Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Villiers vignettes...

An occasional series celebrating the relationship of the Minister of State for Transport with her Department...

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative) holding answer 24 June 2010

The two franchise extensions will have a theoretical opportunity cost caused by foregoing the higher premium/lower subsidy expected if the franchises were re-competed instead of extended. This is difficult to quantify, because assumptions need to be made about the likely prices from new bidders versus the cost of extending with incumbents.

The opportunity cost arising from the delay to replacing franchises was estimated to be £6 million for Essex Tameside and £18 million for Greater Anglia. However, we believe that including the two franchises in the reformed system, on which we will be consulting shortly, will yield benefits for passengers and facilitate investment in the railways which will outweigh these costs.

In accordance with our accreditation process as advised to bidders the Department does not expect to have cause to incur compensation.

So. DafT is still expecting to get more/pay less for these two franchises when re-reletting them in the middle of a recession?

Good effort!

Railway Garden Competition - Clapham Yard

This from Brighton Belle...

Clapham Yard, CY43 Ground Signal - a joint effort from SWT and NR.

Trains do regularly use the track to the left.

Hard to believe, isn't it?

This picture also adds substance to a recent rumour about the imminanet replacement of the Class 455 fleet.

It would appear that these new units really will be built by a consortium of Alstom, Bombardier and Flymo.

MacShoveller tosses caber in ring for NR CEO job

Evidently Eye's exciting new poll on who should succeed Iain Coucher is encouraging those in the industry to up their game.

This from the Northants Evening Telegraph...

The 42nd Chieftain of Corby's Highland Gathering has been unveiled as rail boss Tim Shoveller.

Mr Shoveller will preside over activities at the gathering on Sunday, July 11.

A clever ploy by EMT's boss to boost his credentials in the race to replace Coucher

By Eye's reckoning Chieftain Shoveller has just outranked the Laird of Iainland.

Railway Garden Competition - Duffield

This from Chionanthus Virginicus...

Here is the end of the platform at that well known leafy suburban station - beloved of Midland Railway Directors (and more recently senior executives of the Derby rail scene) - namely Duffield.

I see that some lateral thinkers at NR (possibly in response to Eye's platform-end fencing jibes) have decided to use this freely available vegetation to prevent passenger egress from the platform ends.

I am surprised that the "soi disant" so called veteran railway observer has not mentioned this!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

NatEx - learns lessons from East Coast debacle

Just how far is Dean 'Long-tongue' Finch prepared to go, to ingratiate himself with Petrol-head and Cruella de Villiers?

This toe curling piece of National Express arslikan from the Gruaniad:

Dean Finch, chief executive of the firm, said the Department for Transport was right to warn passengers that it may scrap a fares cap that limits price increases to 1% above inflation.

"It is absolutely legitimate for anybody to look at, in terms of raising revenues," said Finch.

"Everybody complains about rail fares being awful, but we have more than 1bn journeys on the railways every year. That tells you that in the overall scheme of things the railway is an effective form of travel and is an integral part of peoples' lives."

Of course National Express knows all about 'raising revenues'.

Why less than a year ago the Bus Bandit group was banned from bidding for new franchises by former Secretary of State Lord Adonis.

The reason?

Whilst its East Coast franchise may have been an "integral part of peoples lives" it certainly wasn't that integral to National Excess, who threatened to dump the operation unless they paid a lot less lovely lolly to the tax-payer.

Sadly it was not to be and the group not only forfeited the premier East Coast franchise but its then Chief Exec as well.

No matter. National Express have obviously learnt their lesson.

No doubt NatEx will continue to focus on 'raising revenues', but this time at the expense of the poor bloody passenger.

NR GSMR project disconnected?

Exciting news from Network Rail's GSMR project!

Those are the chaps constructing telephone masts up and down the network.

At least that was the plan.

Sadly word reaches Eye that 200 of them have just been told that they will be 'released' in September to save cash.

With the project rumoured to be millions over budget this is perhaps no surprise.

Happily, in a further saving, the project plans to use 02 infrastructure on freight lines to save the construction costs of building dedicated masts.

If you've ever tried to use the 02 network aboard a train you will know that the savings in call costs can also be considerable...

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

From around March 2012 the radio frequencies used by existing cab to shore radios have been given to broadcasters in time for the massive number of radio microphone channels required for the London 2012 Olympics.

Of course - this does open up the possibility of the Olympic Games starting late due to "overrunning engineering work"!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Railway Garden Competition - St Pancras Irrigation

Railway Garden Competition - Cardiff Central

Who should replace Iain Coucher?

The race to replace Coucher has already started.

Yesterday the Independent on Sunday suggested that NR directors Robin Gisby and Simon Kirkby might be interested in Iain's enormous bonus (shurely challenging role? Ed).

With industry bigwigs already being asked their views on who should become Network Rail's new Chief Executive it seemed only right, in the spirit of openness and transparency, that Eye readers should also have an opportunity to participate in the Great Succession Debate.

