Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pointless signs - Stafford

New uses for old railway stations?

This from Driver Potter...

So first we have Waterloo International blazing a brave trail for stations that don't want to be stations by becoming a theatre.

And now we have Edge Hill, which according to the BBC has pretensions of artistic endeavour.

Of course being at the cutting edge of contemporary railway thinking I have no doubt that the Eye will be able to think of even more controversial uses for railway stations.

Perhaps as places where trains can stop so that the poor bloody passenger can get on and off them. (Nah - too radical. Ed)

Reichsbahn anschluss of Arriva approved

The European Commission has approved Deutsche Bahn's takeover of Arriva.

Eye welcomes the renationalisation of Cross Country and Arriva Trains Wales.

A shame of course that any profit will now go to Berlin, rather than London or Cardiff.

Virgin's view of Barbielino and Eastern Promise

Clearly confusion reigns over today's exciting announcement from Directly Operated Railways about plans to operate 'Barbielinos' on the ECML.

Virgin were clearly unsighted on DOR's plans as this statement, released yesterday afternoon, by Virgin Rail Group reveals

"We have no knowledge of any plans to use new Pendolinos on East Coast and have not been asked for any advice. The new Pendolinos were ordered for the West Coast based upon a robust business case and are due to start arriving in the UK later this year.

“As has already been reported, we have made a proposal to the DfT to seek an extension to our West Coast Franchise and one of the many benefits would be to assist the DfT with the tricky integration of new vehicles and offering options to put the new 11-car trains into revenue earning service earlier than previously envisaged, to provide maximum capacity before and during the Olympic Games in 2012.

“We cannot go into too much detail as this is still a matter between us and the DfT, but we can confirm broadly that our plans are to put the first new Class 390 on Scotland - Birmingham services in 2011, of which many are now full and standing (nearly half of all trains on Fridays and Sundays). Then we would extend the trains to London, restoring some direct Milton Keynes - Scotland links, and free-up a Super Voyager to start a new service linking Manchester with Heathrow ( Hayes ). Another set would also enable hourly London - Glasgow services throughout the day by the end of 2011.

“Furthermore, we have developed a new business case that pays for the placing of an order for another 42 vehicles, at no additional cost to Government. This would bring the complete Pendolino fleet of 56 trains up to 11-car with 2 additional standard class coaches per set.

“We are sure the DfT will not dismiss out of hand our revenue earning proposals over an experiment on the East Coast and we are just waiting to discuss our proposals in more detail.

"Given the record rates of growth we seeing on our West Coast services (three times higher than the East Coast) we really need to get the trains and cars into service as soon as possible to handle the growing passenger numbers without worsening overcrowding."

Eye understands that the DfT press office were also unaware of the DOR release until it popped into their inboxes this morning.

Not bad considering that DOR is part of the Department for Transport.

Three Railway Eye cheers for joined up government!

UPDATE: This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

Virgin say: “We are sure the DfT will not dismiss out of hand our revenue earning proposals over an experiment on the East Coast and we are just waiting to discuss our proposals in more detail."

Virgin mean: 'We put in our proposals yonks ago and from the deafening silence it's pretty clear that DfT Rail is continuing its vendetta against us despite the change of government.'

UPDATE: This from Jumbo...

Is there any circumstance in which Virgin could resist telling us how good they are?

With investment of over £10 billion on the West Coast, and a massive increase in the train service, it is no wonder that growth is three times higher than on the East Coast.

Still with all their exciting plans, no doubt the DfT can expect Virgin to offer lots of lovely lolly in premium payments in the near future.

But is it too soon to tell Sir Roy McNulty?

UPDATE: Ithuriel responds to Jumbo...

As any fule kno, DfT Rail felt that it had been taken to the cleaners by those nasty capitalists at Virgin when the revised West Coast franchise deal was struck.

Virgin even sweet-talked the gullible civil servants into early eligibility for revenue support under cap and collar (Like those public spirited entrepreneurs at First Group?. Ed).

But despite Virgin's worst efforts, ridership and revenue is booming, so that it is all cap and no collar on the West coast and the public purse is taking 80% of earnings over the revenue profile in the revised franchise agreement.

