Friday, 31 July 2009

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XVII

This just in from the 'Clapham Gardener'...

Recent criticism of Network Rail's vegetation control seems to be producing results.

Have a close look at this picture.

Our infrastructure chums now appear to be manicuring their Railway Gardens!

Has shame induced one of NR's bonus laden directors to max out the credit card on B&Q strimmers?

NatEx - going from bad to worse?

This from Accountancy Age...

The future of railway group National Express is under a cloud after Ernst & Young raised doubts over the troubled transport giant's ability to continue.

At least the weather in the United Arab Emirates is nice.

Eye wonders whether Beau Bowker will be sending a postcard to his former Davis Street colleagues?

ROSCOs: Leasing explained

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XVI - Teutonic Efficiency

The Eye has been pretty hard on Network Rail in recent months over its Railway Gardens.

And just to show that NR is not alone in facing a problem with vegetation control (
shurely neglecting to kill weeds, Ed) here is a picture of DB Schenker managed infrastructure at Northampton.

The Eye wonders if this sort of neglect would be tolerated on DB's home patch?

Perhaps readers visiting the Reich this summer could advise?

UPDATE: This from 'Alias Interail'...

Further to your comment about railway gardens in the Fatherland, here’s a shot (taken from a level crossing) of a typical freight loading facility at Walldorf, near Meiningen in the former DDR, last autumn.

As you can see, DB’s drive for ‘efficiency’ in the run-up to privatisation means that weed clearance is taken just as seriously there as it is here...

The Fact Compiler stands corrected.

If DB can't manage vegetation at home what hope in this Sceptered Isle?

Rain on me

This from a soggy Nottinghamshire reader...

Passengers boarding yesterday's 12:15 St Pancras to Nottingham all got drenched as the wind and rain combined - it really was dreadful.

And as the picture below shows the platform was transformed into a giant skating rink - putting the life and limbs of passengers and staff alike at risk.

Perhaps London and Continental should pay more attention to station canopy design and domestic passenger comfort rather than champagne bars and whizzy retail outlets...

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

On the 7.30 from st pancras to nottingham where I'll be announcing approval for the nottingham tram extension.

Eye asks how can you announce something in Nottingham when you've just given it away on Twitter?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XV - NR shows contempt for Chester

This really is a case of pearls before swine.

But if Network Rail is prepared to keep taking it, then the Eye will keep dishing it out.

Yes it's Chester (again!!!)...

This courtesy of Gareth Marston, Chairman of SARPA and taken at Chester today.

Gareth writes:

Here are some bona fida current railway weeds at that well known garden at Chester today.

Some must be six footers!

The Eye assumes that Network Rail board members are now too busy counting the bonus lolly to worry about the increasingly piss poor state of the nation's infrastructure.

Perhaps the ORR or Passenger Focus could have a word - if they're not similarly engaged?

UPDATE: This just in from Anthony Smith over at Passenger Focus...

Thanks for alerting me to the garden that is parts of Chester station.

While it is worth noting that in the last couple of years there has been plenty happening at Chester and Passenger Focus has been involved but, as with many heritage stations, dealing with some of the detail seems beyond the industry.

It is the largest National Stations Improvement Programme (NSIP) project in the Arriva Train Wales franchise area at present which has led to the complete redevelopment of the front of the station, concourse, etc... Passenger Focus have been involved in project development including leading on an accessibility audit of the station.

ATW is actively monitoring National Passenger Survey scores for the station, which have gone up more than 20% in the past year for some categories.

We also raised this very issue at Virgin's passenger panel a few days ago.

Virgin say that to clear the weeds, NR need full possession of the track and weeds aren't a priority (Crewe station has trees growing halfway up the wall at the side of the track!).

The panel asked Virgin to look into the problem at both stations. As Chester is an ATW station, that has just been refurbished, they should be pursuing NR with vigour.

We’ll pursue this one and report back – maybe weeds are the new graffiti?

It all makes the passenger think no-one is caring for the railway's fabric.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Saltraire...

A cynic might suggest that a way of doing “station improvement” on the cheap, is to let the weeds grow waist high… and then cut them down.

There, station improved… what more do you want!

UPDATE: This from Shiny Shoes...

Part of the horticultural delights of Chester station are in fact the unintended consequence of an idea put into effect by a rather imaginative (and for the time) forward thinking Area Manager, one Mr Eric Roberts.

Mr. Roberts' tenure at Chester in the early to mid 80's was quite different to what had gone before - he made great efforts to improve the image of the station (with I suspect very limited resources) as he was aware that the place had always 'enjoyed' the reputation as a tip with the good people of Chester and as long as I can remember was (and is) referred to as 'the hole' by railway folk.

