Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lookalike - Mattel's Railway Managers

Coucher exonerated by White inquiry

This from Network Rail...


Network Rail today welcomed the publication of the independent report of Antony White QC into "Allegations of misuse of public funds and serious financial impropriety within Network Rail."

The 143 page report, commissioned by Network Rail's board, but conducted independently concluded that "all of the allegations about illicit payments to Mr Coucher (Network Rail's former chief executive), and the use of offshore accounts, or huge amounts of cash, to make payments under compromise agreements to departing employees were groundless."

The report also said, "it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the TSSA (Transport and Salaried Staff Association)...introduced a series of increasingly serious allegations of financial impropriety against Mr Coucher for which it had no substantial evidence."

Twelve allegations of misuse of public funds and serious financial impropriety, presented by the TSSA and present or former employees were investigated. The allegations related either to illicit payments to Iain Coucher and related financial impropriety or the misuse of compromise agreements and the behavious of Peter Bennett (HR director). Of the 12 allegations, 11 were found to be groundless or unfounded. The remaining allegation, about misuse of compromise agreements, had two components. On one of these components the report found no misuse of public funds. On the second, there was no basis for allegations on three out of four cases put forward by the TSSA. However, in the fourth case the report concludes that there was misuse.

Rick Haythornthwaite, Network Rail's chairman, said: "I am grateful to Antony White for his thorough investigation and report. His conclusions have confirmed earlier internal investigations findings that there was no case to answer regarding financial impropriety.

"However, in concluding that public funds were misused with regard to one compromise agreement, Antony White is essentially expressing disagreement with the conclusions of internal investigations undertaken in 2008. With regard to the implied criticism of the company's internal governance and levels of transparency, the new Network Rail board has been alive to the issues raised and already taken action to make significant changes. Network Rail is profoundly different today in terms of both its leadership tone and standrads of acceptable behaviour.

"The scale of the excoriating campaign waged by the TSSA against the company, and in particular against Iain Coucher regarding these groundless allegations, was unacceptable and has done great damage. I very much hope that those of the Network Rail team who are members of the TSSA reflect on whether this is how they wish their union to represent their best interest and urge it to move to a more collaborative footing."

- ENDS -

The White report can be found here.

UPDATE: This from TSSA, who are clearly deeply in the pooh...

Union general secretary Gerry Doherty said:

"We want to thank Antony White QC for all his careful and detailed work over the past four months and we fully accept his conclusions as set out in his summary published today.

"We accept his findings that Network Rail did misuse public funds buying off one of its employees race and sex discrimination claims.

"We unreservedly accept his findings that all allegations of financial impropriety against Mr Coucher were unfounded.

"The time has come to move on and we now look forward to building a more constructive relationship with David Higgins and his new management team in the future."

Presumably transport minister Norman Baker MP will soon add his own mea culpa?

Underground Arms Race

This will not go well.

According to the Indie...

Mr Hammond said: "The Government has been considering the resilience of the overall police armed capability and has concluded that it would be beneficial to enhance this by providing the BTP with an armed capability of its own.

"The timing of this is not as a result of any specific threat: it is a sensible and pragmatic approach to ensuring that our police forces have the right resources to be able to respond as and when needed to protect the public."

He went on: "We will continue to work with the BTP and others to assess the use of this capability and its effectiveness and impact"

Perhaps Eye can explain the 'impact' - a relatively small hole resulting in a dramatic adjustment in one's social life.

Lest we forget - a previous deployment of armed officers on the Underground was not exactly a triumph for either policing or innocent Brazilians.

UPDATE: This from The Major...

Arming the BTP does not worry me in the slightest.

However, if they also receive ammunition then I'll admit to some concern.

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus virginicus...

Following the announcement that BTP officers will carry guns, and the previous announcement that BTP will take over control of police helicopters across the UK, (Eye passim) can we expect these machines to be replaced with more "appropriate" equipment?

Almost certainly, as soon as the MoD finishes biking them back from Romania.

What a difference a word makes.

This spotted by the Railwaywriter and others....

According to the ORR:

Merseyrail operator fined £85,000 for runaway train incident

Today’s sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court follows an Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) investigation into the incident which led to a stationery train undergoing repairs at Kirkdale depot in Liverpool running onto the main line and crashing into a buffer and a wall.

Was the train being chartered by WH Smug?

Baker a smart card?

This from Thomas Edmonson...

Norman Baker has reportedly pulled out of the Smart future for Transport conference this week.

Instead he is attending the reopening of a couple of old railway tunnels as part of a cycle path.

What does Norm' know about the state of ITSO that McNulty doesn't?

Quite a lot, judging by the unworldly comments on smart cards in Sir Roy's study...

First confirmed as Evil Empire - Official

This from Rail.co...

How long before the Alliance does for the Aberdeen Death Star?

Lookalike - Doc Wolmar!

Flying Adonis - East Coast gets carried away

This from Ithuriel...

In a press release hailing the new one train a day 'Flying Adonis' Edinburgh-London service, East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said:

East Coast’s fantastic new locomotive and service writes an exciting new chapter in the 149-year history of the Flying Scotsman."

Er Karen, it's a 23 year old loco tarted up with some flashy vinyls.

But no doubt your political masters and ill informed stakeholders will fall for the line that it is new.

UPDATE: This from Neversholt...

We have spent a small fortune upgrading and updating the Class 91s.

They are now even better than new. Now can I have my large cheque please?

UPDATE: This from Almost Traction...

And we have made a lot of the bits that our valued client has bought.

UPDATE: And this, unsurprisingly, from Captain Deltic...

Money wasted on a name plate that should read John Dowling

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

I hear that yesterday's inaugural run was late into King's Cross by 2m 35s - held up by East Coast's sole service from Hull.

Perhaps better to leave such complicated non-core services to Hull Trains?