Friday, 20 December 2013

Pointless signs - First Hull Trains

This from a Ms High Society...

I find myself feeling a bit sorry for any elderly or disabled men who, presumably, have to fend for themselves.

First for inclusion?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Railway Carol Service - 12:30 Thursday 19th December

If you are in London at lunchtime...

All welcome.

All that needs to be said about Biggs

This from Peter Rayner...

"My view is that whilst I was - and am - critical of the Great Train Robbers and the heroes' welcome they got, especially in light of the death of Jack Mills, my sympathies go out to his family and I would not wish to speak further on the subject."

That is all.

Silver Stump Watch - Edinburgh Waverley

This from Strawbrick...

There must be something about Scotland!

This is from the approach ramp to Edinburgh Waverley from the South Bridge, between 1/3rd and half-way down.

To get to these bollards you need to mount the kerb, which is about a foot high, then smash through the cast iron bollards and railings. 

If  your angle of attack is 90 degrees then your vehicle will have to be less than 6ft long so that you can turn right through exactly 90 degrees and then approach the silver bollards. If you attack the existing fence at less than 90 degrees you will impale yourself on the ends of the broken railings.

Perhaps taking belt and braces a little too far?

Pointless signs - Peterborough

This from Percy Kilometer...

Platform 2 (London end) yesterday.

What came to an end at 23.59 on November 13 2009?

4 years, 1 month and 5 days ago.... and counting.

Seems a long time to get the ladders out?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

NR and ONS - Eye salutes the DfT!

What is this?

It is the sound of today's broadcast media coverage of the ONS decision on NR debt.

A deep doff of the bowler to Our Ma Sheriff's (and the Davies Commission)!

RDG on ONS and Network Rail

This from the Rail Delivery Group...

“The railway is undergoing one of the biggest programmes of improvement in its history delivering more trains, better stations and faster journeys and this will not change.

“With help from Government, the rail industry will remain focused on delivering its massive investment programme. This is encouraging more passengers and businesses to use the railway, helping pay for further improvements. The effective partnership between public and private sectors is a winning formula for the railway that is delivering for passengers, businesses and taxpayers."

Funny... something is missing!

Where is the obligatory reference to the triumph of privatisation?

Network Rail, ONS and the future!

This from The Man by the Photocopier...

I note that Network Rail is to become a public sector body.

I have it on the very best authority that this is the new NR logo that will be used from next September.

John Major, read it and weep.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Pointless signs - East Croydon

This from Pedantic of Purley... 

Southern is to be commended for its helpful and up-to-date signage at the bottom of the the steps of the overbridge.

Unfortunately the clear helpful signage is contradicted by another sign halfway up the steps.

Not so much pointless as incorrect and potentially dangerous causing people to stop suddenly on the staircase or, worse still, suddenly turn around.

Silver Stump Watch - Kelvinhall

This from D9015...

The address for Kelvinhall Subway station, in Dalcross Passage, built into the ground floor of a tenement building and at the rear for good measure, doesn't stop the formulaic specification of these silver soldiers defending the cash-desk against a speeding vehicle attack. 

To achieve this would require some impressive driving!

From one end the approach is along an alleyway barely 8 feet wide.

From the main street it's through an archway and squeezing past the bike racks, with a 90 degree turn at the last minute.

Still, one must have one's bollards.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A brolly poor show at Nottingham!

This from the Wicked Weaver...


In less than an hour this afternoon, trains to Matlock, Leeds, Norwich, Skegness and Lincoln, all departed from unsheltered platform space.

Silly Victorians! 

Why on earth would passengers want canopies?

All change at NR?

The Fact Compiler's latest encomium published in Passenger Transport on the 6th December...

The next edition of Passenger Transport is published on the 20th December.

UPDATE: This from a Pedant just North of Purley...

Just before you start crowing over Eye's mystic powers to determine what the ONS would actually say...

I am sure I cannot be the first to draw attention to the homophonic error in para 3 of your reproduced item from Passenger Transport.
If only anyone associated with government were of principle. 
I am sure he is only a principal accounting officer.

Number crunching - Beardie Rail

Compare and contrast...

80% - the decline in Virgin Rail profits due to the ICWC shambles

90% - the Stagecoach share in the new joint venture with Virgin bidding for ICEC


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Toton Engineman book launch

This from a Mr Harris...

Would you mind plugging this splendid tome on your mighty organ?

Toton Engineman is the railway story of the late John Woolley, who started as an engine cleaner at Toton MPD in October 1954. He was 15 years old. John retired from Toton 40 years later in 1994 on the eve of Privatisation.

