Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Kettle alert...

Railtex this week so mostly busy.

Here something to delight, or not...


Monday, 29 April 2013

Griffiths - two out of three ain't bad!

Much Sunday morning spluttering of cornflakes, courtesy of the Telegraph's business section.

In an interview Martin Griffiths, the soon to be Stagecoach supremo, offered the following terse observations on the railway:

HS2 - 'in the wrong place'.

Waterloo throat - 'knackered'

Railways - 'a middle class thing'.

Whilst items one and two will no doubt be causing palpitations in Whitehall, item three should at least endear Stagecoach to ministers.

After all it is only nineteen months since millionaire Philip Hammond, then Secretary of State for Transport, decreed that trains were 'a rich man's toy'!

Good to see that the Deep Alliance is at least delivering a marginally more inclusive railway...

Friday, 26 April 2013

Soup proves popular in engineering world

Good news for fans of Mk3s!

This from the Railway Gazette:

Porterbrook Leasing has awarded Railcare a £5m contract to undertake the C6 scheduled overhaul and additional corrosion repairs to 111 locomotive-hauled MkIII coaches operated by Abellio Greater Anglia on London - Norwich services.

The work is scheduled to start in October 2013 for completion in July 2016, with five coaches undergoing overhaul at Railcare's Wolverton plant at any one time.


Good news indeed.

But what's this?

A number of cryptic messages have reached Eye suggesting that sales of soup have been rocketing in areas around Milton Keynes and Glasgow!?!

The Fact Compiler admits he is confused…

RDG announces first Associate Members

The Rail Delivery Group has published the minutes of its 22nd April meeting.

It contains a list of the first organisations to be accepted as Associate Members:

  • Birmingham Centre for Railway Research
  • Bond Dickinson LLP
  • Brisk Projects
  • Carillion
  • MTR
  • Rail Media Group
  • thetrainline.com
An eclectic selection!

Apparently further applications are due to be considered in May.

Remember - you've got to be in it, to win it!

Application form here.

UPDATE: This from Alecto...

Encouraging to see so many of the industry's heavy hitters signing up to have no influence at all on whatever the owning groups and Network Rail have decided they want to do...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Railway Khazi Watch - NRM Workshops

Time for an exciting new Eye feature - Railway Khazi Watch!

Our first entry is via the Hammer Man...

I found this sign in the salubrious traps at the National Railway Museum's workshops (those of a sensitive disposition may wish to stop reading here! Ed).

Perhaps this particular 'explosion' occurred whilst reading the Flying Scotsman Report?

In war and peace we serve... The Book!

A new tome from Eye favourite Michael Williams is to be published on the 13th May.

Steaming to Victory tells the tale of how Britain's railways won the war against Hitler's Germany.

Agreeable promo video here:

Michael kindly donated a bottle of champagne as a competition prize for readers of this blog.

Unfortunately it arrived at Eye Towers... err... empty !

Burns Lite - Stabbing your own TOC in the back

Good to see Simon Burns MP acknowledging the herculean efforts of his own employees!

Despite East Coast operating on a railway that last received significant investment in the 1980s and sweating a train fleet with an even older age profile our Burnsy is apparently peeved that the state owned operator isn't run by Beardie Rail.

Mr Toad opined in the House of Commons yesterday that East Coast performed ‘reasonably well’ but it is ‘plateauing’. "What it needs is an infusion of innovation and a stimulus, which I believe only the private sector can do".

Quite so minister, quite so.

And all those franchises in revenue support are clearly a testament to the private sector's skill at both innovation and stimulus!

Meanwhile the searing intellect that resides in the Honourable Member for Poop-Poop claimed he 'did not accept the premise' of an ORR report which last week announced that East Coast made the second highest TOC payment into Treasury coffers.

Still, a pleasure to see that Third Degree Burns is keen to throw good money after bad whilst belittling his own workforce.

Freighties make the case!

Bad news for fans of good Route MDs!

Dyan Crowther, MD of NR's LNW Route, confirmed at yesterday's meeting of the Rail Freight Group that she is now a 'freight geek'!

