Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Railcare enters Administration

This from the RMT...

RAIL UNION RMT today called for urgent intervention by Business Secretary Vince Cable to save 500 skilled engineering jobs in Glasgow and Milton Keynes after it was confirmed that rail fleet repairs and refurbishment company Railcare has been placed in administration.

RMT understands that the Government have been approached by the company for assistance in getting Railcare through a short-term cash flow crisis but that they were turned down. The union is pointing out that for want of what is estimated to be not much more than a million pounds in cash flow, the Government have turned their backs, whilst at the same time wasting an estimated £100 million on the aborted franchising timetable – a shambles which looks like it is the main cause of the crisis at Railcare.

Unions had been made aware earlier this week that Railcare was in trouble after it failed to pay staff wages and after a planned takeover by a German company collapsed. Crisis talks this morning with another potential buyer are thought to have collapsed forcing the company into administration with BDO appointed as the administrators.

RMT understands that although Railcare has a full order book and plenty of work in the pipeline from the train operators via the rail fleet leasing companies they ran into a cash-flow problem which has forced the move into administration threatening the jobs at the former British Rail plants at Springburn near Glasgow and Wolverton near Milton Keynes. RMT also understands that the key delays with moving the order book forwards have been caused by the franchising chaos in the wake of the West Coast fiasco which has held back fleet refurbishment plans while costing the taxpayer £100 million.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“RMT is today calling on Vince Cable and the Government to step in to secure the future of these 500 key rail fleet engineering jobs following the collapse of Railcare, the Government cannot sit on their hands and watch this situation play out for the want of what we believe is not much more than a million pounds of cash flow finance. Reports that Railcare have already been turned down for assistance make a mockery of the Government’s business strategy and their stated objective of protecting skilled jobs.

“This crisis has left 500 staff unpaid and without any security and the root cause appears to be the franchising shambles in the wake of the West Coast fiasco. Vince Cable and the Government have a moral and economic duty to intervene urgently to save these jobs and protect the scheduled work and RMT will meet with him at any time to assist in moving this on. All of us now need to work together to secure these jobs and the important work that the company is involved in.”


Pointless signs - Crewe

DfT's HS2 Taskforce recruits... Waterman!

This from the Independent...

Pop music producer Pete Waterman is a surprise inclusion on a new taskforce set up to maximise the economic benefits of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project.

Says it all really.

Please. Someone. Get a grip of HS2! 

ORR declines Blackpool and Shrewsbury paths

This from the ORR...

ORR decision on West Coast track access application

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has decided at this stage not to grant access for additional services to Blackpool and Shrewsbury on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Extensive analysis of Virgin Trains' recent application for new passenger services on the WCML showed that there is not currently sufficient space on the line to run all of the additional services. The proposals would have also caused further deterioration in punctuality by adding traffic to what is already a very busy route, on which Network Rail is currently not meeting the punctuality targets it has been funded to deliver. The proposals would have a detrimental impact on the journeys of millions of passengers travelling on the route.

Note. This announcement has been made in advance of the adjudication of the Access Disputes Committee, which was due to give its view on Friday...

UPDATE: This from Messrs Dot & Tittle...

Presumably NR will, under the terms of the Access and Management Regs 2005, now have to declare the West Coast to be congested infrastructure

23.—(1) Where, after the co-ordination of requests for capacity and consultation with the applicants in accordance with regulation 20(4), it is not possible for the infrastructure manager to satisfy requests for infrastructure adequately, the infrastructure manager must declare that element of the infrastructure on which such requests cannot be satisfied to be congested.

This then triggers a series of actions, including,

(3) In seeking to determine measures to alleviate congestion the infrastructure manager must consider, in particular—
(a) re-routing of services;
(b) re-timing of services;
(c) alterations to the line-speed; and
(d) infrastructure improvements.

Sadly there doesn’t appear to be a clause in the Regs which allows them to do nothing for 13 years in the hopeful expectation that HS2 will solve everything!

Bring on PUG3!

