Thursday, 10 April 2014

Can Eye not make this clearer?

With thanks to to the many colleagues who have asked: "What has happened to Eye?"

We are between diagrams.

Keep safe.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

An end to Asymetric Warfare?

This from the Derbyshire Mafia...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en-gb"><p>Another high profile <a href="">#Derby175</a> supporter? <a href="">@PhilipRutnam</a> and <a href="">@DavidHorne</a> outside <a href="">@EMTrains</a> Derby station today! <a href=""></a></p>— The Fact Compiler (@TheFactCompiler) <a href="">March 21, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

And this from no less a person than the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport! 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en-gb"><p>Great visit this morning to <a href="">@EMTrains</a> cab ride London to Derby to see line upgrade 125mph & great train availability achieved at Etches Pk</p>— Philip Rutnam (@PhilipRutnam) <a href="">March 21, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Followed by: 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en-gb"><p>Stayed Derby to meet world's greatest cluster rail supply chain, like expert engineering firm RVEL, Derby & Derbys Rail Forum, Porterbrook</p>— Philip Rutnam (@PhilipRutnam) <a href="">March 21, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

That is probably all! ;-)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bob Crow RIP

The Fact Compiler was resting when the sad news of Bob Crow's death was announced.

Bob was a straight dealing man and had an indefatigable belief that railways are very much part of the solution.

And of course he was, and is, right. 

He was also a very good friend to Derby!

Eye salutes Bob and sends heartfelt condolences to RMT colleagues and, of course, Bob's family.

That is all.

Rutnam speaks!

This from the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport:

Perhaps the industry should share our own internal comms best practice with Marsham Street?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Latest ABC - Steady as you go!

It's ABC time again.

Remember most industry magazines don't submit their titles to circulation audit so a bowler tip to those that do.

Here the 2013 circulation figures with those for 2012 in brackets...

Railway Magazine: 37,853 (37,285) - up 1.5% 

Rail: 20,122 (20,123) - no change

Railway Gazette International: 10,711 (10,533) - up 1.7%

And by way of comparison, Steam Railway: 31,281 (31,810) - down 1.7%

Yet again reports of the demise of Dead Tree Media appear somewhat exaggerated.

OPRAF is dead. Welcome to ORPS!

This from the Department for Transport...

Written statement to Parliament

Outlines recommendations from the recent rail review.

The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP

As recommended by Richard Brown in his review into franchising and as part of June 2013’s national infrastructure plan Investing in Britain’s Future, my department undertook to review government rail functions in order to identify what actions were required to deliver those functions in the most effective and efficient way. The review has now submitted its recommendations to me. I have agreed its recommendations and implementation will begin shortly.

The review recognised that much has already been achieved since the department’s rail functions were brought together into a single rail group in January 2013. A clear, professional franchise programme is underway, implementing Richard Brown’s review of franchising, along with the government’s ambitious rail investment programme. Building on this progress, the review recommends further developing the department’s rail functions as a new rail executive.

Creation of the rail executive will support the drive to strengthen our focus on passengers; build an enhanced culture of commercial expertise and innovation; and ensure greater coordination of improvements to track and trains. A single team will manage the interdependencies between rolling stock, track, stations, freight and passenger services; and between existing services and HS2. It will also develop an effective framework agreement for Network Rail, for September 2014, when it will be classified as public sector. A new approach to recruitment, reward and career development for commercial rail skills will allow the rail executive to increase capability at all levels and bolster commercial experience in the management team. This will reduce the department’s dependency upon consultants and increase its ability to negotiate the best deal for passengers and the taxpayer.

The review recommended that there should be a clear focus on rail passenger services within the rail executive. This will be provided by a new Office of Rail Passenger Services, forming part of the rail executive, with responsibilities including delivery of the franchise programme and the management of existing franchises. It will be led by an externally recruited managing director and supported by non-executive board members.

