Friday, 30 June 2017

15,000 rail staff trained by Samaritans

This from the Samaritans...

15,000 rail staff trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention

Around 1 in 6 rail staff is now trained to prevent people taking their lives on the railway, as part of the suicide prevention partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider rail industry. Potentially life-saving interventions are increasing at the same time.

Between April 2016 and the end of March this year, 1,593* interventions were made across Britain’s rail network by staff, British Transport Police, local police and the public, an increase of 40 percent on the previous year.

In the same period, suicides and suspected suicides on the rail network dropped from 253 to 237**, showing a decline in rail suicides for the second year in a row. This is a fall of 18 percent in two years and 2016/17 represents the lowest yearly figure since 2010.

Good effort.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Alstom gears up for UK manufacturing

This from Alstom...

Alstom today opens the biggest and most sophisticated centre for train modernisation ever in the UK. In a major boost to the rail industry in the North West of the country, this facility was officially opened by Lord Prior of Brampton – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and some of Alstom’s newest apprentices and graduates.

Of course, as any ful kno, Alstom are also hoping that the Widnes facility will give it the edge when bidding to supply new trains into the UK.

So it is good to see Alstom joining Hitachi and Bombardier in putting its money where its mouth is.

Come on Siemens, your turn next. (Unusual for the Germans to be late to a party. Ed)

The Case of the Chained Hound

The scene: A room at 221b Baker Street...

I say Holmes, what do you make of that whole VTEC thing? Pretty bullish of them to take so many hits on the nose?

But Watson, did you not notice the significance of Stagecoach’s reference in their market statement to Independent Economic Regulation?

Can't say I did Holmes, in fact I'm not even sure I saw the ORR mentioned at all.

That, Watson, is the significance.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Virgin déjà vu!

This from E. L. Bowe...

Stagecoach's apparent sang froid in the face of the Virgin Trains East Coast losses is easily explained - they have been here before.

An infrastructure owner fails to deliver upgrades vital to an ambitious intercity franchise plan?

Sounds familiar? Of course, it's the West Coast Route Modernisation debacle all over again.

True, Stagecoach and Virgin don't have the nuclear option of the WCML PUG2 contract which could have holed Network Rail below the waterline, but that's not needed when Network Rail is on the job, with vital capacity schemes like freight loops, Werrington grade separation and Woodwalton four tracking are sliding to the right and are now well into the second half of CP6 .

We'll know it really is groundhog day when Mr Kipling is recalled to descope the scheme and devise a rescue timetable.

UPDATE: Ministerial roles and responsibilities

Latest list of ministerial roles and responsibilities:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Oversight of all areas
  • EU Exit

Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP
  • Legislation Minister, and Lead Minister for Parliamentary Liaison and Coordination
    • Package Holiday Bill
    • Autonomous and Electric Road Vehicles Bill
    • Spaceflight Bill
    • Contingency planning EU Exit
  • Maritime, including London International Shipping Week
  • Skills
  • Taxis

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Dr Jesse Norman MP
  • Strategic and local roads
  • Road freight and safety
  • Buses
  • Cycling
  • Light rail
  • Devolution, including Northern Powerhouse
  • Environment and Technology
  • Housing

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Paul Maynard MP
  • Rail
  • Crossrail
  • Smart Ticketing
  • HS2 Policy and Legislation
  • Accessibility (across all modes)
  • Rail Security

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Lord Callanan
  • Aviation
  • International relationships
  • Security
  • Legislation in the House of Lords

East Coast - a franchise that keeps on giving

Stagecoach have published their results today.

And they make painful reading, with the company recording an £84.1m exceptional charge to provide for anticipated losses under the VTEC contract over the next two years and a £44.8m non-cash write down on the franchises value.

Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said: “We are engaged in discussions with the Department for Transport regarding our respective contractual rights and obligations under the current Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and reflecting the reprioritisation of Network Rail's infrastructure programme. 

"However, separately we have made financial provisions to reflect the short-term outlook for that business over the next two years, including in view of the weak growth environment affecting the UK rail sector as a whole. 

"We are disappointed to report losses at Virgin Trains East Coast. However, I am confident that we can return the business to profitability and build on the significant benefits we have delivered to date for customers and taxpayers."

Stagecoach remains optimistic that the franchise will be profitable by 2019.

Of course much of this may depend on whether NR can deliver on the upgrades to the ECML it promised in CP5? 

