Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lookalike: The future is...

First for not putting its head above the parapet

So the government's exciting plans for franchising have gone down like the proverbial turd in a punchbowl amongst ATOC members.

This from the Telegraph...

In a joint reaction to the new guidelines proposed by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, the companies will express their fears over even more "micro-managing" of the railway by politicians and express their frustration at the Government's failure to listen to their concerns.

Their response is being co-ordinated in a letter from the Association of Train Operating Companies, whose members include the rail subsidiaries of Britain's big five quoted transport groups – Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Arriva, National Express, Go-Ahead – and Virgin.

But what's this?

Despite ATOC claiming unanimity amongst its members there is one significant signature missing from the excoriating letter.

Whose could this be?

Why step forward First Group's very own Sir Moir Lockhead, who clearly
knows which side his bread is buttered on.

And a jolly good thing too!

Not least for Dr Mike Mitchell, who can continue referring to Worst Group franchises in the first person plural.

FuCC up?

This from Storm Force...

Our friends at FuCC have a major problem.

North of London: up is south; while south of London, up is North.

North of London: down is north and south of London, down is south.

Get my drift?

Well, clearly FuCC don’t.

Lord Adonis in Holy Week on Guided Busways

This from the Upper House on the 29th March...

Lord Berkeley (Labour)
To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial contribution they have committed to the Cambridge guided busway project; what is its expected opening date; what is the estimated outturn cost; and whether they intend to contribute further funding to the project.

Lord Adonis (Secretary of State, Department for Transport; Labour)
The Department for Transport's contribution has been capped at a maximum of £92.5 million. There is no intention to contribute further to this scheme. When approved in 2006 the scheme had an expected outturn cost of £116.3 million. I understand that Cambridgeshire County Council has recently indicated that the total may now fall between £140 million and £145 million.

I also understand that the council is in regular contact with the guided busway contractors regarding establishing an opening date.

And Pilate washed his hands...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

NR gets all legal on RMT's Ar$e!

Good news for My Learned Friends...

This from Network Rail...

Earlier this afternoon we served papers on the RMT to see them in court tomorrow in a legal challenge on the signallers dispute.

This week we have been having constructive talks with the RMT on the maintenance dispute and hope these continue

A spokesman said:

"Network Rail has a responsibility to all our passengers and freight users, and to the country as a whole, to do everything we can to avert a strike. Talks continue and our aim is a negotiated settlement, but we must explore all avenues at our disposal and that includes legal ones.

"We can confirm that papers have been served on the RMT this afternoon. This calls into question the validity of its ballot amongst our signallers, highlighting scores of discrepancies and inaccuracies.

"We will appear before a High Court judge tomorrow afternoon."

Privs' and status passes to go next?

"Will this waste of our money never stop?" - Telegraph

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Here is Philip Johnston writing in today's Torygraph:

All the familiar ingredients are there: the waste of taxpayers' money on an ocean-going scale, incompetent management, political naivete, wildly over-optimistic promises, IT failures, the liberal use of outside consultants and the refusal of anyone in Whitehall to listen to the experts.

Eye was looking forward to some weapon's grade pyrotechnics once Captain Deltic found out that this Johnston-Come-Lately had wandered on to his patch!


Mr Johnston was fulminating about proposals to set up a network of national fire control centres, which in 2004 this was due to cost £72m and be ready by 2008. Now the final bill looks closer to being £240m.

Wonder if he knows about the IEP yet?

Eye prompts questions in the House

It's amazing what you can find on Hansard.

Regular readers may recollect that Eye discovered two videos on YouTube, which were produced by DafT to show press officers how to use a Flip Camera (surely not the most challenging of tasks!).

This from Railway Peer Lord Berkeley on the 29th March...

Lord Berkeley: To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost to public funds of the instructional videos that the Department for Transport commissioned on how Flip video camcorders should be used when filming Ministers; whether they will place those videos on the Department for Transport's website; and what other such videos have been commissioned in the past five years.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The cost to public funds for the production of the camcorder training video was £767.71.

As it is for internal use, the video will not be placed on the Department for Transport's website. No other camcorder training videos have been commissioned in the past five years.

Lord Berkeley: To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place in the Department for Transport to monitor the effectiveness of staff in their use of Flip video camcorders. [HL3035]

Lord Adonis: As a trial, a total of four small camcorders were acquired in 2009 and issued to selected communications directorate staff for the purposes of producing short films suitable for publicising departmental announcements and events on social media such as YouTube.

Material produced using these small camcorders is edited by the department's social media team and checked for quality and suitability by Communications Directorate senior management.

