Monday, 31 January 2011

More piccies of celebrity loco 70012 'Powerfall'

These fine images from Captain Ahab...

Freightliner has apparently denied that this is a design mod in preparation for returning traffic to the Cromford and High Peak Railway.

DB continues to view GB as second class market

This by way of a gratuitous dig at the WSMR closing, Class 66 exporting and WiFi avoiding Deutsche Reichsbahn...

In a major boost for rail passengers National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is to fully introduce wi-fi facilities on its Norwich to London intercity service from 1 February. The completed initiative will be formally launched by key representatives from the region’s business community on an NXEA intercity service on Tuesday 1 February.

Meanwhile, still nothing from Arriva Cross Country on when it might meet its franchise obligations...

Now Chinese lobby to supply trains to UK

As usual, Eye is bang on the nail!

This posted by our columnist, The Marsham Street Observer, on Wednesday the 19th January...

The place [Marsham Street] is awash with ministers, ambassadors and plenipotentiaries from France, Germany, Spain, China, and Korea all vying to lay their manufacturers plans for an HST successor before King Hammond.

This from yesterday's Sunday Times' Business Section...

China has launched a big charm offensive to win ministerial support for its plans to supply Britain with cut-price bullet trains to run on a second high-speed line.

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to Britain, is understood to have met ministers to discuss the order for superfast trains

Where Eye leads, others follow!

Crow claims phone hacked

Exciting news from Crow Bar Bob!

Apparently the great man believes that his mobile phone may have been hacked, along with those of other really famous people.

This from the Evening Standard...

Lawyers acting for the general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union have written to the Metropolitan Police asking them to look into suspicions that Mr Crow's phone may have been hacked into between the year 2000 and the present day.

There may of course be another perfectly good explanation as to why nobody appears to have left a message for Bob over the last 10 years?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

WSMRballs - Thought crime!

This from Steve Strong...

Does today's announcement mean that Adrian Shooter is the last BR Director to close an entire route?


Mary Grant to leave First Group

As predicted by Eye's slightly cryptic post yesterday Mary Grant is to depart First Group.

This from First's website:

Mary Grant, currently Managing Director Rail division and Interim Managing Director Bus division, has decided to leave the Company at the end of March 2011.

Mary has been with the Group since 2003 and was part of the rail refranchising team. She led the bid for, and subsequently became Managing Director of, the new ScotRail franchise. She was appointed Managing Director of the Group’s UK Rail division in May 2009 and given additional responsibility, on an interim basis, for UK Bus in June 2010.

So now you know.

DfT roads team drives freight off rail

This from Rose Hill...

After months of uncertainty, DFT has finally announced that the long running Freight Facilities Grant scheme has been axed.

Over the years, this scheme has helped to co-fund many rail freight developments, removing numerous lorries from the roads, reducing carbon, helping small businesses to grow and creating employment.

Sadly, these no longer appear to be Government priorities.

The budget for FFG was around £8m pa so this is hardly a major saving for a Department who has just announced £560m in the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and is stumping up over a third of the £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund.

Perhaps the fact that rail freight grants are now part of Roads Directorate has some bearing on the matter.

Video nasty?

This from Widows Peak...

This surreal YouTube video has currently been viewed by nine people.

Would any Eye readers have a clue as to what on earth's going on?

UDATE: This from The Major...

Perhaps they are undercover policeman attempting to penetrate the Valenta Appreciation Society?

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Or they might be publicising the pantomime that is Marsham Street?

WSMRballs - RMT

And this codswallop from Crow Bar Bob...

"This is a bitter blow to the UK rail industry and it is a scandal that a giant company like Deutsche Bahn can play fast and loose with our rail services in this way and then and cut run when they decide the profit margins aren't fat enough for their liking.

"The UK Government should now step in and nationalise the route to protect both the jobs and the popular Wrexham & Shropshire services and there should be a full inquiry into how this operation, set up with Welsh government and taxpayer support, has been ground into the dust by Deutsche Bahn. Public ownership would protect that public investment rather than allowing the private rail asset strippers to walk away from the wreckage."

Where to begin?

Knee-jerk Bob appears to confuse a thumping loss with a “fat profit margins”.

If the service was as “popular” as Bob believes then it wouldn’t be closing.

As for "nationalising" the route - Hellooooo. Earth to Bob. Come in Bob.

Do any of RMT's members actually believe any of this guff that is being spouted in their name?

WSMRballs - Beardie Rail

This tosh from Beardie Rail...

Virgin Trains to the rescue for stranded WSMR passengers

Virgin Trains has today confirmed that it will carry passengers who will be left stranded by the cancellation of all train services by open access train operator Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway (WSMR).

