Thursday, 29 December 2011

ScotRail uses PsychOps on Hogmanay revellers

This from ScotRail...

ScotRail today announced it is trialling the use of ‘3D’ graphics to brighten the look of train toilets.

The walls are being covered with laminated images featuring designs using a 'deceive the eye' technique to give the impression of being in 3D.

They have been introduced on a train serving key cities including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

New Year's eve will see some very, very confused passengers!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

And on the 1000th day DfT gave to me...

A Merry Christmas to all Eye readers!

On the day that we were due to celebrate the 1000th day without an order for new rolling stock, DfT has pulled its finger out!

This from Bombardier:

London, 28 December, 2011 – Bombardier Transportation today announced that it has secured an additional order for 130 BOMBARDIER ELECTROSTAR* cars for Southern. The new trains will augment Southern’s existing fleet of Bombardier’s award winning electric multiple units. The contract is valued at £188.8 million (Euro 222.8 million).

Hail Greening - a Transport Secretary who makes things happen!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

DfT issues revised timetable for announcements

This from Leo Pink...

Hot on the news that the Secretary of State has issued a five page missive telling DfT officials how to write letters perhaps Eye readers will be interested in the latest memo circulating in Marsham Street:

Forecasts and Statements (Semantics) Policy on Terminology Committee
Simplifcation Working Group

Terminology - In a fast changing world , flexibility is essential.

The use of seasons in setting policy delivery targets has become overly granular, introducing increased risk of target dates become excessively specific and vulnerable to events. This gives an unwanted and unwarranted impression that Government is not in control of policy.

All officials within the Department should ensure that with effect from 1 January 2012 all policy announcements adopt the new FSSPOT principles.

Events will now be specified as happening to the following time scales:
  • Later this year
  • By the end of the year*
  • Early next year
* Please note that this should not be used after 31 March and in any event requires Ministerial authorisation

For long term planning horizons the following may be used:
  • On or about about the same date that the first IEP is delivered

Sir Humphrey Gussett
Permanent Secretary Designate

Apparently this has been issued to counter
Informed Sources Third Law (Distrust all forecasts based on the seasons).

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

FGW restores the glass of Christmas cheer

Oh dear!

Last week's roasting by Sir Beardie of DfT franchising policy and Johnny Foreigner railways has resulted in unexpected collatoral damage to the industry's great and good.

Today should have seen the hard working team from Modern Railways wasailing with Virgin as they sped to Crewe to play on simulators followed by an agreeable luncheon.

Alas Virgin received a severe spanky botty from Marsham Street for last week's unguarded words and as a consequence all schmoozing by the red machine's PR department has been unceremoniously caped!

With BeardieRail forced into the role of Scrooge it looked like Christmas had been cancelled for Ian Allan's finest.

Happily a Fairy God Mother appeared in the shape of First Great Western's Mr Hopwood, and as a consequence the Modern Railways team will still be able to dine in style today but heading West.

As the original Great Western was so fond of saying: "See your own country First". Indeed!

Pointless signs - St Pancras

This from the late General Lee...

Not so much pointless, just misspelt.

Who auhorised this poorly-checked sign that appears all over St. Pancras?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Revenue protection - Big Society style

Let this be a lesson to all those who wear beanie hats... (shurley fare dodge? Ed)

Good effort 'Big Man'!

Monday, 12 December 2011

LUL gets all 21st Century over upgrades

Good effort.

Christmas televisual feast - your starter for 10

This from Sinoda...

Idly leafing through the pages of the Double Issue Christmas Radio Times (other listings magazines are available. Ed), I find that 'The World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent' is to be interrogated on television just before Christmas by Jeremy Paxman.

Nothing tremendously untoward so far you may think - but wait a mo!

Jezza 'Come on, Come On!' Paxo is hosting a special season of 'Christmas University Challenge' featuring 'famous alumni' representing their respective Universities, and the listings for BBC2 on Thursday 22nd December (almost) reads as follows:

Jeremy Paxman hosts another first-round match, tonight between the University of Warwick, led by the 'World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent', and the University of Sheffield, captained by George Ergatoudis.

"Here's your starter for 10: What is the connection between a Banana and the failure to construct high-speed railway lines?"

DafT - life imitates art

This from a Mr Murray Mint...

Good to see that several local authorities have embraced a right thinking approach to nomenclature.

This from Southend Council’s mobile CCTV guidelines (para 1.1.2)

1.1.2 The Traffic Management Act (TMA) (2004) has provided a solution to this on Going issue by permitting the use of Mobile CCTV vehicles to enforce the kind of Contraventions mentioned above. Paragraph 50 of the Department for Transport (Daft) TMA 2004 The Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities etc, etc, etc...

This from Newham Council on Sustainable Impact Appraisals para 1.1.1

1.1.1 It was a requirement of the ORN designation by the Department of Transport that an EqIA was prepared in order to demonstrate that the equalities impacts of the ORN proposals can be effectively managed. This document was approved by Daft during the ORN designation process etc, etc, etc...

This from Bexley's Public Transport Sub-Committee (page 11):

VL responded that while Southeastern had sympathy with local aspirations, stops at Deal on
the high speed network had not been included in the Daft’s service specification, etc, etc, etc...