Each week Eye will post a new selection of names and invite you, dear reader, to use your skill and judgement to decide who could best replace Iain Coucher

Our first category is Men of the Moment.

And the nominations are:

  • Tony Hayward (BP CEO) - Well qualified in clearing up a mess
  • Gen Stan McChrystal - Well qualified in managing relationships with government
  • Fabio Capello - Well qualified in managing over-expectation.
  • Gordon Brown - Well qualified in listening to taxpayers
You can vote on the right hand side menu bar....

EDM calls on NR Members to block bonuses

Halifax MP, Linda Riordan, has sponsored the following Early Day Motion:

"That this House views with deep concern the decision of Network Rail Board to pay senior management a total of £2.4m in bonuses for 2009/10; notes that Network Rail is heavily reliant on taxpayer funding; further notes that the decision was reported in a week when everyone was asked by the Government to share the burden of reducing Britain's deficit; considers such payments as being unjustified and inappropriate and calls on the public members of Network Rail to vote against such bonus payments at the impending Network Rail AGM."

Sadly if Coucher and co wouldn't listen to the ORR or the Secretary of State for Transport then Eye doesn't hold out much hope for this succeeding.

After all NR's Public Members are famed for their ability to hold the 'private' company to account.

On the plus side - at least it affords a further opportunity for MP's to show their utter contempt for NR's money-grubbing directors

Railway Garden Competition - Birkenhead Central

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

Transport Select Committee News

Eye understands that it is proving somewhat of a challenge to recruit the full complement of MPs to some Select Committees.

In yet another unintended consequence of the Wright Reforms MPs are proving backwards in coming forwards to take on roles.

Westminster insiders suggest that restrictions on MPs travel allowances and reductions in staffing budgets mean that some older hands are unwilling to shoulder the additional workload. Especially where Select Committee's meet on Mondays or Fridays

This means that many of those elected to serve on the new Select Committees are also new to Parliament.

Take for instance the Transport Select Committee.

Conservative Home provides a list of those who have been elected to serve as Tory members of the TSC.

Conservative members: Angie Bray (Ealing Central & Acton)*, Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne)*, Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)*, Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South)* and Julian Sturdy (York Outer)* Members marked with an asterisk are new to Parliament*:

Not one old hand amongst them..

Reassuringly, according to Labour Uncut, the opposition party's nominees include some older and therefore perhaps wiser heads, including former Transport Minister Tom Harris:

Labour members – Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South)*, Tom Harris (Glasgow South), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) and Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge) Members marked with an asterisk are new to Parliament*:

Meanwhile from the LibDem's not a murmur.

Apparently the coalition party hopes to confirm which of their MP's have been elected to which Select Committees by Wednesday of this week.

Expect formal confirmation of Transport Select Committee membership week commencing the 4th July.

With the Labour Shadow team somewhat thin on the ground Eye hopes TSC Chair Louise Ellman (Liverpool Riverside) has already booked Petrol-head for a grilling.

Three Peaks Challenge by Rail

This from a Mr Houghton...

Dear Fact Compiler

Would you be willing to mention that Railway Vehicle Engineering Limited participated in the Three Peaks Challenge by Rail this weekend (24th - 26th June).

Hopefully the following vaguely humourous picture of our team scaling the heights might amuse your readers:

If any of your readers feel generous then donations can still be made here.

Eye is happy to support the Railway Children - if you haven't yet please do donate. Any more teams want a mention?

Railway Garden Competition - Newcastle

Railway Garden Competition - Brora

Pointless signs - International edition

This from Globetrotter...

I hesitate to propose a signalling instruction as a pointless sign, but at first glance this makes a good candidate.

Does this mean that EMUs can SPAD with immunity?

Maybe not ...

Knowing the location, I think I know what it is all about, but others may care to hazard a guess.

UPDATE: This from Bruce...

G'Day FC,

Is it because the next signal after CL11 is in tunnel, and the sensitive Queenslanders do not want to be barbequed by fumes from antiquities that burn their own fossil fuel on board?

Or get their nice OLE knitting coated with carbon deposits when said antiquity stands at danger?

If CL11 is green, the theatrical traction has the road all the way to the open air section.

Right Away Cobber!!

UPDATE: This from our International Correspondent...

Curiously, Queensland Rail, like Dick Fearn's IE, is taking the financial hit of training more steam men to safely - and sustainably - operate kettles.

How quaint of former dominions to unbelt for this - have they not heard of Wet Coat's money saving business model of bunging retired (or in some cases, rest day) DBS men £120 for a driving turn?

Cheap and dirty, like their XXXX (removed on legal advice. Ed).

Catalis Rail Training into administration

This from City Insider...

So. Farewell Catalis Rail Training,

Born out of the old BR training division and based at the former LMS training college in Derby it went into administration on Friday.

RTC Group plc (the "Group")

Catalis administration

RTC Group plc has today (Friday) put its Training subsidiary Catalis Limited into administration.