Part of the improvements were the grand landscaping of redundant land, which included ornamental conifers and a neatly manicured lawn alongside the through lines - all visible for the delight of passengers from platform 3.

All happily attended to on a Sunday by the local p/way complete with mowers and pruners! Ah, those were the days!

Inevitably and perhaps predictably Mr Roberts' fine intentions have turned to rat-shit on a post privatisation railway.

The once manicured delights are now a wild jungle.

Unfortunately those on platform 3 can still see it, in all its neglected glory.

I often wonder what Eric Roberts would have to say about it.

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter

Princess Badiya of Jordan will be there too. I need to make sure I remember Royal etiquette!

Poor old Willie Hamilton will be spinning in his grave.

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

I have written to George Osbourne today asking him to confirm the Tories are committed to £1 bil spending/annum for concessionary fares

How much?!?

What are the passes made of - solid gold?

UPDATE: This from the Commuter...

I hope the Tories don't commit to spending £1bn on Concessionary fares.

Why should an OAP with no mortgage and thousands in savings be permitted to travel for free on buses and trains in certain areas whilst others are paying through the nose?

The actual cost of it is much higher, elsewhere across the country, underfunded councils are having to cut money from services such as parks and transport in order to fund this extravagance.

What a waste of money.

This was, presumably, a Party Political Broadcast from the non-Dave-aligned Conservative Party!

Network Rail to dispense with MOMs?

This just in from 'Marshy'...

Good news indeed for those whose journey's are interrupted by fires alongside the railway.

According to Network Rail: A new robot-based service has been launched to help fight fires and support other major incidents, in particular those where acetylene gas cylinders which can become highly unstable are involved.

One assumes that said robots will be PTS or IWA certified as a minimum and will be able to don HiVis and take a T3...

2009 Railway Garden Competition #14

Our latest entry is a genuine Railway Garden!

This from the London Evening Standard...

A memorial garden for the victims of the Clapham rail disaster has been neglected for so long it is "unrecognisable", claim commuters.

The piece is accompanied by a truly splendid picture.

Obviously Vegetation Management just isn't Network Rail's thing.

UPDATE: This from Mr Saltaire...

Whilst on the subject of Railway Gardens have the Eye and Mr Harris nothing better to do with their time than bicker over weeds?

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

Just driven a coach around a training circuit, in and out of cones. Nat Exp examiner reckons I'm a brilliant driver. No bridges this time!

Looks like NatEx's bus operations are safe then... Cosmen allowing!

Lookalike XXIV - Rev Dame Stephen Sorby

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Desert foxed

***RMoL suffers El Alamein moment***

2009 Railway Garden Competition - ENTRY DISQUALIFIED

This from DOS Ambala Division, Northern Railway...

Flattered though you may be to find that your august column is read, with great interest, in far away New Delhi, I thought you might like to consider the attached photograph.

I am sure you will then appreciate that however low the UK railway system has sunk, it is (not yet) faced with dealing with these sorts of endemic problems!!.

Regrettably Railway Eye has to disqualify this entry as neither Network Rail nor any UK train operating company can be held accountable for this particular example of a Railway Garden.

Excellent picture though DOS and Eye hopes that your new role in Ambala is as rewarding as your previous post at Rugby.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

Just had my 1st meeting with Passenger Focus - their job to stand up for commuters on rail (buses too soon)

Good discussion with action agreed to ensure I am on side of commuters

Is there no one prepared to stand up for the poor beleaguered TOCs?

Super Excess would be a better name

This from a Mr Saltaire...

Remember the Eurostar court case which resulted in the railway coughing up damages and costs to a courier company for using their name?

A Google search on Super Express brings up a Polish tabloid newspaper and a customs clearing agent in Dubai, amongst others.

With the cost of each Super Express train rumoured to be nudging £32m, additional legal costs are the last thing the project needs.

2009 Railway Garden Competition #13

This just in from Bushy...

This is Euston downside carriage shed, taken this morning...

Note the contrasting graffiti...

Disgraceful, it looks like a bombsite.

Congratulations asset owner DB Schenker!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

New diesel trains unveiled

Now that My Lord Adonis has caped new diesel trains here's an idea whose time may have come.

And with all the money going on electrification (£1.1bn) ACoRP and other supporters of the TramTrain had also better take note.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Gordon Brown wields the handbag!

This just in from Lord Deltic of Pan in the Counties of Brunel and Stephenson...

Announcing the decision to embark on a programme of electrification the Prime Minister said:

To build a better Britain, we must be bold, innovative and forward-looking and invest with confidence in our country’s transport infrastructure, jobs and industry. This electrification programme is vital to building a 21st century transport system.

Given that this coming Monday (27 July) marks the 25th anniversary of the then Transport Secretary, Nicholas Ridley, announcing the go ahead for the East Coast Main Line Electrification, shouldn't that be 'backward looking'?

And who would have thought that Gordon Brown would prove to be heir to Margaret Thatcher!

A summer Saturday enlightened by Lady Theresa of Chipping Barnet

Telegrammed by the Globetrotter
Shadow Transport Secretary, Theresa Villiers wastes no time in jumping onto the bandwagon following the Transport Select Committee’s report which “found massive failings in the way our railways are run”.

Into the in-box thunders an indignant statement which underlines that the report is “scathing about the way Labour has run the rail franchising system. The Government has failed to tackle the problems on our railways, creating a franchise system which resorts to pricing passengers off the railway to deal with overcrowding. Labour's approach has been so flawed as to contribute to not just one but two failures on the same line.

Maybe someone should have a quiet word to remind the fragrant lady just who it was that introduced passenger franchising to the UK rail sector in the first place.

Or maybe sending out a press release at mid-day on a warm sunny Saturday just as the Parliamentary recess begins is all part of her cunning plan to ensure that no-one who remembers the facts will actually notice!

No matter..

All will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things shall be well, prophesied the saintly Lady Julian of Norwich.

Theresa obviously shares this view: "
A future Conservative Government would prioritise value for money on our railways. We would put the interests of passengers first, lengthen rail franchises and reform Network Rail to ensure taxpayers and fare-payers alike get the most from our railways."

Eye just can’t wait…

Harry Patch RIP

Harry Patch, the last British survivor of the Kaiser's War on the Western Front, has died.

What a generation!

We will not forget.

Requiescat in pace et in amore

Friday, 24 July 2009

National Express - the song

Eye has waited and waited and waited.

And still no one has provided a new, improved, video mix of this song.

Here it is in all its glory.

And here something else to mix with it.

Please, someone, do the decent thing...

The Fact Compiler is old!

This from Tom Harris...

SO FAREWELL, then, John Ryan, creator of Captain Pugwash and Mary, Mungo and Midge, that weird 1970s attempt to glamorise living in a high rise flat.

The Fact Compiler mourns for his lost youth.

2009 Railway Garden Competition #12

Welcome to Middlesbrough!

The Fact Compiler cannot decide whether it's the Railway Garden, or the Pacer, that is a greater symbol of neglect?

2009 Railway Garden Competition #11

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
The grass grows ever greener.

We know that Kent is famed as the "Garden of England", but looks like Network Rail staff are taking it a bit too literally at Canterbury West pictured yesterday.

How about some Canterbury Belles to set off the scene?

Pointless signs #6

UPDATE: Lord Deltic of the Pan in the Counties of Brunel and Stephenson mischievously asks...

Shouldn't these signs be in braille as well?

Contempt of Parliament?

A letter from Shadow Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond to Speaker Bercow:

Dear Mr Speaker,

I write to protest about the discourtesy shown to the House today by the Secretary of State for Transport.

This morning, merely two days after the House rose for the summer recess, Lord Adonis made a major announcement on the UK national rail network – with significant implications for public spending. The announcement to electrify the main rail route between London and Swansea was made on the morning BBC broadcast.

Today’s announcement was trailed by the Government back on 29 June. On that day the Prime Minister launched a document entitled Building Britain’s Future, which included a reference to plans for a major electrification programme. It is clear therefore that the plans were in place long before the House rose and could have easily been made to Parliament. Indeed, it seems that the only reason for making the announcement today is that it coincides with a Cabinet meeting in Cardiff.

Today’s events are in blatant disregard of your, and the previous Speaker’s, instructions to Ministers to make announcements to Parliament first.

This is regrettably the second time this has happened this month. On 1 July Lord Adonis announced the nationalisation of the National Express East Coast rail franchise not to Parliament but, again, on BBC Radio.

Ministers persistently disregard your instructions to respect the protocols of Parliament, and I would be grateful for your advice as to what can be done to ensure that Ministers respect your wishes.

Yours ever,
Stephen Hammond

The Fact Compiler doesn't want to be overly pedantic but actually The Times had the announcement first, on Wednesday night.

UPDATE: This from the Velopodist...

One is moved by the concern of both the Fact Compiler and Stephen Hammond for democracy, but not sure they have their facts straight.

It's true that the government intended to announce the electrification programme this week and that it's unfortunate it ended up being after parliament went into recess.