The announcement comes as German State Railway-backed WSMR said that it will cease operations at the end of this week. The last day of operations will be Friday 28 January 2011.

Would this be the same Virgin Trains that prevented WSMR calling at anywhere useful like Birmingham?

It surely is!

Wolmarballs - Wrexham and Shropshire

This from the Worlds Greatest Living Transport Correspondent, via the BBC...

ANALYSIS Rail expert and journalist Christian Wolmar

I'm afraid that it was always likely.

Originally this was set up by a rival company to Chiltern, which runs most of the services on that line, and eventually they both became owned by Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway.

So it was no longer really viable for Deutsche Bahn to be running services that were rival to its main franchise services.

So that's cleared that up then!

So. Farewell WSMR!

This from Chiltern chairman, Adrian Shooter...

It is with great regret that I am writing to tell you that we are intending to close the Wrexham & Shropshire railway company.

This has been a very difficult decision to take, but having thoroughly investigated all possible options, we feel there is no alternative but to cease operations

I am sure you are aware that the unprecedented economic environment has severely delayed the business’s move into profit. While we have worked extremely hard to increase passenger numbers, a loss of £2.8m was made in 2010 and it has been concluded that the potential for further changes to the company’s operations, including any synergy with Arriva Trains Wales, will not improve the financial position sufficiently, and there is no prospect of reaching profitability.

It is therefore intended that the service will cease on Friday 28th January 2011.

Any passengers who have already booked tickets for travel after this date will be offered alternative travel.

I must make it clear that Wrexham & Shropshire is not insolvent nor is it being placed in administration. The shareholders have ensured funding to ensure that all outstanding financial commitments can be met and all suppliers will be paid in full.

Alternative employment opportunities within the railway industry are being sought for employees, and all staff wages and full redundancy entitlements will be paid.

We are already seeking to find alternative employment within the railway industry for our staff.

We also intend to hold a recruitment fair at Wrexham on Tuesday 1st February.

Even though we are forced to close the business, we remain extremely proud of what we have achieved with Wrexham & Shropshire; with many stating that we set the standard for all other train companies to follow.

Our people are central to this and we believe they are some of the very best in the industry.

Their unfailing attention to detail and their sincere, personal interest in passengers has become the Wrexham & Shropshire way.

They are the reason we achieved 99% customer satisfaction in the National Passenger Survey of Autumn 2010, the highest ever recorded.

I would like to pay tribute to Andy Hamilton, Managing Director, and everyone in the Wrexham & Shropshire team.

UPDATE: This from today's Passenger Focus press release on the Autumn 2010 Passenger Satisfaction figures...

The highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by Wrexham & Shropshire (96%) and Grand Central (95%). First Hull Trains, Heathrow Express and Merseyrail all had 93% of passengers satisfied.

Is this what is called 'going out with a bang'?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Slow news day - Official

Much noise amongst the railway chattering classes.

Apparently a number of key individuals are either very quiet or on the move!

The Fact Compiler particularly liked the suggestion from one wag that the new, improved, non-sexist Premier League has inspired a number of senior colleagues to apply for positions as 'linesmen'.

Eye thinks we should be told!

Byers and the riddle of the sands

Good news for rail passengers in the United Arab Emirates!

Former Transport Minister Stephen Byers is apparently providing his not inconsiderable skills to UAE's Union Railway, the company run by old mate Richard Bowker, which is tasked with building a 1,500 km network linking the seven Emirates.

Byers' role is unclear but Eye suspects that his experience will prove invaluable in keeping passengers on the move, should the project suffer any delays.

What could be more sensible than having 'a sort of cab for hire' close at hand?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Go-Ahead franchises to improve dramatically?

Good news for passengers on GoAhead's dire franchises.

This from

The bus and train company, Go-Ahead, has appointed Keith Down, formally Finance Director of pub group, JD Wetherspoon plc, as its new Group Finance Director.

He takes up his position in March.

At last!

Fall-Behind has finally managed to recruit a director with experience of running a piss-up in a brewery.

Network Rail spared FOI

This from the BBC's Martin Rosenbaum...

Lord McNally, the minister in charge of freedom of information policy, says he once tried to submit an FOI request himself. He submitted his application to Network Rail - only to be frustrated when informed that this government-created company falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

Earlier this month his government announced plans to broaden the scope of FOI to additional bodies, including various private organisations with public functions.

But ironically this did not extend to Network Rail. Although both coalition parties pledged before the election that it should be covered, Lord McNally says they will now wait while the restructuring of the rail industry is under consideration.

Yet another broken promise from the ConDems.

No doubt the sighs of relief in King's Place will be audible all along York Way.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

HS2 to be laid in record time through Yorkshire!

Dear Flabby Southerners


'Tony Beckwith at Ribblehead dines on cow pie and spinach and can do baton twirls with railway lines.

