Thursday, 30 June 2011

Poetry Korner - The Night Mail (updated)

This from Trailer Second, with apologies to W H Auden...

This is the Voyager crossing the Border
Standing room only, unless you pre order
Seating for the rich, corridors for the poor
The shop has sold out, the buffet no more
Revving up Beattock, claiming to be green
The wires above her, no pan to be seen
Birds turn their heads, as she approaches
Stare from the bushes, at her paltry 5 coaches

Cars in the fast lane can’t keep pace
Have comfortable seats and a lot more grace
Thro’ heather and weather but not fallen leaves
With approval ratings that no-one believes
Shoveling carbon over her shoulder
Nox, particulates, benzene, sulphur
Her weight fatigues the railway line
She’s ten minutes late but that’s on time

In the farm she passes no one wakes
All long gone to euro milk lakes
Dawn freshens but the toilet’s full
Snarling toward the urban sprawl
Scotland, independent nation
Soon an end to this vibration
Past rough estates and fast food chains
Dodging the stones from those with no brains

Call centres, offices, low cost homes
Tattooed teenagers with tweeting phones
Once steel and coal and engineering
Graffiti, flats and multi screening
Trainspotting here is not what it seems
But fuels the crime to pay for dreams
In the dark glens beside pale green sea lochs
Men read their e-mails

(Other urban sprawls are available)

Petrol-head puts on the knuckle-duster

Given the lukewarm response of the industry to McNulty it is perhaps not surprising that Cowardly Custard has had to get a bit fierce.

This from a Hammond statement on the McNulty Report and West Coast franchise, made in the House on the 19th June:

Longer franchises and a changed relationship with Network Rail will have a positive impact on the behaviour of train operators and their appetite for investment and risk taking.

However, I want to send a clear message that the new culture of co-operation in the rail industry, and the focus on cost reduction, is here to stay and is mandatory, not optional.

I can announce today that as a matter of policy for all future franchise competitions, a significant part of the assessment of bidders’ capability at the pre-qualification stage will be evidence of success in collaborative working and driving down costs.

Fighting talk indeed!

But is it enough of a stick to bring everyone back to the table, even those who have absolutely nothing left to lose?

Pointless signs - Basingstoke

Railway Garden Competition - Horsham

Railway Garden Competition - Peterborough Yard

UPDATE: This from 31154...

I think your picture of Peterborough Yard requires a new category - Railway Farming Competition perhaps?

Very clever, though.

They seem to have genetically modified their crop to grow a snowplough in the field!

Railway Garden Competition - Bristol Temple Meads

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Esoteric Events - exciting new Eye feature!

Time for an exciting new Eye feature!

Welcome to Esoteric Events - a gentle meander through the highways and byways of the burgeoning conference circuit that does so much to add cost to our industry (shurely 'add value to the railways'? Ed)

This from someone called Tiger Projects:

The Tiger Project partners with the European Commission support are pleased to invite you to the Second Tiger annual conference to be held on November 30th 2011 in HAMBURG on the Exhibition Floor of INTERMODAL EUROPE 2011 event – HAMBURG MESSE.

The title of the Conference is:

"The Co-modal industrialisation chain from Ports to the Hinterland destinations answering the challenges of growing maritime traffic volumes ".

Perhaps it reads better in the original German?

UPDATE: This from Eastwestdivide...

Given that Tiger's own website description helpfully starts

"TIGER is the acronym of “Transit via Innovative Gateway concepts solving European - intermodal Rail needs”. TIGER Project is a Large Scale Integrated Collaborative Project for the development of Rail transport in competitive and co-modal freight logistics chains."

I can't imagine the German being any better, even if it is one single 161-character word that wouldn't fit on a single Twitter entry.

Auf wiederemailen

Von Shooter flies into the sunset?

This from Chiltern's Herr Von Shooter...

I am writing to let you know that I have decided to retire from the Chairmanship of Chiltern Railways and DB Regio at the end of December.

By then I shall have had the great privilege of leading Chiltern for nearly 18 years and I will have reached the age of 63.

