Thursday, 28 March 2013

ORR narrative overlooks the positive...

This from Orrville...

Good news from the Office of Rail Regulation!

The department within ORR tasked with man marking Passenger Focus, and justifying its own existence, has issued the following press release...

Rail passengers' complaints data shows focus on train punctuality

New statistics published today on the regulator's data portal show that passengers' complaints continue to focus on train punctuality.

Updated rail complaints data highlights that, between 1 October 2012 and 31 December 2012, rail passengers' complaints concentrated on train punctuality (42%), followed by complaints about the quality of facilities on-board the train (14%), and fares (14%).

Data also shows that the overall number of complaints has been steadily decreasing over the past decade – dropping from a high of 128 complaints per 100,000 journeys recorded at the end of 2002-03, to latest levels which stand at 33 complaints per 100,000 journeys in the last 12 months.

Quite so.

But equally this would also have been a factually correct headline:

Rail Passengers’ data shows 74% reduction in Passenger Complaints in a decade’

Heaven forfend that ORR should suggest that things are actually improving!

Reports of DOR's demise exaggerated?

This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

DfT has once again warned the thinly capitalised equity profiteers not to mess with Clare 'The Franchise' Moriarty or DOR will again step in to run the railway.

But surely DOR hasn't the resources to run 10 franchises over the next couple of years? 

Don't be too sure. That sounds well within the modest ambitions of DOR chief Michael Holden.

And to judge by the guest list at the First Class Partnerships thrash at the Carriage Sidings at Kings Cross the other evening, DfT's Consultancy of First Resort would have no problems rustling up any number of deeply experienced TOC management teams.

You have been warned!

New Franchising Policy - McLoughlin speaks!

Some comforting words on the future of the industry from the SoS in no less a place than Conservative Home!

"The passage of time has proved Dr Beeching was wrong about British railways. Far from being on the way out, the industry has never been stronger, with passenger numbers at record levels."
Very good, tick!

But what's this?

Further down the encomium are the following weasel words justifying flogging off East Coast:

"But the service was last upgraded in the 1980s and needs revitalising now. And with new trains, which will be built in the North East, on order it is right that we invite bidders to put forward proposals for investing in and improving services."

Oh dear.

Let us cast our minds back to the heady days of May 2011 and Project Eureka.

These wise words from a certain Karen Boswell:

A new timetable is being developed by the rail industry which will improve services on the East Coast Main Line. It represents the biggest change on the East Coast Main Line for 20 years.

The new timetable will deliver 25 extra East Coast services, more than 9,000 extra seats each weekday, etc...

Are McLoughlin's words perhaps the greatest investment in puffery since the Victorian era?

UPDATE: This from Alecto...

Clearly Mr McLoughlin is either being misled or is badly advised, quite possibly both.

The 'new trains' are mainly replacements for Intercity 125 and even that part of the IEP deal is yet to reach financial close.

The future of the mid-life IC225 fleet, delivered at the end of the 1980s, is still being considered with a range of options available. One of the options is IEP, but the cost of this solution is considerable compared to some of the alternatives.

Or is the Minister pre-empting that decision, even though his department is claiming that the choice of future rolling stock for the franchise will be down to the incoming franchisee as part of their proposals for "investing in and improving services"

It seems difficult to escape the conclusion that Whitehall still thinks it knows best.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

New Franchising Policy - Just fancy that!

This joyous news via the Daily Telegraph...

Four of Britain’s major train operators have dropped a lawsuit against the Government to recover up to £40m of costs lost when the bidding competition for the Great Western rail franchise was scrapped earlier this year. 

Good news indeed!

Eye understands that a clearly emotional spokesman for Natarrivirstoach Group sobbed his thanks to tax and farepayers for their deep pockets (shurely... deep understanding? Ed).

Clutching what looked like a treble he continued "I luuurve thish indushtry, itsh great. But we couldn't, hic, have done it without our matesh in Marsham Schtreet."

"Don't worry boysh and girlsh theresh lotsh of non-execsh to go around" he concluded, as he relaxed horizontally at the back of his chauffeur driven motor.

