Monday, 24 July 2017

Greening rides to rescue of the railway!

Good news for the railway via Justine Greening!

The equalities minister has announced that those over a certain age will be able to self define their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Eye understands that, in recognition of this momentous change, the vibrant Rosco community has already decided to self define their Pacer fleets as IEPs.

Unlike traditional IEPs the Greening IEPs will run at much slower speeds and will lack the ability to erect a pantograph, which traditionalists claim means they are nothing more than buses on rails. A spokestree for Angbrook said "Piss off bigot, if we say it's an IEP, it's an IEP."

Similarly, RDG has now decided that all services on the national network will have the ability to self define whether they are on-time or not. A spokesfish for RDG said: "Binary concepts like 'on-time' or 'late' have really had their day. Time is fluid and can be anything we say it is." There is expected to be additional benefits to this 'huge step forward', not least the complete abolition of Delay Repay.

Meanwhile, sources close to Network Rail suggest that the infrastructure giant is also considering allowing signals to self define their status. It has long been felt that certain colours are gender laden and that the old fashioned sequence of danger, caution and clear doesn't allow 'dollies' to express their true personalities, suppressed as they are under the leaden weight of patriarchal command and control structures.

Unbelievably, Theresa May's government self defines as strong and stable.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beacon Rail buys Voyager fleets

This from Beacon Rail...

Beacon Rail Leasing, a leading Pan-European rolling stock lessor, is pleased to announce that it completed the acquisition of a fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager diesel-electric multiple units from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank plc and the Royal Bank of Scotland plc.

The units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country Franchises. The fleet is comprised of 352 vehicles in 78 sets of 4 and 5 vehicle formations. 58 sets are operated on the Cross Country franchise and 20 sets are operated by West Coast.


So many questions...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sofa broken and HLOS missing

Well, well, well!

An UnHLOS, no enhancements and no Statement of Funds Available!

  1. initial Statement of Funds Available (SoFA), which will be subject to finalisation by 13 October 2017, following the further work described below. 
Not only are there no enhancements but OMR is also looking highly dodgy:
  1. Operations, Maintenance and Renewal
  2. 6  The Secretary of State accepts the advice provided to him by the ORR on the need for increased volumes of renewals compared to CP5, to improve on the outcomes delivered in the context of rising demand and better meet user priorities. However, in the context of overall public spending he is concerned about the affordability of the initial cost estimates, which do not contain an allowance for efficiencies, particularly of operations and maintenance. He is therefore initiating work to provide further assurance on the costs of these activities to provide confidence in setting the level of public funding available to the railway in order to confirm a final SoFA. 
The Revised Guidance from the Secretary of State to the ORR published at the same time also makes interesting reading. A clear could do better!

A three pipe problem Watson!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

How we used to live...

This from the 14th March debate in the Lords on GWML Electrification...

Reproduced now, only because My Lord Bradshaw made such an elegant but pointed observation:

Lord Bradshaw (LD)
My Lords, the Great Western railway electrification scheme was designed in the Department for Transport; it was specified there and the trains were ordered there. However, the new trains and the new system will not provide a faster or better service than was the case 40 years ago, when I was general manager at Paddington. In future, will the Government look very carefully at whether there are better design and procurement methods to ensure that we get a scheme that delivers benefits to passengers and saves the taxpayer money?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I do not agree with the noble Lord’s premise. I believe that the new rolling stock that I referred to will bring passenger benefits. As I am sure he knows from his experience in and vast knowledge of the area, the IEP fleet, which is coming into service on the whole route, will run in both diesel and electric modes. That will provide flexibility in the delivery and appropriate scheduling of the electrification programme, which I accept is challenging.

'Challenging' is certainly one word for it. Others include... *REDACTED FOR REASONS OF TASTE*

NR adopts the Country Mile

This from a Mr Weights and Measures...

According to the Network Rail Rail press release on the annual report and accounts:

A record £3.9 billion was spent on enhancing Britain’s railway last year, 10 percent more than in any previous year, according to Network Rail’s annual report published today. 

Almost all significant project milestones were met, although two were not – Gospel Oak to Barking electrification, and one on the Edinburgh to Glasgow improvement project. The report also highlights that the company’s exceptional safety record has continued to improve in both workforce and passenger safety.

Those 'significant milestones' were of course removed and placed further along the road by the Hendy Review!

