Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Shaken and stirred: New South Western directors

This from First/MTR...

FirstGroup unveiled the senior management team for the new South Western train operating company today, ahead of the franchise starting on Sunday 20 August.

In addition to Andy Mellors, previously announced as Managing Director, several senior directors have now been appointed. The senior team at the new South Western rail franchise contains a wealth of railway experience and brings experience in customer service from a world-leading airline.

Jacqui Dey has been appointed as Operations Director with responsibility for the driver, resourcing, planning, performance and operational standards teams.  Jacqui has previously held senior rail leadership roles, including Operations and Safety Director at First ScotRail. 

Gerard O’Hanlon, from FirstGroup’s franchise bidding team, will provide additional support to Jacqui, particularly in relation to planning and performance activities where we will continue to operate joint teams with Network Rail.

Neil Drury, who led the rolling stock planning in the successful South Western franchise bid, has been appointed as Engineering Director.  Neil is a Chartered Engineer who joined FirstGroup in 2004. He has had a number of roles in First Rail franchises, including Head of Engineering at First Capital Connect, prior to joining FirstGroup’s franchise bidding team in 2014. 

Alan Penlington joins from Virgin Atlantic as Customer Experience Director to lead the on-board, stations and revenue protection teams. He brings valuable experience to help transform customer experience having most recently been Head of Cabin Crew Operations and Senior Manager Customer Experience-Innovation at the transatlantic airline. 

Joost Noordewier will be Commercial and Business Development Director. Joost joined FirstGroup in 2005 and led FirstGroup’s successful bid for the TransPennine Express franchise, as well as the subsequent mobilisation of the franchise. 

Chris Cornthwaite has been appointed as Finance Director. He brings a wealth of experience to the new franchise having previously been Finance Director at First Capital Connect, as well as a number of roles supporting franchise development within FirstGroup.

Seamus Scallon, Safety Director, First Rail, will act as Safety, Sustainability and Security Director, pending a permanent appointment into this role.

Eye notes that none of the existing Stagecoach senior team are transferring over to the new First/MTR franchise.

That sound? That is the sound of corporate knowledge trickling away...

Monday, 7 August 2017

NR slaps down the Daily Star over #Fakenews

Nice use of social media by Network Rail today.

This from the Daily Star this morning...

Was followed up by this response from NR's press office...
Fancy!

Fake news from the Daily Star?

Colour me surprised.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Liverpool Lime Street

This from a slightly off route Solent&Wessex...

I've always liked the annual hanging gardens display on the approaches to Liverpool Lime Street, but this year it is particularly green, with some ground level displays on the middle and right too.



Perhaps Network Rail could spend some time during the forthcoming station closure period to tend to the greenery too?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

RSSB goes all Virtual Reality

What sort of fresh hell is this?

RSSB's 2017/18 Business Plan eschews old fashioned nonsense like photographs for vibrant avatar style imagery.

Here is the image that graces CEO Mark Phillips' forward...


My eyes... they burn!

Railway Garden Competition - Sapperton Tunnel

This from The Duke...

The p-way near Sapperton Tunnel on the Swindon Gloucester line.




Surely GWEP hasn't sucked all the money out of the Western route's weed spray programme?

Exciting news ahead of BTP merger into Police Scotland

This from The Scotsman...

Officers have begun leaving the British Transport Police ahead of its controversial integration into Police Scotland, it has emerged.

The British Transport Police Federation said a small number of officers had left to join specialist forces elsewhere in Scotland, while others were seeking transfers to England.


Fancy!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Nicky Morgan shoots two ministers!

Interesting fact!

Nicky Morgan was tasked by the last Government with assembling views from East Midlands MPs on the new EMT franchise.

This from the dim and distant past.

In fact the 12th January 2017:

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South): This time two years ago, when the Blackpool North electrification scheme faced delays and the rail Minister was a Back Bencher, he rightly demanded answers from Ministers. There is now real concern that the electrification of the midland main line will be further postponed or even cancelled north of Corby and Kettering. Will the Minister provide the House with the clarity that he sought for his constituency and give an unequivocal assurance that this key Conservative manifesto promise will not be broken?

Paul Maynard: We are continuing to work towards the key outputs that matter most to passengers. I recognise the importance of the network, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) will work on a cross-party basis to identify the key regional priorities that we want to be reflected in the new franchise. I look forward to working with the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood).