John recalls everyday life at one of Britain’s biggest steam sheds - the banter, pranks and hard work required to become a fireman. He also recalls firing the biggest engines at Toton - the mighty ‘Garratts’ and their massive London coal trains. As well as the steam age John also writes about the new depot and the diesels he drove.

At just £19.95 this is the perfect 2013 Christmas present!

Toton Engineman will be launched between 13:00 and 15:00 on Saturday the 14th December at the Westgate Suite, Westgate, Long Eaton, NG10 1EF.

All welcome.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Pointless signs - Balcombe

This from Prof Bunsen Honeydew...

Welcome to Gatwick Airport!

Seen in the Balcombe up platform bus shelter early Saturday morning.

World's best value line upgrade - Ever

This from @ECMLfan...

One person has become extremely rich in the WCML upgrade as it clearly can be done for just £70!

That's one hell of a scoop by the IRJ!

Pointless signs - Oxford

This from a Mrs Honeyman...

Spotted at the Upper Crust, Oxford on Saturday.

Oh dear - no doubt someone will be picking up their cards over this!

Railway Bothy at Stevenage

This from Oliver Cromwell...

For some bizarre reason they've decided to install garden sheds on both platforms at Stevenage...

To avoid confusion there is even a sign showing that the pointy bit goes at the top!

So does this qualify as a Railway Bothy or a Pointless Sign?

Friday, 6 December 2013

NR nationalised - almost...

This from the Office for Budget Responsibility - Economic and fiscal outlook, Box 4.2, page 98...

the classification of Network Rail:
Network Rail is currently classified as a private sector body. The ONS is reviewing that classification against the revised guidance in ESA10. Network Rail had £30 billion of debt recorded in its latest accounts, up from £8 billion at formation in 2002. Based on published plans, its operations imply the equivalent of around £3 billion of borrowing a year on average over the coming years. A change of classification could therefore increase PSND by about 2 per cent of GDP and PSNB by 0.2 per cent of GDP on average, with implications for future debt;

No doubt both TfL and Scotland are looking forward to managing, maintaining and upgrading their devolved railway assets?

Great Western Railway Band at Paddington

This via @NetworkRailPad...

The Great Western Railway Band performs at Paddington Station every Friday between Easter and Christmas. The concerts start at 19.30 every week, finishing at 21.00hrs.

Accompanied by band mascot Patch the dog, the GWR Band delights passengers at Network Rail managed Paddington Station with a different playlist each Friday

Good effort.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

ORR fixes railway's finances in a stroke!

Good news for fans of the bleedin' obvious!

This searing insight from an ORR press release issued today:

Richard Price, Chief Executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), today gave a keynote speech at the Future of Rail Conference in London.

He said: “Spending the right amount of money, in the right place, at the right time, will reduce delays, bring down costs and secure a safe and sustainable railway now, and for the future.

Who'd have thunk it?

DfT - a lesson in being careful what you wish for

This from Ithuriel...

The Invitations to Tender for the new replacement franchises, sees bidders get brownie points for quality improvements. 

One good way to improve quality is to promise new trains, which generates points and, of course, points mean prizes!

But, new trains cost more money.

And the word on the tracks is that DfT is facing the prospect of all the bids for Thameslink Southern Great Northern being of such high quality that they are all unaffordable.

Autumn statement on Fares

This from the Chancellor's Autumn Statement:

Rail Fares
1.272 To help households with living costs the government will further cap the average increase in regulated rail fares for the 2014 calendar year to RPI. This will benefit over a quarter of a million annual season ticket holders who will, on average in 2014, save £25. For instance, an annual season ticket from Chelmsford to London should be around £35 less in 2014 than it would have been without this change whilst an annual season ticket from Oxford to London should be around £45 less. This measure will complement the decision by the Mayor of London to cap the average increase in Transport for London fares at RPI for 2014.

1.273 Autumn Statement 2013 confirms that the permitted 'flex’ above the overall cap on average rail fares will be reduced to 2%. A commuter with a £2,000 season ticket could save up to £60 because of this measure, in a scenario in which the operator had chosen to apply the maximum permitted increase.

1.274 Autumn Statement 2013 also confirms a trial of flexible rail season ticketing that will take place in the South East. The innovative products being tested will benefit those who work flexibly or part-time.


Putting aside the challenge of recalculating every fare before tomorrow, this is good news for passengers.

Note that our Chancellor even has a sense of humour - focusing on fares from Chelmsford, the home to erstwhile rail minister and the notoriously train-shy Simon Burns MP.

