Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding

His Grace Archbishop Cranmer is on the money today...

This Royal Wedding is an act of faith in a world of doubt

God bless Prince William and Princess Catherine of Wales.

That is all.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Merseyrail Royal Wedding offer

This from Rudi over at Merseyrail...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in the following:

Travel free by Merseyrail on Royal Wedding Day if you are a Kate or a William

To celebrate the royal wedding on Friday 29 April, Merseyrail will give passengers called Kate or William (or variations of that name*) free travel across the whole network for the day.

Right. The Fact Katepiler is packing his bucket and spade and is off to Liverpool!

UPDATE: This from the Hon Dave Spart...

Chiltern also announced that those named William and Kate who wish to travel to London and be arrested by the Met while trying to protest at the totally reactionary and feudal...
(get on with it! Ed) ...could travel free.

Penning out!

Annie's Bar Pool Champion Mike Penning has been knocked out of the current tournament by his Shadow Jim Fitzpatrick.

The showdown between the two former firefighters who also face each other across the Despatch Box - Mike is the Transport Minister and Jim is Shadow Transport Minister - took place in the Sports and Social Club last night.

Mike won the first frame but Jim took the next two with the final game going to the last ball. Jim is a former sem-finalist and also sponsors the competition.

Jim now faces the winner of the game between former champions Kevin Brennan and legal officer Peter Brooksbank.

So now you know.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Darwin Award - A big hand for the man!

This from the BBC...

A man suffered burns to his hands in an apparent attempt to steal cable from a railway line in Nuneaton.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Pointless signs - National Railway Museum

DafT - High on the Hog on HS2

Listeners to Radio 4's Today programme were treated to a short debate between fans and opponents of HS2 this morning.

On the side of the angels was David 'Beggy' Begg of the Campaign for High Speed Rail, whilst the anti's were represented Jerry Marshall of Aghast.

Sadly, for fans of knock-about wireless, the discussion was remarkably good natured.

Interestingly, the piece also contained several claims that Train Operating Companies have been asked to fund the Campaign for High Speed Rail.

As Petrol-head still hasn't ordered a single new vehicle that TOCs could lease to address overcrowding, this is presumably the next best use of passengers' fares or taxpayers' income?

Railway Garden Competition - King's Cross

Welcome to the 2011 Railway Garden Competition.

And our first entry shows the Easter Garden that has been cultivated at London King's Cross.

Good to see Network Rail entering into the seasonal spirit of things.

No doubt this particular four-foot flowering will enter its apogee in time for the 23rd May launch of Eureka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

More welcome.

East Coast invites readers to name a loco

This from the York Press...

The Press appealed for readers to send suggestions in after rail operator East Coast decided to revive the tradition of naming locomotives on the Edinburgh to London route.

Latest suggestions for names, which must have a particular relevance to York, have included Ebor Rose, HRH Duke of York, The Duchess, Saint Margaret Clitherow and the York Flyer.

Strange. No one appears to have suggested 'Rail Barbie' or even 'Barbie Rail'.

Happily there is still time...

UPDATE: This from Captain

Surely if a locomotive is to be named it is time to revise the East Coast policy of honouring its locomotive engineers.

With an IC125 power car now named after T.C.B. Miller, the Chief Engineer (responsible for the 125 mile/h high speed train which saved InterCity) the naming of a Class 91 locomotive after its designer John Dowling is long overdue.

The Class 91, which met an extreme specification from hauling tilting trains at 140mph to 500 tonne sleepers over Shap and Beattock, was John Dowling's final design and his masterwork.

Si monumentum requiris, circumspice

UPDATE: This from Yorkshire Lad...

I wonder if this lookalike might help Captain Deltic's case?

As well as a Rail Barbie it also features a Garrett!

Do I win £5?

Hitachiballs - Promises, promises

An over excited press release reaches Eye from the British led consortium (shurely shome mishtake? Ed) that is preferred bidder for the IEP.

It says...

London and Durham, UK, 26 April, 2011 – More than 700 individuals representing over 400 companies are set to attend the first Open Day event for Hitachi Rail Europe’s Intercity Express Programme in the north east in late May, an event organized by County Durham Development Company on behalf of the involved parties.

