it was.

Maybe he should be advising the Treasury?

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Lookalike lX

Lookalike Vlll

End Gobshiitery

The Fact Compiler stands corrected!

Alec Trick has written to point out that:

Nigel Harris didn't sound the first trumpet against on train gobshiitery.

I did, in Todays Railways UK, July 2008!

As you will see from the below:

Are there others out there who are prepared to nail their colours to the mast?

UPDATE: This from Al...

Thanks to getting stuck in traffic I had a prolonged wait at Finsbury Park for a train out to civilisation this afternoon.

Whilst waiting, I was being driven slowly (more) insane by the announcements from the Underground (which are clearly audible even on the platforms on the surface), mainly regarding the weekend engineering works.

They seemed to feel that thirty seconds was too long to have gone without an announcement about them, with a mix of recorded and live.


Civils on Speed Shocker!

This from Bushey....

Interesting bit of film this.

Makes you wonder why the WCML upgrade took so long !

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Silence is Golden

Nigel Harris has sounded the first trumpet blast against the over zealous use of on-train PA systems.

Read Nigel's rant against this ubiquitous
gobshiitery here.

Douglas Adams' character Ford Prefect had it on the nail: "If they don't keep on exercising their lips their brains start working."

Train crew: Less really is more!


***This from Lobbydog on the 12,500 UK jobs that will allegedly be created by exporting the IEP build to Japan***

Friday, 13 February 2009

Inspire the least

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
The credit crunch may soon squeeze the rejoicing Samurai Warriors.

The IEP delivery dates quoted yesterday by Hoon are markedly different to the three phases and an option approach to procurement and funding being touted round the city by DfT.

Phase 1 could be for as little as an affordable 350 vehicles for the ECML !

Not a lot of work for a new IKEA-style assembly plant - sorry major manufacturing complex.

All aboard Hitachi's gravy train

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
Either the media have succumbed entirely to the Hitachi PR machine or British journalists are even dumber than we think.

Yesterday, most BBC daytime news reports gave the impression that 12,000 jobs were being created in British factories to build the new "Super Express" trains, instead of what the unions reckon is a couple of thousand to build them in parts from kits.

Today Radio 4's You and Yours gave a big chunk of airtime to Times's correspondent Leo Lewis, who sang Hitachi's praises saying the new vehicles will run as fast and as comfortably as Japanese Shinkansen trains (Shome Shinkansen mishtake, shurely! Ed).

What's the betting Fleet Street's finest will soon be smacking their lips over all those geisha-filled freebies to Tokyo.

Mind you, it beats a fish and chip supper in Derby everytime.

UPDATE: A source close to the BBC advises...

You and Yours were not planning such a big chunk on IEP but had to extend when Anthony Worrall Thompson failed to show for his slot on bankrupt restaurants!

How the credit crunches, unless you're Japanese of course!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Breaking wind

Congratulation to M&C Saatchi for hoovering large sums of cash out of EMT for this:

Any readers able to make similar under-arm farting noises are also invited to pitch for the account.

Definitely a Marmite moment...

Hooray Henry mugs Souter

Shocking news from Waterloo.

Pictured below is the moment when a Brompton riding Rupert attempted to pick the pocket of multi-millionaire SWT boss Brian Souter!

Fortunately, the SWT PR team had issued Brian with a brand new, dayglo, carrier-bag just moments before!

Ford declares war!

Not seen today...

Branson, Bowker, Coucher, Lockhead, Ludeman, Shooter, Souter, et al; fancy putting a couple of quid in the pot to make this real?

Death by suit

Exciting news from men in suits!

Today the new, improved, Tory party unveiled its future plans for the railways.

Zzzzzzzz... Snore...

Ahem, sorry, Tory big ideas, yawn...
  • A high speed line linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Creating a passenger champion.
  • A reformed Network Rail.
  • Better cooperation between track and train.
  • Longer better franchises.
  • Innovation in Rail Improvements.
  • Ending Whitehall meddling.
  • A moratorium on building on disused rail paths.
Ah, forget the details, view pretty pictures here.

Bring back Chris Grayling.

Brian Perren RIP

Telegrammed by Captain Deltic
It is with great sadness that we report the death of writer and author Brian Perren at the age of 80, following a short period in hospital.

