Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Royals back High Speed Rail!

Good to see Her Majesty the Queen's granddaughter backing High Speed Rail!

Go, Zara, go!

Mad Vulcan opines on railfreight

This from the outer reaches of planet Redwood...

The cross country and long haul railway is probably most productively used for freight. The railway needs to be more interested in single wagon  marshalling and single load  business. Rail freight has grown since privatisation, and there has been improvement in the offer. The old nationalised industry was only interested in trainload contracts. A whole generation of new business parks was built with motorway access instead of branch line connections to the railway as a result.

Highly illogical, captain.

UPDATE: This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

Wisconsin Central Lives!
The Vulcan has clearly been talking with EWS founder Ed (all American) Burkhardt who seemed to think that the 'Mom 'n' Pop' shortline operating pholosophy would transform a modern European freight railway.

Railway Garden Competition - Birmingham New Street

Pointless signs - York

Monday, 30 July 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Crewe

This from Andrew E...

A fine Railway Arboretum!

Is Crewe perhaps going for Gold?

DfT economises with others IPR

This from Our Man by the Photocopier...

I have been reading the Great Western ITT, which finally limped into the platform on Friday having been delayed at Didcot by the late running gold-plated IEP.

It includes these words: "This document is subject to copyright. Neither this document, nor any part of it, nor any other information supplied in connection with it, may be published, reproduced, copied or distributed in any way except with the prior written consent of the Department."

But the last page suggests that intellectual property rights are not always at the top of the agenda in Marsham Street:

 Just fancy that!

Pointless signs - Leeds

Railway Garden Competition - Hacking back NR debt

This from a Mr William Dargan...

While emptying out my spam folder, I came across this gem:

If a 1 litre tub of Buddleia is worth £9.99, surely this means Network Rail is sitting on a goldmine?

Friday, 27 July 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Crewe

Oh go on then...

Eye wishes good luck to all those involved with the Olympics!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Railway looks after those who also serve

Good news from ATOC!

National Rail companies have finally been allowed to join TfL in granting gallant service personnel, involved with the Olympics, free travel on rail services to and from Games venues.

And quite right too!

Eye understands that despite the willingness of the industry to recognise the contribution made by service men and women the MoD remained to be convinced.

Perhaps such generosity from private sector contractors is not usually encountered by inhabitants of the Main Building?

No matter, the offer has been accepted.

Is this the first time that Petrol-head Hammond has helped the railway celebrate anything positive?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Alycidon amidst the IEP excitement

This from a Mr Dickens...

A sight to stir the blood - Alycidon nearing Werrington Junction, just north of Peterborough, this morning.

Eat your heart out Captain Deltic!

Fleet reliability will be key for IEP

This from Ithuriel...

With DfT highlighting the importance of reliability in the IEP contract announcement, here is a list of today's Top 10 most reliable fleets on the national network.

(With thanks to an irate 'Captain of the Golden Spanners' for correcting the earlier version - so this with added Ford Imprimatur!) 

Miles per 3 min delay
South West Trains
Class 458
South West Trains
Class 159/0
Class 350/2
South West Trains
Class 159/1
South West Trains
Class 158
Class 350/1
South West Trains
Class 444
South West Trains
Class 455
Class 220
Class 357

Eye congratulates all the above manufacturers.

UPDATE: This from Button Moon...

I was just wondering if any of your esteemed readers could extend the table of manufacturers’ performance to include Messrs. Hitachi, who already have a fleet of trains operating in the South East? 

(Sadly, in the interest of fairness, Eye is unwilling to extend the range of the above table to include lesser performing fleets as Bombardier and Siemens have had quite enough free publicity for the reliability of their rolling stock already. Ed)

UPDATE: This from Deep Purple...

Further to the top ten table, the ‘Owner’ column appears to have been omitted.

This is at least as important as the ‘Maker’ and would make interesting reading, 7 of the top 10 and all 5 of the top 5 being Porterbrook fleets.

Derby may not build trains like it used to but Derby can certainly manage these assets better than the rest.

So fess up Greening - exactly how many IEP jobs?

Compare and contrast.

This from the DfT press release on IEP in which Greening claimed '730 new jobs' would be created at Newton Aycliffe...

With this from Hitachi which said 'at least 500 jobs' would be created...

As @L_Jameson pointed out: "at this rate they'll be laying people off by dinner time".

UPDATE: This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

May I congratulate Fact Compiler San for helping Hitachi to amend the wording of their on-line press release so that it now reads:

Just fancy that!

