Friday, 30 April 2010

Introducing "What Typo!".

Telegrammed by Billy Connections
Not a new magazine but Eye's latest, exciting, competition.

Using your skill and judgment you are invited to guess which of the two plaques below was formally unveiled today.

This one...

Or this one...

The former or the latter?

What a forgiving friend Mrs Paint-Shoppro can be...

Don't poo-poo Looby Loo

This from Thomas Crapper...

Unveiling plans for a new 'bog standard loo' for train travellers, Chris Green said ancient, dirty and inadequate toilets that hark back to the Victorian age of steam must be ripped out.

He urged Britain's 2,500 stations to install a standardised national model that is clean, efficient and available to waiting passengers.

Clearly the so-called 'station tsar' is behind the times.

This three year old photo of the formal opening of the new toilets at Welwyn Garden City shows that the Government's rail manager of choice was well ahead of the times.

UPDATE: This from S N Barnes...

I do hope that the new equipment will come with the same clear instructions, here is an fine example from the urinals which graced the facility at Stirling Station.

Of course Crapper's patent actually refers to the U bend, which forms the airtight seal to stop the smell of the sewer from coming back up the pipe.

Could we perhaps see this as a retrofit to some of the more modern on-train 'facilities' that seem to suffer from this problem?

Bulldog's book review: A century of Change

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
Bulldog's flinty old heart was warmed by Mike Horne's and Jonathan Roberts' launch of their book 'A Century of Change - Britain's Railways and the Railway Study Association' at the German Gymnasium Kings Cross last night .

It is a packed hamper of a book bursting with nuggets skillfully gleaned from the RSA archives by Mike complemented by some crystal-ball gazing by Jonathan.

Bulldog, who wishes to make absolutely clear he is not in any way related to Orlando Figues, was genuinely impressed.

The Railway Study Association may be struggling a bit to make its voice heard in an industry where many bosses take a Year Zero view of the profession they have joined. In this rather dismal environment Mike and Jonathan have significantly added to RSA's credibility and produced a great read.

Make a stand, be a thinking railwayman. Go out and buy this book!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Pointless signs - King's Cross

The Age of Austerity beckons

This from the BBC's Nick Robinson...

The American economist David Hale says that the governor of the Bank of England has told him that the next British government will need to launch an austerity drive so tough that it will threaten its political survival, potentially leaving that party out of power for a generation.

Farewell electrification, Crossrail, a new Thameslink fleet, add your own pet project here, etc...

Railway Garden Competition - Stratford

Good to see that the new Stratford International station is preparing to enter Railway Eye's famed Garden Competition.

Or is the shed perhaps Eurostar's new first class lounge?

When choice and competition doesn't matter

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond...
Nick Hassell in his Times Tempus column today does quite a good job analysing Stagecoach's recent (fairly creditable) performance.

But he ends up talking, as most analysts do, of upcoming sector consolidation.

Have any of these deep thinking hacks paused for a moment to think what the Competition Commission response will be?

The Government contracted passenger transport industry is already reduced to a handful of serious players.

Any fewer and CoCo will, rightly, see huge conflicts of interest.

What buses and railways want are more varied and interesting players rather than the present narrow field dominated by European nationalised railways and Scottish bus bandits.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

As the lights dim put the Kettle on

This from Richard Trevithick...

With the ubiquitous 'Tornado' strangely missing from Captain Deltic's collection of IEP alternative "Top Trumps", the owning Trust is now looking to join the horsepower race by building a second replica.

This time a Gresley P2 - allegedly the most powerful kettle to run on British metals.

How soon before they set up a production line?

If Government doesn't get its finger out on a nuclear power programme the Carnot Cycle locomotive could be the saviour of the railways.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

GBRf bidders - A view from a parallel universe

So who is really interested in buying First freight subsidiary GBRf?

Apparently at least one domestic freight operator is.

Sources suggest Freightliner; as the avaricious DB is now too busy consuming Sunderland based bus and rail combo Arriva.

Meanwhile, Eye understands that a number of overseas money houses are sniffing round.


Who might have form for buying freight operations with a "nationwide network"?

Particulalry with rising oil costs making "rail freight more profitable against the rival truck-based freight"?

Eye likes the sound of WBRf!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Arriva XC - Stable, horse, bolted

This from @SWLines, via Twitter...

XC have definitely reduced the NQY - KYL fare and everything derived from it.

It's now £921.

Too late - the £1,000 fare has already entered folklore. (with a bowler tip to @PlanetAl)

UPDATE: From Steve Strong...

Now that Lord Adonis has sorted out Cross Country fares can he please hold them to their franchise commitments.