That's another £767.71 for Captain Deltic's spreadsheet of Departmental savings.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Open Access without ORR approval - way to go!

This just in from the Commuter...

At the end of last year Eye reported on the launch of Britain's first co-operative train company.

Like many open access plans in the past (Trotter Rail and Rutles Rail) I thought this was dead in the water.

That was until this plonked itself in my inbox a few hours ago:

Dear all,

Go! Co-operative - the UK's first co-operative train operating company - is launching its first route from Yeovil Junction to the Midlands via Oxford on 20th and 21st April.

See for venue details and more information.


According to the launch invite they are planning on running a service from that well-known hub of industry and commerce Yeovil to Banbury (that's almost the Midlands isn't it?) via Melksham (where?) with future extensions to Birmingham and Weymouth.

How's that track access application to the ORR coming along?

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler observes...

Go! is not alone amongst proposed Open Access Operators in bigging up their plans.

Only today the BBC ran a puff piece from Devon & Cornwall Railway on their plans to run daily services between Okehampton and Exeter St David's from "late May 2010".

No doubt this to the delight of franchised operators First Great Western and Arriva Cross County with whom they will need to share track from Cowley Bridge Junction.

When the Eye visited the ORR website to see the status of their track access agreement, alas, the cupboard was bare...

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler offers a bowler tip to both WNXX and
@swlines (a wise head on young shoulders)...

What have we here?



Application to the Office of Rail Regulation for a passenger track access
contract under section 17 of the Railways Act 1993

The Fact Compiler offers his unreserved apologies for doubting Devon & Cornwall's commitment...

DafT says...

Via Twitter...

Better access for disabled passengers due at 42 stations thanks to Government funding.

A grateful people indeed give thanks for the beneficence of our elected masters (shurely shome mishtake? Ed).

And good to see that the Civil Service retains its hard earned reputation for political impartiality.

Why one might almost think that an election is around the corner...

New competition to select IEP successor - Shocker

This just in, unbelievably, from the late Louella Parsons...

Darlings, I've been schmoozing with the dishy Lord Andrew.

No, not Lloyd Webber!

The dishy one with such an angsty face who's in every quality broadsheet. Yes! Lord Andrew Adonis.

And he told me, as we 'supped an ale' at the Betjeman Arms at St Pancras, that he is to feature in a new reality show called 'Over the Trainbow'.

Every week Lord Andrew and a team of experts (Stuart Baker) will try out the alternatives to what he calls 'IEP' and by the end of the show we'll know what the future will be for luxury long distance rail travel on your pretty little island.

It all sounds such a gas!

'Do you have a favorite' I whispered into his ear?

"A big chunky loco sounds good", he replied

Dunno what that means, but Andy sure is fun.

He even asked me if I wanted to know how his bi-mode worked?
Fresh or what?

'Sorry, I'm just not that kinda girl' I had to tell him.

UPDATE: This from Muttley...

Rumour has it that the BBC were very interested in showing 'Over the Trainbow'.

Unfortunately they couldn't find a studio big enough to fit the judging panel (Dft, DfT Consultants, DfT Lawyers, DfT Lawyers-consultants, Treasury, ORR, ATOC, Network Rail, Network Rail's consultants, affected TOC's etc...)

Pointless signs - Bishop Auckland taxi rank

Perhaps the instruction 'Press Here' will summon one?

Lookalike - Holiday edition

The Great Detractor?

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
Tom 'pile of bile' Winsor ranted away in The Times on Friday that Buy-us is responsible for the threatened railway strike.

Not sure that, however alluring the honey trap, even Stephen would claim this.

Most of the article is the predictable Groundhog Day stuff about Railtrack going into administration and the 2003 settlement and it not being Tom's fault etc... etc... etc...

But in a new development Buy-Us, Ali D and The Thin Controller are described as the Marx Brothers of national rail policy.

If this is the case step forward Tom as Charlie Chaplin.

Not because of looks, Harry Potter is still our favourite, but because in every Chaplin movie the hero causes absolute chaos and he doesn't notice.

But is there another motive in all this Labour bashing?

Is the one-time LP card holding member turning into... Tory Boy?

Jarvis old joke corner

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
So farewell then Paris Moayedi.

A very exotic specimen in the dull as ditchwater-alongside-the-cess world of senior railway maintenance bosses.

Even during the dazzling smoke and mirrors rise of Jarvis in the nineties he was always short of the readies.

One outcome was to regularly visit Railtrack House shortly before the end of the Jarvis company year in April with imaginative bills to drum up extra cash fast.

