The Sleeper's Blog

A collection of opinions on the events in the rail industry from Rail Technology Magazine's most feared reporter, ‘The Sleeper’.

Blending irreverence with a much-needed dose of reality, these morsels of spite keep passengers’ best interests at heart and prove the old adage that 'the truth hurts'.

Interested in becoming a guest blogger? Email the editor.

S-Stock is the best thing since black cab

S-Stock is the best thing since black cab

05.11.15: A poll of over 10,000 Londoners has selected Bombardier’s S-Stock Tube trains as one of the top 10 transport designs in the capital – impressive, considering well-established icons from more than a century ago were also competing. ...

Another big name lost for Network Rail

Another big name lost for Network Rail

02.11.15: Patrick Butcher, Network Rail’s finance director, is leaving his longstanding position in the New Year to take up a job as chief finance officer of the Go-Ahead Group from May 2016. The appointment follows a series of executive change...

Why the government’s consultation on ‘improving mobile communications to UK rail passengers’ is too restrictive

Why the government’s consultation on ‘improving mobile communications to UK rail passengers’ is too restrictive

23.10.15: Guest blog by Graham Cove of Synaptix Technologies, which installed and maintained The Cloud equipment in all Network Rail stations over the last five years. During the summer, the government issued a consultation document about improv...

Britain’s railway stations on film

Britain’s railway stations on film

20.10.15: Passengers passing through some of Britain’s biggest stations this week may have seen special screenings of unearthed heritage films from the BFI’s ‘Britain on Film’ collection, looking to celebrate the lives of ordinary...

A commitment to transparency

A commitment to transparency

19.10.15: Many organisations, particularly publicly accountable ones, say they favour transparency – and many take some steps towards it. But data-dumps and a ‘Transparency’ page on your website aren’t enough. Information need...

Southeastern forced to remove sexist ‘safety’ poster across 70 stations

Southeastern forced to remove sexist ‘safety’ poster across 70 stations

16.10.15: Southeastern has been forced to remove a “safety” poster campaign across 70 stations after it was rightly branded as sexist by MPs. The poster, somehow intended to promote safety, featured an edited close-up of a woman’s b...

TfL’s novel development of London property needs ‘careful watching’

TfL’s novel development of London property needs ‘careful watching’

15.10.15: The chair of London Assembly’s Budget & Performance Committee has told PSE that Transport for London’s (TfL’s) novel plans to raise more than a billion pounds by developing its property portfolio more commercially need to b...

100 Years of Women in Transport – where do we go from here?

100 Years of Women in Transport – where do we go from here?

28.09.15: Guest blog by Debra Charles, CEO at smartcard technology company Novacroft When London's Maida Vale tube station opened in 1915 it made history as the first to be completely staffed by women. Then, as the First World War engulfed Europe, wo...

DfT keeping on top of things at Network Rail?

DfT keeping on top of things at Network Rail?

18.09.15: Since the beginning of the year, no DfT officials have attended any meetings of Network Rail’s influential sub committees, despite knowing since autumn 2014 that there would be a multi-billion pound overrun on Network Rail’s enhancem...

‘North west electrification will continue at pace,’ says transport minister

‘North west electrification will continue at pace,’ says transport minister

16.09.15: The transport minister Andrew Jones has stated that despite Balfour Beatty withdrawing from the north west electrification programme “a full transition plan is in place” to ensure delivery continues “at pace”.  ...

Deadline day for Network Rail representations on licence breach fine

Deadline day for Network Rail representations on licence breach fine

11.09.15: Network Rail has until the close of business today (11 September) to make representations or objections to the ORR after the regulator proposed a £2m fine for Network Rail for breaching its licence due to poor performance on Southern, Govi...

‘Top 10’ overcrowded train services revealed

‘Top 10’ overcrowded train services revealed

09.09.15: Government data for the ‘top 10’ overcrowded train services in England and Wales during the autumn of 2014 has been released today (9 September). Figures are taken from internal management information, but some are derived from...