That’s DafT enough – Ed

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Railway Carol Service - 21st December


This year's Transport Benevolent Fund rail staff carol service takes place on:

Wednesday 21st December at 12:30

at St Mary's Somers Town, Eversholt Street, near Euston Station (NW1 IBN).

All supporters of the railway most welcome.

Meanwhile, for those unable to make it...

Hope to see you on the 21st...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Pointless sign - Newhaven

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Pointless signs - Hull Paragon

Pointless signs - A big shout out to Ravey Davey

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Railways - A social service? Discuss.

This from the CambsTimes24...

A FOOTBALL club manager was so embarrassed by the toilets at a March playing field that he ferried a visiting girls’ team to the railway station to use their loos.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Exciting new Eye feature: Ask Uncle Roger

Eye is delighted to announce an exciting new feature!

Introducing everyone's favourite Agony Aunt - Uncle Roger...

Our first question to Uncle Roger comes from a gentleman who lives in both Tatton and Whitehall...

Dear Uncle Roger

My friend has published an Autumn Statement.

I... sorry he... refers to £80 million in support of the Southern Rail franchise’s procurement of 130 new carriages.

Can you help me to understand what is actually being bought?

Yours Confused & Concerned, Horse Guards.

Dear Gideon.

You should not be ashamed about this, as many have asked the same question.

It is all too easy to think that new trains will arrive on the network unloved, off-lease and unlikely ever to carry passengers.

Happily, the figure of £80m you mention merely represents the DfT's best-estimate, based on experience with the IEP, of the fees consultants and lawyers will charge to specify these new trains.

Be assured that this paltry sum will deliver not one new train, ensuring sidings remain free for the storage of existing train fleets as soon as Theresa's new franchises are signed.

Uncle Roger

Have you a question for Uncle Roger? Please send to the usual address...

ITSO - What's in a name?

This from, a fulminating, Captain Deltic...

Is there a more stupid name for an ITSO compliant transport smart card, than Southern's 'the key' - note the poncey lower case.

Must add Southern's Development Director to my harangue list.

UPDATE: This from Randy Scouse Git...

You should be so lucky!

Mersey Travel is calling ours the 'Walrus'.

'Daydream Believer' would have been so much better!

UPDATE: This from Mr Reginald Slicker...

One can only commend MerseyTravel on their capitalisation of the name.

And if I may say so - Goo goo g'joob goo!

UPDATE: This from Retired Railway Manager...

At least ‘Walrus’ shows knowledge of a bit of railway history (being the ‘Fishkind’ name of a bogie engineers ballast wagon).

However, what connection that may have with ITSO and or anything else connected with it is debatable.

Unless this is forward planning for when the Mersey floods?

Autumn Statement - Christmas comes early?

So what goodies did the Chancellor's Autumn Statement contain?

Aside from causing chaos with the fares system by the late reduction of January's average regulated fare increase to RPI+1 (down from Petrol-heads eye watering RPI+3) there are one or two additional jee-jaws to delight.

The simultaneous publication of the 2011 National Infrastructure Plan lists the following in section
3.c Network Rail Schemes:

New infrastructure projects

  • North Trans Pennine electrification
  • New rail link between Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford
  • Network Rail Discretionary Fund
  • Funding for winter resilience measures
  • Bridge renewals
Note - there are no plans for additional rolling stock over and above what has already been (often and repeatedly) promised.

So once released from Thameslink the Class 319 fleet will now be expected to cover almost as much ground as Santa on Christmas Eve!

UPDATE: This from the Transport Select Committee...

Following the Autumn Statement made on 29 November, the Transport Committee will be taking oral evidence from the Secretary of State for Transport.

Wednesday 14 December 2011, 5.05 pm

Committee Room 8

Witness: Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport

Good to see that Louise Ellman and co are on their toes.

UPDATE: The DfT have also published the Logistics Growth Review today...

Good news for Freighties!

In section 2.30 DfT commits £55m of investment to developing a Strategic Freight Network:

The Government is making available funding for an investment of £55m for the Strategic Rail Freight Network (SFN) allowing delivery of schemes that remove bottlenecks and improve capability and longer term connectivity to the UK’s major ports.

These are: the Ely – Soham doubling scheme that will remove a bottleneck on the Felixstowe-Nuneaton route, improving both freight and passenger capacity and reliability on this section of the route and increasing the attractiveness of freight paths between Felixstowe and Nuneaton, reducing demand for paths on more heavily congested routes via London; and

Gauge clearance of additional rail freight routes in the Midlands between Syston Junction (just north of Leicester) and Stoke that will allow existing freight capacity to be used more efficiently by enabling the routes to carry 9ft 6in 'hi-cube' containers - which otherwise require specialist rail wagons or carriage by road. These schemes will improve access to Felixstowe and Southampton ports and the new port at London Gateway, as well as northern locations including Liverpool.

Details here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

DfT abolished as Treasury leads rail expansion

This from Rose and Crown...

Much gloom in Marsham Street as Osborne's finest achieve, in less than week, what numerous Transport Secretaries have failed to deliver in years!

Stand by for confirmation tomorrow of passenger friendly fare increases and a raft of network enhancements that might actually get the economy and country moving again.

