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.

Network Rail seeks 15 more apprentices

Network Rail seeks 15 more apprentices

05.07.16: Network Rail has announced that it will recruit 15 more apprentices into its 2016 intake due into increased demand. Aspiring apprentices have until 18 July to apply for the three-year scheme, which begins with 20 weeks training at Network R...

ORR promises greater scrutiny of franchise compensation

ORR promises greater scrutiny of franchise compensation

01.07.16: The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has promised to continue its drive to improve compensation offered to passengers for delays. After consumer pressure group Which? highlighted the issue by making a super-complaint to the ORR, the regulator...

Long-term strategy needed to tackle gender imbalance in engineering

Long-term strategy needed to tackle gender imbalance in engineering

23.06.16: Guest blog to mark National Women in Engineering Day by Melanie Maldonado, principal project manager for Rail London, AECOM.  It was my mum who suggested a career in engineering to me. A family friend was an engineer and that is how we...

How could Brexit affect the rail sector?

How could Brexit affect the rail sector?

21.06.16: Sean Thomas, senior consultant at economics consultancy Oxera, looks at the impact Brexit could have on the rail sector.  Brexit raises significant implications for the GB rail network and its operators. Here I consider two potential e...

Knighthood for Crossrail chair shows importance of rail skills

Knighthood for Crossrail chair shows importance of rail skills

14.06.16: The chair of Crossrail was given a knighthood in this weekend’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to UK infrastructure, skills and employment. Sir Terry Morgan, CBE, is also chair of the HS2 College Governing Body, and w...

Two-pronged approach needed to encourage women’s careers in railways

Two-pronged approach needed to encourage women’s careers in railways

10.06.16: Women seeking to build or return to a career in railway engineering can find out more about job opportunities at HS2 on 23 June. To mark National Women in Engineering Day, HS2 will hold a coffee morning from 9.30am to 11.30am at its office...

Virgin introduces ground-breaking entertainment portal

Virgin introduces ground-breaking entertainment portal

07.06.16: Virgin is seeking to make its passenger experience more entertaining than ever, with a new app allowing customers to view free films and TV programmes during their journey. Passengers who download the BEAM app will be able to use it to view...

Treating each rail passenger as a service partner

Treating each rail passenger as a service partner

03.06.16: The head of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), as well as representatives from different passenger groups, will give evidence about improving passenger experience to the Commons Transport Select Committee on Monday afternoon. The list of wi...

Government considering private funding for East Coast upgrades

Government considering private funding for East Coast upgrades

27.05.16: Private funding may be needed for the necessary infrastructure changes to allow the new East Coast InterCity lines to run at 140mph, the government has said. In response to a written question from Leeds MP Rachel Reeves, rail minister Clair...

Your chance to live in a railway station… complete with its own train

Your chance to live in a railway station… complete with its own train

20.05.16: A former 19th century railway station, featuring its own track and steam train, is for sale for any rail enthusiast who has £600,000 to spare. The former Great Northern Railway Station in Rippingale, Lincolnshire, was built in 1872 an...

Free station wi-fi: shouldn’t we all have it by now?

Free station wi-fi: shouldn’t we all have it by now?

13.05.16: Passengers on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) can now browse the internet on free wi-fi at 105 of the operator’s stations. The service, provided by O2, is available on Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express routes, al...

Putting accessible and inclusive transport at the heart of HS2

Putting accessible and inclusive transport at the heart of HS2

05.05.16: Charlotte Hughes, director of external relations at the Community Transport Association, invites HS2 to work together with communities in order to put accessibility and inclusivity at the heart of the infrastructure project. It is hard not...

The cost of recommending Network Rail change

The cost of recommending Network Rail change

29.04.16: The DfT has revealed that the estimated incremental cost of preparing and publishing the long-awaited Shaw Report was £875,919. The report, which rejected Network Rail privatisation for the ‘foreseeable future’, has been w...

Partnership offers Samaritans’ number on train tickets

Partnership offers Samaritans’ number on train tickets

26.04.16: People in need of someone to talk to about their problems will have a reminder of someone to talk to printed on their train tickets under a new partnership between the Samaritans and Network Rail. The new campaign, ‘We Listen’...

Scheme to offer internships to engineers after a career break could benefit rail industry

Scheme to offer internships to engineers after a career break could benefit rail industry

22.04.16: A new scheme to offer internships to civil engineers coming back to work in the industry after a career break could help remedy some of the rail industry’s staffing shortage and gender discrimination problems. The Civil Comebacks prog...

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A transport network ‘on its knees’ is slowly catching up in the north, says Grayling

16/11/2018A transport network ‘on its knees’ is slowly catching up in the north, says Grayling

Chris Grayling has said that rail in the north is playing catch-up from “decades of economic neglect” and that whilst improvements in... more >
Crossrail delay to mount up £200m in lost TfL revenue, London Assembly says

16/11/2018Crossrail delay to mount up £200m in lost TfL revenue, London Assembly says

Costs incurred by the lengthy delay to London’s Crossrail project could cost Transport for London (TfL) over £200m in lost revenue, L... more >
Rail minister launches strategy for grassroots community rail projects

16/11/2018Rail minister launches strategy for grassroots community rail projects

Rail minister Andrew Jones has urged train operators to commit resources into new and existing community rail projects as he launched the 2018 Co... 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

Elizabeth Line: short-term pain for long-term gain?

13/11/2018Elizabeth Line: short-term pain for long-term gain?

Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, discusses the deferred opening of the central section of the Elizabeth Line. The announcement on 31 August that the central core section of the Elizabeth Line would not be opening on 9 December was a cause for major dismay and disappointment amongst politicians and... more >
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Challenging the perceptions of rail

13/11/2018Challenging the perceptions of rail

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Rail Industry Association (RIA) explains how the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is challenging people’... more >
Data-driven rail

13/11/2018Data-driven rail

Andy Cross, director of Elastacloud, and Lucy Bealing, from the Elastacloud Rail Centre of Excellence, discuss their innovative collaboration wit... more >
Looking ahead to the Williams Review

13/11/2018Looking ahead to the Williams Review

Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, takes a look at the government’s root and branch review of the rail s... more >
Digital Railway: All change on the ECML

06/11/2018Digital Railway: All change on the ECML

Network Rail route programme director, Toufic Machnouk, explains why only a radically new approach to contracting will deliver a better service f... more >

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interviews

Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

09/11/2018Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

Sponsored interview  Anything that brings about safety and time-saving benefits is a valued improvement for the rail industry, which is w... more >
Taking to the skies

30/10/2018Taking to the skies

Network Rail’s commitment to driving innovation is best encapsulated by its latest scheme involving high-definition imagery drones, or UAVs... more >
Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

29/08/2018Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

RTM’s Jack Donnelly sat down with one of the leading minds behind Network Rail’s most advanced and innovative rail maintenance techno... more >