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Great Minster Grumbles
Burchell quits Arriva for energy sector role

Burchell quits Arriva for energy sector role

David Brown named as successor   Chris Burchell   Arriva has announced that Chris Burchell, managing director of the group’s UK rail division, will leave his role in October to join energy supplier SSE where he will take on the role of managing director of distribution. He will be succeeded on an interim basis by...
The (transport) times they are a-changin'

The (transport) times they are a-changin’

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   When I commented, in not very favourable terms, on Grant Shapps’ decision to set up and chair a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council I suggested that it would need a team of...
It's time for decisive action on railway costs

It’s time for decisive action on railway costs

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   One of the things I’m increasingly hearing is that the cost of the railways with the new Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs) in place is simply not sustainable. Mind you, that’s hardly rocket...
'One of the silliest things we have ever done'

‘One of the silliest things we have ever done’

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   Would you believe it!? Despite the history of major rail infrastructure projects demonstrating that the vast majority of complex projects are always – I mean, always – delivered late and over budget...
'There is little evidence that we have a strategy'

‘There is little evidence that we have a strategy’

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   So lockdown is gradually coming to an end. But the transport industry is struggling to get patronage back to anywhere near pre-lockdown levels, not least because we have the rather curious spectacle...
Private firms seemed to get 'favourable treatment'

Private firms seemed to get ‘favourable treatment’

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   As we slowly ease out of lockdown, I wonder what the most significant issue has been for the transport sector, and what the long-term impact on the sector will be. At one...
SMMT seeks incentives for new car purchases

SMMT seeks incentives for new car purchases

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   I must confess to being a touch surprised by an article in The Guardian on June 3. It reported that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders had written to the government...
Will we retain some of our new greener habits?

Will we retain some of our new greener habits?

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   Parliament’s back from recess and watching proceedings during Prime Minister’s Questions last week – not something that I normally bother with – was a surreal experience. Just 50 MPs allowed in the...
Bus industry bailout raises questions

Bus industry bailout raises questions

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   So the Chancellor, Rushi Sunak, finally agreed to provide the bus industry in England with a further bailout amounting to some £400m above and beyond the general business support schemes put in...
Will office culture be a thing of the past?

Will office culture be a thing of the past?

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime and on this occasion will refrain from any grumbling. The situation we face today is too serious and any grumbling from me, no...
Is Maynard the man with the radical plan?

Is Maynard the man with the radical plan?

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   You’ve got to admire our secretary of state’s bravado! He has told the RMT to stop playing politics with the railways over their strike action on Southern. Yet that’s exactly what Chris...
'We have so many unknown unknowns'

‘We have so many unknown unknowns’

  Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT   I’m in shock. Never have I witnessed such political turmoil, such drama. And never for one moment did I think the British electorate would vote to leave the EU. Yes, I thought...