Friday, 28 June 2013

Juicing the network whilst the lights dim...

This from the PM's spokesman in today's Lobby...

"The clear view of the Government is that the lights are not going out.

"We are confident there are adequate supplies available. Power is not going to be rationed. Lights are not going to be turned off.

"The fundamental questions here are: are the lights going to go out? No.

"Will power be rationed? No."

What an excellent time to be embarking on a major programme of electrication, eh?

Reports of the demise of diesel trains appear somewhat exaggerated!

A reminder of Ministerial double speak

Time to compare and contrast.

This from the Earl Attlee on the 25th April...

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
Rolling stock deployment is a matter for the train operators with the Government's role primarily focused on ensuring that this represents value for money when the taxpayer's interest is involved. It is therefore for franchise bidders to determine the rolling stock requirements for routes within the franchise area and to work with the rolling stock owning groups to make decisions on investment in both new and existing rolling stock.

The Department for Transport is currently investing in rolling stock for the Thameslink and Inter City Express programmes. These procurements will significantly increase the national fleet size, enabling the department's investment strategy requirements to be met.

Existing rolling stock procurement programmes (including Thameslink and InterCity Express), and potential cascades of trains to other lines will not be delayed by the franchise schedule announced in March 2013, including during periods of direct awards contracts. The department will be working with both the train operators and rolling stock owning companies to understand any further rolling stock needs identified by them during the direct award periods.

Quite so and quite right!

Let the market decide!

Alas, here is the Earl Attlee on the 26th June...

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
Bidders for the East Coast franchise will be required to enter into arrangements for the use of trains procured through the InterCity Express Programme for use on East Coast in any agreements finalised by Her Majesty's Government.

So My Lord, it is not really 'for franchise bidders to determine rolling stock requirements' at all then?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Stand by your beds!

This from Whitehall...

Several hundred civil servants who serve in the Reserve Forces are proudly wearing their military uniforms to work today, 26 June, in job centres, tax offices and government departments across the country to mark Uniform to Work Day.

And quite right too!

After all Saturday is Armed Forces Day.

But who is this we spy in the accompanying pictures?

Well blow me, if it isn't Sgt 'High-tops' Stargazey, of the Queen's Own Regiment of Spinners!

Eye wonders if a certain Lt Col in the trade press isn't tempted, just very occasionally, to pull rank?

Glasto' and the railway

Nice video from First Great Western!

In their own words...

Castle Cary is normally one of the quality (sic) stations on the First Great Western network, seeing around 1000 passengers pass through it each day.

But, during Glastonbury Festival week, the station turns into the central hub for revelers traveling to the festival - with passenger numbers increasing by five or six times that number.

This video shows the transformation on day one of the festival this year.

Over the course of the festival First Great Western will be providing more than 50 extra trains and 13,000 extra seats to help get customers to Glastonbury, avoiding thousands of additional car journeys to the site.

Good effort - shows the railway doing what it does best; moving large numbers of people, safely.

Dean's 'getting the band back together'...

This from National Express...

Mary Grant, former chief executive officer, Phones 4U, will join National Express in July 2013 as Managing Director, Business Development. Her role initially will be to work on international growth opportunities. She will increasingly focus on UK Rail opportunities during 2014.

Who'd have guessed?

Pointless signs - Norman's Bay

This from The Albatross...

In the middle of the barren salt marshes of East Sussex lies Norman's Bay station, with it's very own 'Meeting Point'!

Who? Why? When?


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Baker and Burns lead the cuts...

This from Confused of Whitehall...

I note the following from the Chancellor's  Comprehensive Spending Review statement today:

"The Department for Transport will make a 9 per cent saving in its day to day resource spending, bearing down on the running costs of Transport for London and rail administration"

Is this in addition to, or instead of, this year's planned 50% reduction in the DfT ministerial team?

Perhaps Eye, or its readers, can clarify?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Crossrail concession shortlisted bidders

The following have been shortlisted for the Crossrail operating concession:

  • Arriva;
  • Keolis/Go-Ahead;
  • MTR; and
  • National Express.
Perhaps a surprise not to see RATP in the list.

Did Eye mention that this will be a Concession rather than a Franchise?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Hynes to Northern

This from the Abellio website...