Still no WiFi aboard Arriva XC despite a franchise promise to deliver it by 11th November 2009!

UPDATE: This from @SWLines...

@TheFactCompiler got another missing franchise commitment.

XC don't do at seat catering north of EDB/west of PLY.

In fact, they withdrew it!

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections:

Here's a whole list of things XC promised to do...

Introduction of five High Speed Train (HST) sets each with eight state-of-the-art refurbished coaches (total of 550 seats per set), providing longer trains with more seats and luggage space on the major North East-South West route...

Errr... all HSTs reduced by one vehicle and only 2 in daily service - plus two hired to East Coast at the moment...

High quality service on board:

  • introduction of at-seat catering, reflecting customer preferences
  • Wi-Fi access for all seats on all HSTs and Voyagers, and improved mobilephone reception on Voyagers
  • hot plated food available to First Class passengers
  • three members of staff providing on board service on long distance trains
Errr... Catering? Plated food?? Three members of staff???

More like microwaved food on cardboard or plastic containers, not a plate in site, and never seen more than one member of staff in First Class.

And Wi-Fi is not just invisible on the Voyagers but nowhere to be seen on the HSTs either!

So much for The Thin Controller's promise to be tough on ANY franchise which doesn't meet its commitments.

Come on Adonis - with just 8 days to go there may be votes in a breach notice!

First for losing another one

Hot on the heals of losing Michael Caine it now appears First has lost another one.

Tom Joyner, Ops Director of FuCC, has also been misplaced.

Happily all is not completely lost.

Eye understands that Jackie Townsend returns to the industry in his stead.

UPDATE: This from the Shunter...

It's a bad day.

Sadiq says...

This from Sadiq Khan, via Twitter...

I uploaded a YouTube video -- £8 million for Earlsfield Station refurbishment

Eye is happy to say, judging by the video's quality, that this was obviously not filmed by DfT press officers.

A shame the original DfT training video has been removed from YouTube - Sadiq's team might have found it useful.

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

@TheFactCompiler thank you!

Has the Fact Compiler been had?

State challenges Open Access on TV - Shocker

According to the latest issue of Modern Railways the Department for Transport has it in for Open Access Operators.

Lets hope the Mandarins weren't watching the Weakest Link tonight then.

In the final minutes there was a head to head between Dan, who books training courses for NHS employees, and Anne, who works for "a railway company in York".

Eye understands that Anne is being far too modest - she is in fact the Finance Manager for Grand Central.

So what was the result of this latest, televised, battle between the public and private sectors?

Anne - you are the strongest link!

First for blowing the bloody doors off

Eye hears that First Group has misplaced no less a person than Michael Caine!

Caine, nee Micklethwaite, was apparently FGW's commercial director.

Not a lot of people know that.

Electionballs - Osama Saeed, Glasgow Central

Exciting news from Osama Saeed the SNP candidate for Glasgow Central.

Keen to better understand the views of his potential constituents Osama has sent out the following survey.

All very laudable and good to see that the people are finally being listened to.

But what's this?

Not content with destroying The Union do the Scottish Nationalists also plan to repeal Einstein's General Theory of Relativity?

Mind you if they can cut the distance to London the business case for High Speed 2 gets even better!

UPDATE: This from a Mr West...

Actually, the SNP seem to be a very solid grasp of Einstein's relativity.

As any fule kno, a rail passenger travelling at (high) speed will observe a smaller distance from Glasgow to London than a stationary observer due to compression of the space-time continuum.

It's basic rocket science, really.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Indeed, as the famous limerick explains

There was a young fellow called Bright
Who thought Einstein's theory was right.
He departed one day
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Cut the cr@p - tell us about the cuts.

According to @PoliticsHomeUK the Labour Party is calling on broadcasters to focus on policy.

Labour is trying to get the LibDems and Tories to sign up to a draft letter saying:

We are writing to broadcasting organisations with a public service remit to ask you all to ensure that during the last ten days of the campaign your programmes analyse our policy proposals to the same level of detail as at previous election campaigns.

What a splendid initiative.

Despite the parlous state of the economy not a word from any of the major parties on where post election transport cuts will be made.

We all know they are coming so surely its time to end the equivocation and spin.

Brown, Cameron and Clegg don't take us for fools - it's time to tell us where the cuts will fall.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Pointless signs - Capt Deltic's name card

With a Bowler tip to @Captain_Deltic...

For the non grease monkeys amongst you the large metal thing on the table is a Deltic piston.

Eye's new election correspondent

Mr Khan reports on Nick Clegg...