Eye hopes this isn't the end of a promising career.

No matter.

On the upside that leaves the RfG with only 9 more Route MDs to convince...

UPDATE: This from Loose Coupled...

I think you'll find that the new Sussex Route MD is already aligned...

Franchising process explained!

Good to see that the DfT is making the franchising process as simple as possible!

Hope that's clear then.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Burns Lite on Cumbrian services

This from Captain Deltic...

There's nothing like a straight answer to a straight question.

This reply from Simon Burns on the 16th April...

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the statement of 26 March 2013, Official Report, columns 1487-99, on rail franchising, if he will ensure that the franchise extensions for the TransPennine and Northern franchises will be negotiated on the basis of at least maintaining the current level of service on the Manchester Airport to Lancaster to Barrow-in-Furness route.

Simon Burns (Chelmsford, Conservative)
The Secretary of State for Transport has a duty to secure the best deal for both the passenger and the tax payer when negotiating with the incumbent operators. Taking in to consideration value for money and affordability; the primary aim is to ensure that passengers are not adversely impacted and that current service levels are protected as far as possible

And this is nothing like a straight answer!

Pointless signs - Northern Class 150

This from a Mr 12x12...

Good news for all you budding DIY surgeons in the North!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Pointless signs - Ashford International

This from Simon...

Spotted in the 'waiting room' on P5/6 at Ashford international. 

There only one door in or out.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Derby mafia storm the House!

Exciting news from the Home of the Railway Industry!

The Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum descended en-masse upon the House of Commons yesterday, as it schmoozed MPs, Peers and key industry players at a Parliamentary reception, hosted by Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham OBE.

But what's this?

Amidst the bonhomie was there perchance a slight divergence of view between DDRF Vice Chair, Michelle Craven-Faulkner, and EMT supremo David Horne...

Perhaps Clare Moriarty should be told!?!

SWT struggles with reliability - Shocker!

This from South West Trains...


  • Further improvements to country's most reliable train fleet
  • 91 Class 455 trains to be fitted with modern traction equipment to help reliability
  • Lighter trains will require less maintenance and reduce wear on rail infrastructure
  • Regenerative braking will return up to 20% of energy for use by other trains
Passengers using South West Trains are to benefit from a newly-launched £40 million upgrade of its Class 455 train fleet, which is already the most reliable in the UK.

The upgrade will deliver even greater reliability for services which operate on the Metro area from London Waterloo to Reading, the Hounslow loop and the Shepperton branch.

The 91 Class 455 trains, which are already the most reliable trains in the country, will be fitted with new traction equipment which promises to enhance performance and improve reliability even further.

The programme – which will be rolled out over the next three years – involves removing the existing DC traction equipment, including the motors, and replacing it with an even more reliable modern AC traction system.

Christian Roth, Engineering Director for the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance, said: “Our Class 455 trains are already by far the most reliable fleet in the country, however we are not complacent and we want to make sure these excellent results are sustained and improved even further.

“The new traction motors will help us to improve the reliability of these trains for our passengers at the same time as delivering environmental benefits through the reduced electricity supply.”

The prototype train will be fitted at Wimbledon depot with the remainder of the fleet fitted at Eastleigh depot. The project should be finished by Spring 2014.

The investment is being delivered in partnership with the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, Porterbrook and the Department for Transport.


Eye wonders why this SWT release made so little of the Class 455's reliability?

UPDATE: This from the The Grim Reaper...

It seems that SWT don't know their own train fleet:

Class 458s are the UK's most reliable trains

And Class 455s don't generally operate to Hounslow or Reading (450 / 458 respectively).

So the press release isn't that reliable.

ATOC's loss is HS2's gain!

Good news from under pressure HS2 Ltd!

ATOC's very own 'Mr Smooth' has been poached to join the company building Britain's newest high speed railway.

“Andy Taylor has been appointed Head of Public Affairs for HS2 Ltd, the Government-backed company planning and building Britain’s new high speed rail network.

