Friday, 19 November 2010

Villiers vignettes - On the Barbielino...

This from Sinoda...

In a telephone interview just broadcast on BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours', Cruella de Villiers appeared to suggest that Virgin Trains could lease the additional brand new Pendolino carriages, currently planned to sit in store, to help alleviate their current "Friday afternoon" overcrowding problems.

Perhaps I was just imagining it!

UPDATE: This from Transol...

I think Sinoda must have misheard.

The minister was quite clear that the new trains and new coaches to extend the old trains were not to be unwrapped until Christmas ....2012.

What she did suggest was that Virgin could simply go off and find some OTHER trains to lease!

Great more Pretendolinos, struggling to run a 125mph diagram with 110mph traction, and put on the Wolverhamptons so they can be turned back at New Street to recover the lost time.

Oops forgot everyone else is grabbing every last Mk 3 for open access or charter sets - still we could get a train with excellent provision for catering - every coach a RUB?

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Villiers didn't say Virgin could lease the additional brand new Pendolino carriages - she was far more inaccurate and her lack of understanding of her brief was breathtaking.

After VT Head of Communications, Arthur Leathley said: "We need more trains, we put to the Government a proposal to introduce many more carriages next year. Unfortunately that’s been declined so those carriages won’t now come in until the end of 2012."

Villiers commented:

"What Arthur said was very misleading – he said that I’ve been stopping Virgin from putting on extra carriages or extra trains. They are entitled to do that, if they want to do that, they can go ahead. They can go out and lease new trains tomorrow if they want to and there’s nothing in their franchise agreement that stops them doing that. The government is supportive and will help deliver new trains from April 2012 but in the interim the train operator has the freedom to go out and lease new trains and put them on the network."

So - there are trains available to be leased tomorrow, that will run on non-available paths on the WCML, and with only 16 months of a franchise left Virgin can lease these fictional trains and run them without the ROSCOs wanting any government support?

Did she dream that up on her own or was she merely badly informed by her officials?

Meanwhile on Tuesday her boss, Hammond, said that VT couldn't use the new Pendolinos and confirmed that they won't enter service until late 2012!

Is there no communication between ministers in the same Department?

Oh - and Virgin asked permission to run a relief service from London to Manchester on Fridays, which could have started yesterday if the DfT had agreed.

Sadly the dead hand of the Department prevailed so no relief ran, no doubt to the delight of cheek by jowl passengers travelling to the North West (but as it's north of Watford who in Marsham Street cares?).

Perhaps time Theresa gave up the rail brief and went back to saving British biccies from Eurocrats, a task much more suited to her... errr... evident gifts!

Hitachi's IEP PR onslaught continues...

This exciting news from SouthEastern...

To celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of High Speed, Southeastern, Hitachi Rail Europe and Eversholt Rail will be available for interviews at St Pancras International between 08.00 and 10.00 on Monday 13 December.

Good news indeed!

Presumably Hitachi will be there in force to field the difficult questions on the trains' performance.

Which should leave SouthEastern free to explain why ridership is err... 'below expectations'?

Off the brown and misses the pink.

Telegrammed by Our Man at 222 Marylebone Road
Has there been a falling out between the FT Transport Correspondent and his ever constant 'veteran railway observer' Rupert Brennan-Brown?

In his item on the refusal of Theresa Villiers to say anything about plans for Thameslink Robert is forced to rely upon the thoughts of a mere 'railway person'.

Looks like the FT has finally joined the legions amongst whom 'Rent-a-quote BB' has little allure.

No matter.

Eye suspects the real reason for Theresa's silence is that her officials have yet to tell her what they've decided.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Robert Wright, for it is he...

Dear Mr Compiler (if you don't mind the formality),

There hasn't been any falling out with Mr Brennan Brown at all.

We here at the FT have a strong stomach for his eccentric views about politics and the railway industry, amusingly tinged as they are with a boyish sense of mischief.

However, part of our authority as a newspaper depends on our wide range of sources and we occasionally go for a while without quoting some of them.

I'm sure he'll be back, even more veteran than before.