Friday, 31 March 2017

Track renewals to be further hit in CP5?

The Independent has published a piece that will further fuel concerns in the infrastructure supply chain.

It quotes the following from an 'NR memo':

“The last time the track renewals industry had a cost challenge of this magnitude, 7-8 years ago, the supply chain suffered massively (we lost a principal contractor and many second tier suppliers)…this is going to be a tough couple of years for the whole industry.”

Full article, here.

UPDATE: The Campaign for Better Transport are quick off the blocks!

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"These cuts are likely to mean more delays and worse journeys for passengers. We know from previous experience with roads as well as railways that maintenance backlogs are easy to build up and hard and expensive to get rid of.

“However, this isn't all about austerity - some of it is about waste and incompetence in Network Rail, which as they admit, has mismanaged several upgrade projects. Network Rail needs to get a grip and the regulator needs to help them do it."

Lookalike - 'Days of future past' edition

RDG unveils radical plan for Lincolnshire services

People of Immingham - rejoice!

Those nice people at the RDG have promised you a significant uplift in services.

According to the FT today, reporting on the decline in coal traffic:

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said there would be space for “potentially thousands” of extra passenger services every year.

707s to Grimsby? That'll do nicely.

Roscos and RMT make unlikely bedfellows

This from the Brothers!

Anyone care to tell RMT the difference between classes 707 and 458?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Silence of lambs as South Western fleets displaced

This from from Daddy Warbucks...

First MTR seem intriguingly reticent about the collateral damage from their new train bonanza for the South Western franchise.  

Asked by the jackals of the railway press about the implications for SWT's existing fleets all they will confirm is that the Class 707s (Angel - £240 million investment) will definitely be replaced.  

As for the expensively reconstructed Class 458/5s (Porterbrook £65 million) and currently-being-expensively-retractioned Class 455s (Porterbrook £40 million), the rest is silence - at least until after the standstill period.

Still Angel had the foresight to specify dual voltage for the Class 707s. And also now has the opportunity to spend even more millions on refurbishing and retractioning the 18 Plastic Pigs, AKA Class 442.

Our man who prefers letters to Class Numbers points out that under the Mk 3 Coach bodies of the  5WES is traction equipment from the legendary 4REPs which weighed 175 tonnes, had the power of a Class 55 Deltic and a notional maximum speed of 100 mile/h if someone was looking.

Let's hope whoever gets the contract to re-traction the Class 442s maintains this hooligan tradition. After all, they do hold the speed record on 750 Volt DC third rail.

RIA ups its lobbying game

New Railway Industry Association CEO Darren Caplan is making his mark.

According to both Railnews and Railway Gazette International RIA issued a statement yesterday on the back of the Article 50 activation:

"Brexit presents the industry with both challenges and opportunities’, said Chief Executive Darren Caplan. "The Railway Industry Association will seek to be specifically included in any Brexit agreement negotiated, ensuring UK railways sit alongside automotive and aerospace as one of the Department for Exiting the EU’s top transport sectors.

"Additionally, we will work with the UK government to maintain trade in as frictionless a manner as possible, for example on standards and tariffs; and we will seek to ensure our industry continues to have access to an adequate supply of skilled labour from the UK and around the world, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations."

Although perhaps a shame that you can't yet find it on the news section of the RIA website...

A couple of good causes for your attention...

If you have a spare minute or two?

Wolmar has asked that you consider signing this petition to have the provision of on-train defibrillators discussed in Parliament

And here, Driver Potter is after the price of a pint to return the 4VEP to the mainline.

Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

CH2M pulls out of HS2 Phase 2b

This from PA...

More over at Guido, here.

DfT DG for HS2 departs for Oxford

David Prout off to the Dreaming Spires

Not a great week for HS2.

And so it begins...

HS2 abandons classic compatible fleet - shocker

Welcome to the world of HS2 Nuspeak!

Gone is the fuddy duddy old fashioned term "classic compatible'.

In comes the snappy and exciting "conventional-compatible"!

Why use seven letters when twelve will do?

HS2 simplificating railwaytrainvehicle procurementpurchase for benefit travelpassenger! 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Railfreight and Article 50

This from Hildegard of the Vinzgau...

As Parliament triggers Article 50, and starts the process of Brexit, let's remember that our railways have always been for moving trade, connecting people and opening up new horizons.

Long may it continue!

Mystic Wolmar on rolling stock procurement

This from Henry Hectare...

