Monday, 28 February 2011

NR restructuring - let them eat cake!

This from BR Old Timer...

Having just read the latest edition of Modern Railways I am intrigued by Roger Ford's reference to the possible privatisation of the Anglia Route by July 2014 -- conveniently just ahead of a general election (if the Coalition holds together).

After all, is not Anglia where it all began!

BR had plans for a new business-led vertically-integrated structure, and put them to the test by creating a new Anglia Region (in 1987/88, I think), bringing together the engineering functions with InterCity Anglia and NSE Anglia and LT&S — bringing together the passenger businesses and, of course, the Railfreight and RfD businesses, too, as they then were, to determine their engineering requirements and oversee the engineers' budgets.

John Edmonds was made Anglia's General Manager and Graham Eccles the Regional Operating Manager.

When the Tories won in 1992 they dismissed BR Chairman Sir Bob Reid II's 'Future Rail' proposals, proceeding instead to develop their privatisation plans. J Edmonds then became CEO of Railtrack, overseeing the concept that the company merely outsourced management and maintenance of the infrastructure, which started to go belly-up with the Southall and Ladbroke Grove collisions, then the Hatfield crash, and ultimately the Potters Bar derailment.

Strange to relate, the latest announcements on future restructuring of Network Rail were made just before NR indicated they would submit a guilty plea (as the successor to Railtrack) at the Crown Court to Health & Safety charges arising from the Potters Bar crash, following last year's much-delayed inquest.

Graham Eccles went on to become Divisional Manager on BR's South Central Division and then, after privatisation, was appointed MD of SWT, which has long argued for a return to vertical integration.

Now we are told the Wessex Route is to be one of the first two to be subjected to the new structure proposed by Network Rail, whose board now includes Graham Eccles as a Non-Executive Director — while brother Richard is employed by NR to mastermind the Route Utilisation Strategies.

Is the railways' future now to be Eccles' shaped?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Eye solves NR's recruitment problem

This from Leo Pink...

I note that Network Rail is advertising for Managing Directors on its website.

Would not it make more sense to advertise for these new Regional Managing Directors in the Australian or Irish press, since those seem to be the countries of choice for ex British Rail senior managers who know how to run a railway?

Advertising in the UK press will only get applications from TOC directors (much to the annoyance of Philip Hammond) or people from other industries who think running a railway is easy (much to the annoyance of everyone else).

And we all recall where importing such thrusting new executives left Railtrack in days gone by...

Network Rail ensures equality of experience for all!

Exciting news from Network Rail!

Captain Permatan has been appointed a non-Executive Director of the not for profit company!

Rick Haythornthwaite said:
"Keith Ludeman brings to Network Rail decades of experience of leadership in Britain’s transport industry. The addition of him to the board will provide first-hand, passenger-focused expertise which will help Network Rail on its journey to becoming ever more responsive to its customers and passengers."


No doubt London Midland, Southern and SouthEastern passengers are particularly delighted by this exciting news...

Happy in the knowledge that Go-Ahead levels of 'passenger-focused' responsiveness will soon become standard across the national network.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Could this be the same Captain Permatan who last week warned that rail industry profit margins are unsustainable?

Perhaps the grass is greener on the infrastructure side? (shurely oranger? Ed)

For you the snow is over - says DB?

Once our Teutonic friends have bought out all the TOCs and NR's exciting new RIMs perhaps we could have a couple of these please?

With a bowler tip to the latest edition of RAILDATE.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Network Rail shifts the deckchairs?

Despite Petrol-head planning to restructure the industry with primary legislation Network Rail continues to try and seize the initiative.

The latest exciting development from the infrastructure controller will be unveiled today - devolved business units run by managing directors!

Based on NR's existing nine routes these new business units will see route managing directors, in effect, running their own infrastructure railway business with annual spending power of some £600m+, employing some 3,000 people.

Exciting news indeed and not before time.

Eye understands that NR has set itself a challenging pace to achieve these reforms, with the new MD roles advertised in the press today and two devolved routes (Scotland and Wessex) going live in April!

But is this all too little too late?

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Eureka!!!!!!!!! Don't panic, don't panic!

This from Archimedes...

It all looks as if the preparation for Eureka!!!!!! are going swimmingly.

East Coast has belatedly realised that, with just three months to go, it has to plan and prepare for the introduction of a major timetable change - with all the fleet and crew rostering to sort out etc....

