Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pointless signs - Duffield

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

PAC - Thameslink offers bright future for Pacers

This from The Man by the Photocopier...

Eye readers might be intrigued to learn that the new Thameslink rolling stock will be unrefurbished Pacers!

And all the time we thought it was going to be some wizzo-super new version of the electric Desiros from our chums at Siemens.

But the Public Accounts Committee knows better, judging by this highly appropriate picture on its website which accompanies the Committee's latest Thameslink moan (shurely "carefully researched and insightful report"? Ed).

An additional exclusive is an ERTMS semaphore. Another British first?

And where was this charming picture taken? Must be Radlett. There are certainly no overhead wires to spoil the view!

Monday, 28 October 2013

TfL social media malfunction

This from a Mr Trumpet... 

A strangely timed promotional Tweet by TfL:

But not if your train to London’s been cancelled!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Eye Lonely Hearts - No94

Eye agony aunt, Marjorie Spads, writes.. 

Who could not be touched by the pain contained in this letter from Patrick M, who lives in Westminster and Derbyshire.

Poor loveless, lonely, Patrick has sent out a cri de coeur, on page 4 of which he weeps... 

We need a strong partner...

We need a partner with vision...

Above all, we are seeking a partner that is wholly committed...  

Aw, bless his heart!

Patrick has obviously been let down very badly in previous relationships, perhaps by partners only interested in his money or who run away when the going gets tough? 

Is there no-one out there, in this wicked world, who can make our Patrick truly happy?

Partnership breaks out on WCML - Shocker!

This from Rugby Tackle...

Thought Eye readers might be interested in this.

It's appeared on a number of railway intranet sites today:

Network Rail's Euston Delivery Unit were the proud recipients of the Golden Pendolino presented by Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson. The award is made each period to the team that has made the most significant contribution to keeping the trains on the West Coast running on time.

Sir Richard said: "I have never shied away from openly criticising Network Rail and before that Railtrack when performance has slipped to unacceptably low levels. So it gives me great pleasure to say thanks and congratulate the team for all their efforts in improving service for our customers. We look forward to more progress in the coming months."



UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Golden Spanners, Golden Whistles, Golden Laptops (Siemens) and now the Golden Pendolino!
All that's needed now is the Golden Kipper for train catering in honour of Modern Railways' late, great Gourmet Gricer Brian Perren.

East Coast out to market

This from the Department for Transport...

Transforming rail travel on the East Coast

The race to get the best rail services for passengers between London and Scotland officially got underway today, Friday 25 October.

The publication of a series of procurement documents by the Department for Transport (DfT) marks the first step in that search for a new private sector partner to help revolutionise services on the East Coast Mainline.

The InterCity East Coast prospectus details what potential bidders will need to consider when they start developing their proposals next year. These include:

  • developing innovative timetables which build on the core train service requirement published by the DfT;
  • investment in innovative ways to transform the customer experience on trains and at stations;
  • identifying further opportunities for investment along the route, particularly at stations;
  • making the route and train operations more sensitive to the environment;
  • involving communities along the route in local decision making; and
  • demonstrating how their proposals will support economic growth along the route.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
“We want to see a revitalised East Coast railway, one that both rekindles the spirit of competition for customers on this great route to Scotland and competes with the West Coast on speed, quality and customer service.

“We need a strong partner to ensure we successfully deliver the £240m programme of infrastructure investments on the route and the improvements in rolling stock that the multi-billion Intercity Express Programme will provide.“

Since 2009, the East Coast franchise has been stabilised under Government ownership, but management by Directly Operated Railways was never planned to be a permanent arrangement.

The Government believes a strong private sector partner, as an innovator and investor, will build on this stable basis and deliver a world-class railway for passengers and best value for the taxpayer.

It expects the new partner will capitalise on the significant Government investment in this route over the next six years, including the replacement of the current rolling stock fleet, and major infrastructure improvements such as the £72m programme to improve the line around Peterborough and £20m enhancements to Doncaster station.