Arriva internal briefing on DB offer

Thursday 22 April 2010

Dear Colleague

Today it has been announced that Deutsche Bahn, the largest German public transport operator, has made an offer to buy Arriva at 775p per share. Over a period of weeks we have negotiated hard with Deutsche Bahn, and the Board is unanimous in recommending the offer to shareholders. The full announcement can be read at

In the mid 1990s Arriva took the decision to develop a pan-European business which would position the company well to benefit from the liberalisation of passenger transport markets. We are now in 12 countries and one of the leading private operators in most of those territories, helping passengers to make over 2.5 million journeys a day. Even though we are one of the leading private operators we still only have a tiny proportion of the market and therefore the potential for growth is significant.

The chief executive of Deutsche Bahn, Dr Ruediger Grube, also sees this opportunity, and the potential to build a strong international business. He and I both recognise the value of Arriva's senior management team and employees.

The plan is for Deutsche Bahn to build on Arriva's international platform and for Arriva's current management team to lead the enlarged group's regional and urban transportation business outside Germany.

Deutsche Bahn intends to ensure Arriva's continuity of top management, and high employee motivation. Its plans include maintaining our head office in Sunderland, under the existing management team, and keeping the Arriva brand.

For our shareholders who have invested in us and supported us over the years, this is an opportunity to receive a cash offer which fully recognises the current and future benefits of our strategy, and of the business we have built up.

For Arriva this is a great opportunity for our employees and management team to work with Deutsche Bahn and accelerate expansion in Europe, building on our leading position.

For our customers and passengers, it is business as usual and we look forward to continuing to serve them.

There are several stages to go through and conditions to be met before the offer can be implemented and the process is expected to take a period of some months. Our management team across all our divisions will be briefed over the next few days and will be in position to hold further briefings and start answering questions shortly. We will do our best to answer questions as they come up, though it may not be possible to provide an immediate and definitive answer for every question.

If you are asked questions by the media or other external stakeholders, please continue to refer them to Corporate Communications where they will be channelled to the most appropriate point.

David Martin, Chief Executive

NR's Great Western is no Great Western!

This just in from D1048...

Into the inbox thunders a missive from Network Rail, with the announcement of a thorough refurbishment for Isambard Kingdom Brunel's iconic Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash.

Welcome news.

But what's this comment from Route Director Chris Rayner?

It will be the most complex refurbishment work since the bridge was built”.


Given that NR is expecting to spend around £10m to 'strengthen, restore and repaint' the bridge over the next three years, it may certainly be the most expensive refurbishment in the bridge's 150-year history, but the most complex?

Just for the record, the Great Western Railway undertook a major refurbishment of the Royal Albert Bridge back in 1928, when the main girders supporting the 15 approach spans on both banks were completely replaced.

In an eerie foretaste of NR's proposed high-output 'factory train' model, the innovative GWR developed a special wagon to undertake the renewal work. This carried the new girders to site, supported the deck whilst swinging the old girders out and lifting new ones into place, before retreating again with the old girders for removal. A very good explanation of how it was done - with pictures - can be found here.

And what is more the whole process could be carried out - with manual labour - in just 3 1/2 hours, allowing an entire span to be replaced in a 5-hour Sunday morning possession. Certainly not three years!

Is this another case of today's railway having no corporate memory before 1993?

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

Or 2002 in the case of Network Rail.

Readers letters - First for Football

Dear Fact Compiler

I may be the youngest reader of Railway Eye!

This is Harry Cartwright (aged 13) of Wolverhampton and I have started a Facebook campaign to get the next member of the "Football Class" of First GBRf Class 66s named "Wolverhampton Wanderers".

I would be very grateful if you would encourage all readers of Railway Eye who have a Facebook account to join my group and encourage footy fan Director John Smith of First GBRf to name his next "Football Class" loco "Wolverhampton Wanderers".

I would like to get 100 members of my group by the final whistle after the Blackburn game tomorrow (Sat 24-Apr-10 16:50).

Thanks for your help.

Cheers Harry

Go on then - link here.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Pointless signs - Barking

This from @AMonkster, Via Twitter...

They'll be waiting a long time to get to Liverpool Street!

UPDATE: This from Lazarus...

Actually they'll be waiting at most 16 hours (weekdays).

First train of the day at 05:06 goes to Liverpool Street, as do the 20:51, 21:11 & 23:57.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Boughen...

The only way to get from Barking P5 to Liverpool Street is either a reverse close to Upney or at Gasworks Junction & Stratford.

Services to Liverpool Street depart from P8 (or P7) due to the fact that they connect to the GOBLIN & Forest Green Jct.