'Rumour has it he uses detonators to clear his sinuses' (but don't tell RSSB. Ed)

View this and weep!

And this

Slack renewals teams South of Watford (and in Lancashire) claim that these are mere fibreglass components of a display at the Ribblehead Visitor Centre - presently undergoing refurbishment.

We shall see, when it re-opens at Easter.

Friday, 21 January 2011

CrossCountry finally fits WiFi to a train?

This from an Eye spy...

You might like to know that Cross Country unit 220030 has been fitted with trial WiFi in First Class and will be labelled internally next week.

Good news!

Reports on its effectiveness or otherwise most welcome.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

70's remix with Pans People

This from the Mad Hatter...

Pans People at work...

Pans People not at work...


Exciting New Eye Competition - Shape our Future!

Telegrammed by Biggles
Time for an exciting New Eye Competition!

Using your skill and judgment please categorise these three photos accordingly:

1. A pointless obstruction

2. Another pointless obstruction

3. A national asset

Photo one:

Photo two:

Photo three:

The prize, for the right answer, is a brand new passenger focused railway!

Pointless signs - Hatfield

This from The Yokel...

Would these pictures from Hatfield (Herts) qualify as Pointless Sign entries?

The bridge is the only way onto and off the island platform that serves both fast and slow Down lines.

If we cannot pass the sign, then it is pointless having Down trains stop at Hatfield (except to pick up passengers from the previous train who have realised that they cannot leave the station).

With the slightly darker mood occasioned by the news that the BTP intends to award itself the authority to shoot passengers, perhaps all those pictured breaching railway bylaws should be dealt with 'Met stylee'?

BTP to turn railways into Wild West

Good news for those concerned about fare evasion!

This from Sky News...

Sky News has learned that the growing threat of terrorism has prompted British Transport Police to draw up plans for its own firearms division.

Brazilian passengers may wish to travel by coach in future.

Rail privatisation failed - Official

Telegrammed by Leo Pink
The Government's response to the Franchising Consultation appears to mark a clean break with the policies of the discredited Major, Blair and Brown years.

Or so it would appear from this:

  • A significant part of revenue growth that has occurred on past franchises has been due to macroeconomic growth rather than solely a result of good management on the part of the operator.
Quite a startling piece of revisionism that.

And then there is this:
  • Demand growth is largely outside an operator’s control.
Presumably demand shrink too, so National Express East Coast was a hapless victim of economic forces?

And best of all this:
  • The devolution of rail services in Merseyside and London has had an extremely positive effect on patronage.
So state control beats market forces!

Should we read this as an apology from Petrol-head and his Marsham Street minions?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Today's franchises are a Curate's Egg - Official

So. Welcome to the new world of Franchising!

This from the DfT's Reforming Rail Franchising: Government response to consultation and policy statement, published today:

2.4 It was pointed out that the present arrangement of 7-10 year franchises has established a highly competitive market, delivering increasing financial returns to the Government.

3.2 The consultation acknowledged that the “Cap and Collar” mechanism used on many existing franchises has produced perverse outcomes, as well as significant financial liabilities for the Government.

Can both these statements be true?

UPDATE: This from Travelling_Wolf, via Twitter...


High returns are consistent with high liabilities.

Marsham Street rivals the Court of St James

This from The Marsham Street Observer...

Following Japan's heavyweight lobbying in favour of Hitachi, the reception area outside Petrol-head's Great Minster House office is increasingly resembling the Court of Tamerlane.

The place is awash with ministers, ambassadors and plenipotentiaries from France, Germany, Spain, China, and Korea all vying to lay their manufacturers plans for an HST successor before King Hammond.

Sadly though, of Brits not a sight was seen...

McNulty report deeply flawed - Official

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Here is a table from the interim submission of Sir Roy McNulty's Rail Value for Money study.

Older readers who passed the 11 Plus and younger readers with an A* in Advanced Maths may care to check the right hand column.

Eye wonders whether it is safe to trust Sir Roy and his team with the industry's finances?

UPDATE: This from Martin...

It's more serious than you realise...

Never mind the fact that the percentages don't add up to 100 (which could be explained by a further, hidden category).

I'm more interested in the way that if you use the net cost of each category together with it's percentage to calculate the overall total, each category suggests wildly different figures...

UPDATE: This from The Economist...

It's not clear what the final column actually refers to.

I think it is saying that long distance franchises cover 75% of their costs and government covers the remaining 25% while for regional franchises they only cover 39% of their costs. - hence the col should not add up to 100%

It is certainly not the proportion of Govt spending that goes to each of the three groups.

UPDATE: This from The Archer...

What’s more worrying than the 105% total is that none of the figures in the final column bear any relation to the supposedly related figures in the £m column.

