Friday, 30 September 2011

ORR nobbled!

What price Independent Economic Regulation on today's railway.

The supposed guardian of the level playing field is the Office of Rail Regulation whose website proudly proclaims:

The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain's railways

Alas, is that 'independence' now in question?

On the 25th May this year the ORR published Periodic Review 13 - First Consultation

On page 38 there is a table (5.1: Provisional high-level PR13 timetable) listing the activities that need to be completed so that PR13 determination can be implemented on the 1st April 2014, the start of CP5.

Item 3 in a long, long list is:

By 31 July 2011 - We publish a review of the role of open access operators in on rail competition


No you didn't.

A great big fat #Fail

And nor, apparently, has ORR met the revised publication date, of 'by the end of September'.

Eye wonders what could be causing such extended delays?

Congestion in Marsham Street?

UPDATE: And lo, like an Autumn mist, the congestion disappeared as the light shone upon it!

ORR Consultation on 'The potential for greater on-rail comp
etition' can be found here

Derbygate - the movie

At last some good news from Derby!

The local Labour party won an award at conference this week for being the best campaigning party in the country.

This was in recognition of its continuing campaign to save the UK's last rolling stock manufacturer and in recognition of the parliamentary petition, organised by Derby North MP Chris Williamson, which secured well over 50,000 signatures.

No doubt Petrol-head will be on-hand next week to open an envelope revealing a similar accolade from the Tories?

UPDATE: This from Rose Hill...

Remember earlier this year when DfT were concerned that the UK's studious compliance with EU rules was putting British companies at a disadvantage?

Well it seems like the fears were unfounded.

The UK is, after all, just as non compliant as the rest.

Witness yesterday's statement below, bringing us into line with 24 other member states:

"The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against France and the United Kingdom over their failure to implement legislation to open the market for rail services in the Channel Fixed Link. Compliance with EU legislation will contribute to more competition, which will lead to better services and prices for passengers and freight traffic."

What a relief.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Kettles on ECML turned off Monday to Friday

This from @rlyherald...

Network Rail has confirmed steam operations are banned from ECML on Mondays to Fridays, after recent issues. Full details next issue

Railway Herald website here...

Roberts puts the boot into Mr Bean

More adenoidal whining from the Labour Party's very own Mr Bean.

Ed Millipede has been huffing and puffing about above inflation fares increases. Eye wonders if the recent op on his hooter has also destroyed some memory cells?

This from Michael Roberts of ATOC:

Ed Miliband is at best suffering from amnesia or at worst displaying rank hypocrisy.

"Train companies are subject to rules laid down by the Department for Transport, rules that were created and rigorously implemented by successive Labour Transport Secretaries.

"It was also his party in government that switched from annual below to annual above-inflation fares rises in 2004 to reduce taxpayer subsidies to the railways.

Are you listening Mr Bean?

'Nuff said!

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

How refreshing to see that Mr Roberts is continuing to put 'imself abaht a bit, as we used to say down the East End.

He assured me yesterday that ATOC has told DfT that IEP is 'an expensive solution to yesterday's problems'.

Will we soon see serried ranks of TOC MDs marching shoulder to shoulder down Marsham Street and declaiming as one:

'Down with the so called Intercity Express Programme' and 'We'll execute the plan of the great McNulty!' (That's enough Pravda pastiche. Ed)

UPDATE: This from a Mr Phil Mitchell...

You 'avin' a larf?

You oughta 'ave written 'darn the East End

Any more of this lazy stereotypin' and me an' me bruv will be comin' rarnd to give you a good slappin'.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Would the other half of the slappin' Mitchell brothers be Dr Mike? (No!!! Ed)

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade...

Or Andy of Crossrail fame?
(No, again!! Ed)

UPDATE: This from NR Insider...

Surely you're not referring to our Chris, although I am sure many of us at King's Place would encourage him.
(Once again no! Time to stop this, it is getting silly! Ed)

UPDATE: This from Messrs Saxby & Palmer...

Surely not Ian the well known signalling engineer?
(Right. That's it. Warned you, this thread is now closed. Ed)

Cable theft - Mad Men rise to the Challenge

Full marks to the genii at Bowtie, Bow-tie and Glasses who thought this one up!

Spotted by @BCCletts adjacent to the railway at Warrington Bank Quay.

Still, suppose it beats promoting coughing-nails to nippers.

Industry unveils IIP...

Exciting news from Everybody!

Everybody today unveiled the Initial Industry Plan.

Everybody said:

"Railways... booming... bright future... considerable growth... genuine partnership."