The Treasury is said to be delighted.

Simon Godfrey RIP

Eye was deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Simon Godfrey, Customer Communications Manager at Northern Rail last Tuesday (19 March).

Simon was well known to friends and colleagues having worked in the industry for many years, firstly with Northern Spirit, then Arriva Trains Northern before joining Northern with the start of their franchise in 2004.

A true gentleman, with a kind heart, Simon had a genuine passion for understanding what customers want and need, turning railway jargon into something meaningful.  He was extremely creative and a sharpened wordsmith.  

Simon was also committed to engaging with young people.  In partnership with a local charity Simon developed ‘Transport Yourself’ a module for disadvantaged young people to learn about rail and rail travel, taking them out on trains, behind the scenes at stations and meeting the people that work in the industry. In Simon’s own words ‘…a hugely rewarding experience and a fantastic way to raise children’s aspirations and their awareness of the many and varied jobs available to them…after all, they are the workers of the future.

A member of the railway family, a membership of which he was very proud, Simon will be missed by many. He leaves a wife Jane and four children.

Colleagues at Northern have set up books of remembrance at their offices: Northern House, York; Aintree House, Leeds and Square One, Manchester.  Friends and colleagues of Simon past and present are welcome to pop in and share their happy memories and thoughts.  

For anyone who can’t get along but would like to pass a message onto Simon’s family, please email

Simon's funeral will take place at 14:30 on Thursday 4th April at St Olaves Church, Marygate, York. All are welcome.

A message to our friend South of the River...

Dot - dot - dot - dash!

"Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone" 

Keep your pecker up mon brave!

Br Churchill 

New Franchising Policy - Advisory Panel

This from Claude Bottom... 

Is the Fact Compiler losing his touch?

Amongst yesterday's flurry of observations about the New Franchising Policy, not a word on the Rail Franchise Advisory Panel chaired by no less a figure than Richard Brown.

The same Richard Brown who is also chairman of Eurostar, which by happy coincidence is 60% state owned!

Good to see that the new Advisory Panel can offer first hand experience of integrated and nationalised railways, even if they are those of France and Belgium.

Beeching, a half century

A lot of stuff and nonsense across the nation's media about Beeching today.

Just remember InterCity, Freightliner and Merry-go-round.

Most of the rest can be laid at the door of the dreadful Ernest Marples and Barbara Castle.

However, for the dewy eyed amongst you...

Good tune!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

New Franchising Policy - RAIL Exultant!

Amongst senior industry figures the take on today's New Franchising Policy has been somewhat upbeat.

Phrases like: 'competent', 'pleased', 'deliverable' and 'making the very best of a bad job' abound.

Meanwhile there is near euphoria in Peterborough, the home of RAIL, as tomorrow (Wednesday) is press day.

After much lobbying it appears that  DfT has finally gotten the message!

Today's announce allows RAIL scribes to analyse the New Franchising Policy so that subscribers can ruminate over both it and their cornflakes on Saturday morning.

And as any ful kno RAIL has '523,198 copy sales a year with an estimated 2,615,990 readers'.

New Franchising Policy - has clear view

This from Eobhann...

According to

Surely this is a trypo and not a comment on our august Transport Secretary...

Perhaps we should be told?

New Franchsing Policy - DOR rejoices!

This from Directly Operated Railways...

Today’s announcement
In this morning’s announcement, the Transport Secretary said he has decided that the East Coast franchise will now be returned to the private sector in February 2015, some five years and three months after DOR took over the business in November 2009. The decision means that the competition process for East Coast will re-commence almost immediately.

DOR has actively worked to prepare the business for a return to the private sector when the Government decided that the time was right. Due to the delay to the original programme caused by the cancellation of the West Coast competition last autumn, DOR agreed with the Government that it should prepare a fresh medium term business plan to cover a five year period starting in April 2014. This work is almost complete and will be used to guide the further development of the business over the remaining two year period of operation before the new franchise is scheduled to start, and to inform the work of bidders at the appropriate time.

