Monday, 30 January 2012

Railway has a Miliband moment #blackbusters

Eye is indebted to FCC and Network Rail for suggesting a clever pub quiz question this weekend!

Q. What is the difference between a ball and a bull?

A. Lots of delay minutes.

Lesson: Use the foxtrot-uniform-charlie-kilo-india-november-golf phonetic alphabet!

That is all.

Clog Rail's ambitious plans for PPM

Good to see that Abellio is on top of all this timekeeping stuff.

This screen grab from their Greater Anglia website taken at 12:10 today:

By Eye's reckoning the start of the franchise is now a mere five days away, give or take a couple of hours..

No matter.

On the plus side, if Clog Rail use the same widget for their timetables then services will arrive almost a full month before booked time.

Abolition of Railway Heritage Committee - latest

Those who care about our railway's heritage may be interested in this DfT consultation document, published with little fanfare.

Proposed abolition of the Railway Heritage Committee and transfer of its designation function to the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

The consultation closes on the 1st of March.

The proposal as outlined is generally 'a good-thing', but asset owners may wish to review and, if appropriate, respond.

Pointless signs - SWT on-train facilities

This via @amonkster...

Eye readers are advised to mind their bits when using this compact facility.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Penning's pratfalls whilst Cruella derailed.

Eye understands that the Minister for Transport is currently hors de combat.

It would appear that Theresa has broken her collar bone - ouch!

Eye wishes her a speedy recovery.

Whilst on the subject of riding into trouble, welcome to Penning's Pratfalls...

This from

In a transport questions session in the House of Commons on Thursday 12th January, Dr Julian Huppert, the LibDem MP for Cambridge, asked the roads minister Mike Penning about infrastructure for cyclists. The minister - who is also the minister responsible for road safety - boobed, saying cyclists shouldn't be on the parts of "national road infrastructure" he was responsible for.

Best stick with the oversize trucks Mike?

UPDATE: This from a waggish Percy Kilometer...

Is the weight of responsibility for franchising policy perhaps weighing too heavily on Ms Villiers' shoulders?

Is it time to consider an age limit for drivers?

This from the Bexhill Observer...

An 85-year-old woman has had a lucky escape after driving down a high-speed railway line for 80 yards after taking a wrong turn at a level crossing in Hampshire.

The woman had a 20-year-old man in her car as she drove towards Brockenhurst station in New Forest.

And this image of the scene via @GastroChap...

Time to consider an age limit for driving?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Greater Anglia - not with a bang but a whimper

Abellio has published the names of directors of its new Greater Anglia franchise which starts on February 5th.

They are:

  • Ruud Haket, Managing Director
  • Andrew Goodrum, Customer Services Director
  • Adam Golton, Finance Director
  • Thijs Jan Noomen, Projects Director
  • John Ratcliffe, Engineering Director
  • Nanouke van ‘t Riet, Operations Director
  • Andrew Camp, Commercial Director
  • Simone Bailey, Asset Management Director
  • Dave Welham, Interim HR Director
Meanwhile, according to the latest edition of Rail Business Intelligence, the launch of the franchise on Sunday next will be a low key affair.

Perhaps just as well, as Eye understands that media management may not be the new franchise's forte.

Indeed, even the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent has struggled to penetrate Clog Rail's wall of silence.

Last week Wolmar (for it was he) made the mistake of calling the PR on the number given in an Abellio press release, only to be told that it was nothing to do with her and that he should jolly well go away and call the main switchboard!
Sadly not a word has been heard since.

Oh Abellio, Abellio, wherefore are thou Abellio!

Greening grounds Maglev

Glad tidings from the Captain of the Netball Team...

Steven Baker (Wycombe, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the potential of magnetic levitation technology for use in the next generation of high-speed trains.

Justine Greening (Economic Secretary, HM Treasury; Putney, Conservative)
Work by the Department for the 2007 White Paper, “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, found that magnetic levitation technology would be significantly more expensive than high speed rail and would not enable trains to run seamlessly onto existing inter-city routes, serving a wider range of destinations.

The few instances of magnetic levitation systems in use around the world operate on a relatively short point-to-point basis and scaling the technology up to a national network is unproven.

