Monday, 31 May 2010

King's Place expects a visitor...

This from Bulldog Drummond...

Apparently Sir Alan Budd from the Office of Budget Responsibility is very keen to pay a visit to Network Rail's King's Place HQ.

As Sir Alan takes the Tube from Westminster to King's Cross no doubt the following questions will pass through his mind:

  • Need the Government be concerned that the publicly underwritten debt of Network Rail will rise from some £23bn today to in excess of £31bn by April 2014 (equivalent to 35% of Ireland’s present sovereign debt)?
  • Are the Government right to back a business model that supports a company that has to roll up interest due every year into borrowings? Although with a keen eye for detail Sir Alan will of course note that in 2013/14 it is projected that a small excess of income will make almost a £400m offset to an interest bill of £1.7bn in that year.
  • Is Network Rail’s business model right to assume that after spending record sums on infrastructure over the next five years income will only rise by a projected 15% (from £5.9bn in 2009/10 to £6.7bn 2013/14).
  • Is the ORR's reliance on the Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) well placed as a measure for calculating Network Rail’s soundness as a business. Or might it be better to have a system based on balancing current expenditure against future income as a means of assessing whether borrowing is prudent?
  • Is it wise that only 25% of Network Rail’s current debt is in conventional UK Sterling bonds, whilst nearly half is index linked and the remainder is denominated in foreign currencies. Happily short term interest payments are low for these classes of debt, but a longer-term deterioration in the UK’s global financial position may hit hard an exclusively Sterling based business with such a borrowing profile.
No doubt upon meeting NR's Board such trifling concerns will be instantly swept away.

Or perhaps not…

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

But Network Rail's debt is incurred to pay for enhancements requested by Government.

So you can't blame the company for doing what it's funder specifies.

UPDATE: This from Bulldog Drummond...

Ithuriel, when not flitting around doing jobs for Gabriel in Paradise Lost, doubtless has had time to look at the Companies Act 2006 which requires directors of companies, 'to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole.'

It sets out a number of factors which directors must take into account to promote success.

Of particular interest is the need to take into account the likely consequences of any decision in the long term.

To say that 'Network Rail's debt is incurred to pay for enhancements requested by Government' misses the point.

If Network Rail is a company it must have a duty first to its own success and longevity and getting into massive and unrepayable debt doesn't look too smart a strategy.

Unless of course Ithuriel is suggesting that Network Rail isn't really a 'proper' company...

A busy weekend for NR's Board...

This just in from the ghost of Sir Peter Parker...

Being able to pass through doors I thought it worthwhile visiting this weekend's meeting of NR chiefs.

I expected that the topics that required such immediate and urgent attention might be Network Rail's quite astonishing debts or the recent setbacks to a number of major programmes or even the anticipated ORR performance assessment which I understand may be somewhat critical.

So. Imagine my surprise to read in yesterday's Sunday Times that no less a figure than Petrol-head Hammond has written to Ricky Haystacks, NR's Chairman, suggesting that NR bosses be "sensitive" about remuneration.

I tried to whisper, from beyond the grave, that NR's board should set a national example, in this time of great crisis, by agreeing to cut their pay back to BRB levels - index-linked of course.

However, I fear my waning powers on this earth had little effect on the weekend's debate.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Thameslink fleet - caped or not?

Much furious spinning yesterday following the suggestion on Radio 4's You and Yours that the new Thameslink fleet might already have succumbed to early DfT cost cutting.

Regular readers will recall that on the 24th May Eye revealed that:

The Department will not be going forward in 2010-11 with planned spend on the HLOS rolling stock schemes that have not already been contractualised.

But did this include new build for Thameslink?

You and Yours suggested it did - whilst Thameslink spinners said it didn't.

First blood went to the spinners when this appeared in Railnews yesterday:

THE Department for Transport has denied reports that government budget cutbacks have led to the cancellation of the order for new Thameslink rolling stock.

The DfT statement blames confusion over its announcement that orders under HLOS not already signed would be cancelled but that "...the major rolling stock orders for the replacement Thameslink fleet, as well as the new trains for Crossrail, are not included in the present HLOS totals."

But what's this?

According to then Rail Minister Tom Harris on the 30th April 2008:

Hansard - 30 Apr 2008 : Column 428W
Rolling Stock: Thameslink

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the new carriages for Thameslink announced on 9th April 2008 are in addition to the new carriages announced in July in the White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway. [202209]

Mr. Tom Harris [holding answer 28 April 2008]: Some of the new vehicles for Thameslink are a component of the 1,300 new vehicles announced in July 2007 in the White Paper ‘Delivering a Sustainable Railway’ which committed a high level output statement (HLOS) for the railways. However, Thameslink and the HLOS have overlapping timescales. The HLOS vehicles are required to be delivered by March 2014. The final complete fleet of new Thameslink vehicles are required to be in service by December 2015.