Presumably this tweet, from today, is completely unconnected?


Outstanding!

Good effort.

Outstandingly good effort!

Rail minister races to reassure the Supply Chain!

Good to see that the art of the non-answer is alive and kicking in the Department for Transport.

Or so it seems judging from this clutch of hapless responses to Stephen Hammond's pertinent questions:

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Network Rail on ensuring that the railway supply chain receives a sufficient volume of orders through to the end of Control Period 6 to its maintain skilled workforce.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): We have regular discussions with Network Rail throughout the year on a number of topics, including supply chain capability. We are currently undertaking the biggest investment in our railways for over a century and our HLOS, published on 20 July, makes clear that we expect in the volume of renewals and that funding will be available to meet this increase, subject to further work to assure the costs of this activity. This signals to the supply chain that there will continue to be demand for their services in the current and future control period.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, which projects his Department expects Network Rail to complete in Control Period 6; and what the cost will be for each such project.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): Network Rail published an update to its Enhancement Delivery Plan (EDP) on 30 June 2017. This sets out the outputs, scope and milestones for the projects that Network Rail is delivering, indicating which schemes are due for completion in CP6.

No doubt readers and the supply chain will be reassured to note that schemes originally scheduled for completion in CP6 include the, now very dead, electrification of both the Midland Main Line and Cardiff-Swansea route.

Make it up, you could not.


Hayes stands up to be counted

This from the Catholic Herald!

John Hayes, who is Minister of State at the Department of Transport, was speaking at an event organised by the think tank ResPublica, as part of their Backing Beauty project...

However, he said, “We have lost our faith in beauty, because we have lost our faith in ideals. As Pope Benedict lamented: ‘We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires.’”


Extraordinary!

A minister in this torpid Tory government who is actually willing to espouse Conservative principles.

How refreshingly Sound!


Infernal combustion at the heart of government

So that nice Mr Gove has decided that diesel cars will be phased out by 2040.

Meanwhile that nice Mr Grayling has decided to 'phase out' further rail electrification immediately.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to joined up government.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Wimbledon

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...


Tastefully placed between the NR & LU tracks.

Crossrail 2 announce like 'cup of cold sick' in North

Righteous fury from elected Northern Mayors over Grayling's backing for Crossrail 2 today:



Welcome to the Northern Showerhouse!


RSG and RDG merge

This from the Rail Delivery and Rail Supply Groups...

WORKING TOGETHER – NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN RAIL SUPPLY GROUP AND RAIL DELIVERY GROUP

  • New partnership will give supply chain a stronger voice
  • Move will ensure both groups are better joined-up
  • RSG chair Gordon Wakeford will join RDG board
  • RDG chief executive Paul Plummer will join RSG council
  • RSG council remains independent and becomes RDG’s fourth ‘strategic board’
The Rail Supply Group (RSG) and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have announced a new partnership to coordinate shared objectives better and to strengthen further the industry’s voice.

The creation of a new partnership, using the resources of RDG to better support and join-up the work of the two groups, will:
  • Maintain a clearer, independent voice for the rail supply chain within RDG;
  • Offer closer alignment and collaboration between train operators, Network Rail and their supply chains;
  • Streamline activities and avoid duplication, ensuring more efficient use of combined resources;
  • Continue to jointly sponsor groups relating to technology and skills;
  • Give government and stakeholders a ‘one-stop-shop’ for relations with the industry;
  • Give clearer focus on unique RSG activities around exports, imports and inward investment;
The arrangement, while maintaining the RSG’s necessary independence, will see the RSG become a new strategic board of the RDG and its chair will become a full member of the RDG’s board. The partnership has also appointed Programme Director Anna Del Vecchio as an industry secondee from Amey, who will ensure that the supply chain’s independence is maintained.

Notwithstanding the super-abundance of bullet points in the release, this is good news.

Not least because the supply chain lobbied to be part of the Rail Delivery Group when the body was first set up in 2011, following the McNulty Review.

UPDATE: This from George Ramshaw Curry (via the digital ouija board)...

Meanwhile back in the world of work the sons of Martha at the Railway Industry Association continue with the hard slog of actually helping British industry to export more, innovate, become more efficient and try and understand their domestic monopoly customers etc etc. 

Not to mention actually trying do do something about Network Rail renewals falling off a financial cliff edge in the last year of CP5.

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 are 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...

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Project Thor, anyone?


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