UPDATE: This from Tony Miles...

Mornington Crescent! Do I win?

DfT preparing to cut services?

This from a Mr Taylor...

Is DfT trying to sneak in plans to cut service levels during the life of franchises?

And hand back money as a reward to the lucky TOC at the same time?!

This from p28 of DfT's Future of Franchising document:

5.14 It will be important, especially in the case of longer franchises, to ensure that the Department’s original specification can be amended during the franchise term. We therefore want to ensure that operators have an incentive to propose changes to service levels to reflect levels of use. The Department is therefore considering amending the current franchise agreement so that’ where operators propose sensible measures to reduce costs during their franchise term’ they will be rewarded by receiving a proportion of these savings.

5.15 Under the current process there is no incentive for operators to make sensible changes to services that are no longer justified, since any savings are returned entirely to Government. This in turn drives sub-optimal decision making. It will be important that any such changes proposed by the operator are justified, and the Department will always consider such changes.

Tut tut tut.

Still, it might mean there is hope for London Midland and CrossCountry after all.

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

I am reminded of "DfT do not renegotiate franchises" they mean except when it is convenient for them, then? :)

2.5% pay increase for all grades!

This with a bowler tip to @kpmarek, via Twitter...

Amazing what you come across in staff areas of stations!

Seen in Kensington Olympia meeting rooms.

Edukation, edukation, edukation

This from AlanG...

Spotted on a bus stop in Leicester Road, Loughborough last weekend whilst there for a very enjoyable Great Central Railway diesel gala.

No comment required...

CymruBahn - ve have vays of making you vait!

This from one of Eye's more erudite readers...

As it is almost certain that Arriva Trains Wales will form part of a ‘Greater Deutsche Bahn’ we can surely expect our Teutonic friends to insist that station announcements are also made in German, as well as Welsh and English.

Picture yourself as the humble passenger, weighed down with luggage.

You are standing on the concourse at Cardiff Central, the time is 17.15 and you are awaiting the announcement of your through train to Holyhead.

The following announcement is then made:

‘’Y trên nesaf i wyro oddi Platfform Dau yn y 17.20 Trenau Arriva Cymru gwasanaeth i Gaergybi. Galw yng Casnewydd, Cwmbran, Pont-ypŵl a New Inn, Y Fenni, Henffordd, Leominster, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Y Waun, Rhiwabon, Wrecsam Cyffredinol, Caer, Shotton, Fflint, Prestatyn, Rhyl, Bae Colwyn, Cyffordd Llandudno, Bangor, Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr, Cwm a Chaergybi. Llwyfan Dau am y 17.20 Trenau Arriva Cymru yn wasanaeth i Gaergybi. Pan fydd mynd ar y trên, os gwelwch yn dda meddwl y bwlch rhwng y trên ac ymyl y platfform. Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr a Cymoedd yn cael eu stopio cais, a rhaid i deithwyr gwybod ir arweinydd ar y trên i drefnu ar gyfer y trên i atal, i ganiatáu iddynt i dân.

Der nächste Zug von Platform Zwei abzuweichen ist die 17,20 Arriva Trains Wales Service nach Holyhead. Calling in Newport, Cwmbran, Pontypool & New Inn, Abergavenny, Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Chirk, Ruabon, General Wrexham, Chester, Shotton, Fflint, Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Bangor, Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr, Valley und Holyhead. Zwei Plattform für die 17,20 Arriva Trains Wales Service nach Holyhead. Beim Einsteigen in den Zug, Bitte beachten Sie die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante. Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr und Tal sind, beantragen stoppt, und Fluggäste müssen die Schaffner im Zug zu informieren, um den Zug zu stoppen ordnen, damit sie zum Aussteigen.’’

The next train to depart from Platform Two is the 17.20 Arriva Trains Wales service to Holyhead. Calling at Newport, Cwmbran, Pontypool & New Inn, Abergavenny, Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Chirk, Ruabon, Wrexham General, Chester, Shotton, Fflint, Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Bangor, Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr, Valley and Holyhead. Platform Two for the 17.20 Arriva Trains Wales service to Holyhead. When boarding the train, please mind the gap between the train and the platform edge. Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr and Valley are request stops, and passengers must inform the conductor on the train to arrange for the train to stop, to allow them to alight.’’

By the time that lot has finished, the train will be long gone!

UPDATE: This from Eastwestdivide...

Was the Arriva announcement translated by someone who can use a dictionary but doesn't know the language, or by a translation robot?

Fluggäste = "airline passengers" for one thing, and the rest of it is either gibberish, ungrammatical or Welsh (possibly all three).