No doubt the Treasury bean-counters have tired of DafT's navel gazing, reputation for inertia and over dependence on expensive Consultant's reports?

Caught on the back foot by HMT's whirlwind briefing the beleaguered inmates of Great Minster House were forced into feverish denials before sinking into sullen silence.

Meanwhile, the industry looks forward to welcoming an Autumn Statement that apparently contains trans-Pennine electrification, work to reopen the Varsity route and myriad smaller schemes

Which begs the question: what is DafT for?

No matter!

Once Marsham Street has been abolished perhaps Gideon can use the money to buy trains for all this newly enhanced infrastructure?

Rubbish Websites - Thandi Executive Coaches

Note the use of a very dated BR crest...

No doubt when Thandi counted BR amongst its clients they supplied 'Charabancs for the Gentry'.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Greening fights for hard pressed passengers!

This from the Indie...

Ms Greening is suggesting that fares should go up by about 6 per cent – 1 per cent above inflation – in a move to reduce the impact on hard-pressed commuters and long-distance travellers.

Good effort!

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

How disappointing to see the Fact Compiler in 'God Bless yer Guv, you're a real toff' pitiful gratitude mode over Mrs Greening's alleged intervention on fares increases.

If the user doesn't pay more for their grossly uneconomic train-ride to work, then the tax-payer will have to make up the difference since the railway fat cats seem unable to curb their inflated costs.

UPDATE: This from Prof Calculus...

Please someone tell me this is a joke!

T12 is already long gone and it will prove virtually impossible to deflate the millions of fares already in the system for January.

This looks like half-baked policy on the hoof. Madness.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Villiers vignettes - Yet another correction...

Another apology from Cruella for misleading the House...

The Minister of State for Transport (Theresa Villiers): I regret to inform the House that there was an inaccuracy in the answer I gave to Parliamentary Question 71220 on 13 September (Official Report, Column 1072W), about information held for each individual transaction undertaken by British Transport Police using the Government Procurement Card in (i) 2008-09 and (ii) 2009-10.

The correct answer is that this Government is committed to transparency and we believe the information regarding Government Procurement Cards for this financial year is the most relevant. Central Government Departments are now publishing any transactions over £500 on their websites, starting with 2011/2012 Quarter 1 (April — June) data and thereafter on a monthly basis. The cost of work required to obtain, contextualise and report data for previous years would exceed the cost limits of a Freedom of Information request or a Parliamentary Question.

For purposes of transparency, the Department for Transport now lists GPC spend on its website. This includes details of spend by the British Transport Police.

What's that noise? That is the sound of the buck not actually stopping anywhere!

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus Virginicus...

I see from the DfT's GPC transparency lists, that the monthly payments to Virgin Rail Projects for maintenance of Pendolino Set 54 is £66,666.66.

Can we expect it to be named 'The Beast'?

FGW runs Shake, Rattle and Roll special

This from Sir Felix Pole...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in FGW's farewell tour for the Class 142 'Pacer' units as they depart the West Country? (shome mishtake shurely? Ed).

I'm glad to say that the traditions of the Great Western Railway are still being upheld!

You will note the rather sniffy reference to the 'LSWR route from Salisbury'.

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

Maybe Northern will organise a similar ‘Welcome to the Pacers’ tour around parts of the network where luckless commuters have already been enduring them for 25 years or more.

Then again, perhaps not…

UPDATE: This from a disgusted Major Disaster (FPL and Bar)...

There will be no such celebrations on Northern Rail when they arrive here.

Our memories go back to the days when the 305's ended up in the Manchester area after they were replaced by 310's on the LT&S.

Once again the flabby South demonstrates its contempt for those oop North!

UPDATE: This from the Oft Forgotten South West...

So Major Disaster remembers the 305s?

How lucky for him. Down in the South Wales and West region we have no wires at all, so have never seen such electrickery!

The demise of the FGW 142s will not bring the presence of Pacers in this area to an end; we still have all the 143s and in South Wales there is a not insubstantial fleet of 142s, sent here by a generous North West in exchange for some Sprinters. And FGW's 142s were payment for a large batch of 158s, which Northern seems to be keeping.

There are some newer trains on Manchester and Birmingham-bound services but for internal and London-bound workings we haven't got a single passenger vehicle less than 20 years old.

Might I suggest that the North, which has commuter trains with such 21st Century luxuries as air conditioning and disabled toilets, ensures that future complaints about rolling stock emphasise the disparity with the 'South East' rather than merely the flabby South?

And then we can all join in with the ritual complaints about the shortage of Electrostars north and west of Watford.

Tweetalike - On subsidies...

This from Logisitical...

Stephen Gastlier, Road Lobbyist, in the Guardian Comment Is Free section on Monday: "Even if rail travel was to double – which it won't, not least because rail users are heavily subsidised – it would still be a minority activity."

Christian 'World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent' Wolmar yesterday on twitter: "Extra coaches for overcrowding on FGW will cost govt extra £29m.Shows how railway economics is entirely dependent on subsidy from taxpayer."

Are they perhaps related?

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

The good Prof. appears to have forgotten that without those subsidies, tens of thousands of extra commuters would make the road network unuseable.

