Friday, 29 September 2017

Wales joins Scotland in rejecting DOO

Eye hears, lots of Welsh voices in Marsham Street today.

No matter.

Meanwhile this from Andy McDonald, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport:

That sound? That is the sound of the DfT and every TOC management team in England sobbing.

Railway Garden Competition - Norwich

This from a Mr Ed Starr…

Perhaps a special award could be made to Network Rail for their rather splendid water garden feature in platforms 2/3 at Norwich station?

What an unbelievable disgrace!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Railway Pride - Beeston

This from a Mr Ed Starr…

My entry to your exciting competition comes from Beeston in Nottinghamshire.

Which apparently also has a Sealink terminal!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Grayling to face Transport Committee on 16th October

This from the Transport Select Committee

Planned electrification on railway lines scrapped

In the first public evidence session for the Committee, MPs will unpick the thinking behind policy changes by the Department for Transport, including the scrapping of planned electrification on railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North of England.

Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, commented:

"The new Transport Committee wants to get to grips with the rationale for Department for Transport decisions. We want to understand the Department's thinking – get into the nuts and bolts of why they have made recent changes to policy. 

"For example, the Government announced it would scrap electrification of several high profile routes including projects between Kettering and Sheffield, Cardiff Central and Swansea and Oxenholme and Windermere. Transpennine electrification is also likely to be 'discontinuous'. Members of the Committee will want to know how the Department reached that decision, and why.

"The Secretary of State should expect to be asked how the public is served by current transport policy, whether the passenger is a disabled person seeking wheelchair spaces on buses, a regular user of the railways, or seeking updates on investment in transport in their region. 

"The Transport Committee intends to scrutinise Department for Transport decisions which impact lives across the UK, every day."

Eye notes that Lilian Greenwood is the MP for the Midland Main Line, whoops, sorry… Nottingham South.

Captain Deltic calls Andy McDonald to order!

This from report on a Labour Party conference fringe meeting...

While Labour didn’t want to “recreate British Rail”, Mr McDonald asked the audience not to decry the old days too much, arguing BR did an excellent job despite declining passenger numbers and low investment in its latter years.

Captain Deltic snorts, "the man's a crypto privatiser parroting the well-worn line of a declining industry!

"Ridership in 1983 stood at 18.3 billion passenger miles, Ridership in 1988/89 was 21.3 billion passenger miles. The ridership graph clearly declining rapidly upwards.

"As for low investment. East Coast main line electrification, new freight locos and wagons, 4500 new passenger vehicles ordered in the 10 years before privatisation etc etc.

"However, on reflection this resurgence did happen under Margaret Thatcher so I can see a certain sensitivity."

Details of Alstom Siemens merger

Headlines from today's Alstom/Siemens merger announce.

  • Signed Memorandum of Understanding grants exclusivity to combine mobility businesses in a merger of equals
  • Listing in France and group headquarters in Paris area; led by Alstom CEO with 50 percent shares of the new entity owned by Siemens
  • Business headquarter for Mobility Solutions in Germany and for Rolling Stock in France
  • Comprehensive offering and global presence will offer best value to customers all over the world
  • Combined company’s revenue €15.3 billion, adjusted EBIT of €1.2 billion
  • Annual synergies of €470 million expected latest four years after closing
Details here.

All eyes now on Bombardier

UPDATE: Reuters has a good video primer on today's announcement here

What does the Siemens/Alstom merger mean

Exclusive insight from Eye's man at today's press conference!

Ties abolished.

(You're fired! Ed)

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Railway Pride - Pewsey

This from Pewsey Snapper…

Might I enter Pewsey into Eye's exciting new contest?

All the criteria are met including:

Faded sign

New pole

As an added bonus there are some ancient yellow stars stencilled on the sign.

Can anyone remember what they commemorate?

UPDATE: This, unbelievably, from the late World of Sports star Dicky Davies

Perhaps these stars are the relics of a long lost people from Wiltshire and the Salisbury Plain.

Ones that transported boxes (reliably!) unbelievably long distances using what are now ancient technologies.

I think they were called diesel-electrics!

UPDATE: This from Strawbrick

It might help jog a few more memories if you referred to the as being red, rather than yellow, as in "Red Star" (Picky, picky! Ed)

For your London centric readers, I believe that similar emblems may still be seen on at high level at Euston station.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Benefits of bi-modes over electrification illustrated

This from Reginald Trumpet…

The likely first public diagrams for GWR's new IEP trains have appeared on the RAIL website:

I wonder if the 09:54 ECS trip to Stoke Gifford is get more fuel to see it through the rest of the day?

Railway Pride - Manningtree

This from a Mr T…

The column itself still bears the First Great Eastern scars and has been painted at least twice since, the latest colour palette being Greater Anglia's lovely grey.