“Andy will be responsible for building relationships with elected representatives at national and local levels as the company prepares to submit a hybrid bill to Parliament for Phase One of the project, between London and the West Midlands, and begins a public consultation on the proposed route for Phase Two between Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester."

Very good! 

But who will now fill the Taylor sized hole in ATOC's public affairs operation?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Ed Balls!

This from Ed Balls, via twitter...


Friday, 12 April 2013

NR's Freight Director - a revolving door?

Much delight amongst the Freighties!

It rather looks as if Tim Robinson, NR's Freight Director, has been appointed to the vacant Sussex Route MD post.

To paraphrase Saki: As good freight directors go, he went!

A hard act to follow, leaving an important role that will need filling PDQ.

Oh, Mr Horne, lets have a vada at your entrees!

Possibly the best picture on the internet you will see today!


And all in a good cause.

The proceeds from sales of EMT breakfasts today have been donated to the Railway Children's Big Breakfast Appeal.

And to enter into the spirit of the occasion MD David Horne donned his chef's whites and served up the Full English on a Nottingham - St Pancras service.

As Julian and Sandy might say - Bona Mr Horne!

Pointless signs - Waterloo Millenium Edition

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Women in Rail - launches with long queues!

This from Virginia Water...

Today, 200 industry leaders attended the launch event of Women In Rail.

WiR is a new initiative that aims to support opportunities for women in today's railway, as well as encourage all young people to consider a future in our industry.

With support from across the railway the event included high-powered presentations from ORR's Anna Walker, NR's Dyan Crowther and Heidi Mottram (late of Northern Rail)

Particularly striking was the statistic showing that the rail industry remains 83% male.

Meanwhile, the percentage of female workers amongst skilled employees languishes at the following levels: Train operators/drivers (4%); Engineers (4.5%) and Signallers (6.5%).

Despite this seemingly depressing imbalance of representation in the workplace, attendees left both enthusiastic and bursting for more!  

Happily the venue afforded equally generous PNB facilities for both Ladies and Gents... (shurely shome mishtake? Ed)

Eurostar - the crumbling edge of quality

Amidst all the excitement of franchising...

Perhaps something that Eurostar's Chairman might want to get to grips with?

Pointless signs - Blackfriars

Monday, 8 April 2013

Baroness Thatcher RIP

Farewell Iron Lady from the iron road!

Over the last fifty years the Tory Party has had little to shout about where the railways are concerned - think Marples and Major!

However, under Blessed Margaret Hilda's premiership the following were delivered:
  • Electrification of the East Coast Main Line (with new InterCity 225 train sets)
  • Brand new DMUs for the Regional Railways business
  • And the Chunnel - as a rail link
And of course we also had support for Sir Robert Reid's business led railway and Sectorisation (before the idiot Major's 'botched privatisation'). 

As @swirlythingy pointed out on twitter, this says as much about the quality of the business cases put forward by BR managers as it does about Mrs T.

But even so, not bad for someone allegedly implacably opposed to the railway.

The Fact Compiler doffs his bowler to Margaret Hilda Thatcher. RIP.

East Coast not broken, why fix?

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 29th March...

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 12th of April.

Pointless signs - Reading

This from John Brinicombe Lee...


Although this sign is technically correct the access maybe a little tricky.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Leveson, Regulation, Exemplary Damages & the Railway Press

One for Messrs Jackson, Briginshaw, Abbott, Preston, Harris (both), Pigott, Jack, Abell, Dunn, Jones, Milne, etc... to mull over.

With a bowler tip to the latest issue of Private Eye for highlighting this part of the debate on Awards of exemplary damages in relation to the Royal Charter regulating the press:

Richard Bacon (South Norfolk, Conservative)
One could easily envisage a railway enthusiasts’ magazine which had a range of authors whose material was subject to editorial control but which many people would nevertheless consider to be a hobby magazine. It would fall outside the regime because it was aimed solely at enthusiasts. What would happen, however, if such a magazine were to get hold of some information, perhaps confidential information, about High Speed 2? Would it then be caught by the regime? Does my right hon. Friend not see the path that she is going down?