And The World’s greatest Living etc etc has also clearly forgotten that it is the madhouse economics of the fragmented, privatised railway that make many of them necessary in the first place.

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

And the World's Greatest etc overlooks the £3.5 billion in direct grant propping up Network Rail

Pro-rata that onto variable track access charges and any additional train is completely unaffordable.

An open letter to Justine Greening

This open letter to Justine Greening has been copied into Eye by a Mr Reginald Perrin of Sunshine Desserts...

Dear Mrs Greening

I understand that your Department has today confirmed yet another timetable slippage - this time involving the order for new Thameslink rolling stock which will now not be signed until the New Year.

If I might paraphrase the letter I previously sent to the Traffic Manager, British Rail (Southern Region):

It is rapidly becoming apparent to me that your officials are not only not competent enough to hold their jobs, but they could not even run a game of strip-poker in a Turkish brothel.

It should be obvious, even to a retarded Belgian hamster, that all of your train orders should be re-timed to take eleven months longer.

Yours Faithfully,
Reginald I. Perrin

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Byline corner

This from Isambard II...

I’m sure many of your sharp-eyed correspondents will have pointed out the header tucked away on page nine of yesterday’s Independent.

"Tory outcry set to divert high-speed rail line"

The story was credited to the splendidly named Andrew Grice, the Indie's Political Editor.

Perhaps Eye readers can draw attention to other rail related stories with appropriate bylines?

Monday, 21 November 2011

NR Champion Stakes - And they're off!

A week after NR started advertising for a new Chairman the first candidate has had his hat thrown into the ring!

This from yesterday's Independent on Sunday...

Keith Ludeman, the former boss of train and bus operator Go-Ahead, has emerged as an early contender for the chairman role at Network Rail...

Mr Ludeman has emerged as a leading internal candidate, having become a non-executive director at Network Rail after retiring from Go-Ahead in July. An internal appointment would follow recent form – Sir David Higgins having been plucked from the non-executive board to become chief executive in February.

But what's this?

Just two month's ago NR's current Chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, said:

"We know that many of the public view the leadership of the industry with confusion, suspicion or disdain. They don't trust us and therefore are resistant to changes we want to make."

Good to see that this small perceptual obstacle has been so quickly overcome.

So what was question 23?

Virgin has been busy surveying passengers on the West Coast Main Line.

But what was the redacted question?

Answers on an email please to the usual address...

UPDATE: This from the Archer...

Given that Q22 above is in relation to Value for Money, might I suggest that Q23 started:

If you scored 4 or above for Q22...

Q23 was then removed from the latest version of the survey given that no-one in the history of the franchise had ever been able to honestly answer it.

Pointless signs - 2-for-1 at Edinburgh

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bombardier appoints new UK team, Walton to retire

This from Bombardier...

Bombardier appoints new non-executive Chairman and Chief Country Representative

Bombardier Transportation today announced a number of changes to its senior leadership in the UK.

Sir Neville Simms, FREng has been appointed Non-Executive Chairman, Bombardier Transportation UK Limited with immediate effect.

Sir Neville is currently Deputy Chairman of International Power plc and Chairman of the Building Research Establishment Trust. He was previously Chairman of International Power for 10 years, until the merger of the group with the international power generation assets of GDF Suez early in 2011. Until 2005 he was Chairman of business services group Carillion plc, after the demerger of the company from Tarmac plc, where he was Group CEO for eight years. He has chaired a number of construction industry bodies and the Regional Leadership Teams for Business in the Community in the West Midlands and the Solent Region of the UK. He was a founder member of the UK Government’s Private Finance Panel, Chairman of the Government’s Sustainable Procurement Task Force, Deputy Chairman of Ashridge, the management college, a member of the President’s Committee of the CBI and served for seven years as a Non-Executive Director at the Bank of England.

Paul Roberts has been promoted to Chief Country Representative and President of Bombardier Transportation, Services UK and Passenger Fleet Management Service Line.

Paul joined Bombardier in 2009 as Vice President, Services UK. In his time with the organization he has successfully introduced a number of important performance improvements.

Colin Walton, currently Chairman and Chief Country Representative, Bombardier Transportation UK Limited, will retire in February 2012.

Colin Walton joined Bombardier in 1991, as Director of New Projects and was responsible for its newly acquired Prorail division, turning it into a key player in the British market. From 1992 to 1997, he was actively engaged in vetting potential acquisitions on behalf of Bombardier in the UK. He was named UK Chairman and Chief Country Representative for Bombardier Transportation UK in 2002.

André Navarri, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Transportation said:

“I would like to thank Colin Walton for his significant efforts on behalf of Bombardier and to express our appreciation for his unwavering dedication and commitment to Bombardier Transportation over the past 20 years. We wish him well in his retirement.”

“I am delighted to welcome Sir Neville Simms as Chairman for Bombardier Transportation UK and to congratulate Paul Roberts on his new role as Chief Country Representative. Sir Neville brings a wealth of experience to our company and Bombardier looks forward to benefitting from his leadership and expertise as we move our business ahead. Paul has already been very successful in growing our Services business. In this additional role, he will work together with Sir Neville and all our divisions operating in the UK to develop a new strategy for growth.”

- ENDS -

Ellman deposes Cameron - Shocker

Oh dear!

