Friday, 29 July 2011

DafT - The devil is in the detail!

Oh to be part of a winning team!

This to be seen, in all its glory, in the reception area at Great Minster House.

'Congestion hotshot'?

Or 'Unless minotaur'!

DfT logs on to Eye

High praise indeed!

According to figures released by DfT on Staff Internet Usage between 1 January and 31 May 2011...

Eye can understand Mandarins regularly logging-on to see Eye's latest words of wisdom.

But why on earth is Hounslow Animal Welfare Society of such interest to the residents of Marsham Street?

Presumably to work with Ministers you need a special affinity for dumb animals?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pointless signs - Giant Ants

This with a bowler tip to the genius that is @OctoberJones, via Twitpic...

Obviously Giant Ants are still more prevalent than WiFi on a CrossCountry train.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

New website outlines DfT policy objectives

This from a Mr Ernest Trumpet...

I see that the DafT website has had a makeover.

There are some rather natty new graphics on the home page including this one...

Featuring sky with no planes, roads with no vehicles, tracks with no trains and sea with no ships.

At least we all now know where we stand.

Virgin a shoe-in for West Coast Franchise!

Yet again Sir Beardie shows that he has his finger on the political pulse!

This from the Daily Torygraph...

Virgin Enterprise, which owns the trademarks and rights to the Virgin brand, is moving to Switzerland and is advertising for staff there. Although it is said to be a relatively small part of the business, Virgin insiders said it would become increasingly significant as the brand was franchised around the world.

A move surely designed to meet the requirements of our very own Department for Transfer, famed for off-shoring both jobs and franchises.

Pointless sign - Northern Class 144

Railway Bothy - Culrain

Monday, 25 July 2011

Fact Compiler spotted at Derby rally - Shocker

This from M'Duck...

Dear Fact Compiler

I attended the rally in Derby on Saturday where over 6,000 people supported our local train manufacturer.

Speeches were made by Colin Walton, Chairman of Bombardier, local MPs and Councillors from all political hues, and even RMT General Secretary Bob Crow gave us his backing.

However, despite your blog making much of the decision to export UK jobs aboard, you seemed to be keeping a very low profile at this major event.

However, I spotted you!

Can I claim my £5? (No! Ed)

Railway Garden Competition - Boston

Friday, 22 July 2011

DafT confirms Japan a closed market

Good to see that the Department for Transfer continues to bat for Britain!

This from a written answer given in the House of Lords on the 20th July...

Lord Bradshaw (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any discussions took place with, and any concessions were offered by, the Government of Japan during negotiations with Hitachi regarding the new intercity trains contract about the ability of British engineering companies to compete in Japan.

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
On each of the occasions that the Secretary of State has met the Japanese ambassador to the UK and other Japanese government officials, he has emphasised the importance and benefits of allowing British companies to compete on a level playing field for engineering and other contracts within Japan.

Furthermore, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to ensure that this matter is raised in the EU-Japan regulatory reform dialogue.

So the answer is no then!

Let's try an easier question.

Can DafT confirm that the Japanese Ambassador's chair in the Secretary of State's office was at least made in the UK?

UPDATE: This from the Archer...

That's a little harsh.

The EU-Japan regulatory reform dialogue will I'm sure ensure that Germany can one day export rolling stock to Japan as well as the UK.

Siemens boss backs Bombardier - Shocker

This from the BBC...

But what's this?

Suddenly Mr Walton has become Mr Wilson!

Could the Beeb perhaps be thinking of David Wilson, the boss of Siemens?

Still nice of him to attend tomorrow's march. Eye is sure he will receive a very warm Derbyshire welcome...

RMT & TSSA discuss merger

This from the RMT...

The TSSA and RMT unions today agreed to commit to formal talks which could ultimately lead to a merger of the two unions. Initial discussions will focus on closer working between both unions initially through a federation structure with a view to moving towards a merger.

Both unions also agreed that the door will remain open for other smaller specialist unions in transport who may be thinking along similar lines to join the discussions at a future date.

Commenting on the decision, TSSA General Secretary Gerry Doherty said: “Today’s decision will hopefully be the start of a process designed to serve the interests of future generations of transport and travel trade workers. We owe an obligation to our children and our children’s children to leave better organisations that protect workers in the very uncertain future that they currently face

Speaking on behalf of the RMT, General Secretary Bob Crow said: “This is a historical day for the trade union movement. These talks will bring together two unions each with over a hundred years of specialising in the transport industry in the interests of workers.

- Ends -

Walder to be MTR CEO

This from Investegate...

MTR Corporation has announced that, with effect from 1 January 2012, Mr. Jay Herbert Walder will be appointed as Chief Executive Officer for an initial term of thirty months.

