Saturday, 29 September 2012

A bad case of mistaken identity?

This from The Tea Boy...

Those arriving for the ATOC Integrated Transport Conference in Manchester on Thursday were surprised to see a practice run for next week's Labour Party Conference, and the Scrap McNulty campaigns of RMT and TSSA.  

This welcoming committee must have been a particular surprise for one John McNulty, former head of Interchange Integration at TfL, who turned up to make one of the presentations.

Unfortunately the protestors also missed the minister!

Norman Baker's keynote speech was scheduled less conventionally for the close of the morning session rather than the opening address. This allowed Stormin' Norman to miss both the 'red-eye' from Euston and the Brothers, as they had packed up and gone before he arrived.

Still, better luck next week?

A stock farewell - Back to the future?

This with thanks to @13MilePost...

Good to see London Underground sending the Metropolitan line A stock off in style today.

Here Howard Collins, LUL's Chief Operating Officer, stands next to the last A60 stock at Harrow on the Hill.

The Cravens built trains entered service on the Met on the 12th June 1961 - over fifty years ago. They have been displaced by Bombardier built S stock. 

Below the Metropolitan line's General Manager (holding the commemorative headboard) stands in front of a set of the new S stock at Amersham.

So 'Back to the future'... ahem... in more ways than one!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Pointless signs - Waterloo

This from the Lost Tribe of TOC...

Another pointless safety initiative apparently from the Ministry of the Bleedin' Obvious:

If the escalator is congested, and people are queueing, I'm not sure where NR expect you to stand.

Perhaps Waterloo East or Charing Cross would be a nice safe distance?

Party Conference news - LibDems

This from the Ninja

Thought Eye readers might be interested to see that the anti-HS2 mob were busy lobbying at the LibDems' Conference in Brighton.

Expect similar appearances at Manchester and Birmingham.

The arguments in their slide presentation were simplistic, contradictory and easy to demolish.

In particular I loved the comparison between the beautiful woods of the Chilterns and the maintenance depot on HS1!

I wonder who is actually paying for the stand, glossy leaflets and chocolate white elephants?

Trying to persuade them of the error of their ways was the most fun I had in Brighton this week.

Apart from hearing Cleggy's 'songified' apology, obviously.

Preston showcases 'joined up railway'

This from Old BR Engineer...

This is Platform 6 at Preston. 

The platform extension for 11 car Pendolinos was done first, then resurfacing of rest of platform, nearest to camera. 

With coper edge & height specified within tolerances of less than 25mm (relative to track) how can the joint between contracts end up like this!

Also note:
  • Channel drains not joined-up;
  • Platform 6 extension longer than Platform 5 but other end of Platform there is no difference;
  • Expensive type of paving slabs used - Wigan North Western and Warrington done with paviours (bricks) which take ages to lay and are hell to lift & relay if required.  Down south they use quick, cheap, and easy tarmac (Wimbledon and Winchester for example);
  • The main resurfacing contract clearly has some other problems still to resolve:- around column bases, and over the subway - which as an afterthought now has to be partially reconstructed to achieve the desired levels!
Oh Dear!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The worst ICWC scare story EVER - Official

This from the RMT, in scraping the barrel mode... 

RAIL UNION RMT warned today that the continuing franchise chaos on the West Coast main line could force the Government to run trains over the busy Christmas and New Year period blown over in grey primer with no livery as they continue to drag their heels over the renationalisation of the service under East Coast operator, Directly Operated Railways

Forgive me if I don't get excited. 

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles... 
Indeed - scraping the barrel - because obviously state owned East Coast repainted all their trains the day they took over from NXEC, didn't they? Well actually no they didn't as some are still in GNER livery…

Franchise handover rules just require the departing operator to remove their logos from trains.

Remember how long it took Arriva CrossCountry to remove the Virgin colours from the Voyagers when they took over?

Perhaps Bob should have gone to Specsavers?

UPDATE: This from Shades of SNG...

As somebody once nearly said, clothing engines in plain grey would be
like letting them run around with their whites un-washed.

Might I suggest the addition of some discreet steel bands to steel grey
as the new DOR livery, in conjunction with a suitably tapered front end.

Well it worked for me.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

East Coast tweets it like it is...

Seen on twitter earlier this afternoon...

Good effort! 

That is all.

UPDATE: This from the late Sir Edward Heath...

I am disturbed to see East Coast using gallons rather than litres.

Under my inspired leadership, and since the 1970s, the UK has been using... (cont' p94).

Oh... Gotti off! Ed

Government parks tanks on ROSCOs front lawn

This from Virginia Water...