East Coast today
Since 2009, the East Coast business has been transformed. The Company has returned more than £640 million in cash to the taxpayer, achieved record beaking customer satisfaction, and last year delivered the best operational performance on the route since records began in 1999.

Clearly DOR can't wait to get rid of East Coast...

New Franchising Policy - Bad news for Boris

A fairly torrid week for Boris has been topped off today by the small print of the New Franchising Policy.

The long extension to SouthEastern won't just annoy long suffering Kentish commuters, it will also infuriate Transport for London!

As the franchise isn't due to be re-let until 2018 it looks like BoJo's ambitions to take on the 'inners', or metro services, before the next Mayorial election are doomed.

Of course Centro will be similarly disappointed that London Midland will be extended to 2017.

But Eye can't help but feel in Boris's case this is personal. Nice work Dave.

Greater Anglia - We're all in it together!

This gem from the Ipswich Star...

The Prime Minister ditched his train at Manningtree yesterday amid fears engineering work would push his schedule off track.

Mr Cameron jumped off the train into waiting cars in the Essex town as he rushed to deliver a keynote speech in Suffolk’s county town fearing overhead line work at Needham Market would create congestion at Ipswich station.

Eye wonders if he used Mr Toad's motor, which is no doubt on stand-by at his Chelmsford constituency?

DfT slips funny into New Franchising announce

Someone at the DfT clearly has a very keen sense of humour!

This from the press announce on the New Franchising Policy:

"The delivery of new state-of-the-art British-built trains from 2017 as part of the Government’s £4.9bn Intercity Express Programme."

Stop it, you're killing me! 

New Franchising Policy - Doomed

So. A big Eye welcome to the exciting New Franchising Policy unveiled today.

In many ways it is very much like the old franchising policy, except that it just takes longer and this one is sans Directly Operated Railways... for the moment.

The industry has of course been underwhelmed by the paucity of ambition shown, with many of the worst performing TOCs receiving extensions to cover the Department's blushes (shurely: ...overwhelmed by the breadth of ambition shown, with top performing TOCs being rewarded with well deserved extensions designed to benefit the passenger? Ed).

Trebles all round at London Midland, CrossCountry and SouthEastern to name but a few.

With only InterCity East Coast likely to be let by the election (in your dreams. Ed) the revised programme will afford Labour ample opportunity to reactivate DOR and take over swathes of the passenger railway when it wins the inevitable landslide in 2015.

No matter.

Meanwhile, of more pressing concern to the cash strapped Treasury will be what this exciting programme does to the Statement of Funds Available.

If you think it's cold now, wait until CP5!

McLoughlin unveils new staff cuts shocker!

This from the Man by the Photocopier...

DAfT may be about to improve upon the McNulty report, which recommended that trains should be driver only by default, saving the costs of conductors.

In his statement about the much-improved, washes whiter-than-white franchise programme today, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has revealed that matters could go further, when he said:

“The future competitions will also place passengers in the driving seat”.

It might be cheaper to let passengers do everything, Minister, but is that perhaps a little too courageous?

Monday, 25 March 2013

DfT 'can't pay, won't pay'. Nonsense!

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

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 29th of March.

Pointless signs - Surbiton

Scotland yesterday

This via @NetworkRailScot...

A snowplough clearing the Girvan-Stranraer line yesterday.

Friday, 22 March 2013

More Open Access!

Now pay attention DfT!

This from the Centre for Policy Studies...

That is all.

Pointless signs - Class 455

This from Lost Carriage Return...

Not entirely pointless, but it looks as though proof reading has gone out the window at SWT.

These 'new' signs featuring the 'Guardon' are currently being rolled out across the fleet!

UPDATE: This from everybody...


DG Rail in the firing line?

This from an interview with Philip Rutnam in Civil Service World...

And what about Claire Moriarty, the director-general who oversaw the change programme and is now running the new rail directorate? Didn’t her reforms lead indirectly to the WCM problems? The reforms “made the context within which the department was operating more challenging, no doubt”, he concedes; but he maintains that these “background factors” were no more than contributory elements to a complex mix of causes. “It’s not as simple as saying: ‘It was the cause’,” Rutnam concludes.