Everybody congratulated Everybody and concluded by saying that excessive costs were the fault of Everybody else, obviously.

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

Not quite.

Crowbar Bob reckons it’s all the fault of the privateers and their obscene profits which have ‘drained billions’ from the industry.

Problem is, he might well be right.

The Fact Compiler wonders if Banker76 hasn't noticed some of the above inflation pay rises the RMT has recently won for its members. Good of Crow Bar to confirm that it really is the fault of Everybody else.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Politicians & promises - Check against delivery!

This from Mwmbwls...

Maria the Eagle's speech is prefixed by the warning "Check against delivery".

In view of Labour's past performance and the discrepancy between aspirations to buy carriages, orders to buy carriages and deliveries of any carriages to relieve overcrowding - it seems like sound advice.

Note also no reference as to whether the enpowerment of local IPTA's could and should include the vertical integration of the rail infrastructure.

Perhaps Liverpool MP Maria has had her speech vetted by Councillor Mark Dowd, the man behind the recent volte face on Merseyside?

Monday, 26 September 2011

John Oh Deere?

This from the Lynn News...

The tractor driver escaped with a broken collar bone but has been discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The train driver suffered minor injuries and the 41 passengers on board were not injured.

Deo gratias.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sandals and beards at ACoRP awards - Shocker!

Disappointing news from Friday's ACoRP Community Rail awards!

Despite the best efforts of General Manager, Neil Buxton, and the industry's very own 'Pictographer Royal' there was a shocking beard deficit amongst the evening's 270 attendees.

The assembled Community Rail champions, industry supporters, hacks and TOC directors apparently eschewed the traditional facial-fuzz and sandals in favour of smart suits and safety footwear...

EMT's Shoveller & Northern's Butcher hosted the evening and here present Mark Hopwood of FGW with a special award - allegedly for rescuing passengers from a long distance 'dog-box'.

Sadly, busy diaries prevented a Minister from seeing and saluting the 'Big Society' in action.

Sources charitably suggest that it takes some time to recover from the National Rail Awards.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Rail franchise gets lyrical

This from our Independent Expert...

Is this a modern day first?

Northern Rail have deployed a quote from a lyrical book about the railways for a forthcoming series of posters to go up at sites around the network (from Michael Williams's latest book On the Slow Train Again).

In the olden days, of course, the rail publicists loved this kind of thing (cf Night Mail and those old Edgar Anstey BTF documentaries which are all ever so fashionable again).

But has this ever happened in the hard-headed world of the privatised railways?

No doubt those attending ACoRP's annual jolly in Sheffield tonight will be keen to discuss...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Operation Sea Lion delayed

Air and Business Travel News is reporting that DB services through the Chunnel will not now start until 2013

The initial plans of the German national rail network is to run three services a day to Brussels.

From there the train will divide with one section going on to Brussels and Amsterdam via Rotterdam and the other to Cologne and Frankfurt.

DB had originally hoped to reach London in 2012.

Older readers will recollect that similar German plans to cross the Channel 70 years ago were also subject to significant delay.

UPDATE: This from the Grim Reaper..

This would be hot news had DB intended to start “operations” in 2012.

However, as they have only ever intended to start in December 2013, it is distinctly un-news.

UPDATE: This from Herr Lock...

We’ve always planned 2013!

The Fact Compiler can only apologise!

Obviously he took far too seriously the claims by DB CEO Herr Grube, made on the Today Programme in September last year, that DB had wanted to start services in time for the Olympics but was being blocked by 'safety bureacracy'.

Still good to know that all is going to plan.

Bombardier piles on the grease

This from a Mr James Perky...

According to the Independent's 'i' newspaper today:

What's the betting Siemen's signs up Claudia Shiffer just out of spite!

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus Virginicus...

That's positive news for Derby.

I assume the Bombardier theme tune is now this!!!

Derbygate - Cold Comfort from LibDems

This from Ithuriel...

According to Nick Clegg:

"Do remember there are going to be lots of other rail contracts and I very much hope Bombardier will bid for them"

Care to list them, Mr Clegg?

Perhaps Bombardier should ask if they can borrow NR's Rapid Rebuttal Unit to kick this sort of misleading spin out of court?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Names of new NR RMDs announced

Network Rail has announced the names of the remaining Route Managing Directors for its new devolved structure.