As it took Virgin 18 months to do the same for its "VHF" timetable change (and they only just achieved it in time) East Coast is reported to be imploring the industry for help, particularly from "anyone with experience of bringing in a major timetable change".

At a recent meeting one senior EC chap sniffily told an assembled gathering of industry bigwigs "we're doing this without any offers of help from any of you"

To which the response was "That's because you haven't asked us!".

Readers may care to avoid the ECML on the 22nd May.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Get ready for the new Railways Act

This from Louise Ellman at Thursday's Westminster Hall debate on Investment Priorities for the Railways:

The Select Committee takes rail investment extremely seriously and will give the McNulty report full consideration in due course, along with the Government's White Paper on the future of rail.

So. Petrol-head has managed to create time in the legislative timetable for a Railways Bill.

In ye olden days the convention was that a Green Paper would be issued in advance of a White Paper.

For those under the age of forty, a Green Paper was a clearly announced consultation document containing policy proposals for debate and discussion before the Government made a decision on the contents of a White Paper (a White Paper, of course, contains detailed proposals for legislation).

Eye assumes that the endeavours of McNulty and LEK constitute such a consultation.

Meanwhile the industry had better brace itself for another Tory legislative restructuring of our industry.
Let us hope it is more succesful than that of 1993?

With places on Petrol-head's High Level Group as yet unfilled it will be interesting to see who will be invited to sup with the devil.

Not only will these exalted ones help shape Hammond's exciting new Railway's Bill, they will also create a structure for the industry that could last for the next twenty years.

Meanwhile, those who care about the railways, but left out in the cold by McNulty's 'industry consultation' and adrift from Hammond's HLG may take comfort from the 'Yew-turn' the ConDems were forced to execute over Forest policy this week.

After all, it's not just woodland that has branches.

Latest ABC figures show print holding up

It's ABC time again...

As Eye pointed out last year most railway titles don't submit themselves to the indignity of an ABC circulation audit, so a bowler tip to those that do.

Here the recently published 2010 circulation figures for the top three (with 2009 figures in brackets):

Railway Magazine 34,168 (34,715)

Steam Railway 32,441 (32,842)

RAIL magazine 20,006 (20,546)

Eye's man in the Dead Tree Media comments:

As all three titles recorded a roughly similar decline in circulation this suggests that readers are consolidating the number of titles they buy and that overall readership is subject to... ahem... ‘natural wastage’!

Evidently print media continues to hold its own.

UPDATE: This from Arnie the Anorak...

Of course RAIL is published every two weeks or 26 times a year, where as Railway Magazine is published 12 times a year and Steam 13 times a year.

If you then add up the total annual circulation for each publication... (that's enough gratuitous puffery for Dead Tree media. Ed).

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Virgin fails to learn from aviation experience

This from Our Independent Expert...

Q. Would Virgin Airlines allow one of it's planes to fly with bits missing?

A. Exactly!

So why is this Glasgow arrival at Euston last night in such a scruffy state - a sight increasingly typical of Pendolinos.

Perhaps VT and Alstom no longer care about their corporate image.

But it's the sort of thing that bothers passengers who have the choice of taking the plane.

UPDATE: This from West Coast Maintainer...

Your correspondent suggests passengers would have been unimpressed at boarding a Pendolino with a missing coupler hatch.

As a defender of the passengers I presume he'd have been happier for it to run empty to the right depot for repair whilst the service was cancelled?

I think perhaps passengers would be happier to know that their train was going to run, even if a little ugly, rather than see it set off without them only to be told "we thought you'd rather wait for the next one rather than suffer the humiliation of sitting in a train with a plastic door missing."

Pendolinos are certified to run with the coupler hatches open, or removed, at line speed.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Huggable Higgins in front of the TSC


Tuesday 1 March 2011

Committee Room 6, House of Commons

The Transport Committee will be taking oral evidence from Network Rail’s new Chief Executive, David Higgins on Tuesday 1 March at 10.15 am. Mr Higgins was previously Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority. He began his new post at Network Rail on 1 February.

The Committee will question Mr Higgins about his priorities for the national rail infrastructure operator in the coming years, at a time when the rail industry is likely to undergo significant reform.

These timings are approximate and the session may start slightly earlier or later than advertised.

Eureka!!!! emerges into the light of day!

