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BLOGS


August 9 If at fi rst you don’t succeed…


Getting direct services from Shrewsbury and Blackpool to London has been a long-fought battle, and one for which there is clearly popular demand.


Valid rejections for the application have not tampered Virgin’s spirit to make good on their promise to passengers. Despite being told by both Network Rail and the ORR that such services are unviable on such a busy line, at least for now, Virgin has immediately launched another application.


The enthusiasm is admirable, but will the improvements being made to the WCML make enough of a difference, quickly enough to allow extra services? Capacity issues are paramount on the route, and


running more trains seems as if it is a longer-term aim, not something that can be introduced at the drop of a hat.


July 29 Passing the blame


Network Rail has published the estimated proportion of train delays for which it is responsible, compared to punctuality controlled by train operators.


The average fi gure is far higher than most passengers would ever have guessed, demonstrating the benefi t in greater transparency around PPM fi gures, at least for the TOCs.


But those which regularly perform poorly – East Coast and Virgin Trains – are only marginally worse off in terms of infrastructure


This is particularly vital during times of disruption, and the more spectacular the damage, the more people will be talking about it. It doesn’t get much more spectacular than a lightning strike, and it was encouraging to see so many operators using social media to keep their passengers up to date, and to join in the conversation.


Knowing the cause of disruption, and early estimates of the length of delays, allows passengers to make alternative travel arrangements and plan accordingly.


failings, as reported by Network Rail. If some franchises are thriving despite these problems, then why aren’t they?


July 23 This is real-time information


It’s been a busy morning on Twitter, demonstrating the clear need for the rail industry to learn from best practice on passenger information and good communications.


When so much news comes from crowd-sourcing and unoffi cial accounts, it is also essential that any misinformation or errors are corrected quickly and clearly.


As more and more of society’s communication goes digital, all businesses must keep up, and get online. Extraordinary events require extraordinary comms – so see you at @rtmnews and www.facebook. com/railtechnologymagazine.


July 15 A growing problem


Network Rail’s debt – guaranteed by the Government – is a tricky subject and one that not everyone wants to talk too much about.


That’s because ‘doing something about it’ is likely to be bad for the rail industry, and would involve drastic changes to the funding settlement, lower investment or even higher fares, or similar. In some ways it’s strange that the Government is not more concerned already; the situation has many similarities to the national debt situation that the Coalition has founded its entire economic policy on, namely keeping control of future interest payments and focusing on cutting spending rather than borrowing more. The ORR’s new discussion document raises it properly: let’s see where the discussion leads.


i 12 | rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 13


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