Although restructuring in 2009 brought the business close to breakeven in the first quarter of 2010, significant revenue shortfalls in the second quarter and the uncertainty over future industry spend on rail training has led to this action being taken. The Group had explored a wide range of options in respect of the Catalis business prior to taking this action.

All other Group companies continue to trade as normal.

Eye fears that this will not be the first rail business to fall victim to uncertainties over future industry spend.

Why new Thameslink fleet is essential

Today's FT explains the importance of ordering a new Thameslink fleet:

If he cancels the Thameslink order, Mr Hammond is likely to face criticism for failing to address the shortage of rolling stock on the Oxford route - one of the most heavily used in the country.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

UPDATE: This from the Raver...

I was amused to read the FT piece, in particular the reference to Wolmar 's 'Fire and Steam' sitting on Hammond's desk.

Apparently Wolmar had been to see the new Secretary of State earlier and the meeting did not go well!

When the 'transport expert' offered Hammond his tome he was curtly told "I know about railway history".

Showing his exhaustive knowledge Petrol-head then went into a rant demanding to know why trains received priority over cars at level crossings, even when it's just "a two coach train".

Sadly the FT is unclear whether cricket mad Wolmar managed to connect with the Sectretary of State when he bowled the book onto his desk...

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

Why does the Financial Times send people who know nothing about Transport in general and railway policy in particular to interview Transport Secretary Philip Hammond?

Does it matter that they confuse Thameslink with the residual orders of the HLOS 1300 extra vehicles?

Does it matter that that apparently don't know about the Foster Review let alone McNulty?

Well, yes, if you are a multinational bidding for railway business in the UK and your main board in Paris, Berlin or Montreal rely on the FT for their over-view.

Has Hammond really ''frozen an order for hundreds of carriages destined for Thameslink"?

If he has the FT has a genuine scoop. Or has he just frozen two minor contracts in the HLOS capacity requirement?

Still, when it comes to finance, the FT shows all its traditional expertise and insight.

A commitment to 33% cuts would mean 'shaving £5bn from the department's annual budget of just under £16bn'. No shit Sherlock! Nobel prizes for economics have been awarded for less penetrating analysis

Where is FT Transport Correspondent Robert Wright and his faithful 'railway veteran' companion when we need him?

BMA quackers

This from the Observer:

Doctors are calling for an alcohol ban on all public transport, including intercity trains and cross-Channel ferries, in an attempt to stop drunks annoying fellow passengers.

Eye calls for a similar ban on Doctors, for the same reason.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Railway Garden Competition - Faversham

This from William Dargan...

I nominate the back road (and most of the up sidings) at Faversham.

Network Rail - doomed

Whilst Coucher and his board trouser £2.4m in bonuses for a job well done (shurely shome mishtake! Ed) dark clouds are already swirling round NR's CP4 funding settlement.

This from a written answer given on Tuesday 22nd June:

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) rolling stock and (b) highway improvement schemes have been deferred as part of his Department's contribution to in-year expenditure reductions for 2010-11. [2757]

Mr Philip Hammond: In light of the current fiscal position, and a softening of demand, a reappraisal of all un-committed High-Level Output Specification schemes will now commence, taking account of the National Audit Office report entitled "Increasing Passenger Rail Capacity" which was published on 4 June 2010. This report is available on the NAO website.

With the government already planning to unpick Network Rail's regulated settlement how long before the NAO decides that NR debt does indeed belong on the Government's books.

So farewell Network Rail and your grossly overpaid and out of touch board.

And a big Eye welcome to Sir Alan Budd and the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Sadly the new Director General of the Rail Infrastructure Agency will have to get along with a paltry £160k a year.

Network Rail directors show restraint

Eye salutes the restraint shown by Network Rail's directors.

Paid a mere pittance these noble figures bestride our industry like veritable colossi.

So it is only right that their paltry salaries should be boosted to enable them to put bread on the table for their starving families.

With total annual bonuses for the six top directors amounting to a piffling £1.34 million, it is surely only right that they should also receive management incentive bonuses adding up to £906,000, making a total of more than £2.4 million.

After all - just how many Iainlands can you buy for such a derisory amount?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

It's Network Rail's remuneration committee that you should be having a go at!

They set these outrageous amounts.

And of course the NR Board could always turn the bonuses down. But don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: This from Philip Hammond via the BBC...

"Network Rail is of course a private company," said Mr Hammond. "But one that is dependant on taxpayer funding."

"In the week when everyone has been asked to share the burden of reducing Britain's deficit, people will rightly be asking how Network Rail's top executives feel this is appropriate."

UPDATE: This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

No need to hold your breath.

My departmental colleagues tell me that NR Directors intend taking their full bonus entitlement.

UPDATE: This from a Time Lord...

The BBC story on NR's bonuses uses an unusual picture of the company's Chief Executive.

Do you think they had this lookalike in mind?

One is a feared genius whose creatures are made in their master's image, they seek to rule the universe and those who do not obey are immediately exterminated. The other of course invented the Daleks.

