Monday, 16 October 2017

Thin gruel at DfT threatens Open Access!

Exciting news from Great Minster House!

This important announcement seen today…



We may safely assume that DfT's former chilly support for on-rail competition, will now be as stone-cold as their canteen food.

Hitachi goes on the front-foot!

This, from Hitachi, is impressive...


How many other suppliers would have done this and so quickly?

Great Western IEP Launch - the highs and lows...

A day of mixed blessings…














To put the carping to one side, eight years after the contract was originally signed the new trains are finally entering service. 

Therefore, on balance, very good news!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Pointless signs - East Midlands Parkway

Not so much a Pointless Sign…


…as a sign that missed its own point.

Wolmarried!

Wolmar wed today!


Any suggestions that this is a publicity stunt prior to the publication of his new book 'Railways and the Raj' have been strongly denied.

'Railways and the Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India', is being launched at Daunt Books on the 30th October. Priced at a very reasonable £25, it is available… (That's quite enough gratuitous puffery, Ed).

Many congratulations to the happy couple: Deborah and Christian!

Railway Pride - Hampton Court

This from a Mr Penson...

What a reassuring sight to greet you on arrival at Hampton Court's platform 2.


As Henry Francis Lyte observed: 'Change and decay in all around I see'.

The Case of the Silent Krankie

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

I am sure Watson, that you will have noted the significance of the Scottish Statement of Funds Available

But Holmes, the Scottish SoFA has yet to be published

That, Watson, is the significance!


Friday, 13 October 2017

Railway Pride Restored - Belper

This from the Weaver…

'Railway pride restored in Belper - thank you to all involved'.

Older Eye hands may remember this image from Belper in September.



Great joy!

Pictures from today!




Railway Pride is restored in Belper.

A reminder, as the late great Noel Coward might have said…

Railway Pride has been handed down to us.
Railway Pride is a flower that's free.
Railway Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.


Good effort!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Money behind SoFA bigger than expected!

Much rejoicing over the size of the Statement of Funds Available!

A cool £48bn for CP6, and apparently almost all of it on OMR.

Plaudits to RIA, RSG, RDG, RFG, RFEM, NR etc… for a job well done.

The devil of course will be in the detail!

Meanwhile, supply chain colleagues, SHARPEN YOUR PENCILS!

And then sharpen them again. And possibly still further!

Alas, there is a dark cloud…

Cynical Eye readers have been asking whether the disclaimer found on the government website this morning, announcing the SoFA allows DfT wriggle room?


Worrying if true!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Pointless signs - Emergency Electrification!

A welcome return for Eye's occasional series of Pointless Signs!

This from Steady as She Goes…



Emergency electrification?

Has someone just discovered 'the Reading area' needs to be juiced?

Steve Marshall RIP

Captain Deltic writes...

I was saddened to learn of the death of Steve Marshall at the early age of 60.


Steve took over as Chief Executive of Railtrack when Gerald Corbett resigned, under pressure from a pusillanimous board, a month after the Hatfield derailment in October 2000.

As Railtrack's Finance Director he had been in the thick of the Company's battles with Rail Regulator Tom Winsor over the settlement for its second Control Period, against a background of the cost of the West Coast Route Modernisation spiralling out of control and performance  reacheing new lows after Hatfield. To cap it all a new Chairman with zero railway experience was appointed.

Then, in October 2001, transport Secretary Stephen Byers forced Railtrack into Administration. While his Chairman prevaricated Marshall resigned immediately, agreeing to stay on until a replacement was appointed in March 2002.

His immediate concern was to obtain compensation for his shareholders, which eventually came to pass. During this second drawn out battle  he continued as a non-executive director of the residual Railtrack company.

Most of my contact with Steve was during this turbulent period. It could not have been easy for a reserved  finance man to be pushed into a high profile public position.

To me he was the only player to emerge with dignity from the enforced collapse of Railtrack, which was reflected in his subsequentlly successful career.

Rail and Air Quality crawls up the agenda

This written answer from the Rail Minister

Andy McDonald(Middlesbrough) Asked on: 12 September 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the announcement of 26 July 2017 on the end of sales of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, what his policy is on the use of diesel trains after that date.

Paul Maynard Answered on: 09 October 2017
We are encouraging the railway industry to improve air quality by proposing solutions that reduce emissions from trains and also to develop innovative solutions around future fuel technologies such as hydrogen and battery power. In the nearer term, there are currently a number of new bi-mode trains being delivered or on order. The rail industry expects rolling stock to typically have an expected life in the range of 30 to 35 years. There is no policy at present on the use of diesel trains post 2040.

The key words appear to be 'no policy at present'. Developing...


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

World's longest serving TOC MD speaks!

This from Arriva CrossCountry…

"An innovative partnership has been launched in the North East to coincide with the start of ‘Rail Week’, where the rail industry and educational establishments come together to promote careers in the rail sector.

"Embracing the regions proud legacy of rail engineering and operational history, Britain’s largest train operator, CrossCountry, and the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (Cont p94…)




"CrossCountry’s Managing Director, Andy Cooper, said: “This partnership is a great opportunity for us all to work together to help the Academy’s students gain some real-life railway experience, which will add true value to their knowledge of the rail sector. The North East was the birthplace (Also cont page 94…)

Longevity is evidently the father of loquaciousness!

None the less. Good effort!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Wales joins Scotland in rejecting DOO

Eye hears, lots of Welsh voices in Marsham Street today.

No matter.

Meanwhile this from Andy McDonald, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport:


That sound? That is the sound of the DfT and every TOC management team in England sobbing.

Railway Garden Competition - Norwich

This from a Mr Ed Starr…


Perhaps a special award could be made to Network Rail for their rather splendid water garden feature in platforms 2/3 at Norwich station?


What an unbelievable disgrace!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Railway Pride - Beeston

This from a Mr Ed Starr…

My entry to your exciting competition comes from Beeston in Nottinghamshire.



Which apparently also has a Sealink terminal!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Grayling to face Transport Committee on 16th October

This from the Transport Select Committee

Planned electrification on railway lines scrapped

In the first public evidence session for the Committee, MPs will unpick the thinking behind policy changes by the Department for Transport, including the scrapping of planned electrification on railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North of England.


Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, commented:

"The new Transport Committee wants to get to grips with the rationale for Department for Transport decisions. We want to understand the Department's thinking – get into the nuts and bolts of why they have made recent changes to policy. 

"For example, the Government announced it would scrap electrification of several high profile routes including projects between Kettering and Sheffield, Cardiff Central and Swansea and Oxenholme and Windermere. Transpennine electrification is also likely to be 'discontinuous'. Members of the Committee will want to know how the Department reached that decision, and why.

"The Secretary of State should expect to be asked how the public is served by current transport policy, whether the passenger is a disabled person seeking wheelchair spaces on buses, a regular user of the railways, or seeking updates on investment in transport in their region. 

"The Transport Committee intends to scrutinise Department for Transport decisions which impact lives across the UK, every day."

Eye notes that Lilian Greenwood is the MP for the Midland Main Line, whoops, sorry… Nottingham South.

Captain Deltic calls Andy McDonald to order!

This from report on a Labour Party conference fringe meeting...

While Labour didn’t want to “recreate British Rail”, Mr McDonald asked the audience not to decry the old days too much, arguing BR did an excellent job despite declining passenger numbers and low investment in its latter years.

Captain Deltic snorts, "the man's a crypto privatiser parroting the well-worn line of a declining industry!

"Ridership in 1983 stood at 18.3 billion passenger miles, Ridership in 1988/89 was 21.3 billion passenger miles. The ridership graph clearly declining rapidly upwards.

"As for low investment. East Coast main line electrification, new freight locos and wagons, 4500 new passenger vehicles ordered in the 10 years before privatisation etc etc.

"However, on reflection this resurgence did happen under Margaret Thatcher so I can see a certain sensitivity."

Details of Alstom Siemens merger

Headlines from today's Alstom/Siemens merger announce.