Railtrack staffers used to call these visits 'Paris in the Springtime'

Boom boom! (shouldn't that be bust bust? Ed)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

First class ban on Generals is a bit rich!

Exciting news from the Dear Leader.

According to the Sunday Times the OESI has decided that senior military officers must now slum it in Standard class.

Could this possibly have any connection with the PMs return trip to Brussels aboard Eurostar last week?

Eye wonders if impudent brass hats, travelling to and from NATO HQ, took the heaven sent opportunity to bend the Dear Leader's ear about kit shortages for our brave boys and girls?

God forbid that Gordo and entourage are disturbed on their own tax-payer funded first class jollies!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

RMT strike dates

Rail workers to strike for four days from April 6, the day after Easter, RMT leader Bob Crow has announced

With a bowler tip to @SkyNewsBreak, via Twitter

UPDATE: This from @Al_Green, via Twitter

So rail strike 6.7.8 & 9 April. Main impact will be the signallers walkouts 0600-1000 and 1800-2200. Some work for me to do now....

UPDATE: This from @Kevin_Maguire, via Twitter...

4-day rail strike from Tue 6 Apr. Day Brown tipped to go to Palace. Just as well PM lives in central London. And gets car

Waterloo International sees early return to use

Splendid news about the disused Waterloo International station which is currently costing taxpayers £2m a year.

Apparently it is to return to use within a matter of months!

This from luvvie rag The Stage...

A new stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s novel The Railway Children is to be performed in the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station.

Timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the film version of the book, the production will run from July 4, with press night on July 12, and is booking until September 4, 2010.

Eye is surprised that a children's play was selected.

Surely a good old fashioned British farce would have been more apposite.

Patricia Hewitt to Eurotunnel?

Transportb had this story yesterday at 08:58 and circulated it via Twitter.

Now Guido has woken up:

In a staggering move the board of Eurotunnel have voted to make the disgraced Patricia Hewitt a director.

Eurotunnel shareholders may of course take a different view.

So farewell Jarvis

This from the Evening Standard...

Jarvis, the rail contractor which admitted liability for the fatal 2002 Potters Bar Rail crash and is chaired by former Tory minister Steven Norris, today collapsed into administration.

Bye bye.

UPDATE: Jarvis is a major contractor on Evergreen 3 - Chiltern's £55m project to build and upgrade the railway between Bicester and Oxford.

Nothing about the implications of Jarvis entering administration on the Evergreen 3 website yet...

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Sleepers to return to Marylebone - Shocker

Eye's favourite national newspaper hack is not a happy bunny!

Michael Williams, former Deputy Editor of the Independent on Sunday and regular Mail contributor, is about to publish his latest book.

Showing how it is still possible, in today's frenetic world, to breath, take stock and enjoy rail travel his new tome is a tour de force of Britain's best railway routes and companies.

And with an unrivaled contact book Michael had planned to welcome the greatest and good of the railway industry and government to the launch of 'On the Slow Train'.

But what's this.


The brothers' threatened strike risks throwing his launch plans into disarray!

No matter.

Eye understands that whilst researching 'On the Slow Train' Michael learnt how BR execs managed to make it to the office during previous industrial disputes.

Perhaps passenger favourite WSMR can provide guests with overnight berths aboard a SLE/SLED stabled at Marylebone overnight...

UPDATE: This from A Trainspotter...

Unless the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse such that we can say "Merry Christmas Everybody", I think that Mail hack might "get more satisfaction" on strike days from an SLE+SLEP combination than an SLED - especially if he hopes for a beverage before bedtime.

Railway press - the gloves are off!

It's obviously getting tough out there for those selling ad space in the railway press.

This from the new ad sales team at Rail Amateur...

Our proposition to potential advertisers is a simple one; Rail Professional is the magazine read by the people with budgets, and who make the purchasing decisions in the rail industry. It is delivered to individuals, not dumped in bulk at messhalls. It is not a magazine for gricers, or for those engrossed by technical detail; it is a business magazine about the very serious business of running the railways professionally, and about the people who do just that - the rail professionals.

"Dumped in bulk at messhalls" (shurely 'messrooms'. Ed)

"Magazine for Gricers"

"Engrossed by technical detail"

Who can they mean?

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Strange that they missed 'Written by BBC Transport correspondents in their spare time' from the list of plus points.

The battle for Arriva - Eye backs a winner!

This just in from Ol' Rosbiff - flexing his bowstring finger (and showing that he still has one).

In an attempt to revisit their takeover bid from 1056 years ago, the French Government is supporting SNCF in their pursuit of Arriva.