Do you think they are related? (No! Ed)

Go-Ahead blighted by schmooze policy

This from the Gruaniad...

Transport group Go-Ahead has gone into reverse after it warned that recently introduced contracts for its regulated London bus business would hit profit margins.

This downturn in performance was of course inevitable.

And happily Eye can pinpoint the precise moment Go-Ahead's fate was sealed.

When you sup with Jonah...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Germans are coming

This from George Cross...

According to Reuters:

German state rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG is in talks with Britain about running its trains on the country's only high-speed railway, in a move that could break rival Eurostar's monopoly.

As my Grandfather observed: "Nice of them to ask this time."

UPDATE: This from Hat-maker...

I note that Eurostar has rebranded a set to mark de Gaulle’s flight to exile in London seventy years ago.

With similar French victories in mind can we look forward to a Class 373 liveried to celebrate France's World Cup football team flying home in economy class?

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from the late President Charles de Gaulle...


Pointless signs - Halifax Station

With a bowler tip to the Mytholmroyd Station Partnership...

Bloody stupid rule anyway. Ed

Railway Garden Competition - Tophsam

Railway Garden Competition - Crediton

Eye opens museum of Couchiana

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
Eye is delighted to launch its new museum of Couchiana with this oddly drafted ATOC press release:

ATOC responds to Network Rail Chief Executive stepping down

In response to the news that Iain Coucher is to step down, Tom Smith, Chairman of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said:

“Iain is a major figure in the rail industry and a positive force for change.

“He has made an exceptional personal contribution to a period of sustained improvement on the railways, which has seen punctuality and passenger satisfaction reach record levels.

“We wish him the best for the future and will of course continue to work with Network Rail’s management to make the orgainsation more customer focused.”


Punctuality and even more passenger satisfaction are only part of NR's remit, what about his day job of running the business?

And what is the last para trying to say?

Surely it is not suggesting that Coucher was not customer focussed? Perish the thought.

Meanwhile any Eye readers know what an 'orgainsation' is?

Perhaps it describes a not for profit company where you make pots of money?

UPDATE: This from

I suggest asking the reader who lives in Tophsam (2 articles up).

Muphry's rule - anyone correcting spelling will themselves make a spelling mistake.

Man plans savings on future trouser purchases

This from Slow Train author Michael Williams...

On my latest latest foray around the secondary lines of Britain I spotted this at Aberystwyth last night.

The train forming the 17.30 Cambrian line service to Birmingham International was due on at any moment. Yet nobody batted an eyelid as this passenger relaxed in the sunshine dangling his legs over the track.

'No staff, no CCTV - and nobody seemed to care...'

UPDATE: This from Myfanwy...

And evidently no seats for passengers to sit upon whilst awaiting occasional trains...

DfT - hoisted by own petard!

Eye salutes Philip Hammond for wresting the chair of the Department for Transport Board from Permanent Secretary Robert Devreaux.

As any fule kno the DfT Board has the following remit:

The role of the Department’s Board is to:

  • ensure effective governance of the Department and its Agencies, so we made the right decisions, at the right time, and properly manage risks
  • shape and direct a shared agenda for the Department as a whole, both to deliver Ministers’ priorities and to build our capability as a Department
  • monitor performance and risk, making choices (or recommendations to ministers) on priorities/risk appetite
  • oversee the health of our relations with our stakeholders and commercial partners.
With yesterday's announcement of a 25% cut to his department's budget it is good to see Petrol-head has already started getting to grips with the detail.

Industry colleague will also welcome this change.

Having dished it out now let's see how the Marsham Street mandarins take to a bit of micro-management!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

ORR fails to look gift horse in mouth

Telegrammed by Leo Pink
It seems that Polyanna Walker , the new-ish ORR Chair, doesn't really understand what Sir Roy McNulty is about.

Here she is responding to the latest passenger dissatisfaction survey.

"The railway quickly needs to get a handle on these issues. Over the coming months, the Rail Value for Money review led by Sir Roy McNulty will provide the entire rail industry with a platform to explore ways in which we can work together to help deliver the improvements that passengers are calling for."

No, Polyanna, you need to work out the difference between Knights on White Horses and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sir Roy is one of the latter and his job is not to provide platforms but take at least £2 billion out of the taxpayer's support for the railway.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Railway Garden Competition - Leicester

This from Fiona Gail...

Perhaps the Colas tamper is a lawn mower in disguise.

New hospitality rules at the DfT

A mournful DfT internal email has reached the Eye.

It reminds those toiling in the Marsham Street bunker that:

The general presumption will be that we do not provide anything other than water for meetings.

If, there are exceptional circumstances and you do want to provide refreshments please drop me a note...

But, the likelihood is that I will still have to say no.

Grim times indeed.

And how will the Department function without regular caffeine fixes?

One piece of good news - there are several cafes immediately below Great Minster House.

So expect to see a queue of muttering mandarins stocking up on pre-meeting beverages.