‘Victoria’ chopped and unscrewed after Crossrail completion

‘Victoria’ chopped and unscrewed after Crossrail completion

14.08.15: The final Crossrail tunnelling machine, Victoria, is being broken up and recycled after “finishing her journey” under the capital. The machine – whose self-explanatory name honours Queen Victoria’s involvement with t...

The case for a second Brighton Main Line – BML2

The case for a second Brighton Main Line – BML2

14.08.15: Guest blog by BML2 project manager Brian Hart London and South East commuters can take heart from the chancellor’s recent demand for a full study into a second Brighton Main Line (BML2), rather than just reopening the Lewes–Uckf...

JVs bidding for lucrative HS2 engineering job

JVs bidding for lucrative HS2 engineering job

07.08.15: There are whispers around the sector that two joint ventures have become the frontrunners to become HS2’s phase one engineering delivery partner (EDP).  HS2 Ltd began pre-qualifying for the 10-year contract, valued at between &po...

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Potential Leicester to Coventry rail link mulled over in updated Leicestershire transport vision

22/02/2019Potential Leicester to Coventry rail link mulled over in updated Leicestershire transport vision

The potential of a Leicester to Coventry rail link has been revived again as one of the key highlights of a new transport masterplan outlined by ... more >
Queues of 15,000 and Eurostar chaos at St Pancras in no-deal Brexit

22/02/2019Queues of 15,000 and Eurostar chaos at St Pancras in no-deal Brexit

Eurostar queues of up to 15,000 passengers could mount up at London’s St Pancras International station in the event of a no-deal Brexit, ac... more >
New head of safety and environment for Hull Trains announced

21/02/2019New head of safety and environment for Hull Trains announced

A new head of safety and environment has been announced by Hull Trains, with Mark Shepherd due to replace Phil Green in the role. Bringing m... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the TOC, gives RTM an update on the innovative scheme. Recognising that young people are more likely to take a risk trespassing on railway tracks, CrossCountry and the Scouts have come together to encourage Britain’s younger generations to be... more > more last word articles >
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'the sleepers' daily blog

Williams Rail Review: The end of saying sorry?

05/02/2019Williams Rail Review: The end of saying sorry?

Keith Williams’ ongoing Rail Review presents a golden opportunity to rebuild the industry’s weakened relationship with its users and set it on a better track for the future, argues David Sidebottom, passenger director at Transport Focus. Passengers waiting at stations today are not peering down the line looking for a strategy ... more >
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TrackWater: Embracing data in flood prevention

05/02/2019TrackWater: Embracing data in flood prevention

Mike Harding, from Lancaster University’s Data Science Institute, introduces us to TrackWater: an innovative project between Lancaster Univ... more >
High-speed rail cannot stand in isolation

05/02/2019High-speed rail cannot stand in isolation

Last year, the Scottish Government announced two feasibility studies to better understand the economic and environmental implications of options ... more >
Flying Banana reaps the fruit of its labour

05/02/2019Flying Banana reaps the fruit of its labour

Steve Quinby, Network Rail’s head of data collection, gives us the rundown on the state-of-the-art ‘Flying Banana’ train. ... more >
Introducing the new Passenger Assist app

05/02/2019Introducing the new Passenger Assist app

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, explains how a new app developed for the rail industry wil... more >

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interviews

TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >
Exclusive: Midlands Connect and WMRE talk collaboration and investment in the Midlands' railway

22/01/2019Exclusive: Midlands Connect and WMRE talk collaboration and investment in the Midlands' railway

In the jigsaw puzzle of regional transport decision-making, there must be collaboration and compromise. Midlands Connect media lead James Bovill ... more >
Rail Ombudsman interview: RTM sits down with CEO Kevin Grix

20/12/2018Rail Ombudsman interview: RTM sits down with CEO Kevin Grix

In November, the first ever Rail Ombudsman was established in a bid to give passengers a free independent service to allow passengers to claim co... more >