Meanwhile German rivals DB are dusting off more recent plans to show how railways should be run efficiently for the next 1000 years...

It's a close call between the two.

Of course our German friends are past masters at efficiently moving vast numbers of people in the most trying of circumstances.

But given the ORR's demand that the UK rail asset register is up to scratch perhaps the Old Enemy has the better claim - offering clear proof in the Domesday Book of how do the job very thoroughly (although regrettably they didn't list stations in the 1067 edition).

Either way the brothers must be celebrating.

What with a return to state ownership in the offing.

UPDATE: This from Herr Flickering Tail-Lamp...

Does that mean that DB is no longer interested in Go-Ahead?

UPDATE: This from Lazarus...

My pre-conquest history isn't that great but what actually happened in 954 AD (1056 years ago)?

Also, any fule kno the Doomsday Book came out in 1086. The 1067 version must have been a very early draft

Perhaps it took 19 years to translate? Eye stands corrected. (Ol' Rosbiff you're fired. Ed)

UPDATE: This from a
slightly over cooked Ol' Rosbiff...

I was at uni with the DfT team which worked on recent aborted new carriage procurements - so I must have picked up some bad habits in my maths calculations....

DfT swings the Axe - Official

This from the DfT, explaining where the efficiency savings announced in today's budget will come from:

Today the Department for Transport (DfT) announces that it will deliver £90 million of savings, as its departmental contribution towards £11bn savings that are being made across Government.

DfT will meet this target through a range of activities, including:

  • £40m from streamlining back office functions across finance, HR and procurement;
  • £30m from reducing spending on consultancies;
  • £15m from reducing spending on marketing and communications;
  • £5m from the senior civil service pay freeze and reduction in sickness absence for all staff across the department.
In addition to these savings, DfT also expects the Highways Agency to save a further £90m by 2012/2013 as a result of more efficient highways maintenance and renewals through longer-term planning.

As IEP is now a dead duck the £30m savings on 'consultancies' should be easily achievable.

And as for the £15m savings on 'Marketing and Communications' these should already be in the bag.

After all when you keep re-announcing old news all you have to do is change the date at the top of the press release.

UPDATE: This from The Archer...

I've already had too much pre-budget priced red wine to be bothered to work this out so I need your help:

Is the £5m reduction from the pay freeze / new improved healthy staff the same percentage of the overall budget in this department as it is in other departments, health, education, etc...

If not, is transport better than the others or worse?

If the percentage is the same, what kind of fools do they take us for?!?

Do you think the Government is taking us for fools.

Has The Archer had too much wine?

If you're drinking cider do you now give a toss?

Either way let Eye know and when we return from the booze cruise we'll be sure to publish your comments.

NR swings the axe - Official

Deep mourning today amongst Railway Garden fans!

In 2008 and 2009 Eye celebrated NR's masterful vegetation management in the Ambergate area of the Midland Main Line.

Sadly all good things must come to an end.

For it is an ex-tree, it has ceased to be, it has gorn to join the forest invisible!

According to our correspondent the tree was removed on Sunday (road closed beneath)

Eye salutes NR's Midland and Continental route for a job well done.

Pointless Hats - exciting new feature!

With a bowler tip to Chianothus Virginicus...

Although the makeover of St Paul's looks most splendid...

UK remains poor man of Europe

This from our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Compare and contrast, as they say.

Northern and EMT get 16 vintage DMU vehicles between them and the Government pulls out the PR stops boosting this £17.8 million deal.

Potty old Passenger Focus hails 'new trains'.

Now consider this routine statement from Bombardier.

BERLIN, GERMANY--(Marketwire - March 24, 2010) - Bombardier Transportation received an order for 49 additional Regio2N regional double-deck trains, as an option from the "Regio2N" contract signed with SNCF on behalf of the French Regions, on 24 February 2010. This additional order for 49 trains, which will be financed by the Regions, amounts to approximately 350 million euros ($ 474 million US).

And while so called experts say that the French Regions have been starved to pay for TGV, these really are very nice trains.

And it's going to get worse...

NR fesses up on Blackfriars - Shocker

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Here's the Note to Editors in the Network Rail press release on the visit by the PM and the Chancellor to the new Blackfriars station this morning.

Note to editors

  • By December 2011 rail capacity into central London on the Thameslink route will increase by 3,500 seats each morning and evening compared with 2008 figures. Additional work at London Bridge (the next stage of the Thameslink Programme) will see an increase of up to 30,000 seats each morning and evening on the central London section of the Thameslink route. However, we don't know when London Bridge might be finished or what it will cost.
It's a fair cop, we may have added a sentence.