Following the announcement in late March that Ian Bevan had decided to step down from his role as MD of Northern Rail, Abellio and Serco have appointed Alex Hynes as MD for Northern, commencing in September 2013.
Alex’s early career as a senior consultant for Halcrow Fox saw him providing policy, financial and economic advice to transport operators in UK rail franchise bidding. He then progressed his career with the ORR before joining the Go-Ahead Group in 2005, performing a number of roles including Commercial Director for London Midland and his most recent role as MD – Rail Development. In this role he was a member of Go-Ahead’s Executive Committee and led the development and delivery of Go-Ahead’s 5 year rail strategy including all franchise bidding activity.
Alex brings a wealth of experience in which will position him well to take Northern Rail to the next stage of operational excellence across all aspects of the business. We welcome him to the Group and wish him every success in his new role.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to Alan Chaplin for undertaking the role of Acting MD to date and pending Alex’s commencement at which time he will facilitate a smooth handover before returning to focus on his COO role. 

Nothing about the appointment on Serco's website though...

ATOC to hold wake for franchising?

Good news for fans of black armbands and dirges!

ATOC is hosting a tres elegant soiree in July to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Railways Act, the piece of legislation that paved the way for, in Chris Grayling's words, "a flawed privitisation".

Quite so.

The timing could not be better with the next party of government nudging ever closer to renationalising the railways, according to an article today by Mark Ferguson on Labour List.

No matter!

No doubt those attending the ATOC bun fight, including the Secretary of State for Transport, will appreciate the deep irony of holding it in the former home of the Greater London Council (now the Marriott County Hall).

Of course that was another piece of Tory abolition legislation that has subsequently been reversed.

More amusing still is the fact that the successors to the GLC, the Mayor and GLA, are absolutely adamant that Concessions, rather than Franchises, are the way forward for rail services; unless of course you include London Underground which remains resolutely state-owned.

Perhaps ATOC realises the game is up?

Pointless signs - Exeter Central

This from the Wicked Weaver...

They must be short of seats at Exeter Central.

Pointless signs - Ashford

This from @Goddent83...

People in Ashford have long memories...

Friday, 21 June 2013

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Chunnel woes - but silver lining in sight

This from Judge Nutmeg...

The European Commission has today announced that it is taking proceedings against the UK and French Governments over their failure to comply with European railway law in the structure and regulation of the Channel Tunnel.  

In particular, the Commission is concerned that this non-compliance is causing prices for passengers and freight customers to be too high. 

No doubt this will be strongly opposed by the Governments, and long protracted court cases will follow.

Of course, if the European single market was working properly, one could rely on competitive powers to control prices; in this case competition from the alternative mode, cross channel ferries.

The same ferries in fact that the Competition Regulator has just banned Eurotunnel from buying, with multiple legal cases also heading to court.

The benefits of EU Membership for the Legal Profession can surely not be doubted even by Monsieur Farage and Co.

RDG parks tanks on Rosco lawns

This from Passenger Transport...

The Rail Delivery Group, the Department for Transport and franchise owning groups have begun initial discussions which could lead to train operating companies purchasing new trains directly rather than leasing them from the ROSCOs (rolling stock leasing companies).

Good news indeed.

Anything that emasculates those with a long term interest in the industry, whilst benefiting "thinly capitalised equity profiteers of the worst kind" has to be a good idea (Is this right? Ed).

Apparently First Group is already chomping at the bit to buy new rolling stock for its Great Western franchise.

According to Tim O'Toole, CEO of First Group:

We need more trains, and we’ve made this plain to the government, and they have got to allow this to happen”.

Quite so Tim and with First Group finances in such robust health it seems such a shame that Dai Woodham is no longer in business.

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

Has DfT  Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam taken a leaf from the General Galtieri Book of  Political Strategems?  

With his department's expensive in-house  procurement of IEP and Thameslink rolling stock under fire, how better to deflect criticism than attacking those nasty people in trade - the  'expensive' ROSCOs.

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...
At a recent meeting of the Rail Delivery Group one topic rasied was:
Rolling stock – issues emerging on value for money.

Can it be that they have woken up to the ludicrous cost of the Great Western and East Coast
Ninky Nonk train ?
Probably not. We suspect that the real concern is the blood-sucking rentals being charged by the Roscos for err.. Pacers.


ORR hopes for 25% uplift in satisfaction

Exciting news from those masters of railway finances - the ORR!

Here is the feedback form from yesterday's ORR industry periodic review 2013 bash in London.

Good to see those charged with the very big numbers can't get a grip on the, er, small numbers..!!

