Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Give 'em an inch and they take 1.609344 kilometers

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Think very carefully how you use your Euro vote on the 4th June.

When is an HYA bogie wagon not an HYA?

When it's a FABFNOOS.

When is it a FABFNOOS? When the latest build is certified under the new Technical Specification for Interoperability procedure.

Clearly Johnny Foreigner thinks TOPS codes are another aspect of the Anglo-American hegemony.

Save the HYA. Tell Europe to FABFNOOS off!

Hoon caught out

This from the BBC...

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has become the second cabinet minister in 24 hours to repay money he claimed on his designated second home.

Mr Hoon claimed bills in advance for a full year on his Derbyshire property - but in the same year he claimed a different house was his second home. It was an "inadvertent administrative error", he said, and apologised.

That's all right then.

Railway Eye readers are invited to diddle their employer for a similar amount (£668) and then use the same lame excuse (plus apology).

I'm sure they'll understand and invite you to remain in post.

Road to nowhere

This gem from the Daily Express with a bowler tip to the very sweary Lone Voice...

THE Government agency responsible for issuing driving licences has spent thousands of pounds translating documents into Braille for blind “customers”.

Is there no end to the wasteful extravagance of this diseased polity?

Track temperatures

The hot weather is causing both Network Rail and operators numerous headaches.

As the temperatures climb so do the number of speed restrictions applied across the network.

In Derbyshire one 'community rail line' saw its service suspended yesterday and a replacement bus service in operation - due to concerns about lightly ballasted track.

Meanwhile the BBC is suggesting that the heatwave may have resulted in a minor derailment on the Cumbrian Coast line.

It will be interesting to hear how the TOCs rate Network Rail's overall management of the hot weather conditions.

Presumably Virgin will fire the opening salvo?

We had to destroy the village to save the village

Telegrammed by The Raver
Just received an invitation from Railway Strategies to attend their latest supply chain conference.

Alongside all the usual guff is this compelling speaker profile:

Sir Clive Woodward in association with O2 will be sharing his views on creating a winning team...

Would that be the same Sir Clive Woodward who showed how to create a winning team at Southampton Football club where he lasted as technical director for just 13 months in 2005/6.

Meanwhile Southampton has now been relegated for the second time in four years...

A winning team indeed.

UPDATE: This just in from Ithuriel...

And the same Sir Clive Woodward who led the last no expense spared, best prepared ever, British Lions Rugby team to er, defeat in New Zealand?.


The latest issue of Rail reports that after 169 years Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate has been abolished.

The Office of Rail Regulation has now dragooned the former HMRI into a new Orwellian sounding body - The Safety Directorate.

As might be expected the Eye is appalled by this latest example of Lèse majesté from a government department.

Of course it comes as no surprise.

What with the monocular Prince of Thieves omitting to invite Her Majesty to Saturday's 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

UPDATE: This just in from Sim Harris...

Not so, says the ORR.

It agrees that the Railway Inspectors are now part of its Safety Directorate, but all 100 or so still have a badge with the Royal Crown and are described, as ever, as HM Railway Inspectors.

It also points out that HMRI has never been a standalone body.

In 1840 the first inspectors were authorised by the Railway Regulation Act, and were part of the Board of Trade. Since then HMRI has formed part of the Ministry of Transport and more recently the HSE. Now, of course, it has been moved to the ORR.

But abolished? Nonsense, m'dears.

UPDATE: This rather witty response from no less a body than the
HMRI oops ORR...

Thanks for your rather excitable piece on the 'abolition' of HM Railway Inspectorate.

Had you come to ORR for a comment, we could have made it clear that this was less a case of 'treason', more a matter of reason...

HMRI has never had the distinction of being a formal legal entity. The inspectors of the railway have been resident with a number of bodies down the years, with their previous employers (the Health and Safety Executive) adopting the acronym 'HMRI' as a collective noun for them in the early 1990s.

Responsibility for inspecting the railway now lies with ORR, and we employ close to 150 people to carry out and support safety regulation. Each of our inspectors has the title 'HM Inspector of Railways' on their warrant card - and that is not something that is about to change.

The only change there has been is to reflect the fact that ORR is now the integrated safety and economic regulator, and as such is a single entity.

UPDATE: This from Nigel Harris over at Rail...

Oh dear.

Maybe the heat is getting to some Eye scribblers.

HMRI, we are ludicrously
now invited to believe, actually didn't exist for nearly 169 years during which time it obviously didn't produce all those accident inquiry reports.