Well worth a read.

Warning - may cause retina bleed!

This from the Hammer Man...

This horror passed across the misus' desk this morning.

With the above in mind the answer to this particular question from M'learned Friends has to be no!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

HMQ celebrates 150 as LUL plans for more!

Good to see Her Majesty the Queen celebrating 150 years of London's Underground!

Happily HMQ appears in rude health aboard the Derby built S stock - with a bowler tip to the BBC.

Eye salutes you Ma'am!

Meanwhile, London's railway is clearly gearing up for the next 150 years, judging by this note sent out by TfL Rail supremo Mike Brown on Monday:

Organisation of London Underground & London Rail
I have decided to make some changes to the senior structure of the Rail and Underground team as follows:

Chief Operating Officer (COO), London Underground
Phil Hufton, the current Chief Asset Performance Officer will become the overall COO for LU combining his existing role with that soon to be vacated by Howard Collins. He plans to organise the team structure on a line group basis, following the principles already established for reorganisation of Tube Lines and APD.

Further details of the structure will be announced in due course, but for the time being Howard Collins remains as COO, with full operational control of London Underground services, and will work to support Phil to put this new structure in place over the next few months.

Director of Strategy and Service Development
Gareth Powell will take overall responsibility for London Rail, alongside his existing responsibilities.

Jonathan Fox will be the Acting Director of London Rail and will report to Gareth.

Rory O’Neill will become the Acting Director of the DLR and he along with Danny Price, Head of the Emirates Airline and Sharon Thompson, the Director of Tramlink will report to Jonathan.

Mike Stubbs, Director Overground, will continue to have a dual role for the Overground and Crossrail. He will have a direct reporting line to Howard Smith for the Crossrail responsibilities and to Jonathan for his Overground responsibilities.

Andrew McIntosh, Head of Concession Management will report to Howard Smith as most of Andrew’s role and that of his team is around the Crossrail concession.

Director of Capital Programmes
David Waboso will work across the Rail and Underground teams to bring a coherent model for the delivery of capital programmes.

There are many challenges ahead which, I am sure, will make use of all the many talents within the wider Underground and Rail teams and Phil, David and Gareth, with Jon Fox, Mike Stubbs and the rest of their teams will work to exploit synergies across our organisation.

Further details will be announced in due course.
Mike Brown, Managing Director

Very good. Carry on.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Silver Stump Watch - Manchester Piccadilly

This from Depot Master... 


The 'new arrival'!!

All say 'Ah, hasn't he got the looks of his father!!!'

ORR parks tanks on RDG's lawn

Good news for fans of needless duplication on the railway!

This from the ORR and DfT:

ORR and DfT recognise that more can be done to improve the way performance of the rail industry as a whole is monitored and to promote stronger incentives for train operating companies to reduce costs and collaborate effectively with Network Rail. To facilitate this, ORR will do more to highlight whole industry performance and cost issues, and ensure they are addressed. These changes will help Government, the Regulator and the industry to improve performance, tackle waste and inefficiency and improve services for passengers.

Quite so.

So pray tell what is the role of the RDG in today's new, exciting, streamlined and post McNulty railway?

UPDATE: This from the Horseferry Inquisition...
In answer to Eye’s question of what RDG is for, I refer you to the published responses to the TSC Rail 2020 report, from DfT and ORR, as below:

Recommendation 7. We recommend that the DfT and ORR keep a close eye on the work of the RDG to ensure that it acts in the best interests of the farepayer and taxpayer, rather than of established rail interests. (Paragraph 38)

DfT response: 

The Department agrees with this recommendation. The Government welcomed the establishment of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). The establishment of an authoritative and effective voice, able to lead for the rail industry, is crucial if the industry is to meet the challenge of reducing the cost of running the railway. The formalisation of the RDG puts the organisation in the best place to take forward whole industry leadership.

