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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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 >