It existed. Now it doesn't. You do the math!

Enough already and please read what we actually reported, which included that the title Railway Inspector will survive.

Whilst others may wish to debate how many angels might dance on a pinhead the editor of RAIL would like to politely point out (as we did to ORR's press office when putting the story together) that the information about the HMRI's abolition' came directly from ORR Chief Executive Bill Emery, in the first instance, and was further discussed and confirmed in a personal conversation with ORR's Director of Safety, Ian Prosser, subsequently.

So as far as I'm concerned those sources are about as impeccable as they come.

Enough said, I think.

Unless of course ORR's own press office has abandoned reason for treason...

Advenza news

This from the London Gazette...

In the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division)
Companies Court
No 13101 of 2009
and in the Matter of the Insolvency Act 1986
A Petition to wind up the above-named Company of 21 Highnam
Business Centre, Highnam, Gloucester, Gloucestershire GL2 8DN,
presented on 15 April 2009 by the Commissioners for HM Revenue
and Customs, of Bush House, Strand, London WC2B 4RD, claiming
to be Creditors of the Company, will be heard at the Royal Courts of
Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, on 3 June 2009, at 1030 hours

So will Mr Pink Shirt stave off another attempt to kill his dream?

UPDATE 03/06/09: Case dismissed after monies received.

Southeastern savaged by dead sheep

This from today's Gruaniad:

The rail passenger watchdog has criticised Britain's first high-speed commuter service after it emerged that fares will cost up to a third more than on conventional routes.

Passenger Focus... expressed concerns over the fare increases.

"We would hope Southeastern would consider offering incentives and discounts to make the service more affordable," said Tunde Olatunji, Passenger Focus manager for Kent.

Presumably a terrified Charles Horton has cleared his diary and is busy recasting the fares manual this very morning.

How green is my mileage?

It looks like Westminster parliamentarians are not alone in causing raised eyebrows amongst constituents over expense claims.

This from Wales Online...

ONLY one AM uses a rail season ticket to travel between his home and the Senedd, we can reveal.

The disgruntled Chairman of the Shrewsbury-Aberystwyth Rail Passengers Association writes:

"Could it be that being able to claim mileage rates whilst only being able to recover the cost of public transport fares encourage our political representatives not to travel by public transport therefore meaning that they fail to understand the issues and have no stake in making improvements?"

Elected representatives maximising allowances - surely not.

Knives out?

More revelations from industry Eeyore - the TSSA.

This from the Daily Telegraph...

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said it had obtained figures showing that punctuality had dropped as low as 39.4 per cent on the West Coast main line between London and Glasgow during April.

Gerry Dohety fumed: "These people make Dad's Army look competent. Despite spending billions, they have turned the line into a five-day railway, closed most weekends to passengers.

"One thing is certain. If they cannot run the trains on time, they should not take any bonuses at all this year."

Quite right too - no point in rewarding failure.

Perhaps this may explain the following extra-ordinary message posted on the TSSA website on Friday:

A message from the General Secretary
There are a number of rumours circulating that I have resigned as General Secretary. This is not the case. It is true that there have been a number of difficulties recently, and some of you will be aware that there was an early closure of annual conference this month.

Executive Committee will be meeting on 4/5 June 2009 and I expect that the position of the General Secretary will be clearer after that meeting. In the meantime can I thank those members who have been in touch seeking information.

What can this all mean?

What minimum wage?

Good news for job seekers!

FastTrack is advertising this exciting role on RailwayPeople.com:

No doubt the salary of "£250 per year" will attract candidates of the very highest calibre?

Germany calling #1

Telegrammed by Lord Tee Hee (yesterday)..
Following on from The Velopodist's comments re Germany...

Am on an ICE 3 between Brussels and Frankfurt which is now 25 mins late due to engineering work East of Aachen causing SLW (single line working).

Still, the bar is nice and it's very interesting to listen to the crew being able to inform people what platform their revised connections will leave from.

Despite my train being 25 down near Aachen it still made Frankfurt on time.

Now, what's that about our TOCs padding the timetable?

UPDATE: This just in from the Velopodist...

Lord Tee Hee's comments highlight how infuriatingly variable the German railways are.

He will have reached Frankfurt on time not because of serious timetable padding but because on the Neubaustrecke between Cologne and Frankfurt ICE3s are allowed to go at 330kph instead of 300kph when running late.

So it's pretty hard for them to be late enough not to make up a lot of time doing that.

The trouble is these magnificent trains spend so much of their time trundling over old, twisty, slow infrastructure...