And how enterprising of the cafe owners to offer lobbyists and hacks debentures on the seats nearest the tills...

Poetry Corner

This just in from Clarence Spad...


Lines written in the style of John Betjeman who, if he were alive today, would be most welcome at Reading Station.

Shades of Brunel, Gooch, Stephenson look on most pleased
As a wealthy little man from his job’s released
In canteen, depot, lineside hut hearts are lighter
Grizzled men pass the message ‘They’ve ditched the blighter’

But passing joy is set against a high price paid
Good people gone, a real chance of change delayed
The windy rhetoric of false targets, world class
Are the long, dark nightmare that must quickly pass

So now’s the chance for a Network Rail resurgent
With bold leaders enlightened, vital, urgent
To ensure that when there is no more oil to burn
The age of the train will rightly return.

We also hear that the popular railtour from Reading to Iainland has been cancelled at very short notice and without explanation.

Applications for refunds to the organisers, World Class Railway-tours, have been met by a curt direction that Network Rail will sort out and pay what is necessary once international benchmarking is complete.

Pointless Signs - Leeds City Station

Eye salutes East Coast for positioning these so that passengers in a hurry have to negotiate a chicane when attempting to exit the station.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Welcome to Stockade station

This from Biggles...

Any idea who, or what, is responsible for the rash of platform-end fencing that is going up at West Coast stations?

Is it reaction to a real issue, or has someone just decided to waste money.

After all, we've managed without for 170 years!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tilly...

Noticed metal railings and level crossing trespass grids poorly installed at stations Coventry to New Street on Monday.

Definitely further extravagant spending of taxpayers money and as suggested never been needed before.

And my spies in LNW tell me they've left the SPT the wrong side of the fence at Stockport - another own goal!

UPDATE: This from the Master...

It's not just the West Coast - these useless monstrosities are marring many an attractive station in the Thames valley too.

They're a classic example of being seen to be doing something - only in this case its expensive vandalism.

Eye hopes that David Young will come down hard on this sort of expensive nonsense as part of his Health & Safety Review.

UPDATE: This from Anon...

They are required to be considered for deterring unauthorised access from platform ends a la Railway Group Standard RIS-7700-INS (sections 11.2 & 11.3).

Does David Young have remit over Group Standards? Perhaps he ought?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Lincoln's loss as Eurek undone!

As predicted by Eye on Tuesday there is bad news for the East of England


Train operator East Coast has today announced a number of amendments to the planned introduction of a new timetable from May 2011.

Under the amendments, most of the planned new London King’s Cross – Lincoln services will now operate between King’s Cross and Newark, with one through train per day in each direction between Lincoln and King’s Cross. As a consequence, it will not be necessary to introduce an additional fleet of trains (five Adelante Class 180s), and the daily service to and from Lincoln/King’s Cross will be resourced from within the existing East Coast fleet.

The amendments to the timetable changes proposed will result in a net saving of £9 million per year compared to the original plans.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Elaine Holt, Chief Executive of Directly Operated Railways and Chairman of East Coast, said: “I know this will come as a disappointment to many people, especially to those in Lincoln who were looking forward to a much improved direct service to London.

“We had believed the proposed new Lincoln services would provide more through trains for customers from the region – and this formed an important part of the Eureka! timetable changes. However, given the very tough economic climate, all parts of the Government are looking to see where efficiencies can be made.

“We’re very pleased that two through services will be retained for Lincoln.”

East Coast mounted an extensive information and consultation programme earlier in 2010 in England and Scotland to communicate details of the proposed Eureka! timetable. As a result, the company processed 1,500 feedback enquiries and the results of this work were passed to Network Rail, the Office of Rail Regulation and the Department of Transport.

East Coast will be communicating the details of the latest changes to stakeholders over the next few days.

Seven weekday trains in each direction had been planned for the new Lincoln/London King’s Cross services, using the Adelante Class 180 trains.

Now, the modified service pattern will include a single direct service from Lincoln, in the morning departing at 07.22, arriving at King’s Cross at 09.21 (calling at Newark, Grantham, Peterborough, Stevenage, and London King’s Cross). During the evening peak, a single direct service will leave King’s Cross at 19.06, arriving at Lincoln at 21.00.

Four additional services will be available in each direction between Newark and London King’s Cross, provided by East Coast’s nine-carriage trains, and providing valuable extra capacity on this busy route. These will link to connecting services between Newark and Lincoln.


Lincoln must be pleased it elected a Tory MP.

UPDATE: This from Tony Miles...

The campaign to keep the three Adelantes with Northern Rail, pending the delayed return of its Class 142 Pacers from FGW because of the 172 fiasco now steps up.

No doubt the various ITAs will be asking for Northern to be allowed to borrow the other two 180s currently at Bounds Green until the Government does something about serious overcrowding in "The North".

The North, for members of the new Transport Team, is that place above Watford that you have probably read about in books.

UPDATE: This from a Southerner...

