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.

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...

How many passengers used your station last year?

How many passengers used your station last year?

15.12.15: The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its latest annual dataset on station usage, which analyses ticket sales and travel cards to assess how many people are travelling to and from, or interchanging at, specific stations. This year...

Last chance to have a say on Gospel Oak-Barking extension

Last chance to have a say on Gospel Oak-Barking extension

04.12.15: Transport for London (TfL) has today launched the final consultation on the new rail link from Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside before it seeks permission from transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to start construction. The proposed 4km ex...

Meadowhall remains DfT preference – but it leaves options open

Meadowhall remains DfT preference – but it leaves options open

30.11.15: HS2 station location has been a source of constant debate and frustration in the past few years, as the government, engineers and designers try to solve the connectivity conundrum without letting costs spiral completely out of control. City cent...

NR profits down and punctuality target missed, but New Year around the corner

NR profits down and punctuality target missed, but New Year around the corner

27.11.15: Network Rail has revealed in its half yearly report that it has narrowly missed its punctuality target as “more than one in 10 trains” arrived late.  Also, in what has been a tough couple of weeks, the rail infrastructure o...

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Former Aston Villa chair announced as WMCA HS2 growth delivery chair

21/09/2018Former Aston Villa chair announced as WMCA HS2 growth delivery chair

Steve Hollis has been announced as the new chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) HS2 growth delivery board. A former chairman... more >
Major northern station upgrade reaches phase two of redevelopment

21/09/2018Major northern station upgrade reaches phase two of redevelopment

Plans to improve the Doncaster Railway Station have reached phase two of the redevelopment process. Work has begun on the plans, developed b... more >
Northern unveils new digital train for roll-out at end of year

21/09/2018Northern unveils new digital train for roll-out at end of year

Northern has unveiled its refurbished Class 158 digital train for passengers, ahead of the new fleet’s complete roll-out by the end of the ... 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

The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

18/09/2018The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

RTM's Jack Donnelly assesses what the Transport Committee's latest report on the VTEC franchise means for the industry as a whole “Even now, there is no concrete plan, nor timescales, for the interim operator of this franchise. From our inquiry, we cannot be sure, and cannot reassure passengers or public, that the arrangements ... more >
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Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

18/09/2018Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will be transformational for the north – it will change the way people live, work, and play. It will rebalan... more >
Innovation through people and technology

18/09/2018Innovation through people and technology

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways and director of railway safety at the ORR, picks out the key industry challenges to focus on based on... more >
Why we all must mind the gap

18/09/2018Why we all must mind the gap

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), explains how we can all ensure the UK’s next generation... more >
3D printing: from virtual to real

11/09/20183D printing: from virtual to real

Like so many other technological advancements, 3D printing has moved from being the stuff of science fiction, through niche industrial applicatio... more >

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interviews

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 >
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 >