According to the Pink-un yesterday:

The £1bn order for new trains for the Crossrail east-west London rail line will be among the first recipients of a government guarantee designed to revive investment in essential infrastructure, Danny Alexander will announce on Tuesday.

Your exam questions for today are therefore;

1. This guarantee is being offered to reduce the lease payments and hence long term rail subsidy bill.  On that basis, why doesn't the Treasury and DfT offer this finance to all future rolling stock deals?

2. If Treasury/DfT is guaranteeing all rolling stock, why not just RAB finance the lot?

3. What are the implications for the as yet unsigned Thameslink order? and

4. What does this mean for the future of the ROSCOs?

Privitisation is dead. Long live state intervention!

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Surely the deeply unpopular LibDems don't propose using this finance method to pay for the Thameslink fleet which will be built entirely in Germany?

Or the Crossrail fleet which will no doubt be manufactured in Japan and ahem... 'assembled' by three men and a dog at Newton Aycliffe.

Good to see taxpayers money being used to export skilled jobs overseas!

Pointless signs - King's Cross

UPDATE: This from Dr Strabismus

Au contraire.
I saw this the other day and thought to myself “how pointful, informing the plebs and oiks who aren’t purchasing franchised comestibles that all and sundry may sit here without fear of ejection, thereby depriving your humble correspondent of a comfy spot to sit and write postcards”.  
Although a forest of similar seats has suddenly appeared beneath the departures board, albeit already inhabited by the homeless (despite the absence of a pointless sign).

UPDATE: This from Geddes Axe...

Surely the sign is to tell passengers that seating in what may appear to be a food area (where the passenger might expect a seating-only-for-food-purchasers policy as applies to every other similar space) is in fact available to everyone, without their having to buy food or drink. That is information that needs communicating if passengers are to take advantage of the concession.

Given the size of penalty facing the Advance ticket holder who misses their train, the rational behaviour of the cash-conscious passenger is to aim to arrive at the departure station a long time before their train, in case you get held up on the way. That means that one often ends up with considerable time to kill at the station. Not sure about the new KX, but at St Pancras, that usually means standing up (or sitting on the floor) if your budget doesn't run to eating out - there were (when I last counted) just ten public seats available for East Midlands passengers wanting to sit down while they waited for their train.

Station operators pay little concern for the needs of the passenger who doesn't want to spend money with their retail tenants: I think you should celebrate (rather than mock) this modest gesture to the needs of the less affluent.

Railway Garden Competition - Altrincham

This from The Clitheroe Kid...

Plenty of horticultural interest for waiting Metrolink passengers at Altrincham.

New DfT Special Advisers appointed

According to @JimBethal of Westbourne the new DfT SpAds are:

Julian Glover (who) has been released from Downing Street where he was crafting speeches for the Prime Minister. A former Guardian journalist, he is an enthusiast for HS2 (he weekends in Derbyshire near GO and PMcL). 

Ben Mascall (who) has become one of the Coalition’s most trusted press operators. He worked previously at heavy-weight brands like Coca-Cola and Tesco, and high-profile politicos like Gove and Bozza.

On the plus side they can't be any worse than the last lot. 

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

Once upon a time Special Advisers were there to guard a minister's back against the devious civil servants who can obviously run rings round here today/gone tomorrow politicians on the detail of their Departments.  

In this they are, or should be, a sub-set of Policy Wonks. By and large the SpAds at DfT have been singularly useless in this role. 

Andrew Adonis was of course a hybrid - half minister/half wonk, a rare combination feared by Permanent Secretaries who can generally see off wonks.  An exception was the wonkocracy which emerged under the Blair Government - the wonk-driven demise of Railtrack is the classic example.    

These latest guys sound more like Political Advisers than Policy Wonks or SpAds.  

Political Advicors (PADs?) are concerned not with the practicality of policy but with how it will be presented and perceived. So expect more nonsensical written answers.

Old railway hands who remember Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam in his youthful Treasury days expect him to eat these new SpAds for breakfast.


Monday, 24 September 2012

Lessons in deckchair rearrangement

Good news for fans of Management wibble.

The Fact Compiler has received an invite to the following exciting event from the University of Wolverhampton Business School...

Presumably one in a series including: 'How to exit the railway industry' and 'Losing with Good Grace - A Masterclass'.

Pointless signs - FGW Turbostar

This from a Mr A Spanner...

A passenger information display on a FGW turbo-thingy going from Redhill to Reading on Monday. 

Instead of the calling pattern it was displaying a load of numbers.

Perhaps this gives a clue to the amount FGW is receiving in Cap'n'Collar payments?

Railway Garden Competition - Fenchurch St

This from D1039...

