Thursday, 28 June 2012

HS2 new appointments

Exciting news from HS2!

Transport Secretary Justine Greening today announced the appointment of four Non-Executive Directors to the Board of HS2 Ltd, completing a recruitment process which started in January.
  • Richard Brown has held high level positions in and around the rail sector. 
  • Godric Smith is currently Director of Government Communications for London 2012. From 2006 to 2011 he was Director of Communications for the Olympic Delivery Authority. 
  • Duncan Sutherland has undertaken a number of senior development roles working with Local Authorities; as Director of City Development in Coventry, and as Chief Executive of the property and investment arm of the City of Edinburgh Council. 
  • Mike Welton has been re-appointed to the Board. 
Presumably Godric is busy with Richard Brown at this very moment, discussing the precise dimensions for his new HS2 Broom Cupboard?

Hard times are here again - Official

Perhaps Eye readers can help identify the following...

Which hungry hack raced off to an important early morning appointment this week, leaving a lately arrived orange juice sipping PR to pick up his breakfast tab?

And what was the name of the gallant PR who, having been presented with the eye watering bill, discovered he didn't have enough cash to cover the transaction?

Finally can you identify the venue that kindly agreed to await the preoccupied hack's return so the account could be settled?

Evidently local businesses in this part of SW1 are well used to such occurrences, since the demise of once generous 'allowances' given to regular patrons!

Open Data - Network Rail steals a march on HMG

On the day that the government published its Open Data white paper, Network Rail launched its own transparency portal.

According to the infrastructure controller...

Network Rail underlined its commitment to greater transparency today with the unveiling of a new information portal on its website. For the first time people will have easy access to a range of information about Britain’s rail infrastructure operator. Categories of information include:
  • Budget and costs of high-profile projects
  • Assessments for 50 high risk level crossings scored on the rail industry's level crossing risk model
  • Real-time train running data
  • Agendas and minutes of meetings of the board
  • Executive directors’ expenses
  • Number of high earners by £25k band
David Higgins, Network Rail’s chief executive said: “I believe in transparency. It helps improve decision making and can drive culture change in an organisation. Given the amount of money that taxpayers put into the rail industry, it is only correct they are given the right to scrutinise what their money is paying for. I believe Network Rail has to take the lead in opening up the industry to new levels of transparency and I hope others will soon follow that lead.”

The transparency site can be found here.

Software developers can also download information about real time train running data feeds here.

Good effort.

RMT welcomes increased Olympic rail services!

Good to see the brothers standing up for the industry that employs its members!

Not content with stinging train operators for additional payments over the Olympics the increasingly shrill RMT is now scaremongering about rolling stock.

According to Crow Bar Bob...

"The truth is now out. Every unit of unreliable and unsafe rolling stock will be hauled out of the sidings and sheds to try and cope with the Olympics demand as transport chiefs hit the panic button.

"RMT will not agree to any suspension or dilution of safety procedures as a consequence of this desperate measure and we will fight to protect passenger and staff safety. "

Ever get the impression that the RMT is happiest when it's pissing down someone's leg? 

East Coast consultation - is anyone listening?

On Tuesday the DfT launched its consultation on the new East Coast franchise.

According to the press release:

Launching the InterCity East Coast franchise consultation today, Rail Minister Theresa Villiers invited passengers, local councils and anyone with an interest in improved services on the East Coast Main Line to send in their views on what they want from the next franchise.

Theresa Villiers said: “There are exciting changes on the horizon for the East Coast Main Line. It is set to receive a brand new fleet of InterCity Express trains. The next franchise will be up to 12 years in length giving the operator greater opportunities to invest in improvements that will benefit passengers".

Eye suggests those responding to the consultation might want to start their responses with: 'Junk the IEP!'. 

TSC finally confirms NR part of DfT

The Transport Select Committee is asking the public to suggest topics for future inquiries.

And, in the spirit of open government and democratic accountability, quite right too!

But what's this?

Has the NAO been told?

Railway Garden Competition - Brundall Scarecrow


UPDATE: This from The Major... 

