Friday, 10 September 2010

East Coast celebrates record breaking turnover

Is state owned East Coast becoming the rail equivalent of the Marie Celeste?

The company has only been nationalised for ten months and in that time there have been a flurry of departures through East Coast's revolving doors.

First there was the Engineering Director, gone!

Then the Commercial Director, gone!

Then the Head of Safety, gone!

Then the Director of Communications, gone!

And latest to join the exulted list is the Customer Services Director, now gone!

An impressive turnover of senior staff in such a short time to be sure.

What's more it would appear that the Operations Director is now "not returning calls"

Can it be long before the Captain is obliged to go down with the ship?

UPDATE: This from our international correspondent...

Is the East Coast's slimmed down management due to natural wastage, or was it the prospect of the 'Barbie-lino' that caused the rush to the lifeboats?

The Engineering Director would have had to maintain a train for which all the spares and manuals are held by Virgin West Coast.

The Commercial Director would have had to explain why the train was financially underperforming every other service on the route, because the high speed dash to Scotland is deprived of intermediate revenue and would have to compete head to head with Easyjet, which effectively caps the fare at low cost airline levels.

Head of Safety would have had to sign the Get our of Jail Card for introducing a one off into an otherwise simple cohesive fleet (no doubt with memories of how unstraightforward the hired-in NoL Eurostar sets were).

The Director of Communications would find himself justifying an East Coast Pendolino to Captain Deltic, whose derision for the whole thing shines out of his latest column like a lump of Polonium. Just dishing out the usual mix of free tickets and platitudes may not be enough.

The Customer Services Director would have had to deal with all the public correspondence (why do you make us travel in such a rattly train? What is that terrible pong coming from the loo? etc...).

And it cannot be a surprise that the Operations Director is, ahem, unavailable...since he would have to actually run the bloody thing...

UPDATE: This from Mallard...

You may be amused to know that East Coast have now banned access to Railway Eye from its IT network for being 'inappropriate'!

The railway equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "La la la la la - I can't hear you!"

Arriva Cross Country spanked for lack of WiFi

So. DfT has fined Arriva Cross Country for failing to install on train WiFi in breach of its franchise agreement.

Regular readers will be aware that Eye has often called for Arriva Cross Country to meet this particular commitment.

Finally, according to Monday's Daily Telegraph, the DfT has decided to act:

CrossCountry, which runs trains from Cornwall to north- east Scotland, has been fined for failing to provide WiFi.

And about time too.

Meanwhile what news on penalties for its other missing franchise promises, which were previously lauded on the Arriva XC website:

Introduction of five High Speed Train (HST) sets each with eight state-of-the-art refurbished coaches (total of 550 seats per set), providing longer trains with more seats and luggage space on the major North East-South West route... (Only two are in use every weekday and all sets are one TSO short).

High quality service on board:

  • seat reservations within 10 minutes of a train arriving at a station (nope)
  • introduction of at-seat catering, reflecting customer preferences (trolley usually stuck at the rear of standard class)
  • Wi-Fi access for all seats on all HSTs and Voyagers, and improved mobile phone reception on Voyagers (mobile phone reception still dreadful)
  • hot plated food available to First Class passengers (soggy cardboard is not a plate)
  • three members of staff providing on board service on long distance trains (you're having a laugh)
Will DfT's new found boldness at enforcing franchise commitments stretch to enforcing penalties for the non-delivery of these as well?

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

Think 3 members of staff is met! Trolley, TM and FC host!

UPDATE: This from The Major...

I'm confused.

Far be it from me to doubt the Telegraph but the story appears to differ from the headline and gives no tangible evidence of the DfT fining Arriva XC.

It does have the DfT saying that it's taken action against XC but this could be a stiff letter rather than a fine.

Furthermore it notes that XC's deadline is September 30.

I'm sure XC deserve a fine but to levy it before the deadline is a little 'previous' particularly as my latest RAIL magazine (read in public placed within one's regimental journal) suggests that XC has yet to agree this deadline (hardly surprising I suppose).

And what is this wifi of which you speak?

I struggled for years with Button A and Button B...

UPDATE: This from Tony Miles...

Eye readers might be interested in this statement issued by the DfT last week:

"CrossCountry has been paying a Committed Obligation Payment Adjustment since the start of the year relating to WiFi. CrossCountry will continue to pay this until the obligation is satisfactorily completed."

Notes to readers - a COPA is affectively a fine, and is payed EVERY four weeks until the DfT is satisfied the TOC has met its contractual obligations.

In the documents released under the FOI request the DfT also assumes XC won't meet its obligations by September 30th.