The Anonymous Widower

Is The Vivarail D-Train On A Roll?

I have a Google Alert for Vivarail and over the last few days, it has produced quite a few hits.

This article for the Manchester Evening News is worth reading.

People are sceptical, but some of the reports from possible buyers and passengers, think that the Vivarail D-Train might just be able to step into the gap left by Pacers.

In Raw Material For A New Train, I gave my view and thought they would be a success.

The people who must be really worried, are the manufacturers of new trains. If Vivarail could make this concept work with something as old as the D78 Stock, could they do a job with trains built in the intervening years, that are now thought to be just a bit tired.

September 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn’s Dress Sense

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of having an unusual taste in clothes and also not owning a suit.

I suspect though that his attitude to clothes is typical of many of us, who grew up in the mid-1960s.

Men were liberated from the rules, just as much as women were.

For years I never owned a suit and possibly for the last fifty years, I’ve always worn short-sleeved shirts.

Look at some other respected men of the 1960s like Richard Branson and James Dyson. You may see them dressed conventionally, but often they dress for the occasion like my left-wing accountant once accused me of, many years ago.

I’m certainly someone who believes that the message is much more important than the packaging.

So for instance, if I was invited to appear on television to discuss a subject like computer programming or project management software, I’d probably wear my thirty year old tweed jacket, M & S chinos and a short-sleeved shirt, with decent walking shoes. My one nod to style would be a bag or brief case by a well-known designer. The brief case incidentally is forty years old. Design is more important than any famous designer name.

Jeremy Corbyn though, has the task of impressing those who currently don’t, to vote for the Labour Party in an election. So unfortunately, he should observe certain norms or he’ll be leading his party to oblivion.

September 16, 2015 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Is There A Pattern In The Performance Of Train Operating Companies?

I don’t care about the politics of rail nationalisation, as I just want my train to be on time and be safe, clean and comfortable.

I think this article from Rail Technology Magazine is showing a pattern of good performance.

If you read the article, it looks like two groups of train operating companies (TOCs) are doing better.

Locally controlled TOCs like London Overground, Merseyrail, ScotRail and TfL Rail, all seem to be doing well.

Two other TOCs that have a close relationship with their railway lines; C2C and Chiltern are also at the top of the pile.

I do wonder that as these two types of companies give passengers a quick and easy and often political way to complain, that they know if they muck-up they’ll be deep in e-mails, phone calls and letters, if they don’t perform.

I think this shows that we should increase areas of the country, where there are more arrangements of these types.

For instance, should short distance metro services in areas like Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and Newcastle, be under more direct control from the local authorities.

And also, where the operator has a virtual monopoly of track use, as does First Great Western to Bristol and the South West and Abellio Greater Anglia does in East Anglia and North Essex, should there be a more direct relation between track and train companies.

My belief is that people on the ground, be they passengers or rail staff, see problems and opportunities that are best served by a strong degree of local control or lins to those, who are providing the infrastructure.

This is well illustrated by the performance of TfL Rail on the Shenfield Metro, since being under the control of TfL Rail. The article says this.

And despite its good performance, other TOCs were close seconds, with TfL Rail raising its PPM dramatically compared to the same period last year – up by 8.5% to 96.9%. TfL also reported significantly less cancellations and lateness, from 4.9% in period 5 last year to 1.5% this year.

Previously, this line and the service was managed by Abellio, who are headquartered in  Norwich.

In some ways it’s probably more about having a good management and communications structure for the train operating company, the track on which the trains run and the stations to where the trains go.

I also feel that a lot of the smaller developments in the UK rail system are locally-based projects like the reopening of branch lines and the creation of new stations, are projects that are better managed through a devolved rather than a centralised structure.

September 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment