Monday, 31 August 2009

ATW backs steam rail motor

The Fact Compiler compiler has been forwarded the following witty email.

It reads...

"Most of you will be aware of the splendid GWR Steam Railmotor under restoration at Didcot."

"In support of the project, Arriva recently staged an impromptu demonstration of what a modern steam motor might look like..."

Eye apologises to Paul for the blatant plagiarism but this was just too good not to use...

Sarah and the security guard

Oh dear.

Perhaps a little additional staff training required for these fine gentleman at Upminster station (C2C and the General Manager of the District line please take note).

Meantimes... nice to see pictures of Sarah back in traffic!

Scots independence adds to HS2 bill?

Good news for North Britons!

Last week the figure to build HS2 to Scotland was £34bn.

Now, according to the Birmingham Post, it's £41bn!

Presumably the SNP's referendum announcement has already halved the value of the putative country's new MacCurrency.

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XXVII

This just in from Peter...

I thought you would like this, but I can’t compete with Wrexham...

Welcome to Norwood Junction.

Taken on Friday at great risk from the platform ‘Stasi’ as I was standing between the yellow and white lines!

Kaption Kompetition

On Thursday former Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP attended a photocall to mark the improvements at Ewell West station.

Also pictured is the former mayor who has campaigned for the changes.

Without leaving The Fact Compiler at the mercy of My Learned Friends perhaps readers might wish to suggest an appropriate caption...

Those who go down to the sea in ships...

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
For those who remember when the British Railways Board went down to the sea in ships, an appeal for dosh to revive the Paddle Steamer Ryde.

This one time icon and vomit bucket paddled generations of holidaymakers to and from Vectis and has now been replaced with a sort of jetfoil catamaran thingy that is Just Not The Same.

It isn't the last railway paddler - that honour belongs to PS Waverley, neither is it the biggest bit of ex-Sealink detritus to clutter our shores (see TS Duke of Lancaster, rusting not very gently next to the North Wales Coast line) but it is very fondly remembered by those who lost their lunch overboard.

Anyone with a few bob left after the global financial crisis is invited to contact the PS Ryde Trust at

Friday, 28 August 2009

Heseltine backs NR

Former Minister Michael Heseltine has just come out in favour of Network Rail's new high speed rail proposals!

And on Radio 4's 'Any Questions'.

Mind you he was part of the government that built the Channel Tunnel!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Mediaballs #4

Good to see the Telegraph maintaining its hard won reputation as a journal of record.

This from the Torygraph's website about safety concerns on the sub-surface District line.

Illustrated with a nice shot of tube stock at Oxford Circus station.

Mind you, the General Manager of the District line once ran the Bakerloo...

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XXVI

This just in from 'Willie' Rushton...

Further to your earlier request for updated pictures of Hawarden Bridge I travelled the Bidston to Wrexham line yesterday but did not alight there.

However I did take this photo of the northern end of platform 4 at Wrexham General station.

Could this be a contender?

Indeed it could!

The Fact Compiler is amazed anyone can actually sign this route, unless it's by touch.

A lament for the Voyager shop

The Fact Compiler salutes Arriva Dross Country.

In particular the genius who decided to dispense with the shop in favour of an 'at-seat' (sic) trolley service.

As last week saw the final shop removed from the Voyagers the following plaintive call is to be heard aboard all XC services:

"Due to overcrowding and luggage in the aisles the trolley cannot make it down the train. Passengers wanting refreshments are invited to come to the end of coach F."

Brilliant - replace a fixed retail unit in the centre of the train with one at the far end.

And of course it carries less stock because it's just a trolley.

Did any of the bid team, so ably supported by First Class Partnerships, ever ride XC services in summer?

UPDATE: This just in from 'Bacon Butty'...

Eye readers might like to know that during the bidding there were many "mystery shoppers" aboard XC services and the shop staff all warned these people about overcrowding, bumpy vestibule connections and the general unsuitability of trolleys.

Perhaps one for Lord Adonis to get his teeth into after he's sorted out catering on the new state owned (but FCP managed) East Coast franchise...

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Bollox to that!

Screw the Voyagers.

The HST's are great.

Arriva do proper trains!

UPDATE: This from Simon...

Your post on the problems caused by the removal of the shops from the Voyagers is all too familiar to this regular traveller from Oxford to Southampton .

Not only has this wrecked catering provision, it has also significantly worsened the provision for bicycles.

The previous four bike spaces (at the end of coach F) have been replaced by three (in part of the space previously occupied by the shop), one of which is effectively unusable, and all of which require you to block the door and aisle while struggling to suspend your bike from the ceiling hook.

When you add to this the fact that Cross Country seem to make no attempt to enforce their ‘mandatory’ cycle reservation policy, things rapidly descend into a free-for-all, particularly at peak hours, and those with reservations (like yours truly) regularly end up standing in the corridor connection for long periods, being attacked by the automatic doors.

Anyone would think the DfT wanted people to drive to the station!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

NX borrows from Open Access again

This from an astonished reader...

Renaissance Trains has certainly been behind some radical changes to the industry in recent years.

But it's not just Open Access where they have left their mark.

Or so it would appear, judging by this statement on their website:

"Mike is a recognised expert in the areas of rail customer services, both non-board trains and at stations."

So this is where National Express got the idea for 'non-board' catering!

Advenza news

A reader emails to ask whether the Eye has seen any Advenza moves today?

The Fact Compiler is uncertain what this means.

Presumably the Gloucester firm has all eventualities covered... or possibly not.

UPDATE: Eye has been ensured that all is well.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Network Rail plays with political fire

We know that Number 10 is annoyed.

We know that tomorrow morning the Chief Executive of Network Rail is to give a presentation entitled:

"Meeting the rail capacity challenge - the case for new high speed lines."

Do we know what's in it? Possibly.

Have all the right people been invited? Maybe.

Has anyone a serious clue as to what's going on? Nobody!


What with it being the Silly Season and all, industry hacks have been inundated with calls from the 'mejia' desperate to know what tomorrow is all about.

Yet more woe!

Nobody seems to have been briefed yet.

Although those with a wireless may benefit by tuning into 97.2 on the FM dial tomorrow morning...

No matter.

What are we to make of this?

Eye offers the following back-of-a-fag-packet offering (takes deep breath)

NR have done lots of Route Utilisation Strategies (a good thing).

So they should know where the future capacity issues are (another good thing).

Logically they should plan (as both track supplier and Infrastructure Controller) to address these capacity issues (a very good thing) by suggesting new High Speed railways (even Adonis can't fault this).

Of course these new High Speed lines need to connect with the "classic railway" otherwise it will be a complete disaster.

Also NR has been working on this before Lord Adonis was invented and HS2 conceived (both also very good things).

So in the current economic climate it would be a great wickedness to throw all that work and knowledge away.

So Eye hopes that tomorrow will reveal a well though out RUS for future High Speed lines.

Something that David Rowlands of HS2 and Lord Adonis will be able to welcome.

And even something that our taciturn but cricket loving Prime Minister will be prepared to embrace.

Meanwhile, enter Eye's latest exciting new survey on who should give future direction on High Speed rail (eyes right!)

The way of the transgressor...

This from the Daily Record...

Teenager wrote graffiti on bridge moments before deadly fall onto railway track

'Nuff said.

PPP woes bode well for Crossrail

Yet more good news for Londoners!

According to Tube boss Richard Parry, quoted in today's Gruaniad...

"Regrettably, we now harbour grave doubts over Tube Lines and Bechtel's ability to deliver the upgrade of the Jubilee line by the end of December, which they are contracted to do."


Surely Transport for London is not calling into question Bechtel's project management skills?

Surely not.

Why only four months ago the TfL Board rubber stamped Crossrail's decision to award the £400m Project Delivery Partner concession to err... Bechtel - based on the US company's supposed ability to deliver complex projects on time and to budget.

Of course every cloud has a silver lining.

With Crossrail looking set to be caped after the next General Election there'
ll be no risk of the project overrunning.

May: "We was robbed!"

It seems even the illustrious James May of Top Gear fame is not immune from the perils of railway trespass and vandalism.

This sorry tale from This is Devon...

A TV celebrity's world record attempt to build the longest model railway was repeatedly thwarted yesterday – by spoilsport thieves who stole parts of the track.

If only Mr May had consulted Driver Potter.

Juicing it with 750dc would have seen the thieving 'Erberts dance!

Monday, 24 August 2009

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XXV

This just in from Tim...

Pictured is Hawarden Bridge taken a couple of weeks ago.

Do I win a prize?

Alas no Tim - but Network Rail are certainly in the running if Hawarden still looks this piss-poor today.

Can any readers supply more recent pictures?

All bets off at Derby

Good news for York!

Provincial backwater Derby has abandoned its grandiose plans to become the UK's 'Rail Capital'.

According to This is Derbyshire...

PLANS to build a £15m centre for the UK rail industry in Derby have been scrapped.

The UK Rail Centre was intended to provide a showcase venue for the industry but the East Midlands Development Agency admits it has failed to attract investment for the project.

Derby was chosen ahead of York by the Railway Industry Association and the Rail Sector Advisory Group for the right to house the centre in 2005.


Despite the East Midlands Development Agency spending £1.95m in 2006 on a 2.6-acre site close to Derby station no additional external funding has been forthcoming.

The design for the proposed centre also proved slightly contentious, with its eye catching 32m ventilation tower being nicknamed the traffic cone.

Perhaps apt now that this particular avenue for regional grandstanding has been closed off.