This from Albatross...

The much awaited EUREKA East Coast time table is now available in all its “GORY” on the East Coast website.

For the down trodden commuters of Retford, Newark and Grantham, and those who wish to travel to nearby stations to visit relatives and friends make sure you complete your journeys before 23rd May.

The timetable is dreadful and offers little benefit to the long suffering passengers of R, N or G:- less trains, less frequent connections, three hour gaps in service, and no doubt less passenger and revenue for East Coast.

Any finally, welcome the new McGhost Train!

The 05.40 Edinburgh to London with one stop, and most likely one passenger! What an utter waste of scarce paths, trainsets and crew.

UPDATE: This from Taffeta Girl...

Albatross is being just a little unfair.

I believe that this will be the most luxurious, comfortable and gorgeous timetable that the East Coast has ever seen!

Judging by the amount of padding...

UPDATE: This, rather wittily, from You Reeker...

Try getting from Newark to Retford on a Saturday.

UPDATE: This, allegedly, from Angus MacKiltup...

Shurely MacGhost Train?

UPDATE: This from the Wicked Weaver...

Currently there is a 07:00 and a 07:20 from Newcastle arriving KX 09:55, 10:11 respectively.

From May the 07:00 leaves 5 minutes earlier (and starts from Berwick !!!)

But anyone wishing to reach London from stations between Berwick and Newcastle will transfer to the McGhost service, which departs Newcastle at 07:03.


Because it arrives KX 09:40, the earlier departure is overtaken, not arriving until 10:06.

And the next option from Newcastle, the 07:28, (which must leave Waverley empty at 05:45) does not arrive KX until 10:45: a massive difference.

So. The timetable has been 'cooked' but the McGhost Train will be busy as it passes through England.

Arriva celebrates arrival of on-board WiFi

This from The Man by the Photocopier...

Well, well, well.

With just ONE CrossCountry Voyager finally equipped with wi-fi after years of franchise breach by Arriva in Britain, look what they've managed on the other side of the North Sea!

ARRIVA Netherlands launch on board WIFI service

Arriva Netherlands today launched their complimentary on board WiFi service providing on the move connectivity for the first time, much to the delight of their rail passengers.

As Arriva's Dutch Managing Director said:

"We are delighted to be able to offer our passengers such a high quality on board service, which will only enhance the journey experience."

Quite so.

UPDATE: This from a Virgin Twice Removed...

A Virgin chum travelled with CrossCountry last week and was delighted to see the pretty little light on his PC light up, suggesting that a WiFi signal was available.

Wondering why such a momentous event had taken place without fanfares and celebratory stickers appearing in the saloon he logged on…

Only to discover he was picking up the signal from an adjacent Pendolino set at New Street.

Perhaps in future Arriva XC should just advise "WiFi available when adjacent to Bendydildos."

Captain Deltic issues a call to arms!

This from the good Captain (for it is he)...

Another railway research strategy consultation document has been published - this time by consultants TRL on behalf of DafT.

It is, if anything, even worse than the TSSB/TSAG document featured in the February Informed Sources.

Here is the link.

Consultation is open until April.

Here are the questions posed by TRL which consultees might care to consider:

  • Is the strategic focus right?
  • Do you agree with key actions that come out of the report?
  • Can we develop leadership for research in a fragmented industry?
  • Can we strengthen the case for research in a difficult economic climate?
  • Can we share knowledge and maintain the legacy/heritage knowledge in an industry with changing ownership?
  • Can we be more effective in making use of technology developed in other industries?
  • How do we make the rail industry a more comfortable place for innovation and research?
Where to start!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Septic scribbler screws NRs budget

This from ITV...

Best-selling author Bill Bryson, who lives in Norfolk, is fronting a new campaign to clean up England's railways.

Bryson, who's President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, wants to use the law to make public land managers clear up unsightly litter around railways. He's demanding Network Rail clear up rubbish along tracks in Cambridgeshire.

Well Bill - this is really helpful. Thank you.

Perhaps Bill and his ever-so-cosy Campaign to Protect Ruritanian England should focus on the challenge of fly-tipping, rather than on the poor sods on whose land this rubbish ends up.

Meanwhile, Network Rail is now expected to divert scarce resource on prettifying 8,000 route miles to meet Bill and his chums vision of the English idyll.

Eye hopes that Network Rail will meet the demands of Bryson and the CPRE in full.

