Wednesday, 4 August 2010

West Coast Woe - Three degrees of separation

Telegrammed by Our International Correspondent
MVA – a UK based consultancy jointly owned by RATP and SNCF – recently completed a report for NR and ORR into West Coast performance.

Regular followers of the ongoing West Coast Main Line saga will recollect that following the introduction of the Very High Frequency service in 2009 performance has been, ahem, disappointing (76.4% "on time" in Q4 2008/9 with 559 complaints per 100,000 journeys - a record even for Beardie Rail).

Authored by the eminently respectable William Barter (who knows train planning inside out) the MVA report said, in language carefully designed not to offend the notoriously moody client, that WCML went to ratshit because no-one knew how to model a timetable that worked.

But, MVA’s own understanding of the West Coast may not be quite as robust as they would like us to think.

On their website the “How to find us” map for their Birmingham office helpfully shows that useful and heavily-used direct rail link between New Street and Moor Street.

Of course anyone wanting to know what Birmingham’s rail network really looks like should refer to Stuart Baker’s excellent Rail Atlas which is now in its 12th edition.

That would be the very same Baker who is the DfT's rolling stock and timetabling supremo and who, in a previous life, decided that diesel Voyagers should run under the West Coast wires.

Trebles and no IEPs all round.

Pointless signs - Thetford

This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Here at Thetford there is a similar sign each side of the footbridge where, I believe, there once was a foot crossing.

If anyone can remind us when the crossing was taken out of use we can work out how long these signs have been in place and possible how many times the black apostrophes have been lovingly repainted in the wrong place...

UPDATE: This from Sinoda...

I believe the Thetford foot crossing was removed in about 1987/88.

About 3 years ago, a Sunday rail replacement coach driver, having been guided by his Sat-Nav, was found looking for the road level crossing.

Although on the same site, this had closed in the early years of the last century!

Cuneo and the mouse that roared...

Telegrammed by The Master
According to the Terence Cuneo Memorial Trust:

When Terence Cuneo died in 1996, there were many of his friends who felt that his achievements, as one of the 20th Century’s best and most versatile painters, should be recognised and celebrated in some way, to encourage future generations to know and enjoy his exceptional talent.

A few like-minded people, together with our family, formed a committee. The goal was simple, to raise enough money to commission a statue of Terence Cuneo and give it a home in the most public and appropriate place possible...

Along with the statue, the committee considered that it would be a fitting tribute if the Cuneo name could also be given to an annual prize at The Slade School of Fine Art, his alma mater. As a result of this ‘The Terence Cuneo Memorial Trust’ was formally established as a Registered Charity in March 2002.

It is a measure of the affection in which Terence Cuneo was held by the Royal Family that HM The Queen graciously agreed to head the subscription list.

Thanks to a magnificent gesture from an admirer of Cuneo’s paintings, Philip Jackson, the renowned sculptor was commissioned to create the statue.

With the help of Network Rail the 1.5 times life size Bronze Statue of Terence Cuneo now stands in the main concourse of Waterloo Station - adjacent to the Eurostar Terminal.

And how fares the statue today?

Sadly it stands neglected, covered in dust and detritus and almost invisible between a rash of new fast food kiosks.

What a reflection on the way the railway treats its heritage.

Come on Network Rail - you can do better than this.

UPDATE: This from Driver Potter...

Never really understood why they didn't put the statue under the station clock...

Railway Garden Competition - Lewes

ODA unveils transport investment - World laughs

Good news for hard pressed Londoners!

To date most of the transport news about the Olympics has been entirely negative - what with the exciting introduction in 2012 of Zil Lanes across swathes of the capital for the exclusive use of bloated Olympic officials and their entourages, whilst oridinary Londoners face the threat of summery execution should they even think of straying into them.

Happily the tide has turned and those long promised transport improvements are finally starting to arrive!

This thrilling email announcement from the Olympic Delivery Authority:

Robert the Engine gets first makeover as part of London 2012 transport investment

A steam locomotive called Robert is receiving a London 2012 paint job after 78 years of pigeons, rain and wind left him feeling under the weather.
Robert the Engine, built in 1933, is being given a makeover before resuming his place outside the main transport hub for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by the end of the year.

Errr... run that by us again?

The ODA has painted a knackered kettle and this is billed as "transport investment".

Yes London, the rest of the world really is laughing at you.

Railtrack - a gift that keeps on giving

Telegrammed by Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road
Browsing through the uncorrected note of Philip Hammod's evidence to the Transport Select Committee we came across this exchange:

Q18 Kwasi Kwarteng: My question is related to rail and the position of Railtrack. Clearly, you have been on record saying certain things about the governance there and there is a perception that that is quite poor because it is neither one thing nor the other. It is a private concern and then I suspect because the government did not want the liability to be on the balance sheet it is neither fish nor fowl. I was just wondering what your position on Railtrack was in terms of governance.

Mr Hammond: The Coalition came into office with a commitment to make Railtrack more accountable to its immediate customers and to its ultimate customers, rail passengers

Only goes to show what a strong and enduring brand Railtrack built in its short but unhappy life.

Pointless signs - One for the hangers and floggers

This from Centro...

Loxdale Metro stop has had a make over with a difference. Over the past month and a half offenders made amends for their crimes by clearing the vegetation around the area.

Centro joined forces with Travel Midland Metro and Wolverhampton Community Payback after receiving requests from local residents asking if the vegetation could be removed. Work started on 10th June 2010 and was completed on 30th July 2010.

Quite right too - the way of the transgressor is very hard!

But what's this?

Presumably the PCSO and observing officials are there to prevent these evil miscreants donning ear defenders, face guards, hard hats etc...

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

On the other hand given that this is Birmingham this could be sharia payback, with fingers about to go through the shredder...

Gold plated stations - Chesterfield

This from the Wicked Weaver...

I wonder if I might share with Eye readers these photographs of the new platform 3 at Chesterfield station.

Observe the miles upon miles of Coucher Memorial Fencing here...

...and here...

The new platform also hosts some exciting new features - perhaps some of your readers can guess what this one is for?

A Zimmer frame bolted to the ground? Obviously the safest way for the infirm to negotiate highly dangerous stations in these safety conscious times.

Of course the piece de resistance is the dedicated fire escape from the end of platform 3 that runs almost the length of the new structure, just in case all that metal, glass and tarmac suddenly bursts into flame...

In these straightened times it is good to see that no expense has been spared to protect the passenger.

Perhaps the only disappointment is that despite the vast expense it's still not in use yet.

UPDATE: This from
Geo.Stephenson (Retd), Clay Cross

I fear I must point out, Sir, if no more immediate source has done so yet, that there are reports this new Passenger Wharf was used on 29th July to accommodate trains after a passenger was taken ill and the train he was travelling on detained in platform 2 awaiting paramedics.

Yours, laying tracks faster than the gricers can grice!

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus virginicus...

..and it's only been constructed for use during engineering works !!!

Pointless signs - Rail replacement bus stops

Darwin Award - Puffer-nutters yet again

This from Eye's friends over at Steam Railway magazine...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in this picture taken from a legal vantage point by a Steam Railway photographer...

Taken on Sunday 25th July it shows two photographers (shurely 'trespassing idiots'? Ed) in the six foot at Shotlock Hill Tunnel.

This was on the return trip after they had already crossed the line once to take a photo of the 8F on The Waverly.