He will become both a Member of the Executive Directorate and join the Board of Directors with effect from that date. To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Walder will become CEO Designate at the beginning of November.

The current CEO, Mr. Chow Chung-kong, will retire from his position at the end of the year.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Railway Garden Competition - Lewes

A disgraceful scene that the new Sussex Route MD will hopefully be allowed to banish forever?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Hackgate the Video!

That is all.

Brooker-Carey joins Crossrail

This from PR Week...

Crossrail has hired the former comms director of Tube Lines to shake up its PR team.

Louise Brooker-Carey will join the company behind Europe’s largest civil engineering project in August as head of public affairs.

She will report to newly appointed chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme, who also starts in August and will be responsible for shaping the future of the comms team.

As Head of Public Affairs Brooker-Carey will also need to have a good working relationship with other board members, especially the chairman of Crossrail.

One Terry Morgan who, before joining Crossrail in 2009, was CEO of Tube Lines and her former boss.

Strachan returns to beef up Dept for Transfer

This from the Brisbane Times...

The man in charge of southeast Queensland’s transport network for the past two years has quit to take on an Olympic challenge overseas.

Translink chief executive Peter Strachan will end his role in October after landing a key posting in the United Kingdom government.

As the UK Transport Department’s Director-General responsible for Major Projects, Mr Strachan is set to oversee transport for the 2012 London Olympics.

UPDATE: This from the Shunter...

Mostly harmless.

Lookalike - You won't like me when I'm angry

Bombardier Chairman Colin Walton appears to have tired of playing Mr Nice Guy!

This from today's Daily Mail...

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said at the time that he had no power to overturn the decision.

But Walton said questions in Parliament had shown Hammond did have the power to reconsider the bid and bypass Siemens. He said: ‘It now looks like the Secretary of State has a lot of questions to answer.’

He added: ‘I do find it completely incredible that nothing to do with socio-economics has been taken into account. They have had every option to do that in the invitation to tender.’

Walton was speaking as he was supposed to be on a South African trade trip with the Prime Minister, but was snubbed just 48-hours before the flight took off.

His absence meant he missed the chance to secure key contract there. He said: ‘It would have been a golden opportunity for the Government to demonstrate commitment to British exports. Is it the case that they no longer back British exports? I really hope that’s not the case, but I don’t know.’

Unsurprisingly, Eye prefers it when he's angry!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

How the media works. No 94

Do the genii behind Viz read Modern Railways?

Eye thinks we should be told!

Brown backs Bombardier

This from M'Duck...

Thought Eye readers might be interested to see this which has been circulated around Litchurch Lane:

Good to see London backing Derby.

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade...

Will Mike Brown's overt support for Derby extend to putting in a good word with his TfL chums working on the Crossrail fleet procurement?

Bobby flags a warning

This from Messrs Saxby and Farmer...

With so much attention devoted to the job losses at Derby caused by the importation of railway rolling stock, it behoves us to point out that employment is at risk at our former partner Messrs Westinghouse at Chippenham, which we now understand is known as Invensys.

This is because of the decision by the Metropolitan Railway to resignal its sub-surface lines in London with a signalling system from Bombardier.

Given the eximious performance of Messrs Westinghouse in resignalling the Victoria line, and how gratifying to see the late Queen so honoured, it seems perverse to import yet another novel signalling system, untried in the UK.

As Mr Douglas Hames, the Honourable Member for Chippehnam has remarked, 'When we have such exceptional engineering talent in our country that wins contracts abroad, some of us may wonder why we are not more successful at winning contracts at home'.

We remain sir, your obedient servants...

Derbygate - The rally.

This from M'Duck...

Please could you alert Eye readers to a rally in support of UK manufacturing jobs that is taking place on Saturday?

Be there or be square!

UPDATE: This from the BBC...

More than 50,000 people have signed a petition urging the government to reverse a decision to give a £1.4bn contract to a German train maker.

Good effort.

Virgin overthrows NR - shocker

It took Virgin Trains just 8 minutes to respond from a tweet by Tom Harris MP criticising their coffee.

That makes NR's famed Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit seem slow in comparison !

The Stripping of the Altars

This, from a decidedly stroppy, Captain Deltic...

According to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, at the launch of the GWML modernisation programme on 14 July:

‘This is another fantastic step on the journey of renaissance which the railway is taking.

'Nobody would have believed 20 years ago that we would be building new railway lines, refurbishing our rail infrastructure, electrifying hundreds of miles of additional track, seeing passenger numbers double and passenger satisfaction improving dramatically.

'This is literally a new age of the train in Britain and a very exciting one too’.