And pay for it using the East Anglia maintenance budget.

Perhaps Bill and his CPRE chums won't think they are quite so clever when standing on a litter free station where trains can't run.

On the plus side this would allow Bryson even more time to "write a history of the world without leaving home."

Would that he had done that today.

UPDATE: This from Carbon-Neutral Potter...

Anyone else think that perhaps encouraging, say, the re-instatement of litter bins on stations might be a way forward?

Although it didn't start with NR's reign, housekeeping seems to be something that the railway is particularly bad at.

Perhaps Eye readers are aware of more examples?

Right - I'm off to eat some organic Fairtrade pizza and compost my toenail clippings.

Every little helps.

UPDATE: This from Inspector Blakey...

I thought that the traditional idiom of the flytipper was to dump old sofas, fridges and other household rubbish.

I didn't realize they were responsible for leaving all those chunks of scrap rail, sleepers, fishplates and half-empty aggregate bags lying around the cess too...

UPDATE: This from a Retired NR Contract Manager - one time responsible for litter picking contract in a RT Zone...

Most of the litter on tracks around station areas is from the TOCs trains and passenger/customers.

Most of it away from station areas is obviously not now from passengers throwing things out of windows, one advantage - possibly the only one, of hermetically sealed, air conditioned, non opening windowed, sanitised rolling stock, and is blown in from adjacent premises. Supermarket recycling points, Asda at Longsight for instance, being a prime example.

This does not get away from the fact that its looks a mess wherever, but pointing the legal finger at Network Rail just because it finishes up with them is a bit ripe.

It needs an industry wide task force and solution. Oh - I forgot, that’s not now possible is it?

UPDATE: This from Platelayer...

Perhaps Bill Bryson and the CPRE should be invited to sponsor a Prize Length competition?

Peter Fox's funeral service Friday 18th February

This from Robert at Today's Railways...

Peter Fox’s funeral service will be held at Carterknowle Methodist Church, Edgedale Road, Sheffield, S7 2BQ on Friday 18th February at 2 p.m., followed by burial in Abbey Lane Cemetery.

Peter’s family have requested family flowers only please. Donations in lieu of flowers if wished, made payable either to the `British Heart Foundation’ or `Railway Children’ may be sent to:

Adam Heath
John Heath & Sons
2-16 Earsham Street
S4 7LS

Chiltern enters Pisspoor PR Awards

According to @Chilternrailway...

Our VIPs Wills and Kate at Marylebone.

No doubt this wheeze had them rolling in the aisles in Berlin?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

What a lovely photo.

I expect Shooter will soon be getting a pre-paid jiffy bag from Brenda so he can return his CBE.

UPDATE: This from

Ouch..possibly shouldn't have put our cheesiest photo up!

Looking forward to getting a card from you in the post ;)

Mail's transport correspondent gets spanked botty

Does SouthEastern have a guardian angel?

On Saturday the Daily Mail ran this story...

For once, it wasn’t wet weather outdoors that caused the delay.

A train driver left hundreds of commuters stranded during the morning rush hour – because his seat was damp.

The unnamed Southeastern Trains driver was due to take a busy service from Hastings in East Sussex to London, but refused to begin the journey after discovering his seat was wet.

So much so normal.

But Eye was copied in the following furious missive to Mail transport correspondent Ray Massey:

I have always thought you to be the least competent of all the national Transport Correspondents, but your words about the wet driving seat took the pissy biscuit even by your own personal low standards.

What exactly would you do if you got to work and found the only seat in your office was soaking wet?

On a train you cannot just sling your coat over it - railway safety jackets are made of nylon, and you will slide off the seat going round corners or stopping at stations. If you try standing up to drive, you can't see out of the windscreen or operate the Driver's Safety Device, which is how people die.

Apportioning the blame to the driver was cheap, nasty, and factually wrong. You are fortunate to be so untroubled by journalistic integrity. Southeastern provided a frank account of how the seat got wet in the first place. Can I suggest you buy Dick Murray a coffee and ask him how to cover transport?

Or, perhaps more usefully for Daily Mail readers, go write about something else altogether?

Growl!!! Steady Tiger!

NR looks for new Comms Director

With Huggable Higgins now in place NR is looking to fill the other half of the former Coucher Pender combo.

