Friday, 18 August 2017

The Case of the Green Aspect

The scene: A room at 221b Baker Street...

I say Holmes dashed bad luck about Tuesday’s early morning derailment in the middle of the Waterloo possession, eh?

Indeed Watson, the train crew behaved impeccably, but I suspect the consequences of the derailment may impact on the project’s overall timeline.

Quite so Holmes. It was nice of SWT to afford Season Ticket holders 10 days of free travel for putting up with the disruption?

A welcome gesture Watson. Now have you noted the significance of Aslef’s statement on the derailment?

Can’t say I have Holmes, in fact I’m not sure they’ve said anything about it?

That, Watson, is the significance.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Shaken and stirred: New South Western directors

This from First/MTR...

FirstGroup unveiled the senior management team for the new South Western train operating company today, ahead of the franchise starting on Sunday 20 August.

In addition to Andy Mellors, previously announced as Managing Director, several senior directors have now been appointed. The senior team at the new South Western rail franchise contains a wealth of railway experience and brings experience in customer service from a world-leading airline.

Jacqui Dey has been appointed as Operations Director with responsibility for the driver, resourcing, planning, performance and operational standards teams.  Jacqui has previously held senior rail leadership roles, including Operations and Safety Director at First ScotRail. 

Gerard O’Hanlon, from FirstGroup’s franchise bidding team, will provide additional support to Jacqui, particularly in relation to planning and performance activities where we will continue to operate joint teams with Network Rail.

Neil Drury, who led the rolling stock planning in the successful South Western franchise bid, has been appointed as Engineering Director.  Neil is a Chartered Engineer who joined FirstGroup in 2004. He has had a number of roles in First Rail franchises, including Head of Engineering at First Capital Connect, prior to joining FirstGroup’s franchise bidding team in 2014. 

Alan Penlington joins from Virgin Atlantic as Customer Experience Director to lead the on-board, stations and revenue protection teams. He brings valuable experience to help transform customer experience having most recently been Head of Cabin Crew Operations and Senior Manager Customer Experience-Innovation at the transatlantic airline. 

Joost Noordewier will be Commercial and Business Development Director. Joost joined FirstGroup in 2005 and led FirstGroup’s successful bid for the TransPennine Express franchise, as well as the subsequent mobilisation of the franchise. 

Chris Cornthwaite has been appointed as Finance Director. He brings a wealth of experience to the new franchise having previously been Finance Director at First Capital Connect, as well as a number of roles supporting franchise development within FirstGroup.

Seamus Scallon, Safety Director, First Rail, will act as Safety, Sustainability and Security Director, pending a permanent appointment into this role.

Eye notes that none of the existing Stagecoach senior team are transferring over to the new First/MTR franchise.

That sound? That is the sound of corporate knowledge trickling away...

Monday, 7 August 2017

NR slaps down the Daily Star over #Fakenews

Nice use of social media by Network Rail today.

This from the Daily Star this morning...

Was followed up by this response from NR's press office...
Fancy!

Fake news from the Daily Star?

Colour me surprised.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Liverpool Lime Street

This from a slightly off route Solent&Wessex...

I've always liked the annual hanging gardens display on the approaches to Liverpool Lime Street, but this year it is particularly green, with some ground level displays on the middle and right too.



Perhaps Network Rail could spend some time during the forthcoming station closure period to tend to the greenery too?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

RSSB goes all Virtual Reality

What sort of fresh hell is this?

RSSB's 2017/18 Business Plan eschews old fashioned nonsense like photographs for vibrant avatar style imagery.

Here is the image that graces CEO Mark Phillips' forward...


My eyes... they burn!

Railway Garden Competition - Sapperton Tunnel

This from The Duke...

The p-way near Sapperton Tunnel on the Swindon Gloucester line.




Surely GWEP hasn't sucked all the money out of the Western route's weed spray programme?

Exciting news ahead of BTP merger into Police Scotland

This from The Scotsman...

Officers have begun leaving the British Transport Police ahead of its controversial integration into Police Scotland, it has emerged.

The British Transport Police Federation said a small number of officers had left to join specialist forces elsewhere in Scotland, while others were seeking transfers to England.


Fancy!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Nicky Morgan shoots two ministers!

Interesting fact!

Nicky Morgan was tasked by the last Government with assembling views from East Midlands MPs on the new EMT franchise.

This from the dim and distant past.

In fact the 12th January 2017:

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South): This time two years ago, when the Blackpool North electrification scheme faced delays and the rail Minister was a Back Bencher, he rightly demanded answers from Ministers. There is now real concern that the electrification of the midland main line will be further postponed or even cancelled north of Corby and Kettering. Will the Minister provide the House with the clarity that he sought for his constituency and give an unequivocal assurance that this key Conservative manifesto promise will not be broken?

Paul Maynard: We are continuing to work towards the key outputs that matter most to passengers. I recognise the importance of the network, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) will work on a cross-party basis to identify the key regional priorities that we want to be reflected in the new franchise. I look forward to working with the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood).


Presumably this tweet, from today, is completely unconnected?


Outstanding!

Good effort.

Outstandingly good effort!

Rail minister races to reassure the Supply Chain!

Good to see that the art of the non-answer is alive and kicking in the Department for Transport.

Or so it seems judging from this clutch of hapless responses to Stephen Hammond's pertinent questions:

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Network Rail on ensuring that the railway supply chain receives a sufficient volume of orders through to the end of Control Period 6 to its maintain skilled workforce.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): We have regular discussions with Network Rail throughout the year on a number of topics, including supply chain capability. We are currently undertaking the biggest investment in our railways for over a century and our HLOS, published on 20 July, makes clear that we expect in the volume of renewals and that funding will be available to meet this increase, subject to further work to assure the costs of this activity. This signals to the supply chain that there will continue to be demand for their services in the current and future control period.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, which projects his Department expects Network Rail to complete in Control Period 6; and what the cost will be for each such project.

Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport): Network Rail published an update to its Enhancement Delivery Plan (EDP) on 30 June 2017. This sets out the outputs, scope and milestones for the projects that Network Rail is delivering, indicating which schemes are due for completion in CP6.

No doubt readers and the supply chain will be reassured to note that schemes originally scheduled for completion in CP6 include the, now very dead, electrification of both the Midland Main Line and Cardiff-Swansea route.

Make it up, you could not.


Hayes stands up to be counted

This from the Catholic Herald!

John Hayes, who is Minister of State at the Department of Transport, was speaking at an event organised by the think tank ResPublica, as part of their Backing Beauty project...

However, he said, “We have lost our faith in beauty, because we have lost our faith in ideals. As Pope Benedict lamented: ‘We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires.’”


Extraordinary!

A minister in this torpid Tory government who is actually willing to espouse Conservative principles.

How refreshingly Sound!


Infernal combustion at the heart of government

So that nice Mr Gove has decided that diesel cars will be phased out by 2040.

Meanwhile that nice Mr Grayling has decided to 'phase out' further rail electrification immediately.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to joined up government.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Wimbledon

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...


Tastefully placed between the NR & LU tracks.

Crossrail 2 announce like 'cup of cold sick' in North

Righteous fury from elected Northern Mayors over Grayling's backing for Crossrail 2 today:



Welcome to the Northern Showerhouse!


RSG and RDG merge

This from the Rail Delivery and Rail Supply Groups...

WORKING TOGETHER – NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN RAIL SUPPLY GROUP AND RAIL DELIVERY GROUP

  • New partnership will give supply chain a stronger voice
  • Move will ensure both groups are better joined-up
  • RSG chair Gordon Wakeford will join RDG board
  • RDG chief executive Paul Plummer will join RSG council
  • RSG council remains independent and becomes RDG’s fourth ‘strategic board’
The Rail Supply Group (RSG) and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have announced a new partnership to coordinate shared objectives better and to strengthen further the industry’s voice.

The creation of a new partnership, using the resources of RDG to better support and join-up the work of the two groups, will:
  • Maintain a clearer, independent voice for the rail supply chain within RDG;
  • Offer closer alignment and collaboration between train operators, Network Rail and their supply chains;
  • Streamline activities and avoid duplication, ensuring more efficient use of combined resources;
  • Continue to jointly sponsor groups relating to technology and skills;
  • Give government and stakeholders a ‘one-stop-shop’ for relations with the industry;
  • Give clearer focus on unique RSG activities around exports, imports and inward investment;
The arrangement, while maintaining the RSG’s necessary independence, will see the RSG become a new strategic board of the RDG and its chair will become a full member of the RDG’s board. The partnership has also appointed Programme Director Anna Del Vecchio as an industry secondee from Amey, who will ensure that the supply chain’s independence is maintained.

Notwithstanding the super-abundance of bullet points in the release, this is good news.

Not least because the supply chain lobbied to be part of the Rail Delivery Group when the body was first set up in 2011, following the McNulty Review.

UPDATE: This from George Ramshaw Curry (via the digital ouija board)...

Meanwhile back in the world of work the sons of Martha at the Railway Industry Association continue with the hard slog of actually helping British industry to export more, innovate, become more efficient and try and understand their domestic monopoly customers etc etc. 

Not to mention actually trying do do something about Network Rail renewals falling off a financial cliff edge in the last year of CP5.

Greening rides to rescue of the railway!

Good news for the railway via Justine Greening!

The equalities minister has announced that those over a certain age will be able to self define their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Eye understands that, in recognition of this momentous change, the vibrant Rosco community has already decided to self define their Pacer fleets as IEPs.

Unlike traditional IEPs the Greening IEPs will run at much slower speeds and will lack the ability to erect a pantograph, which traditionalists claim means they are nothing more than buses on rails. A spokestree for Angbrook said "Piss off bigot, if we say it's an IEP, it's an IEP."

Similarly, RDG has now decided that all services on the national network will have the ability to self define whether they are on-time or not. A spokesfish for RDG said: "Binary concepts like 'on-time' or 'late' have really had their day. Time is fluid and can be anything we say it is." There are expected to be additional benefits to this 'huge step forward', not least the complete abolition of Delay Repay.

Meanwhile, sources close to Network Rail suggest that the infrastructure giant is also considering allowing signals to self define their status. It has long been felt that certain colours are gender laden and that the old fashioned sequence of danger, caution and clear doesn't allow 'dollies' to express their true personalities, suppressed as they are under the leaden weight of patriarchal command and control structures.

Unbelievably, Theresa May's government self defines as strong and stable.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beacon Rail buys Voyager fleets

This from Beacon Rail...

Beacon Rail Leasing, a leading Pan-European rolling stock lessor, is pleased to announce that it completed the acquisition of a fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager diesel-electric multiple units from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank plc and the Royal Bank of Scotland plc.

The units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country Franchises. The fleet is comprised of 352 vehicles in 78 sets of 4 and 5 vehicle formations. 58 sets are operated on the Cross Country franchise and 20 sets are operated by West Coast.


So many questions...

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Project Thor, anyone?


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sofa broken and HLOS missing

Well, well, well!

An UnHLOS, no enhancements and no Statement of Funds Available!

