Tuesday, 10 August 2010

East Coast news - prepare for the Barbie-lino!

Telegrammed by Sir Humphrey Beeching
Summer recess allows our Civil Service to get on with their pet schemes unencumbered by ministers meddling in matters they really don't understand.

Over an excellent Rules luncheon yesterday a former DfT colleague told me of the latest Big Idea to emerge from the department's very own, but much misunderstood, professional railwayman.

Code named 'Eastern Promise', the plan is to operate the single return Glasgow to King's Cross service, contained in the 'Eureka!!' timetable, with one of the four new Pendolinos ordered by Virgin Rail Projects.

As my luncheon companion put it, in the modern parlance that all members of the First Division Association must now use: "A Pendolino on the East Coast 'would tick a lot of boxes'!"

First it would counter the spin from that awful oik Branston that £100 million of brand spanking new trains will be left sitting idle in sidings simply because the department refuses to give him, and the unspeakably off-message McSouter, an extension to their West Coast franchise.

Secondly it will provide the fragrant Elaine at our East Coast Main Line franchise with more baubles to play with, where of course my DfT Rail colleagues can keep an eye on them.

And finally, if ministers do accept the reactionary views of naive bankers on the Intercity Express Programme, it will show that DfT Rail is proactively looking for alternatives to replace the IC225 fleet.

Of course all this depends on slipping the Pendolino service into the Eureka!!! timetable whilst Cruella is on holiday, so naturally I was sworn to secrecy...

UPDATE: This from Driver Bill Hoole...

With twice the power of a Deltic I'm sure I speak for all East Coast Main Line Top Link Men when I say we are all for this proposal.

Climbing Stoke at 140 will be a new experience.

But in today's risk averse culture has anyone thought about a safe walking route to signal post telephones?

I note that Pendolinos don't have a cab door, so when you climb down you're half a vehicle length from the SPT.

Presumably provision of safe walking routes has been written into the business case?

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

So DfT Rail continues inventing outrageously expensive projects in the Age of Austerity!

Whilst most civil servants are "re-chipped" at the change of Government so as to conform to the thinking of their new masters the DfT Rail team still appears high on the hog in the land of statist intervention, merrilly wasting millions on plans which have no business case.

When will Cameron and Petrol-head remind them that there just isn't the money to waste?

The East Coast Pendolino plan will cost millions of pounds in infrastructure and testing work, take Network Rail experts off more important work and deliver no benefits for the WCML where trains between Birmingham and Scotland are worked by 5-car Voyagers which are regularly full and standing.

So - a frugal DfT would put the four new Pendolinos onto the Birmingham - Scotland trains they were designed to work and, if needs be, facilitate the transfer of the 221s to East Coast.

These sets are already route cleared from Glasgow to Kings Cross (in non-tilt configuration), would provide much needed extra capacity and the move would cost almost nothing.

I though the DfT had been ordered to stop micro-managing the national train fleet? Ministers, wherever you are on your holidays, time to put that call in now!

UPDATE: This from The Archer...

Back in the last century (about 1999 I think) GNER wanted to buy Pendolini as part of their new 20 year franchise bid.

A well known technical consultancy from the Derby area was contracted to ‘Easternise’ the train’s specification, given the wider operating temperature range that would apparently be encountered on the East Coast.

The repeat order was therefore no such thing so the price shot up and the 20 year franchise didn’t get awarded anyway.

So unless the Eureka timetable is going to run this service in the summer months only, don’t expect 'Eastern Promise' to tick any of the reliability boxes.

UPDATE: This from The Major...

I trust that even now Alstom's engineers are busy disabling the tilting equipment on the trains destined for East Coast in order to form a specific sub-fleet purely for Barbie Rail.

And that the trains are booked into Doncaster Works to allow a repaint into the specific shade of silver that is now fashionable around King's Cross.

Finally, they will of course need a special dome to feed East Coast's feeble wi-fi signal into the passenger coaches.

Fortunately forthcoming cuts to the Royal Navy may release a few cheap second hand domes from various unwanted frigates and destroyers.

UPDATE: This from Reginald S Potter...


Regretfully I have to take up my pen once again to correct Railway Eye.

Why oh why can't so called railway people get the spelling of Eureka! right?

Punctuation marks play a vital role in modern brand management.

In fact, might I humbly suggest to Ms Holt that an umlaut over the 'u' might further strengthen the impact of Eureka!?

Yours etc

UPDATE: This from our International Correspondent...

Why has Driver Hoole become so unhelpful since his death?

Many engines with cab doors half a vehicle length from the front end have operated over the ECML in recent years - Duchess of Sutherland, Bittern, and even Tornado with Jeremy Clarkson on board, to name but several.

So Elaine's new Barbie-lino will be fine.

And if the cess is too catastrophic for sensitive Knights of the Iron Road to walk in, a simple 10m SPAD will put the door handily near the SPT, or "Confessional".