Friday, 31 August 2012

Joined up Government explained...

This from Toby the Tram...

I saw this at the Department for Communities & Local Government yesterday.

Perhaps Eric Pickles should have a word with Justine Greening?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Railway Garden Competition - ClogRail Loos

This from Cross-legged Keith...
The picture below shows a new initiative from Greater Anglia to make its customers enjoy a lovely view whilst spending a penny in the toilet of a Mk3 coach on the route to Norwich. 
Apparently, according to someone on the inside, the fixing of these is a franchise commitment and they are sprouting up on EMUs as well.
However, after having perused this fine vista I then discovered that there was no water, no towel and the flush didn't work!
Surely a contender for Railway Garden of the year?
Although a good effort from the Cloggies, sadly no cigar. Ed

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Those e-petition stats in full...

This from Dr Syphon... 

While the Virgin West Coast supporting e-petition powers away at 163,000+ votes, have you spotted the plucky underdog? 

It's the one lauding the decision to award First the West Coast franchise? 

It’s been going for 3 days and now has a mighty err... 60 signatures. 

At least that’s more than 3 times as many as one calling for a Pacer to be preserved by the NRM!

First for consulting M'learned Friends

This from a Mr Pernickety-Nitpicker, senior partner with Messrs Sue, Grabbitt & Run...
There is a precedent for legal challenges to government decisions on franchising.
In June 2003, the then incumbent operator of the Great Eastern franchise failed to make the shortlist  for the replacement Greater Anglia franchise.
Lawyers were dispatched to the High Court which instructed the then Strategic Rail Authority to release the application form scores for the franchise.
With this information, the incumbent said that it now understood the pre-qualification 'more clearly' and could see 'in detail' the reasoning behind SRA’s decision to exclude it from the Greater Anglia bidding. 

The statement continued: ‘We are clearly still disappointed that, as the best performing operator in East Anglia delivering the best value for money for the taxpayer, we have not been given an opportunity to bid. However, we have decided that it is not in our interests to proceed any further with our legal challenge and, accordingly, we have withdrawn’.
So who was this litigious incumbent? 

Why our friends at First Group.
Clearly, and without prejudice, what goes around, comes around.

Man on own island takes to Skype - "last resort"

This from the Daily Telegraph...

That is all.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Three Oaks

First Group debt results in surprising choice

According to the Daily Telegraph...

Trebles and package holidays all round.

Friday, 24 August 2012

More bad news for fans of Virgin Trains

This from the Milton Keynes Citizen...

A popular model railway group has been asked to leave its Bletchley Park home after 18 years.

The Milton Keynes Model Railway Society has been given notice because it can no longer be accommodated at the site which is making space made available for exhibition relating to the Park’s heroic codebreakers.

Dennis Lovett, chairman, said: “Unfortunately we have been told by the new organisation that despite all the empty buildings on site none can be made available to us and model railways are not part of their future requirements.”

Older industry hands may recollect that Dennis was VT's former PR supremo.

With their brand spanking new HQ just around the corner perhaps Network Rail can help?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Railway embraces willies and tools

This from the late Kenneth Williams...

Ere no! Stop messin' about!

On the day that First TPE posted on their Facebook page that large numbers of attendees at the Leeds festival would probably travel with "tents, bags and willies", this was the headline on an ATOC press release:


Ooh matron!

UPDATE: This, perhaps predictably, from J Peasemold Gruntfuttock...

I could do with one of those. 

Is a surgical intervention involved?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Dave Spartt...

Yet again the exploitative classes use a tired language, which draws deeply on a history of colonialism and exploitation, serving only to further separate the revered gray-hairs and differently-abled members of our community, errr... and  is totally typical of the exploitative nature of capitalism which does so much to disenfranchise so called 'passengers' forced aboard the tumbril of..

Cont' p94...

