Tuesday, 30 November 2010

FREE POSTER for every Eye reader!

Please feel free to download, print and display prominently...

Why not involve the whole family?

Ask the the kids to print off a version so you can send it to your MP as a postcard.

Ask Granny to lick the stamps.

This is an Eye gift that just keeps on giving!

Readers in the following constituencies are particularly encouraged to adopt this approach:

  • Aylesbury - David Lidington MP
  • Beaconsfield - Dominic Grieve MP
  • Buckingham - John Bercow MP
  • Chesham and Amersham - Cheryl Gillan MP
  • Kenilworth - Jeremy Wright MP
  • Lichfield - Michael Fabricant MP
Usual address: House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1W 0AA

Remember, vote early, vote often!

UPDATE: This from Biggles...

This one spotted in Warwickshire...

Good effort!

UPDATE: This from Poster Boy...

And here a version of the poster for those in the northern home counties concerned about defenestration...

Apparently Nimbys have no sense of humour.

Wolmarballs on new rolling stock

Telegrammed by Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road
Britain's self styled greatest living transport expert, quoting from the Grauniad's Peter Preston, says in his latest blogpost:

Peter Preston, a normally utterly impenetrable Guardian columnist, for once makes a good point in today's paper. Writing about the £8bn worth of rolling stock investment promised by the government last week - forget whether the actual figures add up - he asked the DfT how many of the new 2,100 carriages would be first or second class.

Those who can divide £8billion by 2,100 will know that the numbers definitely don't add up.

Perhaps the prolific Wolmar, surely the O.S. Nock de nos jours, should have consulted the soi disant 'veteran observer' whose expertise is currently being 'rested' by the FT?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Robert Wright...

I was intrigued by the idea of Wolmar as an 'OS Nock de nos jours' and checked the great man's Wikipedia entry for parallels.

Sadly, it summarises his career thus:

"Nock authored more than 140 books and 1000 magazine articles, which are often considered to be less than authoritative because of his voluminous output. He tended to re-use data, text and anecdotes in different books, including paragraphs culled in their entirety."

Perhaps Wolmar should get himself a canal boat and make a pitch to be the modern era's LTC Rolt instead.

Christmas Railway Garden - Durham

With a bowler tip to Ricdea, via Twitter...

Very festive!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Lesser spotted Eagle threatended with extinction?

Looks like Ed Milibean is not alone in having his leadership skills questioned.

Maria the Eagle may also want to watch her back.

This from the North West Evening Mail...

A RAIL lobby group is backing Furness MP and Shadow Transport Secretary John Woodcock’s call for Barrow not to lose its direct train services to Manchester Airport.

Down boy!

Vox populi, vox Eye!

This from John...

According to this Cabinet report from Kent County Council...

Applications to classify new highways or to alter the classification of existing highways require approval from the Department for Transport (Daft).

and it goes one better:

Applications must be sent to the Government Office for the North East (GONE) which acts on behalf of the Daft and The Secretary of State for Transport.

See paragraph 1.2

DafT GONE does have a certain optimistic ring to it...

Cross Country still in breach of franchise commitment

A pretty map has arrived in The Fact Compiler's inbox from retailing website mytrainticket.co.uk

But what's this.

Something is strangely missing from the list of TOC's providing on-board WiFi.

Eye wonders what it could be...

Perhaps time for DafT to stop pussy footing around and actually take meaningful action against DB owned Arriva Cross Country for breaching its franchise commitment.

Eye has something like this in mind...

Presumably swapping one nationalised operator for another won't be a problem?

First million pound fare - Shocker!

Exciting news from the National Rail Enquiries website!

Regular Eye readers will recollect that ATOC was less than transparent when it announced the scale of fare increases last week.

A Mr Fergy-Lee has discovered the reason why...

And here in close-up...

Good to see the railway doing its bit to address the national debt.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Telegraph backs HS2 - Shocker

There will be purple faces over Chiltern breakfasts tomorrow!

The Torygraph has come out in favour of HS2.

This from David Millward...

But every generation should do something to leave its mark and perhaps the new age of the train will be our contribution to posterity.

Read it!

Good effort.

Lookalike - Whyter than Wight

This from Lazarus...

I cannot help but notice the striking similarity between Modern Railway's diagram of Glasgow - Edinburgh routes (December 2010 issue, page 38) and the outline of the Isle of Wight.

Are they perhaps related?

Villiers Vignettes - The sound of silence

This from The Banker...

Cruella was in Leeds this lunchtime on what I think is called a 'whistlestop'.

Sadly no whistle in evidence nor indeed any announcement.


Nothing at all!

Not even a re-announcement!

There might be 100 additional coaches (sorry, carriages!) for Yorkshire, then again there might not.

Who knows?

The Hammond Organs of course refused to say in advance what the visit was all about.

So, predictably, local media ignored it, with just a crowd of three forlornly gathered...

How unlike those euphoric days when cheering crowds thronged the streets to salute the Saviour of the Jammy Dodger!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Mitchell....