Perhaps option 5 is a reflection of ORR's very own Optimism Bias?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Smart ticket - dumb name!

This from Thomas Edmonson...

Manchester's new transport smart card is to be called 'My get me there'

Now I can understand the rationale behind LT's 'Oyster' - as Del Boy would say, with the card the world's your lobster.

Merseyside's 'Walrus' is an obvious homage to the Beatles - Hong Kong having got there first with the Octopus.

And I suppose Southern's 'Key' could imply that it is the key to simpler travel.

But  'My get me there' sounds more like a nursery euphemism.

Should the Manchester authorities decide to recant in the face of local protects can I suggest 'Itso'? (Why? Ed).

Because It's so easy to use! (Groan. Ed)

UPDATE: This from a Mr Paul Prentice...

They can't use 'Itso'.

It sounds far too much like a certain Japanese sushi bar chain (Itsu) in which one Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned…

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tortoise disrupts rail services - Official!

This just in from a Mr Fergy Lee... 

Services on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway came to a halt today due to the presence of two tortoises loose on the line near Wirksworth.

Eye salutes a heritage railway with members able to catch these monsters of the wild...

Mr Lergy Fee continues...

"There is no truth in the rumour that star of this weekend’s diesel gala 31414 (soon to re-emerge this weekend in green livery as D5528), was sent to apprehend them but failed to keep up".

Eye observes: Nothing wrong with Go-Anywhere Cl31s, as long as they are properly maintained of course...

UPDATE: This from a Mr Through the Glass, somewhat darkly...

Brilliant! You could name them Wirks and Worth! 

They will at least last much much longer than a 31.....and probably be able to pull far more weight.

Whitehall wanderings - a good thing!

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 7th June...

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 21st June.

Vaizey - No reason NRM should close!

This from ITV...

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has today confirmed that the threat of closure hanging over Bradford' National Media Museum and York's National Railway Museum has been lifted .

"They [the Science Museum Group] asserted if there was a certain level of cuts they would have to look at closing one……..They are not going to receive those level of cuts so there is no reason why any of these museums should close," said Mr Vaizey

Very good. Carry on.

Cross-hatch Madness - Templecombe

This with a bowler tip to a Mr Tingey...


Monday, 17 June 2013

Swiss show the path to Innovation

Good news for fans of cuckoo clocks!

The Engineering Innovation Team are looking for new ideas but this one from Switzerland shows what the UK is up against.

This from Global Rail News...

Clip-Air’ has been touted by its developers, Swiss university EPFL, as the future of intermodal travel. Passengers could board a train in London and arrive in New York without leaving their seat.

Train capsules would travel directly to the airport from city centre railway stations where they would then latch on to the underside of a specially-equipped plane.

The aircraft would be capable of supporting three of these capsules, each with around 150 passengers on board.

Good news indeed.

It looks as if there is already a prototype of this exciting Swiss innovation in operation!

And here it is coming in to land!

Hmmm... a bit more work to do perhaps? 

UPDATE: This from Trailer Second...

Is this from the same team that brought us the bi-mode IEP?

Railway Garden Competition - Manchester Piccadilly

This from 142013...

A very pleasant spot of growth alongside plaform 13.

Railway Khazi Watch - Jeremy Corbyn MP!

This from Richard Hebditch of the Campaign for Better Transport...

Given Eye's occasional interest in toilets on the network, thought you might be interested in this rather long series of PQs from Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn on toilets on the rail network from today’s order paper

403 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have had with train operating companies in respect of the provision of adequate toilet facilities.

404 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department collects on the provision of toilet facilities or working toilet facilities by rail franchise.

405 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department collects on concerns raised on the adequacy of toilet facilities provided by train operators.

406 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what sanctions are available to his Department against train operating companies who do not provide adequate toilet facilities; and what sanctions have been employed against train operating companies in the last five years.

407 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether it is a requirement in franchise agreements for train operators to have working toilets on all of their services.

408 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether there is a requirement in franchise agreements for train operators for a minimum level of working toilet provision on train services before a train enters service.

409 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether there are different requirements for toilet provision in train franchises in respect of (a) commuter, (b) intercity and (c) regional services.

410 Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, which body is responsible for monitoring whether train operators provide adequate and working toilet facilities; and what methodology is used for any such monitoring.

Slightly wonder if his interest stems from an unfortunate personal experience…

ORR Draft Determination - Word Cloud

The story of a pole - McNulty cost creep explained

This from Citizen Smith...