Oh, and a recast of the proposed Thameslink timetable?

We shall see.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Humza, I'm not sure that this is a great idea.

The SNP has decided to disaggregate the BTP!

Of course even in Scotland, it is rumoured that, fine Malts are watered down.

Why would you do this?

Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Tom Winsor, Philip Rutnam and Bernadette Kelly please note:


TSC: Farewell Ellman - runners and riders

This from Roger Ford...

Sad news from Westminster.

Under Parliamentary rules Select Committee chairs are limited to two Parliamentary terms, which means that a replacement must be found for Eye's favourite inquisitor Louise Ellman (Didn't we do this back in April? Ed)

Her modest, almost diffident, demeamour in the chair of the Transport Select Committee concealed a shrewd grasp of the issues and an interrogation technique which, unusually, generated more light than heat.

An abiding pleasure is her, and her Committee's dissection of DfT Permant Secretary Philip Rutnam over the Great Western Electrification Programme.

At her hearings you knew someone was in trouble when she gave them that quizical look over her spectacles before asking a seemingly simple question, which was often almost impossible to answer honestly without political fall out.

Louise - the railway industry will miss you!

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Eye understands that the following MPs are likely to appear on the ballot to be Labour's new chair of the Transport Select Committee:

  • Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South);
  • Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South);
  • Clive Efford (Eltham); and
  • Geraint Davies (Swansea West)
Of course Eye is completely non-partisan about this election, so may the best man win! (Which in this case is Lilian Greenwood - a noted friend to the railway and its supply chain over many years. #JustSaying. Ed)

Alstom obtains ISO37001

Good news from Alstom...

Alstom obtains ISO 37001 certification for its anti-bribery management system

27 June 2017 – Alstom has obtained the first AFAQ ISO 37001 certification awarded by AFNOR Certification following an audit carried out between March and May 2017 at seven sites in France and Europe, confirming its commitment to fight corruption.

The international standard ISO 37001, introduced in October 2016, advocates a series of measures to help organisations of all sizes, both private and public, to prevent, detect and tackle bribery through the implementation of an anti-bribery management system.

Move along people, nothing to see here.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Khan sets his face against railfreight

This from Bruce Grove...

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set out his plans for supporting railway investment in the regions.

His draft transport strategy calls for upgrades to routes outside London so that freight services can be diverted away from the capital, making space for extra passenger trains.

At this rate he’ll be lobbying for HS3 next!

Sadly no mention of rail’s role in delivering the construction materials he needs for all those new homes, offices and cycle lane he’s planning to build.

Crossrail 2 anyone?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Farringdon

This from a Mr Mike Wallis...

Keep 'em coming!

Gibb Report published

Chris Gibb's report into Southern's performance has been published.

It's a chunky 163 pages so will take some reading.

However, some of the headline findings here:

  • Industrial action is the main cause of problems
  • Unions should accept ORR regulates safety and should work with GTR to modernise working practices
  • Need for NR to establish a System Operator function (done)
  • Need for two track timetable at night on BML to enable maintenance (done)
  • Electrify Uckfield (see relevant appendix)
  • Withdraw the 442s (done)
  • Transfer East Croydon - Milton Keynes to TfL Overground, and Ashford - Hastings to SE franchise
  • Sort out Thameslink 2018 train stabling, provide for future stabling to handle more trains
  • Review Thameslink driver depot strategy
  • Restart stalled station capacity schemes at Victoria, Gatwick and East Croydon
  • Improve despatch at Victoria, London Bridge and Brighton
  • Improve suicide prevention
  • Implement Thameslink 2018 plan in small stages between Dec, 17 and Dec, 18
  • Review off peak and small station service levels
  • Align TOC and NR incentives and targets using joint delay repay
  • Set up 2018 Thameslink industry readiness board (done)
Eye understands not much has been redacted from the final report (although Appendix 9 containing 'Recommendations regarding the GTR franchise agreement' is missing).

Electrification benefits explained!

Good news for fans of electrification!

This from the Scotsman...

Plans to close Breich Station in West Lothian, used by just three passengers a week, have been announced by Network Rail. 

The move has been prompted by the £1.4 million cost of replacing its footbridge as part of electrification of the line, which would be saved. 

It is understood the station is likely to have stayed open otherwise.

The Sparks Effect, indeed!

Just imagine how many more of those annoying station things we could close if NR electrified the entire network!