TSC letter calls for delay in West Coast signing

Letter from Louise Ellman MP, Chair,Transport Committee to Justine Greening:

Dear Justine,
The announcement by Theresa Villiers on 15 August to award the West Coast rail franchise to First West Coast Ltd has, as you will be aware, generated a great deal of public interest and some concern. It also raises important issues about the basis on which decisions on major rail franchises are made.
As this has taken place during the Parliamentary recess, the Transport Committee has not had an opportunity to consider the matter. I intend to raise it with Committee Members at our first meeting on 4 September and to propose that the Committee explore these issues as soon as possible, provisionally at a public oral evidence session to be arranged for Tuesday 11th September. I expect that some Members will want to ask you about the West Coast franchise when you give oral evidence to us on the work of your Department on the following day.
I understand that the final West Coast franchise documents are due to be signed by the Government on 28 August. I would ask you to consider delaying this for a short while to allow the Transport Committee to explore the matter first. I believe this would help to provide greater transparency and address the concerns that have been raised.
Louise Ellman MP
Chair of the Committee

cc Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Tony Collins, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Rail Group, Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive, First Group

Read TSC press statement and associated documents here.

First for telling it like it is.

This from Ithuriel...

Speaking to analysts following the award of the Intercity West Coast franchise, first Group CEO Tim O'Toole said
"The opportunity is ripe because the capacity (on Intercity West Coast) has not been exploited with only a 35% seat occupancy rate and particularly low marketing spend in recent years. That fact, by the way, is understandable since the incumbent has been in revenue support - a condition that discourages any investment to stimulate growth since every pound must generate a return of at least five times."
Mr O'Toole knows whereof he speaks.  First Great Western has been in revenue support since April 2008 and First Capital Connect since April 2009.
Candour personified.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Lincoln

This from Dogboxdriver...

Lincoln has featured before in Eye's Garden Competition, back in 2009 (pictured below).

Having failed to win then, the Nature Garden Formerly Known As Platform 8 has been massively improved for this year's contest.
Much to the evident delight of local staff!

Railway Bothys - Manchester Victoria

This from a Mr Twelve-Dozen...

Eye readers might be interested to see the completion of the Manchester Victoria upgrade works. 

In particular the state of the art passenger facilities installed alongside platform 2.

Has Northern taken the McNulty recommendations too far...

Pointless signs - Dalmuir

This from Big Malc...

Presumably Gaelic speakers all use mobiles?

Griffiths to be Stagecoach CEO

This from Reuters...
Stagecoach also said its chief executive Brian Souter would stand down and become the company's chairman in May 2013, replacing George Mathewson who is retiring. Martin Griffiths, the company's finance director, will take over as chief executive, the company said.
Nothing yet on what Stagecoach thinks of Virgin Trains' campaign to get the InterCity West Coast franchise decision overturned.

Virgin Trains is 49% owned by Stagecoach.

Monday, 20 August 2012

An exciting Eye poll on VirginTrains' use of Twitter

As previously covered on Eye...

Beardie Rail has been using the @VirginTrains twitter account to encourage passengers and followers to sign an on-line Number 10 petition.

The petition asks the government to "reconsider" the award of the InterCity West Coast franchise to First Group.

Virgin Rail Group and Richard Branson have made clear that "a member of the public completely independent of Virgin has set up" this petition.

So. What is your view of this approach?

Sour grapes or listening to your customers.

You decide in Eye's exciting new survey (see right)!

Theresa May keen to make rail travel more unpleasant!

The Home Office is to consider introducing mass security screening at mainline rail stations and the Tube to scan for terrorist threats, as it launches a research brief for new technology.

The search would focus on emerging technology capable of rapidly screening huge numbers of passengers to detect explosives, guns and knives as well as chemical and biological materials.

The high volumes of passengers on the railway mean that traditional forms of screening are not possible.

Suitable screening points could be at ticket barriers, the top and bottom of escalators and platforms and the equipment could be either fixed into the station or portable for more flexible use.

Good to see that State continues to consider us all to be a threat.

No doubt this, alongside police with shooters at stations, will do much to improve the 'ambiance' and pleasure of rail travel.

No matter.

At least this will help justify the further encroachment of congestion causing 'ticket gates' across the network.

Eye wonders how on earth we managed to survive the 70s and 80s when the IRA was actually active on the UK mainland?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Malins...

No doubt this is why First won the West Coast - an "enhancement" promised by Mr O'Toole (see items below):

Fares and ticketing  Installation of automatic ticket gates at 21 stations, including the major terminals of London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime St and Glasgow Central.

A Conservative vision for the railways. Be afraid...

Oh dear!

In just 24 hours ConservativeHome has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Yesterday it reported on the growing pressure from Tory MPs to peg rail fare increases at RPI+1.

