Thursday, 7 April 2011

NR breathes life into the RHC?

Is there no end to the NR Charm Offensive?

Apparently Huggable has embraced the Big Society...

"Railway Heritage Trust awarded funding to 2019

"Network Rail has decided to continue its sponsorship of the Trust at its present level until 31 March 2019...

"In its quarter century of life the Trust has awarded 1,214 grants, worth some £39m. These grants have attracted some £46m of additional funding."

So far so good!

But where does the new, improved, Network Rail stand on the Railway Heritage Committee?

Lookalike - The Big E

Baker to reintroduce Workman's ticket - Yawn!

Welcome to the wild and whacky world of Half-baked Baker.

According to the Grauniad...

The transport minister, Norman Baker, wants to dramatically reduce rush hour in the capital and across the country by convincing companies to let people work from home, come in late, or set up satellite offices that will create commuting routes which go against existing traffic.

Ministers are investigating tactics to "nudge" people into abandoning the rush hour, such as convincing train, tube and bus companies to offer bigger discounts for travelling outside the busiest hours.

Where to begin?

Well let's start with Whitehall.

Listen here Normy - rather than telling employers what to do, why don't you lead by example and stagger Whitehall and Westminster office hours?

Too difficult, eh?

So instead why not come up with some vapid posturing that sounds like it might address overcrowding but in reality is merely headline grabbing.

If Baker really believes that the re-introduction of Workmen's tickets is actually going to address the capacity issues on both LUL and the National Rail network (which both recorded over a billion passengers journeys last year) then he really is a couple of slices short of a loaf.

This stale proposition has been reheated by successive Governments since the 1980s, and usually as a prelude to ducking investment in network capacity.

And still the numbers of passengers and the journeys they make grow year on year.

Passengers and the industry are getting sick to the back teeth of headline grabbing crumbs thrown out by ministers.

Time to stop this fruitcake nonsense and invest in new trains and longer platforms!

UPDATE: This from Manchester Man...

The idea of people travelling outside peak times is great.

Unfortunately at least two operators that service London (Virgin and FCC) have increased the length of time that constitutes the morning and evening peak.

Maybe Baker should address that issue first.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Thomas Allen...

What nonsense.

Whitehall staggered its working hours years ago.

I worked (in 'Whitehall') ten years ago with people who came in at 0730 and went home at 1600.

I usually worked 0930 to 1800. We were allowed to work any old hours as long as they added up to 41 a week and we manned the desks from 0800 to 1800.

Has anyone ever tried to get on a train from Tonbridge at 0615? Packed.

My mega-bank moneyed friends in the City (off from Tonbridge at 0615 etc) were at their desks by 0730. Would they count as 'workmen'?

Another friend who was a genuine 'workman' was always on the 0530 so he could be on site by 0700. He couldn't get a seat coming home at 1630.

I remember big plans in the mid 80's to devolve Whitehall HQ offices to all kinds of places, plans for people to work from home, telecommuting and all those things designed to reduce the burden on London rush hour.

Now, what do we have? Record numbers using trains at 'rush hour' which extends from 0600 to 1000 at many stations.

(It was pointed out that if a large London HQ office was despatched to, say, Dorking, that would mean 1,000 more people driving to work. Not very green.)

People do not commute by rail to London because they want to, they do so because they have to.

The sooner the big bucks companies get away from the idea they must have a big shiny tower in London to demonstrate how marvellous they are, the quicker the burden on rail will be reduced.

Big low rise offices in business parks in places like Ashford or Bracknell or Chatham or Milton Keynes, with massive car parks next door and the sooner we can get rid of commuter rail service and leave everyone to to their own devices.

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

Baker's merely building on an increasing reputation for meaningless announcements.

Just a couple of weeks ago he was in Sheffield announcing a 'go-ahead for the tram-train pilot' when in fact he was simply announcing yet another stage in the consultation/funding process.

All the local hacks fell for it, generating welcome headlines about how the project is going ahead.

But his own press release was peppered with words like 'could' and 'might'.

South Yorkshire might indeed get the tram-train pilot. But it ain't in the bag yet.

Chiltern goes from strength to strength!

More exciting news from DB owned Chiltern Railways.

According to the DfT...

The Department has today begun consulting Chiltern Railway Company Limited, and relevant rail industry bodies, on a proposal to impose a Penalty of £500,000 on the company for a series of contraventions of the terms of their franchise agreement.

Chiltern accept that they have breached the terms of their franchise in relation to the late delivery of two station improvement schemes, and to two breaches of requirements in relation to timetable changes. These specific breaches have since been remedied.

A copy of the Department’s letter to Chiltern advising them of the Penalty and setting out the details of their contraventions has been published today on the Department’s website.

Villiers' franchise reform proposals, based on the 'success' of the Chiltern model, keep getting more and more credible.

UPDATE: This from Chiltern...

In reaction to the DfT’s intention to impose a penalty notice on Chiltern Railways.

We accept that, in 2009, there were four technical breaches of the franchise agreement; none of which had significant consequence for our passengers or incurred cost to the taxpayer. The most serious breaches were a 16-week delay in commissioning new lifts at a single station, and a four-week delay in installing a new shelter on a platform that already had one.

Since that time, we have successfully delivered £7.25m of investment in station improvements and car park expansions, started work on the largest privately funded passenger infrastructure project since before world war two and continued to meet all the requirements of our franchise on punctuality and service quality. Next month, we will be introducing brand new commuter trains at a cost of £1.2m per carriage.

The Chiltern Railways franchise has always been focused on delivering what our passengers tell us they want. It would be a cause for enormous regret if £0.5m were diverted from investment in improvement for passengers as a result of low impact franchise breaches.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...


DfT have been spurned into action over a 16 week delay in commissioning lifts at a single station but remain silent about a 16 month absence of WiFi from the entire Arriva Cross Country network.

I suppose this is a start.

Perchance DfT is not dead but sleepeth?

UPDATE: This from Jumbo...

WSMR appears to be a gift that just keeps on giving to Chiltern's German owners.

Judging by the DfT snotogram WSMR is at the heart of this fine.

Hilariously, it would appear that the DfT only found out about Chiltern's sharp timetabling practice from a WSMR press release!

Let's just add that to WSMR's tab shall we - a cool £14m and counting!

UPDATE: This from 31154...

I notice there is a "Wifi on Trains Conference" in London on 8-9 June,

According to the blurb:

"Among the companies presenting at Train Communications Systems 2011 will be...

  • Russian Railways
  • Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (Italian high-speed train operator)
  • WestBahn (Austrian Train Company)
  • Amtrak
  • Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya
  • BWCS
  • Department for Transport, UK
  • National Express
  • China Railways
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • SJ Trains
  • VR Trains
  • NS Trains
  • Thalys International
  • Globalfone (USA)
  • Icomera
  • 21Net
  • Nomad
  • GBS (USA)
How strange, no mention of DB/Arriva/Cross Country!

No doubt the DafT presentation will reveal how successfully they've enforced their franchise commitments though?