Thursday, 28 January 2010

FuCC... errr... deeply FuCCed! Or not...

This from the BBC...

A minister has refused to rule out nationalising an "appalling" London commuter railway line that suffered almost three months of disruption.


But Eye thinks not.

Readers may wish to look at a political map of the constituencies through which the Thameslink route passes.

The sea of blue gives the clue.

With no votes to be gained FuCC just ain't on 'The Grid'.

If only they had voted Labour... Meanwhile in Aberdeen, trebles all round!

Golden Aerial awards - nominations requested

There is an open letter to Arriva Cross Country's MD over at John Popham's blog, with a bowler tip to @watfordgap.

In the letter John bemoans the lack of connectivity aboard Arriva Cross Country's Voyager fleet.

And he politely suggests that Arriva Cross Country "consider introducing signal boosters into Voyager carriages."

Now the Fact Compiler has used XC's Voyagers on numerous occasions and to be honest, he found them particularly good for both phone and mobile broadband connectivity.

At least they were, until a couple of weeks ago when they become as connectivity friendly as the dreaded Meridians and Desiros.

So John has a very good point, but it's not a problem that is restricted to Arriva Cross Country.

With this in mind Eye invites readers to suggest the best and worst TOC fleets for mobile working.

Eye will then award Golden Aerials to the best connected fleet (free wifi), Silver Aerials (paid for or no WiFi but your own kit can still pick up a signal) and Bent Aerials (train made of lead).

Eye's starter for 10:

Golden Aerials (free wifi)

  • East Coast (HSTs and IC225s)
  • Grand Central (HSTs)
  • Heathrow Express (332s)
  • Virgin (Pendolini - First Class Only)
  • Wrexham and Shropshire (only on refurbished sets)

Silver Aerials (I can connect!)
  • Arriva XC (HSTs)
  • C2C (Electrostar 357)
  • Charter Operators (Mk1s and Mk2s are pretty good)
  • EMT (HSTs)
  • FCC (319s)
  • First Great Western (HSTs)
  • Northern (14x & 15x fleets do connectivity)
  • Southern (377s)
  • South West Trains (159s)
  • Virgin (Voyagers)

Bent Aerials (if the bomb drops I want to be sitting here)
  • Arriva XC (Voyagers)
  • EMT (Meridians)
  • SWT (Desiros)
  • Virgin (Pendolini - Standard Class)
Eye welcomes any additional contributions and suggested regradings.

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

Don't forget @WrexShropRail have free WiFi in all classes on all the refurbished sets. Dunno how many unrefurb left, though.

And you may care to point out that Arriva Cross Country promised WiFi in all Voyager and HST trains by 11th November 2009 (2 years into the franchise).

And so they did - naughty Arriva Cross Country! I wonder what the supine Department for Transport plan to do about that broken franchise promise?

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

All virgin trains have orange signal boosters I think.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Willis...

I'd like to nominate First Great Western (HSTs) for a silver aerial - at least for most of the route between Paddington and Oxford.

There's a black hole somewhere in the Cholsey Gap...

UPDATE: This from Pendolino Warrior...

Phew,home at last and able to communicate with the world......reliably.

Virgin Wifi is slow and unreliable. It just can't take the demand placed upon it.

Effectively it ticks the box for Wifi on trains but does little more. It is provided by TMobile and can be very Germanic...

General Error advances west.

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

As for dongles, c2c route fairly friendly.

Blackspots at Limehouse, East Ham, Dunton Bank and just west of Southend Central.

357014 is pilot free T-Mobile Hotspot. 357034 has trial signal dampener in the Quiet Zone to reduce no. of bars reception.

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

AFAICT XC ripped out boosters upon the franchise change as all stickers disappeared, instead of having VT reference removed.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Of course the East Coast WiFi is "first generation" with remarkably low data speeds and regular disconnections.

DOR "wonder-woman" Elaine Holt says one of her first priorities is to get it upgraded - but don't expect it to remain free of charge for Standard Class passengers.

Meanwhile over at Virgin people are finding better reception and less drop-outs on its SuperVoyagers.

Veteran operator Chris Gibb says this is because his 221s have a dedicated receiver for every vehicle, whilst the Pendolinos share fewer receivers and the signal, especially north of Crewe, gets lost more easily.

Finally WSMR may have free WiFi, but logging on requires the inputting of an email address and contact details.

Give it a couple of days and the mailshots will start arriving in your in-box... shameless!

UPDATE: This from Murray...

RE East Coast (HSTs and IC225s) - it may be free, but have you tried using it?

It is slow at the best of times, but on my last journey it crapped out at least six times between Edinburgh and London.

In most cases it was much faster to use my iphone & 3G even when the train wifi was "working".

You get what you pay for.

Reports of IEP demise much exaggerated?

Telegrammed by The Master
The Cassandra's of the railway are ever keen to predict the demise of the IEP (too bloody right. Ed).

However,if rumours circulating around the industry are to be believed, the project may have legs yet.

For no sooner had nationalised East Coast lost one IEP Project Director to Nexus than they immediately appointed another one!

Apparently it will be no less a figure than John Veitch, whose previous role was introducing another troublesome fleet - Virgin's Pendolini.

A welcome return to the industry for John, who starts at the state owned operator tomorrow.

Meanwhile Eye wonders who is picking up the tab for the post - East Coast or DfT?

Mike Carroll - Like a candle in the wind!

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
Good news from Rail Professional!

Apparently the Meningitis Trust has appointed Mike Carroll, late of First Great Western, as its new Chairman.

Good news indeed and congratulations all round.

Although Rail Amateur is perhaps a little harsh on Carroll who, according to the mag, "had an extinguished career within the rail industry".

Er, quite so.

Leeds Cyclepoint speeded up for May poll

Good news for the push-bikers of Leeds.

Eye understands that an instruction has come down from on high that Cyclepoint "must be open by May".

Cyclepoint is based on a Dutch concept which combines manned and secure cycle storage with retail, repair and hire facilities at major stations. The first of which is being piloted at Leeds station by Northern Rail.

Only last Friday the Noble Lord went to Leeds to figuratively cut the first sod (very carefully making a few first cuts in the concrete without disrupting the commercial lets downstairs).

A challenging job to build, with a minimum of wet trades work, whilst still allowing valuable commercial use downstairs to operate without interruption.

Earlier press releases spoke of Cyclepoint opening in mid-2010.

But presumably this doesn't fit The Grid.

More importantly it won't allow Lord Adonis to open the new facility as part of April's electioneering Pilgrimage of Grice

Arriva in SNCF tie-up?

This from Reuters...

Transport group Arriva has held talks with France's state railway group SNCF, about a possible equity link-up with its transport unit Keolis.


Eurotunnel twists the knife in Eurostar

Good to see that Eurotunnel continues to brief against Eurostar.

Whilst the rest of the world has to wait until February for the results of the Christopher Garnett led review into the pre-Christmas Chunnel fiasco, Eurotunnel has been busy getting its retaliation in first.

BBC Radio 4's 'The Report', due to be broadcast tonight at 20:00, contains the following accusations from Eurotunnel PR man John Keefe:

"Before the emergency services arrived passengers stepped off the train into the tunnel.

"In reality that was an incredibly dangerous thing to do," he said.

Mr Keefe also said, "This caused a great deal of problems for the emergency services when they arrived."

He stated that rescue workers did not know how many people were in the tunnel, were left in the train, or had returned to the train.

"The decision to open the door put passengers lives at risk."

How comforting to see the operator and infrastructure owner presenting such a united front.