Er, 20 years ago, that's 1991.

So presumably our expectations would have been more-of-the-same based on the previous decade:

  • With 900 route miles electrified by 1991 we would have been expecting more routes under the wires in future.
  • With passenger miles up by a quarter to the highest levels since 1949 we would have been expecting more growth.
  • With Network SouthEast starting total route modernisation we would have expected more refurbishment.
  • In 1991 new trains were rolling out of York, Derby and Washwood Heath. Whither those centres of excellence now? (Or should that be 'wither'.)
  • The Crossrail Bill had just been submitted so we were expecting new lines and overcrowding in the South East to be addressed.
What we didn't expect was a dire recession, as a consequence of economic mismanagement.

What we didn't expect was a botched privatisation which multiplied the railway's subsidy fivefold.

What we didn't expect was a stop start rolling stock procurement that saw a period of 1064 days without a new train order and the current hiatus at 838 days and counting...

What we didn't expect was the Civil Service specifying a replacement for the HST

And we most certainly didn't expect McNulty to have to remind a once integrated industry to work together for the good of the passenger.

I'm inured to politicians claiming daft self-serving things, but we can't let them airbrush out the past in their attempt to turn a pig's ear into a brushed polyester purse.

So renaissance? Well, yes, so long as we don't forget that it followed some very dark, dark ages.

Monday, 18 July 2011

TSC to look into UK Rolling Stock Procurement

This from the Transport Select Committee...

13 July 2011
For Immediate Release: SCA 76/2010–12


Wednesday 7 September 2011

Committee Room 15, House of Commons

Following the recent choice of Siemens Plc as the Government’s preferred bidder for the supply of the new Thameslink trains, the Transport Committee will be taking oral evidence on Wednesday 7 September at 9.35am from ministers and other key stakeholders to discuss matters related to UK rolling stock procurement.

The Committee will question witnesses about the recent Thameslink announcement and broader issues related to the way that rolling stock is procured in the UK.

These timings are approximate and the session may start slightly earlier or later than advertised. The room the session takes place in may also change. Please check our website for up to date details of this session.

- ENDS -

Pointless signs - Bolton

This from a Mr Oi!

£4M has been spent on refurbishing Bolton Station.

Although it seems the budget didn’t quite stretch to removing the residual detritus of a long-dead business!

Lookalike - Nice... but dim?

This from the recently published CRESC Research Report: How not to build trains...

But what has happened now, with the train crash at Bombardier?

The public debate about the Siemens Thameslink contract reveals that like Hugh Grant, the Coalition ministers and civil servants who make industrial policy uneasily sense that something is wrong.

But the problem is not simply that the micro-economic answers aren’t answers, though this, of course, is true.

More profoundly, the problem is the long reign of micro-economic question framing in the Whitehall centres of policy making, in the broadsheet media, and in the economics departments of the ancient universities.

These distinct spheres are of course densely interconnected, not least through elite careers. Many of the best and brightest undergraduates may now choose the City, but the BIS and Treasury middle ranks are still heavily populated with Oxbridge recruits and those trying to pass as such.


Friday, 15 July 2011

Villiers Vignettes - UK Supply Chain can go hang

This from Ithuriel...

Theresa Villiers did her best to talk up the prospects for the UK rolling stock market in a Westminster Hall debate debate on 12 July,

The fact that the coalition Government have secured funding for such a major programme of capacity enhancement will result in major opportunities, not just for Bombardier but for other train component and supply chain manufacturing businesses in this country.

Following its nomination, for example, as the preferred bidder for the intercity express programme contract, Hitachi has announced that it is locating its train manufacturing services for Europe at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham. That will provide significant opportunities for UK component manufacturing.

As has been said, if the Siemens Thameslink bid proceeds to conclusion, it will involve the creation of 2,000 jobs in the UK. It has indicated that it intends to use elements of the UK supply chain to supply its bid.

Message to the supply chain - don't worry about Bombardier, we're sure you can find something to sell to Japan and Germany.

Cruella really doesn't do 'industrial strategy', does she?

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade...

Replying to the debate on the Thameslink contract on July 12, Theresa Villiers said:

My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mr Timpson) was concerned about the amount spent on consultancy. The bulk of that happened under the previous Government, but I agree that we need a more efficient approach to spending on consultancy in relation to procurement in the future. Since the general election the consultancy spend has been considerably reduced.

With Derby the home to the worlds leading railway consultancy the news for the City gets worse.

UPDATE: This from Dick Burton, Special Agent...

It's time that someone pointed out that a fair few of the 2,000 jobs that those nice people at Siemens are creating will be at Three Bridges and Hornsey and would also have been created by the gallant losers from Bombardier.

