Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Sir Mervyn

Friday is the start of the Barrow Hill crank-fest extra-ordinaire 'Rail Power 2008' (22nd - 25th August).

As well as a special guest appearance by Zontar a number of named locos will be in attendance.

The Fact Compiler is personally hoping to cop a seldom seen Cl20 which appears to have been named after the Hill's very own Oddjob.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Whelk stall

It's no surprise that the economy is going to rack and ruin when Government is so profligate with our money.

The Fact Compiler received a gratuitous puff-piece release from DafT today, about Thameslink 3000, which offered the following glad tidings:

"New trains - 92 new class 377 carriages - worth around £53100m - are on order, which will be deployed on First Capital Connect services between Bedford, London and Brighton and Southeastern services between St Pancras International and Bromley South, Orpington and other Kent stations from March 2009"

This was swiftly followed by an arrow from a Rosco chum pointing out that the IEP, at £3m a vehicle, is positively good value compared to the £577m per vehicle that DafT is prepared to spend on the new Thameslink fleet!

Strangely enough the release has disappeared from DafT's website. As a service to the industry it is reproduced in full below:


Department for Transport

Passengers set to benefit from extra carriages

Passengers on one of the UK's busiest rail networks are set to benefit from new carriages, longer and more frequent trains as well as a greater choice of destinations due to changes to franchise agreements agreed between the Department for Transport and the train operating companies Southeastern, First Capital Connect and Southern Railways.

The changes are a key milestone in the wider £5.5bn Thameslink modernisation programme and mean that passengers will see:

* Increased frequency - the number of trains running through central London on the Thameslink route will increase from 8 up to 15 per hour during peak hours from 1 March 2009;

* New trains - 92 new class 377 carriages - worth around £53100m - are on order, which will be deployed on First Capital Connect services between Bedford, London and Brighton and Southeastern services between St Pancras International and Bromley South, Orpington and other Kent stations from March 2009;

* Extra seats on First Capital Connect - the introduction of additional class 319 carriages will boost more peak services to 8-car length on the First Capital Connect Thameslink route. With the class 377 and class 319 carriages, there will be an additional 1150 seats in the morning peak and 2080 seats in the evening peak on First Capital Connect services from March 2009.

* Extra seats on Southeastern - passengers travelling on Southeastern's Kent suburban routes will benefit from longer trains, providing 3700 extra seats each morning and evening from March 2009.

* More direct journeys - from March 2009, some Southeastern services will join First Capital Connect Thameslink route services, meaning passengers can travel between Sevenoaks, St Pancras International and stations in north London without changing trains.

Rail Minister Tom Harris MP said:

"We are committed to improving the travelling experience for passengers on one of the country's busiest rail routes. That's why we have secured a range of improvements, from more frequent train services, to newer trains and more seats that Thameslink passengers will benefit from for years to come."

"The changes we are making are part of the £5.5bn Thameslink programme, which will deliver a dramatic increase in capacity for passengers in London and the South East."

Notes to Editor

1. The franchise changes are part of the wider Thameslink modernisation programme. The £5.5bn Thameslink modernisation programme will transform the Thameslink network by 2015. The programme will deliver:

* Up to 50 per cent longer trains across the current Thameslink route;

* New direct services from the southern Home Counties to destinations on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes;

* A dramatic increase in capacity, with up to 12 carriage trains running up to 24 times an hour through central London by 2015;

* New trains across the Thameslink route - there will be an entirely new fleet of trains by 2015, with extra carriages providing around 14,500 extra seats each day for passengers;

* Three London mainline stations, Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge stations, will be improved, giving the stations the capacity to handle more passengers and easing bottlenecks.

* Blackfriars station will become the first station to span the Thames and by the end of 2011 the station will be able to handle 12 car trains for the first time.

* Platform extensions at 50 stations outside central London, including stations along the Bedford line.

2. First Capital Connect's extra class 319 carriages form part of FCC's current franchise agreement.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3108
Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website:

Client ref 136

COI ref 164745M


Rail Minister Tom Harris has written an article in homage to Pendolino loos.

View Tom's blog here.

Strangely the piece is entitled "'In-flight' entertainment"!

The Fact Compiler now feels obliged to offer his unreserved apologies to London Midland for his previous post.

He now understands why LM add international pictograms to their trains.

It's obviously to help modally ignorant Government Ministers tell the difference between a train and plane.

No, no, no!

With the demise of ONE and the promised end to C2C The Fact Compiler was hopeful that ludicrous names were beginning to disappear from the network.

But what's this?

London Midland sets are running round with branding that appears to say the word 'ON' (see below).

Obviously the perma-tanned geniuses at GoVia/GoAhead/GoHome believe this is smart marketing.

Alas it falls to the The Fact Compiler to disabuse them of this view.

Why for instance does the logo involve an international pictogram of a train - isn't it self evident what the vehicle is?

Perhaps it's been put there to help dim managers from the franchise's bus bandit parent?

The sooner ON comes OFF the better.

Mustn't upset the sponsors

Leafing through the latest edition of Rail Professional the Fact Compiler stumbled across the following strange headline:

"Aldridge makes mystery departure from HSBC Rail".

What's the mystery?

Big falling out at HSBC over the Rosco's future direction - Aldridge buys lawnmower!

If Rail Amateur needs further clarification perhaps the editor should speak to one of her own correspondents - one Peter Aldridge - who usually appears on pages 1-32 of the mag.

Alternatively she could try reading Railway Eye where Aldridge's departure was revealed as far back as the 26th June.

More bored (TfL)

The Fact Compiler is grateful to a number of correspondents who have offered further insights into members of the new TfL Board.

Captain Deltic offers the following additional biographical details for mystery man Kulveer Ranger:

"Isn't Kulveer Ranger Han Solo's sidekick in Star Wars prequel episode 2, 'Attack of the Privateers', in which Darth Vader's great uncle attempts to turn the Jedi Knights into a pan-galatic franchise?"

Probably not Captain but thank you for your thoughts all the same.

Meanwhile Colin Redman ventures:

"Curious you did not mention that Steve Norris is also CEO of Jarvis, who just happen to be in the track renewals business - well, when they remember not to leave bits out in front of class 91s at KX..."

Thank you Colin, Norris is actually the company's Chairman but your point is well made - unlike Jarvis's.

South Central bidders

***DfT has shortlisted the following bidders for the South Central franchise:

NedRailways - South Central Ltd, National Express - NXSC Trains Ltd, GoVia - Southern Railway Ltd and Stagecoach - Southern Trains Ltd***