Multiple Aspects with Lord Berkeley DB’s Eurostar bid could open up a host of journey opportunities
NEWS of Deutsche Bahn’s interest in buying Eurostar UK from the Government and seeking to operate high-speed trains, be they Eurostars, ICEs or whatever, between Germany and London have caused ripples in Franco-German relations. In fact, some press comments made one wonder whether hostilities were about to break out! Railway Minister Lord Adonis visited Berlin and the German highspeed network, as well as the French one, and SNCF President Guillaume Pepy has twice visited London to lobby ministers. Ministers have confirmed that, once open access for international passenger trains comes next year, such trains may pick up or set down passengers at any domestic station, unless the UK’s Office of Rail Regulation believes that this would
abstract traffic from a domestic train operator. So Birmingham-Ashford or Stratford International-Milton Keynes passengers could help fill up a train and make its operation more viable. I can envisage not only standard TGVs (in single or double formation) ICEs and possible new services promoted by Aeroport de Paris, but also regional services connecting both sides of the Channel. Birmingham and Manchester could finally get a through connection to Paris! But then those trains would almost certainly want to use HS1 – which the DfT is currently trying to sell off at the highest possible price. It is hamstrung by having let a contract to Network Rail for 80 years to maintain the line on a cost-plus basis, so we can expect interesting comparisons between this profligacy by our Government and their support for the ORR determination of NR’s access
Railways in Parliament
New stations in Yorkshire GREG Knight (East Yorkshire) asked how many new rail stations are scheduled to be opened in Yorkshire in the next three years and what car parking provision is planned. Transport Minister Paul Clark said: “Responsibility for promoting new stations rests primarily with local authorities and Passenger Transport Executives. The DfT has received outline proposals for four new stations in the West Yorkshire PTE area – at Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge, Horsforth Woodside and Low Moor – and one in the City of York area at Haxby.” He referred the honourable gentleman to West Yorkshire PTE and City of York Council for car park information.
Planning for severe weather PAUL Burstow (Sutton & Cheam) asked what assessment has been made of the adequacy of contingency plans made by Network Rail and train operating companies to minimise disruption to rail services caused by severe weather and when he next plans to review the implementation.
Replied Mr Clark: “The handling of major disruptions to rail services is reviewed in detail by the industry to see what can be learned for the future. Ministers meet senior representatives of the industry regularly to discuss rail performance. The DfT will encourage the industry to implement any improvements to contingency planning which are identified following the recent bad weather.”
Passenger Focus costs £5.3m SIR John Stanley (Tonbridge & Malling) asked what the cost to the public purse was of the travel ‘watchdog’ Passenger Focus in the latest 12 months for which figures are available. Mr Clark said: “The total cost of Passenger Focus to the public purse in 2007-08 was £5.315million.”
Recession impact on fares STEPHEN Hammond (Wimbledon) asked whether it might be possible, in view of impending deflation, for the retail price index plus one per cent formula for regulated train fares to result in a negative number. Mr Clark confirmed that it might.
charges on the rest of the network – requiring the company to reduce its costs by 21 per cent over five years! Ministers claim they cannot break a contract – but I suspect that if NR fought too hard to retain it, there are other pressures the Government could put on them . . . Of course, this infrastructure should be sold separately from Eurostar UK in order to comply with EU legislation, but the taxpayer will want evidence that there will be an open tendering procedure for both. If DB bought Eurostar UK, then we might see more usage of the rolling stock, we might get to Cologne without changing trains; we would, I am sure, get the frontier control people to look again at the current procedures at Brussels, Paris, London and Avignon/Moutiers, and we might get a regional train from London to Amsterdam. There are rumours of the French infrastructure company RFF wanting to buy HS1. This would create a dilemma for that company; do they accept to take over the cost-plus maintenance contract with NR or would they try to introduce SNCF as the legal entity required to maintain RFF’s network in France? If the passenger train specifications can be relaxed, then so should freight, so that any locomotive equipped with the necessary cab-signalling system, could use the Channel Tunnel. The point about all this is that the availability of equipment, or lack of it, stifles competition. However, there is always room for competition in a growing market. We have seen it across Europe in air and road transport. Now it is starting in rail freight; let us see some creative ideas for new passenger services through the Tunnel as a result of open access! Alongside all this, Eurotunnel is seeking to simplify the safety rules governing passenger and freight trains using the Channel Tunnel so that it is not necessary to split passenger trains in two inside the tunnel. The original idea was that, if one half of a train broke down or caught fire and could not be moved, all the passengers would walk through to the other half, which would then be uncoupled and take the passengers out of the tunnel. That’s the theory . . . in practice, the last time a Eurostar broke down,
they didn’t try to split it – they just pushed the whole train out! So far, it’s not been trains that catch fire, but lorries on trains – three times since the tunnel opened! So whilst the authorities and Eurotunnel ponder how to avoid this happening again, it is right that the company should stress the very safe operations of service trains in the tunnel and seek a relaxation in the rules which would enable other modern rolling stock to use it. There are, after all, cross-passages at 750metre intervals connecting the running tunnels with a separatelyventilated service tunnel making evacuation easier and quicker than in a London Underground Tube tunnel.