  • Signed Memorandum of Understanding grants exclusivity to combine mobility businesses in a merger of equals
  • Listing in France and group headquarters in Paris area; led by Alstom CEO with 50 percent shares of the new entity owned by Siemens
  • Business headquarter for Mobility Solutions in Germany and for Rolling Stock in France
  • Comprehensive offering and global presence will offer best value to customers all over the world
  • Combined company’s revenue €15.3 billion, adjusted EBIT of €1.2 billion
  • Annual synergies of €470 million expected latest four years after closing
Details here.

All eyes now on Bombardier

UPDATE: Reuters has a good video primer on today's announcement here

What does the Siemens/Alstom merger mean

Exclusive insight from Eye's man at today's press conference!


Ties abolished.

(You're fired! Ed)

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Railway Pride - Pewsey

This from Pewsey Snapper…

Might I enter Pewsey into Eye's exciting new contest?

All the criteria are met including:

Faded sign

New pole


As an added bonus there are some ancient yellow stars stencilled on the sign.


Can anyone remember what they commemorate?

UPDATE: This, unbelievably, from the late World of Sports star Dicky Davies

Perhaps these stars are the relics of a long lost people from Wiltshire and the Salisbury Plain.


Ones that transported boxes (reliably!) unbelievably long distances using what are now ancient technologies.

I think they were called diesel-electrics!

UPDATE: This from Strawbrick

It might help jog a few more memories if you referred to the as being red, rather than yellow, as in "Red Star" (Picky, picky! Ed)

For your London centric readers, I believe that similar emblems may still be seen on at high level at Euston station.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Benefits of bi-modes over electrification illustrated

This from Reginald Trumpet…

The likely first public diagrams for GWR's new IEP trains have appeared on the RAIL website:


I wonder if the 09:54 ECS trip to Stoke Gifford is get more fuel to see it through the rest of the day?

Railway Pride - Manningtree

This from a Mr T…


The column itself still bears the First Great Eastern scars and has been painted at least twice since, the latest colour palette being Greater Anglia's lovely grey.

Sadly, it appears they didn't have the appropriate ladder, scaffold tower or sponge to enable them to reach 3 feet higher...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Grayling's gift to the North revealed!

This from Eye's man in Manchester…


"People of the North, I have a gift for you. The world's largest piece… of nothing!"

People of the North - your government takes you for fools!

Where to begin?

Clearly the Secretary of State for Transport takes the good burghers of the North for fools!

This tosh from the DfT

Network Rail will receive up to £5 million to develop proposals for embedding digital technology between Manchester and York…

£5m? Five million quid! That's a rounding error in DfT's weekly budget

Does Marsham Street really believe that such largess for an important and complex study will have the flat cap wearing whippet owners dancing in the streets?

And then..

Developing proposals for digital-control on the TransPennine route is to be paid for from a £450 million digital railway fund announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year.

So it's not even new money. It's another re-announce.

And it still doesn't properly confirm what is happening with the wires!

Of course to add insult to injury the release then bangs on about how much money has already been invested in the Capital's rail network.

On the London Underground 3 lines already have in-cab signalling, which has meant trains can safely run closer together.

Also in the capital, the Thameslink programme will use digital technologies so 24 trains per hour can run through the centre of the city from December 2018 on just 2 tracks with 2 platforms. Crossrail trains will also run with in-cab signalling.

'Tin eared' doesn't even begin to describe it.

Team May had better pull a better rabbit out of the hat at conference in Manchester next week, otherwise they can kiss goodbye to any hope of a Tory recovery in the North.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The wires that came in from the cold.

This from George Smiley...

Russia's influence in Western politics continues to spread.

Expect Transport Secretary Grayling to employ a version of the long-standing Soviet military deception technique of maskirovka when he ventures north to Manchester tomorrow to defend his deferment of the Trans-Pennine electrification.

Instead of repeating claims for the discredited 'innovative' use of bi-mode trains, Grayling will seek to wrong foot his critics by declaring that Manchester-Leeds will become a digital railway, in one stroke overcoming all known problems.