700 individuals indeed, from 400 companies!

Why that's more individuals visiting the Open Day than the number of people the much vaunted Newton Aycliffe assembly plant will actually employ.

Evidently management of expectation continues to be a challenge for Hitachi.

Pointless signs - Paddington Platform 10

This from the Ticketcollector...

Just how many signs do you need for some batteries?

Mallard comes second!

This from Steve...

I was doing a bit of delving for rail orientated stuff via the NMSI site and found the following on the home page.

Look closely on the left under "popular objects" to see what trumps Mallard in the popularity stakes.

Perhaps this is what is meant by the phrase "prize length"?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Pans People: 'Eye beguiled Hairy Cornflake!'

Yet more plaudits for Eye from satisfied readers!

Legendary dance group and fly wheel fans, Pans People Movers, have suggested Eye played a role in their removal from Top of the Pops!

According to page 3 of Parry News...

Within the rail industry have been a series of incidents of noncooperation making it difficult to carry out operations or bring in revenue for work performed.

As if orchestrating this, a rail "blog‟, also operated anonymously, has been maintaining a consistent negative commentary ridiculing the PPM concept and its products. (May God help Us if Eye is the railway's controlling mind! Ed)

Meanwhile, in happier news, page 7 of Stop and Go Nowhere (the Pans People Fanzine) says...

Despite having worthy intentions and some notable attainments, the Parry Group has been the target of the wrath of several assorted organisations and individuals.

These range from the "Fact Controller‟ on the Railway Eye blog, then whoever it is that drops rocks off railway bridges and Her Majesty‟s Revenue & Customs, a most formidable adversary

Still, enough of this bitterness from the snapped elastic band fraternity.

Let us remember Pans People in happier times...

The Fact Compiler bets Scruffy can still shake a leg or three!

Pay attention Beggy, Steer, Hammond and others

And of course you Wolmar!

View, mark and inwardly digest - with a bowler tip to @TonyVeitchUK.

And then steal the idea.

You know it makes sense.

A bird in the hand is worth many in the burning bush

Oh dear. Are West Toast Railway up to their old tricks?

According to yesterday's Press and Journal...

An extensive hill fire on an internationally-important Sutherland nature reserve yesterday was last night blamed on sparks from a passing steam train.

A helicopter was brought in to help firefighters by water-bombing the outbreak which was still raging as darkness fell.

Units from Helmsdale, Thurso, Bettyhill and Tongue joined RSPB staff in fighting the peatland blaze which had a three-mile front at its height.

The bird charity was very concerned about the potential impact on the reserve’s rare bird life as it coincides with the start of the breeding season.

The outbreak was found just before lunchtime on the 20,000-hectare reserve based in the tiny community of Forsinard.

It was reported minutes after a steam train, on a charter run, pulled out of the village station.

What a shame the wind didn't blow the sparks the other way.

But of course Wet Coat are averse to high winds and apparently Tornadoes in particular.

Network Rail extols the virtues of Milton Keynes

Network Rail is working hard to sell the delights of Milton Keynes, home to the company's new National Centre.

There is even a whole page on the company's website devoted to the Buckinghamshire town and offering useful insights into the extra-curricula activity that local residents can either actively participate in or, if they prefer, merely watch from the sidelines.

Just fancy that!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Captain Deltic on Innovation past and present

This from Captain Deltic....

1950s innovation - The new Fell diesel locomotive:

The use of a number of main propelling engines having the required torque characteristics has certain advantages as compared with the use of one main engine:-

  1. Increased dependability as the locomotive can proceed at reduced speed even if all but one of the main propelling engines are out of action.
  2. The individual engines can be of a higher speed type and therefore lighter and more compact.
  3. As a consequence of "2," the engines themselves and their component parts are, for a given power output, lighter and therefore more easily and more rapidly handled for replacement or repairs.
2010s innovation - The new TRAXX diesel locomotive:

This newest member of the TRAXX locomotive platform, with its highly innovative diesel propulsion is designed for locomotive-hauled passenger and freight transportation throughout Europe. Its use of four rugged, heavy-duty industrial diesel engines in place of a single large diesel motor provides operators with key advantages. The locomotive already fulfills the new stringent EU Stage IIIB emissions standard thanks to proven and highly efficient diesel engines. Compared to single-engine diesel locomotives, it markedly reduces fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and life-cycle costs. Using standard diesel engines produced in very large series, this new TRAXX DE locomotive builds a bridge to a multitude of other industrial applications with the same engine. This assures spare parts availability and diesel engine support thanks to the large quantity of engines installed and the established service capabilities in the market. The diesel engines are configured in a modular assemblies allowing modification and upgrades over the lifetime of the locomotive. They can be upgraded to meet potential new emission standards and requirements in the future. The exchangable diesel modules contribute markedly to lower costs for maintenance, future upgrades and overhaul. This is due to smaller and lighter exchangeable components, the easy accessability of spares, the ease of repair and the resulting shorter locomotive downtimes. In addition, mission reliability is substantially increased thanks to the redundant configuration with four diesel engines. With the multi-engine concept the locomotive maintains full tractive effort also if a reduced number of diesel engines are in operation. By shutting down engines during idling and at low power demand, this key feature reduces fuel 2/4 and lube oil consumption. "The locomotives can be operated with one to four engines as needed, providing optimum power for each specific situation.

Nothing new under the sun. But write ups were a bit more succinct in those distant days.

UPDATE: This from a Mr David Shipley of CSRE...

I'm sure Bombardier didn’t emulate the idea for multi-engine technology from the erstwhile Fell diesel.

However, they can’t have failed to notice that CSRE have been promoting this concept for more than three years in our Polaris product family, which also utilises four diesel engines.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Any Questions?

Sadly no!

It would appear that disruption on the East Coast Main Line has prevented Jonathan Dimbleby chairing tonight's topical debate from The National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham.

The panellists who had hoped to take questions from the floor were Employment Minister Chris Grayling, Labour peer Lord Malloch-Brown, Chairman of Interbrand Rita Clifton, and the Liberal Democrats' former Director of Policy Richard Grayson.

No doubt the railway will provide a suitable explanation for today's 'service perturbation'?

UPDATE: This from the Northern Echo...

'Nuff said.

Exciting Eye Friday Quiz!

Q: What is the similarity between the Forth Bridge and Network Rail's Head of Media?

A. Both can be found at the same location and neither now possess a Blackberry

UPDATE: This from Our Man by the Photocopier...

In these austere times perhaps he will be issued with two tin cans and a bit of string as a replacement?

Petrol-head attacked by Eagle - Shocker

Shocking scenes at Crewe on Tuesday, during a visit by Philip Hammond to the LNWR Heritage Apprentice Scheme.

During a tour of the LNWR Heritage facility an enormous eagle was seen to launch an unprovoked attack on the Transport Secretary!

The deranged eagle is believed to have escaped from Arriva's nearby LNWR depot.

Reichsbahn spokesman Doctor Ing Zetruth said "Despite the DfT unaccountably failing to shortlist Arriva for any franchises we do not in any way hold Herr Ham-and-Eggs responsible for this gross slur on the glorious railway undertakings of Greater Germany.

"There is no truth in the scurilious suggestion that the eagle was only following orders.
" he added.

The Secretary of State was unharmed and the eagle has been returned to Berlin, where it was awarded the Iron Cross (Bird Class).

Miliband abolishes First Class!

This from Guido...

Note the missing antimacassar.

Full story here...

Pointless signs - Euston

This from The Skip...

Peak times, perchance?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

SW1 Offices To Let - Suitable for Bid Teams

This from Virginia Water...

Seems like the civil service cuts are finally biting at Daft as half of Great Monster House is apparently being cleared and let out to commercial tenants.

Hopefully this might raise a bit of extra cash for filling in potholes and the like.

Unclear if all 4 ministers will be required to share an office...

BarbieRail adopts lean seating for Eureka!!!!!!!

Exciting news from state owned East Coast!

The 07:30 off the Cross to Newcastle this morning offered a new, improved, range of high density seating for priority customers.

Strangely, despite reservations being in place, these seats remained unoccupied.