Greater Anglia colleagues, therefore, will be best placed to advise whether this particular policy innovation has been a success

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Argos - kettle alert

This via @13milepost...

Dual Fuel?

Converted to run on surplus catalogues?

Who knew?

Eurostar sale - another test for 'risk transfer'

So. Government intends to sell its 40% stake in Eurostar. 

Danny Alexander said the following on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (courtesy of the Guardian):

"We've set out already, we've started to sell off some of the student loan book, that would be another area, there are assets owned by the London and Continental Railways, things that a lot of people wouldn't have thought the state owned in the first place.

"What I'm setting out today is an ambition with some examples of things we think we could sell. Clearly no final decisions have been made about any of those assets, but clearly the point is that where government owns assets that could be better managed in the private sector, could be more efficiently managed in the private sector and where we can get money in to reinvest in vital infrastructure projects that get this country moving, that support the long-term economic growth of this country, they can back up the vote of confidence that we're seeing from the private sector." 

Quite so.

No doubt this announcement came as little surprise to London and Continental, what with government being all joined up and all!

No matter.

Eye expects there will be vast queues of private investors keen to take on LCR's stake in Eurostar... as well as the obligations of the 1987 Rail Usage Contract, which remains in force till 2052:

After privatisation, Eurostar and English Welsh and Scottish Railway assumed British Rail's preferences and liabilities under the contract through 'back-to-back' agreements, which account for 50% of Eurotunnel's capacity. The contract guarantees a minimum level of income for Eurotunnel, which helped it meet its liabilities for construction costs and now also serves as the basis for how access charges are levied on all railway undertakings using the Channel Tunnel. 

Joined up government indeed. 

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Well if they do succeed in flogging off the government stake in Eurostar it will save some embarrassment on the East Coast franchise competition.

What with DfT planning to boot off today's state owned operator and possibly replace it with Eurostar, which is errr... another state owned operator!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

King's Cross - NR sinks to new depths

This courtesy of Wolmayor...

What is wrong with the perfectly good English word 'lift'?

Eh, Network Railroad?

UPDATE: This, unofficially, from the News Bunker...

Howdy, y'all!

Now just wait a cotton picking minute.

With regard to your elevating tale from Wolmayor: when faced with an increasing number of passengers who carry large amounts of baggage on escalators, often with unfortunate consequences, clarity of message is crucial. Hence, the universally well-known Americanism from our virtual nannies.

Along with platform edge fences and yellow lines everywhere, it is one of those developments you wouldn't think a railway would need - but sadly it does.

Yes siree, bob!

Nope. Not convinced. Why not in French, German or for that matter Chinese. Looks like fanny covering to Eye! Ed.

A voice crying in the wilderness?

The Fact Compiler's latest impression of a broken record was published in Passenger Transport on the 22nd November...

The next edition of Passenger Transport is published on the 6th December.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Mediaballs - Grauniad on Dave's China jolly

This from the Gruaniad...

China wants involvement in Britain's first high-speed rail line and an increased role in civil nuclear power, the country's premier said in Beijing after talks with David Cameron on the first day of the prime minister's visit.

Hmmm... admittedly UK PLC may be a little behind the People's Republic on high speed rail but Li Keqiang may find a clue in the new railway's title: HS2.

No matter.

Meanwhile, there is one area where Britain could certainly learn from our Chinese friends.

An equally robust approach to our own former railway ministers would do much pour encourager les autres!

Pointless signs - Woking

This from Henry Hassocks...

One hopes its convalescence was properly completed before returning to duty…

Saturday, 30 November 2013

All bets are ons for a unified railway

The Department for Transport, a clarification...

Regular readers may have gained the impression that Railway Eye has less than the very highest regard for the Permanent Secretary and team at the Department for Transport.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Headlines such as You're all bloody useless!, Marsham Street couldn't organise a soiree in a brewery! and Fire the lot of them! were merely motivational posts, designed to shine a light upon the intellectual powerhouse and strategic acumen that resides in Great Minster House.

In fact Eye would go further and say that the very best possible outcome for the railway would be for Philip Rutnam to have direct oversight of both infrastructure and operators, so that the entire industry can face in one direction, led by a single guiding mind.

In Eye's view this is a statistical certainty and cannot happen soon enough! (Will this do? Ed).

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hammond Eggs - I've got a little secret

As Leonard Cohen used to sing: I've got a little secret!

A tune evidently close to the heart of Eye favourite Stephen 'Gone-native' Hammond, as evidenced by this written answer given on the 26th November: 

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 4 November 2013, Official Report, column 45W, on railways: south west, for what reasons lease costs for rolling stock are considered to be commercially sensitive. 