And this from the DfT's own 'Rolling Stock Plan':

50. The vehicles required for the Thameslink Programme KO1 in 2011 are included in the total of 1300 new vehicles. It is expected that some of the vehicles required for the full KO2 service in 2015 will also be introduced during CP4.

So in short it already looks as if Thameslink will get less vehicles. Now time to truncate the route...

UPDATE: This from Sim Harris, Managing Editor at Railnews...

Actually, dear Fact Compiler, we do know about KO1.

But MOST of the proposed Thameslink fleet is KO2, isn’t it?

That’s why we said “major rolling stock orders”, not wishing to get too deeply into it. And KO2 is surely outside the “HLOS 1300” -- an increasingly mythical concept in any case.

But DafT is adamant that no decision has been made about the main fleet. And the HLOS cancellations are for this financial year only

Anybody got any spare 319s? All right, I’ll get my coat.

UPDATE: This from PZT...

Tsk, tsk!

"Fewer vehicles", not "less vehicles"!

Because vehicles are countable objects...

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Boys, boys,

I know that tables are tedious but all you need to know about the HLOS 1300 is available in the latest Informed Sources - available at all good newsagents.

The HLOS 1300 needed around 330 Thameslink vehicles to make up the total.

But with the delay in ordering the Thameslink fleet, the current target for financial close in December this years means that, at the most, 120 could be delivered by the end of the current Control Period.

What is more important is that Mr Miles has forced the Department of Transport into its first inexactitude just over a fortnight into the new administration.

Quite simply, we can't trust what we are told.

As for the order cancellations being for this year only.

Dream on.

Wolmar love bombs Petrol-head Hammond

Evidently the new Transport Secretary's interview in yesterday's Standard has done nothing to reassure Wolmar.

So enervated was the push biking hack by Petrol-head Hammond's disdain for cycling that he has issued a challenge via his blog.

Wolmar invites Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to:

"jump on your bike and come for a ride with me around the West End on a busy Friday evening and I will show you how its done".

As an enticement, the text is accompanied by this fruity image.

'Nuff said!

Wurzels enter train building market

This just in from Adge Cutler...

It is good to see that the strong representation of West Country folk in the English community around Zaragossa has been recognised by CAF when naming their new high speed train concept.

Train names nowadays are designed to be pronounceable in any European language, so the Wurzels will be entering next year's Eurovision song contest with a tribute to the CAF Ooarris.

Oi've got a bran new 'igh speed train concept.
An' you can have a total train service provisioon contract

UPDATE: This, unbelievably, from Long John Silver somewhere on the Spanish Main...

'Old 'ard, Adge me 'earty.

Them devil dogs of Spain be tryin' to publicise their Ooarris train to the in'ernational pirate community

'Ere be our website

UPDATE: This from Jake the Pake...

G'day, Cobbers

The Spanish community here in mutlicultural Oz reckon that the new train is named after there adopted Cultural Icon Rolf.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Witch report on fares disowned by Doe!

This just in from fares expert Barry Doe, following the 'Which?' report on fares today...

I understand 'Which?' has just produced another report on rail fares.

This one seems to have come to some dubious conclusions.

'Which?' never says who the consultants are but there has always been a general assumption in the industry that I have been the author!

I have indeed produced all the past reports on rail fares for 'Which?' but can tell everyone that on this occasion I was not involved in any way.

Meanwhile, according to The Blah Witch Project...

Rail firms must "stop taking passengers for a ride" by charging first class fares on trains without first class carriages, Which? magazine has said.

Eye readers are invited to draw their own conclusions.

Caveat emptor - you have been warned!

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

To be honest half the findings that they came to is crop.

Luton Airport - Wimbo much faster via EMT & SWT!

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

This from the Ministry of Silly Walks...

Operational Note - HSE prosecutes Health Protection Agency

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is prosecuting the Health Protection Agency (HPA) following an incident in October 2007 at its Centre for Infections in Colindale, where an amount of E.coli O157 was spilt onto the floor of the site waste discard facility as it was being disposed of.

The next court date is set for Friday 28 May at 10.00am at City of London Magistrates Court, 1 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4N 4XY.

The first staff-officer jumped right over the second staff-officer's back...

Good news for Standard Class passengers!

This just in from Jumbo...

With politicians together with Sir Humphrey and his cohorts being reduced to joining lesser mortals travelling standard class, what is the future for first class in the UK?

Will Sir Humphrey decide that the abysmal standard class seating in FGW's high-speed trains meets his taste, or will he instigate changes?

We live in exciting times.

UPDATE: This from our International Correspondent...

Could it be that the aforementioned civil servants, finding themselves in straitened travelling circumstances, will follow the precedent of an earlier Liberal Prime Minister?

William Ewart Gladstone (for it was he) advised the Midland Railway in 1874 to abolish second class.
(Presumably so that there was more space to minister to the needs of Ladies of the Night? Ed)

UPDATE: This from The Master...