The 61% should for example read 56% so the ‘inescapable conclusion’ in paragraph 6.3.3 is not correct, although what the actual conclusion should be escapes me.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

South Eastern passengers left in the dark

Sad news indeed for South Eastern passengers who rely on social media to plan their journeys.

According to the 853 blog @Train_Driver is no more!

The anonymous twitterer was famed for being the only reliable source of information on how South Eastern services were running (sic) during the recent adverse weather.

This for instance on the 30th November:

Of course South Eastern doesn't do social media.

This despite yesterday's wise words from Bill Emery of the ORR:

"Britain has recently experienced hostile weather conditions and all transport sectors have faced difficulties - but the regulator is clear that the rail industry can, and must, improve performance for passengers, particularly in providing useful and accurate information."

@Train_Driver - you will be sorely missed.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Wolmar takes the Nimby shilling - Shocker

This from the Windsorian...

I see that a Stop HS2 2011 National Convention has been called for 19th February at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

Apparently the opening speaker is none other than... Christian Wolmar - the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent!

Eye fervently hopes that the Great Man can recover his bicycle in time to attend this important event.

Perhaps readers can help?

Apparently it was last seen on Mount Kilimanjaro, further updates would be appreciated...

UPDATE: This also from the Windsorian...

Wolmar sets out his case against HS2...

No longer 'Two Bikes Wolmar' - now it's 'Two Mikes'!

On a more serious note, Wolmar asks legitimate questions about the case for HS2.

Anyone care to go head-to-head with Wolmar in a public debate?

Jim Steer? Or perhaps our very own Petrol-head...

UPDATE: This from The Water Baby...

May I please open a book on things Wolmar is most likely NOT to say in his address to the Stop HS2 mob?

How about:

HS2 is palpably unnecessary because ETCS Level 3 has the potential to unlock hitherto unimaginable reams of spare capacity on the upgraded 21st Century WCML by providing "straight out of the box" moving block functionality...!?!'

UPDATE: This from a Julie Mills, at Greengauge 21...

Having seen your recent post on Christian Wolmar...

Jim Steer of Greengauge 21 would be more than happy to debate the case for HS2 with Christian and to explain why it is needed and how it does have a very good economic and environmental case.

Good effort! Wolmar do you accept the challenge?

Hitachiballs: Rising Sun flies over Derby?

Telegrammed by Howard Wade
This from the Northern Echo on the 13th January...

THE Japanese government yesterday lobbied ministers to urge them not to reject Hitachi’s £7.5bn plans to bring train building back to the region.

Shin Ebihara, the country’s ambassador to the UK, requested the meeting with Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, as one of his last acts before leaving the post.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Yutaka Banno, Japan’s Foreign Secretary, is also attempting to secure talks at the Department for Transport (Dft), when he arrives in Britain next week.

The powerful twin-pronged lobbying operation underlines the huge importance of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) to the world’s third-biggest economy – as well as to the North-East.

Neil Foster, Northern TUC campaigns officer, said: “Why hasn’t the Government yet committed to the Agility consortium, which would create 800 direct and 7,500 indirect British jobs? Why are they considering an off-theshelf option overseas?

Diesel locomotives are made in Germany and the US, while most electric trains are manufactured in Germany, France and Spain, although some are made in Derby by Bombardier.

Presumably the East Midlands TUC Campaigns Officer is asleep?

Is Bombardier's Management unable to see any problem in a foreign train manufacturer whose home market is protected from international competition lobbying to put Derby Litchurch Lane out of business?

And, Hello!, is anyone awake at the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum?

Why aren't East Midlands MPs being primed to defend skilled local manufacturing jobs in Derby with the same vim and vigour as North Eastern MPs push for unskilled assembly roles on their patch?

No doubt the Hon Members for Derby and Derbyshire will become highly vocal once it is all too late and the closure notice is posted on the gates of Litchurch Lane!

Meanwhile our ever cost conscious Government must be absolutely delighted by Hitachi's insistence that it should receive a £15 million bung towards the cost of a new assembly plant in the North East?

As for the TUC's lobbying, even Tokyo Rose knew that you needed a modicum of accuracy to make propaganda convincing.

Apart from 'some' electric trains being built at Derby (actually about 5 vehicles a week at present) roughly 20% of the content-by-value of the new Pendolinos is being manufactured at Preston, Lancs. This is high added value traction equipment, not a mere spanner and screwdriver fitting-out job which apparently Foster San thinks more important than the real high tech British design and manufacturing jobs which could be lost.

Would any politician or civil servant recognise the long term value of an industrial strategy?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Reginald Slicker

You do the hard pressed British rail traveller no favours with your jingoistic attempts to stem the tide of international trade and keep the Derby factory manufacturing trains when superior products are available from abroad.