In the past Eye has been somewhat critical of a certain Mr Kipling's role in the procurement of new rolling stock.

The latest fleets for Thameslink, East Coast and Great Western were specified and procured by the DfT, often against the best advice of those who actually have to operate them, and not withstanding passenger (sorry - customer) fury about uncomfortable seating and the absence of wifi and sockets. 

No matter!

Surely this could all have been solved by simple recourse to the wise words of the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent?

But what do we find when we turn to an epistle from Mystic Wolmar, penned for the pages of RAIL Magazine in 2004, as Virgin Trains launched its first "tilting" Red Revolution timetable:

"It is obvious that the Voyagers or Pendolinos must not be used as the model for new rolling stock for inter-city services and let us hope the lessons from their failings are learned. The HSTs are going to need replacing, probably by the end of the decade, and the same mistake of having modern trains that are less pleasant than the ones they are replacing must not be repeated...

"The sensible option would be for the SRA – or, rather, its replacement – to commission a new design for the trains and insist that they be used on the Great Western franchise where most sets are required and for any other similar routes. Why should a franchisee design trains when they are but temporary holders of a management contract, especially given that when things go wrong, we all know who foots the bill."

Wise words indeed. If only Mr Kipling and his legions in the DfT had listened to Woemar's sage advice! (Is this right? Ed)

ORR fires starting gun on PR18

The ORR has issued a review initiation notice beginning the statutory process for the periodic review.

In a note sent yesterday to interested parties the ORR stated:

As part of PR18, we have today issued a formal notice confirming our intention to carry out a periodic review (known in law as an ‘access charges review’) of all track and station access agreements relating to Network Rail’s network. PR18 will determine what Network Rail Infrastructure Limited is expected to deliver and the funding that it is given in control period 6 (CP6), which we expect to run from 2019 to 2024. 
The notice also requires that the Secretary of State and the Scottish Ministers each provide to us certain information by 20 July 2017. We expect this information will take the form of a high-level output statement (HLOS – setting out what should be achieved by railway activities in CP6) and a statements of funds available (SoFA – setting out the public financial resources that are expected to be made available to support the HLOS).
Our original timetable for PR18 envisaged that the HLOSs and SoFAs would be provided in May/June 2017. The date in our notice does not prevent the governments providing this information in line with this timescale, but provides additional time up to the UK Parliamentary recess, should this be required. This is consistent with the deadline given by us in previous periodic reviews.
Summer recess is expected to be on the 20 July 2017.
A generous right-time measurement from ORR.

Who will be the new MD of First/MTR SWT?

Time for an exciting Eye poll!

Using your skills and judgement select who is most likely to be new MD of First MTR South Western Trains.

The exclusive Eye poll is on the right hand side menu bar.

Remember, vote early vote often!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Lookalike: 'What a lovely day' edition

First & MTR take South Western

This from the DfT, in what is a remarkably scrappy press release...

"And today (27 March 2017) we can announce that First MTR South Western Trains Limited has been awarded the South Western franchise which will run for 7 years from 20 August 2017. This is the first franchise awarded since the Secretary of State set out his vision for the future of the railways in a speech on 6 December 2016, and marks a new era in joined up working between train operators and Network Rail.
"First MTR South Western Trains Limited will use the experience of one of its major shareholders MTR, who operate the busy Hong Kong metro, to deliver smooth and rapid journeys for passengers travelling around London’s suburban network. Faster journeys will be delivered through a consistent fleet of new suburban trains offering a regular, metro-style service. Passengers can look forward to more space, ensuring that the railway can support London’s growth.
"Passengers travelling across the South Western network will also benefit from more space and faster rail services as the new 7 year South Western Franchise has been awarded today to First MTR South Western Trains Limited."
This announcement was expected last Thursday, but events... 
Not an unexpected result, with significant changes to fleets on the route.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

HS2 and UCR 2016

Not a good week for HS2.

The Guido Fawkes website is running a number of articles on the project; suggesting that a crisis board meeting is being held today and calling into question the use of 17 PR agencies.

Meanwhile, UK companies looking to supply into the new railway are getting increasingly frustrated by HS2’s apparent insistence on strict adherence to the Utility Contracts Regulations 2016.

The UK rolling stock supply chain, having been burnt by previous government procurement exercises for both Thameslink and the IEP, is calling for UK content to be a contractual requirement for the new HS2 fleet.

HS2 remains adamant that under the EU mandated Utility Contracts Regulations this cannot happen.