So far so good.

Today, alas, there is piece from Tim Leunig, Chief Economist of CentreForward. offering his thoughts on how to keep the cost of the railways and fares increases down.

Aside from usual suggestions from the Mad Vulcan School of Transportation Management (eg abandon electrification and HS2, close stations and lines, encourage more car use, stuff the North etc...) Leunig comes out with this particular gem:

"Create a third class on London commuter routes – standing room only. Taking seats out is much cheaper than lengthening trains and platforms. A £1 flat fare standing room only deal would make economic and political sense. Journey times are under 30 minutes, and many people are standing anyway."

Can anyone spot the abstractive nature of Loonie's proposal?

ICWC bid spat exposes industry's immaturity

The InterCity West Coast franchise excitement continues...

Both First and Virgin have continued trading blows on-line and through the media over the last couple of days.

Sir Richard Branson took to his blog on Friday to say:
The Government may as well have auctioned the West Coast Main Line on eBay: “Roll up, roll up for the Great Train Sale! Highest bidder wins. Doesn’t matter when you pay, 10 years or 15 years time will do.

“We don’t mind how much debt your company has. Deliverability not an issue. Quality not a factor. Redundancies not a problem. Roll up, roll up.”

It would have saved everyone a lot of time and effort and the taxpayer lots of money...

A member of the public completely independent of Virgin has set up an e-petition calling for the government to reconsider the West Coast Main Line franchise decision

If you want to join them and let the Government know your thoughts, we urge you to sign the independent e-petition.
A call to action that @VirginTrain's own twitter account took to heart:

Amusing to think that in December this renamed account will be tweeting on behalf of First Group! 

Such are the paradoxes of the franchising system.

Meanwhile Tim O'Toole in Saturday's Daily Mail accused Beardie of being a bad loser:
‘Branson has lost and he is off the field now,’ he said. ‘What he is saying is simply not true. We are not going to be cutting staff – staff levels will be about the same.

‘But there are two things which are particularly outrageous. Had he won, he was planning to cut twice as much as he said we would have cut. And if he had won with his bid, he would have made a huge amount of money. Maybe that explains his hysteria.’
Whilst the main protagonists continued playing Punch and Judy across the broadsheets on Sunday, it now looks as if the National Audit Office and Transport Select Committee will be scrutinizing the bids.

According to Alistair Osborne in today's Telegraph:

Margaret Hodge, PAC chairman, said she was concerned that, following bid fiascos on the East Coast line, the Department for Transport (DfT) had been “over-optimistic about passenger numbers and economic growth”.

“There is no evidence to us that the DfT has changed its spots on any of this,” she said. “It would probably be legitimate for us to look at the process they have engaged in on this bid.”

Whilst this all adds greatly to the general gaiety of the nation, is it anyway to run a railway?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Halifax

This from @noddingdonkeys...


Pointed signs! - Paisley Gilmour St


Pointless sign - Peterborough

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Llanberis Lake Rly

London to Birmingham? That'll be Scarboro Fair

This from a Mr Tony Miles...

In all yesterday's excitement Eye may have missed the press release from "James Bethell, Director of Westbourne Communications" commenting on "the awarding of the WCML franchise to FirstGroup."?

James, the release tells us, "worked in the U.S. Senate, the European Commission and as a Parliamentary candidate." and "as a development professional, James continuously advises organisations on their growth plans, including Ministry of Sound, Capital Radio, Portland Communications (where he was managing partner) and PoliticsHome."

Which may explain why Westbourne is the "communications consultancy brought in to run the Campaign for High Speed Rail 2"

So far so good.

But what's this?

The press release berates the railway for failing to "make the case for franchises"!

"Today is a day we should be very proud of Britain's train industry. It is frustrating that the morning news led on negative stories such as union fears about job losses and passenger fears about the possible impact on fairs. It is a shame that the case for Britain's train industry has not been won amongst the British public."

Quite so.

Although we refer to the 'railway industry' rather than the "train industry" and in the UK passengers pay 'fares' and not "fairs"…

Unless of course this is a feature of HS2's ticketing strategy of which we are unaware?

UPDATE: This from a rather annoyed Andy Roden...

I am delighted that Westbourne Communications are 'behind' the Campaign for High Speed Rail 2.