Reduce the number of standard seats in Standard on FGW?

Dream on!

If all the Sir Humphrey's are to be accommodated there will be a need for more - not less seats.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Birchwood bow introduced for lanky pax

First there was the Harrington Hump.

Now Eye brings you the Birchwood Bow.

No doubt designed this way to cater for the taller passenger?

Pointless signs - Flixton

With a bowler tip to D0260

Pointless signs - Stourbridge Town

This from KingBBoogaloo...

Only one platform with one Pans People Mover serving one destination...

And still it gets three pages!

Virgin Trains - what's in a name

This from Tony Miles...

Virgin has its Pendolinos.

It has its Mk3 "lookalike set" dubbed the Pretendolino.

Now it has its short-Pendo - 390004 - down to 8-cars after Network Rail managed to almost write off one vehicle at Oxley - and dubbed this week the Petiteolino

They will also need a name for the 11-car sets when they are delivered..

Might I suggest the Extendolino?

Eye prefers the alternative name for the fleet - the Bendydildos.

UPDATE: This from Signor Mario Caravadossi in Roma...


I am disappointed that you 'ave forgotten that Pendolino is an Italian word when naming variations on the theme.

Pretendolino must be the first and last example of such Italish or Englian.

The eight car set now running must be the Piccolino and the extended 12 car units the Lungolinos.

That's all for now, the firing squad awaits. But do not fear, the rifles will be loaded with blanks.

Someone has bought Rail Express - Shocker

This from Billy Connections...

No - not just a single copy - the whole thing!!

Lincolnshire-based specialist magazine publishers Mortons Media Group Ltd, has purchased RAIL EXPRESS magazine from Foursight Publications Limited.

Assistant Editor Gareth Bayer will be moving to the role of Editor. Production of the title will transfer to Mortons Horncastle offices.

Philip Sutton will continue to develop other business interests, including the existing limited edition model commissions, from his offices in King’s Cliffe, near Peterborough.

Mortons also publish Heritage Railway magazine.

Transport Select Committee - Chaired by Labour?

Conservative blog The Blue Nation is suggesting that Labour will retain the chairmanship of the Transport Select Committee.

So will we see the return of Louise Ellman?

Eye of course would prefer that Tom Harris becomes the new Madame Chairman (with a deep doff of the bowler to the late and much lamented Gwyneth Dunwoody).

Unless of course Tom has an eye on a Shadow Cabinet post...

UPDATE: This from Tom Harris' blog...

"I’m not quite prepared... to give up hope of taking the fight to the government from the opposition front bench..."

NR timetabling - a tale of woe

Evidently the introduction of Network Rail's much vaunted Integrated Train Planning System has not gone well.

A stinging letter to Messrs Plummer and Gisby from the the Office of Rail Regulation (sadly not on the ORR's website yet) dated 20th May states:

Your introduction of the new integrated train planning system for the May timetable change has not gone well...

We understand that the problems encountered have included trains disappearing from the base timetable, an inability to handle portion working, operators unable to impost bids electronically and delays to the publication of the national rail timetable. This has affected data quality in downstream systems such as LENNON and ORCATS and TOC reservation systems, with knock-on effects on passenger and freight customers...

We are therefore investigating your management of the introduction of ITPS and its impact on operators and their customers...

There are three strands to our investigation:

A. to investigate the circumstances leading uo to the recent timetable problems, including the planning, testing, risk assesment and "go-live" decisions you took around ITPS;

B. to establish the direct impact of the introduction of ITPS on train operators and their passenger and freight customers; and

C. to review your plans for meeting your obligations in the short term and for ensuring these problems are not repeated in the long term (including at the December timetable change).

We hope to finish our investigation by the end of June...

Oh dear.

Producing a working timetable is pretty much the day job for Network Rail.

But at least one piece of good news.

Presumably the agenda for July's Annual Meeting will be too busy to allow similar scrutiny of the ITPS debacle by NR's plastic-shareholder 'members'.

How Whitehall works...

This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

My esteemed former colleagues in Marsham Street tell me that their new masters, having got used to their new desks and red boxes and cancelled some expenditure, are looking for examples of their new Department's previous 'micro-management'.

Of course in true Yes Minister style the Marsham Street mandarins have a Plan A - which is to claim it was all a figment of RAIL's imagination, which should keep the pressure off for a few days.

Ministers will of course came back with 'What about IEP then?'

Here Plan B comes into play, admitting that the specification was indeed a disaster but that lessons have been learnt...

Fortunately the arrival of Sir Andrew Foster's review of the IEP on Friday should provide enough distraction to take us well into June. By which time our new masters should be dependent on what their officials tell them - like all good ministers.

It's always a tricky weaning ministers off their independent sources of information.

Fortunately the election saved us from Lord Adonis who had an annoying habit of making policy off his own bat!

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

What's this?

..a figment of RAIL’s imagination

Typical - when in doubt, blame the press.

