Tuesday, 18 December 2012

2013 is going to be a good year...

After all the upheavals of 2012 it is good to think that 2013 will be a year of consolidation for the three train operating companies which serve the Birmingham to London rail routes. Not that there won't be surprises - some of which I can predict with confidence below...

Chiltern Railways

After the success of the marketing campaign for the Dec 2012 timetable changes, the Chiltern marketing team is seconded to the Treasury. Its members waste no time in proving that although Britain has entered a triple dip recession, the saving of 6 minutes on the Kidderminster-Marylebone journey time means that the country is on the road to recovery. George Osborne hails the team as a beacon of light in an ever darkening world.

Later in the year, Chiltern start the consultation process on the 2014 Oxford-Marylebone timetable. In an unexpected move, the Silver sets are transferred to Stratford-upon-Avon to run a Stratford - Oxford - Marylebone service which includes the local services between Banbury and Oxford. Despite the journey time lengthening to four-and-a-half hours, I blog excitedly on the split fare possibilities opened up by the stops at Heyford and Tackley...


Bouyed by their nomination in the Goldentwit awards, LM's Twitter team expand their remit to that of answering life's big questions on a 24/7 basis. Alas, the answers all seem to involve broken rails at Bletchley and leave the Twitter community totally bemused

More positively,  LM solves its ongoing driver crisis by handing local services to Centro and London Overground and merging with DB Schenker to form a dedicated long distance driver pool. Passenger Groups praise the company for its ingenuity but question whether making Bescot Stadium a major interchange station is actually feasible.

Virgin Trains

The big news of the year will be that Tony Collins is made Secretary of State for Transport when Virgin successfully bids for the franchise to run the Dept. of Transport on a 20-year concession. Alex Salmond responds by making Tim O'Toole Minister for Transport in the forthcoming independent Scottish Government.

Totally unrelated is the news that Peter Strachan is given special responsibility for the Grosmont - Whitby track doubling, based in a new office at Battersby Junction. A source close to Peter tells the Telegraph that he is really excited by this latest challenge which he estimates will take all of two weeks. His future once the project is completed is unknown...

Network Rail

Finally, the year wouldn't be complete without the latest 'closure' of the WCML by Network Rail. For Christmas 2013, the whole of the WCML south of Rugby will be closed for two weeks so that toilet cubicle doors can be upgraded at all stations. When asked why two weeks was necessary when most stations no longer had toilets, a Network Rail spokesman referred the questioner to Chiltern Railways who started to explain... But of course that is where the year started...

Have a good one!

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