Known fondly as the 'Gourmet Gricer' to his many friends Brian was a long term contributor to Modern Railways and his books included the invaluable TGV Handbook.

Brian had an infectious enthusiasm for life and the railways, and his presence enlivened many a worthy press trip.

Yet his irrepressible sense of fun concealed a professionalism in his research and a respect within the industry that was reflected in his writing.

In the issue of Modern Railways published before his death two articles by Brian typify his work - what is now, sadly, the last 'Service Aboard' column on the changing face of train catering and a definitive feature on TGV Duplex.

Brian's first published article appeared in the July 1954 issue of Trains Illustrated, the fore runner of Modern Railways.

Brian was in the process of completing a major article on Eurostar at the time he entered hospital.

Requiescat in pace et in amore

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Please ignore this link.


IEP in perspective

40 years ago this month...

Chief Engineer Terry Miller made the formal submission to the British Railways Board to develop the new 125 mile/h InterCity diesel train - offering a prototype with six coaches and two power cars ready to run 22 months after the funding was authorised.

And not a consultant in sight...

Department of the bleedin' obvious

No comment.

Just click, read and weep.

Next week: BOTTOMS! How to wipe safely.

Tory Rail Review

***Look out for the publication of the Tories' Rail Review tomorrow. Anticipate 'Motherhood and Apple Pie' for radical it's not!***

Crossing the line

Has Network Rail's success in managing the recent adverse weather gone to its head?

The Fact Compiler has received the following email from one of NR's PR monkeys:

It would be marvellous if you could highlight all the great coverage (that) Network Rail achieved in raising awareness of level crossing misuse this week...

Wait a minute!

As numerous headlines pointed out:

The number of cases of motorists taking dangerous and illegal risks at UK level crossings is at a four-year high.

So what has Network Rail been doing for the last four years to address this problem?

Ah, of course.

Sticking ads on the back of vans and, errr..., running locos into vehicles for the exclusive benefit of Clarkson and Top Gear!

Pay attention Network Rail.

If you want to see how to reduce level crossing abuse look across the pond to
America and Canada.

Where is Network Rail's Operation Lifesaver equivalent?

Fingers out and website up - if you please!

UPDATE: A Network Rail spokesman writes...

Don't begrudge us for using every weapon in our armoury in countering level crossing misuse.

The Top Gear collision was an attempt to get the message across to petrolheads, we make no apology for that.

Of course, we want to make more headway on the misuse stat, but this is a young campaign.

It took decades for the drink driving message to cut through and make it socially unacceptable - we're here for the long term

So get a dedicated bloody website up and resource the campaign properly!

48 Hours

Telegrammed by the Archer
The IEP announcement will be delayed for 48 hours whilst Geoff Hoon tries to explain an Incredibly Embarrassing Predicament to Derby MPs.

'Nuff said!

UPDATE: From our man at 222 Marylebone Road...

IEP reported to be stuck in Downing Street while the Prime Minister tries to work out how to spin British jobs for Japanese workers as good news for the out of work tax-payers and fare-payers in the Midlands rolling stock supply chain.

One solution could be to bundle the IEP announcement with electrification commitments.

Winners are now expected to start envying the losers from Wednesday evening.

Lookalike Vll

This from a Mr Lazarus.

What a cultured lot you are....

Monday, 9 February 2009

Chinese puzzle

Is there no end to the appetite of Grand Central?

The ORR recently stated it was minded to grant the Open Access Operator a fourth path.

With just three HSTs Grand Central claimed it was looking to sign a deal with Angel to lease two class 180s.

But according to today's FT the company has also ordered three Chinese trains!

How can this be?

The Fact Compiler fears that that their "veteran" PR man has either gone gaga, or spent too much time listening to erstwhile MD, Ian Yeowart.

Answers on a postcard please, but only if you can spot the difference...

Special pleading

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
The preferred loser and the winning also ran in the bidding for the Incredibly Expensive Procurement (IEP) were due to be told their fates this evening.

While Hitachi may take away the Bento-box, it won't have much in it, thanks to death by a thousand phases in the attempt to match quantities to limited finance..

And wait for the Europeans, who are shut out of the Japanese rail market, to hit Gordon Brown with the jobs card.

Any advance on 1,200?