Sadly there is little evidence of this on Twitter.

At present it is left entirely to the voluntary efforts of supporters, regional business groups, railway journalists and photographers (!) to make the case for this new railway and counter some of the more hysterical claims of HS2 opponents.

I'm all for noise mitigation measures, but I thought this involved putting a railway underground rather than PR heads in the sand!

Pointless signs - King's Cross

Railway Garden Competition - Barking

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Tony Collins video statement to Virgin staff

That is all.

Exciting Eye Competition: Spot the Greening!

Time for an exciting new Eye competition!

Despite there having been two major transport announcements in the last 24 hours (fares increases and the winner of the West Coast franchise) the Secretary of State for Transport has gone missing!

Look at the picture below.

Using your skill and judgement can you help the DfT find Justine Greening?

Clue: She's not there.

Perhaps in the reshuffle iDave can give us a full time Secretary of State for Transport?

West Coast incumbent salutes the DfT!

First Group CEO letter to ICWC stakeholders

This from Tim O'Toole...

I’m delighted to tell you that FirstGroup has been chosen by the Government to operate the InterCity West Coast rail franchise.  FirstGroup is the largest rail operator in the UK and has vast experience of operating a range of rail services.

We will begin operating services on 9 December and will run the franchise until 31 March 2026. The longer franchise period means we can invest £350m over the first five years in enhancing the service offered to customers, to realise the huge potential of the West Coast route - including 66 additional brand new vehicles, on top of the 106 extra vehicles currently being delivered this year.

Our plans for the service reflect its status as the UK's premier railway and through investment and innovation we are committed to delivering high quality customer services, with visible employees to assist and reassure, and maintaining and enhancing on-train catering.

We also want to offer value for money, and we will cut Standard Anytime fares by 15% on average.  We will introduce an improved compensation scheme for passengers who experience disruption to their journey from day one.

By 2016 we will deliver the following enhancements:

Timetable and trains
  • Transforming the on-board environment with a major refurbishment of Pendolino and Voyager interiors with new seats throughout and improved luggage space
  • Introducing 11 new 125mph six-car electric trains for Birmingham – Scotland services which will create 12,000 additional seats per day.  This is on top of the 28,000 new seats that will be provided by the additional 106 Pendolino carriages that are coming into service in time for the start of the new franchise.  This means there will be 40,000 extra seats by 2016, compared with 2011
  • Improved journey time of 15 minutes for trains between London and Glasgow
  • Introducing new direct services from London to Blackpool, Telford, Shrewsbury and Bolton providing a new direct link to the capital for more than 500,000 people
  • Doubling frequency of London to Preston services, and more capacity to Chester and North Wales
  • Improving connectivity with more stops at Nuneaton and Milton Keynes
  • Reliability and punctuality improvements to improve Public Performance Measure (PPM) to over 90% (from current level of 85.9%) through targeted investment and a new Alliance with Network Rail

Fares and ticketing
  • Reducing Standard Anytime fares by 15% on average
  • Installation of automatic ticket gates installation at 21 stations, including the major terminals of London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime St and Glasgow Central
  • Investment in greater yield management capability to help grow demand with increased marketing and introduction of new customer loyalty programme

Enhanced customer offering and innovation
  • Smart ticketing introduced across the network
  • Free upgraded high speed Wi-Fi, and enhanced mobile phone coverage following train refurbishment
  • Enhanced catering service offered, with increased at seat catering for customers
  • Improved information systems including new customer mobile apps
  • Station investment includes improving accessibility, security and passenger information
  • Commitment to high quality service including a greater emphasis on customer facing staff on trains and at stations

We have also committed to improve customer satisfaction ratings, and to provide clear and comprehensive information about our performance on the franchise.

We understand the importance of the West Coast Main Line route, not only to the communities it serves, but because it links many of the major cities in the UK, supporting the economic development of the nation.  With the major infrastructure upgrade on the West Coast Main Line completed, and additional train capacity being provided this year, we believe there is huge potential to grow demand and improve service on this franchise. Our plans will encourage more people along the route to travel by rail rather than drive or fly, reducing environmental impacts.