But the idea the DfT was sitting on the announcement for days ahead of time just doesn't fit with the facts.

There's every sign that there was desperate horse-trading going on between the DfT and Treasury up until certainly Tuesday and possibly Wednesday as they tried to work out what precisely was going to happen.

This is why the most responsible national newspaper reporters held off writing about the speculation for several days - it was clear the exact shape of the scheme wasn't decided.

The Fact Compiler himself made one erroneous posting saying nothing would go into Wales and a Guardian story on Wednesday missed out both the Liverpool to Manchester element and Cardiff-Swansea.

At the point national newspaper reporters were briefed on Wednesday afternoon, Network Rail was still in the dark about some minor details such as whether the Midland main line was included.

As for the Times having the announcement first on Wednesday, the national newspapers were all briefed at the same time on Wednesday, on condition the information was embargoed until 00:01 on Thursday.

Certain newspapers protested the embargo should be dropped on the grounds there had been speculative stories elsewhere but were told it was still in force.

Some of them seem to have decided to break it all the same.

UPDATE: This from Fat Mark...

The Gruaniad actually had the story Wednesday morning!

And Radio 4's You and Yours led with the same at lunchtime.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

I am spending plenty of times on our trains today. At Cabinet discussed historic announcement on electrification of various lines.

Does the reference to 'our trains' suggest that others may soon go the way of NXEC?

UPDATE: This just in from the Waterbaby...

I note with interest your feed of Mr Khan's Twitter updates, and in particular the one listing Yasmin Qureshi, Parliamentary Candidate for Bolton, as one of his 'good mates'.

Let's hope nobody lets on to Ms Qureshi that Mr Khan's proud announcement of Manchester - Liverpool electrification yesterday in fact wipes Bolton off the inter-city map by diverting through services away from the town and onto the WCML at Golborne instead.

Whilst admittedly this covers only 3-4 trains a day and the current situation of running DMUs over Shap under the wires is (to use a Dizzee Rascal-ism, if I may) 'bonkers'.

Bolton is still one of the largest boroughs in the country and a sizeable railhead for the whole north Manchester area for journeys to the Lakes, Cumbria and Scotland....

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler would like to point out...

Electrification of Manchester to Preston (via Notlob) was a strong contender to appear in the announcement.

Of course there are more constituencies in Liverpool.

It also remains an option, as can be seen on page 28 of the Electrification Strategy.

Electrification - where the trains are going

This just in from a Mr Saltaire...

I wondered if Eye readers might appreciate a quick and dirty breakdown of what today's announcement means in rolling stock terms?

This taken from the Departments 'The Case for Electrification' published today:

  • 319s cascaded from Thameslink to GW Thames Valley in December 2016
  • 165s cascaded from GW Thames Valley to GW Bristol area (probably Cardiff – Portsmouth) in December 2016;
  • DMUs from Bristol area that are freed up when 165s are parachuted in, to be cascaded to Northern to boost capacity in December 2016;
  • New four car EMUs to be procured to operate Manchester – Scotland TransPennine Express services, delivery 2013;
  • Class 185 DMUs freed up when new EMUs enter service to be used to strengthen existing 185 operated TPE services in 2013
  • 319s cascaded from Thameslink to Northern electrified routes in 2013 (or earlier);
  • Super-duper express replacing HSTs across all the GW from December 2016
  • HSTs freed up for the Voyager replacement project (tee hee);
  • Pacer replacement project, starting with Northern at franchise renewal in 2013 and continuing with ATW in 2018.
By that time, we should be into long (15 year) franchises, allowing the TOCs to commit to new trains with some forward thinking.

Unless of course the Tories turn the juice off...

UPDATE: This from Muttley...

A few things I've noticed about the electric news ....
  • The Electrification document states in para 57 that the Super Express Programme was started in 2005. Was it? Wasn't that the Intercity Express Programme? or HST2? Note the document makes no mention of IEP, political spin to distance the DfT from the millions already wasted? Modern Railways consultancy feature reckons over £15m so far. Maybe 3rd time lucky for the Class 666's, the Super Express Programme Train is Coming!
  • Para 18 contains a good line: "Experience around the world shows that a well designed, constructed and maintained electric railway will be more reliable than a diesel railway." Ouch! No examples within the UK exist? Is that a future warning to NR?
Ceefax this morning had another solution to the question of what to do with the Severn Tunnel and a few others:

I look forward to travelling though Box Cutting!

Extraordinary - The Fact Compiler didn't realise such old technology still existed. Does Ceefax host blogs?