It’s a damned calumny I tell you.

Transport Select Committee news

MPs are to vote for the membership of select committees.

The secret ballot of the whole house will replace the previous system of appointment by Whips.

The Government accepted that recommendation of the Wright Report that Ministers and PPSs should not vote in the ballot for the Chair of committees which shadow their departments.

Nominations will close at 17:00 on Tuesday, 8th June.

The ballot will take place the following day, Wednesday 9th June between 10:00 and 17:00

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Industry to bid Adonis farewell

Eye hears that ATOC members are planning a dinner to say a formal farewell to Lord Adonis.

And quite right too!

After all the Noble Lord was the most pro-rail Secretary of State we've had for ages (with due deference to the late
Baron Ridley of Liddersdale).

Sadly, the Fact Compiler will be too busy to attend.

However, Eye would like to send a gift to the High Speed Evangelist.

Readers are invited to suggest what that should be?

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

A suitable present for Adonis would be the latest National Fares Manual.

He can practice falling off his chair in shock when he sees how much his Pilgrimage of Grice would have cost if he'd bought separate tickets on the day.

UPDATE: This from Charles Atlas...

Perhaps "dinner for two with Stuart Baker" so he can have one last chat with the Bi-Mode Evangelist before he is put out to grass?
(Who, Adonis or Baker? Ed)

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Perhaps an All Line Rover before ATOC have another go at restricting its use on InterCity services until after 10:00?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Shipley of CSRE...

How about a scale model of a Chinese built HLOS type DMU, pushing a failed Class 319 EMU!

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong..

What about a tandem so that he and Wolmar can explore the delights of London together?

UPDATE: This from railway writer Peter Marshall...

The least he should get is a late night cuppa at Southampton (times is hard y'know).

Sadly as the Better Stations programme has been caped he may have a long wait... Ed

Pointless signs - Lichfield Trent Valley

With a bowler tip to Class 9 Swinger...


Pointless signs - Severn Tunnel Junction

Witha bowler tip to Class 9 Swinger...

Yes. It has been left unlocked...

Pointless signs - Waterloo

This from Iain H...

This taken at Waterloo last Thursday.

So were there Major Engineering Works on Saturday or not?

Monday, 24 May 2010

Where the axe will fall...

This with a bowler tip to Sir Herbert Beeching...

Eye's readers may be interested in the following savings agreed by my colleagues...

  • A £309m reduction in the Department's specific grants to local authorities
  • The Secretary of State is consulting the Mayor on a proposed £108m reduction in the Department’s grant to TfL, the same percentage reduction proposed across local government.
  • Network Rail will reduce spend by £100m
  • The Department is also making £112m savings in its direct expenditure.
  • The Department will not be going forward in 2010-11 with planned spend on the HLOS rolling stock schemes that have not already been contractualised.
Wither IEP, Tram-Train and new fleets for London Midland & Thameslink?

Farewell Messrs Hall and Green, Stationers to the late Lord DafT Vader, and their Better Stations Programme?

Who knows?

One piece of good news.

Happily my First Division colleagues have confirmed that the entire £683m saving will no longer be achieved by simply cancelling Stuart Baker...

Desperate Times - Milton Keynes

Desperate times require desperate measures.

So Eye salutes London Midland!

This money making sign greeted queues of punters desperate to renew their season tickets on Saturday morning (with a bowler tip to A Frog)...

Thank goodness management attention is being devoted to the important things in life.

Why this must have raised almost all of £100 in additional revenue (before management time, production costs and poster erection and removal are taken into account).

Happily someone was keen to put their name to this witty revenue generating opportunity.

Eye wonders if the Customer Services Manager is related to Eddie?

Friday, 21 May 2010

A few more words on Hammond - the other one

Regular readers will recollect that former Shadow Transport Minister Stephen Hammond MP was not appointed to the new coalition government Transport team.

A shame.

However, Hammond S was appointed as PPS to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles yesterday.

Perhaps of greater interest to Eye readers is the news that he has also been tasked with liaising, on behalf of London MPs, with Mayor Boris.

NSE TOCs may wish to take note and keep Stephen's number close at hand...

Gibb suffers identity crisis - Shocker

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thin Controller no more?

***Twitter sources suggesting Lord Adonis will not stand for Shadow Cabinet***

More to follow...

UPDATE: The Master texts...

Adonis has just announced that he's standing down as Shadow Transport Secretary to allow the role to be covered from the Commons.

Source BBC News 24

Eye's previous post seems very prescient. There are more Shadows at a vampire convention than in Labour's Transport team...

UPDATE: Sources suggesting @SadiqKhan may get the Shadow SofS role.

UPDATE: New Shadow Secretary of State for Transport is

Secretary of State shows deep railway knowledge

This just in from the Wickerman...

Just been to the opening of Kings Cross' new platform, which was attended by our new Transport Secretary.

In his speech he gave a commitment to HS2, although on the proviso it goes through Heathrow.