Franksy makes return to Big Railway

This from Keolis...

Today Keolis, the international transport operator, announces the appointment of David Franks as Managing Director for New Franchises at Keolis UK.

Franks comes to Keolis UK from his position as CEO at Stockholm Metro and brings with him extensive UK and international experience in the rail industry.

Eye welcomes Franksy back to the real railway.

No doubt similar celebrations are occurring in Marsham Street?

Cascaded D stock for Community Railways?

How very like the western branches of the District line.

You wait for one D stock story and then two turn up at once.

Interesting news from Harrogate Chamber of Commerce...

Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce is now bidding for a complete upgrading of the Harrogate Line train services between Leeds, Harrogate, Knaresborough and York.

The Chamber’s solution is a modern low-cost ground-level electrification system, similar to that used on the Docklands Light Railway.

The proposed rolling stock is a fleet of around 20 six-car light rapid transit electric trains, originally built by Metro-Cammell in Birmingham, which have been totally refurbished within the past few years, with 280 seats per train and lots of proper standing room as well.

If this idea gets any traction then it may catch on elsewhere. The Harrogate proposal envisages using only 20 of the 78 six car D stock fleet.

Could this be a better private sector inspired solution for Community Railways rather than Tram-Train which remains mired in the usual DafT treacle?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Harrogate Chamber of Commerce appear to suggest that the juice rail should sit about 2' above the running rails…

Happy badgers, unhappy farmers.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Pointless signs - D Stock

With a bowler tip to @DriverPotter...

Perhaps a method of PIDD signage that in future may benefit the North?

Germany sends gunship to enforce Thameslink!

This from Ann Adaptor (with additional reporting by Mike Flex and Mike Stand)...

Just three weeks ago it looked as if Berlin had successfully annexed the Thameslink Corridor.

In what was seen as a deft political move the previous administrator of the region, Sir Paper-knife, was kept in post and given an unlimited supply of stationery with which to keep his subjects happy.

Yet three weeks later all is not well in Germany's newest enclave.
The leader of Sir Paper-knife's political party, David 'Lap-Dog-Murdoch' Cameron, has gone into hiding. There is growing and voluble dissent in the area known as the 'Westminster Village' and Sir Paper-knife's hated enforcers, the Marsham Street Macoute, have been inciting East Midlands dole queues by waving envelopes at them.

In response to the deteriorating security situation Berlin has been forced to dispatch its latest gunship, the MS Deutschland Uber Alles, which berthed today at London's Docklands.

Defence sources believe that today's deployment places the Uber Alles within easy shelling distance of Great Minster House, home to the increasingly unstable Sir Paper-knife and his loathed Macoute.

According to Der Daily Mail, a news paper with historic links to Berlin...

Isle of Dogs-based Mr Smith, who has worked on the River Thames and in the docks since 1962, said: 'This is the largest ship that I have ever seen navigate through the lock.'

'Bringing MS Deutschland into the docks is a real achievement.

'The manoeuvre into the confined space of the lock shows how good planning, combined with the skill of the teams involved, worked to ensure the berthing operation was successful.'

Despite such German ingenuity resistance to the Teutonic expansionists continues to grow, led by an enigmatic figure whose very name resonates amongst all free born Englishmen. According to resistance sources their leader is a shadowy figure known only by the iconic name of St Margaret a Beckett (cont' p94)...

iDave remains in hiding. Sir Paper-knife remains convinced it is everyone else's fault.

DfT to review competition weighting - Shocker

This from the Man Locked Out of His Room...

Siemens lose at something!

No doubt the Department for Transfer will conduct an inquiry into the weighting of such competitions to avoid future embarrassment?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Saltaire...

Interesting to note that not a single London based team won any Gold medals.

Clearly the alleged Northern diet of pudding, chips, peas and gravy works wonders.

Better let the UK 2012 team manager know!

Railway Garden Competition - Darlington

This from Bertie Forest...

Contrast the lush green verdant track gardens of Network Rail's estate with this dried and withered planter at Darlington Station.

Perchance the state-owned rail franchise has run out of funds to water its plants?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Railway Garden Competition - Gloucester

This from Rover...

The track machine is named "Tiger", so there really is a Tiger in this jungle...

Exciting new Eye feature - Gradient Palindromes

Time for an exciting, but utterly pointless, new Eye feature - welcome to Gradient Palindromes!

This from Nick...

Here is a picture of the gradient post at my local station.

Maybe Eye readers could advise if there are any other gradient palindromes on our national network? (Oh great! Ed)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Pointless signs - Hyde North

This from the Banker...

Evidently attention to detail is also lacking in Tameside as this sign on Victoria Road for Hyde North shows.