NRES maps the future

This just in from the son of John...

If you are travelling to Dublin Ferryport and need local information then the National Rail website provides the following helpful map:

You have to zoom out a long way though to see any useful landmarks...

Perhaps Messrs Hall and Green (Stationers to Lord DafT Vader) could ask NR to shift a couple of their major stations into this Equatorial paradise?

Pointless signs 10#

This just in from Lee...

With thanks to readers of the WNXX Forum who suggested Lee forward this to Eye.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

Exciting announcement on smart cards (like Oyster) for all public transport in the UK...

Quite so minister.

Although not entirely 'like Oyster'.

Oyster works.

Whilst ITSO, on the other hand...

Another maintenance holiday?

Network Rail's East Midlands' Route Utilisation Strategy makes interesting reading.

Here for instance...

3.1 Train operators
At present, four franchised passenger train operators and six freight train operators runservices over the lines covered by the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS).

These are: CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, First Capital Connect, Northern Rail, DB Schenker, Freightliner, First GB Railfreight, Fastline Freight, Colas Rail and Advenza Freight.


But what's this?

No mention of Derby based operator Serco, who run Network Rail's own infrastructure monitoring trains.

Perhaps the New Black Tower has identified another efficiency saving?

Flushed with failure...

It's not just Pendolini, Voyagers and Merdians you know.

This from 'Doron' on Tuesday...

18/08/09 10:15 2H81 TOILET FAULT DIN 158712

First ScotRail Control and Inverness RETB SC report that Driver of 2H81 is not prepared to take train beyond Dingwall due to a disgusting smell emanating from toilets on 158712 which has now permeated the whole train.

Up to 69 minutes when I booked off at 14:00.

It makes you wonder if the toiletless TramTrain might not be such a bad idea, if they ever happen of course...

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XX - Revisited

This just in from Dr Gloucester...

I found myself at Salford Crescent again this evening.

There may be an avid follower of the Eye in Network Rail at Manchester, looks like the abundant growth near the Relay Room has had a dose of Roundup (TM) since it was entered in the Railway Garden Competition.

Is this down to coincidence, or embarrassment, I wonder?

Over at the platform end, it's the same story, nowhere for those pesky Pacers to hide now.

To avoid distressing those of a sensitive nature, no Pacers were photographed during the compilation of this submission.

So, NR, if you're still watching, how about tackling this lot, viewed from midway along the Up Platform face.

Then maybe you'd like to deal with this, just round the corner at Ordsall Lane Junction. Yes, that's a signal in there.

The Fact Compiler compliments Network Rail on getting to grips with the vegetation at Salford Crescent and hopes it is able to continue the good work...

North Korea sets ITSO standard

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Why do the Government keep on insulting our intelligence?

According to the DfT's consultation document on smart and integrated ticketing:

"There is a Government sponsored national specification for smart ticketing called ITSO which is designed to make different schemes technically compatible with each other, facilitating seamless journeys. The specification is maintained by ITSO Ltd, an independent member controlled organisation".

So independent and member controlled that DafT nominates three directors to the board, each with four votes when the other members can only muster 11 votes between them.

Even Kim Jung Il would be impressed by such transparent democracy.

Mandy in hospital

This from the BBC...

Lord Mandelson is in hospital for an operation for a "benign condition of the prostate", says a government spokesman.

What a triumph of modern science to find the one part of the First Secretary that isn't malignant... (with a bowler tip to Evelyn Waugh)

UPDATE: This from Surgeon General Potter...

Further to your coverage on Mandlesons continued pulse, I feel I should be the first to suggest a form of surgery that will suit all.

Please find below the solution to Mandy's health woes.


If it's good enough for Al Gore, then it's good enough for the Noble Lord Mandelson.

After all, people like Al Gore.

South Africa unites behind Midlands & Continental Shocker

It's not just South African athletes whose gender is being called into question.

This from the Derby Evening Telegraph...

Network Rail route director Dyan Crowther said the plan was in response to a growth in demand for rail travel, with the national passenger demand of three million journeys made nationally per day predicted to rise by 28% during the next decade.

He said: "Demand for rail travel has grown significantly over the last decade, and while this success is to be welcomed, it brings with it the challenge of meeting this demand while improving services for rail users."

ATOC is keen to look into the matter...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Pistols at dawn

Telegrammed by Leo Pink
Isn't it typical, you wait for years for a proposals for a new UK high speed line network then two come along.

Next week Network Rail will pre-empt the report from the Department of Transport's own company High speed Two Ltd, promised by the end of the year, with its own "costed and detailed business case for a new high speed line".

DfT Rail is reported to be puzzled by this. 'What have high speed lines got to do with Network Rail' is the view in Marsham Street?'

Network Rail point out that their High Speed Line study was underway long before HS2 Ltd was even thought of.

