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.

Disabled passenger numbers hit record levels

Disabled passenger numbers hit record levels

15.04.16: More disabled people than ever are using Britain’s railways, figures released yesterday by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) suggest. In 2012-15, the number of disabled person’s railcards in circulation increased from 144,829 to...

Changing of the guard: Roy Freeland to speak on behalf of RSG at Infrarail

Changing of the guard: Roy Freeland to speak on behalf of RSG at Infrarail

08.04.16: Infrarail 2016 have announced the new speaker for the Rail Supply Group (RSG) at next week’s event, with Perpetuum’s Roy Freeland replacing Alstom’s former UK president. Roy Freeland, SME lead for the RSG Council, will app...

Search is launched to uncover origins of WW2 era plans to reconstruct Forth Bridge

Search is launched to uncover origins of WW2 era plans to reconstruct Forth Bridge

05.04.16: Mysterious 71-year-old plans for a Forth Bridge reconstruction that was never built have been discovered in an archive, leading to a hunt to find out more about them. The drawings, found in a microfiche file among a box of historical docume...

Mental health at the heart of rail travel

Mental health at the heart of rail travel

01.04.16: It’s a momentous day for West Coast staff and commuters alike: Virgin Trains has kicked off a partnership with the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) to increase awareness of mental health and wellbeing amongst customers and employees, includi...

BTP deploy extra resources following Brussels terrorist attacks

BTP deploy extra resources following Brussels terrorist attacks

23.03.16: Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels yesterday morning, British Transport Police (BTP) announced they are deploying extra resources on Britain’s transport networks. The attacks in Brussels began at 7.00am GMT yesterday with two...

Virgin unveils Azumas for East Coast

Virgin unveils Azumas for East Coast

18.03.16: Virgin have unveiled a new fleet of their fastest ever trains to increase capacity on their East Coast route. The 65 VirginAzuma trains are capable of reaching 125mph in around four-and-a-half minutes, compared to around five minutes ten se...

Sussex trains slow to 5mph as latest landslip hits

Sussex trains slow to 5mph as latest landslip hits

14.03.16: Another landslip has hit the rail network, this time in Sussex, forcing Southern rail services on the line between Eastbourne and Lewes to slow to 5mph. Network Rail staff are currently digging bore holes into the rail to look deeper at the...

Anything but splitting franchises

Anything but splitting franchises

11.03.16: It’s a turbulent time for the rail industry at the moment, what with the upcoming Shaw Report, early signs of potential asset privatisation across Network Rail, and even a looming shake-up of how operators run services in the UK. A sh...

Row over Network Rail’s future worsens as campaign launched to stop station sales

Row over Network Rail’s future worsens as campaign launched to stop station sales

04.03.16: Activists are joining the debate over Network Rail’s future as anti-privatisation group ‘We Own It’ has launched a week of protests against proposals to sell off 18 major stations. The protests began at King’s Cross...

Passenger awareness and safety upgrades needed to stop level crossing deaths

Passenger awareness and safety upgrades needed to stop level crossing deaths

01.03.16: A new campaign from Network Rail is a reminder of the dangers of level crossings and what both members of the public and the railway industry can do to avoid fatalities. Network Rail has launched the campaign today after finding that there...

Majority rules – Network Rail should keep its stations public

Majority rules – Network Rail should keep its stations public

26.02.16: A short poll of RTM readers believe that Network Rail should keep control of all of its major stations. Earlier this week, RTM reported that Network Rail had contracted Citigroup bankers to look at the possibility of selling off parts, or all, o...

Liverpool proposes paying for HS2 extension with local business rates

Liverpool proposes paying for HS2 extension with local business rates

23.02.16: Is Liverpool prepared to pay for HS2 to come to the city? A new report from think tank ResPublica argues that the city needs to be connected to HS2 to meet its economic targets, including the creation of more than 70,000 jobs by 2030 in sectors...

McLoughlin happy with Pacer replacement deal, and “busy” British order books

McLoughlin happy with Pacer replacement deal, and “busy” British order books

29.01.16: Following last week’s announcement by Arriva that CAF is to build 281 new carriages for the new Northern franchise to replace the Pacer trains, there was much noise made about “Why didn’t we go for a British manufacturer?&rdquo...

Poor compensation

Poor compensation

19.01.16: Why can’t rail travel vouchers (given as compensation by operators after delays) be used online? Only about a quarter of tickets are actually bought at station ticket offices these days, more and more are bought online and at automate...

Our not so golden tickets

Our not so golden tickets

18.12.15: This probably comes as no surprise, but it’s been revealed that 69% of all train users either partly or entirely fail to understand the different types of tickets available to them. A recent study by the Department for Transport, publ...

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latest rail news

First Vivarail production train enters final build stage

23/02/2018First Vivarail production train enters final build stage

After a period of radio silence, Vivarail has announced that its long-awaited battery D-Train is in its final build stage and will be in passenger ... more >
Amey manager appointed as TfN’s permanent NPR director

23/02/2018Amey manager appointed as TfN’s permanent NPR director

Transport for the North (TfN) has announced the appointment of its new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) director. Tim Wood has already successfull... more >
Array of Thameslink failures mean there are ‘critical tests looming’ for HS2

23/02/2018Array of Thameslink failures mean there are ‘critical tests looming’ for HS2

Despite its progress, the Thameslink Programme still faces substantial challenges that must be addressed to ensure successful delivery – an... 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

Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2018: Exciting details announced

09/02/2018Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2018: Exciting details announced

The first details of this year’s Big Rail Diversity Challenge have been revealed and it’s safe to say the 2018 edition is set to be more thrilling than ever. Last year saw the RTM team attend the second edition in what is quickly becoming Women in Rail’s flagship event, where teams with a 50/50 gender split compete in a ... more >
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NCHSR: The possibilities are limitless

06/02/2018NCHSR: The possibilities are limitless

The National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) has been gifted with a brand-new lab dedicated to surveying and scanning technologies designed t... more >
Keeping Britain's railway on track

06/02/2018Keeping Britain's railway on track

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, argues investment in track maintenance and rail infrastructure is fundam... more >
The Intelligent Infrastructure approach

06/02/2018The Intelligent Infrastructure approach

Network Rail is seeking to improve asset management whilst cutting down on expenditure by implementing a new Intelligent Infrastructure programme... more >
Project Aura: Changing the game

02/02/2018Project Aura: Changing the game

Paul Boyle, head of ERTMS at Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), describes how Project Aura has been revolutionising training across the organisatio... more >

rail industry focus

  • 08/12/2017A game changer for Midland Metro

    The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) updates RTM’s Luana Salles on the latest projects taking place across the growing Midland Metro...
  • 09/11/2017Testing tomorrow's technology today

    David Brazier, site manager and area sales manager for the UK & Ireland at OMICRON electronics, tells RTM’s Luana Salles about the major...
  • 09/11/2017What next for safety?

    As rail businesses edge towards their target of zero injuries, improving safety performance can plateau. Amey’s sector director for rail, Lee...
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interviews

Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >
Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

23/01/2018Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

RTM’s Josh Mines catches up with Mark Somers, project director for Thameslink, on how the final stages of the programme are progressing and... more >
Modernising journeys in north east England

09/11/2017Modernising journeys in north east England

First Hull Trains is about to embark on the biggest fleet overhaul it has delivered since being set up in 2000. Managing director Will Dunnett te... more >