For the first official train into the new platform, East Coast obliged by providing a manky mk4 set with a mouldy tea towel stuck to the front of the leading class 91.

And here our new Secretary of State shows his in-depth railway knowledge by safely exiting a Class 91 cab...

A picture paints a thousand words...

Wither Flying Scotsman?

This from Driver Bill Hoole...

Will new Transport Secretary Phil 'Hard Man' Hammond perpetuate his predecessor's Vanity Project which injected two sub-4 hour London-Edinburgh trains into the Eureka! East Coast Main Line timetable?

East Coast is still two minutes short of the Noble Lord's revived 'Flying Scotsman''.

Chasing down those elusive minutes must be using up Network Rail's hard-pressed timetablers
(shouldn't that be timetabler - singular? Ed).

The disturbing case of the missing Shadows

Don't expect too much excitement in Parliament over the thin gruel for Transport contained in today's Programme for Government.

With the LibDems joining the Tories on the government benches it leaves only Labour MPs to hold ConDem transport ministers to account.

Fortunately Labour MPs that previously held transport portfolios moved seemlessly into Shadow roles once the new administration took office.

At least they would have moved seemlessly if there were any left.

Of Labour's four former transport ministers at the General Election one is in the Lords (Andrew Adonis), two were defenestrated by the electorate (Clark and Mole) leaving just one remaining in the Commons (Sadiq Kahn).

Having one Shadow in the Commons to face off a team of four ministers, including the Secretary of State, is less than ideal.

In the normal course of events this democratic deficit will be addressed when Labour selects its new leader at Party Conference, whereupon the division of Shadow spoils can recommence.

However, that's four months away and clearly today's Shadow Transport Light is neither good for scrutiny of the executive nor for users of Britain's transport network.

It's not even as if there is any shortage of Labour MPs who are knowledgeable or passionate about transport; why four even turned up at King's Cross yesterday to welcome an Adelante!

So quickly beefing up Labour's transport team in the Commons shouldn't be a problem

Perhaps Ms Harman might care to address soonish?

Programme for Government - Transport policies

The Coalition Government has published its 'Programme for Government' today.

Here is the transport section:

The Government believes that a modern transport infrastructure is essential for a dynamic and entrepreneurial economy, as well as to improve well-being and quality of life. We need to make the transport sector greener and more sustainable, with tougher emission standards and support for new transport technologies.

  • We will mandate a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
  • We will grant longer rail franchises in order to give operators the incentive to invest in the improvements passengers want – like better services, better stations, longer trains and better rolling stock.
  • We will reform the way decisions are made on which transport projects to prioritise, so that the benefits of low carbon proposals (including light rail schemes) are fully recognised.
  • We will make Network Rail more accountable to its customers.
  • We will establish a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy. Our vision is of a truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain. Given financial constraints, we will have to achieve this in phases.
  • We support Crossrail and further electrification of the rail network.
  • We will turn the rail regulator into a powerful passenger champion.
  • We will support sustainable travel initiatives, including the promotion of cycling and walking, and will encourage joint working between bus operators and local authorities.
  • We are committed to fair pricing for rail travel.
  • We will work towards the introduction of a new system of HGV road user charging to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.
  • We will stop central government funding for new fixed speed cameras and switch to more effective ways of making our roads safer, including authorising ‘drugalyser’ technology.
  • We will tackle rogue private sector wheel clampers.

No mention of IEP and Thameslink.

A cautious commitment to electrification.

Phased HS2.

And apparently farewell to Passenger Focus?

Atkins communication strategy exposed - Shocker

This from Billy Connections...

Clearly the recession is beginning to bite.

Here Modern Railways new ad sales supremo Chris Shilling asks Sue Foster of Atkins whether she'd like to place an advert trumpeting the company's successful involvement in the London Underground PPP...

So just the one page then?

UPDATE: This from Atkins' Marketing department...

To whom it may concern,

I am writing regarding your post this morning on the Railway Eye blog. I would be grateful if you could remove the post including the photo of Sue Foster and Chris Shilling with immediate effect.

No permission has been sought to use this image, and the content of the post is defamatory to both Atkins and Modern Railways magazine.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

Thank you for enunciating Atkins' communications strategy quite so clearly.

Railway Garden Comptition - Boston

How kind of Network Rail to grow this bowling green for Railsports...

Railway Garden Competition - Factory Junction

This from Fiona Gail...

Here are some examples of the greening of the railway by Wandsworth Road and Factory Junction.

Please note the soaring buddleia trees on the viaduct.

Presumably Network Rail intend to decorate this one with tinsel come Christmas?

Railway Garden Competition - Abroad

This from Sealink Sam...

A couple of pics for Eye taken at Treviso, 30 mins north of Venice.

Above very green tracks...

...and an interesting advert that, judging by the liveries, seems to show Clapham Junction several years ago!

UPDATE: This from Driver Potter...