As part of the refranchising process a series of documents are being published, including an OJEU Notice, the Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ), the Prequalification Process Document (PPD), the prospectus, and the results of the East Coast consultation which asked passengers what they would like to see in the new franchise.

The prospectus describes the East Coast business as it stands today and the risks and responsibilities bidders will need to consider when preparing their bid. It also gives an insight as to what the DfT expects to see when prospective bidders are given the invitation to tender (ITT), which will ask them to set out their detailed proposals on what they will deliver for passengers.

The DfT plans to confirm which prospective bidders have passed the pre-qualification stage in January. The DfT expects to issue the ITT in February. The shortlisted bidders will then have three months to prepare bids, with franchise services starting in February 2015.

East Coast is one of the two main London-to-Scotland railways providing frequent services. It is an electrified 393 miles (632 km) railway link between London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It is one of the fastest conventional lines in the UK with most of the line being cleared for 125 mph (200 km/h) operation. Non-electrified line extends further north into Scotland from Edinburgh to Inverness and Aberdeen. The services meet demand for business travel, particularly between Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Leeds and London, leisure travel to a variety of destinations and commuter journeys, primarily between Newark, Grantham, Peterborough and London.

The launch of the East Coast competition is another milestone in the Government’s refranchising programme and it follows the on time successful publication of the ITTs for Essex Thameside and Thameslink Southern Great Northern last month.

Details of the published documents can be found at:


Thursday, 24 October 2013

New improved RDG fails to fall at first hurdle!

Much disappointment amongst the curmudgeons of the rail industry!

Eye understands from a number of RDG Associate Members that they actually received an email from the new Director General, containing a letter from RDG Chairman Tim O'Toole, explaining today's changes!

Okay, it might have arrived after the press release... but any direct communication is a big step in the right direction!

Labour responds to changes at RDG

This from Lilian Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Rail Minister...

This announcement underlines the case for further reform. The Rail Delivery Group is not fully representative of the wider rail industry and it is lacking in transparency, despite its increasing influence over Government policy.

Ministers must now ensure essential decisions that affect passengers are subject to proper levels of scrutiny, not hidden away behind a cloak of commercial confidentiality.

Looks like the new RDG communications and policy teams will be busy...

RDG beefed up by ATOC 'merger' but supply chain out in the cold.

This from the Rail Delivery Group...


Network Rail, train operating companies and freight operating companies have agreed the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) will assume responsibility for policy formulation and communications on behalf of the rail industry.

To advance this objective, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) will combine its communications and policy functions with complementary resources from Network Rail and support from other RDG members, to operate in future for the RDG as a whole.  Michael Roberts, ATOC’s chief executive, becomes the director general of the RDG, succeeding Graham Smith who has stepped down from the role.

The creation of an expanded executive team will strengthen the RDG’s capabilities to develop policies which benefit rail users and taxpayers, and enable it to provide the railway with a unified voice. 

The combination of resources from ATOC and Network Rail also signals the RDG’s intent to work increasingly in partnership and with common purpose, mirroring developments elsewhere in the industry.

Commenting on the changes, Tim O’Toole, RDG chairman and chief executive of FirstGroup plc, said: “Britain's railways have been transformed over the past 20 years, delivering record levels of growth and performance.  Greater coordination among the train operators, freight companies and Network Rail is the next logical step for the industry to evolve to the next stage of capability. The combination of ATOC resources with Network Rail will provide clear, unified leadership for the industry and ensure it is best placed to build on its unmatched record of success."

Sir David Higgins, RDG deputy chairman and Network Rail chief executive, said: “A better railway brings significant economic and social benefits to passengers, taxpayers and the public. The industry's commitment to work more closely is delivering real improvements to safety, service quality and efficiency. A more effective, better resourced, RDG will help us achieve more for those we serve."

Michael Roberts, RDG director general, said: “The new arrangements are an exciting opportunity to work even more closely with colleagues across the industry.  The team and I very much look forward to supporting group members in their passion to drive forward solutions that benefit passengers, freight users and taxpayers.”