The review has also recommended we consider a longer term option of a new, more arms-length body with responsibility for rail delivery functions. The creation of the rail executive provides a strong foundation for such future evolution and the government will consider moving to a more arms-length body in 2016.


UPDATE: This from Virginia Waters...

Compare and contrast this from Robert Goodwill...

With this from today's statement by the Secretary of State...

"A new approach to recruitment, reward and career development for commercial rail skills will allow the rail executive to increase capability at all levels and bolster commercial experience in the management team." 
Good to see everyone is as joined up as ever.

Update: This from Steve Strong...

This is what the new structure will look like according to the Organisational Review of Department for Transport Rail Functions...

 So now you know.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pointless signs - Swindon

This from @paulrgentleman...

Pointless sign? 

Or health and safety stating the bleedin' obvious!

Railway Garden Competition - Stratford

First of the year.

Impressive early growth on NR's Anglia Route.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Walker and Price declare Republic!

So what are we to make of this act of lèse-majesté?

This is the ORR's official logo:

and this is the home page of the new ORR website:

Where has the Crown gone?

And by whose authority has it been removed?

Presumably ORR directors have now abandoned all hope of being recognised in HMQ's
birthday and New Year honours lists!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Shoveller disintermediates

This from the Deep Alliance...

Perhaps a little more polish on the voice over required?

Otherwise very good.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Cornwall has fans in high places

Good news for those hoping Cornwall remains part of the national network, despite the weather! 

Mr Carne, 54, studied engineering at Exeter University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. He has strong Cornish roots and is an Independent Governor of Falmouth University. He is married with three children 

That is all.

Gisby attends COBRA

This from Harry Kane...

As the UK is threatened by yet another major storm overnight, thoughts are with all those working to keep the network open and passengers and freight on the move.

This week’s severe disruption of course serves to remind us all of the critical role that railways play in the national economy, as well as to the country's well being.

Something that Robin Gisby no doubt highlighted at COBRA this week, under the agenda item ‘Money No Object’.

DfT enters 3 Peaks Challenge

The new, improved DfT is evidently keen to get really 'up close and dirty' with industry colleagues.

As well as actually getting out and about on the network, the railway's mandarins have now gone so far as to enter a team for the Railway Children's 3 Peaks Challenge.

The Just Giving page for DfT's team can be found here.

An excellent cause to support - good effort!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Derby does Westminster!

The Derby Mafia took over Parliament last night, courtesy of Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham.

MPs, Peers, members of the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, their customers and the wider industry marked the 175th anniversary of the railway's arrival in Derby.

And by happenstance, also celebrated the award of the Crossrail fleet to a local manufacturer...

Iain Stewart MP, PPS to the Secretary of State, did the honours - whilst the rest of the front bench transport team were on flood duty.

Meanwhile, Eye wonders what on earth Captain Deltic said that DG Rail could so vigorously agree with?

And from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Someone in the Palace of Westminster evidently has a very warped sense of humour:

And with floods and gales in mind, Eye hopes all those on and about the railway tonight keep safe.

Home safe!

UPDATE: This, perhaps surprisingly, from Captain Deltic...

In fact I was warmly commending DfT for its pragmatic approach to franchising and rolling stock accessibility requirements.

Who could not agree with that?

Monday, 10 February 2014

First they came for the smokers, then the snorers...

Be afraid, be very afraid!

As the state today seeks ever more keenly to intervene in the public health debate, without having the balls you will note to actually ban the lucrative but perceived cause of the problem, what are we to make of this? 

On behalf of the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Freight Transport, Rob Flello MP, I am writing to you to ask that you join the group as it meets on 4th March at 13:00 in the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House.

This will be a meeting held in conjunction with the APPG for Obesity and the British Lung Foundation. The meeting aims to discuss the impact of obesity on sleep apnoea and other related health issues within the sector.  

Any generously proportioned attendees found snoozing at this event will be subject to extreme application of the comfy pillow. 

You have been warned.

ORR sees the light?