Now now, TFC - that naughty Italian advert clearly doesn't show Clapham Junction.

'Tis Victoria, old thing.

I claim my Monthly Anorak prize

Railway Garden Competition - Wakefield Kirkgate

Railway Garden Competition - Elephant & Castle

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Public servant commits career suicide - Shocker

Whilst the new government warns that transport will not be immune from swingeing spending cuts it appears that not all civil servants are on message.

This from The Journal...

Elaine Holt, chairman of state-owned rail company East Coast, told The Journal new trains were needed to cope with rising passenger numbers and the needs of travellers in the coming years.

Presumably Elaine's new boss, Philip Hammond, will shortly be summoning her for a meeting, sans coffee?

Monday, 17 May 2010

A word on Hammond - the other one...

This from the Wimbledon Guardian...

Mr Hammond said: “I am disappointed my campaign to prevent the split of the line at Kennington has not been successful."

Not half as bloody disappointed as we are that you didn't get a Ministerial post.

Perhaps that nice Derbyshire MP, The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin, would consider Stephen Hammond for the new Transport Select Committee?

Just asking like...

Letters to the Editor...

This from Disgusted of Welwyn Garden City...


What's all this tosh about the East Coast Main Line having capacity problems when 15 minutes at my local station this morning produced only two FCC EMUs bimbling along.

I had promised my toddler grand daughter IC125s racing by at line speed, MTUs snarling and IC225s at the ton?

I blame Elaine Holt for (cont' p94)...

Ministerial roles and responsibilities

This from the DfT website...

Secretary of State, Philip Hammond MP

  • Spending Review
  • Transport Security
  • High Speed Rail

Minister of State for Transport - Theresa Villiers MP
  • Rail
  • London – including Crossrail
  • Olympics
  • Europe Aviation – including Air Accidents Investigation Branch

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Norman Baker MP
  • Regional and Local Transport
  • Buses and Taxis – including concessionary fares
  • Walking and Cycling
  • Accessibility and Equalities
  • Alternatives to travel

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Mike Penning MP
  • Strategic Roads and Highways Agency
  • Motoring Agencies
  • Road Safety and Standards
  • Freight and Logistics
  • Maritime and Dangerous Goods - including Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Good to see that the 'Spending Review' comes first and foremost...

UPDATE: This from the Shunter...

Presumably once the Secretary of State has completed his Spending Review the other ministers can return to the back benches?

Job done - last one out please turn off the Marsham Street lights.

UPDATE: This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

It looks as though the portfolios have got crossed within DfT.

Should not Norman Baker be in charge of "Things that are really important and cost a lot of money and can screw up the country if they go wrong"

And should not Therasa Villiers have under her wing "Politically correct things that we have to care about or can let the PTEs get on with?

And ITSO smart cards seem to have fallen into a black hole.

Steam Dreams spins a rescue story...

Telegrammed by Our international Correspondent
Publicity hungry railtour operator Steam Dreams got itself into The Thunderer this morning, with this offer of help to air travellers becalmed by Icelandic volcanic ash:

Additional capacity was made available on alternative transport from Scotland to London, including an extra 7,000 seats on Virgin Trains. The tourist firm Steam Dreams, which runs steam train trips for enthusiasts between Edinburgh and London, also offered an extra 50 seats to passengers who were unable to fly this morning.

Steam Dreams Chairman Marcus Robertson is himself no slouch as a spin doctor and has a reputation for attending the opening of an envelope.

But a big bowler raspberry to Times hackette Joanna Sugden for not enquiring more deeply into what Marcus was peddling her.

The Steam Dreams train, 1Z31, was booked to leave Edinburgh at 09.34, and after two lengthy water stops and a change of kettles in York, arrives at Kings Cross at a convenient 20.00 tonight.

A lugubrious 10 hrs 26 mins for 394 miles, an average speed somewhere south of 40 mph - pretty much in line with Eurostar's special Christmas timings and rather worse than the booked time in 1938 of 7hrs 20 mins offered by the pre-war LNER. Even a National Express coach promises to do the trip in 10hrs 5 mins.

The 1955 Modernisation Plan? What's that, then?

UPDATE: This from Gresley the Younger...

Love the comment on the SD story about ash clouds, was on R5 Live too!

But factually incorrect, the 1938 timing for Edinburgh to London steam hauled was 6 hours.

Of course, that was at 90mph without all these electric new fangled thingys to get in your way, hence the ten hours schedule today, and no water troughs as the track-circuits don't like them!

Fastest in preservation was eight hours (April 2009) but that was Clarkson powered, snigger!