UPDATE: This from Dreadnought...

I have heard that rather than procure new stock for the TPE Manchester-Scotland service the intent is to use Class 350s from the existing fleet.

One option is that these would be found by using an Outer Suburban version of the Hitachi Sooper-Dooper Express on some of the fast Northamptons.

Could just be a load of 'Cobblers' though!

Ford Perfect

The following has appeared on the WNXX forum, with a bowler tip to Driver Potter...

I think Roger Ford of Modern Railways Magazine has personally done a lot to get electrification back on to the political agenda.

Roger is very good at presenting hard facts well and his repeated articles, along with the electrification petition etc, have culminated in today's announcement.

It would be nice for him to get some recognition for sticking his head above the parapet and stating the bloody obvious.

Arise, Sir Roger?

Or even better Lord Catenary of Welwyn!

Would someone like to nominate Captain Deltic as a 'People's Peer'?

Lookalike XXIII - 25kv into the Future

Camera crime

Oh dear.

It looks like the Boys in Blue have been over zealous on the Underground again.

This from Tuesday's Grauniad...

A woman is to challenge the Metropolitan police in the high court, claiming she was handcuffed, detained and threatened with arrest for filming officers on her mobile phone.

As Harriet assured us "If you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear."

Quite so.

And, evidently, just because you're innocent doesn't mean you're not guilty.

White flags fly at Marsham Street?

Not so much rowing back, more the full 60 knot reversal!

Theresa Villiers (Shadow Secretary of State for Transport)
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport when his Department plans to begin the pre-qualification process for invitations to tender for the Inter-City East Coast franchise.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary)
In the event that a state company takes on responsibility for the inter city east coast services later this year, the Department for Transport will consult on a new franchise specification with a view to issuing an invitation to tender in the summer of 2010.

"In the event"!?!

Why, suddenly, has an element of doubt crept into the proceedings?

UPDATE: This from The Archer...

As DafT are supremely confident that they can enforce Cross Default it's possible that NatEx have waved the white flag.

So expect an announcement soon on the date of their exit from East Coast.

And perhaps if they play ball DafT will let them keep the other two until 2011.

2009 Railway Garden Competition #10 (Yes - Chester again...)

This just in from Rich...

As a reader for a while, I've been avidly following the Railway Garden Competition, and thought readers might be interested in an update on Chester's bid for glory.

The pictures below were taken last Saturday.

Not much further to go and platform 4 will be totally screened from the elements.

It's a cruel wind that sometimes blows in from the Dee...

Update: This from Bushy...

One of my sources tells me the ORR is taking a great interest in Network Rail's burgeoning 'nursery and garden' business, being rather unimpressed with the excessive growth of weeds and other vegetation.

Maybe one of their directors should offer to appear on Gardener's Question Time?

BBC news editors off the rails, part 94

Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
According to the 7.30am headlines on Radio Four this morning:

"The government is to spend £1bn electrifying the West Coast Main Line to Cardiff".

Come to think of it, perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad idea to spend an additional £1bn on the WCML.

Electrification - a plea

Dear Lord Adonis

Thank you for the promise to electrify various bits of the network.

Would it be possible to avoid the mistakes of the past and not do it on the cheap?

To stop this sort of thing happening:

(LNE) At 0858 OLE sections 34 & 36 on the Down Slow and Down Fast lines at Biggleswade tripped with the driver of 1N03, HB, 0830 London Kings Cross - Newcastle Central, in section on the Down Fast line reporting a loss of line light, with the driver requested to examine the pantograph. The traction current on the Down Slow line was reset at 0909. A Mobile Operations Manager and OLE staff were sent to site. The line was examined by 1P12, EG, 0822 London Kings Cross - Peterborough, with the driver reporting a dropper below the contact wire on the Down Fast line near Tempsford CCTV LC. All Down direction services were diverted to the Down Slow line with service reduction implemented. At 1025 staff on site reporting being unable to find anything foul of the contact wire. 1N03 was authorised to go forward, after the pantograph was confirmed as undamaged, and was instructed to examine the OLE for the remainder of the section. NWR at 1041 after 1N03 had completed the examination with nothing amiss found.
TRUST 269559 IQGU = 2 part cancelled = 61 trains = 818 mins.
Fault No.331607. CCIL 455997.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely
The Fact Compiler

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

We're in the money!

***NR bosses have seen off a challenge to change the company's controversial bonus scheme***

Sparks and the Thunderer

Oh dear.

Allowing a Peer to announce Electrification via the Times may have upset Wapping's home team!

This from Transport Correspondent Ben...

