Monday, 9 June 2008

My dad's bigger than your brother!

The RMT's failure to close down the EMT Connect network on Saturday has caused embarrassment to the Union and anger amongst members who lost a day's pay.

The cause of the strike is a long running dispute, inherited from Central Trains, about Sunday working.

Unbelievably a Spanish Practice dating back to BR days means that Sunday is not a rostered turn leaving East Midlands Trains reliant on "volunteer" guards to run Connect services, resulting in frequent cancellations due to non-availability of staff.

On Friday in a bullish announcement RMT leader Bob Crow claimed that more than 130 guards at four Connect depots across the TOC would strike on Saturday effectively crippling the EMT rural and inter-regional services. This was to be the first of three such actions over successive Saturdays.

Alas Saturday's display of strength turned into farce as EMT, supported by parent company Stagecoach, managed to run 70% of the 215 timetabled services and brought in 104 replacement buses from across the country to infill for cancelled trains.

After such a piss-poor RMT performance Crow-bar might at least let ACAS do their job before calling the next days inaction.

Scottish threat to Crossrail

***Rail Minister Tom Harris MP exposes how the West Lothian question is already affecting plans for an expansion in English rail capacity...***

Brown tells Minister he can't count

***The Times on Saturday had a letter from the Chief Executive of Eurostar exposing the litany of fallacies that underpin the Government's anti-electrification agenda.***

View Richard Brown's letter here

Prescient questioning

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee took evidence on the 4th June into the National Audit Office's report "Reducing passenger rail delays by better management of incidents."

Rail industry witnesses included Dr Mike Mitchell (Director General, Rail and National Networks Group, DfT), Iain Coucher (Chief Executive, NR) and David Franks (MD, National Express East Coast and an ATOC Board member).

Coucher-Tiger and Franksy made a good fist of the affair showing themselves to be on top of their brief.

One small gem crept through the rather dry proceedings.

With a delicious sense of irony Ian Davidson MP (Glasgow South) asked David Franks how delays influenced the number of assaults on rail staff.

How Franksy, who was sat next to Mike Mitchell at the time, managed to keep a straight face is unclear.

Younger readers may be unaware that in 2005 Dr Mike Mitchell was accused of of verbally abusive and threatening conduct towards a member of GNER staff.

He was found not guilty.