This from the Office of Rail Regulation...

Network Rail commits to plans for Britain’s railways 2014-19

Network Rail has committed to deliver plans for a safer, higher performing and more efficient railway between 2014 and 2019, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) confirmed today.

As part of the multi-billion pound plan for Britain’s railways, initially published in October 2013, Network Rail will bring down the costs of running the railways by 20%, while delivering nine out of ten trains on time on regional, London and South East and Scottish routes, and improved reliability for long distance passenger services. Network Rail will also improve standards of infrastructure management, network resilience, and safety for passengers and railway workers. Over the next five years Network Rail will spend more than £38bn on maintaining, renewing and improving the rail network, which includes the delivery of a programme of enhancements worth more than £12bn.

These are challenges for the whole rail industry, not just Network Rail. Stretching targets and new incentives will get the industry working closer together for the communities they serve. The plans will be delivered from April 2014.

ORR Chief Executive Richard Price said:

“Network Rail has committed to the challenge of delivering exciting plans for Britain’s railways between 2014 and 2019. This new phase will see Network Rail enhance safety, increase capacity, and improve the performance and resilience of the rail network. Service standards will get better, as stations up and down the country are modernised and lines are electrified. Alongside this work, the company will also deliver more, pound-for-pound, than ever before, as it utilises new technology and better ways of working.

“We welcome Network Rail’s recognition that it will need to do things differently to fully deliver. This is a fresh start for the company and an opportunity - supported by significant levels of funding by governments and passengers, and working with the rest of the industry - to learn lessons and build on successes from the past. Meeting these challenges will be tough, particularly in the early years for punctuality in England and Wales because of recent performance levels. We will focus on ensuring the company, working with governments and the rest of the sector, delivers its plans to achieve long-term and sustainable improvements for customers and taxpayers.”


Encouraging signs of pragmatism at the ORR on performance.

Now if DfT could take up the same tune...

Pointless signs - Reading

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Derby tonight - Shocker!

DDRF statement on Crossrail fleet award

This from the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum...

The Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum (DDRF), which represents over 100 rail related businesses in the East Midlands, commented:

"The decision to proceed with Bombardier as preferred manufacturer for the Crossrail fleet is welcome news.

"Litchurch Lane is an important manufacturing facility in Derby and it employs large numbers of local people who contribute to the regional economy and support a wide range of businesses and communities across the East Midlands.

"The DDRF look forward to working with Bombardier, as preferred manufacturer, to ensure that our supply chain members can benefit from this decision, many of whom supply world-leading technology to rolling stock manufacturers across the globe."


Bombardier wins Crossrail fleet order

This from the Department for Transport and Transport for London...

Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract to be awarded to Bombardier

6 February 2014

• 65 trains to be built in Derby
• Over 1,000 jobs and around 100 apprenticeships supported in the UK

The intention to award a contract to deliver rolling stock and a new depot for Crossrail with a capital value of around £1bn to Bombardier has been announced today by Transport for London (TfL) and The Department for Transport (DfT).

The contract between TfL and Bombardier covers the supply, delivery and maintenance of 65 new trains and a depot at Old Oak Common. The contract award is subject to a 10 day standstill period.

TfL will run Crossrail as part of its integrated transport services for London, including ticketing and customer travel information. 

Bombardier has confirmed that the new trains will be manufactured and assembled at their plant in Derby. This contract will support 760 UK manufacturing jobs plus 80 apprenticeships. An estimated 74 per cent of contract spend will remain in the UK economy.