So a tip of the bowler to Iain Coucher for yet again being the only railwayman willing to plant his tanks on DfT Rail's lawn.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

We apologise for the error

This beautiful piece from the Cornish Guardian....

In an article last week ‘Residents call for eyesore red wall to be demolished’ we said that the BRB (Residuary) Ltd was a subsidiary of Network Rail this was incorrect BRB (Residuary) Ltd is owned by the government's Department for Transport and has no connection with Network Rail.

We apologise for the error.

As indeed they ought!

Obviously there is no connection between the private sector company Network Rail and BRB (Residuary) owned by the Department for Transport.

But what's this?

Could this be the same Department of Transport that lobbied the Treasury to allow Network Rail to add the electrification bill to the company's Regulatory Asset Base?

Obviously no connection at all then.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pointless signs #9

This just in from John...

I noticed that you have included Topsham in the Railway Garden Competition.

Would it also be possible to enter it for the Pointless Signs award?

Here is a picture of a BTP sign on the station.

What's pointless about that I hear you ask?

Well it's stuck behind this display board (see below).

Perhaps the station is patrolled by Secret Policemen?

Chiltern 'E' Shocker!

Nice to see that the Chiltern press office has such good local knowledge of the towns its trains serve.

Media Call
First Direct Service to London from Bridgenorth
0715 Saturday 15 August 2009

Chiltern Railways and the Seven Valley Railway are pleased to be working together to provide the first ever direct train from Bridgenorth and Bewdley to London Marylebone

The train will leave Bridgenorth at 0745 to start its first direct service into London Marylebone

Chiltern - putting the 'E' into Bridgnorth.

Environmental benefits of electrification in question

This from today's Gruaniad...

A study by Booz Allen Hamilton, a consultancy, argues that building and operating a new north-south rail network in England will generate more CO2 than taking the same route by air over a 60-year period.

No doubt it will be a similar length of time before the Noble Lord invites Booz Allen to undertake further work for DafT.

Railway Garden XXIV

This worthy entry from Topsham

Why is the Down line of the passing loop so favoured?

Pointless signs #8

This just in from the Wicked Weaver...

No more running for trains!

Is Derby station the first one in Europe to impose a speed restriction on passengers?

In due course will one be prevented from taking the stairs two-at-a-time?

Lookalike XXV

Thursday, 13 August 2009

First for hitting the passenger where it hurts

The Fact Compiler has been stirred from his deckchair by the following extra-ordinary news.

According to Passenger Focus:

First Great Western (FGW) is set to introduce new restrictions on its cheapest Off-Peak tickets which will mean many passengers travelling into London in the morning and out of London in the afternoon will see their fares rise by 20%.

What can this mean?

Some say First Great Western has joined the ranks of franchise demics like NXEC, London Midland and Arriva Cross Country.

The Fact Compiler, almost replete from his well earned break, has a more charitable view:

Perhaps Mark Hopwood is leveraging these swinging increases as personal favour to First's Chief Executive - Sir Moir of the Lovely Book (pictured below)

No doubt the storage costs for the mountain of remaindered copies has started to make First Group shareholders twitchy...

A case for Hall and Green!

Telegrammed by The Master
Plymouth may be home to the Royal Navy, but the Spar shop on the railway station certainly isn't home to any wine buffs.

As the chiller cabinet contains bottles of Merlot - a red wine!

Perhaps Lord DafT Vader will ask his 'stationers' to demand that Network Rail address this epicurean faux pas (once they've taken direct control of the station)?

Silly season - anything to fill space...

Telegrammed by Ben Jones
Bideford World Record Attempt

On the 24th of August, James May, with the help of the people of Britain is attempting to build the longest ever model railway in the world! We are hoping to break the world record and we need your help!

We are appealing for volunteers to help us with various different aspects of this…on the 24th we need teams of 4 to put themselves forward as volunteers. Each team must have a self-appointed team leader who is also available on the 22nd for a briefing day. Due to the length of the day on the 24th we are asking that parents only bring kids who are over 13 years old, and that if your over-13 year olds do want to come along, that there is at least one adult per team as well.

On the 24th we are also looking for people who would like to bring along 00 models to be exhibited in an area alongside the track which will be used for filming.

Last but not least on the 22nd we will also be looking for any willing volunteers to come along to the same place as the train briefing day to help out with building models for the exhibition area. Kids and adults welcome!

If you are interested in any of the above please email me ASAP on and I will provide you with more details.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Pointless signs #7

Telegrammed by the Wicked Weaver
The newly refurbished Virgin rake of Mark IIIs (complete with it's own DVT) is indeed splendid and available for charter.

However, on trying to view the scenery one is presented with a problem.

And is the centre panel advising the intending evacuee that there may be deep snow?

UPDATE: This from Eobhann...

Maybe the window signs on the refurbished MK III rake are to cut down the window size to the same piss-poor dimensions as those on the Dildos.