A masterclass in avoiding the question...

This from last Thursday's Electrification debate...

Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Lab)
What steps he is taking to electrify the rail network to Swansea and further west. [900455]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling)
I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election to this House. Electrification work is continuing on the Great Western main line, but the good news for her constituents and others in south Wales is that the new generation of electric trains will arrive in Cardiff and Swansea this autumn, providing more seats and better journey experiences. That is good news for rail users in south Wales and the west country.

Remind me, what exactly was the question?

ORR explains benefits of railway disaggregation...

This from William Huskisson...

From ORR's Annual Health & Safety Report of Performance on Britain's railways 2016-17:

National SPAD Strategy
Work continues on the development of a national SPAD strategy and it is now at ready to be presented to the Train Accident Risk Group (TARG) for their endorsement before it goes to System Safety Review Group (SSRG) and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) board. This is the first of three stages. Stage one is to deliver the strategy.

Oddly no mention of UTCAA*

Would it be unkind to suggest that this litany of abbreviations reflects the bureacratic structure of a fragmented railway?

*Uncle Tom Cobleigh And All

Blockheaded blockades - Huddersfield

This from Snapper...

There's never a good time to close a railway for engineering works, but one does wonder if someone looked at an events calender when planning the forthcoming Huddersfield blockade.


The total station closure occurs on the same weekend as the extremely popular food and drink festival, which is held in the Square outside the station. As you can see from last year's event this is very well attended.


Normally, thousands would leave their cars at home and travel by train so as to be able to enjoy refreshments at the many bars which are a popular feature of the event.

We can only hope the rail replacement coaches don't have their toilets locked OOU! 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Shaken and stirred: Paul Francis

This from the Rail Forum...

Announcement from Rail Forum chair, Paul Francis:

"Some of you may be aware that I have announced my forthcoming retirement as CEO of Porterbrook Leasing.

“This will not take place immediately and therefore it is my intention, subject to the agreement of the RFEM executive, to continue as Rail Forum Chairman until our 2018 AGM.

“These are exciting times for our industry and especially the rail supply chain in the East Midlands, I want to continue as your Chairman so that we can work with government and regional stakeholders to capitalise on the huge investment that is being poured into both Classic and High Speed Rail, as well as the opportunities created through Brexit...

“I have no immediate date for leaving Porterbrook as I will be working very closely with Porterbrook’s Chairman and shareholders in the coming months as we appoint a successor as CEO. I will of course provide a further update once the name of my successor at Porterbrook has been announced.”


Interesting.

What is that sound?

That is the sound of industry CVs being polished.


Right Time Departure Please!

This from Thebel Tolzforze...

A small reminder, for anyone who might be interested?

Under the terms of the Railways Act 2005: the DfT has until midnight Thursday to let the Office of Rail and Road have the High Level Output Specification and Statement of Funds Available for Network Rail, covering Control Period 6, which starts on 1 April 2019.

Thought we'd mention it, just in case it had slipped anyone's mind?

What with all that HS2 excitement an' all.

HS2 - Midlands and North flex their muscles

This from Snapper...

Chris Grayling's late night HS2 statement to the House was interesting.

East Midlands and South Yorkshire MPs asked whether the lack of a firm date for MML electrification meant that the soon to be tendered HS2 fleet would need to be specified as bi-modes, to operate on the as yet unjuiced Chesterfield - Sheffield classic section of the new railway?

Meanwhile, those curious about the change in priorities around Sheffield & the ditching of Meadowhall in favour of Sheffield Midland may wish to ponder on the growing stature of Transport for the North (TfN).

TfN's strategy, to ensure that major Northern cities are within 30 minutes of Manchester Airport, is clearly being taken seriously within Government.

Not only was this stressed in the documents released yesterday - it was also confirmed in by Chris Grayling during his late night appearance before the House last night.

So is this just window-dressing or are we seeing a genuine shift in power and policy from Westminster to the North?

Monday, 17 July 2017

DfT to resurrect OPRAF?

This from a Mr Golding...

The Times today reports that DfT are considering creating an arms-length agency for managing rail franchises.

Those with long memories will remember OPRAF who did that very role in the late 90’s,

OPRAF’s ethical code for staff was based on a principle of ‘We Value Difference’.

