Tuesday, 14 July 2009

2009 Railway Garden Competition #7

A slightly off the wall contribution from our International Correspondent.

This railway has been subject to some neglect in recent weeks.

In its time considered quite a thriller, few could beat it. In fact it was almost invincible.

Is it scary? I hear you ask.

Not if you were on the line and you are not alone.

However, would you want to be startin' somethin' that could be quite dangerous?

(We've had enough. Ed).

At least NR can sleep easy over this one.

DafT - As you sow, so shall you reap

There is certain information that voters and taxpayers might reasonably expect a Government department to know.

Or at least have a reasonable stab at.

Such as just how risky NatEx's very aggressive bid for the East Coast franchise was; bearing in mind that the previous operator had failed to deliver with a lesser bid.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport):
The Intercity East Coast Franchise was let on 13 August 2007. A January 2007 version of the Franchise Evaluation Process Charts was used in the evaluation process.

National Express East Coast bid was categorised as medium financial risk.

So wide of the mark as to be almost laughable, if it wasn't going to be so damn expensive.

So what does the supine Department for Transport actually know?

Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley, Labour)
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether maintenance work is planned on the West Coast Main Line on the weekend of 28 and 29 August.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport)
Maintenance work is planned on the weekend of 28 and 29 August when all lines will be blocked between Watford Junction and Leighton Buzzard between Saturday morning and Monday lunchtime.

I understand that Virgin West Coast is proposing to operate additional services between London and Birmingham via an alternative route.

How re-assuring to know that DafT is at least competent enough to provide MPs with travel information.

Perhaps the Tories might like to consider outsourcing the entire sorry Marsham Street operation to Bombay or Bangalore?

Legal advice on Cross Default "privileged and confidential"

Eye wonders if the Noble Lord is beginning to rue his cocksure assertion that NatEx will loose all its franchises?

This written answer given on the 13th July (and just for Doubting Sim here's the source)

Stephen Hammond (Shadow Minister, Transport; Wimbledon, Conservative):
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport
(1) what legal advice he has received with regard to cross default provisions in rail franchise contracts;
(2) if he will publish any legal advice he has received with regard to cross default provisions in rail franchise contracts.

Chris Mole (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Ipswich, Labour):
Legal advice on the issue of cross default in the context of the franchise agreement is privileged and confidential; therefore, it will not be published or divulged.

This has all the makings of a Mottram Moment!

Pointless signs #3

Met guidelines on photography

This from the Metropolitan Police website (with a bowler tip to Obnoxio and The Register)

Freedom to photograph/film

Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.

Photography and Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, provided that the viewing is to determine whether the images contained in the camera or mobile telephone are of a kind, which could be used in connection with terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism.

Photography and Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to discover whether they have in their possession anything which may constitute evidence that they are involved in terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is involved in terrorism.

Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000

Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 covers the offence of eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police.

Any officer making an arrest for an offence under Section 58a must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the information was of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

It should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to use Section 58a to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism.

There is however nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable.

Network Rail and TOC employees please take note.

UPDATE: This from Rudi over at Merseyrail...

We welcome
enthusiasts and don't have a problem with photography (as explained on our website).

Pointless signs #2

GMITA stitched up like a kipper

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
High class weaseling in the High Court of Parliament

John Leech (Manchester, Withington, Liberal Democrat)
Transport bosses from Manchester are meeting the Minister with responsibility for rail later this afternoon to discuss their concerns about the Government reneging on their promises on the number of railway carriages for Greater Manchester. May we have an oral statement to the House to assure hon. Members about the number of railway carriages that we are getting, and about when we will get them, so that we can start dealing with congestion on our railways in Greater Manchester?

Harriet Harman (Lord Privy Seal, House of Commons; Camberwell & Peckham, Labour) I am assured by my hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House, who represents a seat in Greater Manchester, that there has been no reneging on any commitments on important transport infrastructure in Manchester

The background to this is that DfT Rail told GMITA that the 182 net additional vehicles allocated to Northern in DfT Rail's HLOS had been cut to 106. But please don't go public, old chap, don't want to worry the voters!

So GMITA went public and on 9 July had a meeting with Chris Mole, a very junior transport minister.

Mole cleverly listened to the whinging Mancunians and in a move of masterly ministership offered to travel to Manchester to see the overcrowding at first hand, or foot if you are standing.

So impressed that a real, live, very juinior minister was actually going to brave the main line from hell and visit t' north the GMITA delegation went away rejoicing.


Meanwhile look at Harriet's super weasel, probably hand crafted by the DfT Permanent Secretary himself.

Note the reference to Important transport infrastructure.

Trains are not infrastructure.

Infrastructure is what they run on.

And the way DfT Rail's accelerated DMU procurement is, or rather isn't going, that 106 already looks distinctly optimistic...

The Fact Compiler understands that Harriet Harperson proposes making discrimination against 'Northerners' a hate crime. Perhaps we now have a test case?

Situations vacant

Eye readers looking for a new challenge are invited to consider the following position:

Managing Director

Join us and you'll play your part in a 21st century rail service, while having excellent career development opportunities and great benefits including free travel on our trains for you and your family.

Whilst our business is based on running train services, we don’t just employ train drivers and ticket collectors. We employ over 2,500 staff across a variety of departments including customer services, IT, finance, marketing, engineering and human resources. We also have staff in ticket sales and on the platforms at 149 stations.

We look for friendly, supportive people who share our professional, customer-focused approach. You must be a good team player with a flexible attitude and the willingness to learn. If you fit the bill, we'll look after you, challenge you and make you proud to work here.

If interested please contact G Eccles, London Midland, PO Box 4323, Birmingham, B2 4JB

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Alas this position has already been filled.

This from London Midland...

The Go-Ahead Group plc (Go-Ahead) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Hodson as Managing Director, London Midland with effect from 20 July 2009.

Steve Banaghan, the current Managing Director, will leave London Midland on 17 July and will take up an international position later this year. Go-Ahead wishes Steve well in this next stage of his career.

Still not to worry. A Fleet Director's vacancy has suddenly arisen over at Arriva Trains Wales...

National Express - making careers simpler

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
TUPE regulations mean that front line East Coast staff have little to fear on the jobs front when the troubled franchise transfers from NatEx to the state.

In reality the franchise will actually transfer to the ubiquitous First Class Partnerships, the Operator of Last Resort and DafT's chosen henchmen for nationalisation work, whose members will be dropped into senior positions at the TOC to replace those directly employed by the departing owner group.

Leaving the displaced bods to rely on NatEx internal re-deployment schemes when the Route of the Flying Scotsman joins Royal Mail, British Waterways and Jobcentre Plus in state ownership.

Of course NatEx is not flavour of the month at DafT right now, and may yet have all its rail businesses confiscated, which Frankly may reduce the remaining career opportunities.

A development that has led cynical train planners to propose changing the reporting number of the iconic 10.00 departure from the Cross to 1P45.