As natty as the Fat Controller looks, he is woefully under-dressed for his role 'on or near the line'. 

No matter! He can simply exchange his topper for a white safety helmet (assuming he is no longer a probationary PTS), don some safety glasses and swap his spongebag trousers for a nice pair in orange. 

Oh, and don't forget the gloves. 

And he'd better swap his mini hi-viz vest for a full-sized version.

Smart as a carrot! And looking like one too...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Pointless signs - Market Harborough

Wolmar addresses the nation!

Good news for fans of The World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent! (Sid and Doris Gricer? Ed)

The putative Mayor of London is joining Nigel Harris and other members of the great and good at the Transport Select Committee this morning to outline their vision for Rail 2020.

The fun and games start at 10:05 and the running order is as follows:
  1. Christian Wolmar, Railway author and broadcaster, Nigel Harris, Managing Editor, Rail Magazine, and John Nelson, Chairman, First Class Partnerships Limited
  2. Tom Smith, Chairman, Association of Train Operating Companies, Gatwick Airport
  3. Tim Shoveller, Managing Director, South West Trains, Paul Plumber, Network Rail, and Dominic Booth, Abellio / Greater Anglia Trains 
You can view the proceedings, live, here.

UPDATE: Now you can view all 2 hours, not exactly live, but certainly here!

A good performance from all involved.

Those of a nervous disposition may wish to shy away from Mr Shoveller's realignment of Ms Ellman's compass on matters safety.

But then what are 'Chairs' for, but sitting on.

Bring back 'Madam Chairman' says Eye!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Whitley Bay

Pointless signs - Waterloo

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Spartacus undone!

This from a Mr Fergy-Lee of Wyvern Rail...

With The World’s Greatest Living Transport Correspondent expected to be anointed as the next Mayor of London, I wonder if the so called 'soi disant Veteran Observer' is starting to get ideas above his station (geddit!!? Ed.).

During our Diesel Gala this weekend (lots of Crompton and A1A action) our train crew happened upon the following sight at the end of the Duffield Carnival!

As you can see from the picture, none amongst the assembled party were prepared to admit they had anything to do with the self appointed Spartacus!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Olympic bonuses row will renew focus on costs

Good to see that the transport wheels are already falling off the Olympics.

This from the RMT...

RAIL UNION RMT announced today that it is making urgent preparations for a ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike of all members on the First Great Western franchise following the tabling of hopelessly inadequate Olympics recognition and reward proposals.

This is of course the third such dispute announced within the space of a week, similar ballots having been announced for South West Trains and Greater Anglia.

With the RMT playing hard ball over Olympic bonuses ministers are discovering a new enthusiasm for getting TOCs to address labour costs as part of longer franchises.

Subject of course to the Treasury agreeing to forgo franchise premia during the ensuing protracted disputes.

At least the GatEx journey is short...

This, surprisingly, from the late Antonin Dvorak...

I see that Gatwick Express has launched something called Express Tracks.

According to the PR blurb:

Express Tracks is free bespoke music available exclusively to online customers, providing the perfect soundtrack to their journey.

Gatwick Express commissioned three recording artists: Philip Sheppard [acclaimed 'cellist and film composer], Benga [pioneer of dubstep, producer and Radio1 DJ]and The Milk [exciting break-through UK band] to record their interpretation of the 30 minute journey through the different landscapes from the city to the airport.

How unimaginably ghastly!

What's wrong with Pacific 231 by my friend Arthur Honegger, Coronation Scott by Vivian Ellis and Ben Britten's music for Night Mail?

UPDATE: This from the Express & Star via the Huffington Post...

Much better, sort of, ish...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

TSC turns into election hustings - Shocker

According to the June newsletter from the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent...