One of several charming specimens adorning the viaducts at Savage Gardens, Fenchurch St.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Some good news from York...

This from the York Press...

A RETIRED museum worker had a special message for a police community support officer – thank you for saving my life. 

Ray Towell, 66, had a heart attack and stopped breathing as he went to catch a bus home from Blossom Street, in York. 

But PCSO Lee Johnson was passing on patrol and immediately started emergency first aid, as did paramedic Craig Barley, who also happened to be passing. 

It is just amazing to me I am still here,” said Mr Towell, of Moor Lane, York, a former curator at the National Railway Museum. “How lucky can you be? I am extremely lucky that the right people were there at the right time. “What they did –it means my life to me.

After being rushed to the cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary by ambulance, he made a full recovery...


HS2 failure rewarded by success!

This from ITV News...

The company behind the new high speed rail link through Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire is at the centre of a major new row after it emerged it is up for a top award for its consultation on the scheme, despite failing to consider hundreds of responses due to technical errors. 

No doubt the DfT team behind the Incredibly Expensive Procurement are already counting their plaudits from the Public Accounts Committee? 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Davies departs NRM...

This from the National Railway Museum... 

National Railway Museum Director steps down

Steve Davies is to step down as Director of the National Railway Museum to pursue a new venture in the private sector. He will be leaving his post as of the end of October 2012.

Steve has been the Director of the National Railway Museum since February 2010. He has presided over some high-profile projects which include the ongoing restoration of Britain’s best known steam locomotive, Flying Scotsman, the launch of a purpose built art gallery and Railfest - the biggest ever gathering of rail record holders.

Steve said: “The National Railway Museum is a very special place in the hearts of many people in this country, with an enviable reputation internationally.  I have been proud and privileged to lead a highly motivated team over the last three years, and hope that I have played my part in further promoting the Museum’s fortunes.  I have, however, decided to accept a firm offer of employment in the private sector as Managing Director of a company in the leisure and tourism industry.  The job I am moving to will provide me with an exciting and enjoyable set of new challenges, which I look forward to immensely.  I am sure the National Railway Museum will move from strength to strength in the years ahead.

His position will be taken by an acting Director, Paul Kirkman, from 5th November 2012. Paul joins on secondment from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group said: “Steve’s passion for trains and the railway industry has been evident in everything that he has done at the National Railway Museum over the past two years. We thank him for his contribution and look forward to working with his successor to ensure that the National Railway Museum maintains its position as the leading railway museum in the world”.

Paul Kirkman says: “I am delighted to have been invited by Ian Blatchford to take up this position as acting Director of the National Railway Museum. I am sure that my wide-ranging experience working with the cultural sector at DCMS and elsewhere will help in the continued success of one of Britain’s greatest museums.” 


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Pointless signs 2012 - Stratford

This from Sir Nel Ting...

There are still, supposedly, well over 100 Olympic and Para' signs still plastered all over Stratford station... well as associated adverts.

Yesterday’s papers selling yesterday’s news?

Or the much vaunted 'Legacy'?

Railway Garden Competition - Crewe

This from Central User...

Further to Crewe's entry of 30th July, a supplementary submission is needed in order to clarify the wide ranging skills of the horticulturists of Crewe. 

Behold the Secret Garden!

It is however to be hoped that Network Rail are not wasting time in maintaining the overhead lines.

Blinded by the light

This from Scotch Corner...

I thought Eye readers might be interested in the attached photo which is doing the rounds.

It purports to show the view that drivers have of the Shard, in certain weather conditions.

Expect Network Rail to require use of welding masks, vice sun glasses.

First accepts Virgin best - Official

Happy news for the franchising zealots of Great Minster House (Sid and Dorris Bonkers)!

With the 'risk transfer' model of franchising subject to increasing ridicule for failing both fare and taxpayers, the mandarins of Marsham Street must have been looking forward to yesterday's Business Traveller magazine awards.

At a glitzy lunchtime event at Kensington's Royal Garden hotel, hosted by no less a figure than the polymath Sir Trevor McDonald, the keenly competed for 'Best UK Domestic Train Service' award went to errr... Beardie Rail.

Alas, and for the sixth year running!

As this doesn't quite fit the DfT's narrative on the West Coast franchise expect this accolade to go unremarked upon by either officials or ministers.

And to compound Marsham Street's joy, the award itself was sponsored by First Great Western!

UPDATE: This from Mrs AP Tis...

I understand that First Group are applying for a judicial review of the decision to award the prize to Virgin Trains.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pointless sign - Northern, Class 150

This from a Mr Banks...

Is pregnancy really a disability?