Kelly's Heroes gains a deputy

A big Eye welcome to Dominic Cheetham, NR's new Deputy Director of Communications!

A quick glance at Linkedin reveals that Dominic previously worked at Serco as Communications Director and before that fulfilled a similar role at British Gas. 

His background is in newspapers, radio and TV.

Lots of experience, therefore, in regulated industries as we approach CP5!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Pointless signs - Reading

Pointless signs - Cambridge

This from @Al_S...

This sign is at Kings Hedges Road, Cambridge (at the junction for Cambridge Regional College).

The railway it warns of last saw a train in the early '90s.

It is now the Cambridge Guided Busway.

On the plus side, perhaps it wants to be a proper railway when it grows up?

Wattage Watch - Paddington

This, perhaps surprisingly, from I.K.Brunel...

When departing my fine terminus on the hottest day of the year, in the mid afternoon sun, I noted that the station management seem to be unable to turn the platform lights off!

Is this worthy of Eye's attention?

Yes indeed Mr Brunel! 

Time for an exciting new Eye feature...

Eye gives you Wattage Watch!

Piccies please of the railway unnecessarily running up utility bills.

RDG embraces 'Transparency'

Good news for fans of openness and transparency!

This from the Rail Delivery Group's summary of proceedings from its July meeting...

Industry Structure and Strategy – transparency
The RDG agreed that the industry should take control of the transparency agenda rather than leaving it to the ORR. Various industry parties were pursuing different initiatives. The Group agreed that nominated RDG Members agree a cross-industry approach.

And quite right too.

But what's this?

The rest of the summary document contains no reference to discussions about simplifying the number of organisations at the 'top' of the railway industry!

Perhaps they just didn't take place, or became so 'transparent' that they were rendered invisible?

Founder of Railway Children honoured

Colas and Network Rail have honoured the founder of the Railway Children.

A Colas class 66 was named David Maidment OBE at the National Track Plant Exhibition at Long Marston last Thursday.

The event was attended by 219 exhibitors from all areas of the rail industry, many of whom have long been supporters of Railway Children. Exhibitors gave donations on the day, with a total of £8,750 being raised for the charity.

David set up Railway Children in 1996, following an encounter with a young girl begging on a railway station in India. For the past 18 years, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness of the plight of children living alone and at risk on the streets and railway platforms.

To this day, across Railway Children’s geographical reach of India, East Africa and the UK, over 50,000 children are contacted and supported by the charity each year. 

Good effort!

Verster explains Lean Management in the Midlands

This from the power-house of PR that exists in Network Rail's LNE/EM Route... 

Phil Verster, Route Managing Director of Network Rail (LNE & EM) volunteering at East Midlands Parkway station today helping passengers navigate their way around the rail replacement services while Network Rail invests £100m to completely renew the railway around Nottingham.  

More than a mile of track is being relayed as well as replacing a series of junctions.  A new platform is being constructed, three signal boxes and two level crossings closed, and more than 140 new signals erected.

Recent visitors to NR's HQ in York will immediately recognise that Phil is clutching yet another design for a Visualisation Board! 

Pointless signs - Beckenham Junction

With a bowler tip to @DickiesTicker.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Railway Garden Competition - Lincoln

This from a Mr Barrett Houzing...

I thought Eye readers might enjoy an update on how the platform 8 garden at Lincoln is doing.



And here, in all its glory, the same Railway Garden today!

Surely worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award?

Bob gets all hot under the collar...

This from the RMT...

RAIL UNION RMT revealed today that while cattle get legal protection from overheated trains, British passengers, paying the highest fares in Europe, do not as the private rail companies are once again allowed to get away with doing just what they like as they extract massive profits from the network.

Welfare legislation sets a legal minimum of 5C (41F) and 30C (86F) for the transport of farm animals. In addition vehicles must be fitted with sensors and a warning system to tell drivers when the limits have been breached.

But no such standards are in place for commuters, the Office of Rail Regulation confirmed over the weekend, with parliament once again failing to put basic measures into rail franchise contracts to protect people using public transport.