And creating a few more, starting with who will pay for the resignalling and the cab fitment. And Grayling's strategic adviser in the DfT, recognisable by the snow on his boots and known as Commissar Aleksandrovitch, seems to have overlooked the report by David Waboso's Early Contractor Involvement team debunking the 40% capacity gain claims made by the former Digital Railway regime.

As our Russian friends might say: "Net sigary, tovarishch!"

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Knighton

This, belatedly, via twitter…


Nice framing, with the added bonus of a pointless palisade.

Lost Beckett masterpiece discovered in Marsham Street

From a recently discovered Samuel Beckett notebook...


Becket identifies the players only as Rosco - a once wealthy business type in a suit; and Cloggie - a foreign gentleman, possibly Dutch?

Rosco: “Let's go."
Cloggie: "We can't."
Rosco: "Why not?"
Cloggie: "We're waiting for Wilko.”

Curtain falls slowly as they look hopefully into the wings...

Cryptic CrossCountry

This from Antony Furlong…


Has Cross-country re-introduced the mystery tour, or is this Voyager trying to draw a steam loco?

Monday, 18 September 2017

GWR - Back to the future - literally!

This from a Mr Antony Furlong...

I was delighted to receive this email from the GWR marketing team.


Evidently those IEPs are even faster than Mr Kipling and the DfT would have us believe!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Railway Pride - Belper

This from Rerailer...

I wonder if I might propose an Exciting New Eye Feature - Railway Pride?

Railway Pride draws on Noel Coward's beautiful encomium to our indomitable Capital City:

Railway Pride has been handed down to us.
Railway Pride is a flower that's free.
Railway Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.


Alas, not so much Railway Pride in the town of Belper.


Where to start!

National Rail sign, the symbol that binds us all together, our mark of quality!

You get the gist.

More please...

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Ken Harris RIP

This from Mack Brooks Exhibitions...

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our colleague Ken Harris after a short illness earlier this summer.


Ken worked as Editor on all things Railtex and Infrarail with us for many years and was a most valued colleague and a dear friend. His expertise and in-depth knowledge of the history and background on any rail industry development will be missed just as much as his kindness, professionalism and dry sense of humour.

Many of you will have met Ken at one of our shows over the past 20+ years, where he was hosting the onsite Press Offices and enjoying meeting old and new colleagues.

Ken leaves his wife Jean, two daughters Beki and Claire, and new grandson Laurence Kenneth.

Eye and its contributors extend their condolences to Ken's family and colleagues. He was a gent and very much a feature of both Railtex and Infrarail.

Railway Garden Competition - Brighton

This from Ducados...


Brighton's very own Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Silence of the LMs

Herr Professor Erwin Schroedinger writes…

In co-operation with the Britisch Department sum Transport we began an exciting new experiment to validate a more advanced version of mein 'Uncertainty Prinziple'.

The award of the West Midlands replacement franchise to Abellio, JR East and Mitsui was announced on 10th August, but not signed and then surrounded mit ein wall of silence.

With no one knowing what has happened in the following weeks, we have the situation where the franchise award may be in the bureaucratic process, still under negotiation, or deferred.

Railway Eye's science correspondent Prof Fred Bunsen-Berner notes that this triple uncertainty paradox could mark a step forward in our understanding of nuclear physics.

Whether it could be applied to our understanding of franchise procurement is perhaps less certain.

Transport Select Committee membership confirmed

This via Twitter...



And so to business!

Shaken and stirred - Leathley to London TravelWatch

This from the London Assembly...

New Chair of London TravelWatch appointed by Assembly
The London Assembly today announced the appointment of Arthur Leathley as the new Chair of London TravelWatch[1], the statutory watchdog for transport users in and around London.

Arthur has senior level experience as a communications director in the private sector and Whitehall. In particular, he spent nine years at Virgin Trains, during a time of great change in which customer satisfaction became the best in the rail industry. Prior to that, he worked as a political and transport journalist at The Times, covering many of the key debates affecting London transport.

Arthur Leathley, newly appointed Chair of London TravelWatch, said:

“The views of millions of transport users in London are crucial and I am excited to represent consumers during a time of very positive change. Travelling in the capital is likely to be transformed beyond recognition over the coming years and London TravelWatch will ensure that the interests of the travelling public are always put first. The need for an effective consumer champion has never been greater and I look forward to building on the work of the previous Chair, Stephen Locke.”