No doubt the rest of the EC fleet will receive similar treatment to enable the operator to squeeze in the additional 3 million seats promised by Eureka!!!!!!!!!!!

Pointless signs - Fratton

This from Caught Short Scotty...

This sign has been mounted above the Fratton waiting room door for some months, and is pointing to the platform edge - needless to say the other side is wrong as well, so you'd imagine a man with a ladder could fix it in about 5 minutes flat.

But I wonder how many clipboard wielding staff from SWT/NR have looked at this and failed to see a problem.

What the picture doesn't really show is how the two signs also obstruct one another. Of course if repositioned correctly the toilet sign is an unnecessary duplication.

Maybe it's there to help those who having difficulty deciding whether to go or not...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Beggy bites Tory peer. What Next?

This from Yes to High Speed Rail...

The Campaign for High Speed Rail today condemned plans by Lord (Simon) Wolfson, a key mover in the opposition to high-speed rail, for a new motorway linking the southern cities of Cambridge and Oxford, as well as emergency measures to create a new “tech city” on nearby agricultural land.

Professor David Begg, Director of the Campaign for High Speed Rail, said:

"Lord Wolfson - the leader of the campaign against high-speed rail - has just given away the real agenda of those who oppose the project. They have no interest in regenerating our great Northern cities. They just want better motorways for the prosperous south so that, for instance, professors and businesspeople can shuttle between two prosperous university towns more quickly.

Wolfson, of course, is also Chief Executive of retailing giant Next.

Let us hope this overt southern bias doesn't impact on the company's sales amongst UK consumers in the Midlands and North?

UPDATE: This from Lobby Fodder...

This could get interesting.

Beggy has impeccable New Labour credentials.

Wolfson meanwhile is close to Cameron.

When plain old Simon Wolfson he backed iDave's party leadership bid, and as of July last year had donated almost £300,000 to the Tories.

In return for this loyalty Call-me-Dave elevated him to the House of Lords.

Such a personal attack on one of iDave's mates by Yes to High Speed Rail could make for an uncomfortable time for Petrol-head in Cabinet.

Pointless signs - Doncaster seat waiting area

DfT spins a line on new carriages for Leeds

Whilst governments change the misinformation generated by their officials continues.

This from the Hammond Organs...

Leeds commuters are to benefit from more than 2,000 extra seats each day after Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced today that twenty additional rail carriages are to be deployed on routes serving the city.

The extra carriages will be used to run more trains at busy times – on the lines from Skipton, Ilkley and Doncaster via Wakefield into Leeds – and to lengthen other existing services operated by Northern Rail.

They form part of the 650 additional carriages the Government will introduce onto the UK’s rail network by 2014.

Part of the 650 additional carriages eh?

So presumably these aren't the twenty year old 322s currently in Scotland and previously on National Express East Anglia?

Good old DafT - never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

UPDATE: This from The Archer...

In the same release Hammond said:

“Even at a time of severe pressure on public spending we cannot afford not to invest in Britain’s future – and that’s why we are investing more than £10m in providing these extra carriages for Yorkshire commuters. These extra trains will ease crowding and provide passengers with more comfortable journeys.

“The tough decisions the Government has taken on rail fares allow us to continue to deliver this sort of much needed improvement to the railways. We are investing in 2,100 extra carriages to increase capacity across the rail network and in the longer term we have plans for a high speed rail network which will ease overcrowding and make our railways fit for the 21st century.”

It must be comforting for regional railway passengers to know that if they were to be beneficiaries of a High Speed Line they would be 'overcrowded', but as they only travel on local lines they are merely 'crowded'.

Perhaps Petrol-head can explain what metric he uses to draw this interesting and novel distinction?

UPDATE: This from Our Man by the Photocopier...

I may be able to explain how moving five 21-year old Class 322s from the North Berwick line to bring a moderate amount of joy to the lucky people of West Yorkshire has cost £10 million -- that's £500,000 a vehicle.

This Friday afternoon press release from Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Run makes it all so much clearer ...

International law firm Eversheds has advised the Department for Transport on a £10m investment to provide 20 additional rail carriages on commuter trains in Leeds.