There are no plans to further consider magnetic levitation as an alternative to a high speed rail network.

Good effort.

Bombardier changes its PR team

Sad news reaches Eye from Derby.

Uber PR's Neil Harvey and Heidi Lee have left Bombardier.

They will be missed.

In happier news and clearly reflecting the Age of Austerity the Canadian company has downsized its UK comms team from two to three people (Is this right? Ed).

Oh, and a further three bodies from RLM Finsbury Global Strategic Communications.

Does this burgeoning PR empire reflect Bombardier's growing confidence in the UK market?

Pointless signs - Posh standing

UPDATE: This from Strawbrick

The "1st Class" reminder in the door lobby may not be that pointless.

It is actually "against the rules" to be in a designated 1st class area without a 1st class ticket whether or not you are occupying a 1st class seat, i.e. if you are standing. It has been like this for years, for example it applied to the corridors outside any 1st class compartments. (You were of course permitted to pass and re-pass through 1st class sections to get to the Restaurant Car or to look for a seat at the other end of the train.)

Bearing in mind the possible penalties for not having a 1st Class ticket perhaps the sign is actually not that pointless.

Of course, if the train is full and standing the Conductor / Guard / Train Manager can, at his / her discretion, make an announcement that he / she has declassified one or more 1st class sections (and that 1st class ticket holders can apply for a refund of the excess).

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Oyster derailed - 'Burbs cut off!

This from Thomas Edmonson

Show some spunk Boris old fruit!

The Department of Transport has vetoed First Capital Connects plan to extend the Oyster Card with all its many benefits to rail travellers from St Albans, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City and intermediate stations.

Instead travellers from Herts will have to wait for the incredibly superior (shome mishtake shurely? Ed) ITSO Card, allegedly available from 2014.

Naturally, the pusillanimous bus-bandits have folded.

Time for SUPER MAYOR to make it clear to Marsham Street that if London & South East Commuters want Oyster, Oyster they shall have.

He could take the new Boris bus to Welwyn to raise morale. Remember Kennedy bringing succour to isolated Berlin - 'Ich bin ein Shredded Wheat' should do the trick..

There must be a vote in it somewhere.

UPDATE: This from Sinoda...

From the latest update on the Abellio Greater Anglia website:

"The extension of Oyster Pay as You Go to 10 additional stations on the Shenfield and Hertford East lines will be introduced as will information kiosks which will be added to help customers at the larger stations".

Meanwhile, from an an internal Greater Anglia staff Q&A document

Q: Is there any commitment to install ITSO (smart ticketing) during this franchise?

A: There’s no formal commitment to doing this and other than extending Oyster to Shenfield and Hertford East we have no plans for ITSO, which may be part of the longer-term Greater Anglia franchise specification.

Q: Given that Oyster is being extended to Shenfield and Hertford East, will our ticket offices have the facilities to top-up people’s cards and deal with any related issues? Otherwise it will cause frustration for customers and we won’t be able to give the good customer service we’d like to give.

A: Thanks for raising this; the team will investigate the matter for you so please watch this space.

So it appears that the good citizens of Hertford must give up their allegiance to the upstart Great Northern Railway services from North Station to London, and instead 'travel by Great Eastern' sorry, 'Greater Anglia' where their Oyster Cards will (very soon) be happily accepted.

Railway cost per taxpayer

This via Guido...

Ben Gummer is proposing that every tax payer receives a statement of how their taxes are spent.

On Conservative home there is an example of how this might look for a taxpayer on £26,000 pa.

Transport costs are given as below:

The 2010-11 figure for railways is £3 lower than in 2009-10.

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

So that's 1.2% of income tax.

Say £4.5 billion subsidy implies total income tax take of £378 billion.

So about right.

But tax take was down in 2009-10.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Villiers vignettes - Promotion surely beckons?

This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

Additional portable loos and catering supplies are being rushed to Marsham Street to accommodate this sudden influx of hostages to fortune.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative):

Planned and actual delivery dates for departmental commitments are published in the DFT Strategic Business Plan, available on the Department's website and updated monthly.

The Department expects to publish shortly a Command Paper on Rail, which will include proposals on the structure of Network Rail.

The Department and Office of Rail Regulation are currently consulting jointly on the role of the regulator, and the consultation is due to close on 2 March 2012.