In today’s angry social media age, that is something that we could do with resurrecting…

UPDATE: This from the former head of the British Rail Acronym Section...

Given the likely budget available, might I suggest that the new body is called the Strategic Franchising Authority...

TUC welcomes 'shot in arm' HS2 contracts

This from the Trades Union Congress...

Commenting on the awarding of £6.6 billion in HS2 contracts today, TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“This is a shot in the arm for Brexit Britain. It will provide thousands of decent jobs, billions in investment, and help close the north-south divide.

“HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine. The next phase of HS2 should bring jobs and investment to the parts of Britain that need them most

“Government must play its part, working with unions and suppliers to ensure that HS2 and other key infrastructure projects deliver the maximum benefit to the UK.”

DfT written statement to Parliament on contract awards here.

Good news and welcome support from the TUC.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Bangor

This is the entrance to Bangor station car park.


Good to see that in Wales, the Railway Garden plays a part in delivering the total journey experience.

Railway Garden Competition - Watford DC Lines

This from Joe Dunckley...

So many gifts in one image.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

CAF - Newport wins!

This from the Railway Gazette...

UK: Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF has selected the Celtic Business Park at the Llanwern steelworks site near Newport in South Wales as the location of its future UK factory.

Indeed.

And a big #RailwayFamily welcome to CAF.

You got to be in it, to win it!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Election of Select Committee Chairs

Tonight the Speaker announced the results of the election for Select Committee Chairs.

Most importantly, for the Railway Industry, Lilian Greenwood was elected to succeed Louise Ellman as Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

Louise had served for two Parliaments and therefore, under parliamentary rules, was unable to stand again.

Eye welcomes Lilian Greenwood, the MP for Nottingham South, to this important committee that scrutinises government transport policy and decisions.

Industry will be pleased that Lilian specifically mentioned the Rail Supply Chain in her candidacy statement:

"Promises have been made that affect almost all our constituencies, and thousands of jobs (including in the supply chain) are in the balance. As Chair I would be a strong voice for rural and urban transport improvements, as well as a critic of bad schemes."


Old railway hands will remember Lilian as both Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and Shadow Rail Minister in the previous Parliament.


A number of other Select Committee chairs were also announced this evening, all of which are relevant to our industry:

Treasury Select Committee - Nicky Morgan (Loughborough);

BEIS Select Committee - Rachel Reeves (Leeds West);

Brexit Select Committee - Hilary Benn (Leeds Central);

International Trade Select Committee - Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Education Select Committee - Robert Halfon (Harlow)

Eye suggests engaging with all the above early and often - as they may not necessarily be aligned with the government policy of the day!

Maynard on RPI and fares: "policies under review"

This PQ from Lilian Greenwood was answered today...

"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 3 July 2017 to Question 1538, on railways: fares, what plans he has to increase the cost of regulated rail fares by RPI plus zero per cent in 2018?"

Paul Maynard Answered on: 12 July 2017
"The Government recognises that the cost of travelling for rail passengers can seem high – this is why since 2014 we have taken action and capped the regulated rail fares at RPI+0%. 

"Train fare revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations and delivering the investment and massive upgrade programme currently underway, all of which passengers demand and expect.

"We of course keep policies under review."

Eye hopes an open mind means happier passengers!

CAF secures UK footprint!

This from Nottingham headquartered BWB Consultancy...

BWB, one of the UK’s leading design engineering consultants, is set to embark on significant expansion in the UK and abroad after becoming part of the global transport engineering giant CAF Group.

A multi award-winning business which delivers advice and solutions to clients in the property, development and construction industries, BWB employs more than 300 people across seven offices covering England’s main cities and has an annual turnover of more than £23m.

CAF, which is headquartered in Spain and has annual revenues in excess of €1.3 billion, designs, manufactures, maintains and supplies equipment and components for rail systems across the globe.

In addition to rolling stock, CAF provides integrated rail solutions for all types of rail systems - feasibility studies, design of civil engineering, electrification and signaling works, maintenance and system operation services.


Good news indeed.

And with the King of Spain in the UK today, who knows what else may follow...

Railway Garden Competition - Brixton

This from Matthew...

I'd like to enter Brixton into the railway Garden competition.


It's nice to see that SouthEastern have resisted the encumbrance of gentrification and instead chosen to pay homage to Brixton's weed based past with a literal interpretation