Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Pointless signs - Tamworth station

Eye salutes London Midland for this encouragingly festive message seen at Tamworth station today.

No doubt an equal source of delight to CrossCountry and Virgin West Coast who also serve the station.

Doomed I tell you, we are all doomed!

Villiers vignettes - Turning a drama into a crisis

Good news from the Minister of Transport!

According to Theresa in a debate on the 'Severe Weather' yesterday...

Throughout the crisis, officials in the Department were in constant contact with Network Rail and the train operators-before, during and after the severe weather episode.


Shome mishtake shurely?

SouthEastern taking the PIS?


More here.

Hitachiballs - Phil Wilson MP

This from the Honourable Member for Sedgefield yesterday...

The Hitachi trains are bimodal, which means that they can switch from diesel to electric and vice versa when the need arises. Southeastern operates such Hitachi high speed trains, which have an excellent record in the current bad weather. That is a ringing endorsement of the technology and work force.

No Phil. SouthEastern does not.

The Javelins are not bi-modes, they are dual voltage.

And as their current reliability is little better that the Golden Spanner winning BR built EMU's its perhaps not that much to shout about!

Evidently a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

Not only is Phil Wilson MP technologically challenged, he seems to have a very selective memory when it comes to investment in the North East.

On 21 December he also told the House of Commons:

"Hitachi's investment would be the biggest investment in the north-east of England since Nissan back in the 1980s".

Clearly the small matter of Siemens' £1 billion silicon chip factory on Tyneside skipped his mind.

Here's a reminder, Phil, it was opened by HM the Queen in 1997 and closed two years later, with the loss of 1100 jobs, when the price of the DRAM chips it was set up to make dropped from $50 each to under $5.

Korean competition was blamed.

Mediaballs - Evening Standard

This from the Evening Standard...

Where is Dick Murray when you need him?

Normality is a relative thing...

This from Dr Beard...

Seen this from East Coast?


If this is Rail Barbie's idea of 'normal' (ie hourly not half hourly to Leeds and Newcastle and the fringe services chopped) then roll on the German invasion.

Or is she doing it deliberately to make the next private sector franchisee look good however badly they perform?

Hitachiballs - the lobbying continues

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
This from the Newcastle Journal...

BUILDING a fleet of new Intercity trains in the North East will save the country more than £100m rather than buying them from abroad, a new report argued yesterday.

Analysis by the Northern TUC shows that taxpayers would save substantial sums if ministers finally give the go-ahead for a train assembly plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The report comes as Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond prepares to announce in the New Year whether the proposals, put forward by Hitachi, will get the go-ahead.

There are also fears among some campaigners that ministers may decide to buy trains from overseas, despite that option not creating a single British job.

The research by the Northern TUC shows that more than £106m a year would be generated through the creation of 800 direct jobs at the County Durham plant along with 7,500 supply chain jobs.

And for every £27,000 salaried job created, the taxpayer gains by £13,000 as a result of reduced benefit payments and the increased taxes paid by people in work.

The Northern TUC is now urging the Government to take into account the full benefits of creating new manufacturing jobs in the North East when making its final decision about the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

Where to start in demolishing this farrago of nonsense.

Well, first, the trains would be 'bought from abroad' and simply assembled in the UK.

So the 800 direct jobs is out by at least a factor of four.

And, if the factory was to have a future beyond IEP Hitachi would have to win Crossrail, so the creation of flat pack assembly jobs in the North East might have to be offset against the loss of skilled engineering and train building jobs at Derby.

And if the alternative to IEP is a conventional EMU the suppliers would be, in alphabetical order Alstom - up to 30% UK content including traction equipment, Bombardier - trains built at Derby
or Siemens.

Odd, while this sort of lobbying is going on that the European train builders keep schtumm.

Perhaps they see the UK market as Hitachi's tar baby?

Or perhaps they are more concerned about the Chinese and Korean threats to their heartland markets?

Mediaballs: Pearls before swine

Phrases you never thought you would hear...

"That's quite technical from Nigel Harris" James Naughtie on the Today Programme, err, today!

Lord Reith must be spinning in his grave if a Today presenter found Nigel's explanation 'quite technical'.

Where was the world's greatest living transport commentator when we needed him?

And would James Naughtie's head have exploded if Radio 4 had coaxed Captain Deltic out of bed before 07.00?

Come back Raymond Baxter, we say.

UPDATE: This from Sir William Pollitt...

I suppose the word 'wheelbarrow' would sound technical to the presenter who uttered the C word on Today only last week.

London Midland strike off. Sort of...

Good news from the High Court!

London Midland is delighted that a strike by members of the ASLEF Union has been halted in the High Court.

The decision was made in the High Court today (Tuesday) after London Midland challenged the way in which ASLEF held its ballot. ASLEF had wanted to strike on Thursday (December 23) after balloting members who voted in favour of industrial action.

Of course, given the current appalling weather in the Birmingham area don't be too surprised if the brothers can't ahem... make it in to work tomorrow!

RAIL misses deadline

Much chagrin amongst Eye readers over the non-appearance of subscription copies of RAIL

The Fact Compiler has had words with RAIL editor Nigel Harris and asked why copies are now over a week late dropping through subscriber letter-boxes.

Nigel offers the following...

I’m in the same boat – my copy hasn’t arrived either!

The editorial team did their stuff and it went to press on time, it was printed on time and posted – by first class post, as usual – on time, on Friday December 10.

However, once the magazine is posted there’s nothing we can do other than have conversations with the Royal Mail – and those conversations have certainly taken place. You can be sure about that.

I apologise to all disappointed subscribers about the delay – because believe me, the last thing my team wants is for our work to be delayed, but we really do have have no control once it’s posted.

The Royal Mail says it will clear the backlog – caused by the weather – as soon as possible.

Perhaps time for some vertical integration in the publishing world?

Eye looks forward to Bauer buying the Royal Mail.

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler's copy arrived today, courtesy of Mr Postie. A fiver in the Christmas box me thinks.

Yesterday's ECML woe

Much media excitement yesterday over disruption to the East Coast Main Line

This from the BBC...

Thousands of rail passengers are being urged to reschedule their journeys after a power failure caused havoc on the East Coast mainline...

Passengers heading north from Kings Cross were advised to use alternative services from St Pancras, heading to Yorkshire, or on the West Coast mainline from Euston to Glasgow.

But what's this?

The same story was illustrated with this picture of Kings Cross:

It would appear that not all operators gave up the ghost quite as easily as nationalised East Coast...