"Gibberish, ungrammatical or Welsh" - is this not tautological? Eye suspects German announcements at Cardiff Central would be every bit as useful as those in Welsh.

UPDATE: This from Bulldog Drummond...

No doubt the Hun will get up to his old tricks and insist on the Germanisation of place names.

How about:

Holyhead as Heilgkopf
Newport as Neuhafen
Cwmbran as Cwmkleie
Shrewsbury as Spitzmausebestattend (a place where shrews are buried).

I'm sure our willing cooperation would hasten the rapid recreation of a vertically integrated railway, albeit one run from Potsdamer Platz.

UPDATE: This from Jens...

As a German and a nitpicker (ok, there's a tautology for you...) I'd like to correct the German version of your announcement.

A direct translation of the English announcement would be:

Der nächste Zug, der von Bahnsteig 2 abfährt, ist der 17:20 Arriva-Trains-Wales-Dienst nach Holyhead. Mit Halt in Newport, Cwmbran, Pontypool & New Inn, Abergavenny, Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Chirk, Ruabon, Wrexham General, Chester, Shotton, Fflint, Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Bangor, Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr, Valles und Holyhead. Bahnsteig 2 für den 17:20 Arriva-Trains-Wales-Dienst nach Holyhead. Beim Einsteigen achten Sie bitte auf die Lücke zwischen dem Zug und der Bahnsteigkante. Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr und Valley sind Bedarfshalte und Fahrgäste müssen den Schaffner im Zug informieren, damit der Zug anhält und sie aussteigen können.

But that's not how the Deutsche Bahn announces trains - it's just a translation of the English one.

Here's how a German one would look:

Auf Gleis 2 fährt ein die 17:20 Arriva-Trains-Wales-Bahn nach Holyhead mit Halt in Newport, Shrewsbury, Wrexham General, Chester und Holyhead. Auf Gleis 2 steht abfahrbereit die Arriva-Trains-Wales-Bahn nach Holyhead. Bitte Vorsicht an der Bahnsteigkante. Bitte beachten Sie, dass Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr und Valley Bedarfshaltestellen sind; Fahrgäste die dort aussteigen möchten, müssen die Haltetaste betätigen.

A literal translation would be:

On track 2...

(because on platform 2 the people are waiting for the train - don't want to squish them) pulling in...

(because the train is not walking or flying. We don't want to confuse the passengers)

...the 17:20 Arriva-Trains-Wales train...

(Service... if you insist. But it's a train pulling in. Not a service. The service is that the train is running and pulling in right now. As I said. We Germans like it precise. If you talked about service in Germany, people would get confused, especially if that service is apparently pulling into a station right now) Holyhead with stops in Newport, Shrewsbury, Wrexham General, Chester and Holyhead.

(They don't mention every little village on the way, they just give some of the major ones. You know. Because it's more efficient.)

On track 2...

(again, no squishy noises and no panic amongst the waiting passengers) standing ready for departure...

(yes, "ready for departure" is one word in German. And we have another one for human beings ready for departure. We're awesome)

...the 17:20 Arriva-Trains-Wales train to Holyhead. Please display caution at the edge of the platform.

(We Germans are smart enough to know that there's a train involved and that is the reason you should be cautious)

Please observe that Llanfairpwll, Bodorgan, Ty Croes, Rhosneigr and Valley are request stops; passengers who wish to alight here, should press the STOP button.




This is the 21st century!!!

All services in Germany which have request stops have STOP buttons like those on buses which you can press to request a stop.

No wonder the Deutsche Bahn is entering the British train market. I guess the main motivation was pity.

North London rumblings

This from the Sleeper

First supremo Mary Grant told West Hampstead public transport enthusiasts that Cricklewood Thameslink station would close, when a new, gleaming replacement was built at Brent Cross, a mile away.

Unfortunately, Cricklewood Thameslink is on the doorstep of ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone, who will not be too pleased.

Other members of the chattering classes also use the station.

Luckily for North London chatterati, Brent Cross has a stop order on it from the Secretary of State, so this matter will await whoever gets their feet under that particular desk after the election.

Arriva - Don't mention the war!

Evidently the sale of Arriva to Deutsche Bahn has been well received.

This from

The successor company to Deutsche Reichsbahn, which ran the trains to Germany's Second World War death camps, won control of Sunderland-based transport group Arriva after a £1.6bn bid.



God for Harry, England, and Saint George!

Happy St George's day.

With a bowler tip, of course, to birthday boy Waggledagger.