I have enjoyed every part of my 41 years in the rail industry but especially the opportunity to lead the teams who built Chiltern Railways.

It is always difficult to decide when to move on but, having for the last 3 years also been acting M.D. of Chiltern, I have now handed that role to Rob Brighouse who I appointed earlier in the year. He will lead a very strong team to further successes, the first of which will be the new much faster Chiltern Mainline service between Birmingham and London. We will launch this together.

Meanwhile, I would like to continue to take an active part in the rail industry. In addition I have been asked to be Chairman of the CBI West Midlands Council for 2012 and 2013.

Adrian Shooter, CBE, Chairman of Chiltern Railways

DafT to receive influx of rail experts tomorrow

Good news for those who care about our railways!

According to this afternoons' Lobby briefing: Civil servants have been told that they can bring their children into work tomorrow, if their child's school is closed because of strike action.

The Government estimates that of England's 17,000 schools - including academies - one third would close, one third would be partially open and one third would be open.

Perhaps a first for the Department for Transfer - Great Minster House will actually contain people who like trains!

But Eye fears tears before bedtime, when Mr Kipling refuses to allow anyone else to play with his expensive new trainset.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thameslink fleet - Flipflop iDave holds out hope?

Much rejoicing in the East Midlands!

As iDave carries out yet another U turn, this time over Circus Animals, local politicos can already smell blood in their campaign to preserve the UK's last remaining train manufacturing plant.

Regular Eye readers will recollect that last week the Department for Transfer awarded the £2bn contract for new Thameslink trains to Siemens, who will build all 1,500 vehicles in errr... Germany!

Meanwhile, some 3,000 Derby workers employed by unlucky bidder Bombardier face an uncertain future of empty order books and hard times.

Happily, hell hath no fury like a region scorned.

Eye understands that the normally pliant East Midland's business and political communities are furious over this slap in the face, with several leading figures suggesting that the region should now seek to scupper Hammond's pet project - HS2.

HS2, according to Petrol-head, is all about economic benefits.

But with Thameslink decided without reference to local economies, there won't be many left to benefit from HS2. If, and when, it eventually crawls through Derbys' and Nott's'.

Still don't expect miracles. iDave only visits the region for photocalls, whilst Hammond couldn't even be bothered to announce, in person, that over 3,000 skilled UK jobs will vanish overseas.

Warwickshire sets out transport priorities

This from the Birmingham Post...

Conservative-led Warwickshire County Council is set to take its case against HS2 railway plans to the Government...

The county council says it has been working with other councils opposing HS2 along the route, and action groups and HS2 Ltd to “gather data” about HS2.

Would this be the same Warwickshire County Council that is funding opposition to HS2 and at the same time withdrawing support for local bus services after 7pm.

It surely is!

Warwickshire CC’s portfolio holder for transport and highways, Coun Peter Butlin, said the authority was left with little choice but to axe the services once their grant was cut.

The only way we could balance our budgetary responsibility and keep providing services was to target the areas where there are fewer customers,” he added.

It’s unpalatable, but it’s a fact of life".

Indeed it is - unpalatable that is.

Lookalike - Thunderball

With a bowler tip to today's Grauniad...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Exciting new Eye competition - Spot the VM

Time for an exciting Eye competition!

Using your skill and judgement see if you can spot the Vice Marshall in this delightful urban setting.

Any suggestion that this post is a gratuitous HS2 puff piece is, of course, completely wide of the mark.

UPDATE: This from Mark (no not that one, the other one)...

Never mind spotting the VM - was there any logic or was it merely Karma that on the side of a bus making the bold proclamation 'yes to Jobs' that the Siemens logo should also appear?

May I suggest 'No to Derby' to be a more suitable slogan on this occasion?

UPDATE: This from Sealink Sam...

Here's another 'Spot the VM' picture for Eye's collection.

It really is him, in 1972, on the new MV Hengist, Folkestone-Boulogne.

Yes, Sealink promotional shots in the 1970s really were this sophisticated.

Railway Garden Competition - Barbican

This from a Dr Strabismus...