Meanwhile East Coast is still relying on the collar.

Clearly DfT Rail believes that no commercial good deed should go unpunished

Hitachi continues to fight for the IEP

Whilst Tony Mercado (the new Stuart Baker?) and team are busy playing The Fat Controller with Pendolini what news of the IEP?

Clearly DfT Rail's sudden enthusiasm for Alstom's finest has nothing to do with the near universal view that the IEP is dead in the water. Although Captain Deltic's waggish suggestion that the acronym now stands for 'Intercity Eastcoast Pendolino' may yet be officially adopted by Marsham Street, allowing some small degree of face saving in the Minster House bunker.

No matter

With DfT washing its hands of the IEP, now known as the Super Express, it now falls to Hitachi to keep the embers of the doomed project glowing.

Over the last few days there has been a flurry of desperate stories appearing in regional media promising jam tomorrow to local economies should an order for the trains ever be placed.

This from the Daily Post today...

NORTH Wales is on the short list for the site of a manufacturing plant for a new generation of ‘super express’ trains.

About 1,000 jobs could be created if Japanese firm Hitachi finally decides to build carriages for the trains on Deeside...

A spokesperson for Hitachi Europe confirmed that up to 200 people could be involved in the construction of the new plant and Deeside was among sites under consideration.

Whilst this appeared on the BBC Wear website on Monday...

County Durham 'first choice' for super trains

About 1,000 jobs could be created in County Durham if Japanese firm Hitachi decides to build carriages for "super express" trains in the area.

The firm said Newton Aycliffe was the "first choice". Another site in North Wales has also been short-listed.

A spokesperson for Hitachi said up to 200 people would be involved in the construction of the new plant.

A further 800 would be employed in manufacturing the trains - which could begin in 2013.

Presumably Hitachi is working on the basis that if you repeat something often enough it might actually happen?

You can't blame them for trying.

UPDATE: This from
Kendo Nagasaki...

Hitachi have failed to explain a key change to their Red Castle project which aims to set up a UK manufacturing unit.

Emulating Chairman Mao's policy of a steel furnace in every village Hitachi will now have lots of factories.

Clearly this policy is simplified if the new locations can offer a pool of management with existing railway experience.

Priority sites include Iainland in Scotland and Adrian Shooter's country estate, which has the added advantage of a rail test track already in place (subject to re-gauging)...

Railway Garden Competition - Entry withdrawn

This from London Midland Controller...

With reference to this post on your blog (and your distress (!) at the removal of the foliage at Retford) I regret to inform you that the "triffids", as described by a driver recently, at Bletchley have subsequently been removed from Platform 6 and we will have to leave the competition.

The close attempt to grow a garden on the Down Fast platform at Leighton Buzzard has also been removed!

I'm sure that my esteemed colleagues will, however, try for a better result in the years forthcoming!

WSMR under pressure?

This from the Daily Post...

Passengers warned they could lose Wrexham-London rail link

PASSENGERS are being warned to “use or lose” a direct train link from North Wales to London.

Rail boss Andy Hamilton fired the shot across the bows as he announced the first ever ticket price rise on the service.

Fares between Wrexham and London Marylebone will now cost £60 - a 12% increase on current prices.

Vorsprung durch Technik - not.

Exciting Eye competition for the Silly Season

As we are now into the 'silly season' it's time for an exciting new Eye competition...

Politicians as trains!

Twitter users may have seen some early attempts at this yesterday.

For example:

Tony Blair = Voyager - fast, no room for baggage but an unpleasant odour.

Lord Prescott = 08 shunter - Slow, determined but getting nowhere fast. Some are preserved in their retirement

Ali Campbell
= Pendolino - Flash, exciting, shapes the agenda. Sadly not much up front and easily broken

Philip Hammond = Wickham Trolley - Petrol powered, single purpose, get you there. Big problem when it encounters passengers.