The High Level Output Specification is due to be published by July 2012, and delivery remains on track.

The new Intercity West Coast franchise is due to be awarded in the summer, and to commence in December 2012.

The Department is planning to reach financial close for both IEP and Thameslink in the spring of this year.

Cruella must be hoping that the mini-reshuffle, expected if the Energy Secretary is summoned by the CPS, happens soon...

Gideon parades with upside down Union Flag

Evidently the Japanese Ambassador's throne has moved from Marsham Street to Horse Guards!

According to today's Northern Echo:

CHANCELLOR George Osborne tonight confirmed that plans to bring a high-speed train manufacturing plant to County Durham were on track.

Mr Osborne's comments, made during a visit to Japan, came after concerns were raised last month that the plans for the factory in Newton Aycliffe could be in jeopardy.

Eye understands that Gideon was welcomed on arrival in Japan with a song from Tokyo Rose and then invited into a newly built recreation facility by the traditional summons Tenko, Tenko, Tenko! (Is this right? Ed)

Once he emerged from the sweat box the considerably thinner Chancellor said:

"I am here in Japan seeing for myself the technology that is behind the new trains that will be built in Britain.

"The opening of the new factory that will build them with the investment and jobs it will bring is good news for people in the North East and good news for people using our railways.

"It is also good news for the wider economy, and evidence of a new, more balanced economy in Britain that will help deliver sustainable growth in the years to come."

After the celebrations Mr Osborne was invited to work on refurbishing the former British built railway linking Thailand and Burma. (You're fired! Ed)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How much is this costing - Franchise bidding?

Time for an exciting new Eye feature!

A quick scan of of the following document reveals some helpful insights into the franchising process...


Near the top of page two for instance we discover (click on the image to enjoy)...

Whilst near the bottom of the same page we find (ditto)...

So, in the Age of Austerity, Eye asks 'How much is this costing?'

ATOC levels the Euro playing field?

This from Ithuriel...

Is this a cunning plan by ATOC to apply the McNulty apporach to mainland European railways, inflating their costs to UK levels thus closing the efficiency gap?

Passenger information - keeping it up to date

This from Percy Kilometer...

ATOC's "Nationalrail" website appears unaware that Cambridge now has TWO more platforms - which opened a month ago at the timetable change in mid-December.

Perhaps Eye should remind ATOC that the franchise also changes hands at midnight on February the 4th?

Hopefully they will be ready to update their site accordingly?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Layt...

When NRES has done with Cambridge can you send their station plan makers in the direction of Reading which saw major changes including new platform numbers at Christmas?

IEP goes backwards at high speed

In a completely unexpected development it has emerged that the exciting new replacement for the HST fleet is subject to yet further delay (No shit Sherlock. Ed).

According to the December Structural Reform Plan published on the Number 10 website:

And the reason?

Happily it emerges that the delay is nothing to do with DfT as it is apparently 'for reasons outside of the Department's control'. A splendid explanation that all TOCs can now happily embrace to inform passengers when their own trains fail to turn up on time.

Meanwhile, does anyone have a clue what 'has resulted in a delay to commercial close of May 2012' actually means?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Confused travel messages from DfT

Exciting news for those not entirely convinced by HS2!

This from the DfT website:

Good to see that DafT is creating new capacity for journeys it considers unnecessary.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

So, on the one hand DfT is trying to reduce business travel while on the other hand it is trying to increase business travel by building HS2.

Oh well, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. It all makes work for the railway journalist so who am I to complain.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wolmar Scores!

The World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent is an icon for the regenerative powers of Health and Efficiency!

Not content with playing cricket, cycling about Town and leading a team on student favourite University Challenge, the WGLTC was last seen driving DafT spinners over the covers during this week's HS2 celebrity challenge.

Indeed. Such was his virile prowess that he even knocked the waterman for six!

Alas, the preternaturally young Wolmar cannot escape forever the grasping reach of Old Father Time, or Mrs InterWeb's profiling bots...

Easy tiger!

Roll-up, roll-up, roll-up - Mighty Organ for sale!

This from Lord Copper...