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

If the clever traction engineers at Derby can fit an aluminium tube with seats and air conditioning and braking equipment and doors and bogies and lots of clever electronics and charge £1.2 million a throw for an Aventra vehicle how on earth can civil engineers justify £1.4 million for a footbridge? 

And does that include leaning-on-a-shovel-looking time?

South Eastern and West Coast Partnership bidders

This from the DfT...

South Eastern franchise

The companies which want to run the next South Eastern franchise are:

  • South Eastern Holdings Ltd, a joint venture company that on franchise award will be wholly owned by Abellio Transport Group Ltd and East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd
  • London and South East Passenger Rail Services Lrd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia Ltd
  • Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group plc
  • Trenitalia UK Ltd, wholly owned by Trenitalia SpA

West Coast Partnership franchise

The WCP will be responsible for services on the West Coast Main Line from April 2019 and will design and run the initial HS2 high speed services between London and Birmingham from 2026.

The shortlist contains bidding consortia which sees UK rail network experts working in partnership with companies that operate high speed railways around the globe, supported by businesses which have an excellent track record in customer services.

They are:
  • First Trenitalia West Coast Ltd, a joint venture between First Rail Holdings Ltd and Trenitalia SpA
  • MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTR Corporation (UK) Ltd and Guangshen Railway Company, with the following key sub-contractors:
    • Deloitte MCS Ltd
    • Panasonic Systems Europe
    • Snowfall AB
    • Ltd
    • WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff
  • West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group plc, Virgin Holdings Ltd and SNCF C3
Can't help but feel that DfT must be disappointed by yet another small field, containing mostly the usual suspects, for these key competitions.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

DfT Ministers - Roles and Responsibilities

Here are the published roles and responsibilities of the refreshed DfT Ministerial team:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Overall responsibility for the Department’s policies
Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes MP
  • Highways England
  • Modern Transport Bill
  • maritime (including Maritime and Coastguard Agency)
  • maritime security
  • freight and logistics
  • environment and technology
  • skills and innovation
  • built environment
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State (Rail Minister) – Paul Maynard MP
  • rail (including housing development)
  • rail security
  • light rail
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State – Jesse Norman MP
Responsibilities to be confirmed but likely to include:
  • HS2
  • devolution including Northern Powerhouse
  • sustainable accessible travel (including walking and cycling)
  • smart ticketing
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State – Lord Callanan
Responsibilities to be confirmed
  • Transport spokesman in the House of Lords 
A big Railway Eye welcome back to Paul Maynard (and note the 'housing development' role in Paul's remit).

First/MTR suffers from premature evacuation - Official

Good news from the Shire this morning!

The great and the good are gathering in Derby for an announcement about an order for 750 new 'Aventura' vehicles for the London and South Western franchise, worth £895m

This from First Group:

PRESS CALL: Announcement of South Western rail franchise rolling stock procurement

FirstGroup and MTR will take over the South Western rail franchise from 20 June 2017. This is an opportunity to find out more about the new rolling stock being planned for the new franchise, with new trains to be built in the UK and introduced into service from mid-2019.

Members of the reality based community will of course realise that the new franchise is due to start on the 20th August, rather than June.

No matter.

Regular readers of Eye will recognise today's announcement from this, posted back in April...

Meanwhile here is a tip for other rolling stock manufacturers without a UK footprint:

You've got to be in it, to win it!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Windsor and Eton Central

This from Windsor Lad...

Windsor and Eton Central last week:

A sorry sight these days, especially when compared to the Riverside station.

Railway Gongs - Queen's Birthday Honours

Some of those honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honour's list...

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Managing Director, Phase 2, HS2 Ltd. For services to the Rail Industry.

Head, Transport Security Co-ordination and Operational Response, Department for Transport. For services to Transport Security.

Order of the British Empire
Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Roger Toby Soames HARGREAVES
Director, Hybrid Bill Delivery, High Speed 2 Ltd. For services to Transport.

Ms Linda Jean MILLER
Project Manager, Crossrail. For services to Engineering and to Promoting Gender Equality.

Ms Wendy Patricia SPINKS
Commercial Director, St Pancras International Station. For services to Rail.

Order of the British Empire
Members of the Order of the British Empire

Chairman, Archway - the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network. For services to Network Rail and Diversity in Transport.

Patricia Lorraine, Mrs THOMAS
HR and Redeployment Adviser, Transport for London. For services to Transport in London and the community.