RMT also revealed a month ago that there is no requirement in rail franchise agreements to provide toilets on trains.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"The more we look at the rail franchising system the more we find that the most basic protections for the travelling public have been ignored with the whole racket designed and built to maximise private profit.

"Cattle get protection in the hot weather that humans don't, that is simply outrageous and as fares go through the roof to travel on rammed, sweltering and creaking trains the case for an end to this grotesque exploitation is overwhelming. Public ownership of our railways is the only solution to this scandal."

All good points Bob.

But what's this?

Strangely no mention of sweltering heat and loo-less trains on the public sector London Underground!

Perhaps it is in the notes to Editors? (Nope. Ed)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Less is more...

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 19th July... 

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 2nd August.

RMT flies a kite... out of control

This from a Mr Ivy... 

I guess you've seen this from the RMT: 

Nothing highlights the growing rail fares scandal more than the fact a walk-on return fare from London to Newcastle costs £301, more than a round trip flight to New York. Skyscanner are advertising return trips to the States for £298 today.

I'm sure the 'Eye' would like to point out how blatantly misleading the RMT is being – by comparing a walk-on rail-fare with an advance booking air fare! It's appalling how they spin. Trouble is, people will believe them….

Out of interest I've checked Skyscanner now, and 'walk-on' fare (I.e. For travel today is £1,133 (the headline price of £796 is not available). I'd like to give Bob Crow £298 and tell him to get to New York with that as a 'walk-on' fare.

Is ATOC fuming. I'll bet not….!

Railway Garden Competition - Harrow and Wealdstone

This from the Ward Room... 

This is NR infrastructure...

One wonders if TfL would permit this on their own tracks?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Innovation? Freighties lead the way!

Good news for fans of keeping the lights on! 

British designed.

British built! 

This from Drax...


Drax has unveiled the UK’s first purpose-built biomass rail freight wagon at the National Railway Museum in York.

Developed by designers at Lloyd’s Register Rail and manufactured by WH Davis, it is the largest ever produced and pushes the boundaries of rail engineering.

The wagon will transport sustainable biomass from the Ports of Tyne, Hull and Immingham to Drax Power Station, near Selby for use in generating low carbon, cost effective, and reliable renewable electricity.

At 18.9m long with top doors stretching 18.2m and bottom doors of 3.7m, the supersize wagon has a capacity of 116 cubic metres allowing a biomass load weighing 71.6 tonnes. Its volume is almost 30 per cent bigger than any freight wagon currently used in the UK

Good effort! 

Staying at NRM for a couple of weeks if you're passing by...

Railway Garden Competition - Waterloo

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Higgins keeps his word - Shocker!

Much amusement in the industry over today's coverage of David Higgins decision 'to resign'!

Take this, from the usually well informed David Millward in Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph.... 

The decision to resign, which was broken by Sky News, came within days of a fresh row erupting over the bonus package offered to Sir David and four other senior executives at the helm of the company responsible for the country’s train and track infrastructure.

However according to Network Rail, Sir David, 58, has chosen to leave his post to allow his successor to steer through a five year investment package worth more than £35 billion.

“David always made it clear that he didn’t plan to stay on until 2019,” a Network Rail source said. 

Errrr... quite so.

So if Higgins had always made clear that he didn't plan to stay on for CP5 (which he did, even within earshot of the lowly Fact Compiler) then what is the story?

Of course there is a much more interesting tale lurking beneath these lazy headlines: Will the next CEO of Network Rail be an engineer?

Meanwhile, back in the silly season, our next Monarch but two (DV) will be His Majesty King George.

Sire, please could you fix it for Eye to have sloppy journalists' heads lopped off. Ta.

Our Ma Sheriff's become proactive!

Steps back in amazement!

There is some good news to be found amongst the chaos of Civil Servant rolling stock procurement.

Our Ma Sheriff's (nee the Hammond Organs) otherwise known as the DfT press office have become proactive!

Eye has almost been besieged with information on why the Class 0800 (nee Incredibly Expensive Procurement) is a Good Thing!

Hmmm... the jury is out!