The appointment was made by the Transport Committee on behalf of the London Assembly.


Older hands will remember Arthur was previously communications director at Virgin Trains, before undertaking various roles across Whitehall.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Transport Select Committee - New Tory members

A big Eye welcome to the following Tory MPs elected to the Transport Select Committee.

  • Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay)
  • Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle)
  • Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes)
  • Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)

They join chair Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) and the following Labour MPs.

  • Graham Stringer MP (Blackley and Broughton)
  • Luke Pollard MP (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
  • Daniel Zeichner MP (Cambridge) 
  • Laura Smith MP (Crewe and Nantwich) 

Eye understands there is one more place to fill, drawn from the smaller parties in parliament.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Rugby

This from Sealink Sam...

See how beautifully crowned with vegetation are the tops of the buildings at Rugby station.


And here the bay platforms, and in the distance walls pregnant with arboreal magnificence!


Decline, what decline?

SWR gets ideas above its stations...

This from the SWR website...



On our network - Cambridge?

Peterborough??

London Bridge!!!

Who knew?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Shaken and stirred: Veitch brings Talgo to the British Isles

This via twitter...


Eye would normally have linked to the press release on the company's website, rather than reposting a tweet, allowing readers to savour all the details...

Alas - still nothing posted yet.

Looks like an ever expanding remit for Mr Veitch!

Problems remain once the circus moves on...

This from Hieronymus Bosch...

Reporting exclusively for Eye from today's exciting SWR launch at Waterloo! 

So the Top Brass turn up at WAT for the launch. Shiny livery, cleaned etc etc. Then..the signalling goes at Eastleigh, points failures at WAT, crews become displaced and chaos starts.

The top brass disappear.

It makes no difference what the livery is and what colour it is if the management of incidents is poor. That is what this railway suffers from.

So, Crew displacement made to work by a roster of split working. The removal of TCS's to be replaced by robot ORM's who are lower paid and cover larger areas. The loss of experienced controllers with the move to the ROC at BSK from the raft at Waterloo. Questions over the adequate training of staff to replace the control. Lack of investment in infrastructure. The signalling loss at EH was caused by a COMs link being eaten by rodents. SnT shortages mean basic maintenance is being deferred.

At the end of the day asset management is key. Both human and bits of rail.

It is no good building shiny new overpriced track and stations if Incident Management is dire. That means building redundancy into the system.

As that costs money, it will not occur.

Shaken and stirred - Mary Grant to Porterbrook

This from Porterbrook...

Porterbrook Leasing has confirmed the appointment of Mary Grant as its new chief executive officer. Mary will be joining the company and its board on 13 September 2017. She takes over from Paul Francis, the retiring CEO who has been with Porterbrook for over 20 years.

Mary has over 20 years’ experience working in the UK and international transport sector including senior roles at FirstGroup, National Express and Eurostar International.

Phil White, chairman of Porterbrook said: “Mary has an excellent reputation within the transport sector and I am looking forward to working with her and welcoming her onto the board. Mary’s experience and knowledge of the industry will be a great asset to the company.”


Interesting!

SWR - master of all it surveys!

This via twitter...

Attention top to detail!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Sleaford

This from Dogboxdriver...

Here is the Sleaford North Jn - Sleaford West Jn single line, showing how well Mr Verster's famed vegetation control policy is working so far.


Photo taken during an assessment ride, in case anyone should ask!

Railway Garden Competition - Derby

A wonderful example of the plantsman's craft.


Outstanding!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

RAIB on Waterloo collision

RAIB has confirmed it is conducting an investigation into the 15th August derailment at Waterloo.

The RAIB statement says:

The collision occurred because a set of points were misaligned and directed the passenger train away from its intended route. The misalignment was a consequence of a temporary modification to the points control system which also caused the train driver and signaller to receive indications that the points were correctly aligned.

Our investigation will examine:

  • the circumstances leading to installation of the temporary control system modification
  • the safety measures provided while the temporary modification was in place
  • the checking and testing procedures applicable to the modification
  • any relevant underlying management factors.
Bloody hell!