Order of the British Empire
Medallist of the Order of the British Empire

Steven Barry GREENWOOD
Special Chief Inspector, British Transport Police. For voluntary service to Policing.

For voluntary service to the Arts, Healthcare and Steam Railway Preservation in London, Edinburgh and Derby

Good effort.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Eye prepares for Brexit!

An Eye chum in Europe has sent the following screen grab...

Hopefully RENFE and CAF are regular browsers...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Shaken and stirred - David Brown to Northern

This from Northern...

David Brown has been appointed as Managing Director of Arriva Rail North Ltd which operates the Northern rail franchise.

David, who is currently Chief Executive at Transport for the North, will take up his role at Arriva during September and will succeed Alan Chaplin who has been Acting Managing Director since February.

An interesting case of gamekeeper turned poacher!

Of perhaps greater interest is what this says about TfN...

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Crumbling Edge of Something...

No comment.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Blackburn

This from Kettledrummle...

As you will see Blackburn is well on track to achieving "garden" status. Unfortunately what was in the 4 foot where the train has stopped was not so green.

Probably better classed as fertiliser!

Railway Garden Competition - Eastleigh

This from Rover...

Keep 'em coming.

Rail minister returns!

No. Not that one.

Claire Perry, who is now a minister at BEIS looking after the Industrial Strategy.

A positively glacial formation of a new government.

Strong and stable my arsenal.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Dust settling - GE2017

This from Daisy Hill...

Well that was interesting!

Grayling returned to transport following a very minor reshuffle.

We await news on who will be the rail minister.

Meanwhile,  those wondering what the election result means for transport policy are reminded that Northern Ireland's railways are both state owned and vertically integrated.

Eat your heart out Jeremy Corbyn!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Charing Cross

This from Dan D. Lion...

It's not as if those cables and cabinets control anything important after all.

Pointless signs - Newark

This from a Mr InterCity Swift..

A contribution for your pointless signs series.

Or should that be pontless signs?

It's been there for a couple of years now.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Retford

This from a Mr InterCity Swift...

Much to the annoyance of VTEC, it's back - bigger and stronger!

Are there any hardy Railway Garden perennials near you? If so do send them in!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

BTP first in the line of duty at London Bridge

This from our 'Railway Plod'; which is very much part of the Railway Family.

Which makes it somewhat personal!

Statement from Chief Constable on British Transport Police officer injured at London Bridge

Following the horrific attacks at London Bridge last night, the British Transport Police officer who was injured is now in a stable condition.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “Having visited the officer in hospital shortly after he was admitted for treatment, I was able to hear his account of what happened last night.

“It became clear that he showed enormous courage in the face of danger, as did many others who were at the scene and rushed to help.

“Although he is seriously unwell, he was able to recount how he faced the attackers armed only with his baton, outside London Bridge station.

“For an officer who only joined us less than two years ago, the bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud.

“All of us at BTP wish him a swift recovery, and I know he will be touched by the hundreds of messages of support from across the UK and the world.

“Our thoughts are with all of those who died or were injured, and their loved ones as they try to come to terms with what happened.”

Big respect!

Good effort.

And our prayers and thoughts are with the officer, his colleagues, family and friends.

Also... thank you to all our BTP colleagues for all that you do to keep everyone safe, day in and day out, on or about the railway.

Of course, the BTP has often been at the forefront of policing.

This from the British Transport Police History Group...

The railway police were the first force in the country to use trained police dogs (1909), one of the first to use drug sniffer dogs (1974), and the first to introduce a computerised crime reporting procedure (1970s). 

The force took a national lead in football intelligence in the 1980s, and developed a bomb threat analysis procedure, later adopted nationally, as a result of dealing with twenty high explosive devices, forty incendiary devices and more than five thousand bomb threats during one three year period (1991-94).

Perhaps Theresa May will consult with the railway industry, before attempting to merge the specialist BTP into the constabularies of very different industries?

Meanwhile, Hands off our Bobbies!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

EGIP costs contained - sort of?

This from 'My Laird'...

Truly, the world has gone mad. And budgets madder?

EGIP taking over a public path to Plean south of Stirling!

Railway Garden Competition - Dorking (Main)

This from @NickRH14...

Looking lush at Dorking (Main)...

Keep 'em coming (and remember the rules - only UK railway gardens are eligible)!