If you had your way, passengers on South Eastern's high speed services would not be travelling in the lightest trains in Britain with better reliability and availability figures way exceeding that achieved by European manufacturers.

I remain, Sir, R Slicker

Villiers vignettes - improvements to South Eastern

This from Kentnews...

A government minister has refused to intervene in the ongoing rail fare dispute, stating the massive price hike was well within the rights of Kent’s berated train firm.

Conservative transport minister Theresa Villiers wrote to North Thanet MP Roger Gale saying she would not approach Southeastern boss Charles Horton on the issue.

In a letter to the senior Tory backbencher, Ms Villiers said the train company was allowed to increase fares by inflation plus three per cent rather than the normal one per cent to cover improvements made to the network.

Presumably Cruella had the recent adverse weather in mind when referring to 'improvements' made to South Eastern's network?

Celtic fringe lambasts ATW

Exciting news for fans of the Welsh language!

This from the Cambrian News...

A LANGUAGE row has erupted in Pen Llyn, after councillors criticised a train company for using English-only announcements on their service.

The issue was raised by Pwllheli town councillor Alan Williams, who said: “I find it very disappointing that in such a Welsh area as Pwllheli and Pen Llyn, the announcements are made in English only.

“I travel a lot on the Cambrian Line, all the way down to Aberdyfi sometimes, and I was shocked to hear English-only announcements."

He said, errr... in English!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Woman has ride on train

Good news for fans of German rail travel...

This from The Local...

The police on Friday said they had arrested a woman having a good time with herself and a vibrator on a train in Bavaria.

The Fact Compiler's flabber is well and truly gasted!

Great British Railway Journeys to go on forever!

This from NR's Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

Fans of GBRJ will be glad to hear that the production team are reasonably confident that a third series will be commissioned by the BBC.

Ratings are good and Mr Portillo himself told me at last night, at the wrap party, that he reckons that Bradshaw can provide him with enough material for at least another two series...

Portillo better hurry up then, before Petrol-head draws the inevitable conclusion from page 26 of McNulty's Interim Review.

Wolmar derailed!

Shocking news from the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent!

Oh Wolmar - penny wise, pound foolish.

UPDATE: How the media works...

It appears that Wolmar's tale of woe is already the front page lead on the Islington Gazette.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Chiltern gains a Managing Director

This from Chiltern Railways...

Adrian Shooter CBE, Chairman of Chiltern Railways has today announced the appointment of Rob Brighouse as its new Managing Director.

Rob comes from London Overground Rail Operations Ltd where he is currently the Deputy Managing Director...

Adrian Shooter CBE, who is Chairman and acting Managing Director of Chiltern Railways will remain as Chairman of the company.

Is Eye alone in detecting a siren's song from Shooter's Garden Railway?

Crossrail short one CEO

So. Farewell Rob Holden.

This from Crossrail...

Crossrail Limited, the organisation charged with delivering a new east-west Railway Project for London and the south-east, today announced that Chief Executive Rob Holden has decided to step down from his current role and will leave later this year.

Meanwhile this from the Pink 'Un...

But people involved said he had been frustrated at being far more closely controlled at Crossrail than in his previous job at London & Continental Railways, the builder of High Speed One.

Another victim of BoJo's tinkering?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

TfL budget hit by revised listing

Good news for lovers of architectural gems!

This from The Architects Journal...

Charles Holden’s St James’s Park Underground Station and the London Underground Headquarters has had its listed status upgraded from Grade II to Grade I.

Not such good news for TfL though, who would dearly love to realise the value of this prime piece of SW1 real estate.

No doubt fare payers will be happy to make up the resulting budgetary shortfall.

DfT rolling stock procurement exposed

Compare and contrast.

This from Stagecoach...

The Perth-based transport group is investing £52million in 360 new buses and coaches for the coming financial year.

DfT could spend that amount on consultancy fees without a single new rail vehicle to show for it.

Cameron backs IEP as part of trade deal?

This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

During my regular lunch at Rules with a former departmental colleague I was told, between mouthfuls of steak and oyster pie, that our very own Prime Minister has 'done an amazing trade deal with the Japanese PM which sees IEP going ahead in return for a fantastic quid pro quo which, sadly, I am unable to divulge even to you old boy.'

'But aren't you supposed to be evaluating that banker fella's so called credible alternatives to IEP?' I asked him.

'Oh that', he replied after a thoughtful sip of St Emillion, 'that's just to keep Sir Andrew sweet in case we need his services again. And anyway we all enjoy seeing our very own train-spotter-in-chief getting het-up over perceived threats to his pet project!'.