Here's a chance for any budding 'Sir Ian Morton-Bauer' to break into the rail publishing world:

Rail Industry Magazine & E-mail Bulletin
£69K turnover. 12 issues per year. Written by 1 P/T staff plus 5 freelancers. 8,000 copies free to recipients. 95% repeat advertisers. Advertising sold by 1 P/T staff. E-mail bulletin to 16,000 opted-in subscribers. Guide price £95K.

But which magazine, produced by a part-time editor and five freelancers, could it possibly be?

SNP kills off the sleepers - Shocker

This from Intermouchmey Consulting International...

Dear Sir

Now that Scotland has declared UDI perhaps Gorgeous George should rethink his profligate scheme to bung Mr Salmond £50m just to keep Anglo-Scottish sleepers on the rails.

Far better that I, and my colleagues in the world of high level consultancy, use these funds to finally prove that the perfect solution for all the railway's rolling stock needs is the IEP.

Shall I make the invoice out now?

No. Ed.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

ToT appoints Parry to First bid team

This from First Group...

FirstGroup has appointed Richard Parry to its rail bid team.

Richard joins FirstGroup from Transport for London (TfL) where he worked for 19 years in a range of senior roles, most recently as Deputy Managing Director and Director of Strategy and Commercial for TfL’s London Underground and Rail divisions.

Richard has a outstanding record of leadership and delivery with a strong focus on customer service and considerable experience of engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders which will be invaluable in his new role heading the Group's bid for the InterCity West Coast franchise.

An appointment that will not surprise TfL watchers as Richard previously worked for Tim O'Toole when they were both at LUL.

DfT High Speed site crashes

Well there's a surprise!

The DfT's High Speed Rail website has crashed.

Yet again the Department for Transport shows just how good it is at anticipating and meeting actual demand.

Greening proceeds with HS2

This from the DfT...

The Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening)
: The consultation High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future was one of the largest national consultations ever undertaken by the Department for Transport. 54,909 responses were received, from individuals, businesses and organisations across the country. It is clear from the consultation that a national high speed rail network - High Speed 2 - generates strong feelings, both in favour and against the scheme.

Since becoming Secretary of State for Transport I have taken time to consider all aspects of the consultation proposals and the evidence arising from both consultation responses and further work undertaken or commissioned by my Department and HS2 Ltd. This statement summarises my decisions.Link

I have decided Britain should embark upon the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways by supporting the development and delivery of a new national high speed rail network. By following in the footsteps of the 19th century railway pioneers, the Government is signalling its commitment to providing 21st century infrastructure and connections – laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a scheme to deliver hugely enhanced rail capacity and connectivity between Britain’s major conurbations. It is the largest transport infrastructure investment in the UK for a generation, and, with the exception of High Speed 1 (HS1), is the first major new railway line since the Victorian era.

The HS2 Y network will provide direct, high capacity, high speed links between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, with intermediate stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. There will also be direct links to Heathrow Airport and to the Continent via the HS1 line. It will form a foundation for a potentially wider high speed network in years to come.

HS2 will be built in two phases to ensure that the benefits of high speed rail are realised at the earliest possible opportunity. The line from London to the West Midlands and the connection to HS1 are expected to open in 2026, followed, in 2032-33, by the onward legs to Manchester and Leeds and the connection to Heathrow. The capital cost at 2011 prices of building the complete Y network is £32.7 billion. At present values, it will generate benefits of up to £47 billion and fare revenues of up to £34 billion over a 60-year period.

The benefits of HS2 will extend beyond the network itself; links to current lines will enable direct trains to run to cities such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh and, with long-distance services transferring to the new network, space will be freed up for new commuter, regional and freight services on other lines, opening up new opportunities for Britain's existing railways. Links to key urban transport networks, such as Crossrail, will help to spread the benefits further still.

HS2 is entirely consistent with the Government’s objectives for carbon emissions. Electrified rail is a comparatively low-carbon mode of transport, especially with the continued decarbonisation of the grid. Speed increases power consumption, but also makes HS2 more attractive to those currently flying or driving. The faster journeys on HS2 - Edinburgh and Glasgow will be just 3.5 hours from London - could transfer around 4.5 million journeys per year who might otherwise have travelled by air and 9 million from the roads. HS2 will also create more rail capacity on existing conventional speed lines for freight – removing lorries from our busy trunk roads. HS2 is therefore an important part of transport’s low-carbon future.