The franchise will form a key part of our Rail division, headed by our MD UK Rail, Rail Vernon Barker OBE, who successfully led First TransPennine Express for many years.  As we prepare to launch our service at the end of the year, we will seek further opportunities to share our plans with you in more detail. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact Richard Parry, our designate Managing Director for the new franchise.

We are privileged to be given the opportunity to serve the customers, cities, businesses and communities on this premier route, and look forward to working with you.  

Kind regards


Tim O'Toole
Chief Executive

Virgin statement on IC West Coast franchise

This from Virgin...

Statement: from Sir Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Group

Following the DFT's decision to award the West Coast Mainline franchise to FirstGroup, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group,  said:

“The Government decision to award the West Coast Main Line Franchise to FirstGroup is extremely disappointing for Virgin, and for our staff that have worked so hard to transform this railway over the last 15 years.  We submitted a strong and deliverable bid based on improving customers’ experience, increased investment and sustained innovation. To have bid more would have involved dramatic cuts to customer quality and considerable fare rises which we were unwilling to entertain.

“We also did not want to risk letting everybody down with almost certain bankruptcy at some time during the franchise as happened to GNER and National Express who overbid on the East Coast mainline. Sadly the Government has chosen to take that risk with First Group and we only hope they will continue to drive dramatic improvements on this line for years to come without letting everybody down.

“We won the franchise in 1997 with an agenda to change radically the way people viewed and used the train. At the time the track was run-down, staff demoralised, the service riddled with delays and reliant on heavy subsidies. We set hugely challenging targets to dramatically speed up journey times with modern tilting trains, increase the frequency of the service, improve the on-board experience; as well as double passenger numbers and return the line to profit.

“We were told it was "Mission Impossible" and our plans were laughed at by critics. However 15 years later, despite continued problems with the track, we have achieved our targets. Passenger numbers have more than doubled to over 30 million, the fastest growth in the UK and world leading. We have the highest customer satisfaction of any long distance franchise operator and dominate the air/rail market between London and Manchester. It has been a remarkable achievement by an outstanding team who have successfully delivered on our promises.

“I am immensely proud of our staff for turning the West Coast line from a heavily loss-making operation into one that will return the taxpayer billions in the years to come.  Last year we paid a net premium of £160 million to the taxpayer and have created a franchise worth more than £6 billion which is hugely valuable to the country.

“These achievements have counted for little – as this is the fourth time that we have been out-bid in a rail tender. On the past three occasions, the winning operator has come nowhere close to delivering their promised plans and revenue, and has let the public and country down dramatically. In the case of the East Coast Main line, both winners – GNER and National Express - over promised in order to win the franchise and spectacularly ran into financial difficulties in trying to deliver their plans.  The East Coast is still in Government ownership and its service is outdated and underinvested, costing passengers and the country dearly as a result.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When will the Department for Transport learn?

Interestingly before Virgin took over the West Coast there were more passengers using the East Coast than the West Coast. Now there are 12 million fewer.

“Under our stewardship, the West Coast Mainline has been transformed from a public liability into a valuable asset for the UK, worth many billions of pounds.  The service is a British success story and one to put up against rail companies around the world. It is a great shame that such a strong track record has been discounted in the evaluation process for one of the UK’s most important infrastructure assets. The country's passengers, taxpayers and the West Coast employees deserve better.

“Based on the current flawed system, it is extremely unlikely that we would bid again for a franchise.  The process is too costly and uncertain, with our latest bid costing £14 million. We have made realistic offers for the East Coast twice before which were rejected by the Department for Transport for completely unrealistic ones and therefore will have to think hard before embarking on another bid.

“Our amazing staff have been the driving force behind the West Coast Main Line’s transformation and I am sure that for the last months of the contract they will all continue to run the high quality service that has helped win us many awards and attract millions more customers to rail.”

DfT statement on IC West Coast franchise

This from the DfT...

Rail passengers from London to Scotland will benefit from a package of improvements including more trains and more seats, as Rail Minister Theresa Villiers unveiled First West Coast Limited as the new operator for the ‘InterCity West Coast’ franchise.

As part of the deal First West Coast Limited will introduce 11 new six-car electric trains which will enable more seats to be provided across the franchise, including greater capacity on the Birmingham to Scotland route. New services are planned from Blackpool, Telford, Shrewsbury and Bolton to London. First West Coast Limited has also committed to cut the cost of its ‘Standard Anytime’ fares by an average of 15% within the first two years.

