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?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Lookalike - Wind in the Wimbledon edition

This from the Graun...

Stephen Hammond, the minister for buses and rail, who lives six miles from Westminster, used the government's "top up" cars 138 times in a year. These cars are at the call of ministers if an official departmental vehicle is unavailable. On 19 occasions Hammond used the service to move his red boxes unaccompanied from one place to another.

Where have we heard that before?

What is it with the internal combustion engine and Tory Transport ministers? 

Pointless signs - Wetherspoons

This from a Mr Whitley...

Spotted in a Wetherspoons' loo..

Has Mr Bowker been reminiscing over a few beers?

UPDATE: This from Deep Stoat's Brother...

Reminiscing or predicting?

I give unto you the Office of Passenger Rail Services!

SRA for short, obviously.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Pointless signs - Slough

Pointless sign - Northern 153

This from Northern Spirit...

This "Emergency Door Release" sticker on a Northern Rail Class 153 says the emergency handle is to the right (if looking at the arrow). 

It is actually to the left.

Friday, 3 January 2014

LUL has a Lady Bracknell moment?

This from Underground Ernie...

I see that TfL slipped this out on New Years Eve...

London Underground (LU) and Bombardier Transportation today announced that the signalling contract for the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines (Sub Surface lines) will be re-let by LU following discussions between the two companies

To lose one signalling supplier, Mr. Brown, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

Manchester Victoria - 9 days of work in 2 minutes

This via Network Rail...

Very good. Tick.