Reporting into Robin Gisby, managing director, Network Operations are:

  • Anglia - Dave Ward

  • East Midlands - Martin Frobisher

  • Kent - Fiona Taylor

  • London North Eastern (LNE) - Phil Verster (from early Nov 2011)

  • London North Western (LNW) - Jo Kaye

  • Scotland - David Simpson

  • Sussex - Mark Ruddy

  • Wales - Mark Langman

  • Wessex - Richard O'Brien

  • Western - Patrick Hallgate
New roles for Richard Lungmuss and Andrew Munden will be announced shortly.

Go live date is the 14th November when the RMD designate appointments become effective.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Light Rail can proceed at caution

Good news for fans of the bleedin' obvious! (shurely 'Trams'? Ed)

The much delayed review into Light Rail has finally been published.

According to the DfT press release announcing the publication the recommendations from the review include;

  • to implement a new project design of light rail systems which is uniform across the industry;
  • to look at lower cost schemes overseas to see whether they could be adopted in this country;

  • to set up a ‘centre of procurement excellence’ to advise on the best procurement options.

  • caution hot surfaces; and

  • may contain nuts
Light Rail champion and Transport Minister 'Stormin' Norman Baker welcomed the report from the LibDem's Party Conference in Birmingham:

“In the past light rail systems have been seen as expensive and an unaffordable option for local authorities to pursue – I initiated this review so we can get to the nub of the problem.

“I now urge all parts of the light rail sector to work together on implementing these recommendations and I look forward to working with them towards these exciting opportunities."

The report, Green Light for Light Rail, can be found here.

UPDATE: This from a weary sounding Captain Deltic...

Is a 'Centre of Procurement Excellence' a rare example of the triple oxymoron?

Monday, 19 September 2011

ATOC tells Hammond to get a grip!

Hurrah for ATOC!

Finally someone in the industry has had the cojones to challenge the Secretary of State on his spectacularly ill advised suggestion that the railways are a "rich man's toy"!

Happily the BBC was there to record the words of ATOC's newly emboldened CEO at a LibDem fringe event tonight:

"Philip Hammond needs to read his brief a bit more closely before making these kind of comments."

Of course had Michael followed Eye's coverage of Derbygate he would not have been surprised by Petrol-head's strange utterances and inability to read from the Departmental script.

For as any ful kno, Paper-knife is only trusted by his officials to 'open envelopes'.

UPDATE: This from Croesus...

I rather think everyone has missed the point of my good friend Philip's most witty quip.

He is rich.

The railway is his toy.

N'est pas?

UPDATE: This from El Sureño...

Muy Estimado Señor Compilador,

Surely it should be ‘someone in the industry has the cojones to challenge the Secretary of State’.

Unless you are implying that our brave railwaymen have literally been emasculated by the dead hand of DfT.

Latest transport ePetitions

This from a Mr Malins...

It's good of Eye to give us a vote on the next Chairman of Network Rail, but did you know the Government allows us a vote on DfT policy, which they will then of course ignore?

I have picked out 10 from the DfT section of the Government e-petitions website for Eye readers to consider.

My particular favourite, for which I wish to enlist support, is that devoted to the
Battle of the Barriers.

It isn't mine so don't quibble about the wording.

Just sign it and DfT might take some notice, which so far they have declined to do.

The King's Cross barrier shambles is evidence of their culpability.

Angel hands Salmond independence on a plate

This from the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme website...

Has Angel at last found a home for the five off-lease class 180s?

And will this naked act of English aggression hasten North British independence?

UPDATE: This from Globetrotter...

Maybe Transport Scotland is taking a leaf out of English transport policy?

Invest a lot of money into stringing wiring from Edinburgh too Glasgow and then procure a fleet of 125 mile/h DMUs to run underneath it.

Perhaps someone should tell them that you can't convert a 180 to a bi-mode...

Overcrowded passengers starved for 900 days

Today we join the Treasury in celebrating 900 days since anyone signed a contract for new passenger trains.

Eye would like to thank: Lord Adonis, Alistair Darling, Philip Hammond, George Osborne and their officials, for delivering on the new trains they endlessly and repetitively promised in the HLOS.

Perhaps their sofa is broken?

That is all.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Twitter - a game of two halves

Many congratulations to @LondonMidland who scooped possibly the most important gong at last night's National Rail Awards.

Sponsored by Passenger Focus the award was for 'Putting Passengers First' and was given in recognition of how the go-ahead TOC (geddit!!!) had transformed customer service through the use of social media.

In the words of @PassengerFocus:

Passenger Focus sponsored National Rail Award won by @LondonMidland great use of social media during disruption, no jargon, quick and useful.

Hopefully other TOCs will take note and consider offering a similar interactive service to their customers?