But a welcome development none the less.

Meanwhile, seems a shame that no-one in Marsham Street has spotted that numbers in the 0800 series are traditionally... free!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Shoveller disintermediates the Deep Alliance!

This from @SW_Trains...


Narrowcast and talking direct to the customer isn't so difficult.

Although perhaps something on track condition, on the hottest day of the year, wouldn't have gone amiss...

UPDATE: This from Southern Belle...

Yeah, worth mentioning track condition just to be smug!

Bearing in mind the problems on the Western, South Eastern and Great Eastern tonight.

Railway Garden Competition - Waterloo East

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Situation has developed not necessarily to iDave's advantge!

Oh the irony!

Just days BEFORE Her Majesty's Britannic Government expended more taxpayer cash on additional Ninky Nonk trains, Japan stuck the Imperial boot into British politics:

"The UK, as a champion of free trade, is a reliable partner for Japan. More than 1,300 Japanese companies have invested in the UK, as part of the Single Market of the EU, and have created 130,000 jobs, more than anywhere else in Europe. This fact demonstrates that the advantage of the UK as a gateway to the European market has attracted Japanese investment. The Government of Japan expects the UK to maintain this favourable role."


So. "The Government of Japan expects the UK to maintain this favourable role."

Is Britain perhaps now known as 'Little Manchuria' in the Chancelleries of Asia?

No matter.

Eye suspects this is a very clever move by Tokyo.

Allowing Hitachi to prepare a swift evacuation from Newton Aycliffe, as Europe stubbornly fails to order Japanese trains (whether the UK is in, or out, of the EU)...

UPDATE: This from Hagrid's Brother... 

I wonder if ‘someone’ might speculate as to the effect of say a 25%-lower non-compliant future ECML bid using a sensible fleet. 

Apart from predictable embarrassment and the ire of Ms Hodge, of course. 

One for m’learned chums no doubt.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Wilkinson contract at DfT extended

This from the DfT...

Peter Wilkinson to carry on as Franchising Director

The Department for Transport has extended the contract of Interim Franchising Director Peter Wilkinson to January 2015 to ensure the continued successful roll out of the Government’s rail franchising programme.

Peter, who has been with the Department since January, was key in launching the DfT’s comprehensive new franchising schedule in March.  The contract extension will provide continuity of leadership for the franchising programme through to delivery of the initial franchise competitions and direct awards.

In a less than perfect world, the least bad result!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Railway Garden Competition - Barking

This from Trailer Second...

The LTS main line down platform.

Railway Garden Competition - Dalmarnock

Pointless signs - Blackfriars

Brown joins DfT Board

This from the DfT...

Richard Brown appointed to the Department for Transport Board

Richard Brown CBE has been appointed as a Non-Executive Member of the Department for Transport Board by Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.

He joins lead Non-Executive Director Sam Laidlaw and other Non-Executives Ed Smith, Alan Cook, Sally Davis, Mary Reilly and John Kirkland.

Good news indeed.

And just months after completing his independent review that validated franchising!

Eversholt speaks for industry on IEP

This from Eversholt Rail... 

Eversholt Rail is disappointed that the Department for Transport has decided to proceed with IEP Phase 2 and prescribe what rolling stock will be used on the new East Coast Mainline franchise.

We continue to believe that the best option would have been to let the market decide...."

Quite so.

So much for all that wibble from DfT that it is for TOCs to determine what rolling stock they want to use.

The big question, of course, is will Ninky Nonk lease costs turn East Coast from a 'profitable' franchise into one requiring a net subsidy?

Eye awaits the latest spreadsheet magic from Captain Deltic with interest.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

No Pitt stop, as Andy chairs fleet money men

This from Cross London Trains...

Cross London Trains (“XLT”) the company established to finance and purchase Desiro City  trains from Siemens plc and to lease them to the Operator of the Thameslink rail franchise has made two senior appointments following the recent contract award for 1,140 new rail carriages.