David Laws = 458 Junipers - Sudden end but a prosperous comeback on the horizon... (with a bowler tip to @swlines)

Ron Davies = East Coast cl91+mk4 set - carried more liveries than anyone can remember and likely to change again soon (with a bowler tip to @Politic_Animal)

Ann Widdecombe = Parry People Mover - very hard to get going and not worth it when you do (with a bowler tip to @BorisWatch)

Boris = a Pacer - very hard to stop them bouncing around on rough stuff (with a bowler tip to @BorisWatch)

More welcome...

UPDATE: This from @clloyd3003, via Twitter...

Gordon Brown = HST set
- Old, a bit noisy, keeps getting upgraded, desperately needs to be replaced...

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Harold Wilson = Class 56 - Heavyweight and smokes a lot.

John Profumo = Class 35 - Incompatible multiple working. Early withdrawal but later did much useful work.

UPDATE: This from
5741 Duck...

Nick Clegg = TGV - moves faster than you'd expect, goes down surprisingly well in other countries and orange

UPDATE: This from
The Big Basher...

Dave Cameron & Nick Clegg = Class 13 Master-and-slave unit - 'Nuff said.

More on the Barbie-lino

Much excitement following Sir Humphrey Beeching's revelation yesterday that the DfT plans to run a Pendolino on the ECML between Glasgow and London.

Eye reader and uber-blogger Tom Harris MP has submitted the following parliamentary question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans his department has to use Pendolino rolling stock for service on the East Coast main line and if he will make a statement?

Expect a statement from either the Department or state owned East Coast today.

UPDATE: And here it is...


Directly Operated Railways Limited, the company established by the Government in 2009 to manage Train Operating Companies that come back to the public sector, today announced that it is in discussion with industry parties concerning the possibility of commissioning a new 11-car Pendolino train on the East Coast Main Line.

Elaine Holt, Chairman and Chief Executive of Directly Operated Railways, and Chairman of East Coast, said:

“I’m very pleased that East Coast has been asked to commission the new Pendolino on the East Coast Main Line. Whilst a final decision has not yet been made, if it goes ahead, the train would add extra capacity to our fleet – and we’re sure our customers would appreciate the comfort and facilities that the new Pendolino has to offer.

“We’re currently talking with the manufacturers Alstom, and other key industry partners to understand the challenges and opportunities involved in the commissioning and certification of the Pendolino on East Coast.”

Under the plan, East Coast Main Line Company Limited (East Coast), the publicly-owned company which operates Anglo-Scottish services on Britain’s premier long-distance rail route, would take delivery of the new train in July next year. East Coast would operate the Pendolino in daily passenger service, principally between London and Edinburgh, for a period currently estimated to be nine months.

The new 11-car Pendolino Class 390 – which is being built by Alstom at its facility in Savigliano, Italy – forms part of an order for four such train-sets. Alstom started work on the new order in early 2009. The units will be very similar to the 52 Pendolino Class 390s, each of 9 cars, currently in service on the West Coast Main Line.

These train-sets were built by Alstom between 2001 and 2004 and are capable of speeds of up to 140 miles per hour*.

The 11-cars of the new Pendolino will be only slightly longer than trains in the existing East Coast fleet, enabling all current station stops to be utilised by the train without the use of Selective Door Operation.

Whilst the new 11-car Pendolino is being commissioned with East Coast, it would be fully integrated into the East Coast fleet and timetable – and would be maintained by the Alstom train care centre at Polmadie, in Glasgow.


Note to editors:

*Speeds are limited to 125 miles per hour on both the East and West Coast Main Lines, due to infrastructure constraints.

UPDATE: This from The Shunter...

Someone must be having a laugh - this has disaster written all over it.

East Coast can't even manage their current fleet at the moment - judging by PPM and the fact they've had to hire in an HST set from EMT.

So what happens when the Barbie-lino fails on the ECML - what will East Coast use to rescue it?

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

If the service ever gets off the ground it will be interesting to see whether a Pendolino, no doubt with riding techie monitoring every thyristor through a lap top and tilt switched out, can match IC125 reliability on the same route.

Period 4 NFRIP results: East Coast IC125 27,000 miles per casualty. Class 390 fleet, er, almost exactly half that figure.