Yesterday's Sunday Times contained an ad for a Network Rail Communications Director (PR monkeys - fill your boots here).

With the infrastructure controller beefing up its spin and lobbying machine no doubt the internal discussions on how to handle the LEK report into Alternative Railway Structures will get a whole lot more animated.

Will NR's Board Room table be able to handle the excitement?

Wifi finally appears on a CrossCountry train

First Arriva CrossCountry wifi enabled set in traffic.

As exclusively revealed by Eye on the 21st January and seen in service on Friday.

With a bowler tip to Is 1A03 out of Chester yet, Bert?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Exciting privatisation news from abroad

Good news from The Zimbabwean...

HARARE - The government is considering opening up the railway network to private players, says State Enterprises and Parastatals Minister Gorden Moyo.

The move could put an end to the National Railway of Zimbabwe (NRZ’s) monopoly as it is drowning in a ballooning $274 million deficit of depleted fleet and recapitalisation costs.

What a marvelous opportunity for Britain, the former colonial power, to give something back.

With the help of DfT, ATOC and NR 'experts' that measly deficit c
ould be trebled in no time.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Ken Livingstone wins European Railway Award

Eye congratulates Ken Livingstone for winning the European Railway Award!

This from some people abroad...

Ken Livingstone and Stefan Haas receive European Railway Award

CER, EIM, and UNIFE presented the European Railway Award 2011 today to former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone for political achievements and to Knorr-Bremse Austria Managing Director Dr Stefan Haas for technical achievements. Since 2007, the European rail sector has honoured outstanding achievements in the development of competitive and environmentally sustainable rail transport. The European Railway Award 2011 attracted more than 500 guests from all over Europe, including high-level politicians and transport stakeholders.

Surely a move designed to gladden the hearts of both the ConDem Government and Mayor BoJo?

Lest it be forgot: CER claims it is the 'Voice of European Railways', UNIFE allegedly represents 'The European Rail Industry', whilst EIM purports to be the voice of 'European Infrastructure Managers'.

On the plus side this sort of political posturing should put paid to European nationalised railways taking over any further UK franchises.

UPDATE: This from Mizter T...

The Fact Compiler fails to mention why Ken got the Euro award.

It was for having the bottle to do something genuinely radical and introduce the congestion charge scheme to London in 2003, which in turn encouraged people out of their cars and onto public transport instead - rather than just talking tough the newt-fancier rather called the cynics' bluff.

BoJo - a man of a great many words but some might say a little less action - has since removed the western extension of the CC zone, but the original central area remains - and the monies accruing therefrom are probably the only thing keeping TfL's finances afloat.

Meanwhile we must bide our time until the 2023 European Coiffurists' Award is given to Boris - for providing the continent's most inspiring Mayoral barnet.

DB masters the skies!

This exciting news from DB's Trade & Press newsletter, just landed...

Deutsche Bahn launches “flying trains” to promote Rail&Fly-offer.

Deutsche Bahn goes up in the air: Two Tuifly Boeing 737-800 have been designed in order to promote DB’s offer Rail&Fly in co-operation with over 90 airlines for rail journeys to and from major airports in Germany and Amsterdam.

The official christening of “DB Air one” in ICE design and “DB Air Two” in DB Regio design took place on 7th February 2011 at Cologne/Bonn airport.

Good news indeed.

Sadly Eye was unable to find a picture of the branded planes so our art department mocked up the following.

Apparently the noise pollution is minimal, till they land.

UPDATE: This, paradoxically, from EastWestDivide...

Am I the only one who find this kneejerk association of Germany = WW2 a bit tiresome?


Peter Fox RIP

Eye understands that Peter Fox, master of the Platform 5 publishing empire, passed away yesterday.

The Fact Compiler adds his condolences to those of many others from across the industry.

Grumpy Old Man - you will be very much missed.

UPDATE: This from Robert at Today's Railways...

It is with great regret that we must inform you of the death of Peter Fox on the afternoon of Tuesday 8th February 2011.

Peter had undergone replacement heart valve surgery in November 2010 and was re-admitted to hospital on Monday 7th February complaining of shortness of breath. Tests revealed that one of his replacement heart valves was not working correctly and a further operation was carried out on Tuesday 8th February to rectify the problem. Sadly, Peter’s heart was already in a very weak state and he never regained consciousness after the operation.