Andy Pitt has joined XLT as Executive Chairman. Andy previously held a number of senior roles within the rail industry including Managing Director Stagecoach South Western Trains Limited and Rail Business Development Director for Stagecoach Group plc. He is a former member of the Association of Train Operating Companies Board and former Chairman of the Operations Council. Andy led a £1 billion private sector procurement for train supply and maintenance that delivered Siemens Desiro rolling stock for South West Trains.

Charles Doyle will join Cross London Trains as Managing Director from Transport for London where he has spent the last seven years in various financial positions, most recently as a Principal of Commercial Finance.  In his time at TfL Charles was involved in a number of rolling stock and infrastructure PFIs and procurement programmes. 


XLT’s shareholders are 3i Infrastructure plc, Innisfree PFI Secondary Fund 2 LP and Project Ventures Rail Investments I Limited, a Siemens Project Ventures group company.


John Dennis RIP

John Dennis 1948-2013

It is with great sadness that Eye has learned of the passing of John Dennis, a railwayman with a rich and varied career spanning nearly 40 years, who died on 8th July aged 65 years, after battling against cancer.

Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, John Dennis was a Geography graduate from the University of London.  He joined British Rail as a graduate trainee in September 1970, joining the same day as other industry stalwarts such as Mike Mitchell and Richard Goldson.

John’s career saw stints with BR Midlands at Stoke on Trent and he went on to become head of Customer Relations for Regional Railways.  He then joined Railfreight Distribution – the BR Board’s international freight business – to prepare for the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

Following privatisation, John joined The Railway Forum as Communications Director working for its highly-respected Director General, Adrian Lyons.  In December 2003, he was tempted away to ATOC as Communications Manager where his deep knowledge of the railway was much appreciated and deployed in the development of initiatives to promote the industry’s success and growth.

Says Edward Funnell, former Director of Communications at ATOC: “John was a wonderful colleague for nearly seven years and a great asset to ATOC where he contributed so much.  He was a real professional as well as a kind and patient colleague.”

John lived in Kemble, near Swindon in Wiltshire.  Eye sends its best wishes and heartfelt condolences to his wife Sue and their three grown-up daughters.

Perhaps the final word should go former colleague and friend Diana Lucas of RSSB, who on his retirement in 2009 said: 

People like John make up the backbone of the industry. He was there to offer a considered judgement and professional eye on proceedings while maintaining a sense of humour. I speak for all when I say we will miss him a great deal."

Rest in Peace John

Monday, 15 July 2013

ORR formalises blinkered view of industry

Good news for fans of an holistic understanding of the railway!

This from the ORR's Long-Term Regulatory Statement, published today...

4.37 ORR will work more closely with the freight industry in CP5 to develop a long-term strategy for freight in approach to CP6, including through the whole-industry Rail Delivery Group that brings together the freight operators with Network Rail, ATOC and passenger operators.

Quite so.

But an interesting definition of 'whole industry', excluding as it does rolling stock manufacturers, equipment suppliers, maintainers, contractors, customers, ports, terminals, investors, ROSCOs, consultants, PTE’s, etc... etc....

Clearly ephemeral groups like customers and the supply chain have no role to play in developing the industry's 'long-term strategy for freight'.

That will go well then. 

Cross-hatch madness - a mea culpa!

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 5th July... 

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 19th July.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

How we have changed, for the better?

This from Digital Spy...

"One viewer complained that the 1970 movie starring Call the Midwife's Jenny Agutter may lead to children playing near railway tracks, reports BBC News."



An single person complained

Can you imagine the screams of anguish from our Health and Safety 'community' today?

I know, and I agree - Safety must be our priority!

But worth thinking about. No?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Pointless signs - East Coast media dinner

East Coast resurrects fine dining

This from the late Sir Peter Parker...

I am delighted to hear that the state owned passenger train operator will be unveiling their plans for the next five years of the East Coast Main Line at a dinner  tonight.

I was even more pleased to be told that the venue for this exciting event is British Rail's old headquarters at 222 Marylebone Road.

Does this presage an announcement that the franchise will be renamed InterCity East Coast and that the 'Swallow' brand will be restored to all trains?