'Appropos of which', he added, 'did you enjoy Hammond's little tease when he said that civil servants shouldn't buy trains the other day?'.

We both agreed that young Hammond is quite the wag and will do well when he moves to the Treasury, before we were distracted by the arrival of the port and cheese.

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

As one of the Railway Eye pioneer posters, I have always assumed that Sir Humphrey Beeching was not the pseudonym of a former DfT senior mandarin, but a figment of the Fact Compilers imagination.

It seems I was wrong.

I had booked a table for a late lunch at Rules yesterday and they sat me down next to two distinguished looking gentlemen who had obviously enjoyed an extremely good lunch and were now on the Port.

Keeping an ear open on their conversation, as one does, I picked up the elder one asking about 'McNulty'.

The younger of the two grimaced and said 'The man's running amok and wants to close all the rural lines as uneconomic. If our LibDem minister manages to get as far as page 26 of McNulty's interim submission the coalition is doomed'.

But he didn't seem overly concerned when he said it...

West Coast franchise - and they're off!

This from Billy Connections...

The West Coast franchise documentation is now available on the DfT website.

For students of such things there is an interesting paragraph in the Pre Qualification Process Document:

In addition, the Department will assess any past failure to deliver on contractual commitments, including those of price and quality, whether arising from over-optimistic bidding or from poor management. In the case of rail franchise contracts this will apply to those let since January 2001. Where the Department considers that a severe incidence of failure to deliver contractual commitments may have occurred it will review the circumstances against the following four indicators: the significance of the contractual breach; the time elapsed since the breach occurred; the relevance of the circumstances to UK passenger rail franchising; and the materiality of any estimated financial loss to the taxpayer or counterparty. The Department reserves the right to exclude an Applicant where it considers that a severe past failure to deliver contractual commitments has occurred.

With DB owned Arriva having singularly failed to deliver the promised WiFi to Cross Country passengers will this rule out the Hunish Hordes from the West Coast competition?

If not then how big a "failure to deliver on contractual commitments" does a potential bidder have to make before it is barred?

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

For an exclusion to stand up in law, DfT will have to demonstrate a clear process for evaluating the significance of the 'four indicators'.

They can't just do a Lord Adonis in Peggy Mitchell mode rant, as with National Express East Coast and say 'You're barred'

Will there be a numeric scale, with each indicator scored and a maximum total above with bids will be excluded?

Should be worth half a million in legal and accounting fees making the exclusion process water-tight.

And since the Department is determined to have its revenge on Virgin, why isn't there a fifth indicator covering past negotiation with threats (Virgin's use of the PUG2 nuclear option) and a sixth for ungentlemanly behaviour (exploiting DfT's poor negotiating skills)?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

HS2 to be subject to autumn delays

Good news for fans of leaf fall timetables!

This from

Residents that will be living near the high speed rail route going up between Birmingham and London will get some separation from the £17 billion project. The government has announced that they will plant 2 million trees along the rail line.


UPDATE: This from a Mr Robert Wright, for it is he...

On the point about trees along HS2.

You can imagine that I immediately raised the potential for adhesion problems with the DfT press officer when he called the other day trying to get me to write about it.

It even crossed my mind that the problems might be especially severe given HS2's fairly steep gradients.

As a result, when they sent me their press release it had in capitals that the trees would be RAILWAY FRIENDLY.

Could Eye readers suggest any species which are especially 'railway friendly' as, alas, DfT were unable to suggest any.

UPDATE: This from
Chionanthus Virginicus...

I think you've forgotten that HS2 will run through the Chilterns.

Which as any fule kno is Evergreen country!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Mediaballs - ASLEF to disrupt Royal Wedding?

Lots of chatter today claiming that ASLEF members on LUL will withdraw their labour on the day Kate and Wills get wed.

Absolutely disgraceful!

Because it isn't true.

This from ASLEF's website:

ASLEF’s General Secretary Keith Norman said today that the question of possible industrial action on the day of the Royal Wedding has not even been discussed by the union’s executive.

The union’s London officer Steve Grant stressed that no ballot had been held and the union and the management were due to resume negotiations about compensation for all Bank Holiday working by London Underground tube drivers.

The story is premature to say the least,’ Keith added

Remember - never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Mediaballs - SWT an absolute shower?

This from The Times today...

With a bowler tip to our Independent Expert.

Fares Fair supporters part of the problem

So. The Campaign for Better Transport's 'Fares Fair' campaigners have been busy in Brighton today.

What jolly japes!

Over at the Fares Fair website is a statement of what the campaign hopes to achieve:

Fair Fares Now is calling for:

  • Affordable prices, including peak times and turn-up-and-go tickets
  • Reliable services that aren’t overcrowded
  • Straightforward tickets that make train travel simple
Fair enough.

