Labour compromise on franchises will please no one

July 4th, 2014 Guardian 2 comments
Reports today suggest Labour is set to announce that it will allow parts of the rail network to come back into public ownership. But it seems Labour, which has dismissed the story as "pure speculation", will only allow a recreated British Rail to bid for franchises rather than taking them all over as they run out.   The leadership's fear of a more radical solution has been apparent for some time and ...

Mcloughlin’s full plate

March 10th, 2013 House no comments
It’s fortunate that Patrick McLoughlin appears utterly unflappable because there has been an awful lot to flap about in the Department of Transport since he took over as Transport Secretary in the autumn reshuffle. If he expected a quiet time after seven years in the Westminster maelstrom as the Tories’ chief whip, he was sorely mistaken. Within days of taking office, he found himself having to deal with the West Coast ...

Rail 716: the myths of the franchise system

March 5th, 2013 Rail Magazine 2 comments
Franchising is like a one way cul de sac. It’s going nowhere but it seems to be impossible to find a way out. The latest announcement which jump started the franchising process with a pair of dodgy battery leads after the West Coast omnishambles, attracted remarkably little attention since the national media seems to have got bored with the story but demonstrated that there is still a massive intellectual flaw ...

Rail 712: Time to name the guilty over West Coast omnishambles

December 29th, 2012 Rail Magazine 2 comments
It is time to play the blame game on the West Coast franchise fiasco. The guilty parties should not be allowed to get away with it, especially as they are largely politicians, rather than the civil servants who have been made to take the can quite unfairly. I start with Alastair Darling, aided and abetted by that squabbling duo, Richard Bowker and Tom Winsor who were respectively boss of the Strategic ...

Enter Ms M at the Department

December 28th, 2012 Christian Says 2 comments
While most people have been celebrating with mince pies and Xmas crackers, the Department for Transport has been busy rearranging the deckchairs in the run up to the holiday season following the West Coast franchise fiasco. According to the Daily Telegraph, Peter Strachan, one of the three civil servants suspended after the franchising process was terminated, has quietly packed his bags and another, Kate Mingay, who sued the Department over ...

Rail 711: The Transsiberian is a must for all rail lovers

December 15th, 2012 Rail Magazine no comments
Having just spent three weeks in Russia trundling along the Transsiberian, it is impossible not to devote a column to it with the aim of persuading any rail enthusiast to do it once in a lifetime. Sure, everyone who has come back from it moans about the endless stretches where only the odd fallen down birch tree breaks up the monotony of forest and brown grassland steppe. And travelling in ...

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