McLoughlin makes extra-ordinary confession!

Good news for fans of Openness and Transparency!

At last night's ATOC sponsored wake for franchising Patrick McLoughlin made the following confession...

As a junior transport minister in the 1980s, I remember British Rail.
Underinvestment in tracks and trains.
Poor reliability.
Managers whose good ideas were too often stifled by a lack of cash…

Guilty as charged. Send him down! 

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic... 

So when was Patrick McLoughlin a junior transport minister?

From 1989 to 1992.

Gosh they were grim times for investment. 

All we had was more electrification than under any government, including the East Coast Main Line with a brand new fleet of 140 mile/h IC225s that delivered a London - Edinburgh run in just 3hr 29 min. 

Plus total route modernisation of Chiltern, the re-equipment of Regional Railways with new trains - frequent DMUs replacing infrequent loco hauled services. Oh, and a new fleet of freight locos.

And what about the upgrading of the Kent lines to take the new state of the art Networkers, not to mention... (con't p94)

Oi Deltic, that's quite enough moaning about the bad old days! Ed

Railway Garden Competition - Marple

Railway Garden Competition - King's Cross

This from Fen Boy...

This was the scene at the shiny new King's Cross station yesterday morning at 08.10.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Railway Garden Competition - Barbican

This from Old McDonald...

Good news for fans of Mayor BoJo's Urban Greenway plans.

The first stage appears to be coming on well!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Benefits of the Deep Alliance explained...

This from ITV... 

 In an article posted on the company's website, South West Trains explained why the heat was affecting their services.

    Very hot weather can have an impact on the train service we can deliver. As with all metals, the track we use to run our trains expands and contracts depending on its temperature, i.e. the hotter it gets, the more it expands. Just like a car on a warm day, the metal can reach temperatures far in excess of the surrounding air temperature.

    Whilst we carry out a significant amount of work to prepare for the impact of hot weather by using hydraulic machines to artificially stress the rails to cope with high temperatures, over the weekend we have seen temperatures on our tracks of almost 50oc. The ageing condition of our infrastructure has meant that despite the preparation work that has taken place, we have had to impose speed restrictions at certain locations on our network

– South West Trains

That's the way to do it! (Where's the video news release? Ed)

ORR makes overnight saving on access dispute process!

Good news for fans of Independent Economic Regulation!

This charming picture appeared in Thursday's Blackpool Gazette...

And it was accompanied by the following illuminating quotes from the ORR's very own Right Price....

“This petition will form part of the evidence in the process. I’d like to thank the readers of the Blackpool Gazette for their contribution to the On Track To The Capital campaign. This petition clearly shows how important the issue is to the people of Blackpool.

“ORR is currently considering the application from Virgin Trains for new services on the West Coast Main Line between Blackpool and London, this will include looking at the benefits new services may bring to passengers and whether they make best use of the limited capacity on the route.”


Well done to the ORR for being quite so ahead of the game.

In fact so far ahead of the game, that it rather appears that the ORR's Chief Exec has forgotten that this dispute between Network Rail and Virgin over Blackpool and Shrewsbury paths is now subject to adjudication by the Access Disputes Committee.

As any fule kno the Access Dispute Committee "is responsible for the operation of the dispute resolution procedures that form part of all Access Agreements on the national network of Great Britain.". Of course if the ADC is unable to effect a resolution then the ORR may get involved.

No matter and Eye is sure that Professor Richard Butler, chairman of the ADC, will be generous in overlooking this apparent ORR parking of tanks on his lawn...

After all, who can resist getting their picture in the paper with so many MPs?

Hatfield Stainforth reopens!

This morning's 02:52 from Guide Bridge was the first commercial service to use the reinstated route. 

Here a couple of pictures taken from aboard the first train:

6E07 passes Stainforth... 

Sun rises on Hatfield... 

First one in, passes first one out!

Eye salutes all at LNE involved in the massive undertaking required to restore the route to traffic.

Railway Garden Competition - Lewes

DfT vanity project to strip East Coast assets?