ORR response:  

We support the formation of the RDG which was established in response to the McNulty report's view that many of the barriers to improving efficiency across the railway could be addressed by a high-level cross-industry leadership body charged with driving forward change. To facilitate formation of the RDG we implemented a new licence condition obliging Network Rail, and passenger and freight operators that use the mainline network, to actively support and participate in the work of the group. We have made clear that, to be effective, RDG will need to engage with wider industry stakeholders (including funders, suppliers, and employees). 

We believe that in order to deliver change across the railway, and therefore meet McNulty's aspirations, the industry should take responsibility for developing policies and strategies to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. It is for this reason that, along with industry funders, we are not members of the group and have no direct interaction in the workings or decision making of RDG. Our role is limited to keeping the overall arrangements under review, approving changes to the RDG articles of association, ensuring licence holder compliance with them and considering changes proposed by RDG to the existing industry change implementation processes (including the Network Code and track access contracts). We do however engage with the work of the RDG along with other stakeholders and are active members of the asset management/project management working group.

See, perfectly clear.

And good to see that such high levels of trust exist between Whitehall and the railway.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Pointless signs - Farringdon

Baker prepares for opposition!

Good to see Norm preparing for life outside of Parliament in 2015.

This from the Beeb...

Junior Transport Minister Norman Baker has released a pop single with his band The Reform Club.

Eye sees a great future for Norm! Mostly at the bottom of the escalator at Piccadilly Circus station...

Wise words from Patrick McLoughlin

This from a DfT press release today... 

"Pointless signs blot our landscape!"


Alas the remedies proposed by the DfT apply only to local authorities:

Town halls will be rewarded for taking action against the scourge of unnecessary traffic signs with a new prize launched today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

The award is part of the Government’s drive to cut the number of signs spoiling our towns, cities and countryside. Many local authorities are making good progress in getting rid of clutter from their roads but the Government wants to see more action being taken to make old and confusing signs a thing of the past. 

A shame a similar scheme could not be extended to the railways.

Friday, 15 March 2013

China in great leap forward!

This from Trailer Second...

It’s not often that China shows the political way ahead, but this one’s a winner.

Not only are we as an industry subject to more ministerial and civil service tinkering than when nationalised, but now we are even more heavily regulated than Chinese railways!

By the by has anyone noticed the remarkable similarity between former minister of Railways, Liu Zhijun, and our very own Philip Rutnam? (No! Ed)

How not to recover a train!

Eye is late to this, so a bowler tip to a Mr Frank Spencer...

Ah, time for plan B.

Chemin de fer Barbie!

LinkedIn is truly a wonderous thing!

A quick perusal today reveals that Elaine Holt is now 'UK Rail Franchise Director at Ratp Dev'.

Nope, Eye neither.

Congratulations none the less.

And Eye looks forward to hearing more about Ratp Dev's plans to enter the UK rail market.

UPDATE: This from Your Father Smelt of Elderberries...


You silly English. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wasted Waiting Shelters - Derby

This from Derbyshire Lad...

This has been like this for months.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Silver Stump Watch - Liverpool Street

This from Greg and Tonic...

All of these bollards are at the top of sets of steps, the 4 in the first 2 pictures are wedged between the “Hamilton Hall” pub & the stone pillars.

The rest are on the new West-side entrance, including not only up several steps, but some are behind iron railings, which are themselves on top of a brick wall...

No doubt worth every penny spent on them...

Silver Stump Watch - York

This from the Albatross...

What about this little beauty that’s appeared at York – Big Bold and Not Beautiful – one can only assume the Emergency Access is for the toilet in the rear.

Oh and how much has this cost ?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dear National News Editors...

Bad news for lazy hacks across the land!

Apparently abroad is also completely useless at dealing with snow.

An honourable mention to Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph, therefore, for this.

And with Eurostar services caped, it's official once again...

Continent Cut Off!

Crossrail concession competition launched

Good news for fans of accountable and properly managed rail services!

Oh and also for all those hugely expensive bid teams currently twiddling their thumbs whilst DfT struggles to work out how to restart franchising after the ICWC fiasco, desperately hoping that at least one can be got out the door before the 2015 General Election when Maria Eagle will be the new Secretary of State for Transport and franchising policy is thrown up in the air once again... but I digress.