I attach a picture of the "Hanging Gardens of Barbican" for consideration in the Railway Gardens section of your highly esteemed e-organ.

TfL destined to repeat past mistakes?

This from Our International Correspondent...

No-one can accuse Transport for London of being obsessed with its own history (despite being trapped in ancient infrastructure).

This from a call to the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden yesterday afternoon ---

Hello, can I speak to one of the curatorial team please?

No, sorry, they only work on Mondays and Thursdays. Please call back.

MThO curators? Broken Britain indeed!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Railway Garden Competition - London Bridge

Transport Select Committee does Social Media!

Louise Ellman, the Chair of the Transport Select Committee, has taken to YouTube to promote an inquiry into High Speed 2

Evidence is being taken from 10:15 this morning - details here.

The Fact Compiler deeply approves of this use of new technology and not a broom cupboard in sight.

UPDATE: This from the Transport Select Committee...

The Committee has agreed to publish an independent review of the Government’s case for a High Speed Rail programme that was commissioned from an independent consultancy (Oxera).

The review is available on the Transport Committee's website High Speed Rail inquiry page.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Network Rail posts first experts overseas

This from Network Rail...

Who’s tougher? The Army, Air Force or Navy? In fact, it’s Network Rail. So proved our apprentices in the annual Junior Leaders Field Gun Competition, held at HMS Collingwood in Gosport, Hampshire.

In the ultimate battle of strength, endurance, speed, accuracy and team work, Network Rail apprentices forced the armed services to surrender. Fending off the strength of all three military services, our apprentices claimed victory for the third year running.

Good news indeed.

Especially for our hard pressed Armed Forces.

For Eye understands that the Royal Navy were most insistent on buying drinks for the victorious team.

Having taken the Queen's shilling, NR's bravest were last seen being bundled onto a flight to

Pointless signs - Paddington Gap

The Fact Compiler is unsure whether the following actually happened, but as Eye has received images from two different sources supposes it must have!

Is anyone able to confirm that this marvelous existential statement was indeed seen on the Western?

UPDATE: This from the Globetrotter...

Whilst I cannot verify the Paddington art installation, I can confirm that something similar certainly happened at my local station back in the NSE era.

Supplied with suitable stencils for 'Mind the Gap/Step', the local painters managed to produce 'Step the Gap Mind'.

And if I recall rightly one of the words was upside-down to boot.

Department for Transport to be renamed - Official

Exciting news from the Department for Transport!

Following the success of the Marsham Street Mandarins in awarding the IEP and Thameslink rolling stock contracts, as well as sanctioning the move of East Coast's call centre to India, the Government has decreed that the DfT is to be renamed in line with its new corporate objectives.

From henceforth the DfT will be known as the Department for Transfer and it will be expected to transfer 100% of all UK rail jobs, rolling stock orders and franchises overseas.

Cowardly Custard was unavailable for comment as he is auditioning for the role of McCavity's Cat.

Surrender monkeys stifle Chunnel competition?

This from Lloyds Loading List...

Attempts by three French Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to gain exemption from European railway law for services through the Channel Tunnel have been met with fury from the UK Rail Freight Group (RFG), which claims the move could shut out competitors....

The RFG said proposed amendments to the First Railway Package Recast would “exempt Eurotunnel from all the requirements of liberalisation, including fair and open access, interoperability and equitable charging”.

Good to see the Frenchies remain committed to the ideal of a free market Europe.

Pointless signs - EMT Passenger Charter

Sunday, 19 June 2011

EMT launches personal Sleepers - Shocker

Apparently those naughty Top Gear boys have been filming on the Great Central Railway!

This from the Leicester Mercury...

To avoid palpitations, members of the 'Elf 'n' Safety taliban do not need to tune in.

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

I can say from personal experience that Mr Clarkson takes his railway health and safety very seriously.

Here is a picture from 2006 where Top Gear pointed out the foolishness of car drivers trying to better trains at level crossings.

Note Clarkson wearing not just one but two hard-hats and accompanied by ahem, me.

Network Rail Projects goes back to the future

Eye notices with interest that Network Rail is opening up to 'contestability'.

