Friday, 19 December 2008

Police 5

Telegrammed by the Archer
Given the on-going delay to the IEP programme...

...and the inevitable knock-on effect to the manufacturer’s cashflow, can DafT confirm that the extended ‘Penalty Notice for Disorder Scheme’ announced by the Department today will also apply to DafT itself?

On the grounds of causing a nuisance on the railways!

Fantasy funding

Telegrammed by the General Manager
NR piles on £1.1m of debt each day across CP4

As the bosses of Network Rail passed round the celebratory steaming mugs of Horlicks (avoided) on Monday when WCML got off to a reasonably good start their collective attention doubtless turned to fighting the CP 4 settlement and thinking who is going to lend them money over the next few years.

ORR's figures show that NR's position over the next few years is dire and getting worse.

Expenditure exceeds income in all but 2013/14 and interest payments just get bigger each year, in fact they almost exactly match the total TOC premium - assuming this can be sustained.

ORR Assumptions of Network Rail’s net debt in Control Period 4
(£M 2006/7 prices) 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 Total
Opening debt 21,267 23,841 26,638 28,585 30,230 21,267
Total income -5,921 -6,138 -6,345 -6,491 -6,647 -31,542
Total expenditure 7,304 7,556 6,780 6,502 6,235 34,337
Net interest costs 1,188 1,379 1,512 1,619 1,711 7,410
Tax 2 0 0 14 10 26
Total movement in debt 2,574 2,797 1,947 1,645 1,309 10,271
Closing debt 23,841 26,638 28,585 30,230 31,538 31,538
Source: ORR Doc 329167.02 dated 4 November2008

Bold statements by NR that commercial lenders are gagging to pile cash onto this debt mountain without a government guarantee seems self-delusional.

There is no way, other than doubling fares, or even more improbably NR becoming a really efficient world-class business, that any inroads can be made into this ever-growing debt mountain.

Also the oft repeated statement that commercial lenders will be a lever for achieving better governance seems a little cart before the horse.

Any commercial lender will insist that NR changes its governance well before it antes up the cash and it may well be that the NR board won't like the messages they get told.

Meanwhile its back to bashing ORR in the hope they will hand out more dosh and postpone the need to take difficult decisions.

NatEx to sack 750

Telegrammed by the General Manager
Thousands of pissed off customers, 750 Christmases wrecked and one boss sitting pretty in a pear tree.

In this season of goodwill it will be a comfort to every Scrooge to see NatEx sustaining its unenviable reputation for customer care and people management (most recent critique Martin Vander Wyer's annual railway rant in this week's Speccie) in dumping 750 front line staff.

Selling the railway journey experience in the coming months is going to be hard work but there are much bigger issues at stake.

It clearly must not override the far higher priority of rewarding board-room excellence.

Bowker's package is equivalent to some 40 or 50 front line workers and boardroom hand-outs probably represent 250 plus workers who could really make a difference.

This is just the sort of tough management decision that has to be taken and does so much for a company's reputation.

OFFICIAL: IEP decision postponed till '09

The DfT Press Office has confirmed that it now hopes to make an announcement about the preferred bidder for the Inter-City Express Programme in the new year.

Note in "the new year" not "early in the new year".

Railway Eye statisticians are even now working out how to calibrate this measurement.

One piece of good news - the announcement is not "just around the corner"...

IEP derailed?

So it looks as if the IEP procurement fiasco has finally collapsed because Britain's broke.

Whilst we are still awaiting an announcement from Geoff Hoon here is a picture of the great man keeping his head down and drinking coffee (courtesy of The man on the Bernina Express).

Readers are invited to spot the mug.

1955 and all that

This just in from Captain Deltic...

"Rollout of the prototype Deltic - then the most powerful single unit locomotive in the world - was not the only noteworthy event of 1955.

"The Boeing B52 also entered service with Strategic air command.

"Today, the Deltic is in the National Railway Museum, but the United States Airforce is reinstating a fourth squadron of B52, known to airmen as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat er... Feller).

"By comparison with the BUFF, our IC125 is a mere strippling at 30 years old.

It will easily maintain the highest standards of service until the MML and GWML are electrified."

Thinks, wasn't the Zombie train originally called HST2? Another reason for binning this expensive farrago.

HST versus Meridian

This from Matthew Parris in yesterday's Times...

"I'm missing the big, wide carriages with generous tables, high ceilings for luggage space, and ample gangways. The new trains are claustrophobic, with a padded cabin feeling, less headroom and narrow seats. They feel like aeroplanes. The old HSTs felt like ships."

The Fact Compiler bets he didn't his file copy from aboard the nasty mobile signal leeching crates.

Frankenstein bus?

So Boris wants to come out with a brand-new bus design not provided by the market.

He wants it to be lighter than anything on the market, with innovative drive characteristics.

And he wants it to be specified by the public sector, rather than people who know how to build buses.

Holy smoke - it's a rubber wheeled IEP !

Routemaster replacement

This from Tom over at Boriswatch:

"Boris has got his vanity project!

"Are the DfT really going to be left in the sidings by the blond bus bandit?

"Poop! Poop!"

Back to reality

This from the Army Rumour Service via Tom Harris

The Fact Compiler raises his bowler to our brave boys and girls serving overseas.

The Case of the Zombie Train - Episode 2

Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Tell me Holmes, what are your latest deductions in the continuing strange Case of the Zombie Train?

Watson, it is crystal clear that if her Britannic Majesty's Government has had to defer by two years the procurement of the two aircraft carriers essential to the defence of the realm, costing £2billion each, because of the financial crisis, spending more than the cost of a carrier on the premature replacement of perfectly adequate trains with something eye-wateringly expensive and more complex than even the mind of Moriarty could devise is equally unaffordable.

Nor would an announcement that Her Majesty's Government was intending to prime our faltering economy by putting £2.5 billion of new trains into Japanese factories be received with approbation by the populus

From which I deduce that we may hear before noon today that a decision on a preferred bidder has been deferred.

Amazing Holmes!

Ring out the changes

Pagers, those mainstays of railway operations for the last 20 years, are finally being consigned to the dustbin of history.

London Underground will cease to use them from January.

Mobiles rule supreme.

Less talk more action

This gem from the January edition of Prospect Magazine

"Even America is investing in high-speed rail. It's time Britain did the same, says the transport minister"

Quite so My Lord