Maria Miller (Basingstoke, Conservative)
We have clearly set out the direction that we are going in, and it is there in the information for my hon. Friend to read. Ultimately, the court will decide whether any particular issues fall near the line. If a publication is concerned about whether it would be caught by the new regime, it can of course seek legal advice, but we have done a great deal to make this clear to individual publications.


Eye suggests doing like the Speccie and just saying NO! 

Thameslink fleet - latest deadline passed

Good news for fans of Whitehall rolling stock procurement!

This from yesterday's Derby Telegraph...

In an interview with the Derby Telegraph in January, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he expected the £1.4 billion deal to be signed off with winning bidder Siemens "by the end of March".

But moving into April, the deal for 1,200 carriages still remains unsigned.

Just fancy that!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Pointless signs - York bins

This from Northern Spirit...

Nope. No bins here!

RDG seeks Associate Members... please?

This from Graham Smith, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group...

“The Rail Delivery Group is pleased to invite companies and organisations that are able to contribute to the work and objectives of the Group to become Associate Members. By becoming Associate Members of the RDG, companies and organisations can make a material contribution to the achievement of the RDG’s objectives, which will, in turn, benefit passengers, freight customers and taxpayers”

Very good and quite right too!

Application forms for RDG Associate Membership can be found here.

But why is the RDG, now a company limited by guarantee, still issuing press releases through Network Rail...

Ou est la TOPS

Dontcha just love the Frenchies!

This from Lloyds Loading List...

French rail freight operator Fret SNCF is offering staff a reward if they can find around 150 (apparently empty) rail wagons that have gone missing over the past decade.

Railwaymen are to be offered the sum of €82.10 for each wagon located.

A spokesperson for parent company SNCF Geodis told Lloyd’s Loading List.com the search for the wagons was part of an initiative to remedy a discrepancy between where the company’s IT systems showed wagons to be and their actual location.

Fourth Railway Package?

First pen and paper may be a better starting point!

Rocking Norman deeply confused - Official

Wise words from Norman Baker in today's Metro...

The railways would have been better off in state hands than under the regime introduced in the 1990s, Norman Baker said.

But Mr Baker stressed nationalising railways now would be expensive and unnecessary.

Quite so Minister, quite so.

And talking of 'expensive and unnecessary' what will the privatisation of state owned East Coast cost?

Are we perhaps having a 'cake and eat it' moment Norm?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A good civil servant, sex, trains and the Railway Gazette

Dear Occupants of Great Minster House.

This from Wales Online...

A civil servant in Whitehall was almost jailed in the 1970s for saving Aberystwyth’s train service and many others targeted for a wave of Beeching-style closures, it has been revealed.

That's the way to do it!

An incredible tale and unbelievably one that isn't dated the 1st April - read it!!

Good effort!!!

Pointless signs - Northern 158

This from Weiss Beer...

So, when Easter Sunday's 20.11 XC Leeds to Birmingham was caped on arrival due to lack of staff, and the 20.30 NR Leeds to Sheffield is then extended to Birmingham, just what do you put on the destination board?


Silver Stump Watch - Liverpool Lime Street

This from the Depot Master...

And these are after a rise of 30+ steps.

Silver Stump Watch - Glasgow Central

This from National Carp Parkes...

Attached are two photos for Silver Stump Watch. At neither location could a vehicle ram into the station. 

 In fact at one, a car would have to negotiate two flights of stairs!

Pointless signs - EMT Meridian

This from the Inglis Patient...

Spotted this above the luggage rack of an EMT Meridian.

Baggage Class?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Heritage Railways: A step too far!


How dare East Midlands Trains!!

How very, very dare they!!!

This from the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway...

Iris the Railcar receives East Midlands Trains livery
To celebrate the inclusion of the Wirksworth Branch in East Midlands Trains’ May timetable, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway has re-liveried its most historic DMU in the East Midlands Trains livery. 

BR Research's Iris in this!


And on the first day of the new financial year as well!