Thursday, 28 March 2013

ORR narrative overlooks the positive...

This from Orrville...

Good news from the Office of Rail Regulation!

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

Rail passengers' complaints data shows focus on train punctuality

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

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

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

Quite so.

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

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

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

Reports of DOR's demise exaggerated?

This from Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road...

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

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

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

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

You have been warned!

New Franchising Policy - McLoughlin speaks!

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

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

But what's this?

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

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

Oh dear.

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

These wise words from a certain Karen Boswell:

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

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

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

UPDATE: This from Alecto...

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

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

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

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

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