And belated happy returns Ma'am

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Or should that read Cry Havoc! and unleash the dogs of railway value for money reviews?

UPDATE: This from Archbishop Cranmer's blog....

Two thirds of voters (68%) in England believe England should have its own Parliament with similar powers to those of the Scottish Parliament, according to a new ICM poll for the Rowntree-backed democracy campaign group POWER2010 published on St George’s Day.

His Grace's perspicacity knows no bounds.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Telegrammed by Our Independent Expert
Extra traffic from air disruption seems to have gone to Virgin's corporate head.

Weary standard class passengers on 17.56 Preston to Euston Voyager tonight were evicted with heavy luggage to recreate first class from standard class four-abreast coach they were already sitting in on grounds there were not enough first class seats.

When one passenger complained: "'I've paid nearly 100 pounds for this ticket" he was told by aggressive train member of train staff: "These are the rules mate, you've got to move right away. It's a hybid".



There will be many on tonight's train who will be cheering the return today of domestic air services.

UPDATE: This from the Premier Line Controller...

It is in fact just so - Virgin has returned to the the concept of the Composite coach, with a small twist.

Seating in Coach D is almost entirely table seating with generous legroom and a neat retractable table leaf to accommodate corporate growth (NB = corpus as in Habeas Corpus) and the coach has all the required services to operate as a First Class saloon (with a big on-line nudge and a wink!), as required.

Maybe some similar design initiative can be undertaken with the Pendolino fleet to make up for the non-appearance of coaches J and K, in the foreseeable future.

The 50 steerage passengers counted standing on a Sunday service to Glasgow between Euston and Bank Quay, and joined by a further crowd at Preston (many 'standing' for the full 4 hours 40 minutes) might well have appreciated a reverse regrading of a coach or two at the London end of the train.

Maybe a permanent working for a 12 -coach VT64?

Frontpage of the Standard....

It was the railway wot won it!

Don't you worry Andrew - after this week's bumper loadings there'll be jobs aplenty if you want to come back...

UPDATE: This from Trailer Second...

I couldn't work out why the aviation industry suddenly started behaving like the railway.

Tonight the railway eye brought sight to the blind.

Railway prepares for The Great Return

This from Network Rail...

Network Rail will be keeping the rail lines serving London's airports open around the clock tonight to help get stranded air passengers home.

Weekend engineering work on the Anglo-Scottish routes - the east and west coast main lines - has also been cancelled to enable more direct services to run.

Paddington, Liverpool Street, Victoria and Gatwick - some of Network Rail's, and the UK's, biggest and busiest stations - will also stay open around the clock tonight.

Network Rail is also talking to retailers at these stations about extending their opening hours to assist late arriving passengers.

Good effort!

Aviations 'Railtrack moment'

This from Captain Oveur...

Eye readers may care to compare and contrast the following.

Hatfield, England October 2000: Cracked rail due to rolling contact fatigue causes a fatal derailment. Railtrack don't understand the effects of rolling contact fatigue and shut down the railway. Travel chaos follows

London England April 2010: Ash cloud from Icelandic volcano drifts over Europe. Civil Aviation Authority doesn't understand the effects of ash on jet engines and shuts down the airways. Travel chaos follows.

Cue Coucher to set up not for profit Network Sky?

Eurotunnel - lost in translation

Apparently Deutsche Bahn is hoping to operate through the Chunnel in time for the Olympics.

According to Reuters:

Eurotunnel chief Jacques Gounon said: 'Deutsche Bahn has a real willingness. We can trust a house that powerful.'

Anyone got a Babel Fish to hand?

Lookalike - Sheffield Dalek

With a bowler tip to and @Maggie_Thatcher, via Twitter

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Beware fake Virgin staff - Shocker

Merseyside police have warned rail passengers to watch out for a very large group of gentleman who appear to be impersonating Virgin train crew.

Apparently you can spot the fake ones by the noise their jewelry makes.

With a bowler tip to Who ate all the pies.

For the cricket lovers amongst you the Grauniad is live blogging the epic rail journey from Melwood to Madrid.

Come on you Hammers! (Is this right? Ed)

Election levity - but a serious point

With a bowler tip to Guido...

A nice bit of Labour Party self deprecation from Ali Campbell towards the end...

Train Lord's dark plans for Sheffield

Be careful what you wish for.

Regular readers will recollect that The Thin Controller surrendered Sheffield in the Battle of the Barriers.


Evidently the Train Lord now plans to get his own back!

This from the
Sheffield Star...

Rush hour commuters will be meeting Doctor Who's arch-nemeses tomorrow morning when the terrifying Daleks appear at Sheffield railway station

As Davros might say "Do not anger me, Passenger. I can destroy you... and this miserable, insignificant station!"

