Monday, 19 April 2010

Full services to all airports - by rail

Whilst the industry boasts about strengthening services to cater for increased demand it appears that dedicated airport links are running nearly empty.

This from AirRail News...

At 13:30 Monday Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express PR spokesman Stephen Forster reported that they are running normal services to the airports, but people are asking – is it necessary?

Heathrow Express just went by. I counted 3 passengers on board. Why not run a restricted service?” asks one twitter user.

Now in the bad old days of BR someone would have taken the decision to shift some of those wasted resources to help provide additional capacity elsewhere (either directly or by freeing up trains and crew on other routes).

Alas, with today's myriad of operators and their micro-managed contracts all that matters is meeting PPM - even if the passengers have gone elsewhere.

UPDATE: This from The Master in cynical mode...

To be fair to HEx, trying to use their EMUs on reliefs West of Airport Junction wouldn't be too smart an idea.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Hangonnamo Mr Compiler...

Thought you understood PPM?

1) Heathrow Express doesn't publish PPM scores and AFAIK doesn't have a legal obligation to run anything - so as long as whatever does run keeps to time (to avoid disrupting other TOCs) they don't have to run at the usual frequency.

2) Gatwick Express & Stansted Express are measured for PPM on the timetable that is loaded into the "system" - which can be changed up to the end of the previous day. Their PPM would be measured against that.

Of course the two operators have a franchise commitment to run a certain level of service but if the DfT (prop. The Thin Controller) wants to gain a few brownie points then it can grant them permission to temporarily reduce the service and then make a boast about how green it is being by not forcing two TOCs to run empty trains around all day.

As long as they run to the temporary timetable they'll get a good PPM score (and Gordon Brown gets a better PM score...)

UPDATE: This from @BBCTravelAlert, via Twitter, at 15:25 on Tuesday...

with no flights in/out of Gatwick, the G Express tween Gatwick & London Victoria will run hourly both ways from 19.30 this evening.#ashtag

This frequency will remain in place until further notice. Morning & evening peak not affected & Brighton -Gatwick Express running as normal.

Once flights resume at Gatwick,the Express will return to its 4 trains per hour. to help incoming airline passengers to onward destinations,

trains will run though the night on a half-hourly basis each night until the backlog of passengers has ceased. yay for the Gatwick Express!

Good effort!

Monster Raving Loony - Policy achieved!

Telegrammed by Bulldog Drummond
Disappointed to see that the Monster Raving Loony Party (MLRP) has no manifesto commitments for rail in this election.

Past elections has witnessed the MRLP making special commitments to pretend branch lines are reopening, insisting timetables are sold as works of fiction as well as insisting on humane and gentle treatment for gricers.

This can only mean that the MRLP already considers the industry to be safely in the hands of loonies...

UPDATE: This from Boombasket Phasinggear Ftang Ftang Legg-out-of-bed Smythe, who is allegedly the MRLP railway spokesman...

Can I point out that our policies are firm and clear.

They include:

  • Removal of electrification within 15 years to be replaced by hydrogen fuel cell powered self propelled trains.
  • All intercity and outer-suburban services to be operated by ultra-lightweight Intercity Express Programme trains
  • Level 3 ERTMS.
And all of which are based based on DfT Rail's own Rail Technical Strategy. (Stuart, is that you? Ed)

UPDATE: This from Lord Toby Jug of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party...

If only we could get Lord Toby included in Thursday's Leaders Debate...

Rail privatisation doomed - Official

BBC reporting that state owned DB is close to signing a £1.6bn deal for Arriva.

Told you privatisation would never work.

2010 Railway Garden Competition

Evidently Sheffield is determined to win this year's competition.

Regular readers may recollect that despite the January snow the EMT station turned out this creditable performance.

But with the competition only just beginning it looks as if keen NR horticultarilists are leaving nothing to chance.

This view taken at the weekend.

Looks like Eye may have to create a lifetime achievement award.

ASLEF signs up to Twitter

@thefactcompiler welcomes @ASLEFunion to twitter!

With a bowler tip to @Andylaird25

Turn on, tune in, but do it in a 140 characters...

UPDATE: This with a bowler tip to @cbuchanancubed, via Twitter...

ASLEF Journal (p12-13) outlines plans for the union to bid for East Coast franchise on not for profit basis.

Much like GNER and NXEC then...

UPDATE: This from @ASLEFunion, via Twitter...

Currently it's just the ECML - we'd like to develop further models for not for profit, employee ownership with fellow orgs

NR board appointment fires up reformers zeal

Yesterday's Independent on Sunday reported that there is disquiet amongst NR members about the proposed appointment of Janis Kong to the company's board.

The decision is due to be rubber stamped in July at NR's Annual General Meeting but with reform to Network Rail governance mentioned in both the Tory and newly resurgent LibDem manifestos this could become a cause celebre.

Kong was a non-Exec at RBS when Fred the Shrek ran the doomed banking group and she was also on the remuneration committee that boosted the failed banker's pension pot by £20m.

NR's members, it should be remembered, are supposed to be the equivalent of shareholders in the not-for-profit company. Their disquiet is expected to be given voice at a members meeting tomorrow.

Despite these concerns NR remains bullish about the proposed appointment:

"When the board decided to invite Janis Kong to join them they did so in full expectation that a number of members would object on point of principle."

Did what!?!

The board of which real private sector company would dare treat its shareholders in such a cavalier fashion?

Thank goodness Network Rail has moved on from being an "arrogant" company.

Ashballs - Noble Lord rewrites diagrams and TTs

Much hilarity in Rosco land.

As any fule kno Virgin has invested billions in new trains (omitting to mention of course that it was the Roscos what done it!).

Evidently sauce for the goose is jus for the gander.

On Friday ATOC claimed that Virgin had laid on an additional "2,000 extra seats", largely on Anglo-Scottish services.

Well done.

A triumph for market forces and common sense, what with NR cancelling planned engineering works and all.

But what's this?

Viewers of yesterday's Andrew Marr show heard no less a figure than Gordon Brown claim that Lord Adonis was responsible for laying on the extra trains (as well as more ferries and Eurostars)!

With the above spin in mind Eye can exclusively reveal that The Fact Compiler instructed The Thin Controller to suspend his electioneering Pilgrimage of Grice and return to London immediately to sort the crisis out.

Meanwhile aviation-head Captain Deltic is understood to be chairing COBRA at this very moment.

Further examples of blatent ashballs welcome.

UPDATE: This from Capt Clarence Oveur...

Kindly note that the term is Total Aviation Person (TAP) not "Aviation Head"!

UPDATE: This from Bulldog Drummond...

So with no aircraft flying what about getting on with high speed Paris to Peking (or is it London to Lhasa) that was floated by the Chinese earlier this year?

I'm sure if we even seemed half interested Chinese State Railways would be at the Calais before HS2 even gets to hybrid bill stage.