Eye wonders if Sealink ever served Hyde North?

Labour leader ducks a meeting with RMT!

An extra-ordinary tweet from @RMTLondon...

So Ed Milliband didn't go to Durham Miner's Gala as he 'didn't want to share a platform with Bob Crow.'

Eye thought it was only Boris who ran scared of Crow Bar Bob?

Meanwhile, in more encouraging news, the BBC is saying that Petrol-head will meet with the RMT this Wednesday to discuss the Thameslink contract.

To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war.

Pointless signs - King's Cross

This from a Mr Malins...

Perhaps more about attention to detail than an actual pointless sign?

Pointless signs - Feet on or off the seats?

Miles and chains - a sign of the times?

This from the late Edmund Gunter...

Sadly the new generation of railway employees appear ignorant of traditional British units of measurement as still used by the railway.

This particular example has been an affront to my eyes for many years as a regular commuter on the Portsmouth Direct.

I noticed in August 2005 that the cast iron structure plates on the footbridge at Haslemere station had been replaced by new aluminium ones with the distance of 42m 80c cast into them.

I mentioned this to Network Rail friend and the plates were recast with the correct 43m 0c on them, which I noticed in October 2005.

In October 2008 Network Rail decided to change the style of the structure plate from the cast aluminium ones to corporate standard "road sign" material with a reflective backing and the incorrect 42m 80c returned!

Nearly three years on the "wrong" plates are still there.

Presumably attention to detail on today's railway is now optional?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Why isn't there a bar code, or some other scanable identity recognised by the Asset Register, on the last one?

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

Actually, the latest plate suggests that the primary distance is 42 metres, according to SI.

Since the railway will have to change to metric units as ERTMS spreads (and the Rule Book has already largely been converted), perhaps we should bite the bullet and consign these increasingly irrelevant Imperial...
(Sadly, owing to pressures of space, Eye is unable to reproduce all the rabid Metric rantings of The Man by the Photocopier)

Do Christmas Turkeys have privs?

This from Smalltrousers...

It's often said that the modern railway has a touch of the surreal about it, but maybe none more so than this.

The Railchat forum (billed as "The Professional Rail Staff chat site) is currently hotly debating the HS2 project.

The site's members are firmly in the skeptic/anti camp and have backed using as 'slightly more objective" evidence that High speed is highly polluting from none other than 'Transport Watch'.

Those familiar with Transport Watch will know them as the people who've long campaigned against the rail industry and called for the entire network to be torn up and converted into roads.

So, we have a rail staff opponents of HS2 supporting, as 'objective', an organisation that wants to tear up the country's railways.

Turkeys evidently can and do vote for Christmas!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hammond shy at Silverstone Grand Prix

This, amazingly, from the late Denis Jenkinson, legendary correspondent of 'Motor Sport'...

I though Eye readers would like the inside gen on why Transport Secretary Philip Hammond looked so surprised when it came to presenting the second prize.

Aside from the fact that there was no envelope to open, he was also expecting to present the cup to the Chairman of Bombardier - rather than some Australian who had been going round in circles for an hour and a half.

Still, going nowhere fast must have made a pleasant change from watching his Rail Directorate going nowhere slowly.

And following the Thameslink debacle he no doubt shared the annoyance of Jenson Button, who also had a wheel come off.

UPDATE: This from 31154...

Hammond didn't actually present the cup to "some Australian", he presented the cup to German driver Sebastian Vettel, so the second time in a month he's presented a prize to the Germans!

What I found most amusing was when Hammond was a bit slow moving off the podium and said Australian gave him a blast of Mumm right in the face, turning Petrol-head into Champagne-Head!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Joined up Government explained

So on the very same day that Bombardier announced potential job losses, doddery Business Secretary Vince Cable launched the Made by Britain award.

This from The Manufacturer...

Likening the initiative to a ‘virtual Crystal Palace’, Mr Cable said that government will throw support behind apprenticeships, behind the new Technology Innovation Centres and channel support through the Regional Growth Fund.

The project is a collaboration between the Associate Parliamentary Manufacturing Group, of which FDF is an associate member, and the Royal Commission. All 650 MPs in the House of Commons have been asked to nominate a product that is manufactured in their constituency. The objective is to draw up a diverse and comprehensive picture of contemporary British industry.

Eye wonders what Derby MPs will nominate?

Railway Bothy - Berney Arms

This from The Sleeper....

The only station with two cycle hoops and no road access!

The station adopters live in Scunthorpe and Sutton Coldfield!