"I have been asked by a few people whether I would like to try to get the Labour nomination for London mayor next time. Although initially I thought that was plain daft, I have begun to think seriously about it. There are lots of transport ideas that should be discussed and certainly the focus last time on fares and the previous time on bendy buses showed a distinct paucity of imagination. I have a vision for London that is somewhat more radical than those scant offerings..." (cont' p94).
So Wolmar for Mayor!
Evidently our man hasn't been resting on his laurels, for within minutes of Wolmar's shock candidacy being announced, the following arrived from the Transport Select Committee...

Tuesday 26 June 2012

10.05 am
  • Christian Wolmar, Railway author and broadcaster
  • Nigel Harris, Managing Editor, Rail Magazine
  • John Nelson, Chairman of First Class Partnerships Limited
10.45 am
  • Tom Smith, Chairman, Association of Train Operating Companies
  • James Colman, Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Gatwick Airport
  • Ian Yeowart, Managing Director, Alliance Rail Holdings
 11.30 am
  • Tim Shoveller, Alliance Managing Director, South West Trains
  • Network Rail [name to be confirmed]
The industry now waits with baited breath to see what electoral office Nigel Harris intends standing for...

UPDATE: This from Dame Barbara Cartland...

Since darling Christian's oeuvre is fast approaching the size of my own, thanks to relentless promotion by the dear, dear boy, may I  ask whether he has arranged to have a table in the committee room corridor where his many fans will be able to buy signed copies of his latest work?

Pointless signs - Berkhamsted

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Eurocrats and ORR misaligned?

Exciting news from somebody nobody voted for!

According to the eGovMonitor...

Today, the Council and the European Parliament agreed on a new framework for railway traffic in Europe in the shape of a recast of the first railway package. This will bring about improved conditions for the European railways.

In this context, Minister for Transport Mr Henrik Dam Kristensen says (Who he? Ed):
"I am pleased that we agreed on a new and better framework for railway traffic in Europe today
"With the agreement, we have taken an important step towards developing the European railway.

"I expect the new rules to engender more passengers and more goods transport by rail in Europe. An efficient railway sector benefits both citizens and businesses alike and is an important piece of the puzzle in terms of strengthening growth in Europe".

"More goods transport by rail". Eh?

Perhaps Hans Kristensen Andersen needs to have a word with our very own Price-is-Right of the ORR?
UPDATE: This from Globetrotter...

Have just caught up with your latest piece on the Recast of the First Railway Package, and more particularly the heading comment ‘who nobody voted for’.

I think you will find that the residents of southern Jutland did indeed vote for Henrik Dam Kristensen, who as Minister of Transport in the Danish parliament currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers in terms of transport policy.

And of course, the latest agreement is between the Council (all elected ministers in their respective governments) and the Parliament (all directly elected MEPs), rather than the ‘unelected bureaucrats’ of the European Commission (or more accurately DG-Move) who simply did the leg-work in preparing the initial draft for the recast.

Methinks that your correspondent should consider getting an updated version of the ‘ABC Guide to Tripartite European Institutions’ (I'll be sure and buy a copy immediately after casting my vote in the In/Out Referendum. Ed).

PS: Quite what Messrs ORR-Price, McNulty & Co will make of the Recast will, of course, be very interesting to see.

Railway Garden Competition - Belper

This from Tim...

The Hanging Gardens of Belper?

England is new NR Asset Management Director

This from Network Rail...

Network Rail has promoted Jerry England to the role of group asset management director. He was formerly the group director of signalling and power asset management.

As well as working for Network Rail, chartered engineer Mr England has worked for the Highways Agency and Thames Water and will be focusing on developing more customer driven and efficient management of the company’s asset base.

Services provided by the asset management team are provided to customers including Network Rail’s devolved routes, as well as operations and infrastructure projects...

Mr England will take on the role with immediate effect, reporting to Network Rail’s chief executive David Higgins. 

Grandstanding in Committee Room 8?

Good to see the brothers grandstanding ahead of this morning's Transport Select Committee hearing!

This from the RMT...