The construction of the maintenance depot at Old Oak Common will support 244 jobs, plus 16 apprenticeships. When fully operational the depot will support 80 jobs to maintain the new fleet of trains. 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The Crossrail project is now rolling on full-steam ahead. The manufacture of these new trains will not only revolutionise rail travel in London, they will deliver jobs and economic growth in their birthplace in Derby and across the UK. With a firm on board to deliver a fleet of 21st century trains and the tunnelling more than halfway complete, we’re on track to deliver a truly world-class railway for the capital.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This announcement will mean state of the art trains providing quick, comfortable journeys for the millions of people Crossrail will serve. It is also great news for British manufacturing and for Derbyshire, where Bombardier will support 760 new jobs and 80 apprenticeships.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s Transport Commissioner said: “Crossrail is already generating jobs in London and the UK. When it opens it will continue to provide jobs and the growth it will bring will boost the whole economy. Crossrail is a fantastic example of the widespread benefits that sustained investment in transport infrastructure brings.”

Andrew Wolstenholme Chief Executive of Crossrail said: “Crossrail will transform rail services in London and the South East. Procurement of the rolling stock and depot is just one more step in delivering this new railway and making it a reality for millions of passengers.

“Crossrail Limited has conducted this procurement in a fair, objective and transparent manner and in full compliance with the regulatory framework.”

London’s population is set to grow from 8.4 million today to around 10 million by 2030. Government, the Mayor of London and Transport for London are investing in Crossrail and other transport infrastructure to support access to jobs, education, housing and to boost economic growth.

Crossrail will boost London’s rail-based capacity by 10 per cent connecting Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It is connecting people and places, providing faster journey times and up to 24 trains per hour between Paddington and Whitechapel during the peak.

In addition to the jobs created through the rolling stock and depot contract it is estimated that Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs right around the UK. Three out of five businesses currently winning work on the project are based outside London and over half are small and medium sized companies (SMEs).

Each Crossrail train is 200 metres long and able to carry up to 1,500 passengers. Key features of the new high-capacity Crossrail trains include air conditioning and inter-connecting walk-through carriages. On-train passenger information systems will deliver real-time travel information to allow passengers to plan their onward journeys.

The new lightweight Crossrail trains will be built with an emphasis on energy efficiency and use of intelligent on-train energy management systems.

All bidders were asked to set out how they would engage with their wider supply chains and maximise opportunities for SMEs. Bombardier will target at least 25 per cent of the value of this contract going to SMEs. Bidders were required to manage the project through a London-based office and to commit to have plans to deliver job and training opportunities, including apprenticeships.

TfL will introduce the new trains from May 2017, with the fleet progressively introduced to the existing rail network well in advance of services commencing through Crossrail’s central section in December 2018.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Dawlish - wither the GW mainline?

Gosh, just gosh!

A question to all the clever engineers and climate scientists out there.

Is maintaining this route sustainable?

Or at least acceptable to the voters and business people of Devon and Cornwall, without the provision of an alternative reliable rail route to the rest of the country?

Meanwhile eyes are turning once again to the Withered Arm...

Twitter fans may wish to look at #reopentheLSW

UPDATE: This from a Western Man...

I can assure you we have no interest in visiting the rest of Britain.

And we are delighted that we now have our own, self contained, CornishRail.

We look forward to raising a glass from Kernow to you all on St Piran's day.

Currently on the Fact Compiler's sideboard...

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

If there's one left unopened on your sideboard by tomorrow morning, then frankly I'll be amazed! (Good point. But all in the name of research, obviously. Ed)

DeltaRail puts the boot in!

This from the Daily Mail...

Anna Matthews has sparked a ‘British jobs for British workers’ row between her firm DeltaRail and the rail infrastructure company on which it relies for 70 per cent of its business.

Matthews says three foreign consortia have been short-listed by Network Rail for a major multi-billion pound Traffic Management signalling contract in the UK.

Anna Matthews is infuriated Network Rail has allocated £70m to help the foreign contenders develop their bids

Yet she claims her own cutting-edge business, which has developed an advanced real-time computer-controlled train signalling system, has been shunted into the sidings and dropped from the bidding.


The ability to speak truth unto power is yet another reason why we need more Women in Rail!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Deltic throws a leg out of bed!

Oh Lordy!

What has Captain Deltic got his pistons in a twist about now?

Eye thinks we should be told!