Alstom directors arrested

This from the BBC...

Three directors of French transport and infrastructure group Alstom have been arrested in a UK corruption probe, the Serious Fraud Office says.

More to follow...

More Buy-us claims - Shocker

Telegrammed by Leo Pink
In next week's Sunday Tymes - more Buy-us revelations

"I told Adonis IEP had to die"

Also revealed by the hottest lobbyist in the Westminster circus (shurley 'circuit'. Ed)

"Electrification was my idea" claims ex Transport minister

"Give Rocket a blast pipe and you'll walk the Rainhill Trials" - My advice to George Stephenson recalls Buy-us

"Think big! £5 billion subsidy is nowhere near enough" said my secret consultancy report for ATOC.

Wit and wisdom from The Thin Controller

This from the Upper House on the 18th March...

Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan (Labour)
I thank my noble friend for that reply and congratulate him on the tremendous response that his White Paper has received. I declare an interest as the chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, whose power stations are responsible for something like 80 to 85 per cent of the electricity consumed by the British rail network; as a consequence, it is the base-load generation on which high-speed rail and an expanded electrified rail network will depend. Therefore, can he not nod too closely towards the false gods of intermittent renewable technology in preparing his plans for this exciting development in our transport system?

Lord Adonis (Secretary of State, Department for Transport; Labour)
My Lords, being an Adonis I steer clear of false gods in all their guises.

En arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon...

Bid for a Class 57 cabride

This just in from Tony Miles...

My good friend Charlie Hulme who runs the North Wales Coast website - one of the oldest and the best - has been given the chance to auction a cab ride in a Virgin 57/3 whilst it tows a Pendolino along the N Wales coast line in aid of Virgin's charity (with free first class tickets from anywhere on the VT network to join the train).

Any chance you can copy his posting onto Railway Eye?

No sooner said than done!

Here is Charlie's original email:

In connection with Virgin's support for the London Marathon and the CLIC Sargent childrens' cancer charity, Virgin Trains have asked me to organise bidding for a ride for two with the Driver of the Class 57/3 which hauls a Pendolino on Saturdays between Crewe and Holyhead (One of their team of drivers will be running the marathon).

A first class return ticket from any Virgin Trains-served station is included, and you can bid for either the 'down' or 'up' runs.

For info about the offer and how to bid, please CLICK HERE

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Let's hope the winner doesn't try to use Virgin's T-Mobile WiFi to update the world with their progress.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

TOCland issues clarion call in The Thunderer

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
With all the excitement of yesterday's 'Lobbygate' an extraordinarily wooden and otiose letter in The Times may have gone unnoticed.

Signed by the great and the good of the passenger railway it ends with a clarion call designed to raise the spirits of all railwaymen, as well as admirers of the reckless use of the infinitive:

'We call on them (the main political parties) to commit to the investment to continue improving the railways making better use of the talents of train operators and creating an environment which makes rail a more attractive investment for the private sector.'

It is certain that this demand for lots more lovely lolly to go straight to TOCland will be seriously entertained by Whitehall in these straitened times.

And one can only imagine the gloom that has settled over Network Rail's Kings Place HQ, knowing that such powerful forces for change and naked self-interest have been released. Even now Iain Coucher is reported to be barely able to contain his white hot anger, having been so effectively outflanked.

Strangely one significant owning company was conspicuous by its absence from this ATOC led epistlefest.

Step forward Byers' 'client' - National Express!

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

What world are these people living in?

Everybody knows that the current cost of the railway is unsustainable.

The DfT Rail Director Technical & Professional has said in public that at current costs the railway is unsustainable

DfT and ORR have commissioned a review into Value for Money across the industry.

ORR is concerned about cost pressures on the full Thameslink programme.

DfT Rail has just decided that lengthening the rest of the Pendolino fleet does not represent value for money.

Engineering costs on Network Rail are reported to be double those of European Railways.

We face a period of unprecedented austerity in public spending.

Despite there being a war on even the Ministry of Defence has been ordered to determine the cancellation costs of every programme.

And yet here are these purported leaders of the industry asking for MORE money?

Sergeant Markoff, late of Fort Zinderneuf has advice for this multination legion of train operators.

"De merde toi Legionaire"

Which translates as "Not with my taxes"!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sadiq says...

Via Twitter...

Just announced £235m investment for UK's 1st modern trolley bus scheme. Fantastic news for Leeds, especially on top of HS2

Pork barrels and trebles all round!