Eversholt sale update

This from Reuters...

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - CVC Capital Partners and a consortium of Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, 3i Infrastructure and Star Capital have made indicative offers in the 2 billion pound ($3.1 billion) auction of HSBC's rolling stock firm, several people familiar with the matter said.

Looks like another nail in the coffin for investment in new rolling stock.

UPDATE: This from Gordon Gecko..

In fact the staple debt linked to the Eversholt sale reportedly includes £200 million for capital investment.

And DfT won't be able to afford the lease rentals on new trains after May 6 so the HLOS 1300 is nearer 700.

But no new trains means a lot more refurbishment, re-engineering and life extension.

We guys in red braces call it 'polishing the assets'.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Full services to all airports - by rail

Whilst the industry boasts about strengthening services to cater for increased demand it appears that dedicated airport links are running nearly empty.

This from AirRail News...

At 13:30 Monday Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express PR spokesman Stephen Forster reported that they are running normal services to the airports, but people are asking – is it necessary?

Heathrow Express just went by. I counted 3 passengers on board. Why not run a restricted service?” asks one twitter user.

Now in the bad old days of BR someone would have taken the decision to shift some of those wasted resources to help provide additional capacity elsewhere (either directly or by freeing up trains and crew on other routes).

Alas, with today's myriad of operators and their micro-managed contracts all that matters is meeting PPM - even if the passengers have gone elsewhere.

UPDATE: This from The Master in cynical mode...

To be fair to HEx, trying to use their EMUs on reliefs West of Airport Junction wouldn't be too smart an idea.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Hangonnamo Mr Compiler...

Thought you understood PPM?

1) Heathrow Express doesn't publish PPM scores and AFAIK doesn't have a legal obligation to run anything - so as long as whatever does run keeps to time (to avoid disrupting other TOCs) they don't have to run at the usual frequency.

2) Gatwick Express & Stansted Express are measured for PPM on the timetable that is loaded into the "system" - which can be changed up to the end of the previous day. Their PPM would be measured against that.

Of course the two operators have a franchise commitment to run a certain level of service but if the DfT (prop. The Thin Controller) wants to gain a few brownie points then it can grant them permission to temporarily reduce the service and then make a boast about how green it is being by not forcing two TOCs to run empty trains around all day.

As long as they run to the temporary timetable they'll get a good PPM score (and Gordon Brown gets a better PM score...)

UPDATE: This from @BBCTravelAlert, via Twitter, at 15:25 on Tuesday...

with no flights in/out of Gatwick, the G Express tween Gatwick & London Victoria will run hourly both ways from 19.30 this evening.#ashtag

This frequency will remain in place until further notice. Morning & evening peak not affected & Brighton -Gatwick Express running as normal.

Once flights resume at Gatwick,the Express will return to its 4 trains per hour. to help incoming airline passengers to onward destinations,

trains will run though the night on a half-hourly basis each night until the backlog of passengers has ceased. yay for the Gatwick Express!

Good effort!

Monster Raving Loony - Policy achieved!

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
Disappointed to see that the Monster Raving Loony Party (MLRP) has no manifesto commitments for rail in this election.

Past elections has witnessed the MRLP making special commitments to pretend branch lines are reopening, insisting timetables are sold as works of fiction as well as insisting on humane and gentle treatment for gricers.

This can only mean that the MRLP already considers the industry to be safely in the hands of loonies...

UPDATE: This from Boombasket Phasinggear Ftang Ftang Legg-out-of-bed Smythe, who is allegedly the MRLP railway spokesman...

Can I point out that our policies are firm and clear.

They include:

  • Removal of electrification within 15 years to be replaced by hydrogen fuel cell powered self propelled trains.
  • All intercity and outer-suburban services to be operated by ultra-lightweight Intercity Express Programme trains
  • Level 3 ERTMS.
And all of which are based based on DfT Rail's own Rail Technical Strategy. (Stuart, is that you? Ed)

UPDATE: This from Lord Toby Jug of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party...

If only we could get Lord Toby included in Thursday's Leaders Debate...

Rail privatisation doomed - Official

BBC reporting that state owned DB is close to signing a £1.6bn deal for Arriva.

Told you privatisation would never work.

2010 Railway Garden Competition

Evidently Sheffield is determined to win this year's competition.

Regular readers may recollect that despite the January snow the EMT station turned out this creditable performance.

But with the competition only just beginning it looks as if keen NR horticultarilists are leaving nothing to chance.

This view taken at the weekend.