Stephen Hammond: The leasing costs for rolling stock are the result of negotiations between two private sector commercial entities, the train operating company and the rolling stock leasing company. Putting such information in the public sphere would give advantage to each party's competitors and hinder future negotiations between such commercial entities throughout the industry. 

Hmm... Advantage and Hinder?

Surely the name of an act in this year's DfT Christmas panto?

No matter!

Of course the real hindrance 'to future negotiations' on allocation of scarce trains is done by DfT's random-rolling-stock-cascade-generator, which inhibits the effective operation of the entire train leasing market.

A point made transparently clear from section 25 on page 9 of the summary section of the Competition Commission's 2007 'Rolling Stock Leasing market investigation'. 

Go figure!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

IEA's Wellings boots commuters off seats

The friend of railway users across the nation has offered its latest wheeze to delight regular travellers.

Not content with providing spurious costings for HS2, the Institute of Economic Affairs latest brainwave is to call for less seats on trains (Less seats? Try fewer pounds in your pocket! You're fired!!! Ed)

According to the Metro...

Seats should be ripped out on the most overcrowded train services to create cheaper, standing-only carriages, a report suggests.
The return to third-class travel would see passengers pay up to 20 per cent less than in standard class, under the Institute of Economic Affairs proposal.

Head of transport Dr Richard Wellings said: ‘For too long, the government has squandered taxpayers’ money on the wrong transport projects and failed to deliver value for commuters."

Forcing more passengers to stand? A novel way to 'deliver value for commuters'.

Monday, 25 November 2013

HS2 opponents converted... possibly

Good news for fans of the new North - South Railway.

Today's small demonstration in Parliament Square against the vital project even witnessed some Damascene conversions!

The lady on the left is apparently conveying the message that High Speed One is a success.

Whilst her colleague on the right, evidently won over by capacity arguments, is making the internationally recognised symbol demanding a second High Speed route, or something...

People, let's try and respect deeply held views out there...

UPDATE: This from @TransportNathan...

Possibly so!

Churchill and HS2 - a lesson in brevity

So. The Government has published the HS2 Bill for phase 1 of the new North - South Railway.

According to the National Farmers Union...

The record-breaking 55,000-page Bill details exactly what ministers want to build and what the expected impact on the environment might be.

Fifty five thousand pages?

Compare and contrast!

Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, here is Churchill's 1942 memo on the construction of another project with national significance - the Mulberry Harbours for D-Day:

Less really is more!

UPDATE: This from Deep Stoat...

55,000 pages. Certainly not our idea.

But less than 60 protestors standing in Parliament Square, versus the 4000 people standing on trains into Euston this morning?

Now there's a number we want to bring down.

As Winston frequently said... "we must just KBO!"

UPDATE: This from Lord Derby-Bypass...

Deep Stoat makes the case for HS2 based on the '4000 people standing on trains into Euston'.

And quite right too.

But isn't it supposed to 'balance the economy' by creating jobs in the Midlands and North?

Rather than help get even more workers into 'The Smoke'?

Pointless signs - EMT cl153

This apparently from Barrett Homes...

Noted on an East Midlands Trains Class 153 Sandbox Lid at Lincoln earlier this year. 

Why would anyone think to use anything other than 'dry sand' or do E.M.T. consider their Fitters to be somewhat challenged? 

Speaking as a former Railway Fitter it makes me wonder. 

UPDATE: This from Dogboxdriver...

The signs were fitted after a number of EMT's 15x units were failed by drivers during preparation over the last year owing to non-working sanders.

The reason for the non-working sanders? 

You got it: they'd been filled with wet sand...

Siemens confirms Deutschland über alles!

This from Siemens...

In an email headed: Change of location for Siemens plc's Rail Systems Division from Westminster to Euston, we discover...

Siemens' new home at 24 Eversholt Street is of course better known to old railway hands as Euston House, the former HQ of the British Railways Board!

With one symbolic action the German takeover of Britain's railways is now complete.

Scotrail on making an impression

This from Flora McDonald...

From the ScotRail draft ITT:

"The train should contain appropriate tourist information, in an ambience that promotes the local heritage, scenery and tourist attractions with the aim of capturing the imagination of and leaving an impression of Scotland on the passenger."

Perhaps a saltire shaped lump in every seat cushion?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Mediaballs - Metro on Chester

This from the Metro, referring to the buffer shunt at Chester today...

The 10.10am service from London Euston completely failed to stop at the station and partially derailed, smashing into the buffers.