From December 2011, commuters in the Leeds area will benefit from more than 2,000 extra seats each day as more trains will run at peak times, improving the service in the region. This project forms part of the 650 additional carriages the Government will introduce on to the UK’s rail network by 2014.

The extra carriages will allow a total of six additional trains per day (three in the morning peak and three in the evening peak) operating on the Leeds - Skipton, Leeds - Ilkley and Leeds – Doncaster routes. In addition, three morning peak trains will be lengthened on the Leeds - Manchester Victoria and Bradford Forster Square - Leeds routes.

The Eversheds team advising the Department for Transport was led by Partner Peter McCormack.

Peter McCormack said:

This investment in transport in Leeds and surrounding area will improve the services that commuters use on a daily basis. Rail services are an important part of the growth of British economy and we are pleased to continue to assist the Department for Transport with its plans to increase capacity across the rail network.

Trebles all round, m'lud!

UKTI launches pre-emptive strike?

This from Ithuriel...

I spotted this in the Derby Evening Telegraph:

DERBYSHIRE rail companies are to be given a helping hand to break into overseas markets thanks to a new rail export partnership.

Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, which represents about 100 rail firms across the county, has linked up with UK Trade and Investment, a government-backed organisation which helps British firms export.

The two organisations have agreed to establish a dedicated rail-export partnership.

UKTI international trade director Peter Hogarth said: "By working closely with the forum, we can help local rail supply chain companies develop their export business.

Presumably the aim is to keep Derby factories busy with exports when Hitachi's hostage plant in Geordieland sweeps up all the UK train orders.

An excellent example of joined up government, allowing UKTI to give with one hand whilst DafT takes away with the other.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Joy In Heaven Over One Sinner That Repenteth..

This from Michael Williams, author of the newly published On the Slow Train Again...

With evening peak chaos at Euston last night, following an incident on a train at Leighton Buzzard, a well deserved plaudit for NR, Virgin and London Midland for exemplary information provision in dispersing crowds onto alternative routes.

I was caught up in it as I waited on a train for Glasgow.

After all I wrote in the Daily Mail on Saturday about poor information over delays, this was a job well done!

Okay Michael, Eye will puff your new tome - buy it here.

UPDATE: This from Michael Williams, again...

Eye readers might also be interested to know that my 'Slow Train' books occupy three of the Top Five railway book slots on Amazon today.

The other two are by a deceased person (S.N.Pike) and somebody who didn't actually write the book (M. Portillo).

That's quite enough book puffery. Ed.

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...


How can it been that Amazon does not have the many worthy tomes by the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent and author filling the top of its railway books list?

Shome mishtake shurely.

UPDATE: This from The World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent...

In response to Leo Pink, I am at number 16, 21, 23, 37 and 70!

Monday, 11 April 2011

How the Civil Service works - Perception v Reality

Eye is amused to hear news of Robert Devereux.

Regular followers of the railway scene will remember Devereux as the former Permanent Secretary at the DfT, before he was exiled to the Department of Work and Pensions.

According to Political Scrapbook...

In an email seen by Scrapbook, civil servants are told the department’s Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux has banned first class travel “irrespective of grade or journey length” and, for that matter, cost:

“A First Class ticket is cheaper than standard, why can I not book it?”

Such occasions are rare and generally arise if you are booking close to your departure date. Even if you are booking at least a week in advance and First Class is still cheaper, you are still required to purchase the standard ticket; it is a matter of public perception and overall, a First Class ban will save the department a significant amount.

Good to see “public perception” is actually more important than saving money.

Devereux, no doubt, learnt the importance of perception-over-reality whilst at DafT.

As Permanent Secretary, from 2007 to 2010, Devereux oversaw much of the
£27m 'invested' in Eye favourite, the InterCity Express Programme.

Sadly, despite the importance of public perception, this vast sum of taxpayers money has yet to result in an order being placed for a single passenger vehicle.

No matter.

Trebles all round and a gold plated Civil Service pension for yourself.

Pointless signs - Finsbury Park

Pointless signs - Matlock

This from Kirk Ireton...

Not so much a pointless sign, rather more a case of rubbing salt into the wound.

Notice the poster promoting the newly reopened Wirksworth branch just yards from the isolated Peak Rail office on Matlock station.

