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