  1. initial Statement of Funds Available (SoFA), which will be subject to finalisation by 13 October 2017, following the further work described below. 
Not only are there no enhancements but OMR is also looking highly dodgy:
  1. Operations, Maintenance and Renewal
  2. 6  The Secretary of State accepts the advice provided to him by the ORR on the need for increased volumes of renewals compared to CP5, to improve on the outcomes delivered in the context of rising demand and better meet user priorities. However, in the context of overall public spending he is concerned about the affordability of the initial cost estimates, which do not contain an allowance for efficiencies, particularly of operations and maintenance. He is therefore initiating work to provide further assurance on the costs of these activities to provide confidence in setting the level of public funding available to the railway in order to confirm a final SoFA. 
The Revised Guidance from the Secretary of State to the ORR published at the same time also makes interesting reading. A clear could do better!

A three pipe problem Watson!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

How we used to live...

This from the 14th March debate in the Lords on GWML Electrification...

Reproduced now, only because My Lord Bradshaw made such an elegant but pointed observation:

Lord Bradshaw (LD)
My Lords, the Great Western railway electrification scheme was designed in the Department for Transport; it was specified there and the trains were ordered there. However, the new trains and the new system will not provide a faster or better service than was the case 40 years ago, when I was general manager at Paddington. In future, will the Government look very carefully at whether there are better design and procurement methods to ensure that we get a scheme that delivers benefits to passengers and saves the taxpayer money?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I do not agree with the noble Lord’s premise. I believe that the new rolling stock that I referred to will bring passenger benefits. As I am sure he knows from his experience in and vast knowledge of the area, the IEP fleet, which is coming into service on the whole route, will run in both diesel and electric modes. That will provide flexibility in the delivery and appropriate scheduling of the electrification programme, which I accept is challenging.

'Challenging' is certainly one word for it. Others include... *REDACTED FOR REASONS OF TASTE*

NR adopts the Country Mile

This from a Mr Weights and Measures...

According to the Network Rail Rail press release on the annual report and accounts:

A record £3.9 billion was spent on enhancing Britain’s railway last year, 10 percent more than in any previous year, according to Network Rail’s annual report published today. 

Almost all significant project milestones were met, although two were not – Gospel Oak to Barking electrification, and one on the Edinburgh to Glasgow improvement project. The report also highlights that the company’s exceptional safety record has continued to improve in both workforce and passenger safety.

Those 'significant milestones' were of course removed and placed further along the road by the Hendy Review!

A masterclass in avoiding the question...

This from last Thursday's Electrification debate...

Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Lab)
What steps he is taking to electrify the rail network to Swansea and further west. [900455]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling)
I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election to this House. Electrification work is continuing on the Great Western main line, but the good news for her constituents and others in south Wales is that the new generation of electric trains will arrive in Cardiff and Swansea this autumn, providing more seats and better journey experiences. That is good news for rail users in south Wales and the west country.

Remind me, what exactly was the question?

ORR explains benefits of railway disaggregation...

This from William Huskisson...

From ORR's Annual Health & Safety Report of Performance on Britain's railways 2016-17:

National SPAD Strategy
Work continues on the development of a national SPAD strategy and it is now at ready to be presented to the Train Accident Risk Group (TARG) for their endorsement before it goes to System Safety Review Group (SSRG) and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) board. This is the first of three stages. Stage one is to deliver the strategy.

Oddly no mention of UTCAA*

Would it be unkind to suggest that this litany of abbreviations reflects the bureacratic structure of a fragmented railway?

*Uncle Tom Cobleigh And All

Blockheaded blockades - Huddersfield

This from Snapper...

There's never a good time to close a railway for engineering works, but one does wonder if someone looked at an events calender when planning the forthcoming Huddersfield blockade.


The total station closure occurs on the same weekend as the extremely popular food and drink festival, which is held in the Square outside the station. As you can see from last year's event this is very well attended.


Normally, thousands would leave their cars at home and travel by train so as to be able to enjoy refreshments at the many bars which are a popular feature of the event.

We can only hope the rail replacement coaches don't have their toilets locked OOU! 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Shaken and stirred: Paul Francis

This from the Rail Forum...

Announcement from Rail Forum chair, Paul Francis:

"Some of you may be aware that I have announced my forthcoming retirement as CEO of Porterbrook Leasing.

“This will not take place immediately and therefore it is my intention, subject to the agreement of the RFEM executive, to continue as Rail Forum Chairman until our 2018 AGM.

“These are exciting times for our industry and especially the rail supply chain in the East Midlands, I want to continue as your Chairman so that we can work with government and regional stakeholders to capitalise on the huge investment that is being poured into both Classic and High Speed Rail, as well as the opportunities created through Brexit...

“I have no immediate date for leaving Porterbrook as I will be working very closely with Porterbrook’s Chairman and shareholders in the coming months as we appoint a successor as CEO. I will of course provide a further update once the name of my successor at Porterbrook has been announced.”


Interesting.

What is that sound?

That is the sound of industry CVs being polished.


Right Time Departure Please!

This from Thebel Tolzforze...

A small reminder, for anyone who might be interested?

Under the terms of the Railways Act 2005: the DfT has until midnight Thursday to let the Office of Rail and Road have the High Level Output Specification and Statement of Funds Available for Network Rail, covering Control Period 6, which starts on 1 April 2019.

Thought we'd mention it, just in case it had slipped anyone's mind?

What with all that HS2 excitement an' all.

HS2 - Midlands and North flex their muscles

This from Snapper...

Chris Grayling's late night HS2 statement to the House was interesting.