Perhaps the reason for the low turnout in Leeds was due to confusion amongst the Tykes about who is actually responsible for today's railways.

This from local rag the Wakefield Express...

Theresa who?

Turkeys vote against Christmas - Shocker!

This gem from Local Transport Today...

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) has hit out at the Government’s approach to cutting costs of infrastructure projects.

Industry wants to deliver high-quality, good value services to its clients, but simply asking suppliers to reduce their prices is no magic bullet,” ACE chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said.

Just fancy that!

Hitachi resorts to type in IEP negotiations

This from the Northern Echo...

TRAIN builder Hitachi yesterday hinted it could walk away from plans to create thousands of jobs in the North East amid Government delays to a key contract.

Good to see that the spirit of 'Manchurian diplomacy' is alive and well in Tokyo.

Mr Kipling and co may also wish to watch their backs on the 7th December...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

602 days without a new train order

For the avoidance of doubt...

Despite all today's fine words and column inches it remains 602 days since the last order for new trains was placed.

And tomorrow it will be 603 days, and on Saturday 604 days, and on Sunday 605 days, and on Monday 606 days, etc...

So Secretary of State, when will the first of the 2,100 new vehicles that you have promised actually be ordered?

Hammond - Ministerial Statement on Rail Investment

This from the DfT...

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Philip Hammond):

This statement sets out the Government’s plans for investment in rail infrastructure and rolling stock. It builds on the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the outcome of the Spending Review.

Over the next four years, we will provide £14 billion of funding to Network Rail to support capital maintenance and infrastructure investment; and £750 million for high speed rail. We will also fund the Crossrail project, the Tube upgrade programme, light rail projects in Birmingham, Tyneside, Nottingham and Sheffield; and provide additional funding to franchisees for extra rolling stock.

Today, I can confirm we will fund and deliver the Thameslink programme in its entirety, virtually doubling the number of north-south trains running through central London at peak times. But the original programme for the rebuilding of London Bridge was always ambitious, with substantial risks around delivery, and operation of existing services, during construction. To reduce these risks, we have re-profiled the delivery of the programme to achieve completion in 2018. This will enable Network Rail to make further efficiencies to their design and delivery programme.

As part of the Thameslink programme, we will procure a new fleet of trains – up to 1,200 new carriages. This is in addition to around 600 new carriages which will be provided for the Crossrail project. The new Thameslink and Crossrail rolling stock will enable the redeployment of hundreds of serviceable electric carriages currently used on Thameslink services. These carriages belong to rolling-stock leasing companies, but we expect they will be available at competitive leasing prices for re-use elsewhere, thus justifying further electrification of our network.

As a first step, Network Rail will electrify the commuter services on the Great Western Main Line from London to Didcot, Oxford and Newbury over the next six years. Electric trains will speed up journeys, improve reliability and reduce the impact on the environment. Network Rail will also electrify the lines between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool - an investment of up to £300 million. Work is expected to begin next year and to be finished in 2016. As with Thameslink, we expect Network Rail to keep a tight rein on costs.

The redeployment of electric rolling stock to these routes will, in turn, free up hundreds of diesel units which will be available to Train Operators to lease as they become available in the period after 2015.

I can also today confirm that an additional 650 carriages will have been delivered to the network between 6 May 2010 and March 2014. This is in addition to the Thameslink and Crossrail carriages I have already mentioned.

We have funding confirmed for developments at Reading, Birmingham, London Kings Cross and Gatwick Airport. In addition, investments on the East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line and improvements in Yorkshire, on trans pennine routes, around Manchester and in South Wales will improve line speed, reliability and capacity of services.

Beyond these investments in the commuter railway, there are far-reaching decisions to be made about intercity services. The Intercity Express Programme, launched by the previous Government, identified the Agility Trains consortium as preferred bidder to build a new fleet of intercity trains. This February, my predecessors invited Sir Andrew Foster, to provide an independent assessment of the programme. Sir Andrew recommended work on the Agility Trains proposal and a detailed study of the alternatives. Following this work, the four options Sir Andrew identified, have been narrowed down to two. I have ruled out the option of requiring passengers to interchange from electric to diesel trains, recognising the value to passengers of preserving through-journeys. I have also ruled out the option of a wholesale refurbishment of the existing diesel “Intercity 125” fleet, some of which dates back to the 1970s.

The remaining options are, on the one hand a revised, lower cost Agility Trains proposal, which envisages a mixed fleet: some all-electric trains, and some electric trains which are also equipped with underfloor diesel engines. And on the other, a fleet of new all-electric trains which could be coupled to new diesel locomotives where the overhead electric power lines end. Both these options would allow us to preserve through-journeys between London and parts of the rail network which are not electrified. Both of them would deliver faster journey times. For example, we expect to see a time saving of at least 15 minutes, for the journey between Cardiff and London bringing it below 2 hours.