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

This from

Should someone tell them that Select Committees are there to hold the Government to account?

UPDATE: This from Gricer Queen...

It's also nice to see that HS2 will have none of that untidy electric knitting.

Diseasels all the way!

UPDATE: This, dementedly, from
McIvatt, Thane of Pride...

Is this a loco which I see before me,
The cab toward my hand? Come, let me lease thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To traction as to sight? or art thou but
A loco of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the IEP-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.

Enough Dead Poets. Ed.

Pointless signs - Duffield

Clue: it is sandwiched between the telephone box, poster board and the help-point to which it seeks to draw attention.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

ScotRail McDoomed

Exciting times for North British travellers!

Transport Scotland today launched a consultation on whether or not to ban booze on trains, turn back Anglo Scottish services at Edinburgh and kill, or flog, off the Deer Stalker Express.

In happier news ScotRail has acquired a new Commercial Director.

This from The Drum...

Newsquest Herald & Evening Times sales boss Sean Duffy is to leave the publisher to become commercial director of First Rail.

It is understood that Duffy, who joined the Glasgow operation of Newsquest in September 2010, is expected to take up his new role early next year, where, he will oversee all advertising and sales contracts throughout First Rail.

From frying pan to fire?

UPDATE: This from our man at 222 Marylebone Road...

It was the Green of McGreen who started extending InterCity services north of Edinburgh.

Back at the end of the 1970s when he was appointed the Laird o' the Clan ScotRail, the McGreen, he of the Red Lamposts, had the sort of autonomy that would give even Sir David 'Devolution' Higgins sleepless nights.

Noticing that the new IC125s seemed to be sitting around idle at Edinburgh, the McGreen worked out that he could augment ScotRail services north of Edinburgh in the marginal time.
Unfortunately the journey times were just a bit longer than the layovers as a result of Permanent Speed Restrictions designed for chunkier locomotives than the IC125 power car.

Aided and abetted by a can do Chief Civil Engineer the Laird introduced differential speed restrictions and soon signs at the trackside had two speeds including a marker for HSTs.

All this was done beyond the ken of British Rail Headquarters in London. And by the time the differential speed restriction ploy came to BRB's attention all that could be done about the unauthorised innovation was to give the McGreen a severe bollocking which concluded with 'carry on the good work!'.

Dead poets on the railway

This, surprisingly, from the late William Butler Yeats...

Suffering from writer's block I was idly surfing the web and came across your website.

Reading about the uncertainty in the Department for Transport.

Immediately some lines sprang to mind,

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the railway".

With inspiration restored I hope to work this up into a new poem.

I think i shall call it ''McNulty delayed" in honour of a fine Irishman...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

DfT Command Paper delayed - Shocker


This from Earl Attlee...

My Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Our railways are currently the most expensive in Europe. That is something we can and must tackle. The recent review by Sir Roy McNulty found scope to cut rail costs by 30 per cent - up to £1bn a year. My department is committed to working with the rail industry to develop a strategy to deliver a better value railway for the benefit of passengers, taxpayers and the wider economy.

In furtherance of that strategy, my Department has undertaken to develop and publish detailed proposals on delivering a sustainable railway including reform of Network Rail. I am today announcing my intention to publish a Command Paper that sets out those proposals early next year.

It will allow time for greater consideration of other issues central to the question of rail reform. This will also allow the Command Paper to properly reflect the consequences of my decision following our consultation on a national high speed rail network.

As part of the development of a comprehensive strategy for rail, and alongside the Command Paper, I also plan to consult on the scope to devolve responsibility for some rail passenger services in parts of England to sub-national bodies, and on issues relating to the review of fares and ticketing announced in May. In addition, the ORR expects to consult later this year on possible changes to its role, particularly in respect of future franchises.

Is it not paradoxical that the department of state tasked with ensuring that the trains run on time cannot itself meet any of its own timetables?

Manuel Cortes new General Secretary of TSSA

This from the Transport Salaried Staff's Association...

TSSA's next General Secretary will be Manuel Cortes, the current Assistant General Secretary

TSSA's independent scrutineers met today and confirmed that following those close of nominations yesterday (14/11/11) there was one successfully nominated candidate for the position of General Secretary.

Manuel Cortes will therefore begin a five year term as General Secretary with immediate effect.

- ENDS -

Osborne calls a halt to rolling stock deals?

This from Sir Roderick Orr-Watt...

I was delighted to see in this morning's FT that young Osborne has listened to the concerns of the Treasury Select Committee and the National Audit Office and is launching a 'fundamental review' of the way public projects are funded .

I can only concur with the view of Jesse Norman, a member of the Select committee, who told the FT: 'This is the end of PFI as we know it'.

With the financiers of the Thameslink rolling stock deal demanding high returns for the funding package one can only hope that Osborne will place Thameslink fleet procurement on immediate hold, as well as that for the even more expensive Intercity Express Programme. That is, if Justine Greening, who I mentored during her MBA at the London Business School and who is bringing a welcome breath of Yorkshire common sense to Marsham Street, doesn't do it off her own bat.

As a non-executive director of Angerholt Leasing I am confident that all the rolling stock companies are ready, willing and able to to provide the private funding and take on the risk through conventional operating leases, which have served the rolling stock market so well since privatisation.