Notes to editors:
1.    The RDG was established in May 2011 to lead the industry in delivering a higher performing, more cost effective and sustainable rail network for Britain's rail users and taxpayers.  Formation of the RDG was a specific recommendation in Sir Roy McNulty’s rail value for money study, published in May 2011.

2.    The RDG brings together the chief executives of passenger operator owning groups, freight operator owning groups and Network Rail. The RDG develops policies, strategies and plans for the coherent management of the rail industry and advances the provision of a safe, efficient, high quality rail service for users and taxpayers.

3.    ATOC’s corporate affairs and policy teams will no longer work solely on behalf of train operating companies but, combined with staff seconded from Network Rail and support from other RDG members, will operate in future on behalf of the RDG as a whole.  The two teams will consist of 18 people in total and will be based at 200 Aldersgate Street, London, EC1A 4HD (ATOC’s existing offices).

4.    The current ATOC business services teams will continue under Michael Roberts to run National Rail Enquiries, Rail Settlement Plan, Rail Staff Travel and the Commercial, Operations and Engineering schemes. The governance arrangements and bodies for the individual schemes will remain unchanged: they will be complemented by ATOC Board which will continue but change its main focus from policy to ensuring a co-ordinated approach to business service provision.  Tom Smith will step down as independent chairman of the ATOC Board by the end of the year.


And about the Supply Chain? Not a word!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

DfT making a hash of tags?

A very odd hashtag in this tweet from the DfT...

What 'global race' might this be and how does re-opening just one of the five platforms at Waterloo International contribute in anyway to it?

PR industry salutes Virgin's ICWC campaign

This from PR Week...

Virgin Trains and Fishburn Hedges' successful campaign to save the brand's rail franchise has won Campaign of the Year at the PRWeek Awards 2013.

Inevitable and well deserved. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Whitehall News - Clare in the Community

This is almost too good not to share!

Overheard recently in a coffee shop on Horseferry Road...

"DG Rail is extremely bright and definitely going places, we just have to wait until she does".

A higher recommendation you could not possibly receive.

Evidently waves are being made.

Carry on... please!

Exposed - new Bombardier ploy to secure Crossrail fleet!

This from today's Derby Telegraph...

It might just work!

Rail Europe rebranded

So farewell to the final remnant of the former British Rail International.

This from Travel Weekly...

European train ticket firm Rail Europe is being rebranded under the name

The UK arm will join the French National Railways tour operating division and take its name by the end of the year.

Services currently dedicated to the UK travel trade will become part of a single Europe-wide offering,

Another UK railway brand bites the dust.

Monday, 21 October 2013

On Trafalgar Day - one for our High Speed Friends...

Admiral Lord Nelson's last signal:

That is all!

UPDATE: The Commander writes...

In spite of suffering possible over-indulgence of the Warre’s ’83 at our celebration of the 208th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar last night, one still manages to commend your flag rather than railway semaphore signal in the current Railway Eye.

These would translate, correctly using the Popham code book issued to Nelson’s fleet at Cadiz in 1805 as Flag 1 and Flag 6, making signal 16 decoding numeric – alpha as the letter Q, which confused oneself initially.

However ‘Signal 16’ – “Engage the Enemy more closely” is probably more likely to appeal to your readership, but beware consulting the Flags of the World website, which incorrectly quotes the flags using the 1799 Code, which was withdrawn after its capture by the French.

Those of us of a more bi-lingual capability will appreciate Admiral Villeneuve’s last signal to Admiral Nelson on the eve of the Battle; to save the mental exertion of our lesser-endowed friends I shall relate the English translation thus: 

“To The Water, It Is The Hour!”

Pip, Pip, Pip, Peeeeep!

Hammond Eggs - On opacity

Another gem from the new railway minister...

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the total number of passengers travelling between Birmingham and (a) Manchester, (b) Leeds and (c) Wigan by rail during an average week day.

Stephen Hammond: Though some estimates for journeys such as these have been produced for departmental purposes, these estimates are not available for publication as the underlying data belong to the train operators and are considered commercially confidential.

Presumably this is civil service speak for can't be @rsed.