Looks like Eye may have to create a lifetime achievement award.

ASLEF signs up to Twitter

@thefactcompiler welcomes @ASLEFunion to twitter!

With a bowler tip to @Andylaird25

Turn on, tune in, but do it in a 140 characters...

UPDATE: This with a bowler tip to @cbuchanancubed, via Twitter...

ASLEF Journal (p12-13) outlines plans for the union to bid for East Coast franchise on not for profit basis.

Much like GNER and NXEC then...

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

Currently it's just the ECML - we'd like to develop further models for not for profit, employee ownership with fellow orgs

NR board appointment fires up reformers zeal

Yesterday's Independent on Sunday reported that there is disquiet amongst NR members about the proposed appointment of Janis Kong to the company's board.

The decision is due to be rubber stamped in July at NR's Annual General Meeting but with reform to Network Rail governance mentioned in both the Tory and newly resurgent LibDem manifestos this could become a cause celebre.

Kong was a non-Exec at RBS when Fred the Shrek ran the doomed banking group and she was also on the remuneration committee that boosted the failed banker's pension pot by £20m.

NR's members, it should be remembered, are supposed to be the equivalent of shareholders in the not-for-profit company. Their disquiet is expected to be given voice at a members meeting tomorrow.

Despite these concerns NR remains bullish about the proposed appointment:

"When the board decided to invite Janis Kong to join them they did so in full expectation that a number of members would object on point of principle."

Did what!?!

The board of which real private sector company would dare treat its shareholders in such a cavalier fashion?

Thank goodness Network Rail has moved on from being an "arrogant" company.

Ashballs - Noble Lord rewrites diagrams and TTs

Much hilarity in Rosco land.

As any fule kno Virgin has invested billions in new trains (omitting to mention of course that it was the Roscos what done it!).

Evidently sauce for the goose is jus for the gander.

On Friday ATOC claimed that Virgin had laid on an additional "2,000 extra seats", largely on Anglo-Scottish services.

Well done.

A triumph for market forces and common sense, what with NR cancelling planned engineering works and all.

But what's this?

Viewers of yesterday's Andrew Marr show heard no less a figure than Gordon Brown claim that Lord Adonis was responsible for laying on the extra trains (as well as more ferries and Eurostars)!

With the above spin in mind Eye can exclusively reveal that The Fact Compiler instructed The Thin Controller to suspend his electioneering Pilgrimage of Grice and return to London immediately to sort the crisis out.

Meanwhile aviation-head Captain Deltic is understood to be chairing COBRA at this very moment.

Further examples of blatent ashballs welcome.

UPDATE: This from Capt Clarence Oveur...

Kindly note that the term is Total Aviation Person (TAP) not "Aviation Head"!

UPDATE: This from Bulldog Drummond...

So with no aircraft flying what about getting on with high speed Paris to Peking (or is it London to Lhasa) that was floated by the Chinese earlier this year?

I'm sure if we even seemed half interested Chinese State Railways would be at the Calais before HS2 even gets to hybrid bill stage.

Friday, 16 April 2010

ATOC unsure who the party leaders are - Official

This from the Raver....

Good to see ATOC has its fingers well and truly on the political pulse!

For the politically illiterate, or those who have been asleep for the last year, Gordon leads Labour and Nick the LibDems.

Looks like it's not just railway knowledge that is missing from the TOC lobby group.

Southern in pornography shocker

This from Sussex Driver...

Is there something that I'm missing on Railway Eye?

Southern certainly seem to think so...

The Fact Compiler is perplexed by the suggestion that Eye is pornographic.

Although it is possible that Southern's ever vigilant net-police might have taken offence at some recent pictures we published.

In particular this one, of a highly unnatural lovefest containing some deeply suggestive glances and a pair of perfectly formed
orange orbs...

Truly disgusting.

Election clock ticking for 1,300 new vehicles

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Finger out Adonis!

Only 19 days in which to place orders for the outstanding 757 additional vehicles in the High Level Output Specification.

Your elected colleagues with constituencies in and around Derby expect you to hand a cheque over to Colin Walton soonest.

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

And since the delay to the Thameslink new trains order has deferred 200 of the vehicles in the HLOS 1300 to Control Period 5, why not ask Uncle Colin to make up the number with some Turbostars and revive the Diesel Multiple Unit Project.

No doubt Porterbrook would like to further boost their local MP's chances by providing the funding for these DMUs.

Such gratitude would be in order since we all remember how the Derby MPs stood up for brave little Porterbrook as it defied the jack-booted hordes of DfT Rail.
(Errr... is this right? Ed.)