Eye thought the IRSE's vice like grip on signal testing was supposed to prevent this sort of thing happening?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Dft Policy Explained via Twitter Meme

This is very good!

Sadly, only too true.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Railway Garden Competition - Peterborough

This from Albatross...

Snapped these from the comfort of my Virgin EC Saloon – photographs of just North of Peterborough, around Eastfield SB and the sidings.





It appears that everyone has given up on vegetation clearance here!

Railway Garden Competition - Newquay

This from Talgo Tony...

Who knew that the Cornish branches had been converted to tramways?


Colonel Stephens would be proud!

Bombardier to retraction LUL 92 Stock

Good news for the Shire!

This from Bombardier...

Press Release - Bombardier Wins Contract to Supply New Propulsion Technology to London Underground



- Bombardier to supply new traction systems for trains on London Underground's Central line

- MITRAC propulsion technology will significantly improve fleet reliability, availability and energy efficiency

The project will be led from Bombardier's Västeras site in Sweden, also leveraging the capabilities of other sites in the Bombardier manufacturing network. 

The installation of the first train, plus associated vehicle integration works and testing will be undertaken at Bombardier's Derby site in the UK.

Very good. Carry on.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Pointless sign - Kings Cross

This from a Mr Greg Tingey...

Perhaps not an entirely pointless sign.

Although the branding harks back to an event that took place five years ago.


Is this now an integral part of the much vaunted Olympic Legacy?

Best railway tweet, ever!

And the prize goes to - Greater Anglia!


Run Away!

Pointless signs - St Erth

This from Harry the Voice...

Pictured at St Erth today.



Hmmm... 'regularly patrol', although on an infrequent basis?

Perchance a case of Optimism Bias?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Labour proposes gender segregation on rail

Good news for fans of Chris Williamson MP (Sid and Doris Gricer).

The Shadow Home Office minister has suggested a return to Ladies Only carriages.

Alas, this discrimatory nonsense will not do!

As any ful kno there are now at least 39 genders that will need similarly catering for if the industry is not to fall foul of equalities legislation (40! You forgot to include Mighty Oaks, of which I am one. Ed).

Despite his proposals being subjected to wide spread derision, Eye understands at least one part of the industry has welcomed Williamson's 'bold and exciting' initiative.

Step foward the Roscos, who are expecting a bumper bonanza as all those displaced vehicles are hurriedly pressed into gender specific service!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Osborne undermines his own case for enhancements

So, George Osborne is on manoeuvres, again.

The former Chancellor, and now free sheet editor, made the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail in yesterday's FT and on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

Good news for fans of connectivity and rebalancing of the economy.

But what's this.

Whilst George was busy tripping the light fantastic between green rooms, his own title is running with the following headline:


Not exactly a headline that will enamour readers to the vital works that enable delivery of much needed additional railway capacity, whether in the North or the South (don't forget the Squeezed Midlands! Ed).

Perhaps time for George to focus on the day job and exercise some editorial judgement?

Monday, 21 August 2017

SWT - the brand that refused to die!

Top tweeting here from the new incumbents of the SWT franchise...


But what is that cheeky logo on the bottom left of the message?

Surely not!


Come on First/MTR social media peeps - it really isn't that difficult to update the on-line branding!

UPDATE: They are getting there!


Note the subtle, but important, change to the hashtag.

Paddington - an expert speaks!

This via Twitter...


Scorcio!!!

RMT reaffirms commitment to work with minorities

This from The Brothers...

Union calls on new Chinese operator to honour commitment to South West Trains passengers to keep guard “legends” on every train

As Chinese State owned MTR takes over the South West Trains contract RMT has called on SWT Chinese owner’s operator to honour previous commitments made to South West Trains passengers to keep a guard on every train.

What could possibly have induced RMT to lobby a Communist government company?

Alas, South Western Railways is only 30% owned by MTR.

MTR's partner and the majority shareholder in SWT is also red, but only in tooth and claw. Step forward the resolutely private sector and capitalist First Group!

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!