After all, Beardie Rail don’t want passengers realising just how good the view was from the ‘old decrepit stock’ that use to ply the WCML.

Oh, hang on. Isn’t this wonderful set some of that ‘old decrepit stock’? Fancy that!

UPDATE: This from Westmount Lad...

Somewhere I read that this set is known as the "Pretendolino" ?

UPDATE: This from Driver Potter...

Suggestion for centre pictogram No.1:

Maximum fill-line for the train fish tank?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Malins...

You should know that apart from pointless signs and tedious announcements, this train has now earned a slightly more topical nickname:

Slam Door Millionaire

Eye asks if this refers to the train, Sir Beardie or Porterbrook?

Wreading, Riting and WiFi

Telegrammed by Anonymous Contibutor
Eye readers are invited to try Virgin Trains Wifi when next in Beardie Land and to pause at the launch screen.

Whilst there why not count just how many stations are misspelt in the network diagram.

Manchester Picadilly (two "c"s please)

Llandudlo Junction (well the Wifi is dud past Chester)

If you use this, please credit it to an anonymous contibutor.

Wouldn't want my Season Ticket revoked!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Telegrammed by Driver Potter
You thought the Super Voyagers had got there first: but no!

Dramatic Proof that BR were tinkering with passive tilt systems on non-electric services as early as the mid-nineties...

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XXIII

Telegrammed by Dr Gloucester
Here's another entry for the RGC, taken yesterday at Stockport.

Like many boxes in the area, Stockport No. 2 has been 'plasticised' in recent years, and looks rather smart, only let down by the jungle that has sprouted in front of it in the last few years.

Any chance it will be dealt with before observation of tail lamps becomes a problem?

ATOC sets gold standard for time keeping

Telegrammed by Bushy
The following consultation email was sent out by ATOC in June 2008:

ATOC, on behalf of all TOCs, together with Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) have decided to review the Enthusiast Guidelines, which give advice to railway enthusiasts on visiting railway property in pursuit of their hobby and also set down what sort of photography is permitted on railway property. The Guidelines were drawn up three years ago and we believe are still appropriate.

It is our intention to reissue the Guidelines later this summer so as to re-brief and make all rail staff aware of the them. We have decided to consult a number of stakeholders to ask for their views on whether they need to be modified or revised further before they are reissued. As part of this process BTP will also ask their senior officers for a view on the guidelines (particularly in relation to photography) and Network Rail will also consult station mangers at their stations.

I have attached a copy of the Guidelines and would ask you to come back to me directly with any comments or suggestions by Friday 18th July. We don’t envisage changing them radically but are interested in hearing any constructive suggestions for their improvement, particularly when it comes to the Guidelines for photography. As part of the consultation we are inviting the trade press and a number of well known railway photographers to give us their views also.

Finally, from time to time it has been suggested that there might be some form of accreditation for well known railway photographers who contribute to the trade press regularly. One suggestion is that magazines/publications would nominate a limited number of contributors who would be given an accredited railway photography press card. This might involve a small charge. Do you have any views and if you are a railway publication would you support such a scheme?

Errr... as it's summer 2009 any news?

RAF Elmdon scrambles the Flying Spokesman

Telegrammed by the International Correspondent
The dogfight between High Speed Railers and the Aviationists hotted up over Birmingham last week when the Birmingham Post provided the oxygen of publicity to RAF Elmdon (better known as Birmingham International Airport).

The airport authorities, anxious to be seen to protect their customer base of small domestic airlines scrambled their crack fighter ace to strike at the heart of high speed rail's environmental claims:

Mr Morris said: “I think what you will see is companies like Flybe changing the way they operate, adapting, and improving their service.

“The Eurostar did not put an end to cross channel ferries and in the same way I think a high speed rail network will not put an end to short-haul and domestic flights.

“There’s no doubt that travelling from Birmingham to London is best done by train - that is why we have no flights there from Birmingham. “But getting to Glasgow and Edinburgh is better done by air.

“You just have to look at the lower carbon emissions for the journeys, the quicker journey times, and a noise footprint that is significantly less than the 300-mile one left by trains”.

But who is the Flying Spokesman?

Surely the sharp-shooting and combatative Baron Von Richtmorris of the airport is not the same Class 40-loving John Morris who was for many years Chief Apologist for Cross Country, and who became dis-invented after daring to suggest that Virgin's Voyagers were a less than optimum transport solution?

And who supported the Red Revolution from the inside by painting a XC Class 86 engine in, er, chic but very retro Caledonian Railway 1920s blue livery?

Perhaps we should be told.

Friday, 7 August 2009

DafT changes the question - again

Telegrammed by Leo Pink
What ever happened to right first time?

