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.

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...

Metrolink close to overtaking London Tramlink as third busiest in England

Metrolink close to overtaking London Tramlink as third busiest in England

20.11.15: Major sporting events in Manchester – including the Rugby World Cup at Etihad Stadium, Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and Manchester City and United matches – helped the city’s Metrolink hit a record number of passeng...

Halfway there for Crossrail surface works

Halfway there for Crossrail surface works

18.11.15: Six years into the project and with another four left until trains hit the capital, Crossrail surface works have today reached the halfway mark.. Although these works take only a £2.3bn slice of the overall £15bn Crossrail fundi...

What you've been saying about TransCityRail North...

What you've been saying about TransCityRail North...

13.11.15: Thanks from all of us here at RTM to everyone who made TransCityRail North such a fabulous event last night. You can read our take on it here, but we also wanted to highlight some of the contributions you made via social media:  ...

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Potential Leicester to Coventry rail link mulled over in updated Leicestershire transport vision

22/02/2019Potential Leicester to Coventry rail link mulled over in updated Leicestershire transport vision

The potential of a Leicester to Coventry rail link has been revived again as one of the key highlights of a new transport masterplan outlined by ... more >
Queues of 15,000 and Eurostar chaos at St Pancras in no-deal Brexit

22/02/2019Queues of 15,000 and Eurostar chaos at St Pancras in no-deal Brexit

Eurostar queues of up to 15,000 passengers could mount up at London’s St Pancras International station in the event of a no-deal Brexit, ac... more >
New head of safety and environment for Hull Trains announced

21/02/2019New head of safety and environment for Hull Trains announced

A new head of safety and environment has been announced by Hull Trains, with Mark Shepherd due to replace Phil Green in the role. Bringing m... 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 >