Passengers on one of Britain’s busiest intercity routes face six years of disruption while it is electrified under the Government’s low-carbon agenda.

Shome mishtake, shurely.

No doubt the huge amounts Network Rail will pay to First Great Western for disruption will allow passengers to be suitably compensated.

And they may even get tomorrow's railway!

New Apostle of the Pantograph - Electrification announced!

That announcement!!

In the Times here!!!

Bad luck Cardiff - Wapping had it first.

Readers letters

Dear Fact Compiler,

I have been a very good driver, having not gone on strike for the last twenty minutes and not looked at any filthy publications in the rest room - this includes Penthouse, Playboy, The Daily Mail, RAIL Magazine and the company newsletter...

For Christmas I would like lots of electrified bits of railway; 3rd rail would be favourite but 25kV knitting will do - and I would like lots of these to play with. They seem to be comfortable, fast and exude purposeful modernity. They are also not built by Alstom (the last toys I had from Alstom arrived with bits missing and still don't work properly) and will look sexy for the papers.

I know it's only July, but I've heard that the government might be spending a few pennies on the National Trainset and since there isn't much money about I want to get my requests in early.

Yours in a well-behaved manner,
Driver Potter

Electrification announcement latest, with added infill schemes


So it's the Great Western Main Line, first stage Paddington to Oxford & Newbury; then on to Bristol via both Parkway and Bath.

At some indeterminate point in the future extended to Cardiff and possibly even Swansea (no doubt designed to prevent a Plaid Cymru inspired meltdown of Labour Constituencies).

The favoured infill scheme now appears to be Manchester - Preston (Goblin's loss - but blame Tory Boris).

An infill between Manchester and Preston would allow TPE Manchester to Edinburgh/Glasgow services to be switched over to new electric 'low carbon' (sic) traction, resulting in a cascade of DMUs to the non electrified railway.

Similar cascades will happen with GWML electrification - although the Thames trains 165's were built to a more generous loading gauge so reader suggestions for a new home, other than the scrapyard, welcome.

Where this leaves the Delayed Multiple Unit Project to speed-up the procurment of an additional 202 DMU vehicles is of course anyone's guess.

As Northern are still gagging for additional stock and Wales will have to wait some time for the sparks effect, perhaps both may get an internal combustion pre-election sweetner?

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Manchester – yes.

Preston – no.

Try Liverpool...

Guided busways - a success!

Splendid news from Cambridgeshire, home of the St Ives guided busway!

This from the The Hunts Post...

The busway, on the route of the disused railway line, was originally due to open in April but was delayed when disputes arose between Cambridgeshire County Council and contractor BAM Nuttall over cost overruns on the £116.7million project.

Eye readers will not be surprised to know that Cast.Iron, which lobbied for restoration of the railway, costed the line reopening at £50m.

Even if you doubled that figure to allow for puffer-nutter optimism it would still have come in cheaper than this much delayed bustitution white elephant.

That'll learn 'em

It would appear that NR's Leeds Timetable Planning Unit suffered severe travel disruption in the Leicester area on Monday.

Apparently on a jolly to inspect their cosy new Milton Keynes offices they were apprehended by the Rozzers!

Alas, they were travelling by coach and the vehicle's tachograph showed the driver was over hours.

This of course wasn't seen on or about the railway at the same time.

Good to see Network Rail staff creating additional capacity, by not using overcrowded rail services provided by their own TOC customers.

To the ramparts! But not our own.

Congratulations to Rampart Rail!

The Derby based company has just launched a lovely new website.

See how well equipped their workshop is and crammed full of kettles and stuff.

Perhaps a pity the picture is not actually of their Derby facility at all!

Any suggestions as to where it might be?

UPDATE: This from The Plagiarist...

Isn't that LNWR at Crewe?

Have Arriva bought Rampart as well.

I think we should be told!

UPDATE: This from a sharp-eyed google whacking reader...

Searching for 'railway workshop' in google image search brings up a familiar looking image on the second results page which suggests its the Don River Railway.

In Tasmania!

Christmas gets earlier and earlier

The latest issue of Modern Railways has just thudded through the letterbox.

Weighing in at 10oz it nearly killed the dog and the postie was heard muttering darkly.

Only July and The Fact Compiler is already having to calculate the size of the Christmas box.

Pitt stop?

This from TransportXtra...

South West Trains today announced the appointment of Andy Pitt as its new managing director.

As DafT and SWT can't agree when Cap and Collar comes into effect Andy may have a short tenure...

Let them eat cake but tell them nothing

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Has the erudite Gricer Lord finally lost the plot?

