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.

‘Use retired workers to bust Tube strike’ – GLA Conservatives

‘Use retired workers to bust Tube strike’ – GLA Conservatives

05.08.15: The Greater London Authority Conservative group is urging Transport for London to bring back members of the retired staff pool to keep LU running smoothly “even on strike days”. Richard Tracey AM wants some of the 364 Tube drive...

Electrification issues: Who knew what and when?

Electrification issues: Who knew what and when?

31.07.15: The date for when Network Rail started to see costs for some enhancement and electrification schemes exceed the amounts listed in the budget for CP5 seem to be getting earlier and earlier on a week-by-week basis.  Last week, RTM report...

Bombardier and Siemens ‘in talks to merge’ – WSJ

Bombardier and Siemens ‘in talks to merge’ – WSJ

29.07.15: Bombardier and German engineering group Siemens are allegedly in talks to combine their rail businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal. They claimed people ‘familiar with the matter’ said talks between the railway giants...

Tributes to Neil Harvey after his funeral

Tributes to Neil Harvey after his funeral

24.07.15: The life of Neil Harvey was celebrated at his funeral yesterday, with many of his friends and colleagues from across the rail industry in attendance. Harvey had a long career in engineering and then communications for Bombardier, and was mo...

Scotsman loco will return in full steam this year

Scotsman loco will return in full steam this year

20.07.15: The historic Flying Scotsman locomotive might return to main line service by the end of this year as part of a £4m restoration project that has lasted over a decade. Riley & Son Ltd, a Bury-based specialist engineering firm, is no...

PM announces £1m rail competition to attract tourists

PM announces £1m rail competition to attract tourists

17.07.15: David Cameron has announced today (17 July) a new £1m ‘Rail for Tourism innovation’ competition run jointly by RSSB and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The competition will call for ideas to transform the rail...

Are we really improving passenger information during disruptions?

Are we really improving passenger information during disruptions?

16.07.15: Last week RTM reported that the Office of Rail & Road criticised TOCs over their ‘lack of transparency’ to communicate their commitment to an industry-wide plan on improving passenger information during times of disruption (PIDD)...

'We do not foresee further programmes of this size and scale'

'We do not foresee further programmes of this size and scale'

14.07.15: The Department for Transport has admitted that the era of major infrastructure upgrades and new fleets is over for the time being – except for HS2. It says in its new ‘Rolling Stock Perspectives: Moving Britain Forward’ do...

Rail industry mourns sad passing of Neil Harvey

Rail industry mourns sad passing of Neil Harvey

07.07.15: The sad death has been announced of Neil Harvey, the general manager of the Derby & Derbyshire Rail Forum (DDRF), who was a leading and well respected railway industry spokesman.  Prior to his role at DDRF, Harvey had been the comm...

Excessive heat leads to worst day of delays all year

Excessive heat leads to worst day of delays all year

03.07.15: The excessive heat earlier this week may have caused the worst day of the year for cancellations and claimable delays. Data from DelayRepay.net, a website that helps passengers make compensation claims, shows there were over 1,000 claimable...

McLoughlin announcements: new news?

McLoughlin announcements: new news?

26.06.15: Much of the national media jumped on the transport secretary’s bandwagon yesterday pointing the finger and criticising the poor performance of Network Rail in CP5 as a number of planned modernisation projects, such as Midland Main Line and...

Why we need more women in engineering

Why we need more women in engineering

23.06.15: Guest blog to mark National Women in Engineering Day by Apeksha Patel, senior electrical engineer at AECOM. As a senior electrical engineer in the rail industry, I sometimes feel a bit awkward when I realise I’m the only woman in...

Too many accidents while working on the railway

Too many accidents while working on the railway

19.06.15: Safety measures were found to be “not adequate” according to the RAIB in an accident where a track worker was struck by a train and lost his arm. The report details how in June last year a train travelling on the main line betwe...

Network Rail data quality still being questioned

Network Rail data quality still being questioned

12.06.15: Having attended many of the UK’s largest rail events over the last few years RTM has been constantly bombarded about the importance of one word: data.  The industry as a whole, as well as Network Rail, is so reliant on data that...

Cyber security not just a problem for the IT department

Cyber security not just a problem for the IT department

05.06.15: If cyber security continues to be considered as a purely IT problem it could lead to critical infrastructure failing, according to Network Rail’s head of cyber security. Peter Gibbons spoke during a panel session at Infosec where he m...

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Scheme to double train capacity on West Norfolk line awarded funding

15/02/2019Scheme to double train capacity on West Norfolk line awarded funding

The capacity on West Norfolk’s trains is set to double after funding for an extension of trains running between Lynn and Cambridge has been... more >
Battered Dawlish rail line gets £80m for new protective sea wall

15/02/2019Battered Dawlish rail line gets £80m for new protective sea wall

A new taller sea wall is to be built at Dawlish as the DfT announced that up to £80m is being made available to build it – five years... more >
Urgent safety advice calls for louder horns on Edinburgh trams after pedestrian’s death

15/02/2019Urgent safety advice calls for louder horns on Edinburgh trams after pedestrian’s death

The RAIB has issued urgent safety advice calling for louder warning horns to be fitted on Edinburgh’s trams following the death of a pedest... 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 >