This is a major decision which will affect intercity rail travel for decades, and we must get it right. To address outstanding issues on choice of train type and further electrification on the Great Western Main Line, additional work will be required within the Department, with Agility Trains, and with the Welsh Assembly Government on the business case for electrification into Wales. I expect to announce a final decision on IEP, and on further Great Western electrification, in the New Year.

This package I have announced today has only been possible because this government has been prepared to take the tough decisions to protect investment in Britain’s future. I will make a further oral statement to the House on the issues raised in this statement later today.

- ENDS -

UPDATE: This, unbelievably, from an email address within Marsham Street...

May I point out, modestly, that I got the odds right in the Great Petrol-head Handicap?
(Certainly not Philip, but thanks for the tips. Ed)

Hammond cuts Adonis' investment plans


Good news for the South East (Thameslink and Crossrail get 1,800 new passenger vehicles).

Apparently the homes for another 200 vehicles will be announced later today.

Electrification in the North West is re, re, reannounced.

Great Western electrification on hold.

And IEP's future uncertain.

Further details of Petrol-heads plans will emerge during the day.

All in all (and despite the churlish headline) this looks like a good result for the railways.

Hammond has fought his corner hard and The Fact Compiler's happiness index is hovering on Prosecco, but not yet Champagne...

Good effort! But, as ever, the devil will be in the detail.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Good to see that despite today's exciting announcement the performance of the DfT's press office remains consistent.

There is still no announcement on the DfT website as at 08:33, a full hour and a half after Hammond started glad-handing the media.

On current performance I expect to see an official announcement on-line by 2017 (that's the year rather than the time).

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from Prof Unwin...

In responsey Mr Miles slur on famond Hammond Organs of Old Marshy Street.

Each organ finely tune but in deep sleepy mode till Fairy Petrol-head spring surprisy visit into chamber, window throw open light and firework, thumpy, thumpy computer out emergy grand string pronouncebold to laud and magnify master.

Deep joy.

UPDATE: This from the Archer...

I’ve just heard Petrol-head announce on the Beeb that there will be almost 2,000 net additional carriages 'by the end of the decade'.

Hurrah, that’s 400 carriages per week between now and the end of December!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Petrol-head Rail Expenditure Handicap - Latest Prices

Eye's Course Correspondent reports the going for tomorrow's big event as 'Rough to dodgy'.

Runners and riders
Cockney Link - 4/7 (Fav)
Western Voltage - 3-1 (may be pulled up short)
Juniper's Revenge 5-1
Northern Capacity 100-1 (outsider)
HLOS Commitment 75-1
Kipling's Folly 3-1
Tutu X 3-1
Permatan Fleet 34-1
Sheffield Juice - Scratched

There may yet be a late showing for Legal Eagle at 1-2 on...

Trainy speakibold - Villiers vignetitude

This written answer given by Cruella on the 23 November...

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many complaints he received on the way in which (a) East Coast Mainline, (b) Grand Central, (c) Northern Rail, and (d) Transpennine Express communicate with their customers in the latest period for which figures are available.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)
For the most recent quarterly period the Department for Transport has received six complaints concerning East Coast Mainline, nil for Grand Central, five for Northern Rail and one for Transpennine Express, about the way in which the operators commutate with their customers

Commutate? Commutate!

Prof Unwin comments: Deep joy as Villipede commutate so chloroform. Trebley and Jammy Dodgybic all round.

601 days since the last new train order

This from Captain Deltic...

So busy proof reading Rail Business Intelligence that I overlooked that yesterday was the 600th day without a new train order. (Eye doesn't normally allow such blatant plugs, but just this once. Ed)

But luckily I remembered just now as I was assembling the trophies for this Friday's Golden Spanner Awa... (Oi! I've warned you Deltic, you're barred! Ed)

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

Is it not odd that those local representatives pressing for more capacity haven't latched onto the good Captain's latest ticking time bomb and used it to their own ends?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Perhaps tomorrow's announcement by the Secretary of State will address this problem?

Oh no, now I remember.

Mr Hammond is due to announce the wrong train that nobody actually wants.

Apart that is from Mr Kipling, obviously.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

But any order won't count until the contract has been signed, not to mention the protests from other manufacturers being heard in court.

So, no change tomorrow, I suspect.

ATOC fares spin unspun - again?

Last year ATOC decided that it would only announce a headline figure for the January 2010 fares increases.

Regular readers may recollect that this transparent approach went down well with hacks... in the manner of the Titanic.

Clearly unabashed ATOC has adopted exactly the same policy this year,

So how did it go?

Daily Telegraph: Corporate spinners at the Association of Train Operating Companies have adopted a strategy which is, to put it mildly, economical with the truth.

Financial Times
: The Association of Train Operating Companies has declined to give a detailed breakdown of figures for different operators since 2008, and so the figure is likely to mask considerable local variations in fare increases.

Daily Mail: Labour MP Louise Ellman, who chairs the parliamentary transport select committee, criticised the companies’ ‘failure to disclose’ the true increases.