So who has Stephen Joseph and co managed to sign up as supporters of this exciting new campaign?

Why it's the usual rent a crowd of Rail Future, Friends of the Earth, Sustrans (sic), Transport for All, the TUC and the RMT.

Could this be the same RMT that managed to secure an inflation busting 5.2% pay increase for its SWT members in October and which has just rejected the same pay offer for its Network Rail members?

It surely is!

That's the way to drive down rail fares !

UPDATE:This from The Velopodist...

I'm not quite sure who the masked person picking the pocket in your picture from Brighton station is meant to be.

But it looks a little as if he's a stockbroker or other wealthy person from the south-east picking the pocket of an ordinary taxpayer.

Which, appropriately, is precisely the situation that will obtain as long as 50 per cent of the cost of every rail journey comes from public subsidy, rather than passengers paying for their own trips.

But maybe that wasn't the message Stephen Joseph and friends wanted to convey.

UPDATE: This from Bob (no not that one)...

I take exception with your point that the RMT secured a 5.2% increase for us in SWT at the end of last year, this pay increase was agreed 2 years ago as part of a 2 year deal with the second payment being 1%+RPI or 1.5% whichever was the greatest.

Unluckily for SWT the RPI in August was 4.2% but it could easily have gone the other way.

There was then a ballot as to whether we should take a reduction in hours instead of the full amount, but this was rejected, (we still work 42 hours in the guard grade) as most of us had already realised that the cost of living was going to be dearer, and with the rise in prices, transport (yes some of us have to pay to get to work), and VAT (and don't get me started on that subject - some shops have increased prices by 20% instead of 2.5%), we have been proved right.

And finally NO I am not an activist just a normal elderly person trying to manage for his last year of working in the railway industry.

Pointless signs - LUL misses the point

This from @AMonkster, via Twitter...

A year ago this poster would have qualified as a "Pointless Sign"

Alas no more.

70012 - Crash, bang, wallop....

Good news from Freightliner!

Apparently when unloading Ugly Sister number 12 the lifting equipment failed and the locomotive dropped back into the ship's hold.

Perhaps this one should be named Freightliner Banana?

UPDATE: This from The Cynic...

I notice Eye's suggestion that 70012 should be named ‘Freightliner Banana’.

However, I would suggest that in order to keep with the naming convention of the only named class member so far (70001 ‘PowerHaul’) perhaps ‘PowerFall’ would be more suitable?

FOI - Sauce for the goose but not for the gander!

This from the Press Gazette...

The Campaign for Freedom of Information has asked why Network Rail and nationalised bank Northern Rock aren’t among the new bodies set to be covered by an extended Freedom of Information Act.

An excellent idea and one that apparently finds favour with the Department.

Making Network Rail subject to FOI requests would not only make the infrastructure controller more transparent but would also deliver significant benefits to passengers.

Not least by breaking ATOC's monopoly on the provision of real time information, allowing independent re-publishers to provide rail users with free updates on how their trains are running.

ATOC currently charges developers for access to real time running information (the data for which is freely supplied by Network Rail) ensuring that disrupted passengers have to pay to be told that their train is not running the advertised service!

Whilst ATOC is busy 'monetising' its members failures a different approach has been adopted by Transport for London.

TfL offers Tube running data to the developer community at no charge, resulting in a range of free passenger information applications being made available across both handheld devices & the web.

Of course whilst the Government makes soothing noises about public scrutiny of Network Rail our very own Petrol-head Hammond appears to consider himself above such tedious legal requirements.

Eye understands that Control-freak Phil has been sitting on a number of FOI requests well beyond the statutory 20 working days.

How embarressing to have the Information Commissioner knocking on your door as you lambast others for a lack of transparency and accountability.

UPDATE: This from A Retired IT Person...

Why would the independent re-publishers provide anyone with free updates?

They might if they could monetarise the service another way.

Surely you're not confusing Freedom of Information with Free Information?

NR freely supply the data to ATOC, but ATOC and/or the TOCs pay for NR's train systems as part of the Computer Service Agreement.

Within that bundle, certain bits may even be branded as supplied free, but it's in the context of a large payment.


Friday, 7 January 2011

First saves a fortune in uniform costs!

Good news from First Great Western!

Ever conscious of the need for Value for Money procurement the TOC is apparently trialing a new uniform for its Senior Conductors...

Sharp eyed readers will note that the 'mankini' is in the new O'Toole tartan unveiled by Scotrail only last month.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A reminder of how cold it was!

This from a Mr Drayne...

Willersley Tunnel (Northern portal), near Matlock Bath, Christmas Day 2010

According to the Met Office the temperature was officially recorded as 'brass monkeys'.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Mediaballs - Evening Standard

Good news from Dick Murray on the Standard!