This from the FT:

Under the plans, Network Rail’s project planning unit will be turned into a separate business and forced to compete with outside bidders to design and manage engineering projects in the UK. It will also be encouraged to pitch for similar work outside Britain, possibly in fast-developing rail markets, such as the United Arab Emirates.

Interesting too that NR's Simon Kirby hopes that his Directorate will be able to offer NR's accumulated wisdom worldwide.

An idea that will resonate with those who recall the value of
BR and LT's former international consultancy arms.

Pointless signs - Warwick

Pointless signs - Paddington

Saturday, 18 June 2011

NR announces more Route MDs

This from Network Rail...

Route managing directors confirmed for more routes

With the next routes moving to a devolved structure in October 2011, new route managing directors for Kent & HS1, LNW and Wales have now been appointed. The new route managing director for Western has also been announced as a result of the changes in Wales. All roles will be designate until the routes go live.

Dave Ward has been appointed RMD, Kent & HS1; Jo Kaye, RMD LNW; Mark Langman, RMD Wales and, in due course, Patrick Hallgate will take up the role of RMD Western, which will no longer include Wales.

“We've seen some outstanding candidates for these roles,” said Robin Gisby, Managing Director, Network Operations.

Using an independent and objective approach, all candidates were assessed and rated against a comparable external benchmark, giving a clear picture of capability and potential for an RMD role.

“It's been a rigorous and challenging selection process,” he continued, “and I'm confident we have the right people to take up the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

- ENDS -

Thursday, 16 June 2011

So where is Philip Hammond today?

So where is the Secretary of State today?

Eye finds it a little surprising that Petrol-head should be missing on the day when his department announced that a £1.5bn order for new trains is to be awarded to a German manufacturing plant.

An announcement that will result in many thousands of British voters losing their jobs.

A decision that will result in the death of train manufacturing in Derby after 160 years.

An order paid for by the taxpayer that has little to offer either British business or UK PLC.

A contract award that might have been explained to the whole rail industry at Railtex, but was instead disclosed by a junior minister in a written answer and in calls to selected hacks.

Eye is sure that the decision was made for sound reasons, but is surprised that the Secretary of State didn't see fit to make it himself?

UPDATE: This from Flat Cap and Whippet...

Buried in a Whitehall website, under business rates at ports and waste, you would have surely noticed that Hammond was having a jolly in a landlocked European country.

Who cares about thousands of British jobs, when one has a comprehensive air transport agreement to start negotiating with Moldova.

Thameslink fleet announced

BBC reporting that Siemens has won the contract for the Thameslink fleet.

More to follow...

If true, brave of cowardly-custard Petrol-head to make the announcement the day after he visited Railtex...

UPDATE: And here the DfT press release...


Rail passengers are set to benefit from less crowded and more frequent trains after Rail Minister Theresa Villiers today announced the next stage in a plan to build around 1,200 new rail carriages. The carriages will be used on the busy Thameslink route, allowing existing Thameslink carriages to be redeployed to relieve over-crowded rail routes across the country.

The £6bn Thameslink upgrade - of which the new carriages are a crucial part - will almost double the peak-time capacity on Thameslink's core central London section, allow longer trains to run and provide new fast and frequent London connections to towns and cities both north and south of the capital. The trains will also be lighter, more reliable and more energy efficient. The first new carriages will arrive in 2015.

Siemens Plc and XL Trains – a consortium comprising of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Innisfree Ltd and 3i Infrastructure Plc - have been appointed preferred bidder to build, own, finance and maintain the new trains. Siemens is already one of the leading suppliers of trains on British railways and employs around 16,000 people in the UK. The contract will create up to 2,000 new UK jobs. This includes work being created at Siemens' factory in Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, as well as in the rail industry supply chain. It also includes jobs at two maintenance depots for the new trains which, subject to planning permission, will be built at Three Bridges near Crawley and at Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey. The Thameslink infrastructure works will employ an additional 3,000 people at the height of construction.