Once there was a mirror on a pole on a platform.

Then bits of it were painted yellow, then a small fence was put up round it. Bits of the fence were also painted yellow.

Then someone realised the fence meant that anyone passing the mirror might walk in an area behind a yellow line.

They put up signs so that people walked the other way. They made sure these signs were branded.

Great Western Route and FGW - delivering a Value for Money railway...

Railway Khazi Watch - Waterloo

This from the Hammer Man...

Seemingly the 'newly refurbished' cludgies at Waterloo (all puns intended) don't even offer you a lock when you spend your 30 pennies!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Dunstone on HS2

This from 

Money from the HS2 scheme could be better spent on broadband, Sir Charles Dunstone has argued.

Sir Charles Dunstone, the Chairman of TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse, has called for the government to spend a chunk of its huge budget for the High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail network on improving the UK's broadband infrastructure. 

Just fancy that. 

And in other news: Bears advocate defecating in woods and the Pope remains resolutely Catholic. 

John Knox alive and well at Scotrail

Good news for fans of the New Puritanism! 

The McKilljoys of Scotrail have banned e-fags!

According to The Herald...

SCOTRAIL has banned e-cigarettes from its trains and railway stations as concerns over their safety continue to grow.

The train company this week confirmed staff and passengers were no longer allowed to use the smoking devices on their services.

And they said there was concern other passengers might think they could smoke real cigarettes on the trains, if they saw someone using the alternative product.


Where to start? 

Good to see First Group doing their level best to make rail travel that little less bearable.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Lookalike - In the Nightmare Garden

Shopping the NR way!

This from a Former NR Sleeper...

Thought readers might enjoy this handy Network Rail guide to shopping.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

ORR goes in for mystic accounting?

This from Alecto...

What a marvelous piece of fiddle factor in ORRs determination of Network Rail's net revenue requirement (p 29):

  • "We then look at financial indicators and adjust the level of amortisation so that Network Rail‟s financial sustainability is not unduly affected by this approach (hence the term "financial sustainability adjustment")."
But "financial sustainability adjustment" sounds so much more professional. 

As in: "Here you go guv', including parts, labour and err... financial sustainability adjustment
that'll cost you £37.9bn."

ORR back-tracks on Biomass charging

This from the Rail Freight Group...

Rail Freight Group (RFG) today welcomed the ORR’s decisions on freight charges announced as part of the Draft Determination of the Periodic Review 2013.

As part of a package of reforms, ORR have concluded that;

  • Biomass will not be subject to a new freight specific charge in control period 5.
  • Increases in the variable access charges for freight will be capped at an average 10% compared to the 23% previously announced.  This is likely to reduce charges for intermodal traffic, and limits the impact of rises in the bulk markets such as aggregates and steel.
  • The proposed 400% increase to the capacity charge for freight will not be implemented and a revised approach will be developed.
  • The previously announced caps on the freight specific charge for ESI coal, iron ore and spent nuclear fuel will be reduced.  For ESI Coal, for example, the cap will reduce from £4.04 to £1.04 per kgtm.
Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director said today "We are pleased that ORR has listened to the concerns of the industry and has taken a balanced decision that is affordable and fair.  This will be a great relief to rail freight operators, customers and those seeking to invest in the sector who can now develop their business plans with confidence."

A good result!

RfG showing how lobbying should be done.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Bit of an embarrassing climb down from ORR then?

Presumably no one bothered to salute this when they ran it up the flag pole?

Burns Lite - Seeing the light on DOR

Has Simon Burns had a Damescene conversion?

Regular readers of Eye will recall that Third Degree Burns recently described nationalised East Coast as having 'plateaued', and compared it unfavourably with the triumph of private sector innovation that is Beardie Rail.

So what are we to make of these saccharine words from Mr Toad, made during the 5th June Westminster Hall debate on the East Coast Main Line...

"...after an extended and successful period of public ownership..."

"East Coast has delivered a great deal in the past three-and-a-half years of public ownership..."

"The operation of train services by DOR is an essential part of the privatised franchising model."

Words that will no doubt do something to restore the battered morale of his own people holed up in One Kemble Street.

And perhaps more to the point ensuring that DOR has at least some chance of recruiting the skilled people needed to run future franchises, such as errr.. Great Western, for instance!