Evening Standard: Rail bosses were today accused of deliberately trying to hide fare increases of more than 10 per cent.

The Scotsman
: News of the increases yesterday was accompanied by anger from rail watchdogs that passengers will be unable to find out how much individual tickets will rise until at least Sunday.

Channel 4 News
: [ATOC]... gave no details of what the rise would be for each individual train company, nor did it break down the figures into regulated fares - which include season tickets and account for around 40 per cent of all fares - and unregulated fares.

Yorkshire Post: The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) attempted to put a gloss on the figures by confining itself to an announcement that average fares would rise 6.2 per cent

Metro: The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) failed to break down the figures into regulated fares - which include season tickets and account for around 40% of all fares - and unregulated fares, and gave no details of what the rise would be for each individual train company.

ITN: Atoc's lack of information was criticised by the RMT and by rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus which said passengers "deserved to know how much they will have to bear in January".

So that went well then!

Of course Eye feels for individual TOC press officers who felt the full fury of annoyed hacks.

No matter.

Presumably ATOC hopes it will have the media hordes fully trained by next year.

Any bets on third time lucky?

UPDATE: This from a Hacked-off Hack...

Once again I'm astonished at ATOC's cowardice.

They say the present government is sticking to the previous administration's policy to cut the public sector's contribution to running the railways. But that's straightforwardly untrue.

In the CSR, the government announced average fare increases would be RPI + 3 per cent for three years from next year. That's a much more aggressive effort to claw back money from farepayers than was scheduled under Labour.

The policy isn't necessarily wrong - but why do ATOC have to mislead on the government's behalf?

UPDATE: This from Our International Correspondent

None of the transport hacks have understood.

The fares increase is essential to pay for improvements to train services...

Mostly those of Irish Rail.

UPDATE: This from Lobby Fodder...

Philip Hammond, at the Transport Select Committee, has just said that he would like ATOC to be more 'transparent' with fares announcements.

Bernard Street. This is Bernard Street. All change!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Thursday now the new Tuesday - Official

Exciting news for those who are completely confused about when Petrol-head will announce the death of the UK's last remaining train manufacturing plant.

This from today's Lobby briefing...

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has an announcement on the rail network.

Exciting news indeed!

Meanwhile, it appears that the spinners at Hitachi have been forced to 'right-size' their grandiose claims about the number of jobs that the IEP assembly facility will create at Newton Aycliffe.

This from the Northern Echo on the 23rd July quoting the president of Hitachi...

Hiroaki Nakanishi has lobbied Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond to secure the go-ahead for a factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, creating up to 800 jobs directly and about 7,000 more in the supply chain.

Eye readers are invited to compare the figure of 'up to 800 jobs' with the revised figure given by the area's own MP in the Newcastle Journal last Friday...

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, in whose constituency the initial 200 jobs would be based, said thousands of supply sector jobs were dependant on the decision and pleaded for an early announcement.

Eye suspects that Nakanishi San's original numbers were lost in translation.

No matter.

There will be no risk of similar confusion when Hitachi's latest proposals are compared against the DfT's original OJEU and ITT requirements for the IEP...

Railway sculptures - Poulton le Fylde

An occasional series celebrating the rich diversity of artistic forms that Network Rail P-way teams have left in strategic locations to delight the passenger...

Eye suspect that this was an early candidate for world famous contemporary arts award, the Turn-off Prize.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Villiers vignettes - On the Barbielino...

This from Sinoda...

In a telephone interview just broadcast on BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours', Cruella de Villiers appeared to suggest that Virgin Trains could lease the additional brand new Pendolino carriages, currently planned to sit in store, to help alleviate their current "Friday afternoon" overcrowding problems.

Perhaps I was just imagining it!

UPDATE: This from Transol...

I think Sinoda must have misheard.

The minister was quite clear that the new trains and new coaches to extend the old trains were not to be unwrapped until Christmas ....2012.

What she did suggest was that Virgin could simply go off and find some OTHER trains to lease!

Great more Pretendolinos, struggling to run a 125mph diagram with 110mph traction, and put on the Wolverhamptons so they can be turned back at New Street to recover the lost time.

Oops forgot everyone else is grabbing every last Mk 3 for open access or charter sets - still we could get a train with excellent provision for catering - every coach a RUB?

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Villiers didn't say Virgin could lease the additional brand new Pendolino carriages - she was far more inaccurate and her lack of understanding of her brief was breathtaking.

After VT Head of Communications, Arthur Leathley said: "We need more trains, we put to the Government a proposal to introduce many more carriages next year. Unfortunately that’s been declined so those carriages won’t now come in until the end of 2012."

Villiers commented:

"What Arthur said was very misleading – he said that I’ve been stopping Virgin from putting on extra carriages or extra trains. They are entitled to do that, if they want to do that, they can go ahead. They can go out and lease new trains tomorrow if they want to and there’s nothing in their franchise agreement that stops them doing that. The government is supportive and will help deliver new trains from April 2012 but in the interim the train operator has the freedom to go out and lease new trains and put them on the network."

So - there are trains available to be leased tomorrow, that will run on non-available paths on the WCML, and with only 16 months of a franchise left Virgin can lease these fictional trains and run them without the ROSCOs wanting any government support?

Did she dream that up on her own or was she merely badly informed by her officials?

Meanwhile on Tuesday her boss, Hammond, said that VT couldn't use the new Pendolinos and confirmed that they won't enter service until late 2012!

Is there no communication between ministers in the same Department?

Oh - and Virgin asked permission to run a relief service from London to Manchester on Fridays, which could have started yesterday if the DfT had agreed.

Sadly the dead hand of the Department prevailed so no relief ran, no doubt to the delight of cheek by jowl passengers travelling to the North West (but as it's north of Watford who in Marsham Street cares?).

Perhaps time Theresa gave up the rail brief and went back to saving British biccies from Eurocrats, a task much more suited to her... errr... evident gifts!

Hitachi's IEP PR onslaught continues...

This exciting news from SouthEastern...

To celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of High Speed, Southeastern, Hitachi Rail Europe and Eversholt Rail will be available for interviews at St Pancras International between 08.00 and 10.00 on Monday 13 December.

Good news indeed!

Presumably Hitachi will be there in force to field the difficult questions on the trains' performance.

Which should leave SouthEastern free to explain why ridership is err... 'below expectations'?

Off the brown and misses the pink.

Telegrammed by Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road
Has there been a falling out between the FT Transport Correspondent and his ever constant 'veteran railway observer' Rupert Brennan-Brown?

In his item on the refusal of Theresa Villiers to say anything about plans for Thameslink Robert is forced to rely upon the thoughts of a mere 'railway person'.

Looks like the FT has finally joined the legions amongst whom 'Rent-a-quote BB' has little allure.

No matter.

Eye suspects the real reason for Theresa's silence is that her officials have yet to tell her what they've decided.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Robert Wright, for it is he...

Dear Mr Compiler (if you don't mind the formality),

There hasn't been any falling out with Mr Brennan Brown at all.

We here at the FT have a strong stomach for his eccentric views about politics and the railway industry, amusingly tinged as they are with a boyish sense of mischief.

However, part of our authority as a newspaper depends on our wide range of sources and we occasionally go for a while without quoting some of them.

I'm sure he'll be back, even more veteran than before.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Trainy speakibold - Central line

This from the Skip...

Can Professor Unwin help me with this one, seen at Liverpool St today?

Absence of punctuation opens the range of possible scenarios even further!!

Prof Unwin comments "Peter Tollibold student magnum cum loadhailer in the university. Deep, deep study Unwinese and much joy all across Undergrid at speaky script so clear!".

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tuesday is the new Thursday

Telegrammed by Crichel Down
Department for Transport announcements are a bit like the famed Cherbourg rail timetable

If it's a Tuesday or Thursday and the month has an 'r' in it, then something might appear.

Thus Eye understands that Tuesday is the new Thursday; so expect a major announcement from Marsham Street on electrification, major projects and rolling stock on the 23rd. Possibly.

The good news, for those who still believe in the IEP (Sid and Doris Bonkers), is that the DfT's very own Mr Kipling is understood to be pleased with the result.

Happily Eye's legal correspondent, Sir Tort Briefs, advises that Judicial Review specialists have recently been touting a special two-for-one package.

Known by the quaint legal term 'SODOF' (Summons One, Dispute One Free) it has allegedly been taken up by a train manufacturer well versed in instructing M'learned Friends.

Eye awaits proceedings with interest.

Big boys toys - the perfect gift

Whilst yesterday's railwaymen pootle about with kettles in their back gardens what should be the plaything of today's thrusting railway exec?

Eye has the perfect Christmas present idea for today's Young Professional!

One careful owner and British technology to boot!


You know it makes sense!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Saltaire...

How and why on earth is this not in the National Collection???

This was the world’s first Maglev that was operated commercially, coming as it did from the genius brain of Professor Eric Laithwaite.

A true icon of British invention and worthy of a place in the NRM, let alone its parent, The Science Museum.

UPDATE:This from a Mr Hobbs...

With reference to the Birmingham Maglev, there is already a Birmingham Airport Maglev car in the NRM collection.

UPDATE: This from The Captain...

Birmingham MagLev did not come from the brain of Prof Laithwaite.

The only part of the system associated with the Prof's work was the linear motor propulsion.

The really clever stuff, including combining surrogate primary and secondary suspension characteristics in the microprocessor controlled lift magnets, was the result of a development programme by British Rail Research, which culminated in a working demonstrator...

This was commercialised for the Birmingham Airport MagLev by GEC and Brush.

Enough about moving things that don't involve contact with a running rail. T'is unnatural and probably the devils work. Ed

Monday, 15 November 2010

Thursday is cancelled

Clearly Petrol-head and his minions are getting the hang of this railway malarkey.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody last Thursday's big interdependency announcement (HLOS, New Trains, Thameslink, IEP, Electrification, etc...) was errr... postponed.