IEP announced - Parliament in recess

Good news for fans of Parliamentary scrutiny!

This from the DfT:

£4.5 billion investment in new trains creates new jobs

More than 900 jobs will be created and thousands more secured after Transport Secretary Justine Greening approved a £4.5bn contract to supply Britain with the next generation of intercity trains.

In a major boost to the UK’s manufacturing industry, 596 railway carriages will be built at a brand new train factory in the north east of England.

Agility Trains, a consortium made up of Hitachi and John Laing, has been awarded the contract to build and maintain the trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the project to replace Britain’s Intercity 125 trains with new higher capacity modern trains.

Hitachi will assemble an intercity fleet of 92 complete trains at a new purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in the process creating 730 skilled jobs with a further 200 jobs during construction of the factory itself and securing thousands more in the UK supply chain. The company will also locate its European rail research and development capabilities on the site which will further enhance the factory’s ability to win rail contracts across Europe.

As well as building the new state-of-the-art assembly facility, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots in Bristol, Swansea, west London and Doncaster, and will upgrade existing maintenance depots throughout Britain.

The announcement comes on the eve of the Global Investment Conference in London where the Government will kick off the largest series of trade and investment events ever held in the UK involving more than 3,000 business leaders, policy-makers and ministers from around the world, and half the companies in the FTSE 100.

Cont' p94...

Putting to one side the enormous cost is there anyone outside Marsham Street and the Japanese Embassy that actually wants this hybrid monster?

Therefore, time for an exciting new Eye survey... (see right)

UPDATE: This unusually bullish statement from ATOC...

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) said:

“This announcement is good news for passengers as it will mean faster, more comfortable journeys and many more seats.

“This DfT-led procurement, however, has been contentious. Some of the earlier scope of the project has been changed because of subsequent Government decisions to electrify parts of the rail network. 

“Train companies believe that the key to delivering better value for money is to ensure that they play a bigger role in shaping rolling stock solutions through the competitive franchising process.  It will help get things done more quickly and bring down costs, and we welcome the Government's support for this approach.”  


UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles... 

You are right - we have yet to find anyone working on the railways who wants the IEP.

DfT says £200m saving over the life of the trains - forgets to mention "set against £75m a year extra that fare payers on Great Western will pay to have these trains rather than a more conventional design." (data from R. Ford) - which wipes out that £200m within the first three years....

Clearly that paragraph got missed from the DfT press release.....

As was the line from GW passenger groups saying "We welcome the opportunity to pay well above inflation fare increases to fund these trains which will deliver the lower levels of comfort we have been calling for for several years."

J. Greening assisted by Mr Kipling, and along with her predecessors Adonis and Hammond, has rightly earned her place in history alongside Beeching.

Alongside 'The Beeching Cuts' we now have 'The Greening order' - long may we rue this day...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Llandovery

Eye exclusive - NR holds Bonus Party?

Someone has apparently been living it up at 40 Melton Street! 

But judging by the empties, times remain hard!

Railway Garden Compeition - Welwyn Garden City

Heritage Railways getting fruity - Wirksworth

Spotted at Wirksworth on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, via @sidskipper...

Eye understands that there was quite a queue...

Railway Garden Competition - Nottingham

NR goes back to the future at Quagmire opening

Is Network Rail now ready to embrace the railway's past?

This from The Quadrant's opening do.

Looks familiar?


Eye thinks not!

Railway Garden Competition - Tooting

Pointless signs 2012 - Wimbledon

Friday, 20 July 2012

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Middlesbrough

Pointless signs - CrossCountry bustitution Reading

This via SWT Info Guy...

Trolley travels - Southampton Parkway

Someone jumps the gun on IEP award?

Oh dear!

Following the ConDem's decision to leak almost all the details of the HLOS days before it was announced in Parliament, someone has taken it upon themselves to jump the gun on announcing the first order for IEPs.

According to ITV News...

Train company, First Great Western, is expected to announce a billion pound order for new trains which are to run between Paddington and Swansea.

The ITV piece even includes a nice video about constructing the new trains filmed in errrr... Japan (shurely Newton Aycliffe? Ed).

So presumably the DfT's own dire strictures against anyone saying anything before the 20th July no longer count?

And as for suggesting that First Great Western will announce it - talk about spin - this is a DfT project thru and thru!

Which may explain why, even though preferred bidder status was granted as long ago as 2009, the final confirmation of an order for the unpopular rolling stock will actually be announced just days AFTER the Commons had risen for the Summer Recess. 