UPDATE: This from JH...

Presumably this applies to all TOC's on all lines. 

If so, where does HS2 Ltd get the "current" data to use as a base?

Contrition Corner - Woemar seeks forgiveness

A clearly contrite Wolmar writes...

"Oh dear, oh dear!

"I just broke the rule of a lifetime and said ‘do you now know who I am?’ 

"A FGW press officer returning my call about the absence of wi-fi on its trains, first made the mistake of calling me ‘Chris’ a name I have never answered to, and then he said, ‘where are you calling from?’ 

"I very rudely replied that I had only been writing a column for Rail magazine for nearly 20 years but perhaps he did not read it and then uttered the fateful words...

"Can I be forgiven?"

Quite so Chris. Perhaps you can let us know where you are from, so we can see if Eye can help...

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic, who is never knowingly out contritioned... 

That is nothing.

This morning I have called RVEL of Derby, REVEL in my e-Preview blog (is that a plug? Ed) and promptly corrected it to REVL in a follow up e-mail to the over 2500 subscribers (that's enough plugs Deltic! Ed).

And I also got the loco class number, which I saw being worked on by RVEL, wrong.

Can anyone beat that?

Are you a railway journalist of international standing? And would you like to participate in Eye's very own Chapter of Faults? If so please email the usual address...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

HS2 and regional benefits...

Through the bullsh1t and bluster there appeared a great light...


UPDATE: An open rant from The Rantiquarian...

Dear devoted supporters of HS2.

On BBC News 24 today we learned that building HS2 will turn Aberdeen and Cambridge into third world economic deserts.

This is the first time I have ever seen the economic disbenefit card played so blatantly.

Perhaps it is true - maybe when the Stockton & Darlington opened it caused starvation in Losthwithiel and Barrow-in-Furness...but I have never heard anyone mention it as part of a campaign.

The BBC report had everything - figures from an official report, hints of down-playing, a leaden-footed Minister failing to bring any energy to it, a bloke from Cambridge dishing out lucid special pleading. 

HS2 was 100% back-footed. 

Do they actually WANT to build this thing - from my TV it is hard to discern much energy or direction.

I know that many of you are in touch with HS2. I am not. 

Can't anyone get them to raise their game? 

UPDATE: This from the Archbishop of Walney...

Here on the Furness Riviera we are overcome with excitement at Barrow being featured in Railway Eye on consecutive days.

I wonder if I might make a small observation on the Rantiquarian’s comment?

When the Stockton and Darlington opened Barrow was but a tiny hamlet on the coast opposite the islands of Furness. Within twenty years or so it was on the way to becoming the centre of industrial and engineering excellence we know today. 

The Rantiquarian's example should be used as the clinching argument for HS2!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Pointless signs - Barrow, on Tuesday...

Alas Smith now Roams!

So farewell Graham Smith, the man who acted as midwife to the mighty Rail Delivery Group!

Graham steps down as Director General of RDG today, after two and a half years in the job and prior to that spending a year supporting the Rail Value for Money study.

Not one to go quietly into the night Graham's renewed focus will be on the Railway Benefit Fund, where he will set up a central fund-raising group concentrating on encouraging corporate donations and contributions from the major players in the industry.

Owner Groups and suppliers can expect knocks on the door where Graham will deliver a pointed message encouraging those who profit from the industry to put something back for those employees that have fallen on hard times.

And quite right too!

With bags of experience Eye suspects that a number of people will also be knocking at the door of Albany Smith Management.

However, Graham assures Eye that he will not be taking commissions, although: "if somebody wants me to help them on other things and it's something that interests me I'll consider it".

Quite so, you can't keep a good consultant down...

DOR untainted by state ownership - Official

Exciting news of rebellion from deep within the state owned monolith that is East Coast!

According to Peter Williams, East Coast commercial director, in an interview in Management Today:

‘A lot of people will say East Coast is a model for how public sector-run companies can be successful,’ he told MT.

‘Personally, it’s quite funny sitting here watching conversations take place about what is the right thing to do. But if you look at the individuals behind DOR’s success, the management team are all from the private sector.'