Sadly, it appears they didn't have the appropriate ladder, scaffold tower or sponge to enable them to reach 3 feet higher...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Grayling's gift to the North revealed!

This from Eye's man in Manchester…

"People of the North, I have a gift for you. The world's largest piece… of nothing!"

People of the North - your government takes you for fools!

Where to begin?

Clearly the Secretary of State for Transport takes the good burghers of the North for fools!

This tosh from the DfT

Network Rail will receive up to £5 million to develop proposals for embedding digital technology between Manchester and York…

£5m? Five million quid! That's a rounding error in DfT's weekly budget

Does Marsham Street really believe that such largess for an important and complex study will have the flat cap wearing whippet owners dancing in the streets?

And then..

Developing proposals for digital-control on the TransPennine route is to be paid for from a £450 million digital railway fund announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year.

So it's not even new money. It's another re-announce.

And it still doesn't properly confirm what is happening with the wires!

Of course to add insult to injury the release then bangs on about how much money has already been invested in the Capital's rail network.

On the London Underground 3 lines already have in-cab signalling, which has meant trains can safely run closer together.

Also in the capital, the Thameslink programme will use digital technologies so 24 trains per hour can run through the centre of the city from December 2018 on just 2 tracks with 2 platforms. Crossrail trains will also run with in-cab signalling.

'Tin eared' doesn't even begin to describe it.

Team May had better pull a better rabbit out of the hat at conference in Manchester next week, otherwise they can kiss goodbye to any hope of a Tory recovery in the North.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The wires that came in from the cold.

This from George Smiley...

Russia's influence in Western politics continues to spread.

Expect Transport Secretary Grayling to employ a version of the long-standing Soviet military deception technique of maskirovka when he ventures north to Manchester tomorrow to defend his deferment of the Trans-Pennine electrification.

Instead of repeating claims for the discredited 'innovative' use of bi-mode trains, Grayling will seek to wrong foot his critics by declaring that Manchester-Leeds will become a digital railway, in one stroke overcoming all known problems.

And creating a few more, starting with who will pay for the resignalling and the cab fitment. And Grayling's strategic adviser in the DfT, recognisable by the snow on his boots and known as Commissar Aleksandrovitch, seems to have overlooked the report by David Waboso's Early Contractor Involvement team debunking the 40% capacity gain claims made by the former Digital Railway regime.

As our Russian friends might say: "Net sigary, tovarishch!"

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Knighton

This, belatedly, via twitter…

Nice framing, with the added bonus of a pointless palisade.

Lost Beckett masterpiece discovered in Marsham Street

From a recently discovered Samuel Beckett notebook...

Becket identifies the players only as Rosco - a once wealthy business type in a suit; and Cloggie - a foreign gentleman, possibly Dutch?

Rosco: “Let's go."
Cloggie: "We can't."
Rosco: "Why not?"
Cloggie: "We're waiting for Wilko.”

Curtain falls slowly as they look hopefully into the wings...

Cryptic CrossCountry

This from Antony Furlong…

Has Cross-country re-introduced the mystery tour, or is this Voyager trying to draw a steam loco?

Monday, 18 September 2017

GWR - Back to the future - literally!

This from a Mr Antony Furlong...

I was delighted to receive this email from the GWR marketing team.

Evidently those IEPs are even faster than Mr Kipling and the DfT would have us believe!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Railway Pride - Belper

This from Rerailer...

I wonder if I might propose an Exciting New Eye Feature - Railway Pride?

Railway Pride draws on Noel Coward's beautiful encomium to our indomitable Capital City:

Railway Pride has been handed down to us.
Railway Pride is a flower that's free.
Railway Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.

Alas, not so much Railway Pride in the town of Belper.

Where to start!

National Rail sign, the symbol that binds us all together, our mark of quality!

You get the gist.

More please...

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Ken Harris RIP

This from Mack Brooks Exhibitions...

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our colleague Ken Harris after a short illness earlier this summer.

Ken worked as Editor on all things Railtex and Infrarail with us for many years and was a most valued colleague and a dear friend. His expertise and in-depth knowledge of the history and background on any rail industry development will be missed just as much as his kindness, professionalism and dry sense of humour.

Many of you will have met Ken at one of our shows over the past 20+ years, where he was hosting the onsite Press Offices and enjoying meeting old and new colleagues.

Ken leaves his wife Jean, two daughters Beki and Claire, and new grandson Laurence Kenneth.

Eye and its contributors extend their condolences to Ken's family and colleagues. He was a gent and very much a feature of both Railtex and Infrarail.

Railway Garden Competition - Brighton

This from Ducados...

Brighton's very own Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Silence of the LMs

Herr Professor Erwin Schroedinger writes…

In co-operation with the Britisch Department sum Transport we began an exciting new experiment to validate a more advanced version of mein 'Uncertainty Prinziple'.