Doubly galling as the date for Peak Rail's long promised physical connection into this station seems to be slipping ever further into the distance...

Pointless signs - Carlisle

This from the Cumbrian Crooner...

The otherwise excellent facilities at Carlisle station were officially opened on Thursday.

And a brand new welcome sign has been erected above platforms five and six:

Happily it is not over obtrusive, in an unreadable sort of way.

The benefits of AV explained...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

NR breathes life into the RHC?

Is there no end to the NR Charm Offensive?

Apparently Huggable has embraced the Big Society...

"Railway Heritage Trust awarded funding to 2019

"Network Rail has decided to continue its sponsorship of the Trust at its present level until 31 March 2019...

"In its quarter century of life the Trust has awarded 1,214 grants, worth some £39m. These grants have attracted some £46m of additional funding."

So far so good!

But where does the new, improved, Network Rail stand on the Railway Heritage Committee?

Lookalike - The Big E

Baker to reintroduce Workman's ticket - Yawn!

Welcome to the wild and whacky world of Half-baked Baker.

According to the Grauniad...

The transport minister, Norman Baker, wants to dramatically reduce rush hour in the capital and across the country by convincing companies to let people work from home, come in late, or set up satellite offices that will create commuting routes which go against existing traffic.

Ministers are investigating tactics to "nudge" people into abandoning the rush hour, such as convincing train, tube and bus companies to offer bigger discounts for travelling outside the busiest hours.

Where to begin?

Well let's start with Whitehall.

Listen here Normy - rather than telling employers what to do, why don't you lead by example and stagger Whitehall and Westminster office hours?

Too difficult, eh?

So instead why not come up with some vapid posturing that sounds like it might address overcrowding but in reality is merely headline grabbing.

If Baker really believes that the re-introduction of Workmen's tickets is actually going to address the capacity issues on both LUL and the National Rail network (which both recorded over a billion passengers journeys last year) then he really is a couple of slices short of a loaf.

This stale proposition has been reheated by successive Governments since the 1980s, and usually as a prelude to ducking investment in network capacity.

And still the numbers of passengers and the journeys they make grow year on year.

Passengers and the industry are getting sick to the back teeth of headline grabbing crumbs thrown out by ministers.

Time to stop this fruitcake nonsense and invest in new trains and longer platforms!

UPDATE: This from Manchester Man...

The idea of people travelling outside peak times is great.

Unfortunately at least two operators that service London (Virgin and FCC) have increased the length of time that constitutes the morning and evening peak.

Maybe Baker should address that issue first.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Thomas Allen...

What nonsense.

Whitehall staggered its working hours years ago.

I worked (in 'Whitehall') ten years ago with people who came in at 0730 and went home at 1600.

I usually worked 0930 to 1800. We were allowed to work any old hours as long as they added up to 41 a week and we manned the desks from 0800 to 1800.

Has anyone ever tried to get on a train from Tonbridge at 0615? Packed.

My mega-bank moneyed friends in the City (off from Tonbridge at 0615 etc) were at their desks by 0730. Would they count as 'workmen'?

Another friend who was a genuine 'workman' was always on the 0530 so he could be on site by 0700. He couldn't get a seat coming home at 1630.

I remember big plans in the mid 80's to devolve Whitehall HQ offices to all kinds of places, plans for people to work from home, telecommuting and all those things designed to reduce the burden on London rush hour.

Now, what do we have? Record numbers using trains at 'rush hour' which extends from 0600 to 1000 at many stations.

(It was pointed out that if a large London HQ office was despatched to, say, Dorking, that would mean 1,000 more people driving to work. Not very green.)

People do not commute by rail to London because they want to, they do so because they have to.

The sooner the big bucks companies get away from the idea they must have a big shiny tower in London to demonstrate how marvellous they are, the quicker the burden on rail will be reduced.

Big low rise offices in business parks in places like Ashford or Bracknell or Chatham or Milton Keynes, with massive car parks next door and the sooner we can get rid of commuter rail service and leave everyone to to their own devices.

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

Baker's merely building on an increasing reputation for meaningless announcements.