How convenient! That should stop any embarrassing question being asked about the deal in Parliament.

Come on Speaker Bercow, give 'em hell!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Mediaballs - BBC One o Clock news

This from Mystic Mike...

Good to see that the move to Salford has improved journalistic standards at the Beeb.

This was the picture (of Toddington station on the Glos Warks Railway) that the BBC One o Clock news has just led with to announce today's HLOS rail investment package...

"Anyone got a library shot of a train? Yeah, that'll do..."

Pinky and Perky announce the HLOS

Despite having been extensively leaked over the weekend, Cameron and Clegg were in the West Midlands today to officially launch the HLOS.

It would be churlish not to recognise that the proposed investment plan for the period 2014-19 contains some good news for passengers, freight and the industry, but the devil remains in the detail, so a cautious welcome from Eye.

Of perhaps greater interest to students of the railway scene are the revised directions and guidance that DfT has issued to the ORR, which were also published today.

Section 24 should make Open Access chums a little nervous...

Pointless signs - Falkirk Grahamston

Friday, 13 July 2012

All change at Railcare

Eye understands that there have been some changes at Railcare.

So farewell Robert Baxter!

And a big Eye welcome to new MD Mark Cooper, although apparently on an interim basis.

Nothing on the website yet...

The charmed life of Graham Dalton...

Eye salutes the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency!

The M4 has been closed for five days.

When did Maria Eagle describe this is a damning indictment of Government transport policy?

Where are the bilious MPs, insisting that Graham Dalton be hauled before the Transport Select Committee?

Why aren't splenetic editorials demanding his head on a plate?

Readers may wish to compare and contrast this muted response with how the partial closure of a major arterial rail route would be handled by the chattering classes?

That is all.

Aviation policy contains comforting words

This from Logisitical...

Today's DfT statement on aviation policy includes this phrase:
"If operational freedoms show clear benefits in terms of resilience, reducing delays and allowing planes to land more effectively, thereby reducing the impact of noise for residents under the flight path, then the Government will consult on making these benefits permanent;"
I'm only an ignorant railwayman, but what does "land planes more effectively" mean? 
Is an "ineffective landing" what Biggles might call a 'prang'?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

NR Wales unveils anti-theft device

This from Uncle Frank...

Don't mess with the Tafia - that is all!

Run Away!

East Coast signals Olympic distress

This from Commander Proto-Methodist...

Rudely awakened from my slumbers by the appalling meejah coverage of the Jubilee River Pageant (no, it was not random hooting by LMS 6201 Princess Elizabeth at the start but a careful rendition in Morse code of the Royal Cipher), The Commander is further roused by the appalling gaffe on the last page of Captain Deltic’s own publication this month, depicting the unveiling of a pile of railway scrap metal outside King’s Cross. 

The hoist end of the Union flag is clearly visible in the athlete’s right hand, showing he is displaying the flag upside down. The broad white stripe of the Saltire of St. Andrew behind the Cross of St. Patrick at the hoist end should be above the red  – It’s easy to remember the cream rises above the jam on the scone. At least the sculptor got it right, behind.

If we’re displaying a distress signal before the Olympics have even started, what chance... (cont' p94)

Crow Bar Bob in U-turn Shocker!

This via Flat Cap and Whippet...

From today's Metro:

Shurely shome mishtake?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Olympics - DafT celebrates the sound of silence

Good news from Great Minster House.

Apparently the High Panjandrum of Marsham Street has banned the use of Social Media!

Good news indeed, especially as one particular member of the First Division had planned to use Facebook to address his troops.

No matter!

As an additional plus, without access to twittter, Rutman and co will have no idea how Olympic transport is performing.

As Homer might have said: Doh!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Network Rail boosts on track monitoring

So Network Rail has launched a new Ultrasonic Test Unit.

According to Network Rail's director of engineering Steve Yianni:

Network Rail’s number one priority is safety and the addition of this unit to our fleet means we can measure the safety and quality of our railway to much higher standards.

“It also means we can keep our test trains running more reliably and at more times across the country. With this we can improve the quality of the ride for all our passengers, and make sure they reach their destination in complete safety.

Here Patrick Bossert, NR's Director of Asset Information outlines how devolution means that he now runs a 'services business', and how the new 'UTU1' vehicle will help the UK squeeze more out of its rail network.



Network Rail Consultancy, on whose side?

This from Alice E Donne (Miss)...