RAIL UNION RMT will seize the opportunity at an evidence session of the Transport Select Committee today (19th June) to demand that MP’s pull the government back from embarking on the catastrophic course of cuts and profiteering set out in the McNulty rail review which the union says would create the perfect “lethal cocktail” of conditions for another Hatfield or Potters Bar disaster on Britain’s railways.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow will join with other rail unions in presenting oral evidence this morning on RAIL 2020 to the Transport Committee.

No doubt more heat than light will ensue.

Hopefully more illumination will be provided by Messrs McNulty, Smith, O'Toole and Higgins, who will also be in attendance. The session starts at 10:05.

Fans of knock about politics can watch on-line here.

Monday, 18 June 2012

LNW Railway (South) appoints Thin Controller!

This from Network Rail...

Network Rail announces today the secondment of Virgin’s chief operating officer, Chris Gibb, to the company.

Working collaboratively with Network Rail, Virgin Trains has agreed to this secondment for the remainder of this year to work with the Network Rail team on improving the performance of the infrastructure on the southern end of the West Coast Main Line.

Mr Gibb will retain a number of his current duties and responsibilities for Virgin Trains and will continue to undertake these alongside the role in Network Rail and will report to Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s managing director of network operations for the duration of his secondment. He will work very closely with Jo Kaye (the route managing director of the London North Western Route, which encapsulates the West Coast Main Line) and her team, using his 31 years of railway experience to bring unique insight to the task ahead.  


At this rate the entire railway is in danger of singing from the same hymn sheet!

Therefore, in the spirit of the new collaborative West Coast Main Line, Eye gives you...

The real Thin Controller!

One bill for metal theft we can all support

This from ATOC...

ATOC welcomes new metal theft bill

In response to the announcement that Richard Ottaway MP will introduce a new bill to the House of Commons on Wednesday to crack down on the trade in stolen metal, Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies said:

“Cable theft disrupts hundreds of thousands of passengers every year and costs the taxpayer millions, so it is very good news that Richard Ottaway is giving Parliament the opportunity to crack down on the trade in stolen metal. Train companies have been working tirelessly with the rest of the industry to tackle the problem, and this is an important step in helping us to succeed.

“The proposed powers will send a clear signal to criminals and rogue traders that dealing in stolen metal could lead to unlimited fines, removal of operating licences and even long terms in prison. Giving police and local councils the power to search and investigate scrap yards suspected of dealing in stolen metal, and if necessary close them down, will help stop metal theft in its tracks.”


Excellent and about time too!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Pointless signs - Manchester Piccadilly (Metrolink)

Pointless sign - Gatwick Airport

This from Globetrotter...

Or misleading, at least. 

Gatwick Airport has 12-car platforms, so some people could be disappointed.

Historic signs - King's Cross coal offices

This from Eye's man on York Road...

After decades buried in undergrowth and shut off from public view, the Great Northern Railway's historic curved coal offices at King's Cross emerged from behind the hoardings this week – clearly viewable from a new public space in front of the redeveloped University of the Arts by the Regent's Canal.

Sharp eyed fans of railwayana will spot a BR Eastern Region enamel reading "Drive Slowly" on the wall.
As most of the others round here were knocked off years ago let's hope this solitary survivor doesn't get nicked!

Pointless signs - Reading West

This from Citizen Smith...

'Not to scale'?

With only two stations shown how could it be otherwise?

UPDATE: This from Pedantic of Purley...

Well of course it is not to scale.  It is a diagram.  And diagrams are, er, diagrammatic. It is not a map even though it is wrongly referred to as a map. And the fact that no scale is specified means it is unlikely to be to scale.

To be accurate First Great Western should have added something like “This diagram is not an isometric representation of the portion of the network illustrated” or “Diagram for illustrative purposes only” but a more sensible thing would be to add nothing as it is perfectly obvious.

I can send you a scaled map of the Waterloo and City line if you want to see a scaled map with only two stations. (No thank you. That's quite enough scaled maps. Ed)

Railway Garden Competition - Paignton

Railway Garden Competition - Exeter St David's

Pointless signs - West Brompton

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

TSC inquires into Rail 2020 - 19th June 2012

This from the Transport Select Committee...

