Monday, 20 August 2012

An exciting Eye poll on VirginTrains' use of Twitter

As previously covered on Eye...

Beardie Rail has been using the @VirginTrains twitter account to encourage passengers and followers to sign an on-line Number 10 petition.

The petition asks the government to "reconsider" the award of the InterCity West Coast franchise to First Group.

Virgin Rail Group and Richard Branson have made clear that "a member of the public completely independent of Virgin has set up" this petition.

So. What is your view of this approach?

Sour grapes or listening to your customers.

You decide in Eye's exciting new survey (see right)!

Theresa May keen to make rail travel more unpleasant!

The Home Office is to consider introducing mass security screening at mainline rail stations and the Tube to scan for terrorist threats, as it launches a research brief for new technology.

The search would focus on emerging technology capable of rapidly screening huge numbers of passengers to detect explosives, guns and knives as well as chemical and biological materials.

The high volumes of passengers on the railway mean that traditional forms of screening are not possible.

Suitable screening points could be at ticket barriers, the top and bottom of escalators and platforms and the equipment could be either fixed into the station or portable for more flexible use.

Good to see that State continues to consider us all to be a threat.

No doubt this, alongside police with shooters at stations, will do much to improve the 'ambiance' and pleasure of rail travel.

No matter.

At least this will help justify the further encroachment of congestion causing 'ticket gates' across the network.

Eye wonders how on earth we managed to survive the 70s and 80s when the IRA was actually active on the UK mainland?

UPDATE: This from a Mr Malins...

No doubt this is why First won the West Coast - an "enhancement" promised by Mr O'Toole (see items below):

Fares and ticketing  Installation of automatic ticket gates at 21 stations, including the major terminals of London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime St and Glasgow Central.

A Conservative vision for the railways. Be afraid...

Oh dear!

In just 24 hours ConservativeHome has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Yesterday it reported on the growing pressure from Tory MPs to peg rail fare increases at RPI+1.

So far so good.

Today, alas, there is piece from Tim Leunig, Chief Economist of CentreForward. offering his thoughts on how to keep the cost of the railways and fares increases down.

Aside from usual suggestions from the Mad Vulcan School of Transportation Management (eg abandon electrification and HS2, close stations and lines, encourage more car use, stuff the North etc...) Leunig comes out with this particular gem:

"Create a third class on London commuter routes – standing room only. Taking seats out is much cheaper than lengthening trains and platforms. A £1 flat fare standing room only deal would make economic and political sense. Journey times are under 30 minutes, and many people are standing anyway."

Can anyone spot the abstractive nature of Loonie's proposal?

ICWC bid spat exposes industry's immaturity

The InterCity West Coast franchise excitement continues...

Both First and Virgin have continued trading blows on-line and through the media over the last couple of days.

Sir Richard Branson took to his blog on Friday to say:
The Government may as well have auctioned the West Coast Main Line on eBay: “Roll up, roll up for the Great Train Sale! Highest bidder wins. Doesn’t matter when you pay, 10 years or 15 years time will do.

“We don’t mind how much debt your company has. Deliverability not an issue. Quality not a factor. Redundancies not a problem. Roll up, roll up.”

It would have saved everyone a lot of time and effort and the taxpayer lots of money...

A member of the public completely independent of Virgin has set up an e-petition calling for the government to reconsider the West Coast Main Line franchise decision

If you want to join them and let the Government know your thoughts, we urge you to sign the independent e-petition.
A call to action that @VirginTrain's own twitter account took to heart:

Amusing to think that in December this renamed account will be tweeting on behalf of First Group! 

Such are the paradoxes of the franchising system.

Meanwhile Tim O'Toole in Saturday's Daily Mail accused Beardie of being a bad loser:
‘Branson has lost and he is off the field now,’ he said. ‘What he is saying is simply not true. We are not going to be cutting staff – staff levels will be about the same.

‘But there are two things which are particularly outrageous. Had he won, he was planning to cut twice as much as he said we would have cut. And if he had won with his bid, he would have made a huge amount of money. Maybe that explains his hysteria.’
Whilst the main protagonists continued playing Punch and Judy across the broadsheets on Sunday, it now looks as if the National Audit Office and Transport Select Committee will be scrutinizing the bids.

According to Alistair Osborne in today's Telegraph:

Margaret Hodge, PAC chairman, said she was concerned that, following bid fiascos on the East Coast line, the Department for Transport (DfT) had been “over-optimistic about passenger numbers and economic growth”.

“There is no evidence to us that the DfT has changed its spots on any of this,” she said. “It would probably be legitimate for us to look at the process they have engaged in on this bid.”

Whilst this all adds greatly to the general gaiety of the nation, is it anyway to run a railway?