In securing these benefits for our country, I am committed to developing a network with the lowest feasible impacts on local communities and the natural environment. I have been mindful that we must safeguard the natural environment as far as possible, both for the benefit of those enjoying our beautiful countryside today and for future generations.

People living along the line of route highlighted particular concerns and provided constructive and thoughtful comments about the London to West Midlands route proposed at consultation. Following careful study by my engineers I can announce a package of alterations to further reduce the route’s impacts. The changes mean that more than half the route will now be mitigated by tunnel or cutting and there will also be a reduction in the impacts on people and communities, ancient woodlands and important heritage sites.

The changes include:

  • A longer, continuous tunnel from Little Missenden to the M25 through the Chilterns;
  • A new 2.75 mile (4.4 km) bored tunnel along the Northolt Corridor to entirely avoid major works to the Chilterns Line and impacts on local communities in the Ruislip area;
  • A longer green tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls, and to curve the route to avoid a cluster of important heritage sites around Edgcote; and,
  • A longer green tunnel to significantly reduce impacts around Wendover, and an extension to the green tunnel at South Heath.

The revised route offers considerable improvements to communities, with the number of dwellings at risk of land take almost halving and the number experiencing increased noise levels reducing by a third. Despite these improvements to limit the negative impacts of the line, HS2 will inevitably affect some homeowners, communities and businesses. To help those affected, we will bring in a package of measures, which are over and above what affected homeowners are already entitled to under law. These include:

  • A streamlined purchase scheme to simplify the statutory blight process for property owners;
  • A sale and rent back scheme to give homeowners within the safeguarded area more flexibility;
  • A streamlined small claims scheme for construction damage which will allow individuals and businesses who are entitled to compensation under existing law to claim it more quickly and simply;
  • A package of measures to reinforce confidence in properties above tunnels. Homeowners will be offered before and after surveys, a thorough assessment of the impact of similar tunnels, an explanation of the measures that will be taken to prevent perceptible vibration impacts, financial compensation for the compulsory purchase of subsoil, and a legally binding promise that HS2 will be permanently responsible for resolving any related settlement or subsidence issues; and,
  • A refreshed hardship-based property purchase scheme.

Finally, we will work constructively with local authorities along the line of route to minimise the negative consequences of HS2 and maximise the benefits.

In November I announced the Triennial Review of HS2 Ltd, and in making my decision I have accepted the finding that HS2 Ltd is the appropriate body to continue undertaking this work.

Today I have presented to Parliament a full account of my decisions titled High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future – Decisions and Next Steps. My Department has published a series of supporting documents which set out in further detail the basis on which I have reached my decisions. All of this material is available at www​.dft​.gov​.uk/​h​i​g​h​s​p​e​e​d​r​ail .

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

NR unveils brand new Holgate turnout

Exciting news from Network Rail!

Good to see that the Infrastructure Controller is being careful with the pennies by recycling assets.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

GW OJEU exposes passenger mileage collapse!

This from Ithuriel...

According to the Great Western franchise OJEU Notice issued by DfT on 19 December:

In the last year of BR, Intercity Great Western - which then didn't include Thames Trains and other later accretions - generated 14 million passenger journeys and 1,218 million passenger miles.

So in the 'bad old days' the average length of journey was 87 miles. Today it is apparently 199 feet 6 inches.

Another triumph of numeracy from those wonderful people who still haven't brought you the IEP.

UPDATE: This from the Blue Lamp...

I think Ithuriel is being a little unfair to Marsham Street.

Whilst this OJEU may have been issued in a hurry, this hasn't prevented the Department from planning ahead.

On page 26 DfT confirms that First will retain the franchise as it expects to sign an agreement with the Aberdeen based bus bandits on 22nd November 2012

That's forward planning for you!

UPDATE: This also from Ithuriel...

According to the same consultation document

"In the last financial year, franchise revenues were £694m, while a premium of £250 million was paid to the Department for Transport".

No mention of the fact that the franchise is in Revenue Support to the maximum level and costing the Taxpayer and FGW shareholders shedloads of money.

Monday, 2 January 2012