Lord Bradshaw (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the parent company loan obligations in the agreements for each of the current railway franchises.

Lord Adonis (Secretary of State, Department for Transport; Labour)
Details of all franchise agreements that are not deemed to be market sensitive are published in the Public Register at register.

Information pertaining to loan arrangements between individual franchisees and their parent organisations are a matter for the parties to those agreements.

Wait a minute.

These committed loan agreements are determined by his Department.

Had his Department thought that NXEC might need a bit more spare cash in case of hard times, it could have required NEG to provide a larger committed loan - as has happened with other franchises in the past.

So loan arrangements between franchisees and their parents are a matter for government and therefore the taxpayer.

Les aristos a la lanterne!

Morse code?

This from 'Westmount'...

I'm surprised Eye hasn't picked up on the irony of EMT having a Red Dot Day initiative and then ASLEF picking more strike days on EMT?

Surely Red Dot Days are an ASLEF initiative when the trains AREN'T running !!

Doesn't anyone tell Marketing/Publicity Depts the significance of Red in railway speak??

Now "Green Dot Days" might have been a better title - but then ASLEF could have really screwed up EMT's marketing initiative as well as the service!

NR Director's bonuses

Just a quick reminder to those Public Members on their way to Network Rail's Annual Meeting today.

Just say no.

Mystic NXEA

This from 'Redrover'...

The following item was displayed on the NXEA website at 22.15hrs on TUESDAY 21st July.

Train service alterations - Wednesday 22nd July 2009

The following train service will not run on Wednesday 22nd July 2009 owing to an operational incident: 18:00 Liverpool Street to Norwich.

What kind of "operational incident" is going to take place tomorrow I wonder?

Can they predict the lottery numbers too?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Electrification - what's in the announcement

The cabinet, we are led to believe, will be meeting in Wales on Thursday.

Having failed to share their plans with the House, perfect timing to announce electrification plans for the Great Western Main Line.

Alas, for our Tafia friends, nothing West of Bristol.

No matter.

Smart money has Paddington to Oxford and Newbury (think Reading remodelling and Crossrail to Maidenhead) as stage one.

Stage two has Bristol via both Parkway and Bath.

Timescales unknown.

Funding on the back of Network Rail's regulatory Asset Base.

That said, the proposals are likely to find cross party support!

What with the Rt Hon Member for Witney representing an Oxfordshire constituency and leading the Tory Party and all.

Perhaps the Noble Lord should call by, en-route to London, to raise a glass with his future boss?

UPDATE: This from 'David'...

The Guardian today says electrification through to Cardiff - and when you think about it, electrification Swindon-Parkway doesn't create much economic benefit on its own, given that all IC services on that route go through to South Wales.

25kv through the Severn Tunnel should be an interesting engineering challenge.

UPDATE: Captain Deltic adds...

Wake up Fact Compiler!

As the cabinet meeting was announced as being held in Cardiff, even a PM with Gordon Brown's tin ear was hardly likely to announce GW electrification to Bristol.

As for the Severn tunnel, overhead contact track is the logical solution.

Manners maketh the man

This just in from 'William of Wykham'...

Might I use Railway Eye to publicise a cause very close to my heart?

I wonder if I am alone in noticing the increasingly hectoring tone adopted by much modern railway signage.

As an example here is a sign I photographed recently at Leicester.

The use of the word 'please' costs nothing and can transform the way a notice reads from an order into a request.

Which is so much nicer if you've just spent a fortune to travel by train.

So please can we see the return of the word 'please' in railway signage.

Thank you.

And thank you William, the Eye is only too pleased to help.

NXEA has something on its mind

National Express are obviously taking Lord Adonis' threat to strip them of all their franchises very seriously.

At least so it would appear, judging from this page on the National Express East Anglia website.

But with NatEx gone, frustrated East Anglian rail travellers may have one less thing on their mind...

A bowler tip to the Samaritans whose website is here.

Charge of the Light Brigade

Latest figures from Moley on how light the government is in its promise to deliver 1,300 new vehicles...

Norman Baker (Lewes, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what orders for rail carriages have been placed to date under his Department's provision for new carriages under Delivering a Sustainable Railway; when he expects the remainder of such orders to be placed; and when he expects delivery of carriages arising from such orders to (a) commence and (b) be completed.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary):
543 vehicles have been ordered to date.

Discussions are continuing with train operating companies for the additional vehicles and announcements on these orders will be made in due course.

As Alfred, Lord Tennyson might have said: "Then they rode back, but not. Not the 1,300."

WCML Upgrade underspend - Shocker!

Good news indeed from Moley.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary):
The North West has benefited considerably from the £8.9 million upgrade of the west coast main line.