Meanwhile Eye is pleased to see that even the Infrastructure Controller has embraced social media, with @NetworkRail dealing with the concerns of the railway's neighbours in real time.

Of course not all railway companies are so foresighted and this can lead to problems. Social Media (whether facebook, blogs or twitter) is very much like nature - in that it abhors a vacuum.

So where there is no effective official presence lots of others will rush-in to fill the gap.

Some who occupy the space are just plain malicious, but others are loyal and enthusiatic members of staff who give of themselves and their time at no cost.
Sadly this is not always appreciated when public and private personas overlap..

The Fact Compiler was sad to see that the Apostle of the 3rd Rail has decided to hang up his keyboard.

He/she (?) along with myriad other railway employees can be found on twitter performing an invaluable service answering passengers' questions, defending their company from the usual on-line calumny and representing the railway in the public forum.

Oh if only enlightened employers would harness, focus and reward the undoubted enthusiasm of these brave souls who unlike so many in the industry are actually prepared to put their head above the parapet!

No matter!

Meanwhile to those industry colleagues who selflessly plough the lonely on-line furrow on behalf of our industry - Eye salutes you, and respectfully offers the following gentle observation....

The identity of The Fact Compiler is of course a closely guarded secret known to only two people in the entire universe. However your humble author remains acutely aware that, despite this all pervading cloak of anonymity, he too wears a 'company uniform' (Shurely several? Ed).

So whilst his tweets are 'whispered in the dark' they will almost inevitably be 'shouted from the rooftops' - and seldom in context.

Perhaps something all those on-line may wish to reflect on?

'Nuff said?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

DfT procurement priorities laid bare

This from Ithuriel...

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

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which external consultants were contracted to advise his Department on the (a) design, (b) tendering and (c) award of preferred bidder status for the Thameslink rolling stock contract; and what the cost to the public purse was of each such contract.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)
The cost of each contract against the categories requested up to June 2011 is as follows:

£ million
Vendor (a) Design (b) Tendering (1) (c) Award of preferred bidder status
Arup 2.53 2.86 0.14
Booz and Company 0.22 0.49 0.09
Freshfields 2.44 5.31 0.18
Interfleet 0.16 1.49 0.02
PWC 0.77 2.26 0.26
Total 6.12 12.4 0.69
Total 19.2
(1 )Tendering relates to evaluation. Note: These figures exclude VAT.

Eye Readers will doubtless note that even in the Design phase for a technical project, engineering consultants Interfleet were paid less than half the fees of lawyers Freshfields.

Is this because:

a) engineers are as cheap, as lawyers are expensive ?
b) making sure you can get your money back if the train doesn't work is more important than making sure it does work?
c) Interfleet missed a zero from their invoice?

Answers on a postcard please to Great Minster House.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Can I point out that this table corrects the inaccurate information in a previous written answer from Theresa Villiers in July this year.

Villiers said then that the cost of Thameslink consultancy was £13.1 million of which £5.3 million had been spent since May 2010.

Since Lord Adonis had put the figure at £13 million a year earlier it was obvious some civil servant was going for the Jammie Dodger Embarrassment Trophy.

Naturally, in publishing the correction the Minister apologised for misleading the House (actually, I made that last bit up)

Might I take this opportunity to point out that this blindingly obvious error was exposed in my Informed Sources column in Modern... (No. Ed)

The race to chair NR starts here!

So. Farewell then Ricky Haystacks.

You came, showed Iain the door, installed Hurricane Higgins and yet in 10 months time you too will be gone. Now the search for your successor begins.

With such a daunting task before NR's recruitment consultants Eye is keen to be of assistance.

Therefore our latest exciting survey asks the question:

Who should chair Network Rail

Remember - the Chairman's role is to lead the board and ensure harmonious relations with key stakeholders

So what are you waiting for - this could be your opportunity to shape the railway of tomorrow!

Here are Eye's runners and riders in the Career Development Handicap

  • A Jammy Dodger
  • Beau Bowker
  • Captain Permatan
  • Chris 'Red' Green
  • Ivor the Engine
  • Tom 'ACPO' Winsor
  • Rail Barbie
  • Slugger O'Toole
  • Tinky Winky
Remember vote early, vote often.

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

I nominate the Chanel 9 team from the Fast Show.

"OLE Speed 1? Scorchio!"

UPDATE: This from the Major...

No mention of Rob 'HS1' Holden?

Then again I'm not sure how serious Eye is about some of the names on the list.

I mean Tinky Winky for goodness sake, when are the MoD ever likely to release her?