Pre-Qualification Questionnaire
Specialist Advice and Support in Connection with DfT’s Duties as ‘Operator of Last Resort’
Date: First issue: 04 August 09
Rev 0.1: 07 August o91

Clearly three days is a long time in DfT Rail politics.

Out of Office reply

The Fact Compiler is enjoying a traditional English summer holiday.

So posting will be as intermittent as the breaks in the atrocious weather.

Wish you were here...

All change at Hull Trains

This just in from Ollie over at I work for First Great Western...

This from the First Group Intranet...

After six years as Managing Director, Mark Leving left First Hull Trains at the end of last week.

I would like to thank Mark for all his good work during his time as Managing Director.

He established a capable team and laid strong foundations for the next phase in First Hull Trains' development, which will include the engineering and on-board upgrade of our Class 180 train fleet. We wish Mark well for the future.

James Adeshiyan, who has worked in key commercial and operational roles in a number of train operating companies across the rail industry over the last 13 years, becomes General Manager of First Hull Trains, with immediate effect.

I hope you will all join me in welcoming James to First Hull Trains and congratulate him on his appointment.

Anyone know where Mark has gone?


Sky appears to have misplaced its Baker's Rail Atlas.

Or so it would appear judging by this headline...

More Rail Misery For East Coast Commuters

Alas, the story actually refers to industrial action on National Express East Anglia.

Of course attempting to travel up the East Coast Mainline via Norwich would be misery indeed - strike or no strike.

UPDATE: This just in from Leo Pink...

Given Mr Baker's propensity in his day job for coming up with at least a dozen radical new ideas a week, it may be that Sky has got hold of an advanced copy of the next edition of the Atlas!


Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
You're only as good as your latest story – as the saying goes in the Street of Shame.

So what should we make of the covers of the Railway Magazine and Rail sitting together on the newsstands today.

The monthly Railway Magazine has a hot front leading on the GW electrification on top of a pic of Grand Central's new Adelantes.

The fortnightly Rail's front misses the electrification story altogether from its cover, squeezing it into just a single column on Page 9.

Pigott scoops Harris! Now there's a story...

UPDATE: This from an 'Old Hack'...

Given that RAIL was the first of the newstand magazines to cover the GWML electrification story, I'm not sure your independent expert can claim Railway Mag got the scoop.

When is a scoop not a scoop? When a rival has published the story a week before.

And I can't remember how long ago it was that RAIL published a picture of the first GC Adelante driving car in that rather handsome black livery (let's hope the aircon doesn't fail on a hot sunny day!)...

UPDATE: This just in from Mr Harris himself...

Oooh, 'Independent Expert', what a tease you are!

'Old Hack' is quite right of course - we'd already reported this and goodness knows what else, ages ago - but methinks Eye's 'Independent Expert' does us a gross disservice in this case which, in the interests of accuracy, I feel compelled to point out.

The RAIL you mention went to press on Wednesday July 22, while the electrification announcement wasn't unveiled until July 23, fully 24 hours after we'd all gone to sleep in P'bro, after our fortnightly exertions.

This being the case, come on - please - not even a hint of a bowler tip for squeezing in the essential facts, as remarked, fully a day before the story was known?!

The vagaries of publishing schedules, eh?

In a weird sort of way, we scooped ourselves, let alone The Railway Magazine, illustrious organ though it is, edited by my good friend Mr P.

That's got to be worth something!

I'm off on leave for two weeks now, so keep up the good work.

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler wishes to pour some soothing balm on these troubled waters.

As Fat Mark pointed out two weeks ago...

The Gruaniad actually had the story Wednesday morning!

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

So first to be last was the Gruaniad.

Of course regular Eye readers had been kept up to date with the emerging details long before all these Johnny-come-latelies had even put fingers to keyboards!

UPDATE: This from Charles Yerkes...

Finger to key boards and the Gruaniad?

You've got to be joking. It's not a keyboard but a dictaphone you need.

Many of recent transport stories in the paper are so riddled with Adonis quotes that they look as if they've been dictated by Andrew himself!

At least there is now an official channel, bypassing both Parliament and the Department, allowing Lord Adonis to talk directly at the British people.

Perhaps TOCs should consider dumping The Times and replacing it with the Gruaniad as the preferred on-board newspaper?

Probably best to do it now before it appears as a requirement in the Noble Lord's new franchise agreements.


Telegrammed by our Independent Expert
Hot news from Britain's remotest railway station

On Wednesday's 08.45 from Rannoch to Fort William, passengers boarded the Caledonian Sleeper only to discover there's standing room only.

As one agitated Sassenach put it:

"It's taken us 12 hours to get all the way here from London and now it looks like we've imported the rush hour."

Electrification shocker - Shocker

Good news!

If this motley crew are against High Speed Rail then Adonis must be right!

Go Andrew, go!

UPDATE: Captain Deltic glooms.