Eye understands that it is also likely to suffer further delays this Thursday.

Whitehall watchers now claim that all will become clear next Thursday, although that too might be caped.

Therefore probably best not to hold your breath, unless of course you are rammed solid on an overcrowded train, owing to a shortage of much needed new rolling stock.

UPDATE: This from the Great Shunter Who Oversees All...

Surely you mean PINE?

Has DfT Rail policy actually left the station yet?

What with so many NOGO'ed vehicles (IEP, Thameslink, the 1,300 etc...) in the consist.

UPDATE: This from the Major...

If we're to dig out the BR code book, might I suggest that passenger managers telegram Marsham Street with:


which, in case you've mislaid your copy, means:

'The undermentioned train is booked up. Can you increase our allocation to...........'

Do not, however, be surprised if the answer is a short NO.

New services on the WCML

This from Billy Connections...

So Grand Central proposes using DB Class 67s for its Open Access service from Euston to Blackpool.

Meanwhile DB backed Alliance Rail plan to introduce brand new Chinese trains.

With DB backing both sides could this be one battle that the Germans actually win?

Pointless signs - Didcot Parkway platform 4

UPDATE: This from a Mr Sterratt...

This is particularly poignant for me, as two years ago my mother's life was saved in part by the incredibly prompt action of staff on platform 9D at Leeds station, who used a defibrillator (I believe like the one that should be in the box in Didcot) to resuscitate her.

Sadly, my mother did eventually pass away last year, but I am very glad the defibrillator was there and I am very grateful to the staff at Leeds for the extra eight months of my mother's life they helped to give.

Hopefully the defibrillator in Didcot is returned to its box soon.

Pointless signs - Warren Street

NRM celebrates World Toilet Day!

This unmissable event is taking place at the NRM...

The Fact Compiler's bladder is well and truly gasted!

Youth Plants Story - Good effort!

This from Harry (aged 14)...

Earlier in the year Eye carried a story about my campaign to get a locomotive named after Wolverhampton Wanderers.

I thought I would give you an update.

I now have over 1,000 supporters for my campaign and GBRf have challenged me to get Robert Plant to commit to attend the naming.

On Thursday 11th November, Led Zep's Robert Plant drove up from London for the home match against Arsenal.

When I met him before the game he posed with my replica nameplate and confirmed his support - if a naming is to take place and doesn't clash with his tour then he is up for attending it!

If any of your readers would like to support my campaign then please click here:

Good effort! Keep an eye on young Harry, he will go far!

East Coast solves PPM problems

Good news from state owned East Coast!

Usually languishing at the bottom of the PPM table the nationalised operator has leapt straight to the top!

And this despite the leaf-fall season.

Here for example are the figures for the period covering Friday 12th November...

Surely other operators can do just as well?

Perhaps by also monitoring just eight trains...

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from Barbara Dixon...

Personally, I am quite impressed at East Coasts performance on Friday 12th November.

As one of the patrons on a late afternoon service from Peterborough to Leeds on said date where the guard or train manager or whatever they call themselves nowadays was advertising delay repay at all stops.

Are we talking some dodgy wires or a Network Rail signaller spilling his coffee?

No, it was a brake pipe failure on the said train at Biggleswade.

IEP to be swung by soft loan?

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Subscribers to RailHub were tantalised with the following this morning...

Philip Hammond is understood to be visiting the site of a potential Intercity Express Programme rolling stock assembly plant at Newton Aycliffe in Co. Durham on Thursday 18 November. There is speculation that a rail-related announcement may be made then.

Meanwhile this from Reuters...

Nov 13 (Reuters) - The Japanese government is considering giving financial support for Hitachi Ltd's (6501.T) bid to win a high-speed railway project order in the UK, the Nikkei reported.

The Japanese government would provide a loan through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to a railcar-leasing company that Hitachi plans to establish with a leading British general contractor, the daily said.

To be absolutely clear.

A less expensive wrong train is still the wrong train, plus 20 years to rue the wrong decision.

Calling all Picture Desks - fill your boots!

Not content with presiding over a railway that treats photographers as a terrorist threat it would appear that Petrol-head has now banished them from Marsham Street.

This from Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph...

Norman Baker, a Transport minister, said Philip Hammond, the Transport secretary, had "directed that future ministerial photographs will be taken by staff of the department".

This was after his department had spent £550 on official photographs since May 6.

As we are currently picking up the tab for Cameroon's vanity snapper Eye applauds Petrol-head's gesture, but wonders if he may be being penny wise and pound foolish?

This photograph of the Secretary of State was taken by Tom Harris MP at the National Rail Awards earlier this year.

Eye is sure that Tom won't mind Fleet Street picture desks reproducing it at every conceivable opportunity?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Villiers vignettes - Operational Transport Use

Proof positive, were it needed, that Civil Serpents have no understanding of the operational railway.