Railway Garden Competition - Gloucester

Poetry Corrner - Norman

This just in from Clarence Spad Life President, Young Railway Poets Society:


My premonitions were right.
Norman has got the job.
Jim who has worked
For forty years on Platform 4
Told me that in 1962
Sue Thompson
An American singer
Had a hit song called Norman
I have listened to it on Youtube
It is very catchy
I am sure
Once Phil hears it
He will soon be humming it to his new
Parliamentary Under Secretary

'Clarence is the Rilke of Reading Station,' Wordsworth

Railway Garden Competition - Birmingham New St

Railway Garden Competition - Warrington Central

Friday, 14 May 2010

Hammond's Chrizzie Card list is already shorter

Telegrammed by the Raver
Sadly Mr Hammond’s little tete a tete yesterday was missing a couple of the more illustrious railway hacks.

Neither Wolmar nor Captain Deltic saw fit to join the Marsham Street love-in with the new Secretary of State.

Presumably both were, ah..., too busy?

Or perhaps they thought that being summoned to bathe in Hammond's glow with just two hours notice showed a little too much of the "old Tory" style?

Despite his busy diary Wolmar still found time to scribble a disparaging blogpost ridiculing Hammond's early surrender to the carbon hungry road lobby.

Eye fears that Christian's first invite to meet Hammond may already be his last.

The new improved DfT at a glance!

Philip Hammond's exciting and vibrant new team as below...

Theresa Villiers MP has been appointed Minister of State. Theresa Villiers is MP for Chipping Barnet.

Norman Baker MP has been appointed Parliamentary under Secretary. Norman Baker is MP for Lewes.

Mike Penning MP has been appointed Parliamentary under Secretary. Mike Penning is MP for Hemel Hempstead.

Errr... that's it.

Harris on Hammond

Nigel Harris of RAIL has the following to say about Philip Hammond's first exposure to the transport media yesterday:

You have to admire the brio and assertive approach of a brand new SoS who invites the specialist media into his department for an unplanned chat on an entirely new brief within 24 hours of his appointment in Downing Street and before he had even been to Buckingham Palace to ‘kiss hands’ and collect his seals of office from HM the Queen.

As expected Hammond's overall message on funding was bleak.

Good news, however, for those with "new and innovative ways of funding things".

Words that will no doubt delight the open access operators!

A word on Lord Adonis

Now that we have a new government it is time for a brief word on the former Secretary of State for Transport.

Eye subscribes to the view espoused in a recent edition of Railnews by Adrian Lyons, the former Director General of the Railway Forum:

Surviving and overcoming bad times means that getting the right message over is even more important.

The railway industry is not doing this.

To some extent this does not matter while Lord Adonis is Secretary of State as he is the most effective Railway Forum there has ever been.


Alas, he is now gone.

Eye hopes not for too long...

UPDATE: This just in
from Ithuriel...

Can we stop this mindless adulation of Lord Adonis.

Just because he was pro-railways and a bit of a crank doesn't mean that we should mourn his being cut off in his pomp.

Oblivious to an emerging economic crisis and his Deprtment's warning that at current costs the railway is unsustainable, he happily dumped over a billion on the Network Rail credit card for a long overdue but ill thought out politically driven electrification programme totally unrelated to the realities of resignalling and rolling stock availability.

Why Great Western and not the more straightforward and financially more attractive Midland Main Line?

On high speed, it could be said that his promotion of HS1 provided a beacon to see the industry through a grim decade ahead. And at the worst he imposed second thoughts on his department's Gadarene rush to IEP. At best, he binned it.

He was the right-minded man at the wrong time. In 1997 he would have been in his element.

Now we have a Transport Secretary in tune with the times.

Sweating the assets is the order of the day.

Farewell Prince Rupert, Hello Oliver Cromwell.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

One for the HRA

This for Eye's friends in the Heritage Railway world...


Mr Penrose is about to become the kettle fraternity's New Best Friend.

Villiers back in junior role

***Theresa Villiers back at Department for Transport but demoted***

With a bowler tip to @MichaelSavage, via Twitter

UPDATE: Iain Dale giving Villiers as Minister of State (Sadiq Khan in old money)

Penning to Transport?

***Iain Dale tweets Mike Penning to Transport***

Eye neither!

More to follow...

UPDATE: This biog from

Mike was born in North London in 1957 and was educated in Essex at Appleton and King Edmund Comprehensive Schools. He is married to Angela and has two daughters, Adele and Abby.

He joined the Army as a boy soldier and served with the Grenadier Guards in Northern Ireland, Kenya and Germany; he also undertook ceremonial duties in London including the Trooping of the Colour. On leaving the Army Mike served as a full time fireman in Essex for many years before going into the family business and later, after several career changes into political journalism.

Mike is a hard-hitting campaigner. He is always happiest when he can take up issues for those residents of Hemel Hempstead Constituency that come to him for help. He is fiercely proud of his working class roots and feels that his background allows him to have an understanding and empathy with the problems that affect peoples everyday lives.

Mike has many interests outside of politics. Along with being a dedicated family man, he is passionate about sport, especially Rugby Union and Football.