Quite so.

East Coast's success is, therefore, all the more impressive with so little nationalised experience amongst DOR's 'management team':

Michael Holden, Chief Executive Officer, & Non-executive Chairman of East Coast Main Line Company Limited
Michael Holden has extensive experience in managing railways and railway projects within the UK and Europe. He started his early career with British Rail as a traffic student in 1974...

Doug Sutherland, Chairman
Doug Sutherland is a chartered management accountant... In 1995 he moved to the public sector, initially as managing director finance for North of Scotland Water and then managing director finance and commercial for the Strategic Rail Authority... .

Andy Cope, Non-executive director
Andy Cope is a Chartered Engineer who started work as an apprentice with the Birmingham Division of British Rail in 1972...

David Walker, Finance Director

David Walker is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, who started his career with the National Coal Board... 

Rob Mason, Non-executive director
Robert Mason has over 30 years’ experience in the rail industry... In the run up to privatisation, Rob was the British Rail Director of Privatisation Studies...

Each and every one of them unsullied by public sector taint!

So on which precise date does Private-Sector-Year-Zero begin at DOR?

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Possibly the best advert in the world... ever!

This Clog Rail advert via @Brilliant_ads...

To mix the beer strap lines - pure genius!

Pointless Pheasants - Marylebone

Not sure what sort of raptor this is meant to be, located atop the entrance to the ladies' loos at Marylebone...

Evidently the pigeons aren't convinced either.

Introducing the Potato line...

Seen at Wembley Park at about half past ten last night...


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hammond Eggs - On Open Access

Time for an exciting new Eye feature!

Hammond Eggs records the searing insights of the latest member of the ministerial transport team to take responsibility for rail.

This from a written answer on the 14th October:

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the contribution of open-access operators on the East Coast Main Line in support of the franchised operator.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon, Conservative)

The impacts of open access operation have been assessed against three criteria: (a) performance; (b) network utilisation; and (c) revenue of the InterCity East Coast franchise.

(a) Open access operators on the east coast route have typically delivered lower levels of performance than the franchised operator, in part because one of them operates relatively old diesel trains;

(b) Open access operation has had no material adverse impact on network utilisation, although the constraints on platform occupancy at Kings Cross, in particular, and Doncaster, to a lesser extent, have complicated operations at those two stations;

(c) Open access operators have generally tended to abstract revenue from the franchised operator. Furthermore, where bidders in the forthcoming InterCity East Coast franchise competition perceive a risk of additional open access competition causing further abstraction, they are likely to offer lower bids.

No sources cited of course.

Good to see that Stephen Hammond (of all people) is happy to repeat the prejudices of his civil servant masters (is this right? Ed).

As usual that old 'abstraction' canard gets an airing - perhaps Pete Wilkinson (Director Franchising and late of Renaissance Trains) can explain to Mr Hammond the 'not primarily abstractive' test, which the ORR uses to validate all Open Access bids?

At the same time the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State may even wish to read the Office of Rail Regulation's June 2013 consultation on On-rail competition, which states:

Despite the very limited role that competition currently plays, there is evidence that it drives passenger benefits including lower fares increases, higher growth in passenger numbers, direct services to new destinations, and various service quality benefits.

Open access entrants, who always face strong competition from franchised operators, have higher passenger satisfaction scores than franchised operators, including other intercity operators, who in the main do not face on-rail competition.

Quite so.

But then, since when have the residents of Great Minster House ever been interested in driving passenger benefits?

UPDATE: This from Depot Lad... 

On the subject of “old diesel trains”.

I thought the following key points might be helpful for Mr Hammond who is evidently new to his brief.