Whilst Parliamentary Under-Secretary Mike Penning is the only Minister without a direct rail remit, he is MP for that well-known constituency of Hemel Hempstead, which when seen from the glorious south (of the Thames) is very definitely North of Watford.

Admittedly it may not be as far north of London as Stretford - but there again, Miles' own country might be considered to be 'deep south' by the denizens of Thurso.

Meanwhile, if Northern wants the 180s, they are welcome to them. At least we don't [yet] have to worry about them appearing on the Lymington branch.

UPDATE: This from Live Culture...

There will be no money for the ITA's to take the Adelantes on.

So that leaves the open access mob to scrap it out.

Unless Sir Humphrey can suddenly find a pot of gold to stop them.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Damon Powell (presumably in Lincoln?)...

Its OK, as long as they terminate them at Newark, we can get there, because a week or so ago, Stagecoach in Lincolnshire launched their new bus service from Lincoln to Newark North Gate (which originates at Grimsby - fancy that, just like the train!).

Its supposed to link us to Newark North Gate so we can get London trains there.

Here is the interior which admittedly is much superior to a 153:

Now, I can't figure out what's best about the service...

a) The fact that it's Stagecoach Bus competing with Stagecoach EMT


b) That most of the buses are timed to leave Lincoln 5 or 6 minutes before or after the train to either Newark Castle or Newark North Gate, but takes twice as long as the train does!

Shurely a case of Stagecoach 'improving the efficiency and value for money of rail franchises'. Ed

UPDATE: This from Tony Miles...

Perhaps I could point out that Northern already has the funds for three Adelantes as they are "in lieu" of the Pacers loaned to FGW at the DfT's request. I'm sure any shortfall is made up by the DfT as it brokered the loan.

If DfT decides the Pacers will have to stay with FGW longer (it has decided this actually) then it'll have to let Northern keep the 3 Adelantes a bit longer.

As for the other two, well GMITA is very miffed that WYITA got local support for additional rolling stock & nobody in the N West was as generous.

Maybe it's time for them to start a campaign in the spirit of the Wars if the Roses over who will fund two more trains?

UPDATE: This from King Henry...

The question now is whether ORR's forthcoming 'lessons learned' review of the East Coast saga is ruthlessly honest about the collective madness or whether it is another outpouring of guff.

Another bloody nose for DfT Rail.

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
More bad news for the Department for Transport

Having failed to get any money out of the ROSCOs, DfT Rail has now lost its challenge to SWT's cap & collar claim at arbitration.

Still at least they didn't go to court, saving a few millions in legal costs.

How long before someone takes responsibility for these bad judgments and resigns? (Presume this is rhetorical question - Ed)

Ministerial Statement on Franchising


My Department will shortly begin a consultation exercise on the future of rail franchising policy. This consultation will provide industry partners with the opportunity to comment on the Government’s approach to rail franchising and whether bidders for longer franchises would be able to offer investment in improvements to trains and services. It will also allow the industry to set out its proposals for improving the efficiency and value for money of rail franchises, for both taxpayers and fare payers. I will set out further details to the House in due course.

To enable the next Greater Anglia and Essex Thameside franchises - which are currently in the process of being re-let - to fully reflect the changes resulting from this review of policy the competitions for these franchises, which were started in January 2010, are to be cancelled.

It is currently expected that a new competition for the Greater Anglia franchise will be advertised by the end of the year, after the consultation responses have been considered, with the Essex Thameside franchise following in Autumn 2011.

So that's the formerly doomed National Express back in from the cold.

UPDATE: This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

As with all ministerial statements the important bit is what is omitted.

So no reference to what is planned for nationalised East Coast.

Or for that matter the superfluous additional layer of bureaucracy that is Directly Operated Railways.

My departmental colleagues play a most amusing new game.

It is called 'What is the point of Elaine Holt?'.

Answers on a postcard please to Petrol-head c/o Marsham Street.

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Eye's cut and paste of Villiers' statement on franchising omits the final paragraph which talks about East Coast.

It doesn't say much of course... simply talking about "some consequent changes to the procurement timescales previously published".

I guess that means EC stays in state hands for longer.

Changes at Network Rail?

***PA reporting that Iain Coucher may be leaving Network Rail***

More to follow...

UPDATE: This from Network Rail...


Thursday 17 Jun 2010 10:30

Iain Coucher has informed Network Rail’s Board of his intention to step down following eight years with the company, including three years as chief executive. He will remain in his post over the coming months and will be involved in the search and recruitment of a successor to allow for a smooth and orderly transition.

Network Rail chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, said: “Iain has been an outstanding leader for Network Rail both as chief executive and deputy chief executive. During his time with the company Britain’s railway has been transformed with improved punctuality which is at record levels, safety improved and billions removed from the company’s costs through efficiency saving. What was a company with enormous problems in 2002 is a strong and stable one today – and Britain’s rail users and taxpayers are the main beneficiaries.