Mike Penning's Experience
Mike came into politics late in his career. He first brought his skills to the political arena in 1997, when he ran Sir Teddy Taylor's successful General Election campaign in Southend. Since 1997 he has been an advisor to the Shadow Cabinet under William Hague and, until recently, was Iain Duncan Smith's Deputy Head of Media. In 2001 Mike stood as a candidate in the safe Labour seat of Thurrock.

In May 2005, Mike was elected as Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead when he ousted the sitting Labour MP.

Mike is a strong believer in the traditions and values of our country and is a passionate defender of our constitution and that includes keeping our own currency. The first job of any politician is to serve his country and Mike has a proven track record here for most of his working life.

He feels that for the public to engage with politicians, the politician must first gain their respect. This he does by showing honesty and integrity. His philosophy is "if you say you are going to do something you should follow it through."

Since winning the election in 2005, Mike has taken up many campaigns that affect the people of Hemel Hempstead, most notably the campaign to Save Hemel Hospital, the fight for compensation for Dexion pensioners who lost their pensions and the campaign for a public inquiry into the Buncefield disaster.

In July 2007, Mike was appointed as a Shadow Minister for Health.

One piece of good news.

He likes animals - and claimed £2.99 for a dog bowl on his expenses.

UPDATE: According to Iain Dale's blog...

Penning will be Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (equivalent to Paul Clark in old money).

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

'He feels that for the public to engage with politicians, the politician must first gain their respect. This he does by showing honesty and integrity'.

What was it Ralph Waldo Emerson: said?

"The more he mentioned his honour, the faster we counted our spoons."

Still, he has to be better than Paul Clark

Cabinet in full

With a bowler tip to @Softmutt, via Twitter.

And now for the junior posts...

This just in from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

My former colleagues tell me that the delay in announcing the Department for Transport ministerial team was due to the time taken in matching faces to names.

When the PM wrote in 'Hammond' for SoS it took some time work work out whether he meant Hammond P, the doctor and comedian who was a huge success at a recent railway function, Hammond S, the shadow minister, or Hammond P the treasury shadow.

Although Dr Phil came close to a seat in the Lords as a working peer, the money man won through.

The Department is now struggling with Junior Ministerial appointments, where 'Baker' was pencilled in.

Does that mean veteran Tory Kenneth, who knows nothing about railways, Lib Dem Shadow Norman who knows a bit about railways or DfT's own Stuart who knows everything about railways.

Watch this space...

Pointless signs - Liverpool Lime Street

Eye is unsure whether this is a Pointless Sign or a candidate for the Railway Garden Competition...

Readers are invited to make their own minds up.

Railway Gazette accused of bias - Shocker

Seen aboard yesterday's Alstom press special (with a bowler tip to Messrs Miles and Ford)...

Chris Jackson & Richard Hope of the Railway Gazette prove they took a lucky punt on the Con-Dem alliance when they ordered several hundred ties in the colours of the new government...

"We are not political" said Jackson, as he anxiously awaited the call from Camclegg...

All Line Rover - restrictions from the 23rd May

Twitter and the internet news groups were abuzz last night with stories about the All Line Rover.

Details can be found here.

It appears that ATOC has decided that All Line Rovers will not be valid for use before 10:00 on InterCity sercvices from the 23rd May.

Obviously this decision was made in advance of the election.

But Eye can't help but feel that this is akin to the train operators pissing on Lord Adonis' ministerial grave.

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

ALR not being time-restricted. ATOC.

Eye wonders why the change of heart?

People on the railways I would like to meet...

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
The Person who Helps Test the Fast Track Ticket Machines

Although most Railway Eye readers, being lucky recipients of concessionary travel, do not use ticket machines they may want to pause for a moment to think about the extraordinary person who helps test the Fast Track ticket machines.

The main screen is ideally designed for someone around 5 feet tall and the module where payment is made is clearly designed for someone around 3 foot six inches (this screen is also very hard to read with anyone possessing normal eyesight).

To add to the challenge the main screen and payment module are so far apart that the traditionally shaped human being does not have sufficient reach.

So where do they find a five foot high individual with a double length right arm and the matching rubber neck required to read the small screen?

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Might I add to the list of Desiderata, the ability to touch type on credit card key pays with the numbers worn away.

Alternatively, infra-red vision able to see the outline where the numbers were.

UPDATE: This from The Major...

The Major suspects that that Fast Ticket machines have been designed to be suitable for those in wheelchairs.

He's not yet in one (the day cannot be too far ahead...) so would welcome views from anyone who is and has used these machines.

Before then doing battle with barriers and all the other impediments train operators put before their passengers...

UPDATE: Bulldog Drummond responds...

I note the Major's comments but the TfL ticket machines (the big ones are very similar to Fast Ticket) are much better laid out.

I cannot believe that TfL would do anything that is not DDA compliant.

Darwin Award

With a bowler tip to NR's press office...

The Fact Compiler is lost for words...

UPDATE: Sadly the video has been removed.

UPDATE: Alas - the BBC have a copy here.