Adonis and Buy-us - the transcript

No doubt readers have seen the extraordinary piece about Stephen Buy-us in yesterday's Sunday Times?

£5,000 per day and boy, did National Express get their money's worth!

According to the Sunday Times 'a source close to Richard Bowker, who was chief executive at the time, said that the Byers version given to the undercover reporter was “pretty accurate”.'

Unbelievably Eye has come across a transcript of the very meeting between Buy-us and Adonis at which the future of NatEx was discussed!

It went something like this...

'Andrew, good to see you again. Look, you know that Richard Bowker's in a bit of a tight fix. You know a bit dicky on the cash flow and he's been a slightly reckless boy.'

'Well, we must help him out, Stephen, he really is too valuable to lose and Natex is a really great company. What do you suggest?'

'Andrew, I am not sure but just give him a bit of a bung. Nothing much, a couple of hundred mill will tide them over nicely.'

'Good as done Stephen me old mate, I'll get the cheque signed tomorrow.'

'Andrew, thanks a million, no pun intended,and by the way can I get Jo Moore to do a press release for you?'

'That's a great idea Stephen.'

You couldn't make it up.

UPDATE: This from Lobby Fodder...

It gets better.

Buy-us now claims that:

"I have never lobbied ministers on behalf of commercial organisations and have always fully disclosed my outside interests."

How does he reconcile this with his previous claim to the Sunday Times and Dispatches hacks that he had struck a secret deal with Lord Adonis last year on behalf of National Express?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

So Buy-us now claims that he lied about striking a deal with Lord Adonis on behalf of National Express.

Unless of course he is lying when he says he lied - if you get my drift.

Which makes him a liar which ever way you look at it.

Do MPs still have to resign when they are caught lying or doesn't it matter now?

And if Buy-us is lying about lying where does that leave Lord Adonis?

UPDATE: This via Radio 4's World at One...

The DfT has confirmed that Lord Adonis and Stephen Byers did speak about the National Express franchise.

UPDATE: Guido launches an on-line petition...

the Queen to strip Stephen Buy-us of his Privy Council Membership

UPDATE: Lord Adonis on Byers...

Adonis confirmed this afternoon that he had had a brief conversation with Byers.

But, he said,
"I had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating on favourable terms with the company; such a move would undermine the franchise system and would not be in the interests of taxpayers."

"I have had no communication with Mr Byers since, I have not the faintest idea why he said what he said to the undercover reporter."

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

Adonis confirmed this afternoon that he had had a brief conversation with Byers.

But, he said, "I had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating on favourable terms with the company; such a move would undermine the franchise system and would not be in the interests of taxpayers."

Oh really?

According to DfT notes of a meeting between The Thin Controller and NX on 9 June 2009 obtained under an FoI Request:

"AA noted that for NXEC if RB said it had to come back at the end of the month and the DfT had to step in, a management contract or Section 30 would need to be put in place. The DfT would need to get its skates on to get this in place."

So in June Lord Adonis was clearly receptive to the idea of a management contract.

What changed his position and made him determined that NX would never darken another franchises door again?

Perhaps it wasn't Richard Bowker who wound him up but Byers!

UPDATE: Tom Winsor on Radio 4's PM programme....

"Some have said Stephen Byers has an ambiguous relationship with the truth".

Not a view, Tom made clear, that he shared!

After all the former Rail Regulator has first hand experience of Byers' absolute commitment to the truth, gained when the then Secretary of State for Transport forced Railtrack into Administration.

Gaspaccio anyone?

Rail debate videos on line

Videos of last Wednesday's 'Election 2010 - The Rail Debate' have been uploaded to YouTube.

Here they are, with a bowler tip to a Mr Shipley:

An excellent evening and a highly informative debate.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Inscrutable automatic operation coming soon?

This from Lobby Fodder...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in this photo taken at Wednesday's Election 2010 Rail Debate.

It is from the CSRE stand that was at the back of the room.

Clearly CSRE plans to avoid IR issues with traincrew by having robots drive their trains.

Passenger Focus on NuTrains

A university researcher archiving the papers of the late Eric Blair has sent Eye the draft manuscript of an unfinished sequel to 1984.

Titled "2010" it paints a picture of a dystopian future so extreme it seems barely credible as this extract shows:

Chapter 1

The clocks were striking 13 when Winston Smith looked up from his celebratory 25cl 'Victory Pint' of Brown's Ale to see his brother Anthony hurrying towards the cafe tables in the dusty square. He was waving a copy of that day's 'Ultra Modern Railways Daily' and put it on the table in front of Winston before sitting.