Motley crew they may be, but by focusing on high speed we are handing them rods for mass back beating. Ditto with the emphasis on CO2 reduction.

There is no need for a high speed line between London and Birmingham. The journey time reductions will not pay for the return on the investment. And emissions are a playground for sophisters with Excel.

There is a need for more capacity between London and the West Midlands. And when you are building a new line to relieve the WCML, well in the 21st Century standard new main lines run at 200 mile/h.

This week's over-the-top coverage in the Grauniad could yet backfire.

UPDATE: This just in from the Major...

You would expect a motley crew of road and air pressure groups and operators to have a go at Adonis' high-speed piece.

It's worth considering what rail's reaction would be if the boot was on the other foot.

There might be a letter from the Bearded One promising the earth but for the rest of the rail industry and its so-called lobby groups I expect we'd hear nothing.

For all this, the chap from Newcastle Airport does have a point.

Air still holds advantages for those travelling cross-country.

Newcastle-Exeter - quicker by rail or air?

So what is the railway doing to improve cross country journey times?

Nothing, apart from continuing with its policy of CrossCountry trains waiting time at York, Leeds, Sheffield (up to 10 minutes!), Derby, Birmingham etc etc.

The railway proved it can run on time if it inserts enough padding in the timetable - now it needs to get on with cutting journey times and still running on time: that's where the real skill lies!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The economics of the mad-house

Good news for wheelbarrow manufacturers!

The Bank of England has decided to expand quantitative easing by £50bn to £175bn.

At least now we know where NR will get the money needed to do all these exciting electrification projects.

It's just a shame that a loaf of bread will soon cost a million quid...

UPDATE: This from Charles Yerkes...

That might not be so bad...

At least it would wipe the smile from NR's bonus encrusted directors!

DBS resurgent?

***Rumour that Stobart's contract may have a new haulier***

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Sadiq says....

Via Twitter...

Great piece in The Guardian about our plans for High Speed Rail. Recommended reading. Read it here

After following the link Eye fears that Sadiq may be preoccupied with the credit crunch.

The future of branch lines (episode 94)

It was Chris Austin, of the then Strategic Rail Authority, who dreamt up the concept of Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs).

With great fanfare and the full blessing of Beau Bowker he set about attempting to secure the future of many marginal railways, whilst cynics carped on the sidelines claiming it was mere PR piss-and-wind.

We cynics have been proven wrong.

The CRPs have delivered real improvements, not just by working with TOCs to improve service frequency but more importantly by making small incremental upgrades to passenger facilities; with the result that over recent years most CRP lines have seen enormous growth in passenger loadings.

As this extract from a memo from the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) confirms:

(TOC's name REDACTED) opinion is that, as far as rail travel is concerned, there’s little need to further promote the rural services as the majority are now full and therefore have a future. Any service improvements would require levels of rolling stock or infrastructure investment that would simply not be available or justifiable.

Good news indeed.

The memo makes the point even clearer by saying:

It is (TOC's name REDACTED) opinion however, that some CRPs are turning into lobbying groups (which they are not prepared to support) whilst others have effectively run their course, having succeeded in their aim to secure a future for the line.

So where does this leave the future of Community Rail Partnerships?

ACoRP helpfully suggests...

It’s apparent that in the current situation, CRPs in (REDACTED) are gradually seeing their rail role diminish. This doesn’t mean however that they have no future – they are after all, rooted in the community and should be addressing a multiplicity of other concerns such as access to work, local transport integration, environment, health and regeneration. CRPs might also benefit from looking at other transport modes, such as community and local buses, cycling and even walking.

When Community Rail Partnerships were established the railway was fighting a rear-guard action against the perceived threat of a reduction in the network's size.

Under the aegis of My Lord Adonis there is the real possibility that the network might actually physically expand!

Clearly, however, in these cash constrained times something will have to give.

The message is clear: CRPs broaden your base. User groups redouble your efforts!

UPDATE: This from Branch Line Boy...

I'm not so sure it was Chris Austin who dreamt up the concept of Community Rail Partnerships.

I thought it was Paul Salveson, late of AcoRP, now a big wig in Northern!

The Fact Compiler stands corrected!

UPDATE: Captain Deltic points out:

My Lord Adonis is quite scathing about the poor value for money of even ATOC's modest proposals for line reopenings.

The only way he wants to see the network expanding is through the construction of high speed lines.

See the Grauniad's on-going advertorials all this week (yawn).

Strange railway couplings

This just in from an incredulous reader...


Perhaps 1E23 was wearing a rather fetching mini-skirt, stilettos and white handbag combo?

Pearson's becomes family friendly?

Telegrammed by Lord Peter Whimsy
An extraordinary out of office email from FT transport hack Robert Wright...

"I am taking a day off to build a climbing frame for my children"

As Groucho Marx might have said "I didn't know you guys were allowed to have families."