  • Grand Central operates the same type of “old diesel trains” as those operated by both East Coast and Great Western, and some that are significantly newer than East Coast’s diesel and electric fleets;
  • Hull Trains operates diesel trains that are significantly newer than East Coast’s diesel and electric fleets;
  • Grand Central’s HSTs were the last on the network to be re-powered and upgraded and as such, are in a newer “mod state” than those operated by East Coast;
  • Open access operators need less cancellations than franchised operators to seriously adversely impact on the stats;
  • East Coast’s cancellations rate is well in excess of that of Great Western, who exclusively operate “old diesel trains”.
Note: Grand Central and Hull Trains are 'evil open access operators'. Great Western is a 'wonderful franchised operator'. Whilst East Coast is run by the minister's own department.

As our North American cousins might say - go figure!

UPDATE: This from Data Minor...

I thought Eye readers and the minister might be interested in the latest NFRIP figures below:

Operator Fleet Primary DPI Primary DPI MAA MTIN MTIN MAA
Grand Central Class 180 25.4 24.3 13,118 8,641
East Coast IC225 38.4 33.3 11,537 12,326
Grand Central HST Set 0 19.3 41,421 13,188
Hull Class 180 18 27.9 14,380 14,561
East Coast HST Set 34.9 47.3 18,653 18,619

Hull Trains class 180s and Grand Central HSTs are both more reliable than East Coast's IC225 fleet. 

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

For the record:

1. EC's HSTs currently have the best MTIN MAA of all the HST fleets, and this is on an improving trend

2. Second spot in the HST MTIN MAA table is occupied by the XC HSTs, which just happen to be maintained by EC

3. The poor design of the 225 fleet leading to historically chronic levels of reliability is well documented by all operators including BR, GNER, NXEC and now EC.

MTIN MAA is currently at its highest level since this measure was introduced, and on a rising trend, despite the utilisation of the fleet being substantially higher than ever before.

Eye biased towards Open Access Operators? Just fancy that!!!


Monday, 14 October 2013

ATOC and RDG ushers in new era of transparency

Good news for fans of greater RDG and ATOC integration.

Word reaches Eye that tomorrow's RDG meeting is likely to see closer co-operation between the two bodies placed firmly on the agenda.

An ATOC spokesman observed today: 'Discussions are on-going'.

Quite so.

In fact so 'on-going' are discussions, that in certain recent conversations you might almost have mistaken ATOC speaking for RDG!

Perhaps helpful to recall that transparency is, as transparency does.

UPDATE: This from Sidney Supplychain...

No doubt there are plans in hand to communicate these exciting developments to, and engage more fully with, RDG's Associate Members?

Didn't think so.

UPDATE: This from Leftoutin Thecold...

This is the full list of RDG Associate Members, as at 16th September.

  • Ashfield Consulting Ltd
  • Babcock
  • Birmingham Centre for Railway Research
  • Bombardier Transportation
  • Bond Dickinson LLP
  • Brisk Projects
  • British Transport Police Authority
  • Carillion
  • Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum
  • Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey Ltd (GHD)
  • Jacobs UK Ltd
  • MTR
  • Optimum Consulting Limited
  • Rail Freight Group
  • Rail Media Group
  • Railnews Limited
  • Rail Vehicle Engineering Ltd (RVEL)
  • Railway Industry Association (RIA)
  • Siemens Railway Systems
  • Young Railway Professionals
No doubt they will be fully briefed on the exciting future for the RDG very soon...

Global capitalism explained - why new trains may cape Euro referendum

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of Eye that Hitachi have been lobbying HMG over relations with the EU.

In July Eye noted that the Hitachi website offered the following reflections on Britain's membership of the European Union:

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

According to Saturday's Daily Telegraph the president of Hitachi also bent iDave's ear: 

David Cameron has been warned by one of Japan's biggest UK investors that pulling out of the European Union could put at risk £1bn of funding for Britain's railways and nuclear energy programme.

The president of Hitachi, Hiroaki Nakanishi, has revealed that he met the Prime Minister in May and raised his concerns. Speaking in Tokyo yesterday, he said that any exit from the EU could lead to less investment by the industrial giant.

In November last year, Hitachi signed a £696m deal to buy Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture with GE to build as many as six new nuclear reactors at two sites, Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury in south Gloucestershire.

Last summer, a Hitachi-led consortium also won a £1.2bn government contract to build new trains under the Intercity Express Programme. The deal will provide new rolling stock for routes to the south-west and on the East Coast mainline. 