The bothy is an original 1999 Anglia Railways Crown Point and RSPB joint production (no glass in windows designed as bird watching hide)Link

It has it's own website (run from a garden shed in Sutton Coldfield)

The only station with a beer named after it!

The only station with regular class 90 electric locos passing by with no overhead line! (summer Saturday loco hauls to Great Yarmouth from London run via Berney Arms)

Locally designated HS3 - Route to the Sea!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cruella travels down memory lane

Saviour of the Jammy Dodger, Theresa Villiers, has been reliving past glories!

"And as thanks they gave me one this big!"

Cameron and the weasel words

Eye understands that when David Cameron took the cabinet to Derby in March he paid a visit to the Bombardier site.

At the time iDave made much about the importance of the UK manufacturing base in driving the economy forward.

Sadly there appear to be no photographs on-line of his historic visit to Litchurch Lane.

So here is a picture of the Prime Minister showing his backing for another doomed national institution.

'Nuff said.

Plaudits for the Department for Transfer - Shocker

This, unbelievably, from Gordon Gekko...

Time to stop whining about your cockamamie train factory, Limeys!

Don't you realise your Department of Transportation is right there with the zeitgeist.

That smart guy Osborne on the London Telegraph gets it:

The financing element gave Siemens of Germany a big advantage over the three other bidders because of its higher credit rating – one vastly superior to Bombardier's, which is below investment grade.

Siemens' debt is rated A+ by credit rating agency Standard & Poor's – six notches above Bombardier's BB+. The other two bidders, Alstom and Hitachi, are respectively rated BBB and BBB+.

So wise up!

It's about buying finance not goddam trains!

Who cares whether they are made of aluminum, plastic or, given your backward country, wrought iron.

Anyway, I've tipped my good buddy Donald Trump the wink and expect him to announce that he has bought the Derbytown site and plans to convert it into the Royal Derbytownshire Golf Club.

How's about that for a level playing field!

Remember, greed is good.

DafT dithers as SWT commuters suffer

This from Pontius Pilate...

Can I say how encouraged I am to see that hand washing over major issues is now this government's official transport policy, as this written answer shows?

Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from train operating companies on the use of the Class 460 Gatwick Express electrical multiple units which had been expected to be without an operator from 22 May 2011.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State Rail and Aviation)
Southern Railway continues to operate a number of Class 460 electric multiple units beyond the previously intended end date.

The use of these units, once they are no longer needed on this route, is a matter for the rolling stock company to agree with train operating companies.

In fact ROSCO Porterbrook had agreed a deal for the future use of its Class 460 fleet as part of SWT's proposals to introduce 10 car trains to relieve severe over-crowding .

But DfT took so long havering over the terms of the deal that the tender validity ran out.

So now SWT has had to restate the ITT and has got updated offers from the original bidders which are now being evaluated and will go to the DfT who will no doubt start a new interminable analysis.

My friend Dante reckons that DfT's Rolling Stock non-policy has become a new circle of hell in its own right.

UPDATE: This from the Grim Reaper...

In fact, Network Rail, in a brilliant price of coordinated timing with DafT, has already started extending the relevant SWT platforms, all due to be completed for the December 2012 timetable.

No doubt DafT will still be getting round to opening the envelopes in December next year, while cosily-packed SWT commuters (if they can actually see out of the window) look upon the new platform extensions vying for the top spot in the Railway Gardens competition.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Exciting New Eye Feature - Railway Bothys!

This from the Mad Hatter...

Whilst Eye is renowned for its Railway Garden Competition, how about a similar challenge for railway garden sheds!

Here is the bijou, sumptuous air-conditioned up-side waiting shelter at Manea, Cambs, complete with a solitary bearded passenger, sheltering from the elements.

Although the photo was taken at 10:08, the 'customer' had a seven and a half hour wait for the next stopping service to Ely.

Here’s the challenge - can Eye readers supply a better picture of a rail Bothy?

Do you know a better rail Bothy? Perhaps there are industry celebrities pictured inside? If so contact Eye at the usual address.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Frank Cheevers...

Fully expect that this entry will be disqualified on account of its age (not on this occasion, Ed), but I was particularly proud of the waiting shelter which Les Crabbe (seen here) built for Kempston Hardwick.

This followed a request from the Bedford-Bletchley Rail Users Assocation for some kind of waiting room.

It was built almost entirely from reclaimed materials garnered from locations on the branch.

The only cost, apart from Mr Crabbe's wages, was for the roofing felt and nails, which cost BR just £31.

Happy days under Chris Green!

PS In latter days I became friendly with railway architects - they didn't find the hut aesthetically appealing

Pointless signs - Berney Arms

This from 31154...

From a timetable "commencing 22nd May 2011".

UPDATE: This from The Sleeper...