“The Board and Iain agreed that ,with Network Rail one year into a five year financial settlement, now is the ideal time in our financial and regulatory cycle for Iain to hand over to a new chief executive who will guide the company through the process of reviewing our funding with the Office for Rail Regulation for the next regulatory control period and address the next phase of challenges in its transformational journey.

“Iain and I are working closely together to find a successor and then deliver a smooth and orderly transition, all the time focussed on making sure that throughout the period the company continues to deliver a safe, reliable and efficient railway.”

Network Rail chief executive, Iain Coucher, said: “I am enormously proud of what the Network Rail team has achieved over the past eight years. Britain’s railway is now on a sure footing for the future.

“Following three years as chief executive, and five before that as Deputy, now is a good time for me to move on. The company needs continuity of leadership throughout the next five year regulatory review period.

“Leading the thousands of dedicated railwaymen and women that make up this company has been the greatest privilege of my professional life. I know that under the management team we have in place, complemented by a new chief executive, they will continue to go from strength to strength in the future.”

A process to select a new chief executive is now underway, led by the chairman, Iain Coucher and the Board.

Notes to Editors:

Iain Coucher biography

Iain Coucher has been chief executive of Network Rail since 2007, having been deputy chief executive for five years before that.

Previously, Iain was chief executive of Tube Lines, one of the preferred bidders for the London Underground public private partnership. Before joining Tube Lines, Iain worked for EDS for 15 years, culminating in heading up the company’s mergers and acquisitions across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He was seconded to the TranSys consortium between 1996 and 1998 as its chief executive and led the development of the Underground’s Oyster smartcard ticketing system.

He was also responsible for delivering the IT PFI to London Underground that provided the company with a new IT infrastructure.

Iain is an engineering graduate from Imperial College, London and also has an MBA.

Department for Transport - an epicures delight

Although Transport is one of the more lowly Departments of State it can on occasions get right up there with the best of them.

So it was with a sense of pride that the Fact Compiler discovered that DfT officials have won both second and third place in the coveted Troughing Stakes.

This from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism via the Daily Telegraph:

Here are the most wined-and-dined mandarins in Whitehall, based on the published hospitality information for central government departments, and FOI research.

1. Dave Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for Tax, HMRC

Accepted hospitality on 107 occasions.

2. Mike Mitchell, Director General National Networks, Department for Transport

Accepted hospitality on 89 occasions.

3. Simon Webb, Director General: International Networks & Environment, Department for Transport

Accepted hospitality on 80 occasions.

How noble that Messrs Mitchell and Webb should sacrifice their waistlines in pursuit of a better understanding of transport issues.

In these austere times an example to us all.

Of course such onerous duties take it out of a man, so it comes as no surprise to discover that Dr Mike will hang up his napkin in November.

Discreet soundings are already being taken on who should replace him.

Eye understands that an ability to think on your stomach heads the list of candidate attributes.

UPDATE: This from The Master...

Presumably it is safe to assume that Dr Death wasn't wined and dined on East Coast...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

ConDems turn the juice off

More dark clouds over the previous government's electrification plans.

This from a Lord's debate on Tuesday 15th June ominously entitled Transport: Savings

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Labour)
My Lords, I join those who have congratulated the noble Earl on his appointment and thank him for the courtesy he extended to me when I was sitting in the place that he now occupies. Perhaps I may start with an easy question for him. Does he agree that the maintenance of the commitment to electrify large parts of the railway system, as announced by my noble friend Lord Adonis, and the commitment to build High Speed 2, are both very sustainable and green forms of transport which the new Government will follow?

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
My Lords, we are committed to High Speed 2, but the noble Lord will understand the problems with expenditure on electrification in the current economic climate.

So that will be a "no" then?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Aslef solves the need for a Rail Review

This from Keith Norman of Aslef...

‘There’s a simple solution to keeping down costs,’ Keith says. ‘Stop money pouring out of our industry into the hands of private speculators. Stop paying fortunes to lawyers, consultants and accountants to negotiate franchises. Keep rail profits in the industry rather than seeing them disappear into investors’ profits. Reinvest in rail and the problem’s solved - and the review’s not needed.’

Perhaps anyone who has not been a consultant to the industry in recent years might care to comment?

Sorry Iain, not you.

Thameslink 4000 news

Eye hears that technical specialists working on Thameslink are being temporarily stood down.

Although the possible remobilisation in Autumn is clearly dependent on the spending review.

One piece of good news.

NR's previous inability to give a clear date for London Bridge's re-opening now looks positively prescient.

UPDATE: This via the BBC...

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has committed the Government to delivering the full £16bn Crossrail scheme.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Exciting DfT announcement tomorrow

Eye understands that there is an "item" on the grid tomorrow for the Department for Transport.

What could this exciting announcement be?

Perhaps it's the unveiling of the new Eurek timetable?

Although it may already have become the Eure timetable.

Or possibly as little as the Eur timetable.