But what's this?

Oh Dick - flay those subs alive!

Reading revealed...

This from Network Rail's Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

Eye readers may be interested in some video of the work completed at Reading over the Christmas period.

Some great time lapse of a 1,000 tonne bridge deck replaced over Caversham Road.

I always think that time lapse video should be accompanied by the Benny Hill music…

Network Rail's wish is of course Eye's command. With a very deep doff of the bowler to @Twitdan

UPDATE: This also from the Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit...

PS You can learn also more about the UK's newest - or most recently re-instated - passenger railway, between Airdrie and Bathgate, here.

This one with sound!

NR turns on the charm in 2011

With ATOC floundering over fare rises Network Rail appears to be inveigling itself into the Tory party's good books.

The new, improved, cuddly, Coucher-lite Network Rail has begun a discreet charm offensive designed to win industry, stakeholder and political support for reform to the company's corporate governance and accountability as mandated by Petrol-head.

So a big Eye welcome to Sara Rajeswaran who joined NR yesterday as Ricky Haystack's new 'strategic adviser', tasked with consulting on governance change.

Sara's remit will see her working with NR's Chairman to "facilitate the emergence of a widely accepted framework of governance and accountability that:

  • Defines recommended and mandated practices of Network Rail within a systemic context;
  • Is consistent with the objectives of the Coalition Government and The McNulty Review, thus serving as a route map for Network Rail’s collaborative involvement in delivering broader objectives;
  • Is based on deep consultation and dialogue with all key internal and external stakeholders, including Members;
  • Is founded on robust principles and empirical research where required;
  • Draws on all experience and data gathered to date;
  • Balances appropriateness, effectiveness, deliverability and execution pace;
  • Clarifies the authority, role, requirements and necessary composition of the Network Rail Board;
  • Will underpin the rebuilding of public trust in Network Rail"
Chunky no?

Previously at Portland, Sara also served time as a policy wonk for the two Theresas (May and Villiers) and is extremely well connected in the Tory party where sources lavished praise on her for being articulate, personable, ambitious, outgoing, able and highly intelligent.

Possessed of a 'throaty vibrato' Eye understands that Ms Rajeswaran has recently announced her betrothal.

Hopefully the resulting broken hearts amongst young Tory beaux won't do irreperable damage to her standing in the party.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Can I alert Eye watchers that 2011 has been officially declared as 'Lego block language year' by the Coalition.

This is the new inclusive[*] big society[#] version of what used to be called 'boiler plate' prose beloved of industrialists, civil servants and politicians who want to be considered important and thoughtful without actually saying anything meaningful to real people.

Lego-block statements are made up of buzzwods (the little blocks with four studs that are excruciating to step on) and management consultancy stock phrases which always go together such as 'challenging but achievable' (the long single and double row multi-stud blocks which save you so much time in putting a Lego structure together).

It is good to see that NR is supporting the government's new policy.

Here is a short worked example taken from Ms Rajeswaran's remit:
  • Is based on deep[*] consultation and dialogue[#] with all key[*] internal and external stakeholders[#], including Members[*]
[*] Four stud block
[#] Multi-stud block

Eye followers are invited to test their ability to spot Lego Brick Language in action with this real life example from
Sir Roy McNulty's interim submission!

"Leadership for cost reduction; making the changes required to realise potential savings will present major challenges, which can be met only if there is strong and aligned leadership from Government and the Industry"
(are you sure we're not playing Bullsh1t Bingo? Ed)

Beautiful... but meaningless.

2010 Railway Eye stat porn

In 2010 Railway Eye was visited 372,966 times by 73,836 unique visitors.

Eye thanks all readers and contributors for their continued support throughout 2010.

UPDATE: This from The Archer...

That’s a 62% increase in visits since 2009 and 39% more unique visitors.

By my reckoning you’ll achieve your passenger journey equivalent of 1 billion hits in 2027 if you keep this up.

Hull Trains has falling out with local MP

This from Guido...

It seems Labour’s replacement for Prezza in Hull, the uninspiring Karl Turner, is as ham-fisted and polite as his predecessor. On the morning train out-of-town on the Wednesday before Christmas Karl was in standard class, but thought he would help himself to a complimentary first class newspaper. Problems ensued when he was politely reminded not to steal by one of the train staff.

More here.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Pointless signs - Beaconsfield station car park

Monday, 3 January 2011

Lookalike - Mystic Crowley?

Has Mystic Wolmar embraced the Dark Side?

Possibly - judging by a picture used to illustrate an article by the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent in yesterday's Mail on Sunday 'Live' magazine.

Eye readers are invited to read the runes and draw their own conclusions.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Surely this is much better lookalike?

Happy New Year!

Lookalike - The War against Travel