Monday, 8 June 2009

Underground strike on

This from Sky News...

Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will now walk out from 7pm tomorrow until 7pm on Thursday, bringing the network to a standstill.

At least the weather forecast is good for a day at home...

Your call is important to us

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Much money has gone into the Trainline "sheep" TV advert.

Virgin Telesales has a long automatic booking process that ends with a real live Trainline call centre operative supposedly completing the transaction.

A heavily-accented voice in a far away country at 17.20 GMT today:

"I am very sorry, we have a software problem and are unable to book tickets. Please try later".


Nationalisation definately back on the agenda

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This just issued by the RMT...

“The commitment to hold London and Continental Railways, which runs the Eurostar, in public ownership is a welcome move which RMT has campaigned strongly for.

“There is now no reason why other sections of the rail network, starting with the troubled National Express franchise on the East Coast route, can’t be returned to public ownership as part of a genuine People’s Railway,” Bob Crow said.

Bob is pushing at an open door.

With the government having received a right royal thrashing from the electorate look for some serious pandering to Labour's core constituency.

It won't be called renationalisation but there is little doubt that the East Coast Franchise will be back under state control within weeks.

UPDATE: Captain Deltic snarls:

What do you mean NXEC 'back under state control'?

DafT's micro-management of TOCs is so fierce that franchisees are paying premia for the right to do what they are told by the man in Whitehall who always knows best what passengers want.

Leave him PJ, he ain't wurff it!

Gerry Doherty of the TSSA has never been shy of jumping on a passing band wagon.

So it came as no surprise to see the following statement issued today...

The TSSA today condemned an new £2.4 million ad campaign launched by Network Rail defending its £9 billion upgrade of the West Coast mainline.

Gerry Doherty, general secretary, said "Here we have the ridiculous situation whereby Virgin Trains has had to cancel its own multi million pound TV ad campaign in Scotland because no trains are running north of Preston at weekends while Iain Coucher launches his own "you never had it so good" campaign claiming everything in the garden is rosy."

Readers interested in hearing NR and TSSA batter each over the head are invited to tune into Radio Five Live at 17:45 today.

For those of a more delicate disposition Network Rail has produced a frankly rather good promotional video about the WCML upgrade. Previously distributed with Railnews it can now be found on-line here.

Meanwhile The Fact Compiler will be tuning into the punch-up.

Spoilt for choice

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Network Rail news ticker snapped on northbound Thameslink platform at St Pancras today.

It reads: "The government is being lambasted for 'stupendous incompetence' today following a catastrophic Department of Transport project."

Which particular one have they in mind?

Germany calling #5

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The German ICEs are impressive machines, but one thing seems to have been overlooked - smoke detectors in the toilets.

Then again this was probably a wise move as the damn things would be going off every five minutes as smokers have a less than crafty fag in them.

Every ICE I've been on during the trip has stunk of cigarette smoke. The crew can hardly claim to be oblivious to the problem, but I haven't seen anyone reprimanded or even warning announcements made..

What a contrast to British railways where staff are much more proactive and smoking passengers generally more considerate.

Whilst UK passengers may be more considerate the TOCs certainly aren't. Smokers are banished to the outside of stations and not even afforded shelters. What a fine way to treat paying customers.

Barriers in conflict with disabled access code

Two disability lobby groups have now joined the Battle of the Barriers.

This from York's The Press...

Two organisations, the York Access Group and The Children’s Society, have objected to plans by National Express East Coast to install automated ticket barriers across the station concourse.

David Brown, of York Access Group, said... barriers would conflict with the draft code of practice for train and station standards for disabled people, currently being considered by the Department for Transport.

National Express claims it is 'making travel simpler' - but not, it would appear, if you are mobility impaired.

NR launches WCML ad campaign

The secret's out!

NR has launched a £2.4m advertising campaign called the ‘New West Coast main line’.

The six-week campaign consists of television and cinema advertisements along with outdoor poster and regional media advertising.

A quick look at the video may explain Virgin's recent difficulties.

It appears that some rogue has nicked the overhead wires.

UPDATE: Captain Deltic muses.

I assumed that shot was meant to show the WCML before the great men of old-BR electrified the route in 1966 and 1974.

But blowing up the image the train looks like a Voyager and I don't think they were running before electrification.

UPDATE: This just in from a chap called Pendolino Warrior...

That's a Pendo' surely. So is it dragged wrongline or photopic'd.

The clue is by the bridge, obviously NR's ad agency couldn't be bothered to air-brush out all of the catenary and stanchions...