East Midlands and South Yorkshire MPs asked whether the lack of a firm date for MML electrification meant that the soon to be tendered HS2 fleet would need to be specified as bi-modes, to operate on the as yet unjuiced Chesterfield - Sheffield classic section of the new railway?

Meanwhile, those curious about the change in priorities around Sheffield & the ditching of Meadowhall in favour of Sheffield Midland may wish to ponder on the growing stature of Transport for the North (TfN).

TfN's strategy, to ensure that major Northern cities are within 30 minutes of Manchester Airport, is clearly being taken seriously within Government.

Not only was this stressed in the documents released yesterday - it was also confirmed in by Chris Grayling during his late night appearance before the House last night.

So is this just window-dressing or are we seeing a genuine shift in power and policy from Westminster to the North?

Monday, 17 July 2017

DfT to resurrect OPRAF?

This from a Mr Golding...

The Times today reports that DfT are considering creating an arms-length agency for managing rail franchises.

Those with long memories will remember OPRAF who did that very role in the late 90’s,

OPRAF’s ethical code for staff was based on a principle of ‘We Value Difference’.

In today’s angry social media age, that is something that we could do with resurrecting…

UPDATE: This from the former head of the British Rail Acronym Section...

Given the likely budget available, might I suggest that the new body is called the Strategic Franchising Authority...

TUC welcomes 'shot in arm' HS2 contracts

This from the Trades Union Congress...

Commenting on the awarding of £6.6 billion in HS2 contracts today, TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“This is a shot in the arm for Brexit Britain. It will provide thousands of decent jobs, billions in investment, and help close the north-south divide.

“HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine. The next phase of HS2 should bring jobs and investment to the parts of Britain that need them most

“Government must play its part, working with unions and suppliers to ensure that HS2 and other key infrastructure projects deliver the maximum benefit to the UK.”

DfT written statement to Parliament on contract awards here.

Good news and welcome support from the TUC.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Bangor

This is the entrance to Bangor station car park.


Good to see that in Wales, the Railway Garden plays a part in delivering the total journey experience.

Railway Garden Competition - Watford DC Lines

This from Joe Dunckley...

So many gifts in one image.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

CAF - Newport wins!

This from the Railway Gazette...

UK: Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF has selected the Celtic Business Park at the Llanwern steelworks site near Newport in South Wales as the location of its future UK factory.

Indeed.

And a big #RailwayFamily welcome to CAF.

You got to be in it, to win it!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Election of Select Committee Chairs

Tonight the Speaker announced the results of the election for Select Committee Chairs.

Most importantly, for the Railway Industry, Lilian Greenwood was elected to succeed Louise Ellman as Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

Louise had served for two Parliaments and therefore, under parliamentary rules, was unable to stand again.

Eye welcomes Lilian Greenwood, the MP for Nottingham South, to this important committee that scrutinises government transport policy and decisions.

Industry will be pleased that Lilian specifically mentioned the Rail Supply Chain in her candidacy statement:

"Promises have been made that affect almost all our constituencies, and thousands of jobs (including in the supply chain) are in the balance. As Chair I would be a strong voice for rural and urban transport improvements, as well as a critic of bad schemes."


Old railway hands will remember Lilian as both Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and Shadow Rail Minister in the previous Parliament.


A number of other Select Committee chairs were also announced this evening, all of which are relevant to our industry:

Treasury Select Committee - Nicky Morgan (Loughborough);

BEIS Select Committee - Rachel Reeves (Leeds West);

Brexit Select Committee - Hilary Benn (Leeds Central);

International Trade Select Committee - Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Education Select Committee - Robert Halfon (Harlow)

Eye suggests engaging with all the above early and often - as they may not necessarily be aligned with the government policy of the day!

Maynard on RPI and fares: "policies under review"

This PQ from Lilian Greenwood was answered today...

"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 3 July 2017 to Question 1538, on railways: fares, what plans he has to increase the cost of regulated rail fares by RPI plus zero per cent in 2018?"

Paul Maynard Answered on: 12 July 2017
"The Government recognises that the cost of travelling for rail passengers can seem high – this is why since 2014 we have taken action and capped the regulated rail fares at RPI+0%. 

"Train fare revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations and delivering the investment and massive upgrade programme currently underway, all of which passengers demand and expect.

"We of course keep policies under review."

Eye hopes an open mind means happier passengers!

CAF secures UK footprint!

This from Nottingham headquartered BWB Consultancy...

BWB, one of the UK’s leading design engineering consultants, is set to embark on significant expansion in the UK and abroad after becoming part of the global transport engineering giant CAF Group.

A multi award-winning business which delivers advice and solutions to clients in the property, development and construction industries, BWB employs more than 300 people across seven offices covering England’s main cities and has an annual turnover of more than £23m.

CAF, which is headquartered in Spain and has annual revenues in excess of €1.3 billion, designs, manufactures, maintains and supplies equipment and components for rail systems across the globe.

In addition to rolling stock, CAF provides integrated rail solutions for all types of rail systems - feasibility studies, design of civil engineering, electrification and signaling works, maintenance and system operation services.


Good news indeed.

And with the King of Spain in the UK today, who knows what else may follow...

Railway Garden Competition - Brixton

This from Matthew...

I'd like to enter Brixton into the railway Garden competition.


It's nice to see that SouthEastern have resisted the encumbrance of gentrification and instead chosen to pay homage to Brixton's weed based past with a literal interpretation

Transport Select Committee - Production Values

This from SNP MP Stewart McDonald, via twitter...




Winning!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Pointless signs - Pwllheli

This from Wheaty...



Keep 'em coming!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Chester sabotaged!

Shocking scenes from an Eye correspondent in Chester on Friday!