King's Cross catering scandal

Evidently there was a significant catering failure at King's Cross on Saturday.

Here vast numbers of people desperately search for a kettle.

Bowler tip to NR and the BTP for letting this happen at all!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

NX thrashes Eye!

A huge upset following the publication of the UK.Railway Christmas Poll results!

NX won the coveted 'Railway Website of the Year' award with a resounding 22% of the vote, whipping Railway Eye into a very poor second place.

Massive interest in the category generated a huge response with almost 15 votes being cast (Is this going anywhere? Ed).

Roger Ford meanwhile set a new world record as as he was voted Railway Journalist of the Year for the 59th time in a row. But Captain Deltic may want to wait before putting the Diamond Jubilee champagne on ice, as new entrant Ian Walmsley "impressed enough to take second place".

Meanwhile Andy Hamilton and Wrexham & Shropshire scooped a total of three awards, winning best... (continued on p94)

The Fact Compiler declines to name the individual who won the title "Tit of the Year"

Lookalike Vll

Ave Noviomagus!

Railway Eye salutes Chichester District Council!

This courtesy of a Mr Murray...

For those without bionic eyes...

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport (Daft)....

Chichester truly "Shaped by the past, living in the present".

Filey trial

One to watch...

Filey at heart of new railway crossing safety trials.

Mind you with just 18 trains a day this shouldn't tax the technology overmuch.

Lookalike Vl

Lookalike V

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Tornado flash mobbed!

This just in from our Kettle Watcher...

Turn up on your own with a camera at King's Cross on a 'normal' day and you are told to sign-in at the DSMs office if you want to take photos.

So a flash mob of 2,000 (NX estimate) turn up to see the A1 make its debut in the Capital, and nobody gives a toss about signing in.

Just show what an absolute load of bllx is perpetrated by Network Rail. And I bet many used flash too, which is a total no no, when I have been on stations !

Maybe that's how to deal with the "no photography" jobsworth - bring in Rent-a-Crowd.

Just a shame about the gormless members of the public who thought it OK to wander on the track at Holme, forcing trains to be cautioned and journeys delayed.

UPDATE: We are Dave writes...

Well, no, actually. The best way to put a stop to this bllx forever would have been for all 2,000 people to go to the DSM's office and *demand* to sign in...

UPDATE: This from our very own Eboracum (50A)...

The delay's weren't due to trespass - there was an OLE fault North of Peterborough.

That and the fact that every line side crossing was thick with gricers hoping to phot' the beast.

Which led TOC's crews to approaching said areas with caution.

Pretty sensible really.

London Midland News

This just in from our man at the back...

As this franchise lurches from one crisis to another, the RMT is calling for strike action at the ex Silverlink depots as the management finally get to grips with the various Spanish Practices that have been taking place.

However, now they have done that, the management have introduced some ridiculous payment structures to tempt traincrew into working overtime and rest days to keep them out of the do-do as they failed to recruit enough staff to service the new timetable.

Drivers now have a guaranteed minimum of 11hours payment for working a no duty day and guards have 10 hours. Both supposedly temporary arrangements but wait for the unions to call the 'custom and practice' argument to make it permanent.

In the meantime the station staff who aren't treated with the same kid gloves are left to get on with it, i.e. lump it.

Sundays remain voluntary for the time being.

UPDATE: An 'anonymous' reader mails the following implausible tale...

Rumours around Euston that Richard Branson has been offered a blank cheque if he takes over the Midland franchise.

But he wants a name change to Virgin Suburban, and wants to see the Overground banished from Euston.

I can't say if that's true, but it's hardly unexpected.

Though I'm not sure what TfL will make of Beardie's demands regarding the Overground.

Make of this what you will.

UPDATE: Sim Harris writes:

Interesting that the notion of no Overground at Euston has been revived, even in the context of Beardie taking over LM.

Actually, it was on the TfL "maybe" list as recently as late 2007.

The argument is that Overground (i.e. Watford DC) delivers people to a terminus where the Underground is already woefully overcrowded in the morning peak.

Serious consideration has been given to diverting the Watfords via Primrose Hill (Opportunity missed! Ed) and then taking them along the North London Railway to feed people down into the City - perhaps at Dalston Junction when the ELR is opened?

I don't believe the idea is dead, either.