Perhaps Lord Adonis and Iain Coucher could give their office sofas a quick rattle?

It looks like there's about £8.991bn in loose change down there somewhere...

McBride of Frankenstein

There are certain Parliamentary exchanges that beg more questions than they answer.

This from the 20th July...

Francis Maude: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on what date the Secretary of State last met Mr. Damian McBride in the course of his official duties.

Chris Mole: The Secretary of State for Transport has never met Mr. McBride in the course of his official duties.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall at those non-official meetings...

Acronym Update - Letter D

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
DMUP - Delayed Multiple Unit Project - The accelerated (sic) procurement of 202 DMU vehicles as part of the Chancellor's fiscal stimulus.

DOR - Department's Own Railway - This is the company set up by DfT Rail to run the InterCity East Coast Franchise. ALSO Directly Operated Railways - the plural 'railways' suggesting that the Department expects that the fair Elaine and her band of BR retreads are going to have more than one railway to run as the recession tightens. ALSO Department of Railways the new organisation that David Carmeron will let Lord Adonis play with after June 2010.

More please...

Monday, 20 July 2009

London Midland latest

This just in from 37422...

Mike Hodson the new Managing Director of London Midland has inherited a franchise in a disastrous state, with costs running out of control and ever greater demands being placed on the wage bill.

RMT are calling for strike action for all non-traincrew grades. So what's this latest rumpus with the union about then?

Well, we need to go back to December 2008; LM were so short of traincrew (despite weekly briefs from the Dear Leader telling staff "there isn't a traincrew shortage") that they offered drivers a guaranteed minimum payment of 12 hours for Rest Day Work and guards 10hrs and a 1/10 and both grades double time for Sundays as an incentive to keep trains running.

The double time for Sundays came later as Sundays are voluntary days, and as the traincrew were cleaning up on rest days they weren't inclined to turn up for their other guaranteed overtime shift on Sundays, so mass N/A became the norm, hence the need for a further 'fiscal inducement'.

So, as the LM management were busy pandering to the traincrew - the station grades got a little hacked off with this (can't think why) and put in a mass claim for all affected staff for the same minimums as the traincrew.

This has been chucked out by the management, schedule 17 is clearly unimportant when compared to schedule 8, so now LM have the ballot.

Quite how the RMT see this one stacking up I don't know... but it really is a groundless reason for calling for strike action.

I wonder if the public know the following:

1) How much traincrew basic salary is
2) That the above have a guaranteed 4 day week over a roster cycle
3) Sundays are voluntary
4) How much they've been bunged just to keep trains running

Then compare it to comparably skilled jobs, where you get your time stopped to go to the bog, you can be sacked at the drop of a hat, not to mention clocking in and out, etc...

And finally, why don't LM just get to grips with the non-productive element so whilst on paper they're not short of traincrew (their Dear Leader wasn't being economical with the truth, honest!) but in reality many at New St & Bletchley haven't worked a train in months.

Hodson clearly has his work cut out.

UPDATE: This from 'Andrew'...

I am an avid visitor to your excellent site and normally find it very interesting and amusing.

However I just cannot let the article on the staff shortages on London Midland go without expressing my disappointment at the unprovoked and malicious attack on traincrew that was tagged onto the end of it.

Now, unless I am mistaken the article was referring to the RMT balloting Non Traincrew for action over bonus payments to Traincrew.

So why does the article end with this comment: "Quite how the RMT see this one stacking up I don't know... but it really is a groundless reason for calling for strike action."

Which is then followed by an attack on traincrew?

It makes no sense whatsoever when the action is NOT by traincrew.

I am a driver but not with London Midland but the article is the typical attack on train drivers usually found on websites unrelated to rail - as is shows utter ignorance of a drivers job and the conditions we have - was it written by a failed applicant?

As it happens , I entered the job from a skilled profession and can quite happily compare it - it would pay a very similar sum if my last job included the shifts and weekend working.

My main point however is that the article pours scorn on the RMTs possible strike action by non train crew but then attacks traincrew - it makes no sense whatsoever!

For Monday read Thursday and screw Parliament

Oh dear.

As suggested by The Major it looks like DafT will in fact make the electrification announcement this Thursday, after Parliament has risen.

So whilst Gordon Brown tinkers around the margins with his 'National Council for Democratic Renewal' and Constitutional Reform Bill, which he assures us are designed to restore faith in Parliamentary democracy, it's clearly business as usual at the Department for Transport.

Despite all the rhetoric it is clear that this discredited government remains deeply contemptuous of the democratic process.