Meanwhile, my colleagues and I will of course respond graciously when the new Transport Secretary initiates the long overdue rapprochement with the Roscos.

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Is Eye's contributor above the same as 'Bonkers' Orr-Watt, who as a young finance whiz was responsible for the 'Bidwatch' section in Modern Railways during the early days of passenger rail franchising?

If so, I am not surprised to see that he has subsequently flourished since he brought a refreshingly unstuffy and lightly worn expertise to the interminable pages of Informed Sources.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Oh dear.

This won't please politicos in the North West awaiting the wiring of the Manchester - Liverpool route. As they are already due to wait at least 2 years after the wires go live for cascaded rolling stock, a further delay on releasing exThameslink trains will have them up in arms.

Of course an initial fleet of 9 x 4-car Class 317/7 sets is due to become available in February 2012, released by Abellio Greater Anglia. Once these have been put through a heavy overhaul to make them PRM-TSI compliant they will be ready to start work in 2014 for Northern Rail.

As that franchise is 50% owned by Abellio does that mean the Cloggies have already developed their own Rolling Stock Strategy?

Pointless signs - Manchester Piccadilly

Monday, 14 November 2011

Lookalike - The eyes have it

This from the late Bruce Lee...

On Sunday afternoon, whilst watching the Lord Reith-inspired hard hitting documentary series 'Fat Families' on Sky Living channel, I couldn’t help noting the resemblance between Dimleby heir-apparent Steve Miller and the newly-enthroned David Horne at EMT

Is there a family connection and will EMT passengers be enjoying calorie-saving snackettes as a result?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Pointless signs - Finger in the dyke edition

Friday, 11 November 2011

Crow bar re-elected as RMT General Secretary

This from the RMT...

RMT confirmed this morning that Bob Crow has been re-elected unopposed for a further five year term as General Secretary.

Bob Crow will begin his third five year term at the helm of the union in the New Year.

11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Rail rules under spotlight in Red Tape Challenge

This from the Department for Transport...

Rail passengers and businesses are set to benefit as Rail Minister Theresa Villiers today pledges to crack down on unnecessary red tape.

Nearly 200 rail transport regulations have today been placed on the Red Tape Challenge website – a Government-wide site aimed at reducing bureaucracy. They will remain there for consultation for four weeks. The Challenge asks everyone whether they think that a regulation is well designed and provides vital protection or is badly designed, badly implemented or simply a bad idea.

Among the regulations that the Government is asking the public to comment on are the National Rail Conditions of Carriage – the terms and conditions passengers must adhere to when travelling on a train.

Other examples include the requirement for the Secretary of State to approve train operations on all sections of a line, the speed of those operations and a variety of other conditions for tramways and other minor railways including heritage operations.

The review also targets a number of arcane and obsolete regulations on the statute books that could run the risk of eroding public confidence in regulations. For example, there are regulations in force covering closures on railway lines which no longer exist and various exemption orders which have expired.

Theresa Villiers said:

“We want everyone - including passengers, businesses and volunteer groups - to get involved and help reduce the number of badly thought out and obsolete regulations in our country.

“The Red Tape Challenge is an ideal opportunity to consider innovative ways of delivering better rail services. We are already working on delivering less prescriptive rail franchises and taking forward reforms to help the rail industry to reduce costs.

“By reducing red tape, we can also free businesses to compete, create jobs and unleash a private sector-led recovery.”

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:

"Since the Red Tape Challenge was launched in April, we have received more than 25,000 comments and proposals made by the public and businesses. Already this has resulted in plans for significant changes to legislation – we have looked at 378 pieces of regulation and announced plans to remove or simplify 220 of these.

"I look forward to seeing the results of the 200 rail transport regulations under the spotlight. This process can only result in a more efficient rail network, which will be good news for all rail users and growth in the wider economy."

Experienced ‘Sector Champions’ will provide expert knowledge on the issues faced by those on the shop floor during the Red Tape Challenge.

Graham Smith, Secretary of the Rail Delivery Group said:

“An expanding railway also has to be an efficient railway. The rail industry is tackling a range of initiatives that will increase efficiency and improve value for money for the passenger, freight shipper and taxpayer that will unlock further growth in rail use.

“Many of the barriers to that greater efficiency can be found in the bureaucracy, red tape and regulations that delay, or even prevent, improvements to Britain’s railways. Removing the bureaucracy, discarding the red tape and scrapping unnecessary regulations will help the rail industry to provide an even better service to its customers.”

David Morgan and Mark Smith of the Heritage Railway Association said:

"The Heritage Railway Association fully understands that regulation is as essential for us as for any sector of the industry. Our challenge will be to identify that which is appropriate for our operations and retain it whilst the inappropriate, unnecessary and redundant is dismantled."

The overall aim is to remove barriers to economic growth and increase individual freedoms. The presumption is that regulations will go, unless it can be justified why a regulation should be kept.

- ENDS -

The Rail Red Tape Challenge page on the DfT website can be found here.

Heil Bahn!

Hot on the heels of DB Arriva's take-over of Grand Central, this from the RMT...

RAIL UNION RMT revealed today that rail workers are being told to take German lessons as part of their training course for operating new track equipment...