The soon to be abolished British Railways Board (Residuary) is rushing to flog off the family silver before the quango is consigned to oblivion.

One of the biggest pieces of land that remains in its portfolio is the former Derby Railway Technical Centre site which extends over 11 acres and which BRB(R) has put on the market for £16m.

But what's this?

Although most of the site is used for offices about a third is rail connected and is in operational transport use.

As well as a number of rolling stock engineering businesses dependent on the rail connected site the RTC is also home to Network Rail's Infrastructure Monitoring Fleet, which is so critical to the railways assurance regime that if the monitoring trains failed to run the network would be shut down.

So concerned about the sale is local lobby group the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum that is has issued the following statement:

"We are concerned that the sale of the RTC Business Park contains no protection for the rail-connected facilities at this important site.

"Were these facilities to be lost it would have an enormous impact on the skills base offered, particularly in the field of specialist rolling stock engineering."

Of course in the Age of Austerity nothing must stand in the way of balancing the books - not even clearly issued Ministerial Directions and Guidance.

This from the Saviour of the Jammy Dodger only last week:

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for the land in the ownership of BRB (Residuary) Ltd when that body is abolished.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)
BRB (Residuary) Ltd will continue its agreed programme to dispose of land that has been determined to have no further operational transport use on terms that deliver the best value for money to the taxpayer.

Any land still held by BRB (Residuary) Ltd when it is abolished will transfer to the direct ownership of the Secretary of State for Transport.

So if the RTC is viewed as having 'no further operational transport use' then what rail connected site does?

Eye is confident that Waterloo International, also a part of BRB(R)'s property portfolio, will make a truly splendid hotel!

Have we got GOOD news for you? No!

Today the nation's editors and their deputies travel to Glasgow for the annual bun-fight that is the Society of Editors National Conference.

The society's 400 members will be welcomed to Glasgow tonight by no less a figure than Alex Salmond, after which the owner of the Evening Standard and Independent, Alexander Lebedev, will give the keynote speech.

The event which is running from the 14th to the 16th of November is taking place at the Grand Central Hotel at the city's Central station.

What a marvelous opportunity for the railway to show all those uber-hacks from 'Fleet Street' exactly what it can do as it speeds them to Scotland's second city!

Sadly not.

This from Virgin's website:

Until 1500, train services will operate between Warrington Bank Quay and London Euston, and between Preston and Scotland.

Rail replacement coaches will operate between;

Warrington Bank Quay and Preston

Good to see that the industry's PR's have their fingers on the pulse!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest we forget...

This from the Beeb...

Good effort.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

We shall remember.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

ORR to prosecute over Potters Bar derailment

This from the ORR...


The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today started criminal proceedings against Network Rail Infrastructure Limited and Jarvis Rail Limited for breaches of health and safety law which caused the Potters Bar derailment.

The prosecutions follow the conclusion of the inquest and ORR's investigation into the derailment of a West Anglia Great Northern express train at Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002. Seven people were killed, with many more seriously injured.

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited is facing a charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA). This results from its failure, as infrastructure controller for the national rail network, to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars.

Jarvis Rail Limited is also facing a charge under section 3(1) of HSWA. This results from its failure, as infrastructure maintenance contractor for the relevant section of the national rail network, to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars.

Ian Prosser, director of rail safety at ORR said:

“The conclusion of the recent inquest into the derailment at Potters Bar has allowed the regulator to make a decision on whether any enforcement action should be brought in relation to the incident.

“I have decided there is enough evidence, and it is in the public interest, to prosecute Network Rail and Jarvis Rail for serious health and safety breaches. For the sake of the families involved, we will do all we can to ensure the prosecutions proceed as quickly as possible.

“The railway today is as safe as it has ever been, but there can be no room for complacency. Where failings are found those at fault must be held to account – and the entire rail industry must continue to strive for improvements to ensure that public safety is never put at a similar risk again.”

The first appearance is due to take place at Watford Magistrates’ Court on 7 January 2011 at 11am.

Notes to editors:

1. At the time of the incident the infrastructure controller for the national rail network was Railtrack plc (in administration). Railtrack plc (in administration) was taken over by Network Rail Limited in October 2002 and later renamed Network Rail Infrastructure Limited.

2. In May 2002, Jarvis Rail Limited was the infrastructure maintenance contractor for the Potters Bar area of the national rail network. Jarvis Rail went into administration in March 2010.

3. The train that derailed was the West Anglia Great Northern 12.45pm Cambridge Cruiser service from King's Cross to King's Lynn.

4. On 17 October 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that, after consideration of the evidence, it had advised the British Transport Police (BTP) that there was no realistic prospect of conviction for an offence of gross negligence manslaughter against any individual or corporation arising from the Potters Bar incident.