"Look at that, brother", he said breathlessly, "16 new vehicles for the railways in the Northern and Eastern Districts - great news from the Thin Controller on a day of great news!".

A waiter limped over and put a another paper cup of beer on the table. "Enjoy this free victory pint awarded to all citizens today to mark the achievements of our brave Taliban allies" he said, reading from a scrap of card.

Winston, noting that 'Ultra Modern Railways Daily' had been expanded to a whole four pages of recycled paper, read the headline that had so excited his brother. "I bet they're all Pacers" he said morosely.

Not for the first time Anthony wondered whether all those hours in the Ministry of Roads' Room 101 watching the same IEP powerpoint presentation endlessly repeated had really removed his brother's anti-government tendencies.

"Come on", he said, "you know Pacer production has been suspended to provide more manufacturing capacity for Snatch Landrovers as part of Big Brother's open ended funding of our Comrades in Uniform. I expect they will be Class 172s from the People's Train Factory in Greater West Midlands".

At which point a bespectacled furtive looking man at the next table, with a Box Brownie camera and what looked suspiciously like a battered Platform 5 book in a brown paper cover, leant over. "They're not new trains" he whispered.

Anthony was shocked at this disrespectful challenge to the Thin Controller's munificence. "Where are they coming from then?" he snapped back.

The furtive man looked around and said "Northern District is getting 16 class 150 vehicles and passing on eight of its Class 156 vehicles to Eastern District".

Now it was Anthony's turn to look around furtively, worried that this subversive conversation might have been overheard. Worse, it was thought crime of the most heinous kind to even handle, let alone own, a Platform 5 with its photos of shiny once-new trains. But when he looked back both Winston and their neighbour had disappeared leaving their Victory Pints unfinished. Then he heard the siren as one of the black Toyotas of the Thought Police rolled cautiously into the square and came to a halt by running into a tree.

As they bundled their captive into the back of the Toyota one of the policemen said "The subversive Miles is a lucky sod - but we'll get him and his inconvenient facts sooner or later". His associate smirked "Never mind, we've got this joker and its Room 102 for him".

"Oh no" thought Anthony "not the HLOS 1300 vehicles spreadsheet!". "But I love the Thin Controller" he screamed. But no one was listening.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

ATOC announces savage new cuts - Shocker!

Eye understands that ATOC anticipates making significant savings in December.

Apparently both Rentokil (cnuts) and Brand2Life (cnuts) are no longer on the Chrizzie Card List!

However, any savings may be outweighed by the bloody good dinner owed by ATOC's media machine to uber-fisker Ben Goldacre.

National Express unveils magic bus!

This just in from a Leading Railway Periodical...

Eye salutes NXEA for managing to end Berney Arms millennia of isolation from the Queen's highway

Fact Compiler and Hammond fall out - Shocker

It would appear that The Fact Compiler's contribution to last night's Rail Debate was not universally welcomed.


Adonis moves and then paints the deckchairs

This from Railnews...

THE rebranding of East Coast last November cost £634,842, of which taxpayers had to find £339,190, according to official figures.

What a fabulous use of public funds!

Eye salutes The Thin Controller, DafT and Directly Operated Railways for enriching the vinyl makers.

A letter from Iain Coucher

This from Network Rail's Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

Click to enlarge...

SWT now employs Thought Police - Official

This just in from Barry Spotter...

Nice to see that South West Trains are taking the security of their passengers seriously.

Not only are cameras on the "verboten" list but so apparently is writing things down!

This from The News:

Musician Tom Shaw was stunned when he was kicked off a train - for writing a list of songs.

I suppose the gentleman in question must be thanking his stars that his musical taste is middle of the road.

Megadeath's "Symphony of Destruction" would probably have involved imprisonment...

Get a grip Souter!

Adonis secures HS2 funding - Shocker

This from Bushy...

It seems the printed copies of the HS2 report have already run out!

And at £26 a pop Adonis must be over half way towards paying for the new line already!

Eye is in awe of the Noble Lord's fiscal acumen!

Pointless signs - InterCity 225 loo

This just in from 62700...

Another pointless sign for your ongoing series, snapped (very badly) on an East Coast IC225 yesterday.

Not that I make a habit of taking snapshots in toilets, you understand.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

HS2 - Recusancy Corner

Telegrammed by Lord Burleigh the Lord Chancellor of England
Whilst the nation rushes to embrace The Thin Controller's vision of a High Speed Jerusalem, it would appear that recusant Old Believers still exist.

Here for instance is a new blog dedicated to renouncing the so called 'High Speed Heresy'.