Of course there is no suggestion of any connection between Hitachi rescuing the government's moribund nuclear power programme and DfT awarding Hitachi contracts to replace both HST and IC225 fleets on the ECML.

Even so the decision to replace the 225 fleet raised one or two eyebrows. As Eversholt Rail said when the DfT announced that it would proceed with IEP Phase 2:

We continue to believe that the best option would have been to let the market decide...", a view shared by many in the industry. 

No matter.

What is perhaps more surprising is this section of the interview where Hitachi's President said: 

"One of the requests [from the DfT] was to set up the current Intercity Express Programme," Mr Nakanishi said.

"The Government requested me to set up the whole supply chain in the UK and try to sell UK-made train systems to the continent."

Eye can only presume that this was after Hitachi was declared preferred bidder in a procurement competition with the Bombardier/Siemens consortium! 

With Her Majesty's Government and Hitachi evidently hand in glove, what price now for Cameron's much vaunted 2015 In/Out EU referendum?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Virgin in denial over departure - Official

According to the Sunday Times, Richard Branson has gone off-shore. 

Has Beardie also taken all his webbies with him?

The forlorn picture of a recently departed VT director of communications still greets visitors to Virgin Trains' Media Room:

Eye understands it is not the first to flag this incongruous image with VT.

Evidently, Arthur is proving a hard act to follow, as predicted...

Lookalike - Rail in t'North edition

Pictured are Siemens Rail Systems' supremo Steve Scrimshaw and Nick Donovan, MD of First Transpennine.

Eye defies readers to tell them apart!

Look closely at the name badges...

Shurely shome mishtake!?!

Definitely shome mishtake!!!

Good effort and a bowler tip to both for being sports.

Government signals end to micro-management!

This from the Sunday Torygraph...

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said he was “looking into” the mix of first class and standard class after the findings were presented to him. He agreed that there might be ways of “delivering a better passenger experience” by increasing the ratio of standard-class carriages. 

So what exactly are supposedly private sector train operating companies responsible for?

And which bits of Maria Eagle's renationalisation plans does this government now reject?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Potato Bob: On Safety - Exciting New Eye Feature!

Time for an exciting new Eye feature!

Potato Bob speaks!

This from

Goodwill spent many years working on his family farm, which, at its height, delivered and produced 1,000 tonnes of potatoes a year to the McCain chip factory in Scarbrough. The family became involved in the sulphuric acid desiccation of potatoes and, he admits, it was a bit of a slog having to travel up to Teesside to get his Hazardous Chemicals Certificates so he could drive the truck.

One of his more excruciating journeys came on his way to Scarborough. While driving his Volvo F10, the flexible exhaust pipe joining the main exhaust silencer box to the engine ruptured, and the hot exhaust gases went on to the clutch slave cylinder. Very soon, the clutch stopped working, completely.

Goodwill says he was unsure how to deal with the problem: "I thought OK, well I'll just keep going. So I drove all the way to Scarbrough without a clutch, just using the engine speed. Fortunately, I didn't have to stop because the lights were in my favour. I decided that if I did have to stop, I'd start it again in a very low gear. It was a 30-mile trip, though".

Good to see that Potato Bob, the minister charged with 'road safety and standards', has such a grip on his brief!

Ministerial responsibilities - the right Hammond finally gets rail!

Is there a worse website in the world than

No matter. 

Thank God for twitter!

With a bowler tip to @wmtucker, who pointed Eye to the pages giving the new ministerial transport team's responsibilities:

Baroness Kramer

Baroness Kramer was appointed Minister of State for Transport in October 2013.

The minister is responsible for:

  • HS2 – Phase Two
  • rail – funding and futures (including RIS, SOFA, ORR, stations policy)
  • cities and urban renewal (including growth deals and Heseltine Review)
  • localism and devolution
  • local connectivity (including smart ticketing, buses, taxis, light rail and trams)
  • accessibility and equalities
  • future transport (including ULEV)
  • natural environnent (including biofuels)
  • SMEs
  • international
Stephen Hammond MP

Stephen Hammond was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport on 4 September 2012.