Theresa Villiers said:

“This is a major step forward for the long-awaited Thameslink Programme which will make life better for thousands of commuters. Today’s announcement is further proof of the Government’s commitment to investing in Britain’s future. Despite the pressure on budgets resulting from the need to tackle the deficit, we remain fully committed to the Thameslink upgrade which will dramatically improve journeys for commuters and boost the economy.

“The announcement of Siemens Plc and XL Trains as preferred bidder for this contract represents the best value for money for taxpayers. It will create around 2,000 new jobs and will provide Thameslink passengers with modern, greener and more reliable trains.

"The new trains are a major part of the Government’s commitment to introduce an additional 2,100 carriages on to the rail network by 2019. Once the new trains are delivered, current Thameslink rolling stock becomes available to improve rail services in the North West of England, the Thames Valley and other areas yet to be confirmed.

"The Thameslink Programme includes major improvements to central London stations such as Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge. It will reduce crowding by almost doubling capacity on the central section of one Britain's busiest railways. Passengers will also get the benefit of a new generation of electric commuter trains operating at metro-style frequency levels during the morning and evening peaks through the central section."

- ENDS -

Railtex - day two

The Fact Compiler remains busy at Railtex.

And, with the whole industry, awaits todays announcement with interest...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Eye at Railtex

The Fact Compiler has been busy at Railtex

See what you've been missing here...

Still two more days in which to come down and join in the fun!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pointless signs - Par

New trains - an historical perspective

On the 801st day without an order for new trains.

This with a bowler tip to British

It's all 'elf and safety gone mad!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Railway Gongs

Eye congratulates the following:

Knights Bachelor

Tony Hawkhead, chief executive, Groundwork, the environmental charities group

David Higgins, ex-chief executive of the Olympics Delivery Authority, now chief executive of Network Rail

Brian Souter, chief executive, Stagecoach, the transport group

Commander CBE

Terry Hill, chairman of Arup Group Trusts, for services to engineering

Paul Jowitt, president, Institution of Civil Engineers

John McDonough, chief executive, Carillion, the construction and support services group

Peter Rogers, chief executive, Babcock International, the engineering group.

Officer OBE

David Lockwood, MD, Thales, the electronics group

Eye understands that there is no truth to the rumour that Sir Brian earned his gong for services to the carrier bag industry.

UPDATE: This from Globetrotter...

One more for your Railway Gongs:

Congratulations to Dave Newell, of Aslef's Marylebone branch, who received an MBE for promoting rail safety in schools.

The Fact Compiler apologises to Dave for omitting him, and the important work he does, from the original list.

New Trains - 800 days of talk and no trousers!

This from Captain Deltic...

Today, 11 June, is the 800th day since the last rolling stock order was placed.

Note, placed, not preferred bidder selected.

Altogether now, and perhaps ATOC, Network Rail, Passenger Focus, RIA and Sir Roy McNulty might care to join in...

Why are we waiting, why are we waiting...?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Welcome to the Redactalino!

This from Capt W E Johns...

Strange goings on at Euston today, where the brave test pilots of 11-car AM90 no 390054 were 'pushing the envelope'.

The day was spent shunting into each platform to see if the set would fit 'inside clear'.

Whilst the gallant crew might have the 'right stuff', are they perhaps sans the Sectional Appendix?

For, surely, that august tome includes maximum platform lengths.

The set will soon make its way to Liverpool, for two vehicles to be removed.

In the process reducing an Extendalino, into a Redactalino.

No doubt tarps will be placed over the excised two vehicles to spare everyone's blushes!

UPDATE: This from Our International Correspondent...

The good Captain makes an interesting point about How We Do Stuff These Days.

The length of the new engorged Pendo is known to within a millimetre or so.

The useable length of the platforms is established in the Appendix to within a few inches. Whether or not it fits – indeed if any train fits - is a table top exercise for a couple of train planners.

The 11 car train had to be bought down from Liverpool, shunted around Euston all day, then sent back. £12,000 of anybody’s money. A table top exercise, even with checking and double checking, would have been two men for one day, perhaps £800.

Frittering away £11,200 is not a tidal wave in the financial tsunami that is the railway. But it does betray a spendthrift mindset.