Eye calls upon the Noble Lord to protect the True Religion and declare Anathema on these false prophets.

Can we also burn a couple at the stake like in the good old days? (This can't be right? Ed)

UPDATE: This from the Major...

The Major wonders if my Lord Burleigh had any particular couple in mind for burning.

Or would any Sid and Doris Bonkers suffice?

Lord Burleigh suggests that there are one or two candidates in the Department who might benefit from an Auto de fe.

UPDATE: This from Ibilola1...

Does Captain Deltic's support for a 4 track electrified 125mph Chiltern Line (Modern Railways, March 2010) make him a recusant Old Believer?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

There is such a thing as too much communication...

This from the BBC...

The French railway operator, SNCF, has mistakenly put a dramatic statement on its website saying more than 100 people had died in a train explosion.

It was only when journalists began flooding the railway operator's phone lines that the company realised there had been an enormous error.

Non merde Sherlock!

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Why the fuss?

It happens here too.

Didn't DfT put out a press release last year saying it had appointed the preferred bidder for IEP?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Fenton...

I think you'll find that "no shit" translates as "rien de merde".

Picky picky picky!

Humble apologies, as the Frenchies omitted to say in 1944.

UPDATE: This from a clearly very angry 5741 Duck...

That comment is completely out of order!

What happened at quarter to eight stays at quarter to eight.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Stobart CEO signs up to Twitter

This from @Andrew_Tinkler, CEO of Stobart Group, via Twitter...

Just starting using Twitter. I think it will be useful to let people know what's going on at Stobart Group.

Would that some railway CEOs and MDs did the same!

UPDATE: This from Steady Eddie...

Isn't it a bit 20th Century using his own name?

Why not two girls' names like the lorries?

Sadiq says...

Nothing yet... this story on Guido's blog:

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan is in hot water this afternoon after it has been revealed that he lied to the press and to the Parliamentary authorities.


UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Will just one of these bent MPs do the honourable thing and resign?

Haythornthwaite still struggling to reform NR

Does anyone at Network Rail bother listening to their Chairman?

In November Rick Haythornthwaite admitted that he "heard the word 'arrogant' a lot" when listening to views of NR.


So what are we to make of the following?

NR's recently published Great Western RUS contains a suggestion that the former Cheltenham Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon route might be reopened.

Splendid news!

But what is this?


Part of the route has already been reopened and is in regular use!

This from

Volunteers from Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR), which operates steam trains on a section of the Honeybourne Line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Toddington, say they were not consulted by Network Rail before the restoration proposals were included in its route utilisation strategy.

Of course NR is not alone in riding rough shod over heritage lines.

ATOC was guilty of the
same offence back in June last year.

Surely basic good manners would have avoided NR falling into the same trap?

UPDATE: This from Richard...

I think you need to look who's asking for this reopening.

If you look through the submissions to the consultation, then the "demand" actually comes from one Rt Hon D. Cameron (MP for Witney, which of course encompasses the eastern end of the Cotswold Line). He appears to have written, at the behest of a constituent, a slightly confused letter suggesting that Honeybourne-Stratford should be considered for reopening.

Network Rail may not think this is a remotely plausible scheme, but I presume self-preservation dictates that when the probable next Prime Minister suggests something, you have to at least pay it lip service.

Adonis eyeballs the brothers

Eye has in the past been a little critical of The Thin Controller.

But this is as nothing to the fury that will be directed against the Noble Lord for having the temerity to criticise UNITE and its members for threatening industrial action over Easter.

On Sunday Lord Adonis opined:

"Let's be absolutely clear the stakes are incredibly high in this strike and I absolutely deplore the strike,"

"It's totally unjustified, this strike, on the merits of the issues at stake, and I do call on the union to engage constructively with the company."

See the 'forces of hell' muster here, here and here.

The next big question is will Adonis dare to open a second front against the brothers by laying into the RMT and TSSA, who are also threatening to paralyse Easter travel on the railways?

UPDATE: This from Lobby Fodder...

It looks as if Adonis is getting his retaliation in first.

The plans for a super new 10 platform HS2 station at Euston will see TSSA's HQ demolished!

UPDATE: This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

As the Clunking Fist backed Lord Adonis on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour today, it is pretty safe to assume that the 'forces of hell' have not yet been unleashed.

UPDATE: This from Biggles...

TSSA's head office gets reduced to rubble but ASLEF retains its Branch Office (The Exmouth Arms) which miraculously looks set to escape the bulldozers!

Yet further proof that ASLEF stands head and shoulders above the rest.