Just a couple of weeks ago he was in Sheffield announcing a 'go-ahead for the tram-train pilot' when in fact he was simply announcing yet another stage in the consultation/funding process.

All the local hacks fell for it, generating welcome headlines about how the project is going ahead.

But his own press release was peppered with words like 'could' and 'might'.

South Yorkshire might indeed get the tram-train pilot. But it ain't in the bag yet.

Chiltern goes from strength to strength!

More exciting news from DB owned Chiltern Railways.

According to the DfT...

The Department has today begun consulting Chiltern Railway Company Limited, and relevant rail industry bodies, on a proposal to impose a Penalty of £500,000 on the company for a series of contraventions of the terms of their franchise agreement.

Chiltern accept that they have breached the terms of their franchise in relation to the late delivery of two station improvement schemes, and to two breaches of requirements in relation to timetable changes. These specific breaches have since been remedied.

A copy of the Department’s letter to Chiltern advising them of the Penalty and setting out the details of their contraventions has been published today on the Department’s website.

Villiers' franchise reform proposals, based on the 'success' of the Chiltern model, keep getting more and more credible.

UPDATE: This from Chiltern...

In reaction to the DfT’s intention to impose a penalty notice on Chiltern Railways.

We accept that, in 2009, there were four technical breaches of the franchise agreement; none of which had significant consequence for our passengers or incurred cost to the taxpayer. The most serious breaches were a 16-week delay in commissioning new lifts at a single station, and a four-week delay in installing a new shelter on a platform that already had one.

Since that time, we have successfully delivered £7.25m of investment in station improvements and car park expansions, started work on the largest privately funded passenger infrastructure project since before world war two and continued to meet all the requirements of our franchise on punctuality and service quality. Next month, we will be introducing brand new commuter trains at a cost of £1.2m per carriage.

The Chiltern Railways franchise has always been focused on delivering what our passengers tell us they want. It would be a cause for enormous regret if £0.5m were diverted from investment in improvement for passengers as a result of low impact franchise breaches.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...


DfT have been spurned into action over a 16 week delay in commissioning lifts at a single station but remain silent about a 16 month absence of WiFi from the entire Arriva Cross Country network.

I suppose this is a start.

Perchance DfT is not dead but sleepeth?

UPDATE: This from Jumbo...

WSMR appears to be a gift that just keeps on giving to Chiltern's German owners.

Judging by the DfT snotogram WSMR is at the heart of this fine.

Hilariously, it would appear that the DfT only found out about Chiltern's sharp timetabling practice from a WSMR press release!

Let's just add that to WSMR's tab shall we - a cool £14m and counting!

UPDATE: This from 31154...

I notice there is a "Wifi on Trains Conference" in London on 8-9 June,

According to the blurb:

"Among the companies presenting at Train Communications Systems 2011 will be...

  • Russian Railways
  • Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (Italian high-speed train operator)
  • WestBahn (Austrian Train Company)
  • Amtrak
  • Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya
  • BWCS
  • Department for Transport, UK
  • National Express
  • China Railways
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • SJ Trains
  • VR Trains
  • NS Trains
  • Thalys International
  • Globalfone (USA)
  • Icomera
  • 21Net
  • Nomad
  • GBS (USA)
How strange, no mention of DB/Arriva/Cross Country!

No doubt the DafT presentation will reveal how successfully they've enforced their franchise commitments though?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Arlington transforms LU Inspection Saloon!

Eye salutes Arlington Fleet Services!

Clearly there are no limits to the engineering skills of the Eastleigh based company.

Under a section on their website headed Notable Projects there are pictures showing overhaul work undertaken on an Inspection Saloon for London Underground.

What a transformation!

Eye looks forward to seeing this particular 'GM' Saloon on the Circle line.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

DBS goes back to the future at Bescot

This from Matt...

I thought this picture might be of interest to Eye readers, taken today at Bescot 'Traction Maintenance Depot'.

The old EWS signs have been taken down to reveal the following time warp brand, dating from 1994.

Presumably new DBS signs are on order or perhaps DBS will save the effort and just split their their business back into 3 trainload companies?

The Fact Compiler observes: And hopefully no longer run from Paris by Army Group West, obviously.