And the numbers of £50 notes being burned increases exponentially if or when they toddle off to repeat the tests at Lime Street, Piccadilly, and Glasgow Central.

Nice work if you can get it.

Two groups battle to recreate LNER P2

Telegrammed by Our International Correspondent
Exciting news from the kettle fraternity!

You wait for ages and then two come long at once - rival schemes are apparently competing to build a replica of the lost LNER P2 Class loco "Cock O The North".

In the Darlington corner is the A1 Steam Trust, successful builders of the £2.8 million Tornado replica that has recently returned to service after a boiler embarrassment.

Meanwhile, batting for Doncaster is the new
P2 Trust, who hope to raise an eye-watering £10 million to make their retro steam dream come true.

Eye wonders if there is a danger that too many cocks may spoil the broth?

UPDATE: This from Chief Superintendent Rand (retired - thank God)...

The story about the two Cocks of the North reminds me of my early days as a constable in the dear old City of Bradford Police.

Police officers then as now wore numbers on their shoulders and that number was also used in correspondence and when identifying oneself in court. Thus, I was PC 45 Rand.

When a lad named Cox joined the force some wag in the Chief Constable's Office allocated him the number 2...

Targetted advertising outside Great Minster House

Pointless signs - Didcot Parkway

DafT promises North even older trains!

Does anyone in the Department actually believe the guff they supply as responses to PQs?

This written answer given in the Upper House yesterday...

Lord Bradshaw (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for reducing the average age in rolling stock on the Northern Rail franchise, given that the average age of trains is now 25.7 years.

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
The Government confirmed the electrification of the routes Liverpool to Manchester via Newton-le-Willows, Huyton-Wigan, Preston to Blackpool and Manchester to Preston in November 2010. This will enable younger electric trains to operate on these routes. Future use of rolling stock on the Northern Rail franchise will be for the bidders to propose.

So what are these exciting 'younger trains'?

Presumably the Noble Lord is referring to DfT's plans to cascade some of the current Thameslink fleet Up North?

And would these units be the same as the Class 319s that are currently 24 years old?

And that will be a minimum of 28 years old by the time they dodder off to the North West!

UPDATE: This from He Who Protests Too Much...

If the 319s do go to Northern in 4 years time then OK they’ll be 28 years old by your calculation but the average age of the Northern fleet will also have increased to 29.7 by then so the 319s would indeed be younger as per the answer.

More importantly, 25.7 is the average age of the Northern fleet, some trains will be younger and some older, so assuming that the 319s will replace some of Northern’s older vehicles the average age will come down even further.

UPDATE: The Fact Compiler fumes...

Does nobody read exam questions any more?!?

Lord Bradshaw asked about reducing the average age of the Northern fleet from today's average age of 25.7 years.

Sending 28 year old electric trains North will not do this! (oh and the Adelantes will be leaving soon, increasing the average age of Northern's current fleet).

UPDATE: This from Chianothus Virginicus...

I think reference to "exam questions" in the light of Friday's revelations that exam papers have been set with questions which are impossible to answer or don't have the correct solution in the list of alternatives is quite apposite.

The DfT are experts at DafT answers !

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Villiers vignettes - Crossrail opening dates

This from Ross Lydall at the Evening Standard...

Asked a parliamentary question by Andrew Rosindell, [Villiers] said that Crossrail would open in 2019 - when in fact Crossrail's official position is that it will open in "late 2018".

This is not the first time that Cruella has misled Parliament.

Which suggests that either officials in her department are 'a little careless', or the buck stops much closer to home.

Which is it Minister?

Either way, time for DfT to up its game.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Monnery, of the Essex Rail Users Federation...

Both Mr Lydall and the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers are right.

Crossrail will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood in December 2018.

The northern arm to Shenfield will not open until May 2019, so Crossrail will not be fully open until 2019.

Opening dates for west of Paddington are, of course, still in the melting pot!

The way of the transgressor...

