Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Railway Bothy - Bishops Lydeard

Here a wriggly tin bothy from the West Country to see August out!

With a bowler tip to the Mad Axeman...

All back to the grindstone from the Feast of St Giles!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Railway Garden Competition - Stourbridge Junc

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Not only has the Stourbridge Line a fine selection of plant life, someone has even dumped a greenhouse on the track!

NR employs hare raising scheme

Exciting news from NR's Sussex Route!

This from the Route Performance Manager:

To improve communication and awareness of our performance, we are launching The Sussex Hare.

This is a performance challenge, designed to communicate how we are doing against challenging, but realistic, daily performance goals.

Every day, you will receive an e-mail outlining how the previous day's performance went, highlighting our achievements and areas for improvement.

Every week and every 4 week period, the message will be longer and will summarise how we have done in the previous week or period.

Our mission is simple: to catch as many Sussex Hares as possible. There are clear measures of success, outlined and defined below.

Good news indeed!

The missive continues...

Why a Sussex hare?

Two reasons: firstly, you may remember we once had a Golden Rabbit performance competition. This is the closest thing to that!

Secondly, the hare is an animal well-known across the Sussex Downs, north and south. So a nice local trophy!

No doubt the Sussex Hare will also help sign off the somewhat delayed JPIP for the route?

UPDATE: This from Bugs Bunny...

Sadly a Horsham driver managed to run over the Sussex Hare this morning, at the third attempt!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Confused old man causes rail chaos

A confused old man from Twickenham caused chaos in Derby today when he discovered that his zimmer frame would not go into reverse.

The confused old man, who is often to be seen waving at the traffic in London's Victoria Street, said:

"My reputation for dithering will be seriously damaged if I perform a U-turn."

Vince Cable is 204.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Railway Garden Competition - Aberdovey

This from The Sleeper...

I thought Eye readers might enjoy this picture of a Pwllheli service emerging from Aberdovey number three tunnel on the 17th Aug 2011.

Good to see that NR's Wales Route has developed an environmentally friendly way of cleaning trains.

Pointless signs - Lancaster

Cameron shows commitment to British industry

Exciting news from iDave!

Our brave and gallant Prime Minister is now wombling his way back to Cornwall after single-handedly presiding over the capture of Gaddafi (is this right? Ed).

However, before he left with his bucket and spade the former member of the Bullingdon Club and newly appointed chairman of the Quisling Society has determined that there will be no reconsideration of the decision to award the Thameslink contract to Siemens.

Of course the Rt Hon David Cameron is renowned for his great wisdom and sound judgement.

'Nuff said!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Pointless signs - Windermere

This from the Mad Hatter...

Ought you to be more worried by the 'passing trains' impact with the buffer stops rather than any 'air turbulence' generated?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

NR signals end to Railway Gardens - Shocker

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Fact Compiler is on his hols...

So posting will be, at best, intermittent.

No doubt a source of relief to many.

Unexpected bonus for Transpennine franchise

This from ShareCast...

Perhaps unsurprising if the market was reliant on ShareCast for information?

Hammond announces franchising timetable

This from the DfT...

The Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond:

The Government is committed to a major reform of rail franchising that will benefit passengers and taxpayers alike. In preparing our policies we have paid careful attention to the views the rail industry, and others, have expressed to us. Our reforms will create longer, less prescriptive franchises that will give the industry more freedom to innovate, address passenger needs, and more incentive to invest. The reforms will also help achieve the radical efficiency changes needed for a sustainable lower cost railway for the long term. This will include a more equitable balance of risk between the public and private sectors, including replacement of the ‘cap and collar’ revenue support mechanism with one linked to economic indicators. There will also be stronger emphasis on partnership and closer working between train operators and their local Network Rail Route teams, allowing integrated decision-making which benefits passengers and drives out cost.

These new type of rail franchises will replace existing ones, as and when they expire, and I have today published a comprehensive forward timetable for the re-letting of rail franchises that represents a deliverable and balanced programme. My aim in doing so is to give the market clarity about the timing of the opportunities that will arise. In producing this timetable, I have had regard to the impact on bidders and their sub-contractors of trying to compete for too many franchises at once, and the likely reduction in value for money to the taxpayer that would result.

In summary, the new programme is as follows:

  • As I have already announced, the new Inter City West Coast franchise will commence in December 2012, with an Invitation to Tender (ITT) issued to the pre-qualified bidders in January 2012.
  • Following First Group’s decision not to exercise its contractual entitlement to take up a 3-year extension on its existing Greater Western contract from 2013, this will now be the next long-distance franchise to come to market, with the new franchise commencing in April 2013, instead of 2016 as originally planned.
  • As a result, and to avoid having to offer more than one long-distance franchise competition at the same time, with possible consequences for taxpayer value, the new Inter City East Coast franchise will commence in December 2013.
  • Turning to commuter franchises, there is no change in my plans for Essex Thameside, with the new 15 year contract due to commence in May 2013. The same is true for South Eastern, where the new franchise will start in April 2014.
  • In light of the likely delivery timescales for Thameslink rolling stock, I judge it right to exercise my contractual entitlement to bring forward the start of a new franchise to September 2013. The franchise is likely to be shorter than 15 years, with a focus on managing services through the major Thameslink infrastructure upgrade. It would then be re-let at the end of the project.
  • To accommodate the changed dates for Thameslink and Inter City East Coast, I intend to move the start of the long term 15 year Greater Anglia franchise to July 2014, exercising the 12 month extension that is included in to the short franchise that is currently being competed.
  • I have concluded an agreement with First Keolis TransPennine Express (TPE) which extends the current franchise. The extension incorporates the flexibility to terminate the franchise between April 2014 and March 2015. This flexibility could allow the start dates for the new Northern and TransPennine franchises to be aligned in April 2014, by also exercising the short extension provision in the current Northern franchise. Having both existing franchises end at the same date could allow for these franchises to be combined, or split in different ways. I will be considering the optimal configuration and intend to seek views on the optimum structure from local interested parties. The timescales outlined above will allow for proper consultation and consideration of the possibilities of a radical restructuring in the Northern/TPE area.
In summary, Great Western and Thameslink have come forward (by 35 months and 18 months respectively), the Northern and TPE franchises could now be aligned with a start date of April 2014 - so that we have greater flexibility in re-letting - and two other franchises (Inter City East Coast and Greater Anglia) have been pushed back to accommodate the acceleration of Great Western and Thameslink. Three franchises (Inter City West Coast, South Eastern and Essex Thameside) remain unchanged.

I have already been clear that not all of these franchises will look the same. I believe in horses for courses and a pragmatic, not dogmatic, approach. I will be guided by what drives value for the taxpayer and service for the passenger on each individual franchise.

Some commentators have suggested this represents a huge programme of work and a major culture shift in Government. I agree with them. It is arguably the biggest programme of franchising since the industry was originally privatised. But it is also a major programme – and a significant culture shift – for bidders. There should be no doubt about our determination to deliver on this agenda, nor the importance of managing it properly.

Revising the programme in this way, while remaining clear about our objectives reflects my view that success depends on having a crystal-clear and unwavering strategy, coupled with a willingness and ability to be agile and tactical in implementing it. The end result of this work will be a new rail franchising system that delivers better outcomes for passengers and better value for money for taxpayers.

- Ends -

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lord Marsh RIP

Lord Marsh, the former Chairman of the British Railways Board, has died.

This from the Daily Telegraph's fulsome obituary:

Marsh streamlined BR’s management, prioritised the diesel-powered High Speed Train and launched “parkway” stations on the edges of cities.

When ministers, alarmed at rising losses, contemplated further shrinkage, Marsh showed the Transport Minister John Peyton a map of lines that would disappear in Conservative constituencies. Peyton agreed to double investment in BR, maintaining the existing network.

If only Lord Marsh had been at hand when Paper-knife opened that infamous envelope...

RAIL exposes Hammond's lack of trousers

This from Rosebud...

There was good news on the front cover of the latest edition of RAIL which highlighted a massive £5bn investment in the Great Western Main Line, adding for good measure that it was the ‘biggest revamp since Brunel!'.

So excited was the industry by this sudden influx of new money that an event was held at Paddington on the 14th July to celebrate the occasion, presided over by none other than our very own Chief-Envelope-Opener, Paper-knife Hammond!

Away from the glare of the Thameslink debacle Hammond was able to lap up the plaudits of an admiring industry delighted by his sudden largess.

RAIL even afforded space on page 10 to record Paper-knife gushing that this was “a new age for rail in Britain”!

But what's this?

All is not as it seems.

A mere 34 pages later the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent fisked the entire stunt.

Wolmar (for it was he) explained that the £5bn consisted of money already spent and reheated previous announcements:

  • Crossrail £2.2bn
  • Electrification £800m
  • IEP £150m
  • Reading £850m
  • Resignalling £600m
  • Cotswolds £17m
  • and Newport station £20m.
Sadly that only came to a paltry £3,787m.

Happily by adding in Swindon – Kemble redoubling and estimates for various national projects such as ERTMS, W10 freight improvements, Access for All and the new rail communication system the figure finally tottered towards the £5bn figure, sort of...

Still, good to see that RAIL is prepared to sup with the devil and poke him in the eye at the same time.

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

I was really pleased to see RAIL put on its front cover the work which is going on to modernise Great Western.

This is a recognition of the huge amount of work (Captain Deltic tells me we should use the BR term 'total route modernisation') happening along the route.

No-one has claimed it was new money, but Network Rail and the DfT, rightly, wanted to communicate the scale of the work and what it means to passengers.

When we are asked - inevitably - about the amount of investment, we totted up all the projects and came to that figure.

Knowing how fond Christian is of flashy CGI, he and other Eye readers should point their browsers to Network Rail's YouTube channel and marvel at what we are doing to revamp the Great Western here.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Using the same figures eventually provided by Network Rail to the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent, and with some extrapolation of the global figures for ETCS and GSM-R costs, I clicked SUM on my spreadsheet and discovered the total cost for the GWML to be £5,004 million.

This precision confirms that the '£5 billion' label is entirely fictitious.

We can only conclude that GWML is the new WCML.

Can a Black Diamond Day on the Western now be far away?

UPDATE: This from the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent, evidently in a misanthropic mood...

I hate flash CGI – and this one suggests that only male oversized robots will be travelling on the trains in 2020.

And why does the train only have four carriages on its way to Newport’s ‘iconic’ station?

And the music sounds like something out of the Danish version of The Killing.

I think we should be told.

Railway Garden Competition - Lake

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Railway Garden Competition - Belper

This from a Mr Bland...

See how the verdant growth enhances this boring old Grade 2 listed structure.

Snotty explanation for derailment - Shocker

This from Flat Cap and Whippet...

Congratulations to Network Rail for honesty:

Perhaps not surprising that Edinburgh Waverley became a little bunged up as a consequence.

Railway Garden Competition - Perth

Pointless signs - Preston

With a bowler tip to Nephew Thomas...

Eye wonders if towns and cities around the country are now marketing former Red Star Parcels depots as heritage attractions?