Transport Committee
Select Committee Announcement

Oral evidence – RAIL 2020

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Room tbc

10.05 am
 ·        Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman, Rail Value for Money Study*
·         Graham Smith MBE, Team Leader, Rail Value for Money Study

10.55 am
 ·        Tim O’Toole CBE, Chairman, Rail Delivery Group
·         Sir David Higgins, Vice-Chairman, Rail Delivery Group

11.50 am
          Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF
·         Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT
·         Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA
·         [witness to be confirmed] UNITE


Villiers vignettes - IEP numbers

This from Cruella yesterday...

Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate her Department has made of the minimum order of intercity express programme carriages which would be needed to justify a UK assembly facility.
Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation)
The Department for Transport welcomes the decision by Hitachi to build a new factory at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham where the new trains will be assembled. 

The minimum order of IEP carriages which would be needed to justify a UK assembly facility is a matter for Hitachi, and not the Department, to decide.
Quite so minister, quite so.

But then why did DfT tell Sir Andrew Foster's review that a build of 685 vehicles justified a possible UK manufacturing facility?

Peace on the Line? That's the way to do it!

Eye's Independent Correspondent writes...

I attended the Mid-Hants 'War on the Line' event at the weekend, to research my new book 'Action Stations! How Britain's railways won the war'. 

Happily, neither Goering or Goebbels were in attendance! (Perhaps the organisers have been reading Railway Eye? Ed)

Though fans of the period could have their hair done on Alresford station in 1940s wartime style, with lacquer and rollers for £15.  

Put that light out!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Mann for all seasons

Good news for fans of gamekeepers turning poacher!

ATOC's affable PR, Nick Mann, is soon to leave the train operators' lobby group...

To re-appear at the consumer watchdog, and regular spanker of train operators, Which?.

Hopefully, when Nick announced his move, the Bernard Street defibrillators were fully charged?

FT makes Wright move to US

The slow retreat of Robert Wright from covering UK rail stories appears almost complete.

Last October, the cycling FT hack changed jobs from transport correspondent to shipping and logistics, leaving only rail freight subject to his scrutiny.

Then, earlier this year, Rail Professional magazine axed his long-running "The Wright Track" column in which he held forth on the politics of the iron road.

Now, Eye understands, he is packing his bags to head for New York, where, as the FT's new US industry correspondent, he will mostly cover the automotive industry!

A small consolation remains for UK transport enthusiasts. Eye is led to believe that the Invisible Visible Man, the blog about the philosophy of cycling written by someone who seems a lot like Wright, is going to continue - albeit with moans about New York drivers, rather than those in London.

Happily, all is not completely lost.

Wright's departure for far flung climes should finally see the deeply tedious soi disant 'veteran observer', Brennan-Brown, expunged from future editions of the Pink 'Un!

Proof positive that every cloud has a silver lining.

UPDATE: This from the aforementioned Brennan-Brown...

I have written to you more than once to complain about your use of the term 'soi disant veteran observer'.

It is deeply childish and I must now insist that you stop... (sadly, owing to pressures of space, Eye is unable to reproduce in full this latest encomium from the soi disant veteran observer. Ed)

Blackfriars subliminal message - Shocker

This from Network Rail...

A unique piece of railway heritage has been unveiled to passengers at Blackfriars.

Fifty four stones from the original Victorian station, each engraved with destinations served by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR), have been preserved in a newly opened area of the Blackfriars concourse. The stones list destinations as diverse as Bickley, Marseille, Gravesend and Venice, as the LCDR advertised Blackfriars’ links to towns and cities of the south east, and the business capitals of Europe via cross-channel steamers.

The restored destination stones are displayed in Blackfriars' new northern concourse, where First Capital Connect and Southeastern customers are benefitting from a new ticket hall with direct links to the London Underground station next door. Toilets in the new concourse building also opened over the weekend. Escalators to platform level and new shops within the station will open for use over the coming months.

Looking at some of the destinations on the stones, Eye wonders if their positioning next to the toilets is perhaps deliberate?