UPDATE: This from the latest edition of Rail Business Intelligence, in in-boxes across the industry this very afternoon...

The minister later appeared to suggest that the publicly-operated ICEC franchise had been made to look more successful than it actually was.

"We all know that despite a lot of talk about DOR, frankly their punctuality was the worst of the long-distance operators, we can talk about the access charge costs where they got a considerable benefit when they took over, so we’ve got to be careful about comparison from line to line’, he said.

"Once one starts to examine certain figures that people are quoting they don’t always bear up in quite the same way".


When RBI pointed out that East Coast was currently meeting its punctuality targets unlike NR on the ECML (RBI454 p4), Hammond replied

"although East Coast’s satisfaction rating has gone up in terms of sheer punctuality numbers against the other long-distance operators, it is a simple matter of fact that it’s the worst-performing at the moment.

"There may be all sorts of reasons for that but it is also true that their access charges, for one reason and another, are lower than others.’

"All I’m saying is that you’ve got to be very careful about comparisons and you’ve got to remember that when it was set up it was deliberately set up to stabilise the railway, to provide a service and to make sure that we did our statutory duty. It was never intended to be a long-term operation".

Oh dear!

Does the ORR know that it has been gifting the nationalised operator preferential track access charges?

Or is the minister perhaps talking through his hat?

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Crossrail fleet announce this week...

Eye presumes that the Spanish Armada has not quite berthed yet? 

But who knows?

Eye's partial observation on the Crossrail fleet announce below...

Meanwhile, for all you procurement teams around the world: the East Midlands has everything you want, obviously.

Friday, 31 January 2014

McLoughlin goes!

No, not that one!

This from Insider Media...

Hull-based Spencer Group has appointed an experienced industry figure as chief executive of its Spencer Rail business.

With more than 30 years' experience in the rail industry, David McLoughlin is currently the finance and commercial director for the infrastructure projects division within Network Rail.

McLoughlin, who will report to the Spencer Group board, has held this position for three years with a remit to develop and implement new commercial arrangements for its national and major capital projects.

A high profile departure none-the-less.

Dark night of the soul for BoJo?

This from Lord Lampost...

Platform 5 at Woking on Thursday.

Boris' joy must be complete!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

If you want a job doing well...

Amidst all the glitz of the new Thameslink train unveiling on Tuesday was a small faux pas.

This from the St Albans and Harpenden Review:

Roger Perkins for First Capital Connect said: "The passenger information screen is just a mock-up of the real thing and its manufacturers were unable to correct the typo in time for the grand unveiling."

That bodes well. 

UPDATE: This from the Flan...

But they seem to have got away with the bigger faux pas in that there is no station called Luton Airport.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Hammond Eggs - Crossrail goes to the wire!

This from the Grauniad...

"There is a process we are legally bound to follow and we will follow that process. I'm not saying there won't be [a UK supplier] but we are honour bound by the process. Everybody in the UK would like a UK supplier to win that contract. It would be a huge fillip for UK industry. That decision will be taken by the Crossrail board."

Hammond said that though the Thameslink network's 1,140 new carriages would be built in Germany there was a big benefit from the project for Britain's wider supply chain.

Quite so.

Let's hope it's not a maiden over on the 5th February...

UPDATE: This from Boadicea...

According to Global Rail News:

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the German Railway Industry Association (VDB) have agreed to work more closely together to encourage greater collaboration with the domestic supply chain.

The partnership will strengthen ties between DB and the rail industry and involve German suppliers earlier in the development of new vehicles for the network.

A formal agreement was signed between DB chief executive Rüdiger Grube, DB’s rail technology lead Heike Hanagarth and the president and vice president of VDB Michael Claus Ecker and Jürgen Wilder in Berlin earlier this week.


No shit Sherlock!

No doubt RIA and the DfT are already on the case?

FGW and HEx launch Rail-fly

This from First Great Western...