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

It is interesting to note how the civil servants have been desperately trying to re-chip Simon Burns as they realise that rubbishing East Coast and, by implication operator of last resort Directly Operated Railways, reduces the effectiveness of their deterrent against the rapacious bus bandits when it comes to negotiating  franchise extensions.

All this is rather akin to the Defence Secretary saying, "Frankly old boy, our missiles are so rubbish that even if they launched we'd be lucky to hit Russia let alone Moscow and anyway, the warheads can't be guaranteed to go off if it's raining"...

But we suspect the new tone is a wasted effort since even this Government must have worked out  that if they called the bus bandits bluff and installed DOR then Labour would have a political field day over yet another renationalisation.

With a general election less than two years away there is no way DfT can afford to admit that franchising has failed, again.

So fill your boots bus-bandits, because Burns has all but conceded that DOR is now a paper tiger!

ORR Draft Determination exposes inflation - Shocker!

This from Captain Deltic...

The Office of Rail Regulation's Draft Determination under Periodic Review 13  (PR13) published today occupies a staggering 813 pages.

The PR08 Draft Determination required just 372 pages.

So that is an 118% increase in five years.

The draft conclusions for the PR03 interim review required a mere 211 pages - and that in the aftermath of  the collapse of Railtrack.

So Richard Price, running a well established process for a relatively stable industry, needs four times the space of Tom Winsor whose interim review was written at a time of near anarchy when the government maintained radio silence on its requirements.

As Flanders and Swann nearly wrote:  "It all makes work for the Regulatory man to do".

Perhaps time for an efficiency review of ORR?

Great Western franchise - DOR activated

This from The Brothers...

RAIL UNION RMT revealed today that it has been officially notified of a rescue plan to bring in the publicly owned Directly Operated Railways to run the major Great Western franchise between London, Wales and the South West, fuelling speculation that talks on a contract extension with First Group, due to be announced in the next few weeks, are in trouble.

RMT has received the following notification from DOR:

“GW Railway Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways, has today submitted applications to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for a Safety Certificate (Part A and Part B) and Safety Authorisation in respect of undertaking train and station operations on the Great Western Franchise (i.e. the line of route currently operated by First Greater Western), should current negotiations between the Department for Transport and First Group, on a short term extension to the franchise commencing in October 2013, fail to reach a satisfactory conclusion.“


UPDATE: This from First Group...

Our negotiations with the DfT in respect of an extension to the First Great Western franchise are, contrary to claims by the RMT, progressing well.  Our proposal is not due to be submitted to the DfT until next month.

The step taken by DOR to register a safety certificate is usual practice and reflects the fact that the process to achieve a safety certificate takes sixteen weeks.  This process is expected to take place in respect of all potential single tender agreement awards for franchises.

First Great Western has also registered for a safety certificate in respect of an extension to the franchise.

UPDATE: This delightful non-sequitur from Maria the Eagle..

David Cameron and his Ministers must come clean if they are preparing to take over Great Western rail services. Passengers deserve to know the truth about the future of the rail services on which they depend.

The plan to extend existing franchises is collapsing into chaos. This is a direct consequence of the misguided decision by Ministers to prioritise a costly and unnecessary privatisation of rail services on the East Coast ahead of getting the rest of the rail network back on track. 

The Government should accept it has got this wrong and allow East Coast services to continue to be run on a not for private profit basis. It will be a scandal if even more taxpayers’ money is wasted, adding to the £55 million that has already gone down the drain thanks to the franchising fiasco for which David Cameron and his Ministers were responsible.

UPDATE: This from a source close to DOR...

You know of course that DOR went through exactly the same process during the negotiations to extend both the West Coast and Essex Thameside (C2C) franchise?

Still, not like the RMT to let the facts get in the way of a good story...

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Pointless sign - Waterloo

This from a Mr Lost the Will to Live...

So where else might a balcony be then?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Veitch off to Upsidedown-land!

So farewell Jon Veitch, the latest loss to the Dominions!

After more than 26 years working on Britain's Railways Jon will be leaving these hallowed shores to take up the role of General Manager, Freight, for the Downer Group in Australia.

Jon, currently Fleet Manager at East Midlands Trains, is due to become a 'Ten Pound Pom' at the end of August.

Fans of esoteric traction will recall that Jon has played a key role in restoring prototype HST power car 41001, as well as naming all four 08's at Neville Hill.

Amidst other claims to fame he oversaw the return to service of  a 'bubble car' to Wales, the introduction of the WAG Express, the transition of the West Coast from classic locomotives to the Pendolinos and played a leading role in the infamous Intercity Express Programme.

