Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Exciting new Eye feature: Ask Uncle Roger

Eye is delighted to announce an exciting new feature!

Introducing everyone's favourite Agony Aunt - Uncle Roger...

Our first question to Uncle Roger comes from a gentleman who lives in both Tatton and Whitehall...

Dear Uncle Roger

My friend has published an Autumn Statement.

I... sorry he... refers to £80 million in support of the Southern Rail franchise’s procurement of 130 new carriages.

Can you help me to understand what is actually being bought?

Yours Confused & Concerned, Horse Guards.

Dear Gideon.

You should not be ashamed about this, as many have asked the same question.

It is all too easy to think that new trains will arrive on the network unloved, off-lease and unlikely ever to carry passengers.

Happily, the figure of £80m you mention merely represents the DfT's best-estimate, based on experience with the IEP, of the fees consultants and lawyers will charge to specify these new trains.

Be assured that this paltry sum will deliver not one new train, ensuring sidings remain free for the storage of existing train fleets as soon as Theresa's new franchises are signed.

Uncle Roger

Have you a question for Uncle Roger? Please send to the usual address...

ITSO - What's in a name?

This from, a fulminating, Captain Deltic...

Is there a more stupid name for an ITSO compliant transport smart card, than Southern's 'the key' - note the poncey lower case.

Must add Southern's Development Director to my harangue list.

UPDATE: This from Randy Scouse Git...

You should be so lucky!

Mersey Travel is calling ours the 'Walrus'.

'Daydream Believer' would have been so much better!

UPDATE: This from Mr Reginald Slicker...

One can only commend MerseyTravel on their capitalisation of the name.

And if I may say so - Goo goo g'joob goo!

UPDATE: This from Retired Railway Manager...

At least ‘Walrus’ shows knowledge of a bit of railway history (being the ‘Fishkind’ name of a bogie engineers ballast wagon).

However, what connection that may have with ITSO and or anything else connected with it is debatable.

Unless this is forward planning for when the Mersey floods?

Autumn Statement - Christmas comes early?

So what goodies did the Chancellor's Autumn Statement contain?

Aside from causing chaos with the fares system by the late reduction of January's average regulated fare increase to RPI+1 (down from Petrol-heads eye watering RPI+3) there are one or two additional jee-jaws to delight.

The simultaneous publication of the 2011 National Infrastructure Plan lists the following in section
3.c Network Rail Schemes:

New infrastructure projects

  • North Trans Pennine electrification
  • New rail link between Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford
  • Network Rail Discretionary Fund
  • Funding for winter resilience measures
  • Bridge renewals
Note - there are no plans for additional rolling stock over and above what has already been (often and repeatedly) promised.

So once released from Thameslink the Class 319 fleet will now be expected to cover almost as much ground as Santa on Christmas Eve!

UPDATE: This from the Transport Select Committee...

Following the Autumn Statement made on 29 November, the Transport Committee will be taking oral evidence from the Secretary of State for Transport.

Wednesday 14 December 2011, 5.05 pm

Committee Room 8

Witness: Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport

Good to see that Louise Ellman and co are on their toes.

UPDATE: The DfT have also published the Logistics Growth Review today...

Good news for Freighties!

In section 2.30 DfT commits £55m of investment to developing a Strategic Freight Network:

The Government is making available funding for an investment of £55m for the Strategic Rail Freight Network (SFN) allowing delivery of schemes that remove bottlenecks and improve capability and longer term connectivity to the UK’s major ports.

These are: the Ely – Soham doubling scheme that will remove a bottleneck on the Felixstowe-Nuneaton route, improving both freight and passenger capacity and reliability on this section of the route and increasing the attractiveness of freight paths between Felixstowe and Nuneaton, reducing demand for paths on more heavily congested routes via London; and

Gauge clearance of additional rail freight routes in the Midlands between Syston Junction (just north of Leicester) and Stoke that will allow existing freight capacity to be used more efficiently by enabling the routes to carry 9ft 6in 'hi-cube' containers - which otherwise require specialist rail wagons or carriage by road. These schemes will improve access to Felixstowe and Southampton ports and the new port at London Gateway, as well as northern locations including Liverpool.

Details here.