This member of staff is wilfully clearing the platforms of weeds and other detritus, risking Chester's elimination from this year's Railway Garden Competition!


Good effort.

DfT opens the door to Room 101

This from The Times...

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is preparing to delay the electrification of huge swathes of the railway network amid a deepening funding crisis at Network Rail.

Plans to upgrade core stretches of track on the TransPennine, Midland Mainline and Great Western routes to run electric trains are set to be put back by years in favour of new “bi-mode” trains that run on both diesel and electricity.

Instead, the state-owned Network Rail will be told to focus on its day job of maintaining and repairing existing tracks, amid growing concern that this has been neglected in favour of “trophy” electrification projects.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Shaken and stirred - NR Silver Ghost off to Royces

This from Rolls-Royce...

Rolls-Royce today announces the appointment of Barney Wyld as Director, Corporate Affairs. Barney will join Rolls-Royce later this year in a new enhanced role.

Barney is currently Group Director, Corporate Communications at Network Rail. He is responsible for all internal and external communications, public affairs and community contact and relations. Barney joined Network Rail from Unilever where he was Global Vice President, Communications. He was initially responsible for global media relations and digital channels and, after that, global employee engagement and stakeholder campaigns. Barney began his career as a speechwriter for a frontbench MP in the UK parliament.

Barney will leave Network Rail in 'about five months time'.

Of course, as any ful kno, some of Royces most important engineering facilities are to be found in Derby - which just happens to be the city at the Heart of the Railway industry!

Yet further proof, should it be needed, that all roads ultimately lead to the Shire. That is all.

Railway Garden Competition - Finsbury Park

This from Adam the Gardner...

Just south of Finsbury Park:


What a splendid scene of neglect.

Railway Garden Competition - Vauxhall

This also from a Mr Greg Tingey...

Vauxhall – between the Windsor Lines.


More please.

Railway Garden Competition - Stratford

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...

Stratford – westbound Central line is at left of picture, which is taken looking East (ish) – the Buddleia is growing up a good couple of yards or so!


Keep 'em coming.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Vote for the new Chair of the Transport Select Committee!

Time for an exciting new Eye poll!

Using your skill and judgement, select who you think should be the new Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

These are the Labour runner and riders, in no particular order (I see what you did there. Ed):

  • Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South); 
  • Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South); 
  • Geraint Davies (Swansea West) 
  • Clive Efford (Eltham); 
  • Gavin Shuker (Luton South)
Note: The honour of Chairing the Transport Select Committee falls to the Red team, in line with Parliamentary arithmetic and as agreed today (alternative colours can be found on different select committees).

The poll is on the right hand menu bar...

Remember: Vote early, vote often!

Rachael Maskell MP - new Shadow Rail Minister

A big Railway Eye welcome to the new Shadow Rail Minister Rachael Maskell!



Ms Maskell is the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for York Central and was first elected for the seat in 2015.

Biog details from Rachael's website:

Rachael graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in physiotherapy in 1994. On starting work, she rapidly became a trade union rep in the hospital, going on to becoming a Regional and then National Official for Unite, where she led many campaigns and was a strong voice in speaking out for those she represented.

On the national stage, Rachael led the union’s equality agenda, campaigning against discrimination and for equal pay. She then spent seven years representing the charity sector on improving voluntary organisations and the opportunities for those that work in the sector....

In September 2015, Rachael was appointed as a Shadow Defence Minister for Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans and served in this position for nine months before being appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2016.

Eye understands the portfolios for the rest of the Shadow Transport team are still being finalised.

RIA socks it to the man!

RIA supremo Darren Caplan has taken to Conservativehome in a push for more Treasury funding.


In the sponsored post Caplan argues:

An estimated shortfall of £500 million in Network Rail’s budget over the final 20 months of Control Period 5 is already translating into significant falls in renewals demand for contractors, primarily in the track, signalling and consultancy disciplines...

The problem we’re facing currently is particularly acute, because of high expenditure in the early years of the Control Period and partly because of increases in renewals unit rates. As a result, suppliers are reporting falls in demand of between 20 per cent and 45 per cent: this is already resulting in redundancies, short-time working, and reduced or frozen graduate and apprenticeship recruitment in the sector.

Furthermore, it is possible that some smaller or niche suppliers may not survive until Control Period 6 (which starts in April 2019) and some larger suppliers may choose to use resource in areas where there is a more stable workload – especially in the resurgent overseas railway market. This would reduce the supply chain available to Network Rail and potentially increase future costs....

So we hope the Treasury, and a supportive Chancellor, is willing and able find a way to address the current shortfall. Moving forward to a suitable funding mechanism needs to be found which avoids another repeat of the current situation again in five years’ time.

Indeed.

Although we might be in with more of a chance if NR hadn't already blown the CP5 budget...


Shaken and stirred: Andy Mellors

This from First Group...

FirstGroup and MTR announce that Andy Mellors has been appointed as Managing Director of the new South Western rail franchise, which launches on 20 August.

Andy Mellors has 25 years of experience in the industry. He has held a number of senior leadership roles since joining FirstGroup in 2002 and is currently Engineering Director and Deputy Managing Director at Great Western Railway, having previously held a similar role at First ScotRail. 


A good appointment and a loss to Great Western Railway


Monday, 3 July 2017

Branson outlines East Coast strategy - Shocker!

This from @Virgin...


Indeed.

Good effort @Virgin and an interesting picture choice.

Shaken and stirred: Long appointed CEO G&W (Freightliner)

This from Freightliner...