Rail staff on a recent course in Kent were told that they had to learn a series of German phrases relating to instructions on track equipment. RMT says that it would be simpler and safer to get the equipment re-programmed with a translation into English rather than placing the responsibility to learn German on the workforce but the union believes it is all about money.

Phrases that form part of the course, and which workers are to be tested on include:

Kdo abgew AZGR ANFORD Grund BETRIEBLICH - Reset requested but not carried out due to section being clear
UARTFEHLER - Receiver / transmitter fault - corrupted data message
VERBINDUNGSAUSFALL - Connecting failure

We are all German now.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Or Spanish!

As according to The Times today the siesta monkeys at
RENFE are sniffing around Go-Ahead.

Pointless signs - York

Pointless signs - Virgin Voyager

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

New MD for London Midland announced

This from Go-Ahead...

Patrick Verwer appointed Managing Director of London Midland

After an open competition, Patrick Verwer, currently Go-Ahead's Managing Director – Rail Development, has been appointed as Managing Director of London Midland.

David Brown, Go-Ahead's Group Chief Executive said:

"Patrick Verwer has huge experience, first class management skills, and a strong track record of delivery. He is the right person to drive through further transformation in the London Midland franchise.

"We have already seen a range of service and performance improvements in this franchise. I know that Patrick, and the excellent team in place at London Midland, will work hard to build on these achievements in order to offer the best possible service to passengers."

Patrick Verwer, who will take up the post at the beginning of the new year, said:

"I am delighted to be appointed. The London Midland franchise is vital to the passengers it serves and I look forward to helping it grow and to build on the success that has already been achieved."

- Ends -

UPDATE: This from Alphabetti Spaghetti...

What's going on?

First Verster at NR's LNE and now Verwer at LM?

Is this a planned industry assault on the 'TUV' pages of my address book?

Transport Select Committee on HS2

Lots of huffing and puffing from pro and antis today over exactly what the Transport Select Committee said about HS2.

So here is what the TSC actually said in their press release:

Good case for high speed rail to run to Birmingham and beyond, say MPs

There is a good case for a high speed rail network, linking London and the major cities of the Midlands, the North and Scotland says the Transport Committee.

Launching High Speed Rail – the report of the inquiry into high speed rail, including the Government’s proposal for HS2 – Committee chair Louise Ellman said,

“A high speed rail network, beginning with a line between London and the West Midlands, would provide a step change in the capacity, quality, reliability and frequency of rail services between our major cities.

“A high speed line offers potential economic and strategic benefits which a conventional line does not, including a dramatic improvement in connectivity between our major cities, Heathrow and other airports, and the rest of Europe.

“High speed rail may be a catalyst for economic growth, helping to rebalance the economy and bridge the north-south divide. But the Government must do more to promote local and regional growth strategies to ensure we get maximum economic benefit from high speed rail.

“High speed rail is affordable: HS2 will cost around £2 billion per annum over 17 years. Construction of a high speed rail network should start with the line between London and the West Midlands, as this is where capacity needs are greatest. But we are concerned that under current plans high speed rail lines won’t reach Manchester and Leeds for more than 20 years.

“The Government should also look at options to build southwards from the north and link to other lines such as the Midland Main Line. We see no reason why the Scottish Government should not begin work on a Scottish high speed line, to connect with the English network in due course.

“Investment in HS2 must not lead to reduced investment in the ‘classic’ rail network. We are concerned that the Government is developing separate strategies for rail and aviation, with HS2 separate from both. We call again for the publication of a comprehensive transport strategy.

“Investment in high speed rail has potential to boost growth but may have a substantial negative impact on the countryside, communities and people along the route. This must be better reflected in the business case for HS2 and future phases of the project. We would encourage the Government to follow existing transport corridors wherever possible.”

The Transport Committee sets out a series of recommendations on high speed rail:

  • The Government must firmly commit to the Y network before seeking parliamentary approval for HS2.
  • If the Government decides to go ahead with HS2, it should publish a summary of the financial case showing how the project is affordable alongside sustained investment in the classic network as well as its priorities for expenditure in the next Network Rail control period (for 2014-19).

  • More information about the Y network (to Leeds and Manchester) such as the location of stations and environmental impacts should be published and strategically appraised before a final decision on HS2 is made.

  • A full assessment of the case for building from north to south should be carried out as a priority.

  • It is disappointing that a major strategic scheme is being designed and assessed to a large extent based upon the value of travel time savings, which are not universally accepted. This issue should be addressed in the updated economic case for HS2 with the implications for scheme design made explicit.

  • The Government needs to make clear how HS2 fits into its wider aviation strategy, looking again at the case for a direct link to Heathrow in phase I on the assumption that the high speed rail network will extend to Manchester and Leeds. The costs and benefits of routing HS2 via Heathrow should be set out more clearly and there should be a clear statement about the status of possible complementary schemes such as those which would link Heathrow by rail to Gatwick or the Great Western Main Line.

  • Better information should be provided to explain the Government’s rationale for its proposals for London termini and linkages, which are the most expensive and complex elements of HS2.

  • Operating 18 trains per hour at 225mph are risk factors for which more technical information should be published. It is questionable whether the system proposed is being designed with sufficient margin for expansion.