5. In February 2007, following a fatal derailment of a train at Grayrigg, the inquest into the fatalities at Potters Bar was adjourned, pending the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport on whether a public inquiry or joint inquest should be held into the Potters Bar and Grayrigg incidents. In June 2009 the Secretary of State for Transport decided that separate inquests should be held into the Potters Bar and Grayrigg incidents.

6. As a signatory to the Work Related Death Protocol, ORR has agreed not to prosecute for health and safety offences prior to an inquest unless waiting for the inquest to be completed would prejudice the case. A copy of the protocol can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/misc491.pdf

7. The inquest into the deaths at Potters Bar took place during June and July 2010; the jury returned seven verdicts of accidental death.

8. In October 2010 the CPS informed ORR that it had decided that there were no grounds for it to reconsider its decision of October 2005.

9. Network Rail Infrastructure Limited is facing one charge that, between 31 March 2001 and 11 May 2002, it failed to conduct its undertaking as the infrastructure controller for the national rail network in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may be affected thereby were not exposed to risks to their safety, in that it failed to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures, guidance or other specifications for the installation, maintenance and inspection of shallow-depth adjustable stretcher bar points.

10. Jarvis Rail Limited is facing one charge that, between 31 March 2001 and 11 May 2002, it failed to conduct its undertaking as infrastructure maintenance controller for the East Coast Main Line section of the national rail network in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may be affected thereby were not exposed to risks to their safety, in that it failed to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures, guidance or other specifications for the installation, maintenance and inspection of shallow-depth adjustable stretcher bar points.

11. Adjustable stretcher bars keep the moveable section of track at the correct width for the train's wheels.

12. The decision to prosecute has been made in accordance with ORR’s Enforcement Policy Statement, the Enforcement Management Model and the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

13. The maximum penalty the magistrates’ court can impose for each charge is a fine of £20,000. If the case is committed to the Crown Court the maximum penalty that may be imposed for each charge is an unlimited fine.


PIss Poor PR Award - Pans People Mover

This tosh from the People Parry Mover, who really do need to recruit a proper PR....


Domestic and export market interest stimulates development work

Parry People Movers Ltd is preparing for a future in which its affordable and environmentally-friendly transport technology is becoming more and more attractive. Actions are being taken as a result of the success of its pioneering commercial application and approaches from potential customers in both domestic and international markets.

Eye has also taken 'actions'! And it involved the circular filing cabinet.

IEP – when is a variant not a variant?

Good news for Agility Trains!

Whilst the ‘British led’ consortium desperately tries to square the circle with yet another innovative train design from Hitachi, a quick look at the IEP Invitation to Tender, issued in November 2007, and referring to the OJEU notice (published in March) says:

Bidders must not submit variant Proposals. In the event that variant Proposals are submitted these will not be considered in the evaluation undertaken by the DfT.”

Just fancy that!

As for the original question the answer is: 'When it's a DfT variant desperately trying to create a Voyager clone to keep the bi-mode alive'.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

ATOC's response to PAC report on overcrowding

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
What a pusillanimous lot the train operators are.

Here they are responding to today's Public Accounts Committee report on rail overcrowding.

The delay in tackling capacity has coincided with the growing involvement of civil servants in buying new trains. The best way to get value for money and ensure extra capacity is delivered when and where it is needed would be to return to a situation where train operators take a greater role in ordering new rolling stock. In the early days of privatisation, train operators successfully ordered nearly £5 billion of new trains.

Who can forget Michael Roberts' impassioned conference speeches denouncing DfT's malign influence over train procurement, the ATOC paper standing up for the role of the ROSCOs against the 'Linnard Terror' and the clinical dissection of the technical weaknesses in the Intercity Express Programme.

Meanwhile, back in the reality based community...

Eye recalls a near total silence from the organisation which, like its members, will only now deliver a kicking to DfT Rail after it has been brought down and hogtied by the new Secretary of State for Transport.

On the plus side - there shall be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents...

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

How perverse that the Public Accounts Committee should be economically illiterate.

In its report on train overcrowding it says that there is no incentive for the rail industry to supply extra capacity without additional public subsidy.

Then the report adds 'The Department should in future franchises require operators to take measures themselves to avoid overcrowding and to meet the costs of doing so.'

But as Bowker's Law points out, there are only two sources of money for the railway: the taxpayer and the fare payer.

So is the PAC now calling for higher fares?

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Perhaps the PAC is suggesting that royalties from Sir Moir's lovely book might pay the lease rental on the odd Pacer?

UPDATE: This from Routemaster...

Or perhaps, more seriously, cross subsidy from Stagecoach's lucrative bus business?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Robert Wright of the Pink 'un...

Railway Eye might want to direct readers towards the one newspaper report that made the point about how it wouldn't be economic for franchises to have an obligation to meet an overcrowding target. It's here.

I should warn readers of a nervous disposition, however, that the DfT doesn't approve of the piece's reference to 1,300 new carriages (they're additional, not all new), nor to our claim that "barely any" has been ordered.

They claim that orders have been placed for around a quarter and that's not barely any. Otherwise, it may prove edifying reading, however.