An international airline and two UK train companies are making it possible for their customers to travel from Bristol to Brisbane under just one booking.

Until now this trip, without a car, would have required at least three separate bookings and three separate transactions with three different transport providers.

Soon travellers from 11 Southwest destinations, including Bath, Bristol and Cardiff, can arrange their international flights and rail fares under one booking, thanks to a partnership between Singapore Airlines, Heathrow Express and First Great Western.

If only changing advanced tickets for use on a different service could be made as simple...

Railway repurposing - Diss

A nice use for the former platform light diffusers at Diss station.

Good effort.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Victoria line musings...

This from @13milepost...

In light of this afternoon's news from the Victoria line I thought this might amuse:

Must. Not. Laugh.

Network Rail 'twee' - Official!

This from the Grauniad...

"Network Rail has invested funds into the project is a great sign for the solar industry," she said. "They're an old English institution and they're looking to the future to make investments into non-core technologies for the business, and that's a great statement that other large corporations in the country can start realising."

Who knew? 

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade... 

Yes indeed, one of the oldest English institutions, with a proud history going back in to the mists of time to er, October 2002. 

In fact not that long after the the railway came to Derby... (that's quite enough gratuitous Derby175 plugs! Ed)


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The past points towards a glorious future!

The Fact Compiler reflects on history in the 10th January edition of Passenger Transport...

The next edition of Passenger Transport is published on the 24th January.

A message to the anti-HS2 brigade...

Another appeal overturned today.

Perhaps time for Buckinghamshire County Council and friends to realise that when you're in a hole it's best to stop digging?

Or at least stop digging with rate-payers money?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Yet another high profile convert to HS2!

Fans of Wolmayor will recollect his original implacable opposition to Crossrail.

Therefore, Eye is confident in saying that as night follows day, Wolmar will embrace HS2!

Indeed, judging by his website he already has.

An Ozymandias moment?

This from Leo Rubine-Redd...

It looks as though time is already withering the legacy of Rail Barbie. 

Apparently the famous Barbie Pink - more properly known as Rubine Red, has been dropped from the colour palette for the refurbished First Capital Connect Class 365 EMUs.

Yet another example of private sector entrepreneurial flair submerged under the grey tide of Whitehall conformity?

NR - the temptation to tinker is irresistable...

As ever, politics abhors a vacuum!

With the Shadow Transport team adopting an almost Trappist-like silence on NR nationalisation, an erstwhile rail minister has stepped in to fill the policy void.

This EDM from Tom Harris MP:

That this House notes that the Office for National Statistics is to reclassify Network Rail as a central government body from 1 September 2014, adding Network Rail's £30 billion debt to the national debt; recognises that since Network Rail's creation, Ministers have respected the company's status as a private company by not exercising executive authority over Network Rail's management or operational activity; further recognises that the reclassification of Network Rail as a central government body offers the opportunity for a new relationship between the company and ministers; and believes this new relationship should begin with an instruction from the Secretary of State for Transport to Network Rail's directors that any future proposal for executive bonuses must be approved by Ministers.

And so it begins...

East Coast bidders announced

This from the Department for Transport...

The shortlist of bidders that will be invited to deliver proposals for improved services for passengers on the InterCity East Coast rail franchise was announced by the government today (17 January).

The companies that have successfully passed the Pre-Qualification Evaluation stage and can now start working on developing their plans for the franchise, before they receive the government’s Invitation to Tender are:

  • East Coast Trains Ltd (First Group plc);
  • Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Limited (Keolis (UK) Limited and Eurostar International Limited);
  • Inter City Railways Limited (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited and Virgin Holdings Limited).
These potential operators will need to consider how they intend to use the latest high-tech trains, built in the UK by Agility, to deliver more passengers to more of the UK's biggest cities faster and in greater comfort.

The government is expecting to see how the future operators will capitalise on the significant government investment along this route, including £240 million in infrastructure projects over the next five years to improve capacity and reduce journey times.  