Eye wonders how we will survive without him!

Wishing you all the best Jon. Oh, and any chance you can take the IEPs with you?

Pendocycle200 from Manchester to Euston

This from the Pendocycle200 Team...


Virgin Trains staff at Manchester Piccadilly are organising a charity event in support of The Christie, a specialist cancer centre based in Manchester.

The Christie charity raises money to fund projects which are outside the scope of the NHS. This includes cancer research, new facilities and extra patient services. Howard Newhall, community fund raising officer at The Christie charity, will join Virgin Trains in the activity.

The event, which takes place on 28th June 2013, involves cycling 220miles between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston railway stations. Participants must leave Manchester at 0505 (with the first train to London) and finish their journey in time to catch the last train back to Manchester, at 2200 – giving cyclists a pedalling time of 16 hours 55 minutes to cover the distance. Not easy!

In the run up to the event, the organising team will arrange for items to be auctioned on a dedicated eBay account and all money raised there will go towards the final amount. 

For more information on Pendocyle visit: To contribute visit:

Railway Garden Competition - Norwich

This via @NoddingDonkey...

Lawn mower required for recovery of these 158's at Norwich!

Friday, 7 June 2013

What's 'hundreds of millions of pounds' between friends?

Good to see partnership is alive and well on the LNW Route!

Apparently Beardie Rail is threatening to take NR to court over poor performance.

According to Virgin Rail's CEO, Tony Collins, in the FT...

“We have been trying to work with Network Rail to sort things out but this has been going on for 15 years and we have been left with no alternative,” he said, adding that it was damaging the Virgin brand.


No matter.

Meanwhile in the Birmingham Mail Collins is quoted as saying

“We have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on a fleet of reliable trains and we pay NR nearly £200 million a year to maintain the West Coast line for us. We feel that we are not getting value for money in this respect and our customers have been let down and deserve more consistency.”

Virgin has spent 'hundreds of millions of pounds' on its train fleet, eh?

Who knew?

Pity the poor old Rolling Stock Leasing Companies!

In Beardie World they now assume the mantle of Trotsky - suitable only for being air-brushed out of history.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Virgin obviously shares the same view of Roscos as the DfT.

Perhaps this explains the recent rapprochement?

A threat to the NRM - time for an industry response?

"A nation that forgets its past has no future."

Wise words from Winston Churchill!

So what are we to make of threats to the National Railway Museum?

According to the Beeb... 

One of three museums in the north of England will close if further cuts to budgets are made, their owner has said.

The Science Museum Group (SMG) said it was in a "weak" financial position.

As well as the Science Museum in London, SMG runs the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the National Railway Museum in York and the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Director Ian Blatchford said as well as the closure, "big cuts" may also be made to the museum in London.

He said the prospect of a further 10% cut in funding in the next round of government spending proposals meant "almost certainly" one museum would shut.

York's The Press is mounting a campaign to Save the NRM.

Who is leading the industry response to this threat and how can Eye readers support?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

National Express in vote rigging shocker!

This from NatEx owned C2C...

National Express train company c2c is backing Leanne Jarvis, daughter of train driver Dave, in the live finals of the BBC One show ‘The Voice’.

Dave, who has been driving c2c passengers for the past 10 years, has been making tannoy announcements each time he drives a train urging passengers to vote for his daughter, who is one of the final 12 contestants in the television programme.

And now c2c is putting posters up at its stations urging the 90,000 passengers who use c2c every day to support Leanne in this weekend’s live programme, in the hope she makes it through to next week’s semi-finals of the competition.

Disgraceful! And good effort.

Harnessing the power of new media and the web

They're a cheeky lot in Derby!

This from RVEL - a nice little video package about a visit from Patrick McLoughlin on Monday.

Whilst 'RVEL-vision' is a little bit corny (a little bit!?! Ed), this is a great example of disintermediation!

Why go broadcast to get your message out, when Narrowcast is the future!

New Rail Supply Chain Forum!

This from George Ramshaw Curry...

Given that one remit of the new and exciting DfT and BIS backed 'Rail Supply Chain Forum' is to:

  • Promote the UK rail industry, improving export coordination and exploring other opportunities for UK companies to successfully engage in both the UK and International rail sector and supply chains
you might have expected that the Director General of the Railway Industry Association would have been present at the meeting on June 4 where Messrs McLoughlin and Cable opened the proceedings.

