Saturday, 29 June 2013

Taking the slow (Chiltern) train to The Railway Industry Innovation Awards

One of the mysteries of the current +Chiltern Railways timetable is that Birmingham Snow Hill, supposedly so important for Chiltern's reach-out to the Birmingham business community, has the slower of the two off-peak services each hour from Birmingham to London Marylebone. Yesterday's 10.12 Clubman ambled its ways south in just under 2 hours (1 hour 56 mins to be precise).

Of course, if like me you use the train as a travelling office, this may not matter: Clubman's are comfortable, have power points at the tables, offer free WiFi, and some of the xx.12's even have a catering trolley (10.12 / 13.12 / 14.12). However, if the loading of yesterday's service to go by, there aren't too many doing so...

The keynote speaker at the Awards was Peter Wilkinson, interim Franchising Director at the Department for Transport. Not being an industry insider, some of the coded references passed me by but he was clear about the importance that his political masters now placed on meeting passenger needs by making relationships within the rail industry work (he highlighted that 60% of the revenue base was from the fare box). Further he indicated that there would be a new focus on commuters who he suggested had been forgotten about... Outside London, public transport was NOT optional and rail has a big part to play BUT all involved must share the Government's transparency agenda and must show that innovation is possible through engagement and partnerships between the industry's key players.

As to the Awards themselves, not too good for the Birmingham to London TOCs this time. Virgin Trains didn't make the long list in any category (and were noticeable by their absence from the event). +London Midland 's Project 110 was on a long list but didn't make the short list. The refurbishment of +Chiltern Railways Mk 3s by Wabtec Rail made the shortlist for the Operations and Performance Award but didn't win...

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