UPDATE: This just in from the man himself!

I hadn't expected, I must admit, my working on the Jungle Gym Club, like the one seen here, to garner so much attention.

But, since it has, your readers might appreciate an update.

I finally completed work on the climbing frame - better described as a small, wooden house - at 9pm on Wednesday after spending Saturday and all of Sunday after church working on it.

The low point on Wednesday came when, after I'd dug substantial holes for the foundations, my electric drill, which has seen more work these last few days than in its entire previous life, gave up the ghost. There were 400 screws, each of which needed to have its position measured before a hole was drilled and the screw finally inserted.

However, rest assured, railway people. As with a new Bombardier EMU, there will be some retrofitting to correct manufacturing defects. I put the wrong kind of 80mm screws in a lot of the holes.

Also, the Fact Compiler shouldn't fear that I have a life.

Yesterday was taken as a day off in lieu for working this coming Sunday,

I left the office at 2.30am on Saturday and I've yet to take a day's annual leave this year.

Errr... thank you for this Robert. Eye is none the wiser but no doubt better informed.

2009 Railway Garden Competition #XXII

This just in from Rich...

For your viewing pleasure today, may I present Llandudno Junction.

The forest shown also doubles up as a small yard, complete with the strategically placed string of DBS owned wagons.

This is truly splendid Rich.

Thank you.

Notice how the foliage lovingly caresses the point mechanism.

No doubt, come leaf mulch time, this will serve to lubricate and protect the workings.

Perhaps Network Rail could learn from DB Schenker's low cost approach to switch and crossing maintenance.

UPDATE: A pedant writes...

Isn't it a rake of wagons in this country?

You're not a Septic are you?

Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Adonis - Dark Lord or Angelic Light

This has to be one of the most extraordinary public statements made by a Transport Minister!

This from the Grauniad...

Transport secretary, Lord Adonis, said "For reasons of carbon reduction and wider environmental benefits, it is manifestly in the public interest that we systematically replace short-haul aviation with high-speed rail".

Of course he did caveat it by saying:

"But we would have to have, of course, the high-speed network before we can do it."

Bearing in mind the aviation industry's relatively slick lobbying machine this is either going to cause one hell of a stink, or even the airlines now know the domestic game is up!

My Lord Adonis - so much to do. So little time.

UPDATE: And here is the official response from Stephen Hammond, Shadow Rails (sic) Minister...

“I am glad that (Lord Adonis) has finally accepted our argument that high speed rail can provide a viable alternative to thousands of short haul and domestic flights. Now that he has undermined his Government’s case for expansion of Heathrow, the next Conservative policy he should force Gordon Brown to adopt is to cancel all moves to build a third runway at Heathrow."

Excellent, that's Cross Party consensus achieved on High Speed Rail.

Now all that's left is to find the lolly...

UPDATE: This from a yet to be convinced Mr Saltaire...

According to the Daily Telegraph Lord Adonis wants to shift 46m passengers from short haul air to high speed rail.

That equates to 126,000 passengers a day (on average, not accounting for peaks and troughs).

Which is the equivalent of 301 fully loaded Pendolino type trains a day.

Based on a headway that allows a clock-face timetable with departures every twenty minutes, only 54 trains could depart from a London terminus heading north each day (assuming an eighteen hours a day timetable) meaning that a maximum of 22,600 passengers could be moved north and a similar number south = 45,200.

Even doubling the number of carriages in each train leaves you woefully short of capacity (and this assumes all trains are fully loaded and takes no account of peaks and troughs in loadings).

Computer say "No can do!".

Maybe the Government should invest the £30bn in researching teleportation… this seems more feasible.

UPDATE: This from Sim Harris over at Keeping Track...

Not sure Mr Saltaire is juggling with the right figures.

I hope very sincerely indeed that the trains on our eventual High Speed domestic network are significantly more spacious than Bendydildoes.

Some figures to consider: seats on a TGV Duplex (8 vehicles) -- 516; Eurostar (18 veh) -- 770.

Also, the Adonis figure is very broad brush: I would have thought that the short haul routes which are most likely to be effectively replaced by rail are London--Manchester, London--Glasgow, London--Newcastle, London--Edinburgh and London--Leeds/Bradford.

Rail is never going to wholly supplant air between London and "outstations" like Inverness/Plymouth/Newquay/Belfast (unless the British LGV network is going to exceed even the dreams of Steer Davies Gleave).

A 225km/h ECML (surely not an insurmountable problem with ERTMS) would also help to mop up some of the London--Leeds/Newcastle/Edinburgh traffic.

If a viable operator can be found, of course!

UPDATE: This just in from Tom West in the Dominions...

516 people in eight vehicles?

770 spread over 18?

Lightweights all of 'em... here in Toronto, the local trains carry 2,100 in twelve (double-deck) carriages!