LONDON – Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) today announced the appointment of Gary R. Long as Chief Executive Officer of its UK/Europe operating region, which is led by the UK’s Freightliner. He succeeds Russell Mears, who will transition to the role of Senior Advisor in the third quarter of 2017.

Long was President and CEO of the North American freight railroad holding company OmniTRAX, Inc., prior to joining G&W in 2013. He has nearly 35 years of transportation industry experience, including roles related to rail, motor carrier, port, maritime and intermodal terminals, and currently heads one of G&W’s U.S. operating regions. “Gary’s strong operational, commercial and management background in the rail, trucking and maritime industries make him particularly well suited to lead G&W’s UK/Europe businesses,” says Jack Hellmann, G&W Chairman, President and CEO.

Eye welcomes the news of Mears' 'transition'. Whatever that may mean.


Hong Kong and UK railway procurement

Eye notes with interest that companies owned by the Chinese state are bidding for HS2 contracts.

Meanwhile, the same Chinese state is adopting an increasingly authoritarian approach towards Hong Kong citizens and has announced it has abandoned the joint declaration with Britain; the 1997 deal which guaranteed Hong Kong’s way of life and granted it a high degree of autonomy until 2047.

As a nation we still have a duty of care to the people of Hong Kong.

Whilst our options may be limited, it would be a great shame if our government rewarded China for this breach of faith with a slice of Britain's railway, or used UK taxes to procure Chinese manufactured equipment for HS2.

Just saying.

UPDATE: This from Howard Wade...

Having insisted on bidders for the West Coast Partnership including experience of high speed operations DfT seems to be taking a generous view of 'high speed' in the case of the Chinese team. 

The 300km/h plus experience of Trenitalia (FirstGroup) and SNCF (Stagecoach/Virgin) contrasts with the 200km/h quoted on the Guangshen Railway web-site.

'But Minister, think of the embarrassment if there were only two bidders for this flagship franchise'.

Friday, 30 June 2017

15,000 rail staff trained by Samaritans

This from the Samaritans...

15,000 rail staff trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention

Around 1 in 6 rail staff is now trained to prevent people taking their lives on the railway, as part of the suicide prevention partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider rail industry. Potentially life-saving interventions are increasing at the same time.

Between April 2016 and the end of March this year, 1,593* interventions were made across Britain’s rail network by staff, British Transport Police, local police and the public, an increase of 40 percent on the previous year.

In the same period, suicides and suspected suicides on the rail network dropped from 253 to 237**, showing a decline in rail suicides for the second year in a row. This is a fall of 18 percent in two years and 2016/17 represents the lowest yearly figure since 2010.


Good effort.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Alstom gears up for UK manufacturing

This from Alstom...

Alstom today opens the biggest and most sophisticated centre for train modernisation ever in the UK. In a major boost to the rail industry in the North West of the country, this facility was officially opened by Lord Prior of Brampton – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and some of Alstom’s newest apprentices and graduates.

Of course, as any ful kno, Alstom are also hoping that the Widnes facility will give it the edge when bidding to supply new trains into the UK.

So it is good to see Alstom joining Hitachi and Bombardier in putting its money where its mouth is.

Come on Siemens, your turn next. (Unusual for the Germans to be late to a party. Ed)


The Case of the Chained Hound

The scene: A room at 221b Baker Street...

I say Holmes, what do you make of that whole VTEC thing? Pretty bullish of them to take so many hits on the nose?

But Watson, did you not notice the significance of Stagecoach’s reference in their market statement to Independent Economic Regulation?

Can't say I did Holmes, in fact I'm not even sure I saw the ORR mentioned at all.

That, Watson, is the significance.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Virgin déjà vu!

This from E. L. Bowe...

Stagecoach's apparent sang froid in the face of the Virgin Trains East Coast losses is easily explained - they have been here before.

An infrastructure owner fails to deliver upgrades vital to an ambitious intercity franchise plan?

Sounds familiar? Of course, it's the West Coast Route Modernisation debacle all over again.

True, Stagecoach and Virgin don't have the nuclear option of the WCML PUG2 contract which could have holed Network Rail below the waterline, but that's not needed when Network Rail is on the job, with vital capacity schemes like freight loops, Werrington grade separation and Woodwalton four tracking are sliding to the right and are now well into the second half of CP6 .

We'll know it really is groundhog day when Mr Kipling is recalled to descope the scheme and devise a rescue timetable.


UPDATE: Ministerial roles and responsibilities

Latest list of ministerial roles and responsibilities:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Oversight of all areas
  • EU Exit

Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP
  • Legislation Minister, and Lead Minister for Parliamentary Liaison and Coordination
    • Package Holiday Bill
    • Autonomous and Electric Road Vehicles Bill
    • Spaceflight Bill
    • Contingency planning EU Exit
  • Maritime, including London International Shipping Week
  • Skills
  • Taxis

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Dr Jesse Norman MP
  • Strategic and local roads
  • Road freight and safety
  • Buses
  • Cycling
  • Light rail
  • Devolution, including Northern Powerhouse
  • Environment and Technology
  • Housing

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Paul Maynard MP
  • Rail
  • Crossrail
  • Smart Ticketing
  • HS2 Policy and Legislation
  • Accessibility (across all modes)
  • Rail Security

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Lord Callanan
  • Aviation
  • International relationships
  • Security
  • Legislation in the House of Lords


East Coast - a franchise that keeps on giving

Stagecoach have published their results today.

And they make painful reading, with the company recording an £84.1m exceptional charge to provide for anticipated losses under the VTEC contract over the next two years and a £44.8m non-cash write down on the franchises value.

Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said: “We are engaged in discussions with the Department for Transport regarding our respective contractual rights and obligations under the current Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and reflecting the reprioritisation of Network Rail's infrastructure programme. 