  • Claims that HS2 would deliver substantial carbon-reduction benefits do not stand up to scrutiny. However, HS2 will produce less carbon than an expanded motorway network or greater domestic aviation in the event of increased demand for inter-urban travel.

  • Government support to enable the full potential of high speed rail to be realised, - including funding, for the development of regional and local strategies for transport, housing, skills and employment - should be recognised as a priority.

  • When announcing its decision on HS2, the Government should provide a more explicit and comprehensive statement about likely patterns of service on the classic network once HS2 is operational.

  • The Government should engage with Network Rail to identify whether there are affordable options to enable more peak-time capacity to be provided for Milton Keynes and Northampton commuters before HS2 opens.

  • The Government should desist from disparaging opponents of high speed rail as NIMBYs. Both sides in the debate should show respect for each other and focus on the facts.
The full TSC report can be found here.

Railway Eye supports HS2, providing the Government shows it is serious about rebalancing the economy by starting construction in the North.

Tories destined to repeat mistakes of the past?

Telegrammed by Mons Star
As Captain Deltic's counter of days, since the placing of the last new train order, ticks ominously away the question on everyone's lips is 'will it be over by Christmas?'.

Three current deals could, in theory, stop the clock before it reaches 1,000 days on the 28th December.

The London Midland/TPE order for Siemens' Desiros is still being haggled over by DafT. LM's press release announcing preferred status for the only credible bidder already hinted that commercial close might slip into the new year...

Meanwhile the southern thrust of Siemens' drive, Thameslink, is in big financial trouble, with a respected finance journal reporting that the current liquidity situation has funders calling for higher returns. To add to the woe there are also reports that the money men have finally woken up to the risk involved in total train service provision PFI deals. The darkening shadows of London Underground's PPP draw ever nearer...

Finally , the IEP is reported to be neck and neck with Thameslink. Make of that what you will, but East Coast and Great Western are already devoting time and effort to looking at 'credible' alternatives. Could there be a link between Rail Barbie's departure and her insistence that the 'something must be done' with the lacklustre IC225 fleet?

So, all over by Christmas? More likely DfT is planning its usual costly and misguided war of attrition.

If so, 1st March will be a dark day - marking the second occasion when a Tory Transport Secretary has presided over a 1064 day hiatus in ordering new trains.

Pointless signs - Harrow-on-the-Hill

A Chiltern poster at Harrow-on-the-Hill advertising weekend engineering works...

Eye congratulates Von Shooter on reaching Oxford without finishing all that tiresome engineering stuff.

Rail Barbie emerges at National Express...

This from National Express...

Elaine Holt to join National Express

We are delighted to announce that Elaine Holt will be joining us from early January as a Bid Director in the Rail team.

Elaine brings a wealth of industry experience to National Express. As well as her most recent position as Chief Executive of Directly Operated Railways and Chairman of East Coast Main Line Company Limited, she has previously been Managing Director of First Capital Connect, held senior positions across First Group and spent 13 years at British Airways.

Elaine's appointment demonstrates our continued determination to assemble a very strong bid team to allow us to compete for upcoming franchises.

Suggestions that NatEx intends to exit rail appear somewhat premature...

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

TFC, you're losing your touch!

This would have made a much better headline

"National Express calls Holt to rail franchising!"

Monday, 7 November 2011

Metal Theft Prevention - petition

On a serious note...

A Private Members Bill is being put before Parliament next Monday by Graham Jones MP, which aims to reform the outdated Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964

There is a petition on the Number 10 website in support of this which hopefully Eye readers may wish to sign.

The petition can be found here.

Remember vote early, vote often!

Love on the Overground

Excruciatingly embarrassing but quite amusing all the same...

With a Bowler tip to multiple chums who forwarded by email and twitter.

Lookalike - Rosco liveries

EC champions Railway Gardens?

This from the Lancastrian...

Further to the 'Railway Garden' entry from York last Monday, I visited the station last week and spotted this poster.

Is grass growing through cobbles now an advertised feature of East Coast's offering at York?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

I had always assumed this branding called to mind the number of railway careers that have been buried by the state owned 'flagship' operator.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Arriva snaps up Grand Central

This from Arriva...


Arriva plc has confirmed it has acquired UK open access operator Grand Central Railway which runs passenger train services between Sunderland and London, and between Bradford/Halifax and London.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, adds to Arriva’s UK Trains portfolio of the CrossCountry, Arriva Trains Wales and Chiltern Railways franchises, and concessions to operate the Tyne and Wear Metro and (as a joint venture) London Overground operations.

Grand Central is an open access operator, it does not receive subsidy from, or pay any premium to the Department for Transport. It operates four direct services between Sunderland and London Kings Cross daily, and three direct services between Bradford/Halifax and London Kings Cross. It provides approximately 700,000 passenger journeys a year.

Bob Holland, Arriva UK Trains managing director, said: “We firmly believe open access will play a valuable part of a balanced portfolio for our UK Trains division alongside our three franchises and concessions operated on London Overground and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

“Bringing Grand Central on board means we have a live open access operation up and running, one which is popular with customers and which we believe we can develop to become a key commercial part of our UK rail operations.”

- Ends -


Go on then... but in the original version of course!

Well, even Her Majesty is part German!