This from The Londonist, under the following headline:

Graffiti: Tox Could Go To Jail

One of London’s most prolific taggers has been convicted of criminal damage. Daniel Halpin of Camden, better known as Tox, has at least a decade of defacement to his name. His tag, which simply states ‘Tox’ followed by the last two digits of the year, can be seen all over the country and particularly on London’s rail networks.

Eye's heart bleeds for him. No, stop laughing! Honestly, it really does. Okay it doesn't.

Two more lovely figures - this time at the ORR

Good news for fans of the body beautiful!

According to page 41 of the ORR's Annual Report, Bill Emery and John Thomas are in receipt of subsidised gym membership.

Eye would have thought that chasing down all those CP4 savings would have been exercise enough?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

11 Car Pendolino Whitewash - Shocker

This with a bowler tip to Eastwood Ho!

How typical!

These Hollywood Blockbusters always manage to avoid mentioning the real heroes.

Stand up Marsham Street!

You got there. Eventually.

What a lovely figure - NR in the money markets

This from Reuters...

June 7 (Reuters) -Following are terms and conditions

of an FRN priced on Tuesday.

Borrower Network Rail Infrastructure

Finance PLC

Guarantor Guarantee by a financial indemnity from

UK Government

Issue Amount $500 million

Maturity Date June 14, 2013

Coupon 3-month Libor + 2 bp

Reoffer price Par

Payment Date June 14, 2011

Lead Manager(s) Deutsche Bank & Goldman Sachs

Ratings Aaa (Moody's), AAA (S&P),

AAA (Fitch)

Listing London

ISIN RegS- XS0637327619

144A- US64127WAC73

Security details and RIC, when available

Look at those lovely AAA ratings!

Heritage railway grows up?

This from the RMT...

RMT MEMBERS at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway are to impose an overtime ban and work-to-rule from a minute after midnight on Friday, June 10, in a dispute with the heritage line over allowances for carriage- and wagon-fitters.

Good to see that the NYMR is even able to recreate the 1960's industrial relations scene.

BarbieRail short formed?

Has anyone seen the Customer Services Director?

That is all.

Balfour Beatty loses Comms Director

This from GorkanaPR...

Duncan Murray, director of corporate communications at Balfour Beatty plc, is to leave the global infrastructure company towards the end of June.

No names yet for a successor.

Eye wonders if BB will be approaching Comms professionals from amongst its client companies?

UPDATE: This from The Major...

According to the above: 'BB will be approaching Comms professionals...'

Would that be BB the highly respected infrastructure company or BB the soi disant veteran observer who is, frankly, a bit rubbishy?

I think we should be told.

UPDATE: This from Brennan-Brown, the soi disant veteran observer himself...

Please can you stop calling me the soi disant veteran observer, it's not big and it's certainly not...
(sadly, owing to pressures of space, Eye is unable to reproduce in full this latest missive from the soi disant veteran observer. Ed)

NXEA excels at making photographers welcome

This from a clearly very annoyed Mr Tony Miles...

Station staff at Colchester just told me that it is not permitted to wear a switched off camera, with lens cap fitted, on the station!

No wonder NX haven't retained the franchise.

Customer service from the 'Attila the Hun book on How To Win Friends & Influence People'.

UPDATE: An update from Mr Miles...

On the back of the Eye piece above I've just had a call from Virgin Trains who said:

"You are welcome to remove your lens cap & take photos at our stations whenever you like."

That's the way to get shortlisted for a franchise!

Eye wonders if there are other ways to get shortlisted for a franchise? Not being German certainly appears to be one. Readers may know of others...

UPDATE: This from Our International Correspondent...

I didn't know that being nice or nasty to a railway hack was a way to win or lose anything of consequence, let alone a franchise.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Magistrates throw book at cement mixer driver

This from the Elmbridge Guardian...

The driver of a cement mixer that crashed off a bridge on to a passing train has been fined £100 and had five penalty points added to his licence.

Well that will certainly learn him!

DafT misses its own Thameslink deadline

Well there's a surprise!

Fingers out chaps.

The benefits of franchising explained

This from Austin Healey...

Has anyone spotted the sudden rush to slap paint on VT stations?