Peter will be sorely missed and our thoughts at this time are with his wife, Doreen, and his children Suzanne, David and Jane and their families.

The details of Peter’s funeral have yet to be finalised. Further information about this will be available from the Platform 5 office shortly.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Please add condolences from the rest of the railway press.

Peter held strong opinions and some of us didn't always agree with them - but he always defended his point of view with conviction.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

No surprises as another DafT procurement fails

Regular Eye readers will not be surprised to see that yet another DafT procurement exercise has gone tits-up.

This from the Beeb...

Plans to privatise the search and rescue helicopter service have been suspended amid concerns about the bidding process to find a supplier.

Of course DafT has a fine reputation for running cost effective procurement exercises.

Who can forget the abandoned process to procure 202 DMU vehicles, the continuing saga of the InterCity Express Programme (costs currently running at £27m and without a single vehicle ordered!) or the long drawn out saga of the new Thameslink fleet?

No doubt Petrol-head will address his own department's failings before demanding ever greater efficiencies from pained suppliers?

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus Virginicus...

Can we hope that a decision not to replace Sea King helicopters with foreign ones (Sikorsky) via the aborted search & rescue privatisation, will be followed by a decision to support UK jobs at the last remaining UK helicopter plant - AgustaWestland at Yeovil (Lib-Dem) ?

And will the same principle to protect UK jobs also apply to IEP?

"Chopper" Hammond to the rescue?

Pointless signs - Didcot Parkway

This from Concerned of Caversham...

Spotted at Didcot Parkway station:

Is this a cunning ruse to ensure that any fire does full justice to delightful Didcot?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Network Rail - old habits die hard...

This from a Resident of Grub Street...

Despite last week's arrival of 'Huggable Higgins' NR still appears unable to shake off the ghost of its former Chief Exec.

This from Network Rail's media website today...

Perhaps updates to this site are still pend'ing approval?

Pointless signs - Croxley Green

Love-in on the East Coast?

This from King Henry...

Exciting news from the country's two remaining Open Access Operators.

According to the National Rail website...

Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th February:
Grand Central Trains Sunderland service and First Hull Trains will combine and run in unison between London Kings Cross and Doncaster.

Can the nuptials be long delayed ?

Pointless signs - Hamilton Square, Merseyrail

UPDATE: This from Rudi at Merseyrail...

Not quite as pointless as you might think at first glance; it marks the area on the platform where trains stop when they are made up of 3 cars.

Passengers tend to congregate at the point where the entrances are rather than where the 3 car train stops (because of the position of the signal) and then need to scamper along causing a slight delay in departure and obviously, panicky passengers running to make sure they don't miss it.

With 16 trains per hour round our loop on the Wirral Line, even 10 seconds delay is important so that's why the sign is there, in fact it was put there at the request of various user groups...

The problem doesn't occur when it's a 6 car train by the way which more or less covers the entire length of the platform so need to for anyone to scamper wherever you're standing!

Pointless signs - Oxford

This from Globetrotter...

On a recent visit to Oxford, I spotted this gem in the middle of the station approach.

Apart from the fact that would-be passengers had presumably already taken their life into their hands getting from the city centre in the first place, the sign is conveniently positioned on the central island between two crossings, so everyone would have had to cross part-way before being admonished with the blindingly obvious.

Presumably more health n safety RCE-covering?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Rail privatisation has failed - Official (again)

Oh how we laughed!

The last time the current lot were in power we were assured that Nationalised industries were woefully inefficient at running railways and that what was required was the sharp suits and shouty braces of the private sector.

And lo, so it came to pass, the railways were flogged off and costs trebled (shurely the tax payer achieved better value for money? Ed)

So what are we to make of this information briefed to most of the Sunday papers?

Deutsche Bahn, Renfe, Albellio and Trenitalia are interested in bidding for the InterCity West Coast franchise.

DafT - have you no shame?

Perhaps Cameron, Petrol-head or Cruella might care to apologise, on behalf of the "back to basics" adulterer Major, for having got it so terribly, terribly wrong?

Friday, 4 February 2011

Pointless signs - Euston

UPDATE: This from Mike...

That's just pathetic, especially since there's an official sign!

This may interest you, a website that shows all the different rail signs, including the 5-10 different HST Stopping markers.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Chris Milner...

Actually, the sign does have a point, as the yellow NMT visits these platforms at Euston, and is the only HST regularly active on the WCML.