With rumours rife that Mr Kipling has succeeded in foisting even more Ninky Nonk trains onto the new East Coast franchise, what now for the IC225s?

Eye's Least Cost Correspondent believes he has found the answer...

Newcastle's loss will be Norwich's gain!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Pointless signs - Lichfield Trent Valley

Railway Garden Competition - York

Reading offers railway's most pointless seat?

This from the late Professor Sir Misha Black...

Emboldened by your contributor’s picture of a pointless clock (or clocks) at Kidsgrove, I attach for your consideration a pointless seat at Reading platform 4.

Now, it’s not that I’m ungrateful for the opportunity of more exercise as I yomp between the ‘south western’ platforms and the rest of the station and I appreciate that after such a slog, some may wish to rest their weary bones on the recently installed benches, but I can’t imagine many who would like to lean back against the comfort of a clear plastic sack filled with the detritus of modern life.

To be fair, the litter bin/hoop was there first.  And the aesthetic of the bench seat would have been completed ruined by, say, moving it a foot to the right.

East Coast tops greyhounds league

This from the late Sir Nigel Gresley...

In the week that we celebrate the setting of the world speed record for steam by my locomotive Mallard, how cheering to read that locomotive hauled trains on the East Coast Main Line still reign supreme on the UK rails.

According to the latest Railway Gazette International world speed survey in that eximious journal's July issue:

"Perhaps surprisingly, Britain’s two fastest runs are found on the conventional network, with East Coast’s 18.55 York to Stevenage pipping Virgin Trains’ 19.42 Stafford to Watford Junction to the top spot with an average of 109.7 mph (176.6 km/h) for 161 miles. 

"Southeastern’s fast commuter services on High Speed 1 take third place with a best timetabled booking of 107.6 mph (173.1 km/h)."

It is clear that Italian tilting EMUs and even Japanese EMUs running at 140 mile/h on high speed track are no match for British heavy metal on the incomparable racing ground that is the ECML.  

And, of course that is running at only 125 mile/h when the IC225 has a top speed of 140 mile/hour and achieved 162 mile/h down Stoke Bank - scene of Mallard's triumph - during a test run,

This should give the Department for Transport even more cause to reconsider its ludicrous proposal to force bidders for the East Coast franchise to replace IC225 with the Incredibly Expensive Procurement.

Pointless signs - Kidsgrove

This from the Manxman...

In this instance more a case of pointless clocks!

Two time zones on display at Kidsgrove station, depending on your direction of travel! 

Not of course that accurate time is in way essential to the smooth operation of the railway.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Steve Kilometer...

The station clocks around the network depend on the time signal from the MSF radio signal transmitted from Anthorn.

As do many of the watches issued to railway employees with time-critical jobs, like Train managers/Guards or whatever they are now called.

The MSF radio signal is a dedicated time broadcast that provides an accurate and reliable source of UK civil time, based on the NPL time scale UTC(NPL). It is available 24 hours a day across the whole of the UK and beyond. The signal operates on a frequency of 60 kHz and carries a time and date code that can be received and decoded by a wide range of readily available radio-controlled clocks. The MSF signal is transmitted from Anthorn Radio Station in Cumbria by Babcock (formerly VT Communications), under contract to NPL.

Sadly they don’t have a backup clock thingy (“we can put a man on the moon, but TWO clocks?”) so when it is maintained the signal is turned off and clocks just drift. Sometimes wildly.

Here are the current outages:

Essential maintenance work - signal off-air

Please note that the MSF 60 kHz time and frequency signal broadcast from Anthorn Radio Station will be continuously off-air for maintenance work from:

Monday 1 July, 08:00 BST to Friday 5 July, 18:00 BST
- service off-air continuously

Then it will be off during the day from:

Saturday 6 July to Thursday 18 July, between 08:00 BST and 18:00 BST
- service off-air each day (but will be back on air overnight)

So, sadly the inability of this system to have a back-up means many clocks and watches could go wrong in the next few weeks.

It'll be interesting to see whether this has a noticeable affect on PPM.

Siemens out of Crossrail running

This from Siemens...

