Rail 751: Is open access worth the hassle?

June 15th, 2014 Rail Magazine no comments
While the Department for Transport may be relieved that it has managed to get the Thameslink etc management contract away – it is not, pace my esteemed editor’s enthusiasm, a franchise since there is no risk transfer – the issues around the East Coast franchise are even more complex and troublesome. A spanner the size of a Pendolino has been thrown in the works by the announcement in February by Alliance ...

Rail 750: still questions over Ladbroke Grove

June 1st, 2014 Rail Magazine 1 comment
I pass the site of the Ladbroke Grove train crash frequently on my cycle ride to watch QPR and every time I think of the terrible scene there on the night of the disaster which I observed from the roof of a nearby warehouse where TV interviews were being conducted. I have since written numerous articles on the disaster and a chapter in my book Broken Rails also covered the ...

Rail 749: The Channel Tunnel: An engineering success but not a European game changer

May 17th, 2014 Rail Magazine 3 comments
  The Channel Tunnel’s 20th anniversary on May 6 received scant attention. There was barely anything in the British press and the only two interviews I did on it were, interestingly, for German and Russian media suggesting there was more recognition of the anniversary abroad than in the UK. That is a shame because building the tunnel was a massive achievement, this nation’s biggest ever engineering projectthat has never received the recognition ...

Rail 748: Labour’s dither over renationalisation

May 3rd, 2014 Rail Magazine 1 comment
  Ed Milliband is all a dither over the rail franchising system. In a letter to The Observer published on May 4, a group of Labour prospective Parliamentary candidates argued that the Labour leader should follow his initiatives on energy prices and private rents by taking the bold step of announcing that he would end the franchising system when the present contracts run their course. The group said that renationalisation would ‘secure ...

Rail 747: It’s almost all rosy in the rail garden

April 19th, 2014 Rail Magazine 1 comment
  So all is rosy in the rail garden. That is certainly the message in the Office of Rail Regulation’s report on the industry’s finances for 2012/3. Even to an old curmudgeon like me, paid to give official mouthpieces and politicians a hard time, and pick holes in press releases, there is much to celebrate. The industry continues to grow with a rise in fares income of 3.6 per cent in the ...

Rail 746: Settle – Carlisle line was turning point in rail history

April 5th, 2014 Rail Magazine 1 comment
  The only ministerial decision for which Michael Portillo is remembered is the reprieve he gave to the Settle-Carlisle railway. It was in 1989 and Portillo says the decision was ‘his greatest achievement in politics’. Certainly it did his career no harm. If he had sanctioned the closure, he would never have fronted the great railway journeys programmes, a series which now runs to a staggering 115 episodes with more to ...
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