TfL has announced that it is seeking a train operator to run Crossrail services from May 2015, with potential operators having until the end of April to respond to today's OJEU listing.

 According to the TfL press release:

Crossrail services will be let as a concession by TfL, similar to the concession let by TfL for London Overground, which is now one of the most reliable railways with some of the highest levels of customer satisfaction across the UK. 

And once again for anyone hard of hearing at the Department for Transport...

Crossrail services will be let as a concession by TfL, similar to the concession let by TfL for London Overground, which is now one of the most reliable railways with some of the highest levels of customer satisfaction across the UK.

Did Eye mention that this would be a concession?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Piling drill burst onto Moorgate line

This unbelievable image was tweeted by @FirstCC this afternoon...

According to FCC the driver of the train in the picture, which was not in passenger service, 'did them proud' by managing to stop short of the obstruction on the line. 

Not half!

According to @NetworkRail
At 10:09, a train driver reported that water was flowing from the roof of the Moorgate Tunnel - between Old Street and Essex Road stations. Lines were immediately blocked and our response teams were sent to site.

At 11.05 our staff boarded a special empty train from Moorgate to investigate the problem. As the train approached the area at low speed, two large piling drills - which were being used above ground by a building contractor - penetrated the skin of the tunnel.

Repairs to the tunnel are ongoing but the line - which is normally closed at weekends - is expected to reopen in time for services on Monday morning.
FCC also confirmed by Twitter that the piling drills are 'not railway related'. 

It is believed that ground level drilling works at 'a private construction site' resulted in the breach to the tunnel wall.

Hopefully someone at said construction site will soon be helping the BTP with their inquiries...

UPDATE: Oh dear All Foundations, what have you done!

Silver Stump Watch - Fenchurch Street

This with a bowler tip to @AMonkster...

A noble Silver Stump defending the Fenchurch Place stairs.

Could Hatfield/Stainforth have been avoided?

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 1st March...

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 15th of March.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Celebration of InterCity & Freightliner on Monday!

This from the Campaign for Better Transport...

The CBT is hosting our first Back on Track: Beeching 50 Years On event at the Science Museum in London on Monday 11th March 2013 (sponsored by Network Rail and Abellio).

Join us for an evening with Michael Palin; former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis; our Vice President Lord Faulkner; David Higgins, Chief Executive of Network Rail; and Freightliner’s Director of Strategy, Lindsay Durham. 

The event, at the Museum's IMAX cinema, will include a panel discussion reflecting upon the national impacts of the Beeching Report and progress since 1963. 

Our speakers will also discuss the role of the railways now and in the future of transport in the UK.

Details from: 

There may be a £5 charge for attendance.

See you there. 

Scrap Metal Dealers Act nets first victim!

Oh dear.

The Soi Disant 'Veteran Observer' has apparently been allowed near the railway.

Alas, judging from this picture he has broke it!

Pay attention Brennan-Brown!

Take that lump of p-way out your pocket! The new Scrap Metal Dealers Act renders it almost worthless.

UPDATE: This from the late Sir Norman Hartwell...

Nice flares. 

UPDATE: This from the Soi Disant Veteran Observer himself...

I really am getting jolly tired of this.

I have asked politely, several times, for you to stop referring to me by the childish term 'soi disant' etc...

It is neither big, nor clever!

Rather than replying in person to my emails you think it witty to publish them in truncated... 
(Sadly, owing to pressure of space, we are unable to publish the rest of this email from the Soi Disant Veteran Observer. Ed)

Update: This from an Railway Hack...

I also attending today's visit to Hatfield/Stainforth.

Eye readers may find these images more illuminating...

For what it is worth, it scared the living $h!t out of me. 

Pointless signs - Liverpool Street (LUL)

This from the Ward Room...


Stanstead, near Long Melford in Suffolk? 

Surely not!

New Steam operator enters market

Exciting news for fans of kettles!

Devon and Cornwall Railway have operated their first steam train on the national network and completely failed to get the railway on fire!