The franchise stretches from London to Glasgow, connecting many of the UK’s major cities including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Lancaster and Chester. The franchise deal is worth £5.5 billion (net present value) over the lifetime of the contract.
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said:

“This new franchise will deliver big improvements for passengers, with more seats and plans for more services. Targets to meet on passenger satisfaction will be introduced for the first time in an InterCity rail franchise and passengers will also benefit from smart ticketing and from investment in stations.

“The West Coast is the first of the new longer franchises to be let by the Coalition which has helped us secure real benefits for passengers by encouraging First West Coast Limited to invest in the future of the service.”

Benefits the new franchise will offer passengers include:
  • More Seats: The new 11 six-car electric trains will deliver circa 12,000 extra seats a day, from December 2016 with the cascade of existing rolling stock to bolster capacity on West Coast routes. This is in addition to the 106 extra ‘Pendolino’ carriages which are currently being introduced into operation on to the franchise, which will deliver over 28,000 extra daily seats.
  • More Services: Initially First West Coast Limited will operate the timetable they will inherit from the current franchise but are seeking to introduce a number of new services including a London Euston to Blackpool service from 2013 and from 2016 services from London to Telford Central, Shrewsbury and Bolton.
  • Improved Services: Journey time improvements between London and Glasgow are planned, as well as additional services from London to Preston.
  • Fares: First West Coast Limited is changing its Standard Anytime fares and reducing them by an average of 15% over the first two years of the franchise.
  • Improved Stations: First West Coast Limited is taking over responsibility for maintenance at 17 of their stations and will spend at least £22m on a station investment programme.
  • Smart ticketing technology: First West Coast Limited will introduce ITSO based smart ticketing. This will offer speed and convenience as well as new ticket types more tailored to individual needs.
Notes to editors
  1. Bids were received from;
    • Abellio InterCity West Coast Limited – NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen),
    • First West Coast Limited – FirstGroup plc,
    • Keolis / SNCF West Coast Limited – Keolis SA and SNCF,
    • Virgin Trains Limited – Virgin Group Holdings Limited.
  2. Virgin Trains has operated the franchise since 1997 and the existing contract expires on 9 December 2012. The new franchise will begin operation on Sunday 9 December 2012. The franchise will operate for a core term of 13 years and 4 months, with an option to be extended to operate for up to 15 years.
  3. The proposed Train Service Specification for new Inter City West Coast represents a relaxation from the rigid timetable specification of the past, while retaining obligations that protect the key elements of service, such as principal first and last trains and minimum numbers of station stops per week and per day. This marks a significant shift from the highly detailed specification which featured in previous franchise specifications.
  4. To support its bid, First West Coast Limited has provided £10m of Shareholder Capital, a £45m Performance bond agreement and a subordinated loan of £190m. This is in addition to the requirement to provide a Season Ticket bond of circa £5m and a £15m Parent Company Guarantee to ensure the new Station Facilities maintenance obligations are met.
  5. This longer franchise length encouraged investment in assets such as stations by extending the period over which commercially attractive schemes can pay back.
  6. Anytime fares allow the use of any train, including at weekday peak times. Anytime tickets are not the only ones available to walk-on passengers. Off-peak fares are also available on the day and – as their name implies – are generally valid on all but peak services.
  7. The new services are subject to obtaining the necessary permissions and access rights from the Office of Rail Regulation.
  8. ITSO is a government-backed common technical standard for smart travel which means that transport operators throughout Britain can link up so passengers only have to use one secure payment ‘smart’ card no matter what bus, train or route they are using.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Fares and InterCity West Coast

The Fact Compiler has been busy on Twitter today following the announcement of the RPI figures which equate to Ouch.

With the formula for January's rail fare increase being RPI+3 that equates to double Ouch!

Or, in new money, an average fare increase of 6.2%.

Where is Greening?

No matter.

Meanwhile, perhaps readers might like to savour the following musical interlude in advance of tomorrow's excitement.

Where is Greening?

It contains the following lines:

I would have given you all of my heart
but there's someone who's torn it apart
and she's taking almost all that I've got


Enjoy, or not!

And where is Greening?

Railway Garden Competition - Meols Cop

This from Sir Hector Smallgland...