"However, separately we have made financial provisions to reflect the short-term outlook for that business over the next two years, including in view of the weak growth environment affecting the UK rail sector as a whole. 

"We are disappointed to report losses at Virgin Trains East Coast. However, I am confident that we can return the business to profitability and build on the significant benefits we have delivered to date for customers and taxpayers."

Stagecoach remains optimistic that the franchise will be profitable by 2019.

Of course much of this may depend on whether NR can deliver on the upgrades to the ECML it promised in CP5? 

Oh, and a recast of the proposed Thameslink timetable?

We shall see.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Humza, I'm not sure that this is a great idea.

The SNP has decided to disaggregate the BTP!

Of course even in Scotland, it is rumoured that, fine Malts are watered down.

Why would you do this?

Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Tom Winsor, Philip Rutnam and Bernadette Kelly please note:

HANDS OFF OUR BOBBIES!

TSC: Farewell Ellman - runners and riders

This from Roger Ford...

Sad news from Westminster.

Under Parliamentary rules Select Committee chairs are limited to two Parliamentary terms, which means that a replacement must be found for Eye's favourite inquisitor Louise Ellman (Didn't we do this back in April? Ed)

Her modest, almost diffident, demeamour in the chair of the Transport Select Committee concealed a shrewd grasp of the issues and an interrogation technique which, unusually, generated more light than heat.

An abiding pleasure is her, and her Committee's dissection of DfT Permant Secretary Philip Rutnam over the Great Western Electrification Programme.

At her hearings you knew someone was in trouble when she gave them that quizical look over her spectacles before asking a seemingly simple question, which was often almost impossible to answer honestly without political fall out.

Louise - the railway industry will miss you!

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Eye understands that the following MPs are likely to appear on the ballot to be Labour's new chair of the Transport Select Committee:

  • Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South);
  • Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South);
  • Clive Efford (Eltham); and
  • Geraint Davies (Swansea West)
Of course Eye is completely non-partisan about this election, so may the best man win! (Which in this case is Lilian Greenwood - a noted friend to the railway and its supply chain over many years. #JustSaying. Ed)

Alstom obtains ISO37001

Good news from Alstom...

Alstom obtains ISO 37001 certification for its anti-bribery management system

27 June 2017 – Alstom has obtained the first AFAQ ISO 37001 certification awarded by AFNOR Certification following an audit carried out between March and May 2017 at seven sites in France and Europe, confirming its commitment to fight corruption.

The international standard ISO 37001, introduced in October 2016, advocates a series of measures to help organisations of all sizes, both private and public, to prevent, detect and tackle bribery through the implementation of an anti-bribery management system.

Move along people, nothing to see here.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Khan sets his face against railfreight

This from Bruce Grove...

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set out his plans for supporting railway investment in the regions.

His draft transport strategy calls for upgrades to routes outside London so that freight services can be diverted away from the capital, making space for extra passenger trains.


At this rate he’ll be lobbying for HS3 next!

Sadly no mention of rail’s role in delivering the construction materials he needs for all those new homes, offices and cycle lane he’s planning to build.

Crossrail 2 anyone?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Farringdon

This from a Mr Mike Wallis...



Keep 'em coming!

Gibb Report published

Chris Gibb's report into Southern's performance has been published.

It's a chunky 163 pages so will take some reading.

However, some of the headline findings here:

  • Industrial action is the main cause of problems
  • Unions should accept ORR regulates safety and should work with GTR to modernise working practices
  • Need for NR to establish a System Operator function (done)
  • Need for two track timetable at night on BML to enable maintenance (done)
  • Electrify Uckfield (see relevant appendix)
  • Withdraw the 442s (done)
  • Transfer East Croydon - Milton Keynes to TfL Overground, and Ashford - Hastings to SE franchise
  • Sort out Thameslink 2018 train stabling, provide for future stabling to handle more trains
  • Review Thameslink driver depot strategy
  • Restart stalled station capacity schemes at Victoria, Gatwick and East Croydon
  • Improve despatch at Victoria, London Bridge and Brighton
  • Improve suicide prevention
  • Implement Thameslink 2018 plan in small stages between Dec, 17 and Dec, 18
  • Review off peak and small station service levels
  • Align TOC and NR incentives and targets using joint delay repay
  • Set up 2018 Thameslink industry readiness board (done)
Eye understands not much has been redacted from the final report (although Appendix 9 containing 'Recommendations regarding the GTR franchise agreement' is missing).
 

Electrification benefits explained!

Good news for fans of electrification!

This from the Scotsman...

Plans to close Breich Station in West Lothian, used by just three passengers a week, have been announced by Network Rail. 

The move has been prompted by the £1.4 million cost of replacing its footbridge as part of electrification of the line, which would be saved. 

It is understood the station is likely to have stayed open otherwise.

The Sparks Effect, indeed!

Just imagine how many more of those annoying station things we could close if NR electrified the entire network!

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

If the clever traction engineers at Derby can fit an aluminium tube with seats and air conditioning and braking equipment and doors and bogies and lots of clever electronics and charge £1.2 million a throw for an Aventra vehicle how on earth can civil engineers justify £1.4 million for a footbridge? 

And does that include leaning-on-a-shovel-looking time?


South Eastern and West Coast Partnership bidders

This from the DfT...

South Eastern franchise

The companies which want to run the next South Eastern franchise are:

  • South Eastern Holdings Ltd, a joint venture company that on franchise award will be wholly owned by Abellio Transport Group Ltd and East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd
  • London and South East Passenger Rail Services Lrd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia Ltd
  • Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group plc
  • Trenitalia UK Ltd, wholly owned by Trenitalia SpA

West Coast Partnership franchise

The WCP will be responsible for services on the West Coast Main Line from April 2019 and will design and run the initial HS2 high speed services between London and Birmingham from 2026.