That's all due to the fact that Berney Arms is the only open station on the National Rail Network with no lights, since it's one oil light was put out in 1970.

So in BST the evening train runs but in GMT it is too dark.

Eye notes with comfort that this part of Norfolk still appears to be on the Julian calender.

UPDATE: This from Connor...

Berney Arms isn't quite the only station on the National Rail network without platform lighting.

Coombe Junction in deepest, darkest Cornwall also has that honour. It doesn't get anything as fancy as a different timed train each day though.

The evening service was simply moved to one hour after the morning one a couple of years ago, after being cancelled everyday for 6 months of the year for many years before that.

ScotRail redacts BR - Shocker

Wolmar on the nail!

This from the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent, writing in today's Grauniad...

It is difficult not to be pessimistic and see this as the end of an era stretching back nearly two centuries. However, the failure to give the contract to a home-based company is playing badly in the Tory party. It gives the lie to Cameron’s promise to support British manufacturing jobs.

Train travel is booming and there is an obvious lack of rolling stock. With a bit of will, extra carriages could be ordered to lengthen existing trains and possibly give hope to Bombardier that it should hold on with the prospect of getting the large Crossrail order in the middle of the decade.

It is not a lost cause, but it will take a fierce and vocal lobby to effect another Cameron U-turn. Steam will never return to Litchurch Lane, but perhaps, just perhaps, train manufacturing may remain there if enough pressure can be built up.


UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

The Financial Times made the same point today:

There is, nevertheless, consensus that the government could take one measure to protect the Derby factory’s health. Bombardier won the UK’s last big train order, for the Stansted Express. But the order was placed in February 2009.

The Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, an industry group, insists such long gaps between orders contributed to Tuesday’s announcement. “The proposal to reduce Bombardier’s Derby workforce . . .  points . . . to the failure by successive governments . . . to address the peaks and troughs of rolling stock demand,” it said.

It appears that those who stuff the envelopes and those that open them have all been guilty of willful neglect.

UPDATE: This from Kelvin Chain...

Several industry observers have commented on Bombardier's dogged refusal to lobby "enthusiastically" for its Derby plant.

Compare this with Hitachi where Hammond quipped that the Japanese Ambassador had his own chair in the Secretary of State's office!

Hammond's envelope opening may have cost Bombardier both the IEP and Thameslink fleets but other opportunities remain.

There are 105 Class 220/221/222 sets all ready for the addition of a power car to enable them to use the wires and create much needed additional capacity.

There is also the need to replace the deeply loathed Pacers and make a start on a structured programme to replace the 15x fleets before they fall foul of the DDA regulations in 2020.

With Hammond, Cable and Cameron facing a growing backbench backlash over their assassination of the UK's last train manufacturer now is the time for Derby to start lobbying!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Didn't I see Transport Minister Theresa Villiers enthusiastically applauding Roger Ford's call for the electric vehicles for the 220/221/222 sets when she was stood on stage at the Modern Railways Innovation Awards last month?

Clearly a supporter and Bombardier must recruit her to their campaign team at once!

UPDATE: This from The Major...

I’m having a ‘senior moment’.

Can somebody remind me where Bombardier built the Voyagers?

I’m sure it was abroad...

UPDATE: This from Corporal Pike...

Indeed, the train building community in Bruges await the order for additional vehicles for 220/221/222 sets with baited breath.

As I'm sure do Eurotunnel!

UPDATE: This from a most insistent Mr Miles...

The class 221 units were built by Bombardier at their Bruges (Belgium) AND Horbury (Wakefield) plants with Alstom Onix propulsion kit made in Preston.

So, OK, that's another closed Bombardier facility but if Alstom can switch from making Pendolinos in Birmingham to Italy then Bombardier can make additional vehicles for the 22X trains wherever it likes, especially Derby.

And maybe create some more work for the excellent folk at Preston at the same time.

Eye applauds any solution that meets the Prime Minister's previously stated desire for a UK 'Manufacturing Revival'.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Hammond - master of all he surveys

This from Sir Humphrey Beeching...

A most pleasant luncheon at Boisdale, in Pimlico today.

Over a thoroughly agreeable postprandial dram (the 35 year old Glenfarclas) my erstwhile colleague and I reflected upon young Philip Hammond's recent performance.

We both agreed that the Thameslink decision was masterful and I complimented my dining partner on the way it had played out.

"Of course" she continued, "our man has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks."

"When was the last time," she asked "that you heard a Secretary of State admitting to opening his own envelopes?"

I looked at her in awe and refreshed our glasses.

"Perhaps," she suggested "it is a little unfair to call our man Petrol-head?".