The award of the West Midlands replacement franchise to Abellio, JR East and Mitsui was announced on 10th August, but not signed and then surrounded mit ein wall of silence.

With no one knowing what has happened in the following weeks, we have the situation where the franchise award may be in the bureaucratic process, still under negotiation, or deferred.

Railway Eye's science correspondent Prof Fred Bunsen-Berner notes that this triple uncertainty paradox could mark a step forward in our understanding of nuclear physics.

Whether it could be applied to our understanding of franchise procurement is perhaps less certain.

Transport Select Committee membership confirmed

This via Twitter...

And so to business!

Shaken and stirred - Leathley to London TravelWatch

This from the London Assembly...

New Chair of London TravelWatch appointed by Assembly
The London Assembly today announced the appointment of Arthur Leathley as the new Chair of London TravelWatch[1], the statutory watchdog for transport users in and around London.

Arthur has senior level experience as a communications director in the private sector and Whitehall. In particular, he spent nine years at Virgin Trains, during a time of great change in which customer satisfaction became the best in the rail industry. Prior to that, he worked as a political and transport journalist at The Times, covering many of the key debates affecting London transport.

Arthur Leathley, newly appointed Chair of London TravelWatch, said:

“The views of millions of transport users in London are crucial and I am excited to represent consumers during a time of very positive change. Travelling in the capital is likely to be transformed beyond recognition over the coming years and London TravelWatch will ensure that the interests of the travelling public are always put first. The need for an effective consumer champion has never been greater and I look forward to building on the work of the previous Chair, Stephen Locke.”

The appointment was made by the Transport Committee on behalf of the London Assembly.

Older hands will remember Arthur was previously communications director at Virgin Trains, before undertaking various roles across Whitehall.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Transport Select Committee - New Tory members

A big Eye welcome to the following Tory MPs elected to the Transport Select Committee.

  • Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay)
  • Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle)
  • Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes)
  • Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)

They join chair Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) and the following Labour MPs.

  • Graham Stringer MP (Blackley and Broughton)
  • Luke Pollard MP (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
  • Daniel Zeichner MP (Cambridge) 
  • Laura Smith MP (Crewe and Nantwich) 

Eye understands there is one more place to fill, drawn from the smaller parties in parliament.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Rugby

This from Sealink Sam...

See how beautifully crowned with vegetation are the tops of the buildings at Rugby station.

And here the bay platforms, and in the distance walls pregnant with arboreal magnificence!

Decline, what decline?

SWR gets ideas above its stations...

This from the SWR website...

On our network - Cambridge?


London Bridge!!!

Who knew?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Shaken and stirred: Veitch brings Talgo to the British Isles

This via twitter...

Eye would normally have linked to the press release on the company's website, rather than reposting a tweet, allowing readers to savour all the details...

Alas - still nothing posted yet.

Looks like an ever expanding remit for Mr Veitch!

Problems remain once the circus moves on...

This from Hieronymus Bosch...

Reporting exclusively for Eye from today's exciting SWR launch at Waterloo! 

So the Top Brass turn up at WAT for the launch. Shiny livery, cleaned etc etc. Then..the signalling goes at Eastleigh, points failures at WAT, crews become displaced and chaos starts.

The top brass disappear.

It makes no difference what the livery is and what colour it is if the management of incidents is poor. That is what this railway suffers from.

So, Crew displacement made to work by a roster of split working. The removal of TCS's to be replaced by robot ORM's who are lower paid and cover larger areas. The loss of experienced controllers with the move to the ROC at BSK from the raft at Waterloo. Questions over the adequate training of staff to replace the control. Lack of investment in infrastructure. The signalling loss at EH was caused by a COMs link being eaten by rodents. SnT shortages mean basic maintenance is being deferred.

At the end of the day asset management is key. Both human and bits of rail.

It is no good building shiny new overpriced track and stations if Incident Management is dire. That means building redundancy into the system.

As that costs money, it will not occur.

Shaken and stirred - Mary Grant to Porterbrook

This from Porterbrook...

Porterbrook Leasing has confirmed the appointment of Mary Grant as its new chief executive officer. Mary will be joining the company and its board on 13 September 2017. She takes over from Paul Francis, the retiring CEO who has been with Porterbrook for over 20 years.

Mary has over 20 years’ experience working in the UK and international transport sector including senior roles at FirstGroup, National Express and Eurostar International.

Phil White, chairman of Porterbrook said: “Mary has an excellent reputation within the transport sector and I am looking forward to working with her and welcoming her onto the board. Mary’s experience and knowledge of the industry will be a great asset to the company.”


SWR - master of all it surveys!

This via twitter...

Attention top to detail!