Snowball fight

This just in from Sim Harris over at Rail Management...

Oh, dear. Yet another yearning for the old days.

Let's not fall for the spell of a concocted British Transport Film: a lot of it was staged/recreated, you know -- it was a STORY purporting to be fact (which some of it was, of course -- the snow was real).

However, there is no doubt that steam locomotives were better at snow clearing work -- and keeping going in the snow, too. No sensitive traction motors and miscellaneous electrickery to be upset, for one thing, and better adhesion, I think, too -- which is one reason why leaves on the line were less of a problem in them good ole days as well.

Perhaps that would have been a better justification for maintaining a strategic steam reserve, rather than the usually-quoted one of nuclear attack?

UPDATE: Nigel Harris, for it is he, responds...

Snowball? - 'Snow way to react.....

Oh dear, Sim.

What a perverse interpretation of what I actually said!

Of course I wasn't yearning for the old days. Of COURSE BTF films were staged, but what was NOT staged was the spirit which said that the line must remain open, wherever possible, which SABG clearly portrayed - and which is what I actually said. And mostly, the lines DID remain open, with some determination.

The youtube clip which TFC portrayed illustrated the same point with even greater clarity.

As anyone not in point-scoring mode could see, the issue I was highlighting is that it was this SPIRIT which is too often missing today, and the example I gave was schools!

At no point did I even mention steam locomotives, let alone the utterly barmy notion of strategic reserves!

I do wish people would read what was said - and not what they think was said!

Anyway, this isn't a discussion group, so I shall get me coat, undaunted.

Topic closed. Ed


Telegrammed by Admiral Tojo
Sushi and Sake all round at Marsham Street on Monday night is the word on the tracks, with an announcement on Tuesday morning.

But only a small initial order.

Unless the Treasury bins it again.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Free the platform 0

Interesting mutterings from our man in the 4'.

Perhaps best to avoid the Cross tomorrow.

There are whispers of a protest, timed to coincide with the arrival of a certain kettle.

Apparently the cranktocracy are fearful about NR's platform '0' plans and the lack of a bridge.

Should you see a 'shambles of gentlemen' sporting kagouls, clutching cameras, sarnies and thermost's, remember, you have been warned!

"Why do we just roll over and give in?"

The Fact Compiler has received a missive from Nigel Harris over at Rail (and stalwart of the Great Central).

Nigel writes...

Take a look at my blog today and look at the link to Snowdrift at Bleath Gill.

Where did this spirit go?

These men would have sneered in contempt (and rightly so) at the pathetic way in which four inches of snow stops us today, while they battled 40mph winds to clear 14 feet drifts.

If you'd have told these men that we would one day close thousands of schools because of what they would have regarded as a light dusting of snow, they'd have been dumbfounded. How poorly we honour their memory.

Should your organ feel inclined to point your readers my blog's way, then do feel free.....some IEP gossip there too.

Happy to do so Nigel. And Railway Eye looks forward to a link or two back...

Meanwhile this from You Tube to show how we used to do it.

View it and weep!

A question of manners

Railway Eye has received a note via Twitter.

Apparently uber-New-Labour blogger, Derek Draper, is following The Fact Compiler on Twitter!

This is both gratifying and highly embarrassing.

The Fact Compiler has changed his handset and lost his Twitter text update number.

As a consequence he hasn't posted to Twitter for yonks.

Does anyone in the blogsphere know how this social faux pas should be handled?

UPDATE: Alas - all is now clear.

Bowler tip to Iain Dale for explaining Draper's carpet bombing tactics.

We are not worthy!

***A big tip of The Fact Compiler's bowler to dyspozytor over at Behind the Water Tower for this***

Day of the dead

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
The railway industry official haruspex reports that next week there will be an announcement on the Zombie/Frankenstein/Camel Train (please add Dinosaur train. Ed).

What a chance for Gordon to strike a blow against protectionism and proudly declare: 'I'm all for British jobs for Japanese workers' if it saves the world from depre...oops, recession'.

Or he could let Lord Adonis announce: 'Project Deferred until we need new trains for the GWML electrification to be announced later this year when we have put Mark Lambirth back in his cage'..

Or the Treasury could kick it into the long grass (shurely 'invest in an alternative to air travel'. Ed).