NRs superb advert for the Southport flower show at Meols Cop station, Southport

Railway Garden Competition - Barmouth

This from Obi Wan Bucki...

Please find below a photo of the Cambrian Coast Line at Barmouth with a mix of wild garden and beach providing a bit of camoflauge for the rusted tracks.  

Given that this line is the flagship/testbed for the ERTMS signalling system, the infrastructure is in a disappointing state, but with only a couple of 37's and a few DMU's converted for the new system, maybe its a bit impractical to pull weedkiller trains all the way out to the coast.  

And as we are in the Age of Austerity perhaps there is little point in spending money on a route that will probably be closed anyway when ERTMS is declared a costly failure?

Monday, 13 August 2012

We've had the circuses, time for the bread!

An interesting week, if the chattering classes are to be believed.

First (ahem) there is tomorrow's announcement on the size of the January fares increase (expected to be RPI plus Ouch).

Having had circuses over the last two weeks surely it is now time for the people to have bread as well? 

So let's see whether Greening has prevailed upon Gideon to throw passengers some stale crumbs by limiting the percentage increase over RPI? Eye doesn't advise holding your breath.

Also on the Horizon is the name of the InterCity West Coast franchise winner, with an announcement expected tomorrow or Wednesday.

Happily it looks as if managing irate passengers and shouty men with beards will fall to Cruella; as Cameron, Clegg and Greening are all taking a well earned post Olympic break.

Perhaps the postal service misplaced their invitation to the sun drenched delights of Necker Island? 

Railway Garden Competition - York

This from Anon...

Surely a winning entry from York, one of the UK's premier stations?

Perhaps the secret of York's success can be traced to its use of fine British organic fertiliser, samples of which can be found here in the 4' alongside platform 8?

What a marvelous way to greet passengers to this fine city!

Pointless signs - Manchester Piccadilly

This from Pacermaker...

Could I propose the pointless sign painted onto the escalator steps at Manchester Piccadilly (the escalator from platforms 13/14). 


Railway Garden Competition - Chester

Good to see this perennial favourite once again.

Railway Garden Competition - Norwich Thorpe

Railway Garden Competition - Cheltenham Spa

Or pointless sign?

For you to decide, dear reader.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Fact Compiler is on his hols...

So posting will be, at best, intermittent.

No doubt a source of relief to many.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Railway Garden Competition - Bishop's Stortford

Exclusive - IEP on test!

Exclusive Eye video of Mr Kipling's genius bi-mode project on test at Birkhill...

That is all.

ATOC announces record Tractor Production stats

The Supreme Committee of the Amalgamated Train Operating Collective has announced the following:
  • Train companies are providing 574,071 extra seats today, operating over 4.2 million seats in total.
All citizens are to immediately join with their co-workers in celebrating this monumental achievement by the people's railway!

And in other news, grain production is up 25%.  

Railway Garden Competition - Altrincham

This from a Dr Jekyll...

Photographed past week at Altrincham Station. despite these being the Metrolink platforms they are owned and maintained by Network Rail. 

Perhaps the yellow trams known locally as bananas are trying reproduce in the undergrowth!

Railway Garden Competition - Ravenglass

Railway Garden Competition - Dean Forest Railway

Pointless Signs 2012 - Games Edition

So farewell Digital Boris!

TfL have pulled the automated messages featuring the Mayor which have encouraged Britons to abandon their Capital in droves.

No matter.

Meanwhile perhaps the Pink Police can now deal with the following:
  • At Waterloo enormous signs tell you to walk to Charing Cross station to get the train to Blackheath. Has no one heard of Waterloo East?
  • The authorised route from Waterloo to the Olympic Park seems to be to walk to Embankment and then take the District line to West Ham and walk again. Has no one heard of the Jubilee Line? Are they really expecting families with small children to take such a lengthy and tough route?
  • At St. Pancras International the signs for the Javelin trains point towards the Eurostar arrivals area from both directions – yes they really do! Obviously the staff are totally peed off with people complaining about the mis-direction as some of the arrows have now been covered over with bits of pink paper!
  • At KXSP underground concourse (the one by the entrance to the Met and Circle lines) there is a big sign pointing onto the underground for the Olympic Park! The posters correctly tell you to use the Javelin service.
Come on guys. There is still time to fix this.