"We much prefer Paper-knife!" she concluded with the smallest of chuckles.

It goes without saying that I picked up the bill.

Railway Garden Competition - Harrow & Wealdstone

Hammond fiddles while Derby burns

After a busy morning defending the arduous task of 'opening envelopes' it is good to see that the Secretary of State is still able to relax with friends.

This from the Campaign for High Speed Rail...

House of Commons launch for cross-party high speed rail group

A new cross-party group supporting high-speed rail has launched today at an event at the House of Commons. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which is a powerful new voice in favour of building a new high speed rail line, has already secured the backing of MPs from across the political divide and is chaired jointly by Graham Stringer MP (Labour) and Stuart Andrew MP (Conservative).

Speaking at the launch event Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:

“I am delighted that our plans for high speed rail have such widespread cross party support. This is a major project in the national interest which will take many years to complete and will benefit hugely from being taken forward with all-party support."

No doubt Cowardly-custard will soon be assuaging irate Chiltern residents with the comforting mantra that HS2 is all the fault of the previous government?

From the Hammond Organs to Kelly's Heroes?

Regular Eye readers will recall that the DafT press office is lovingly referred to as the Hammond Organs.

Now Network Rail's media monkeys are to be known as Kelly's Heroes, following the news that former Blair Uber-Spinner Tom Kelly is to join NR as Director of Comms.

This from PR Week...

Eye hopes that Tom won't be bringing his photographer with him.

UPDATE: This from the Kelly's Heroes over at King's Place...

Private Kelly has just asked me to forward the following:

"You can re-assure Railway Eye that the photographer has indeed been fired - on their recommendation."

Good effort.

Bombardier - Almost 1,500 Derby jobs to go

This from Bombardier Transportation...

Bombardier Transportation Announces Proposed Downsizing at its Derby facility

Loss of Thameslink contract and completion of existing workload forces announcement

Derby 5 July 2011: Bombardier Transportation today announced that it will initiate a 90 day statutory consultation process to downsize and adjust capacity at its train manufacturing facility in Derby. Employees were told today that there was not sufficient workload going forward to keep the facility operating at current levels. A total of 446 permanent jobs and 983 temporary contract staff would be affected in the proposed readjustment.

Derby is now completing orders for metro cars for London Underground’s SubSurface Lines and Victoria Line and Turbostar diesel multiple units for London Midland. All but the SubSurface Lines contract will be complete by the end of September this year.

“The culmination and successful delivery of these projects and the loss of the Thameslink contract ,which would have secured workload at this site, means that it is inevitable that we must adjust capacity in line with economic reality,” said Francis Paonessa, President of the Passengers Division for the UK.

“We regret this outcome but without new orders we cannot maintain the current level of employment and activity at Derby” Francis Paonessa added. “Over the next 90 days together with employee representatives we will work with individual employees to ensure the best possible outcome for our people,”

Bombardier acquired the Derby site from Daimler Chrysler in 2001 and over the ten year period has invested substantially in creating a state-of-the-art train manufacturing facility and centre of excellence for high technology rail engineering. The company has also successfully exported UK-built trains. Derby site currently employs 3000 and supports an estimated 12,000 employees in its supply chain.

Colin S Walton, Chairman of Bombardier Transportation in the UK, commented: “The loss of the Thameslink contract, has forced us to conduct a UK-wide review of our operations. This announcement today is part of an on-going process.”


Monday, 4 July 2011

Don't tell him Pike!

This from Herr Restorer of Deutsche Reichsbahn...

You Britishers are a funny lot.

Either you like to dress as Germans to ride aboard your railways.

Or your Government begs superior German engineers and managers to build and run your trains.

Sadly not all of you have embraced the spirit of the new Europe!

There remain a small number of recidivists who still dream of a time when your small island ran and made things!

Foolish Britishers!

So whose idea was a Union Flag on the Brandenburg Gate?

This will not be tolerated!

Remember! We have ways of making you walk.

Where will Cowardly Custard be tomorrow?

This from Sky News...

Train-making firm Bombardier is set to announce up to 2,000 job losses - with the Government's decision to award a lucrative order to a German consortium being blamed...

It is reported the company will confirm the cuts at a news conference it has called for tomorrow.

No doubt cowardly-custard Petrol-head will arrange for Cruella to provide another Written Answer, this time lamenting the job losses.

And assuring those facing the dole that Hammond and Cable have written to the Prime Minister expressing their concerns.


UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Who can forget the reassuring words of Philip Hammond on 1st March 2011 after the IEP contract was awarded to Hitachi:

'Bombardier... has a very bright future in the UK train market'.

Weasel words that will no doubt be of considerable comfort to Litchurch Lane workers.