Crossrail rolling stock procurement

Siemens confirms that it will not be proceeding further in the Crossrail rolling stock procurement process.

This is a strategic decision that has been taken based on current business activity levels. Crossrail is a very large project and, since first undertaking our initial assessment of capacity and deliverability, Siemens has won multiple additional orders. To pursue another project of this scale could impact our ability to deliver our current customer commitments - something we believe would not be a responsible course of action.

Siemens has an excellent working relationship with the Crossrail bid team and believe that they have conducted a fair and diligent process.   We remain fully committed to ensuring the success of the Crossrail project through the continued delivery of the signalling and communications / control systems through Siemens rail automation business.

Wow! That is all.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Why not let Open Access provide ECML services?

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 21st June... 

The next edition of Passenger Transport will be published on the 5th July.

Eye assumes the decision to franchise East Coast passenger services is the only way to give the kiss of life to Mr Kipling's Incredibly Expensive Procurement.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Mallard 126mph - unbroken for 75 years


It would be churlish not to mention the 75th anniversary of the LNER's 126mph kettle triumph today.

But only because Sir Nigel was brought up in Derbyshire and served his apprenticeship on the LNWR (therefore, de facto, an LMS man!).

That is all. 

UPDATE: This from the late Col H F Stephens...

With speed in mind might I congratulate Lord Mandelson of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham, for his intervention against HS2.

As I proved, the hoi polloi are quite happy travelling very slowly, with chickens, sheep and goats if necessary.

Meanwhile terribly grand people can continue to 'monetise' their time by taking private jets to their terribly important meetings across the globe.

East Coast acknowledges Christian Heritage

This from East Coast...

Train operator East Coast today named a locomotive “Durham Cathedral”, as thousands of visitors flock to the North East to see the Lindisfarne Gospels in the shadow of the iconic Norman cathedral.

The locomotive, number 91114, was unveiled by the Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, accompanied by the Vice Chancellor of Durham University, Professor Chris Higgins, and East Coast’s Managing Director Karen Boswell, on Platform 2 at Newcastle Central Station today

The Durham Cathedral Choir provided musical accompaniment to the ceremony, and also sang for passengers on-board the train’s inaugural journey from Newcastle to Durham. The East Coast Railway Chaplain, the Reverend Stephen Sorby, blessed the newly-named train prior to its inaugural departure for Durham, and on to London King’s Cross.

Very good.

So whilst the Girl Guides have abandoned God, it would seem that East Coast is still prepared to acknowledge our Christian Heritage.

And a perfect opportunity for members of the erastian national church and the nation's erastian train operator to share the same platform.

Pointless signs - Southampton Central

This from Some guy who works for SWT... 

Not really a pointless sign, in fact a poster...

...but it shows what a lack of proof-reading can achieve

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

BR totem anschlussed!

Oh dear!

Is DB (prop Angela Merkel) about to fall foul of the mighty Heritage Railway Association?

Regular followers of the railway scene will of course know that the HRA is one of the most powerful lobby groups in the industry.

So what are we to make of this slightly sad rendering of an iconic railway brand on DB owned Arriva CrossCountry's website...

As any fule kno "Copyright of the former British Railways' Totem is the property of the Heritage Railway Association".

Eye looks forward to a stand off between the bicycling and bowler hatted David Morgan MBE and XC supremo Andy Cooper.

Seconds out!

Miller's alive!

Good news from Neville Hill for fans of both Valentas and clag!

41001's engine was successfully started just after 18:00 last night.

Congratulations to all involved at Project Miller.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Pointless signs - Norwich

Good luck in finding either a footbridge or subway...

UPDATE: This from a Mr Oliver Cromwell, another satisfied reader...

Dear Fact Compiler, you silly old fool.

You've already done this one, in 2010.

And it wasn't funny then either.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles... 

If Eye covered this in 2010 then it’s been there for three years without anyone in “authority” doing something about it – which makes it even more funny than it was at that time.

If Mr Cromwell doesn’t think that’s amusing then I’d like to know why!!