Here the waiting room at Stafford.

And here, the stairs at Crewe.

Might this be related to franchise renewal, and if so can we expect the next coat to be applied around 2025?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Either its down to franchise renewal or both Stafford and Crewe are about to be closed...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

World's most ironic headline - Official!

This from the Communist Party!

RAIL: On the wrong track

Eye supposes that this knowledge comes from experience?

Villiers vignettes - Can't count, won't count

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
According to Cruella de Villiers, responding to yet another train spotterish question from Maria the Eagle...

Given in a written answer given on the 24th May:

It is expected that 112 vehicles will be built (for Thameslink) during 2014-15 which will make 10 full train length equivalent diagrams.

That's clever, since Thameslink has 12 car trains and the last time I recited my Tables 10 twelves were 120.

Can it be long before Cruella ends up at the Treasury?

UPDATE: This from @Al_S (via Twitter)...

Might 112 carriages be 8x12-car trains plus 2x8-car?

Not all the TL stock will 12 car.

TIE goes from strength to strength

Good news for fans of Tram schemes!

This from The Scotsman...

The four non-executive directors of TIE are understood to have quit last week following the departure of chief executive Richard Jeffrey.

The four men are Neil Scales, the chief executive of Mersey- Travel, Brian Cox, a former board member at Stagecoach, Scottish Government official Kenneth Hogg and Peter Strachan, who previously worked for Network Rail.

Heavy rail good. Light rail better?

Green Hammond Eggs

This for fans of Dr Seuss...

Okay - there were no eggs.

NR produces Rolling Stock RUS

This from GJ Churchward...

So Network Rail has published a Rolling Stock RUS!

Eye readers can discover the salient points here:

We have published the draft for consultation of the Network Route Utilisation Strategy: Passenger Rolling Stock.

The Network RUS: Passenger Rolling Stock focuses on the opportunities and efficiencies which arise when purchasing new rolling stock. It considers the requirements of passengers in each market sector. It then demonstrates how planning the rolling stock and infrastructure together can enable the network to become more inter-operable to enable rolling stock to go anywhere it is needed to serve its nominated market sector.

Given the cost of purchasing new rolling stock, opportunities, to exploit economies of scale which could be achieved from simplifying the types of vehicles available and smoothing the profile of procurement are particularly important.

The emerging strategy of the RUS draft for consultation recommends:

  • The procurement of new rolling stock should consider the requirements of passengers in the market sector it is required to serve as well as the network infrastructure it will run over
  • Rolling stock procurement decisions should seek to take advantage of economies of scale and continuity of production
  • The infrastructure should be planned to enable rolling stock to be more interoperable (within the market sector it serves)
Stangely no mention of the advisability of the wheels being round though.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

According to NR the RS-RUS also finds that:

  • Owing to the plethora of different vehicle designs 8% (£75m) of average procurement costs is on non-recurring costs associated with the development of bespoke rolling stock
Does this £75m include the £27m sunk to date into the bespoke Incredibly Expensive Procurement (without a single new vehicle to show for it)?

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

According to the Executive summary of Network Rail's Rolling Stock RUS:

Information provided by a number of train manufacturers through RIA, suggests that there are considerable economies of scale to be had from reducing the variety of different rolling stock designs. Based on this information, it is estimated that in the region of £75 million or eight per cent of the average procurement cost is spent on non-recurring costs including research and development of bespoke rolling stock

Hang on a moment!

If £75 million represents 8% of the average procurement cost, then the average rolling stock contract must be £837 million - say 500-600 vehicles

But when was the last time a brand new fleet of that size was ordered in the UK?

And isn't the reallity that the piddling little orders that have been placed have been repeats for more 'Desistars'?

What's going on?

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

I quote:

The analysis in the RUS suggests that a 23 metre vehicle could be deployed across a Considerable amount of the network with relatively low costs for infrastructure interventions.

Look out of the window, Chaps.

It's called a Mk3 coach and it's been doing just that for 35 years.

The Fact Compiler offers the following Old Railway Wisdom - If 'three across and one on top' can get there, anything will get there!