Eye understands that despite desperate last minute interventions from others, the move went smoothly and the railway remained intact.

And a jolly good thing too, what ho?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Silver Stump Watch - the new King's Cross

This from GTRFN Inc...

Stretching as far as the Eye can see...

Presumably, some of these are removable, for maintenance-vehicle access?

Scribble in haste, repent at leisure

Here's a blast from the past!

This leader column appeared in the Grauniad way back in 2006...

"British trains may be slow and expensive, but there was welcome news this week that at least one part of the country's rail industry is pulling far ahead of its European rivals - even if it is, in every sense of the word, a very small part.

"Hornby, the model maker whose OO gauge miniature trains have rattled through countless spare bedrooms and attics over the years, this week announced a seventh year of profits...

"But Hornby's main glory is still its trains, even if regular travellers on the less-than-reliable real thing may sometimes scratch their heads in wonder at the fact that anyone would want to recreate the drab, maddening world of South West Trains and Virgin Cross-Country once they are safely home."

Quite so!

But who on earth could have had such negative views of the 'drab and maddening world' of the privatised railway?

We can only hope that they never end up in an important policy role, advising a Transport Secretary for instance...

UPDATE: This from Mini-Me...

In its latest move towards complete authenticity, Hornby plc made a Network Rail-style loss of £500k in 2012.

In fairness, it blames poor sales of its Olympic themed merchandise rather than its trains. But, it has had huge problems getting its models manufactured in China (its main competitor, Bachmann, now owns the factory it was using) and has suffered numerous issues with steep price increases and long delays (sound familiar?).

Perhaps the 'very small part' referred to by your poacher-turned-gamekeeper was more accurate than he originally envisaged? 

The Case of the Missing Question

This from our man at 221b Baker Street...

Mornin' Holmes, have you seen the Public Accounts Committee report on the Intercity West Coast franchise debacle? It makes most interesting reading.

Indeed I have, Watson, and it is a tribute to the forensic abilities of the Committee's Chairwoman Margaret Hodge, second only in my estimation of the fairer sex to Eirene Adler. And you will have noticed in the transcript of the evidence session with the DfT Permanent Secretary and his Director General the significance of the question as to why the Department's Contract Awards Committee thought it necessary to impose a Subordinated Loan Facility on Virgin, where the calculations indicated that none was required, whilst at the same time reducing the sizeable SLF for First Group? 

But Holmes, I didn't see that question in the transcript.

That, Watson, is the significance! 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Number Crunching - The price of safety

This, surprisingly, from the late Frankie Howerd..

Woe, woe and thrice woe!

According to the latest edition of RAIL which, for non-subscribers, hits newsstands tomorrow...

 No!! Twitter ye not!!! (Indeed. Ed)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Pointless sign - Kettering

This from The Ninja...

Not sure if this is pointless, pointed or poignant!

Pointless signs - Peterborough

UPDATE: This from the Bois from Basil...

Lots of locally-based Polish agricultural labourers - and other Poles - use Peterborough station.

Is it 'pointless' to make sure they know it is illegal to trespass on the track?

Presumably the 'brytyjska policje transportowa' put this up to deal with a specific local problem. 

Doubtless death-by-railway is a grand final solution to the 'immigration problem' in some folk's unsavoury minds.  But it's messy and disruptive, don't you know!

UPDATE: This from London Dwelling Urbanite...

The railways are baffling enough for English speakers... 

Surely everyone else needs all the help they can get!

UPDATE: This from Alrey there Yet?...

I'm not sure why you considered a sign in Polish at Peterborough station to be pointless. There's a large Polish population in Peterborough, most of which have arrived recently although there's been Polish people in Peterborough since the end of WWII.

Now a piece on how ridiculous it is that there's no line Westwards south of Peterborough would be interesting!

UPDATE: This from Jamie Joyce...

Why is this pointless? 

Useful notice for Polish community to stay off the tracks!

UPDATE: This from Admiral Sikorski...

Dear gówno compiler... (sadly owing to pressure of space Eye is unable to reproduce the rest of this valuable contribution from Admiral Sikorski. Ed)