Either way anticipate some spin tomorrow and if it does involve SLC2 don't expect the East of England to be convinced.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

You are a touch "previous" - announcement is Thursday.

APPRG elects new officers for a new Parliament

Last night the All Party Parliamentary Rail Group (APPRG) held its annual general meeting.

It being a new Parliament there was an election of officers.

The following were duly elected:

Joint Chairmen: Tom Harris MP and Stephen Hammond MP
Joint Vice Chairmen: Lord Peter Snape and Kelvin Hopkins MP.
Secretary: Lord Tony Berkeley.
Treasurer: Lord Richard Faulkner.

Eye would just like to point out that those chairing the APPRG have more railway knowledge and understanding than both the front bench transport teams put together.

This must be The New Politics that Tom Harris keeps blogging about.

Exciting aviation committee formed to drink tea

Exciting news from Petrol-head Hammond!

A drive to reduce long queues and the number of delayed flights was announced today as Transport Secretary Philip Hammond unveiled a new group tasked with improving operations at the major South East airports. It will be made up of key players from the aviation world and chaired by Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers, with the initial focus on Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Bloody marvelous - an aviation talking shop - whoopy-doop!

Is this the best that they can come up with?

God help us when Hammond begins to focus on the railway's chronic shortage of rolling stock and passengers in excess of capacity.

Eye predicts that this august body will only deliver shorter airport queues by demanding that passengers stand closer together.

Foster report on IEP set to music - Shocker

Telegrammed by our Cultural Correspondent
Cultural icons abounded in Marsham Street last evening as Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber's Really Useful Company sought to gain publicity from the delivery of Sir Andrew Foster's report on the value for money of the Intercity Express Programme.

As he arrived Sir Andrew (Foster that is) was swept up in a parade of Dorothys and Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz singing 'Ding dong, the train is dead, which old train, the Zombie train, Ding dong the Zombie train is dead'.

They were followed by the cast of Starlight Express with Speedy the revitalised diesel train pushing Origami the incredible paper train into a symbolic shredder.

Finally the cast of Joseph serenaded Sir Andrew into DfT's Marsham Street Offices with a chorus of 'Any dream will do (so long as it's value for money and credible)'.

Then, like some insubstantial pageant faded. Left not a jot behind.

UPDATE: This, implausibly, from motoring guru Jezza Clarkson...

'Oi! Compiler, get your facts straight. Weber make carburettors, including the twin-choke downdraught 38 DGAs fitted to the iconic Essex engine.

The music bloke is Webber.

UPDATE: This, remarkably, from Herr Carl Maria von Weber...

I think you must have your composers confused.

But if you would like a comic opera on the subject of the IEP I would be happy to oblige.

UPDATE: This, even more remarkably, from Sir W.S Gilbert...

I say, what a cracking idea for the next Savoy Opera.

We could have a magic potion which drives civil servants into increasingly bizarre specifications for new trains.

UPDATE: This, from a somewhat tetchy, Sir Arthur Sullivan...

I've told you again and again, Gilbert NO MORE MAGIC POTIONS'

Right. Enough. No more dead composers please. Ed

Overground aural overload

This with a bowler tip to the Going Underground Blog...

Perhaps the Camclegg twins can add over use of on-train announcements to the Great Repeal Act?

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

That London Overground video certainly takes the PIS!

'I Spy' - lifting the lid on railways

This from Sheepbridge...

'I-Spy' books have apparently returned to our bookshelves (now sponsored by Michelin) and seem to be offering a wealth of additional extra dimensions to the avid 'spotter'.

In my day, my ABC consisted of locomotives and the like.

Has the hobby really degenerated to spotting railway carriage lavatories ?

UPDATE: This from Sussex Driver....

Is there a category for working toilets?

Surely this would be worth bonus points!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Railway Garden Competition - Bournemouth

With a bowler tip to @swlines via @twitpic

Railway industry signs away destiny - again!

Bulldog Drummond gets to read Sir Roy McNulty's Scoping Study...

The DfT and ORR issued the McNulty Value for Money Report Scoping Study today without explaining why it had taken ten weeks to put the it into the public domain (it is dated 31 March).

Lots of good stuff and well worth a read but throughout a depressing response from the industry where the general tenor of comment is to acknowledge that there are problems but it is really for others to get a grip.

Statements that should have appeared in the report but, depressingly, did not (unless Sir Roy is playing his cards exceptionally close to his chest) include:

'Many senior members of the industry we met were just bursting with ideas how to create a better deal for customers but felt thwarted by current circumstances.'

'We were impressed by the overall strategic view that many of our respondents took and their acknowledgement of the need, if required, to reduce profits to make for a better railway.'

'We were highly impressed with the personal responsibility that many we met took for the current, largely undesirable, state of affairs and their desire to put things right as quickly as possible.'

'We were told of a number of carefully thought through ideas that could be implemented immediately and which would reduce cost, produce great efficiencies and demonstrate the commitment of senior management to the industry as a whole.'

If you're not part of the solution...