Perhaps a case of 'completely' hyperbole 'reporting'?

Transport Scotland inventibold new lingua - deep joy

This from The Man by the Photocopier...
So Transport Scotland have unveiled their exciting plans for the next ScotRail franchise!
Alas, it already looks to have become distressingly derailed in the Editor’s Notes.
Apparently, the contract will include a ‘Commitment to taking an innovative approach, true to Scotland’s innovative and entrepreneurial history, to propelling solutions to improved wifi access on trains alongside industry peers.
What language is that? Lowland Scots? Gaelic? It certainly isn’t English.
Of course! It’s Management Gobbledegook!
Trebles, ahem, wee drams all round, then.

Pointless signs - Kiveton Park

This from a Mr Norman Collier... 

Pointless and USELESS signs!

This is on the gate to the UP platform - needless to say the phone is on the DOWN platform.

'Simples'?  Apparently not!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

What has privatisation ever done for us...

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 15th November...

The next edition of Passenger Transport is published on the 22nd November.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Just 120 seconds to deliver a 7 day railway

This from a Mr Antonio Kilometer... 

From Southern’s press release last week about its winter timetable... 

There are two last Monday to Saturday trains which will leave earlier than in the previous timetable. These are the 23:47 London Victoria to Horsham service which will leave Victoria at 23.40 and the 23.49 London Victoria to Oxted service which will leave Victoria at 23.47. The early departure of these services will allow Network Rail to carry out vital maintenance and minor repairs overnight on the Brighton Main Line. This frees up track access on Sundays so that three services per hour between Victoria and Brighton can now be maintained all year round. 

So I make that an extra 2 minutes a night for NR to carry out all this “vital maintenance and minor repair” work - that will keep the route open all day on Sunday. 

Network Rail is to be congratulated on achieving such dramatic efficiencies well in advance of CP5.

HS1 does its very best to drive freight from rail

This from Rich Tea... 

As HS1 consult on increasing freight track charges by some 450% their owners, Ontario Teachers Pension Fund, have just bought the maker of – yes, you guessed – Wagon Wheels.

Evidently, flicking two sticky fingers at the freighties is very much the rapacious Canucks game.

Creagh outlines Labour Transport priorities

This from the Grauniad...

Creagh has previously refused to rule out renationalisation of UK railways, and said the franchising model has led to a fragmented network which consumers find difficult to navigate. Labour opposed the refranchising of the East coast mainline, and Creagh said that by pursuing "the franchise model at all costs" the government's political orthodoxy is holding back the UK. "I think it's extraordinary that the government is allowing the German, French and Dutch states to come in and bid for that railway franchise. It's got no objection to state ownership of our railways as long as it's not UK state ownership."

More here.

Deep Alliance - the railway at prayer

An Eye spy in Wiltshire has sent the following intriguing image.

Pictured deep in meditation is SWT/Wessex Route supremo Tim Shoveller, after having met Winchester passengers on Thursday night.

Is Tim seeking forgiveness, or Divine inspiration on how to take the Deep Alliance into CP5?

Friday, 15 November 2013

The last word on Pacers...

This from the Shadow Minister for Transport...

Yep, seems about right.

Now all that's missing is an undertaking to replace them!

RDG disconnected from the industry it 'leads'?

This was just asking for trouble.

Earlier this week Transport Minister Baroness Kramer observed that dumping raw effluent on the tracks was "utterly disgusting".

Quite so.

So what are we to make of this from the BBC...

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train companies and Network Rail, said the issue did not come up in a bi-annual national passenger survey and it was not often raised as an issue by staff.


This from the RMT:

RMT has also completely refuted suggestions from within the industry that the issue has either never, or rarely, been raised as the union has been campaigning on the scandal for at least decade and passengers have now launched their own petition to get it stamped out.

Track workers have repeatedly pointed out that some sections of the rail infrastructure are like an open sewer and that the human waste doesn’t simply hit the track bed, it sprays out when trains are travelling at speed posing a serious and disgusting health risk to track-based staff. Rail works have been delayed because staff have been confronted with pools of raw sewage.

Either the RDG has a very short memory or none at all. 

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

And not just track workers are at risk.

Changing brake pads is a really sh*tt* job when the bogies have been covered by an  aerosol of excrement.

And do passengers opening slam doors on Mk 3 stock realise that the external handles have received the same treatment.?

Didn't Angel propose a major IC125 upgrade which included retrofitting retention tank toilets almost a decade ago?

A shame DfT decided it wasn't worthwhile because the trains wouldn't be in service much longer.