Announcing the creation of Network Rail Consulting, Network Rail Chief Executive David Higgins was quoted as saying:

Since the privatisation of the rail industry, Britain has not had a national rail champion operating in the international market. Network Rail has the depth and breadth of rail experience and knowledge to promote British expertise overseas and become a valuable international ambassador for our rail industry and for UK plc.".

Actually, even before privatisation we didn't have a national champion operating in the international market. 

All those British Rail managers and engineers seconded to BR's consultancy Transmark were strictly independent and recommended international best practice, wherever it came from - unlike the consultancies of the other European state railways who knew who paid the taxes that paid the subsidies that kept them in a job and promoted the national technology used by their home railways.
No backsliding this time, Sir David!

Pointless signs - Liverpool Street

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Pointless signs - Euston

Monday, 2 July 2012

Pointless signs - Keighley

The brothers back a return to BR

This from Agnes Fairchild...

I read with interest this weekend's report, sponsored by RMT, ASLEF, Unite and TSSA, which urges The Labour Party to consider proposals for renationalising the railways.

And who can blame them for wanting a return to the halcyon days of 1978/79, when a Labour Government last presided over a state owned railway!

I myself am particularly excited at the prospect of reinstating SeaLink Ferries, SeaSpeed Hovercraft services and British Transport Hotels.  

Frustrated engineers in Derby are no doubt already sharpening their pencils in anticipation of the resumption of a gas turbine APT programme, (what price IEP now?).  

And the re-nationalisation of Travellers Fare will of course delight all those that mourn the passing of the British Rail sandwich.

Of course 1978/79 was also famous as the Winter of Discontent, where, after tens of millions of working days were lost through union strike action, the Government capitulated with double digit pay settlements.  

Beer, sandwiches and trebles all round!

UPDATE: This from John...

Please can I add a heartfelt wish to this:

Please can we have Red Star Parcels back at the same time?

Same day deliveries around the country were a real boon to British manufacturing industry, as all the items that were running late could be delivered at the last possible minute!

UPDATE: This from Andrew...

"Agnes Fairchild" obviously lived in a parallel world to the one containing the British Rail that I worked in! 
In mine:
  • there was a relatively simple fare structure that applied across the whole country,
  • returns from investment in one route provided the money to upgrade another, and it was the most cost-effective network in Europe
  • operators and engineers cooperated in the design of locos and rolling stock and used their experience (something that the current Mandarins/accountants/Directors and Franchise owners wouldn't recognise if it bit them on the bum) to produce kit that lasted many decades - & much of it is still working or would be if it hadn't been thrown away,
  • the timetables were designed to fit together and to make the best use of resources (& were improving) - rather than just trying to maximise flows to and from London- [how can anyone justify making all passengers wanting to go from a triangle covering the area from Northampton and Newport to Crewe having to use just the Birmingham to Scotland "service" of single Voyagers to get to Glasgow and Edinburgh alternately?  Just look at the table 51/65 services from the 1970's and see the hourly options to get to everywhere - on proper trains of adequate capacity that - like many others - were strengthened or duplicated at busy times]
  • most rolling stock was reasonably well suited to its use...
  • staff knew about the network outside their own patch, there was a Control who thought about passengers' overall journeys and people were mostly all in it together
I could go on (and on and on...!).
I also have happy memories of boat trains (and multiple reliefs) feeding people and luggage onto ferries within a few yards of the Channel port station platforms, leading on to an equally-simple transfer onto overnight trains to all sort of places across Europe.
Passenger Control also ensured that on one occasion when because of some delay our young family arrived at Shrewsbury from Bristol via New St and Wolverhampton (where we briefly alerted platform staff to the problem) an hour after the last Wrexham service had left.  We were told to stay on board and the unit ran non-stop to Wrexham to deliver us! 
It might not have been "cost effective" in the short term, but it built faith in the reliability of "the railway" and ensured further use.  
UPDATE: This from Logistical...

How lovely to see the old "British Rail sandwich" canard being rolled out again. It brought a nostalgic tear to my eye.

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus Virginicus

I can confirm that the BR sandwich is alive and well in.... Switzerland !!

The trolley (?) on the splendid Golden Pass service (Montreux - Zweisimmen) served two slices of dry bread interlaced with a piece of rather rubbery gruyere - no lettuce, mayo, of fillings etc and only a glister of butter.  

Each to his own taste ...but the train was, of course, On Time.


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Scremerston - Eye salutes the Railway!

Eye does not know what it took to achieve the re-opening today of the East Coast Main Line north of Newcastle...

But bloody good effort!



Wheels free..

The Railway (NR, Supply Chain and Operators) - Eye salutes you!