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:

Giving passengers more will be at the heart of the new East Coast franchise. That means new services and journeys that are faster, more punctual and more comfortable. When these companies are developing their proposals they should be looking at ways to innovate and grow the service.

We have embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail investment ever, with over £35 billion being spent to enhance and run our rail network over the next five years. But for our railways to continue to grow we need strong private sector partners who can invest and innovate in ways that deliver a world class service.

Since rail services were privatised in 1993, the close cooperation between government and the train companies has heralded an unprecedented growth in the number of passengers.

While the East Coast franchise has been stabilised under government ownership since 2009, the route now needs a long term private sector operator to plan for the future and meet the increasing demands for more trains serving even more destinations.

When it started the franchise competition in October 2013 the government published the InterCity East Coast prospectus which set out the areas prospective bidders will need to consider when they start developing their proposals.  These include:
  • developing innovative timetables which build on the core train service requirement published by the Department for Transport (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 considerate of the environment;
    involving communities along the route in local decision making; and 
  • demonstrating how their proposals will support economic growth along the route.
To pass the rigorous Pre-Qualification Evaluation each of the bidders were asked to demonstrate that they have the financial strength, legal, operational and safety experience to run the franchise. 

The DfT is planning to issue the Invitation to Tender at the end of February and the potential operators will then have at least three months to develop their bids, before the new services start in February 2015. 


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Travers Cosgrove MC RIP

This from the Daily Telegraph...

Travers Cosgrove , who has died aged 93, was awarded an MC in Germany in 1945; he subsequently worked for LNER and British Rail and was responsible for the design and introduction of innovatory equipment and safety measures...

After LNER was nationalised in 1948, he worked for British Railways Scottish Region until 1955 and then for the Western Region. He was the Materials Handling Officer on the British Railways Board from 1962 to 1976. Cosgrove introduced a number of innovations which became familiar sights to railway travellers in Britain. Among these were the luggage trolleys at main-line stations and the multifunctional cages (known as BRUTES) for the parcel service, which he researched and designed. 

Who knew?

Good effort.

TSC - Suggestions for future inquiries

This from the Transport Select Committee... 

Transport Committee invites ideas for future inquiries 

The Transport Committee today invites the public to suggest subjects for inquiries to take place later in the year.

Topics should relate to the work of the Department for Transport or one of its related bodies, such as the Highways Agency, Maritime and Coastguard Agency or Network Rail.

The Committee Chair, Louise Ellman MP, has said:

“If you have an issue which you think we should look at we would like to hear from you. Please write to us, email, or submit your suggestion using our website or Twitter.

“Your suggestions will be important in shaping our future work programme. Once we have decided on which inquiries to hold we will publish all of the suggestions we received and what we decided in relation to each of them”.

“That said, I must also emphasise that the Committee does not take up individual cases and will not look at local transport issues or specific transport projects unless they raise issues of national significance.”

The Committee last invited the public to suggest inquiry ideas in March 2013. The suggestions received and the Committee’s decisions about its programme were published in June 2013. 

Future programme: 2013-14 

Further information 

Submissions should be 250 words or less and sent by e-mail to or via Twitter using @CommonsTrans 

Nothing to see here, move along.

Hammond Eggs - Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides...

This from Leo Pink... 

As these written answers show, DfT continues to play the 'nothing to do with us, Guv' card when asked questions relating to Network Rail.

They should make the most of it because NR becomes a Departmental responsibility from 1st September 2014. 

Railways: Cumbria 

Mr Jamie Reed asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he plans to take to ensure that the Cumbrian Coast railway line is protected from severe storm damage; (2) what steps he is taking to ensure that rail services in West Cumbria will be less affected by adverse weather conditions in future.

Stephen Hammond replied that Network Rail own and operate Britain's rail infrastructure. Included in their plans for Control Period 5 (2014-19) is a weather mitigation strategy, to help reduce the impact of severe weather on the network.

