Wednesday, 26 January 2011

WSMRballs - Thought crime!

This from Steve Strong...

Does today's announcement mean that Adrian Shooter is the last BR Director to close an entire route?


Mary Grant to leave First Group

As predicted by Eye's slightly cryptic post yesterday Mary Grant is to depart First Group.

This from First's website:

Mary Grant, currently Managing Director Rail division and Interim Managing Director Bus division, has decided to leave the Company at the end of March 2011.

Mary has been with the Group since 2003 and was part of the rail refranchising team. She led the bid for, and subsequently became Managing Director of, the new ScotRail franchise. She was appointed Managing Director of the Group’s UK Rail division in May 2009 and given additional responsibility, on an interim basis, for UK Bus in June 2010.

So now you know.

DfT roads team drives freight off rail

This from Rose Hill...

After months of uncertainty, DFT has finally announced that the long running Freight Facilities Grant scheme has been axed.

Over the years, this scheme has helped to co-fund many rail freight developments, removing numerous lorries from the roads, reducing carbon, helping small businesses to grow and creating employment.

Sadly, these no longer appear to be Government priorities.

The budget for FFG was around £8m pa so this is hardly a major saving for a Department who has just announced £560m in the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and is stumping up over a third of the £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund.

Perhaps the fact that rail freight grants are now part of Roads Directorate has some bearing on the matter.

Video nasty?

This from Widows Peak...

This surreal YouTube video has currently been viewed by nine people.

Would any Eye readers have a clue as to what on earth's going on?

UDATE: This from The Major...

Perhaps they are undercover policeman attempting to penetrate the Valenta Appreciation Society?

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Or they might be publicising the pantomime that is Marsham Street?

WSMRballs - RMT

And this codswallop from Crow Bar Bob...

"This is a bitter blow to the UK rail industry and it is a scandal that a giant company like Deutsche Bahn can play fast and loose with our rail services in this way and then and cut run when they decide the profit margins aren't fat enough for their liking.

"The UK Government should now step in and nationalise the route to protect both the jobs and the popular Wrexham & Shropshire services and there should be a full inquiry into how this operation, set up with Welsh government and taxpayer support, has been ground into the dust by Deutsche Bahn. Public ownership would protect that public investment rather than allowing the private rail asset strippers to walk away from the wreckage."

Where to begin?

Knee-jerk Bob appears to confuse a thumping loss with a “fat profit margins”.

If the service was as “popular” as Bob believes then it wouldn’t be closing.

As for "nationalising" the route - Hellooooo. Earth to Bob. Come in Bob.

Do any of RMT's members actually believe any of this guff that is being spouted in their name?

WSMRballs - Beardie Rail

This tosh from Beardie Rail...

Virgin Trains to the rescue for stranded WSMR passengers

Virgin Trains has today confirmed that it will carry passengers who will be left stranded by the cancellation of all train services by open access train operator Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway (WSMR).

The announcement comes as German State Railway-backed WSMR said that it will cease operations at the end of this week. The last day of operations will be Friday 28 January 2011.

Would this be the same Virgin Trains that prevented WSMR calling at anywhere useful like Birmingham?

It surely is!

Wolmarballs - Wrexham and Shropshire

This from the Worlds Greatest Living Transport Correspondent, via the BBC...

ANALYSIS Rail expert and journalist Christian Wolmar

I'm afraid that it was always likely.

Originally this was set up by a rival company to Chiltern, which runs most of the services on that line, and eventually they both became owned by Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway.

So it was no longer really viable for Deutsche Bahn to be running services that were rival to its main franchise services.

So that's cleared that up then!

So. Farewell WSMR!

This from Chiltern chairman, Adrian Shooter...

It is with great regret that I am writing to tell you that we are intending to close the Wrexham & Shropshire railway company.

This has been a very difficult decision to take, but having thoroughly investigated all possible options, we feel there is no alternative but to cease operations

I am sure you are aware that the unprecedented economic environment has severely delayed the business’s move into profit. While we have worked extremely hard to increase passenger numbers, a loss of £2.8m was made in 2010 and it has been concluded that the potential for further changes to the company’s operations, including any synergy with Arriva Trains Wales, will not improve the financial position sufficiently, and there is no prospect of reaching profitability.

It is therefore intended that the service will cease on Friday 28th January 2011.

Any passengers who have already booked tickets for travel after this date will be offered alternative travel.

I must make it clear that Wrexham & Shropshire is not insolvent nor is it being placed in administration. The shareholders have ensured funding to ensure that all outstanding financial commitments can be met and all suppliers will be paid in full.

Alternative employment opportunities within the railway industry are being sought for employees, and all staff wages and full redundancy entitlements will be paid.

We are already seeking to find alternative employment within the railway industry for our staff.

We also intend to hold a recruitment fair at Wrexham on Tuesday 1st February.

Even though we are forced to close the business, we remain extremely proud of what we have achieved with Wrexham & Shropshire; with many stating that we set the standard for all other train companies to follow.

Our people are central to this and we believe they are some of the very best in the industry.

Their unfailing attention to detail and their sincere, personal interest in passengers has become the Wrexham & Shropshire way.

They are the reason we achieved 99% customer satisfaction in the National Passenger Survey of Autumn 2010, the highest ever recorded.

I would like to pay tribute to Andy Hamilton, Managing Director, and everyone in the Wrexham & Shropshire team.

UPDATE: This from today's Passenger Focus press release on the Autumn 2010 Passenger Satisfaction figures...

The highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by Wrexham & Shropshire (96%) and Grand Central (95%). First Hull Trains, Heathrow Express and Merseyrail all had 93% of passengers satisfied.

Is this what is called 'going out with a bang'?