The shortlist contains bidding consortia which sees UK rail network experts working in partnership with companies that operate high speed railways around the globe, supported by businesses which have an excellent track record in customer services.

They are:
  • First Trenitalia West Coast Ltd, a joint venture between First Rail Holdings Ltd and Trenitalia SpA
  • MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTR Corporation (UK) Ltd and Guangshen Railway Company, with the following key sub-contractors:
    • Deloitte MCS Ltd
    • Panasonic Systems Europe
    • Snowfall AB
    • Trainline.com Ltd
    • WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff
  • West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group plc, Virgin Holdings Ltd and SNCF C3
Can't help but feel that DfT must be disappointed by yet another small field, containing mostly the usual suspects, for these key competitions.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

DfT Ministers - Roles and Responsibilities

Here are the published roles and responsibilities of the refreshed DfT Ministerial team:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Overall responsibility for the Department’s policies
Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes MP
  • Highways England
  • Modern Transport Bill
  • maritime (including Maritime and Coastguard Agency)
  • maritime security
  • freight and logistics
  • environment and technology
  • skills and innovation
  • built environment
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State (Rail Minister) – Paul Maynard MP
  • rail (including housing development)
  • rail security
  • light rail
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State – Jesse Norman MP
Responsibilities to be confirmed but likely to include:
  • HS2
  • devolution including Northern Powerhouse
  • sustainable accessible travel (including walking and cycling)
  • smart ticketing
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State – Lord Callanan
Responsibilities to be confirmed
  • Transport spokesman in the House of Lords 
A big Railway Eye welcome back to Paul Maynard (and note the 'housing development' role in Paul's remit).

First/MTR suffers from premature evacuation - Official

Good news from the Shire this morning!

The great and the good are gathering in Derby for an announcement about an order for 750 new 'Aventura' vehicles for the London and South Western franchise, worth £895m

This from First Group:

PRESS CALL: Announcement of South Western rail franchise rolling stock procurement

FirstGroup and MTR will take over the South Western rail franchise from 20 June 2017. This is an opportunity to find out more about the new rolling stock being planned for the new franchise, with new trains to be built in the UK and introduced into service from mid-2019.

Members of the reality based community will of course realise that the new franchise is due to start on the 20th August, rather than June.

No matter.

Regular readers of Eye will recognise today's announcement from this, posted back in April...


Meanwhile here is a tip for other rolling stock manufacturers without a UK footprint:

You've got to be in it, to win it!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Windsor and Eton Central

This from Windsor Lad...

Windsor and Eton Central last week:



A sorry sight these days, especially when compared to the Riverside station.

Railway Gongs - Queen's Birthday Honours

Some of those honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honour's list...

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Ms Alison Mary MUNRO (MRS REEVES)
Managing Director, Phase 2, HS2 Ltd. For services to the Rail Industry.

Petra, Mrs WILKINSON
Head, Transport Security Co-ordination and Operational Response, Department for Transport. For services to Transport Security.

Order of the British Empire
Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Roger Toby Soames HARGREAVES
Director, Hybrid Bill Delivery, High Speed 2 Ltd. For services to Transport.

Ms Linda Jean MILLER
Project Manager, Crossrail. For services to Engineering and to Promoting Gender Equality.

Ms Wendy Patricia SPINKS
Commercial Director, St Pancras International Station. For services to Rail.

Order of the British Empire
Members of the Order of the British Empire

Babak ERFANI
Chairman, Archway - the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network. For services to Network Rail and Diversity in Transport.

Patricia Lorraine, Mrs THOMAS
HR and Redeployment Adviser, Transport for London. For services to Transport in London and the community.

Order of the British Empire
Medallist of the Order of the British Empire

Steven Barry GREENWOOD
Special Chief Inspector, British Transport Police. For voluntary service to Policing.

Miss Ann STEWART
For voluntary service to the Arts, Healthcare and Steam Railway Preservation in London, Edinburgh and Derby

Good effort.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Eye prepares for Brexit!

An Eye chum in Europe has sent the following screen grab...


Hopefully RENFE and CAF are regular browsers...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Shaken and stirred - David Brown to Northern

This from Northern...

David Brown has been appointed as Managing Director of Arriva Rail North Ltd which operates the Northern rail franchise.

David, who is currently Chief Executive at Transport for the North, will take up his role at Arriva during September and will succeed Alan Chaplin who has been Acting Managing Director since February.

An interesting case of gamekeeper turned poacher!

Of perhaps greater interest is what this says about TfN...

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Crumbling Edge of Something...

No comment.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Blackburn

This from Kettledrummle...

As you will see Blackburn is well on track to achieving "garden" status. Unfortunately what was in the 4 foot where the train has stopped was not so green.


Probably better classed as fertiliser!

Railway Garden Competition - Eastleigh

This from Rover...


Keep 'em coming.

Rail minister returns!

No. Not that one.

Claire Perry, who is now a minister at BEIS looking after the Industrial Strategy.

A positively glacial formation of a new government.

Strong and stable my arsenal.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Dust settling - GE2017

This from Daisy Hill...

Well that was interesting!

Grayling returned to transport following a very minor reshuffle.

We await news on who will be the rail minister.

Meanwhile,  those wondering what the election result means for transport policy are reminded that Northern Ireland's railways are both state owned and vertically integrated.

Eat your heart out Jeremy Corbyn!