Recommendations were well hidden

01 February 2014

The government has announced its shortlist of preferred bidders for the East Coast franchise so, despite communities and councils up and down the east coast, unions, politicians, and the traveling public, all campaigning for this successful DOR to remain in public hands, this government, as with every other consultation, ignores the people’s wishes. The three preferred bidders now have one year to prepare their rushed bids and we have a year to try and change this decision.

Last month I wondered where we are with the 93 Hidden recommendations 25 years after the Clapham rail disaster. Number 46 leaps out: ‘The court welcomes BR’s commitment to introduce Automatic Train Protection on a large percentage of its network, but is concerned at the timetable proposed. After the specific type of ATP has been selected, ATP shall be fully implemented within five years, with a high priority given to densely trafficked lines.’ Although there were successful ATP systems available, developed in other countries, that could have been bought off the shelf, this did not happen. The Western got a newly developed ATP that was not rolled out, the make do system of TPWS is not comparable and the 30 year timetable for ETRMS means we are no nearer.

Number 18, on excessive levels of overtime, is flawed because it was based on what BR considered to be ‘operationally achievable’ and in my view needs reviewing.

The recommendation on overcrowding was agreed by the Secretary of State and transport user consultative committees. ‘For the type of stock involved in the accident there should be no standing (except by choice) and the load factor should not exceed 110%.’ The latest figures for overcrowding show that all the top ten breached BR’s 110%. The most overcrowded service was the 07.44 First Great Western train from Henley-on- Thames to Paddington at 184%.

Finally, I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Alan Donnelly on becoming EC president and Colin Smith on his re-election to DO3.

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