Thursday, 23 April 2009

TSC to interview new ORR Chairman

The Transport Select Committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing with Anna Walker, the Government's preferred candidate for Chairwoman of the Office of Rail Regulation.

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, 29th April at 2.45 pm in Committee Room 6, Palace of Westminster.

Into the limelight steps Chris Bolt!

Doomed, recession, doomed, budget, God help us all, Darling disaster and it's all the fault of that maniacal son of the manse the OESI!


Steady the buffs!

As Darling confirmed today that it really has all gone terribly wrong The Evening Standard picked up the following (with a Bowler tip to Sri Carmichael):

The cuts include £538 million from Network Rail by reducing its grant and cutting the amount spent on operation, maintenance and renewal of infrastructure.


If this is money generously gifted by DafT then of course it is free to slash and burn at will.

BUT if it is part of ORRs regulatory settlement then there may be a small, but intractable problem.

Would the ORR care to clarify?

UPDATE: This just in from the ORR...

With the Chancellor's Red Book clocking in at a whopping 268 pages, some could be excused for not picking up the following roughly half-way through:

'Saving... £538 million from Network Rail as a result of the Office of Rail Regulation setting strict efficiency targets, reducing the grant which the department pays Network Rail, delivering greater value for money from public investment in the operation, maintenance and renewal of rail infrastructure'

We at ORR however know that the devil is in the detail; and reference to our 447-page Periodic Review 2008 determinations will show just how we expect Network Rail to spend less of the UK's cash, while delivering more capacity, greater reliability and an all-round safer railway for your buck.

Goodness me. Surely the Treasury hasn't been caught out recycling old news, yet again!

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

But Network Rail's CP4 Delivery Plan, in a scanty 76 pages, makes it equally clear that Iain Coucher and chums are still wondering how they are going to close the whopping gap between what Chris Bolt says the railway ought to cost and what Network Rail's engineers say it is going to cost to provide the railway specified in the HLOS.

The general theme appears to be that something will probably turn up in the form of a big yellow deus ex machina!

After all, bonuses depend on it and ORR believes that bonuses work...

Return of beer and sandwiches?

This from Humber Business...

Rail union leaders are to hold a "crisis summit" with the Government to discuss a wave of job cuts as well as fare rises, it has been revealed.

Unions have been embroiled in increasing rows with rail firms over job cuts, ticket office closures and fares and will urge Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon to intervene during next Tuesday's meeting.

Massive national debt, taxes up and the Unions calling the shots. It's just like the old days!

Happy St George's Day

And here a homily from his Grace, Archbishop Cranmer...