The wordz what NR punktuated

This from a harrumphing Captain Deltic...

Is it too much to expect the correct use of hyphens and apostrophes by Network Rail press officers in this day and age?


This is not a pedantic moan (Oh yeah? Ed), but the missing punctuation makes the headline ambiguous

Is it the grave of a former-pauper - in which case, where is the apostrophe? (eg which ex British Rail manager turned privatisation fat cat has died and can he really be buried on a platform at Manchester Vic?).

Or is a former pauper's-grave which has become part of a station.

Or is it, even, a former paupers'-grave and was there a mass burial on the site of the station after some massacre of the lower classes?

Eye thinks we should be told!

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

I have altered the headline on the website now - it should be less ambiguous.

Nothing wrong with being a pedant. A 'pedant' is what someone who is wrong calls someone who is right.

PS Who led the pedants' uprising?
Answer: Which Tyler

Darwin Awards - Level Crossing issue

This from NR, via @BTP_UK...


Will NR's new board live up to the fine words?

An interesting challenge for Keith Ludeman, currently Chief Executive of Go-Ahead.

Regular Eye readers will recollect that Network Rail announced in February that the Permataned one would be joining Network Rail's board, as a non-Exec, upon his retirement from Go-Ahead in July of this year.

Welcoming the appointment NR Chairman 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."

Meanwhile, on today's railway, Go-Ahead franchise London Midland has announced its intention to slash ticket office opening-hours at 87 stations, generating predictable fury from the aforementioned 'customers and passengers'.

Indeed Anthony Smith of Passenger Focus issued the following words on the proposed closures today:

Times are difficult and it’s important that train companies make best use of their resources. London Midland has done a good job in talking to its passengers about its plans but the message back is clear. Passengers were almost unanimous in their request for staff at the station, raising concerns about ticket machines and the need for staff for advice and assistance on ticket sales.

We fear these plans will lead to passengers paying more for their tickets than they should. Ticket vending machines are important, but while they don’t offer all ticket types or provide advice to ensure passengers get the cheapest fares, there will be a need for station staff.

Finally, passengers want staff on hand for help on the station and for security reasons. For all these reasons we’re calling on London Midland to address the concerns passengers raised.

Eye looks forward to seeing just how 'passenger focused and responsive to customers' NR's new board member can be!

Bridge over the river, Dai?

Good news for those who like to colour in their Quails, having traversed rare sections of the railway's infrastructure.

Next Sunday will see a unique opportunity to walk across the Knucklas viaduct on the Heart of Wales Line.

Arranged by local user group HoWLTA, in conjunction with Network Rail, tickets cost just £10 and include a vintage bus ride from Knucklas station to site and a numbered souvenir ticket.

More details on how to apply for tickets here.

NR's new Wales Route gets to grip with capacity

Exciting news for fans of the Great Western!

Clearly Network Rail's decision to create a devolved Route for Wales has delighted the local Pway Teams.

Judging by this image from Google Maps they are already setting about restoring their local railway to Brunel's original vision!

Train manufacturers will no doubt be gearing up to take advantage of this more generous loading gauge...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Hammond unveils Operation Panic!!!

Exciting news from Petrol-head Hammond.

Clearly unconcerned by negative Shires' reaction to his High Speed 2 plans the beleaguered Secretary of State for Transport has unveiled 'Operation Panic!!!'.

This from the Daily Telegraph...

As opposition to the £32 billion project continues, Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, tried to pacify critics with figures showing that it could also trigger 160 extra trains a day into the capital from towns and cities to the north.

Eye understands that as absolutely no one in the industry has been consulted about these plans the DfT will soon issue an ITT for a brand new franchise: - Operation Panic!!! Trains

This is expected to be won by Directly Operated Railways.

Derby wins new Royal Train order

This courtesy of the Wyvern Rail newsgroup...

I am very pleased to announce after many many months of negotiations that the Sultan of Brunei has agreed to fund our reconnection to the national network, further refurbish the line to Shottle and install a number of facilities on the site of the Peak Oil operation including undercover storage of his own Royal Train to be built locally in Derby.

Good news indeed.

Meanwhile in other date related news...

It is now 729 days since the last order for new passenger trains was placed.