Pointless signs - Thames South Bank

This from Pedantic of Purley...

Let us ignore for the moment that “bridge” HHH 410 appears to consists of some red pillars sticking out over the river Thames and is unlikely to affect the safety of trains.  

It is a bit difficult to imagine a scenario where the watercourse in question, the Thames, is blocked. 

In the event of the Thames freezing solid or debris sufficient to prevent the river free flowing I am sure that the 'Rail Authority' would be aware of it without the need of a phone call from a passing member of the public.

Railway Sculptures - Longsight

This from Dr Gloucester...

I wonder if I might submit the following entries for Eye's occasional series 'Railway Sculptures'?

Seen near the former Staff Halt for Longsight depot, this track panel and sleepers appear to have been left over from a relaying job.  

Judging by the colour of the sleepers, and the well established vegetation which has sprouted through them, it looks like they've been there for a number of years and should qualify for entry into Eye's Railway Garden Competition as well.

A little further south are more piles of several hundred new concrete sleepers, slowly being swallowed up by the encroaching greenery.

Aside from the untidy appearance these present, how can the rail industry afford to waste material like this, I doubt this stuff is particularly cheap?

Friday, 14 September 2012

MPs get three hours to debate ICWC franchise

Rosie Cooper has secured a three hour parliamentary debate on the award of the West Coast Main Line franchise to First Group.

The Backbench Business Committee has granted a debate from 16.30 on Monday 17th September following a request by the Labour MP for West Lancashire.

Expect more heat than light as ministers claim they are unable to reveal details of the winning bid due to commercial confidentiality and the involvement of m'learned friends.

Still, it all adds further to the general gaiety of the nation!

But what a way to run the railway.

NRES - so good they say it twice

This from Tally Rand...

Here a helpful 'key' from the Live Departure Boards section of the National Rail website:

Perchance the NRES website designer is paid by the word*?

Key: Paid by the Word - Being paid by the Word

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wolmayor slammed for inconsistency!

This from everybody...

Let's hope that Wolmayor is more consistent on transport policy, than he is on his name. 

According to the Great Man "I hope to be Wolmar in this campaign rather than Christian to avoid confusion."

So call me Wolmar but  'Follow Christian'.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Help DOR choose a new MD for ICWC

Time for an exciting new Eye survey!

Using your skill and judgement help Directly Operated Railways select the new MD for the soon to be nationalised InterCity West Coast franchise.

Make your contribution to running Britain's railway in the poll on the right...

UPDATE: This from Sir Roger Stair-rail...

Hmmm.. Current leader in the poll is Bradley Wiggins - who is contracted to Team Sky, owned by, er... Sky... Prop. R. Murdoch...

Murdoch or Branson? 

If only Jeremy Hunt had got Transport instead of Health !!

DOR prepares to mobilise for ICWC nationalisation

Phones have been ringing across the industry as Directly Operated Railways assembles its West Coast team of Last Resort.

Despite McLoughlin's warm words about Beardie at today's Transport Select Committee he remained clear that the DfT would continue with First's winning bid, m'learned friends allowing.

Expect the state owned tanks to arrive at Euston on the eve of the 9th December.

All you ever need to know about Chinese Railways

This from Our Man by the Photocopier... 

We are all indebted for this beam of clarity to a Dublin-based outfit which publishes Rather Expensive Reports about this and that, called Research and Markets Ltd.

The eShot promoting its latest effusion, ‘Research Report on Chinese Railway Transportation Industry 2012’ (prices start at a mere 2,094 euros), opens with these words:

Classified by the usage, railway transportation can be divided into two categories, passenger transport and freight transport. The former is used to serve passengers and for the transportation of passengers and the later [sic] is for the transportation of cargos."

Just fancy that!

Railway Garden Competition - Shocking Vandalism!

Disturbing news from Bishop's Stortford!

Regular Eye readers will recall this splendid Railway Garden entry from the Greater Anglia station:

Sadly the entry has been withdrawn!

Eye understands that during a recent night time raid the hanging gardens were eradicated and now passengers only have a brick wall to look at. 

And they call this progress?

DfT PPSs announced

The following have been announced as Parliamentary Private Secretaries to DfT ministers... 

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin: Gavin Williamson MP (South Staffordshire) 

Minister of State - Simon Burns: Julian Sturdy MP (York Outer) 

Still awaiting ministerial responsibilities...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Behold Wolmayor!

Are there no limits to the ambition of the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent?

Not content with being star of wireless, devil's lantern and the printed page the Great Man has now set himself a still yet greater challenge...

Can it be long before we see Wolmayor actively campaigning for BoJo to become PM!