Unfortunately said DG had something more important to do that day.

He was leading an overseas trade mission to Taiwan!

Happily none of the speakers introducing the various topics were actually from the manufacturing industry either.

So that's all right then!

UPDATE: This from the Railway Industry Association...

Perhaps churlish to suggest actually selling things overseas might meet our remit quite well...

Nonetheless, it should be noted that RIA was well represented at this meeting by its Chairman, Policy Director, and several Council members.

UPDATE: George Ramshaw Curry replies...

But what is this fantastic new body actually for?

What will it do that RIA doesn't already do, and why was nobody from the supply chain asked to be a speaker at the event?

Is this yet another industry talking shop?

UPDATE: This allegedly, and perhaps surprisingly, from Henry Kissinger...

 Getting DfT and BIS in the same room is no mean achievement!

Pointless signs - Victoria

This with a bowler tip to @sinminkles via twitter...

QR Codes - a solution in search of a problem?

Why uniform standards need to be standard...

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 24th May...

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 7th June.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Highland Main Line 150 - properly celebrated!

This from Anon...

As the Highland Main Line celebrates its 150th anniversary, I thought Eye readers might enjoy this image of three dubious characters propping up an Inverness bar at the weekend.

Can you work out who they are yet?

Pointless signs - Maidenhead

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A picture of competence...

This from Payroll No 1144...

I note with interest that the Soi Disant Veteran Observer has posted a new photo of himself on linked-in today.

Unfortunately in this one he now seems to be lacking the sage advice of the dog!

As this is at least the second, if not third picture, of the Soi Disant with the same Minister perhaps he is hoping to create some sort of record?

Either way, rather than running vanity pics on Social Media sites perhaps he should update his own website, which still features a twice failed Mayoral candidate and a now very dead chair of the TSC.

Perhaps he has lost the password?

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


This is really beginning to p**s me off!

Stop referring to me as the "soi disant veteran observer"!

Mr Fact Contorter - it isn't actually very amusing anymore and I don't know anyone who finds this funny. (We do. Ed).

And by the way there is nothing wrong with my website, it is merely on 'deferred maintenance' and will soon by relaunched with even better...  (sadly, owing to pressure of space, Eye is unable to publish the rest of this email from the soi disant 'veteran observer'. Ed).

Railway Garden Competition - Tunbridge Wells

This from Cardinal Allen...

Is Kent Route trialing an Eco-wall?

A message to Odgers from the Railway

Dear Odgers

Thank you for all your calls today asking us to help Network Rail find a successor to Graham Eccles.

Yes, he or she should be an 'operator'.

And no, recent experience in a front line operating role is not essential but is certainly desirable.

However, we wonder why NR has asked you to call us? 

As they work alongside us and know us all much, much better than you do, surely NR's own people could have made exactly the same calls for a fraction of the cost?

Still in the Age of Austerity every penny counts.

Love, The Railway.

Silver Fox to TXM Group!

Eye understands that the Silver Fox is abandoning Network Rail!

Graham Eccles, for it is he, has apparently decided to take up the role of chairman at the TXM Group.

He will step down from the NR board in July.


UPDATE: This from the Silver Fox himself...

Nothing odd about my moving on.  I'm getting on a bit and the time commitment at Network Rail, especially since becoming Chair of Remuneration Committee, is just more than I want to put in and there are other things I'd like to do with my life. TXM is something new for me and much more suited to an elderly gentleman.

Earlier this year David Wilson (ex Siemens) and I, along with another friend, bought a vineyard in the High Beaujolais.  I'd like to start spending more time there which I can't do with the time commitment at Network Rail.  David is an ideal partner, if he can flog £1.4 billion worth of trains to a Yorkshireman, he can certainly flog a few bottles of wine to our Gallic cousins.

Writing to you allows me to shamelessly plug the vineyard (see, but it would also be nice to see old railway chums call in if they are out that way.

Regards G


Monday, 3 June 2013

The Bilderberg Group meets at The Grove!

Good news for fans of secretive and exclusive societies!

According to the Daily Telegraph

The annual gathering of royalty, statesmen and business leaders, will this week take place at the Grove Hotel, a golf resort in Watford, Hertfordshire.

Older hands will of course remember that this venue was once BR's Management and Training Centre, where Organising for Quality courses were offered to all railway managers.

Perhaps there is a message in this for this for iDave and Gideot?

OfQ? Indeed.