Mr Jamie Reed asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many Network Rail delay minutes have been caused by adverse weather in Cumbria in each of the last five years.

Stephen Hammond replied that the Department does not hold the data at this level of disaggregation. This is a matter for Network Rail. 

Tick, tick, tick...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Road Barbie and Ken unveiled!

This from the Highways Agency...

Elaine Holt and Tom Smith will provide valuable insight and leadership in helping the Highways Agency to maintain, operate and improve England’s major roads, as well as preparing for the biggest investment in the country’s road network for 40 years. Both take up their roles this month.

A marriage made in heaven!

Meanwhile, come 1st September - Network Rail, be afraid, be very afraid...

First... for being genuinely quite brilliant!

This from the Sleeper...

This has been installed at Huddersfield station:

Felix apparently still prefers to go under the barriers - but a jolly wheeze by First TPE none the less.

Absolutely brilliant! Good effort!

Soi disant Time Lord?

This from Leo Pink...

It looks as though the soi disant veteran observer is even more of a veteran than we first thought!

It turns out that he is chairing the Derby175 group tasked with delivering celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway's arrival in Derby.

Presumably he was appointed because he is the only person who can remember what happened at the time?

Or more likely, because he is a silly old... (that's quite enough history! Ed)

Hitachiballs: Trading standards...

This from Howard Wade...

Reacting to today’s news that the government is to build a dedicated further education college to train the next generation of train engineers for HS2, Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail Europe's Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said:

"We are very pleased the government recognises the importance of good infrastructure. Hitachi Rail Europe is investing in Britain’s future through a new factory at Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, which will employ 730 people building trains for the home and export market with Made in Britain stamped on them."

Where will this proud claim be 'stamped', we wonder?

No doubt some journalist with an inconveniently long memory will ask to be shown the precise location?

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Empire strikes back, sort of!

This from Ithuriel...

In an article in the Sunday Express, Stagecoach CEO, Martin Griffiths, launched his Chairmanship of the RDG (What that? Ed) with a fighting article headed: 'Railways are still on track'.

No, it wasn't a  riposte to busway conversions, but a paen to the newly nationalised railway (Shurely 'triumph of Privatisation'? Ed)

Martin showed his Finance Director background with this statistical claim:

"Train companies last year switched from being net recipients of Government support to net contributors. Overall industry subsidy per journey is lower than or the same as in six of the 12 years leading up to privatisation."

Good news indeed!

But what's this?

Note that Mr Griffiths is comparing 'now' (after 20 years of privatisation) with 12 years then, conveniently ignoring the post Railtrack years when subsidy was indeed four to five times BR at its best (Where is this going? Ed).  

Griffith's comparison is also based on passenger journeys not passenger kilometers. 

Since Clapham Junction to Waterloo and Kings Cross to Aberdeen are both 'journeys', the average cost measure is meaningless (Got you! Ed). 

So what about comparing cost per passenger kilometre?

In 1982, before the revival of BR's fortunes under Sir Bob Reid, the subsidy per passenger kilometre at today's prices was 8.1p. 

In 2006-07, when subsidy peaked at £6.3 billion - three times BR's 1982 subsidy, this equated to 15.8 p per passenger km!

Nice try.  But sadly, no cigar!

Update: This from The Horn of Plenty...

Shurely it was Sir Robert Reid who revived BR's fortunes, paving the way for Shell's Sir Bob later?

On a more serious point, do we honestly think that we were at a sustainable level of spend in 1982, the era before Clapham, Hidden, Hatfield, DDA, Interoperability, Climate Change Levy, Pension Protection Levy, TPWS, GSMR, etc...?

Hopefully we are now where Sir Robert may have wished us to be, with the Government treating:

"... the network according to its importance to the nation rather than its financial value..."

Where " must be 'top of the agenda': the only answer 
[is] high standards, efficient systems and constant vigilance."

Does anyone on today's railway really believe that our old nationalised industry could have delivered this?