UPDATE: This from @Gav678, via Twitter...

Your pointless sign at Euston is most certainly not useless for the NMT.

Virgin cracks joke in advance of Franchise bid!

This side splitter from the Birmingham Post...

Virgin Trains has vowed to fill the high-quality customer service void left by the collapse of the Wrexham & Shropshire railway company.

Stop it Beardie, you're killing me!

First for exemplary customer service

This from the Pirate of Penzance...

It's been all action on the 12:06 Paddington to Penzance today ...

A gentleman got on at Reading and after having his ticket checked was told that it was not valid.

The man explained to the customer service executive that his connection was late getting into Reading. The CSA then advised him that he'd be getting a fine, and asked for his details and a signature. The man gave his address but refused to sign. A small polite argument followed where a few people nearby got involved, one calling the CSA a jobsworth.

When the train arrived at Exeter, an officer of the BTP came on board carrying instructions to arrest three abusive passengers. When the officer was appraised by other passengers around of the situation, he told the CSA to leave or be reported for wasting police time. The passenger was allowed to continue.

Incidentally, the ticket he was travelling on had been issued free to him by FGW as compensation for a previous two hour delay.

Is there any chance that 'being reasonable' could be included as a module in First Great Western's training programme?

EMT - Off with their heads!

This from a Mr PMB...

One wonders if defacing an image of the Monarch is still considered to be an act of treason?

If so, the marketing luvvies at EMT might be in a spot of bother, as they have made a rather unflattering modification to Her Majesty on this poster.

NR restructuring shocker!

Shocking news from Network Rail!

M&C will become East Midlands route with Martin Frobisher, currently route infrastructure maintenance director M&C, taking up the role of route director, East Midlands . A replacement for Martin as the route infrastructure maintenance director will be appointed shortly.

Dear God - putting someone who understands maintenance in charge of a Route. Madness!

It'll never catch on.

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

Martin will not be our first route director with a background in maintenance.

Our route director for LNE, Richard Lungmuss used to be Scottish maintenance director.

Is there no end to this lunacy! Bring back the accountants says Eye. They know how to run a railway!
(Shurely shome mishtake. Ed)

Pointless signs - York

This from A Conductor...

I saw this pointless sign at York station yesterday.

Please note the lack of spell checking, but it's also worth noting that the aforementioned lift was working fine.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Adam Smith Institute plays trains

Good to see that the Adam Smith Institute has its fingers well and truly on the pulse.

An article from the think tank celebrating the 'Railways Renaissance' contains some over excited wibble about running trains all night with peppercorn fares.

Presumably in the Age of Austerity there will be no need to pay staff, fuel trains, or indeed maintain the railway?

No matter.

The plugged in Adam Smith nerds helpfully illustrated the lame piece with the following image:

Stick with the Hornby '00' boys.

DafT invests £27m and buys errr... nothing!

Exciting news from the ever-profligate Department for Transport.

This written answer from Cruella on the 1st February...

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which companies his Department has contracted to carry out consultancy work on the Intercity Express Programme; what the total monetary value is of each such contract; and how much each such company has been paid to date.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)

holding answer 18 January 2011

From the start of financial year 2005-06 until approximately 30 April 2010, the amount paid to companies carrying out consultancy work, rail industry advice, legal, financial, business case, technical, project management and procurement advice associated with both the Intercity Express and Great Western Electrification Programmes under the previous administration is as follows. These figures include the time spent by companies in response to Foster Review queries and expenses such as travel and meeting room hire, and exclude VAT and payments to individuals.

Barkers HR Advertising16,632
Capita Resourcing431,218
Clifford Chance1,606
Congress Centre11,970
Ernst and Young161,042
First Great Western149,873
First Class Partnerships5,913
Jim Standen Associates10,620
Mott MacDonald11,827,506
MWB Business Exchange1,903
GNER, NXEC and East Coast Trains1,233,895
Reed Employment51,054
Steer Davies Gleave1,235,628
Willis Ltd13,615

For the period from 3 May 2010 until 11 January 2011 the figures are as follows. Most of these costs constitute time spent by companies in response to Foster Review queries, and the continuation of the Great Western Electrification Programme.