The minister is responsible for:

  • rail – (including operational issues, major projects, fares and ticketing, Rail Delivery Group reform, franchising)
  • London (including Crossrail)
  • maritime
  • Better Regulation
  • corporate
Robert Goodwill MP

Robert Goodwill was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport in October 2013

The minister is responsible for:

  • aviation
  • strategic roads and Highways Agency
  • motoring agencies
  • road safety and standards
  • freight and logistics – including lorry road user charging
  • local roads
  • cycling
  • HS2 Phase One
  • Europe
Eye congratulates Stephen Hammond, the minister for rail. It's about time!

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

I think there may be a stiff contender for the worst website in the world.

The website of Eye favourite, the Soi Disant Veteran Observer, continues to feature a twice failed candidate for London's Mayor and a still very much dead Madam Chair of the Transport Select Committee!

Perhaps the 'Soi Disant' played a role in designing the 'award winning' portal?

Higgins before TSC on 14th October

This from the Transport Select Committee...

Oral evidence SESSION – Work of Network Rail
Sir David Higgins, chief executive of Network Rail, has been called to appear before the Transport Committee.
Chair of the Committee, Louise Ellman MP, has said:

“We have a wide range of issues to raise with Sir David Higgins including Network Rail’s problems in meeting its performance targets; the funding settlement for the next 5-year control period; and the work of the Rail Delivery Group, of which Sir David is deputy chair. We will also want to ask about how Sir David intends to tackle his important new role as chair of HS2 Ltd”.

Monday 14 October 2013


4.15 pm
· Sir David Higgins, Chief Executive, Network Rail


Committee Membership is as follows:

Mrs Louise Ellman (Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool Riverside) (Chair); Sarah Champion (Labour, Rotherham); Jim Dobbin (Labour/Co-operative, Heywood and Middleton); Karen Lumley (Conservative, Redditch); Jason McCartney (Conservative, Colne Valley); Karl McCartney (Conservative, Lincoln); Lucy Powell (Labour/Co-operative, Manchester Central); Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay); Iain Stewart (Conservative, Milton Keynes South); Graham Stringer (Labour, Blackley and Broughton); Martin Vickers (Conservative, Cleethorpes).


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Labour reshuffle - final scores on doors

This via Labour List...

Mary Creagh MP
Lilian Greenwood MP
Gordon Marsden MP
Richard Burden MP
Lord (Bryan) Davies
Lord (Richard) Rosser

Eye notes a blast from the recent TSSA past...

Some thoughts for NR's new CEO...

The Fact Compiler's latest column in Passenger Transport published on the 27th September...

The next edition of Passenger Transport is published on the 11th October.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Labour reshuffle - Creagh new Shadow SoS

Mary Creagh is the MP for Wakefield.

Gibb to Network Rail Board

That didn't take long!

This from Network Rail...

‘Lifetime railwayman’ Chris Gibb to join Network Rail as non-executive director

Network Rail has today announced the appointment of one of Britain’s most experienced rail industry figures, Chris Gibb, as a non-executive director.

Mr Gibb, 50, has worked in the rail industry for more than 30 years and is currently chief operating officer of Virgin Rail Group, responsible for all aspects of the delivery of Virgin’s operations on the West Coast main line.

Last year, he undertook a successful six-month secondment to Network Rail to lead a taskforce focused on improving the performance and reliability of the West Coast main line, resulting in the implementation of a targeted programme of investment to tackle the most common causes of delay.

A big Eye welcome back to Chris Gibb, it only seems hours ago that you left.

Conservative reshuffle - Goodwill in

Note this is a PUSS role rather then a ministerial one.

Robert Goodwill is the MP for Scarborough and Whitby.

UPDATE: This from Wikipedia with a bowler tip to ASLEFs @SimonWeller...

He takes a keen interest in steam engines and owns several; he once brought an engine back from the former Czechoslovakia to restore it.

Crank alert!