If Chris Grayling is serious about securing a post Brexit Bounce for Britain's rail supply chain then a more flexible approach to HS2 procurement, that favours UK suppliers, must be mandated.

Otherwise the project's multi-billion pound spend risks disappearing off-shore.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Brothers field nag in The National

This from The Liverpool Echo...

"Merseyrail will be hit by a 24 hour strike on April 8 - the day of the Grand National."

Meanwhile, here is an image of the RMT, possibly at Brecher's Brook...

On they go, and on they go; with Public Opinion, Furious Passenger and Withdrawn Funding in the lead...

Racegoers, Merseyside and Eye ask if colleagues might think again?

World Poetry Day - Adelstrop

So today is World Poetry Day...

Not that you ever need an excuse to hear this.

Beardie Rail (East) plays trains

This from Virgin Trains East Coast...

"Four trains spanning four generations will travel side by side, in the same direction, along the East Coast Main Line on April 23 2017.

"This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world famous Flying Scotsman travel alongside two trains from Virgin Trains’ revitalised fleet - an HST (Class 43), an intercity225 (Class 91) - and the rail operator’s brand new train, the Virgin Azuma (Class 800) which is being built by Hitachi in the North East, and will come into service in 2018.

"The four trains will travel together for several miles north of York to showcase the past, present and future of rail travel."

A nice of bit Beardie Rail PR that should look stunning from the air.

The event is being supported by Welcome to Yorkshire, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum.

Does Eye detect the hand of Stanton?

NR sources 96% of steel rails from UK

Some nice NR infographics appearing on Twitter...

Let's hope tax-payer funded HS2 will match NR's commitment to UK industry?

Monday, 20 March 2017

BRoR: First national TV ad campaign for 20 years

Coming to a Devil's Lantern near you...

Due to run for 'more than three weeks' on TV and at cinemas; and will be supported by posters on trains and at stations.

Good to hear both goods and passengers mentioned.

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

That's some confidence in the product.

Not a train to be seen!

UPDATE: This from Paul (Brigg Line) @Saturday_Only...

UPDATE: This apparently from ‘Tulyar’…

Good to see the Rail Delivery Group embracing both the tradition and diversity of today's railway in their new logo.

Much as new nations emerging from former colonies, or ethnic/cultural reformations attach significance to the colours and symbols (cont’ p94)…

I wonder if there is (or readers might attribute) significance to the colours used and their positions on the logo. 

Eye suspects it had something to do with not using any existing TOC house colours (future franchise winners - fill your boots!).

Industry simplification - Supply and Deliver!

Eye exclusive: Inside the office of the RDG CEO!

An Aldersgate mole has supplied extraordinary footage of recent high level discussions between leaders of the RDG and RSG.

Here Paul Plummer offers the Supply Chain a seat at the table:

Truly, Master of all he surveys!

Super Inquiry into Air Quality announced

This from the Transport Select Committee:

"MP’s from four select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots.

"The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution.

"The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July."

This joint inquiry creates both opportunities and potential threats for the rail industry.

Passenger operators into London termini may wish to consider their idling policy for diesel trains?

Whilst station owners may want to look at whether their stations offer adequate ventilation...

On a more positive note, with the London Mayor particularly keen to introduce low-emission zones, Eye wonders whether railfreight operators can work with TfL and DfT to utilise passenger stations at night (and dormant Royal Mail facilities) to offer logistics services to the Capital?

Either way, hopefully RFG and RDG will see fit to submit evidence?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Lookalike - 'Dr Lazarus' edition

By Grabthar's hammer, by the Suns of Warvan...

...shippers, passengers and Treasury shall be assuaged!

VTEC ups its game on Accessibility

That's the way to do it!

Although asking whether people might 'need this' appears a little superfluous?

On a two hour journey who can tell?

So best assume we all will?

But it's a start!

A song for Thursday?

Just going to leave this here.

But who knows?

Lookalike - 'Careful what you wish for' edition

Eye is always keen to respond to reader requests!

How's that working for you Alfred?

Wheel flat fails first Okehampton to London train

Oh Dear!

This from CornwallLive:

"An historic train journey which was supposed the first train to run direct from Okehampton to London in 50 years has been scrapped after the engine slipped down the line this morning, damaging the wheels."

A nice shiny green HST as well, with not a kettle in sight.

Friday, 17 March 2017

There have been requests...

On St Patrick's Day, a reminder to Whitehall.

You're wasting your time!