Capita Resourcing7,842
First Great Western22,261
Mott MacDonald79,468
East Coast Trains46,574
Steer Davies Gleave82,343

The Department for Transport currently has live contracts with the following companies. The monetary amounts set out represent the maximum total authorised spend, not the amount remaining for each. As such, much of the work under these contract has already been carried out and invoiced for, and is included within the amounts in the previous tables.

Mott MacDonald15,000
Steer Davies Gleave45,125


How can you spend over £27m of taxpayers money and have nothing to show for it, apart from reams of paper?

If privatisation is such a good idea perhaps time to flog off Great Minster House and pretty damn quick, before it wastes any more of our hard earned cash?

UPDATE: This from the French Taunter...

Eye readers may be wondering why Cruella has bundled the electrification of the Great Western Main Line into a question about the Incredibly Expensive Procurement.

A glance at Rail Amateur reveals the following story posted yesterday:

Bi-mode Hitachi Super Express trains would operate the inter-city service, using pantographs to Bristol and under-floor diesel engines thereafter. Hitachi would build a final assembly plant at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham for the trains. The company says it would create up to 800 jobs.

Evidently the Department now has a cunning plan!

UPDATE: This from several people in the industry who wish to remain anonymous...

"These figures include the time spent by companies in response to Foster Review queries"

Folks get paid to respond to Foster!

Where do we send the invoice?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Could Cruella explain why GNER / NXEC / EC costs are 10 times those of Great Western, when the costs are supposed to relate to the IEP and GWML Electrification Programme?

UPDATE: This from D1039...

May I draw the bowler hat's attention to the following from PA, under the perhaps misleading heading "Hopes rise for rail electrification"

Welsh Colonial Governess Cheryl Gillan told MPs: "Whatever we are left with when an announcement is made, you can rest assured we have left no stone unturned in making the case for electrification into Wales. I remain optimistic about a good outcome."

If, as Rail Professional reports, wires will stop in CUBA*, how can it be a good outcome for Wales?

Is Wales the new Albania?

*CUBA = the County That Used To Be Avon eg Bristol, or in the case of Parkway, South Gloucestershire

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade...

Surely, the prospect of driving a stake through the heart of the Zombie Train and puncturing the Reality Distorting Bubble enclosing Great Minster House was reward in itself.

That Foster and his two old railway ramrods were seen of with ease by the bi-mode cabal suggests that we might as well have stayed in the office doing something which could be invoiced...

UPDATE: This from The Velopodist...

Eye readers responding to the Rail professional IEP story are all commenting on the basis that the story is accurate.

I'm getting the phone equivalent of blank stares when I ask the people in Great Minster House about this story.

The Midland Main Line electrification looks a particulalry flimsy theory. On top of that, I'm far from sure that the bi-mode cabal have seen off the electric-with-diesel locomotives idea.

These points aside, it looks a super story.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Labour abandons previous transport pledges?

Like her namesake Eddie, Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary is going downhill fast!

This from Maria the Eagle, in the Evening Standard...

"The Tory-led government has delayed the completion of vital rail projects including Crossrail and Thameslink in London, cut new carriages planned by Labour and hit commuters with massive fare increases.

"At the same time they plan to only spend £750million of the £17.5billion cost of the proposed new high-speed line to Birmingham. Labour will next month launch a root and branch review of our transport policy with nothing ruled in or out.

"It would be irresponsible to make cast-iron spending commitments for beyond 2015 before we have listened to the public and come to conclusions about our future priorities."

Where is the Noble Lord when you need him?

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Could you avoid repeating Maria the Eagle's utterances on new train orders as it raises my blood pressure?

The 1300 HLOS vehicles promised in the 2007 White Paper shrank relentlessly under the last administration, to the point that the Coalition inherited live bids for only a handful of EMUs for London Midland and the putative Manchester Scotland Franchise which, come to think of it, sounds more like an Alliance Rail proposal than Government Policy.

Meanwhile 670 days and counting!

UPDATE: This from the Worlds Greatest Living Transport Correspondent...

Shameless bit of self-marketing...

I’m organising one of my Wolmar Transport Lunches on March 7th with Ms Eagle, where leading lights of the industry can try to influence her thinking!

Details from me at

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Thank you.

NR - Open, transparent, accountable, responsive?

David Higgins starts as Network Rail's new CEO today.

This from the man himself...

“l also want people to associate these words with Network Rail: Open. Transparent. Accountable. Responsive."


A big Eye welcome to Huggable Higgins!