Private or public snow? THE snow this winter was, by all accounts, unprecedented for 20 years or so. From limited experience of travelling during that spell, I thought the rail system did well – much better than the roads as local authorities ran low on salt and failed to use it to treat even the bus routes on London’s first day of snow. This brings me to the perceived differences in attitude to weather and other travel difficulties between the private and public sector. For some time during the snowy weather, schools closed but supermarkets remained open. London buses stopped because TfL decided it was too dangerous to operate them because the roads had not been salted – yet white vans and HGVs were operating alongside the few cyclists such as myself, who braved the elements and found the one lane open down Park Lane a great deal safer than the footpaths. Then I discovered that on the same day, the Office of Rail Regulation (which is also now the home of railway safety) sent home any staff who had battled their way in immediately they arrived, often after walking from main line stations in the absence of Tubes or buses. The reason was that it was bound to get more dangerous to go home later. I bet Tesco didn’t say that to its staff!
(The independent views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The RM or the Rail Freight Group, of which Tony Berkeley is chairman.)
16 • The Railway Magazine • April 2009 MORE HIGHQUALITY INFORMATION &GOODREADING
Advanced Steam Locomotive Development •Porta •£12.05 Here are three technical papers by the Argentinian steam engineer Livio Dante Porta. Fundamentals of the Porta Compound System for Steam Locomotives and Steam Locomotive Development in Argentina - its contribution to the future of railway technology in the under-developed countries . The third paper deals with the subject of steam leakage. This book must be read by anyone operating or maintaining a steam locomotive today, and anyone who believes that the steam locomotive couldn’t be developed further. There are so many, usually remarkably simple (or obvious), but mind blowing concepts here that this book will challenge all your ideas! 104 pages.20 B&Wphotos.53 drawings,graphs &tables.Paperback.
K.u.k.Militärfeldbahnen im Ersten Weltkrieg •Stanfel •£45.30 This is the first comprehensive book we have seen on the military railways of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was very early in the field, the first railway regiment being formed in 1883, and the first steam locomotive - a 760mm gauge Decauville 0-4-0 tank was purchased in 1901, being rapidly followed by other trial locomotives, including a wonderful Mallet, from a host of home builders, until an 0-8-0 tender locomotive became the NG design.The military also dabbled in electric locomotives,battery and overhead,and varied forms of IC power - the latter also being used on standard gauge lines. The numerous military railways operated over a very large area - essentially the Russian-Polish border clockwise round to the Tirol, and all are recorded in this excellent German language book, with maps of most lines.Also covered in detail is the development of the motive power, rolling stock and infrastructure, with numerous B&W photos, drawings and station layouts,not to mention a roster of all locomotives.262 hardbound pages.
Valves &Valve Gears for Steam Locomotives •1940 •Lake &Reidinger • £12.50 This British book is about as good as you will currently find on the subject of valves and valve gears.There may not be page after page of formulae and highly technical information,but it is very accessible, and also has chapters on Poppet and Rotary Cam valve gears.142 pages.128 drawings/diagrams.Some B&W photos.Paperback.
SJ:s ånglok •Karlsson •£24.50 A comprehensive handbook of all the steam locomotives of the Swedish State Railways,standard and narrow gauge.The important types are described alphabetically by class with a short technical and historical description and information about their service,re-classification and fate.Tremendous selection of interesting,and sometimes unusual prototypes,the Swedes having a positively British affection for inside cylinders.Swedish text.256 pages 17x25 cm,nearly 300 b&w photographs and 32 in colour. Good value hardback.
Steam in Serbia 1882-2007 •Veresic •£54.30 This extremely well produced English language book tells the story of the railways of Serbia up to the end of steam, and what has happened to steam power subsequently.The history of the area is complicated,but after a late start there was considerable building of standard and narrow gauge lines,all of which became part of the Yugoslavian State Railways after WW1.The majority of the steam locomotives were either JZ designs, with earlier ones being Hungarian or Austrian; a remarkable number survive,some now in tourist use,and are described here in detail.An excellent book in every way, and especially useful for anyone planning a visit to the area. 204 pages.Around 400 photos,the majority in colour.Hardbound.
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April 2009 • The Railway Magazine • 17