British Rail's ability to innovate compared with modern day train companies

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matt_world2004

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I can't see a single innovation that appeared during the period of privatisation that would not have appeared under British rail.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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I can't see a single innovation that appeared during the period of privatisation that would not have appeared under British rail.

Would they have produced a 125mph tilting WCML with Pendolinos within 5 years?
Inter-city Bi-modes (769s don't count)
ETCS and ROCs
HS1 and St Pancras/King's Cross development
How long would it have taken them to develop a retail ticketing web site and ATMs to match
Trainline/Realtime trains (ie releasing operational information for 3rd parties to develop added value apps)
Delay-repay (when did BR ever refund any money for poor performance?)
5-year route/service development plans for public consultation (Route utilisation strategies)
Rapid LT&S upgrade (the BR misery line)
Rebuilt Reading and Birmingham New St.
Electrification blitz (GW, NW, Scotland)

I don't doubt some of this would have happened, but would it all have happened in 25 years?
And would HMG have signed off these projects under BR?
It was very difficult for BR to get more than one major project at a time, or one fleet replacement at a time, funded.
BR had a hierarchy of lines, IC at the top and Regional at the bottom.
Franchises meant a degree of equality of franchises, and they all got a bite of the cherry, notably the Regional routes.
How would BR have handled Devolution (Wales, Scotland and within England).
Ditto Independent freight operators, Open Access and new entrants (all mandated by EU regs)

It's too easy to say that BR would have done as well or better than the semi-private railway we have had since 1996.
I don't think they would ever have been given the money to do it "their way".
A lot of external events have happened since then, all affecting the railway.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Remember that EU rail policy has been modelled, at least in part, on rail privatisation in the UK.
Indeed.

There's also all the new competition, environmental and health and safety legislation to deal with, plus vehicle construction and emissions regs, and TSI-PRM...
BR's methods for doing eg the 1990 ECML electrification would not have worked for the GWML in the 2010s.
Nothing would have been the same as under 1990s BR, even if they still existed.
 

Wolfie

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......eventually.

......and using twice as many staff as necessary !
An evidence-free ideological assertion.

Latter-day BR was an extremely efficient organisation.
Absolutely

Would they have produced a 125mph tilting WCML with Pendolinos within 5 years?
Inter-city Bi-modes (769s don't count)
ETCS and ROCs
HS1 and St Pancras/King's Cross development
How long would it have taken them to develop a retail ticketing web site and ATMs to match
Trainline/Realtime trains (ie releasing operational information for 3rd parties to develop added value apps)
Delay-repay (when did BR ever refund any money for poor performance?)
5-year route/service development plans for public consultation (Route utilisation strategies)
Rapid LT&S upgrade (the BR misery line)
Rebuilt Reading and Birmingham New St.
Electrification blitz (GW, NW, Scotland)

I don't doubt some of this would have happened, but would it all have happened in 25 years?
And would HMG have signed off these projects under BR?
It was very difficult for BR to get more than one major project at a time, or one fleet replacement at a time, funded.
BR had a hierarchy of lines, IC at the top and Regional at the bottom.
Franchises meant a degree of equality of franchises, and they all got a bite of the cherry, notably the Regional routes.
How would BR have handled Devolution (Wales, Scotland and within England).
Ditto Independent freight operators, Open Access and new entrants (all mandated by EU regs)

It's too easy to say that BR would have done as well or better than the semi-private railway we have had since 1996.
I don't think they would ever have been given the money to do it "their way".
A lot of external events have happened since then, all affecting the railway.
Had BR remained some of the innovations that you mention, which in part were responses to current situations, likely would not have been necessary. For example BR would likely have electrified faster thus removing the need for Inter City bimodes.
 

Wolfie

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I'm not really sure about that assertion - the funding for electrification would still have been coming from the same place!
You need to look at the hiatus in any development that privatisation caused and the relative subsidy levels pre and post privatisation. I don't doubt that Inter City electrification would have continued not least as a spend to save measure.
 

Grumpy Git

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You need to look at the hiatus in any development that privatisation caused and the relative subsidy levels pre and post privatisation. I don't doubt that Inter City electrification would have continued not least as a spend to save measure.

Choose how beneficial they may be, the bi-modes put money in the coffers of the foreign nations who build them.*

Putting wires up by and large gives work to UK nationals, plus we have the long term benefit of the improved infrastructure going forward.

*new build not 319 rebuilds
 
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py_megapixel

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You need to look at the hiatus in any development that privatisation caused and the relative subsidy levels pre and post privatisation. I don't doubt that Inter City electrification would have continued not least as a spend to save measure.
That's a good point actually which I hadn't really considered. The spending in an electrification scheme - assuming the rolling stock is up for replacement reasonably soon anyway - is mostly in the infrastructure, while the savings are mostly to be made in the operation of trains. With the infrastructure company separate from the train company, and the train company changing every decade or so, electrification is probably seen as less attractive - what is the incentive, after all, to spend lots of money to save another company money, and why would said other company want to put money towards something where they could cease to exist before it's finished?

Choose how beneficial they may be, the bi-modes put money in the coffers of the foreign nations who build them.
No more than building EMUs does.
Unfortunately, BREL and Met-Cam have both been sold off, and Hunslet-Barclay went bankrupt - otherwise we might still have had world-class rolling stock designers (as well as manufacturers) in Britain.
 

matt_world2004

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Would they have produced a 125mph tilting WCML with Pendolinos within 5 years?

Br did have tilting trains on the wcml it was called the APT , likely they would have refined that design and continued that trend
Inter-city Bi-modes (769s don't count)
Quite likely, given they had one of the largest research and development divisions in europe
ETCS and ROCs
Again quite likely for reasons above
HS1 and St Pancras/King's Cross development

How long would it have taken them to develop a retail ticketing web site and ATMs to match
The br website predated the trainline website, so again quite likely.

There is still no unified smart ticketing standard on the british rail network 17 years after the oyster card was introduced in London. Quite likely if British rail existed it would have adopted a unifed smart card system pretty quickly
Trainline/Realtime trains (ie releasing operational information for 3rd parties to develop added value apps)
The municipally owned operator TfL had open data before the nationalised network rail decided to implement it
Delay-repay (when did BR ever refund any money for poor performance?)
Mandated by the dFt not the tocs. And london underground has delay repay on more generous terms than most TOCs despite being nationalised and then municipally owned
5-year route/service development plans for public consultation (Route utilisation strategies)

Rapid LT&S upgrade (the BR misery line)
Rapid watford dc line upgrade under TfL known as the stinkylink before
 

JamesT

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Br did have tilting trains on the wcml it was called the APT , likely they would have refined that design and continued that trend

The APT had gone in the bin long before privatisation. Surely the institutional memory of BR would be that it was a failure, it took the fresh thinking of Virgin and Railtrack to envision a 140mph WCML that needed the Pendolino. (Of course that didn't entirely work out, but they took the risk)

Quite likely, given they had one of the largest research and development divisions in europe

But despite this, apart from the Class 73 and 74, BR didn't produce any bi-modes. The conditions for their use were there, especially on the ECML where there are routes that extend off the end of the electrification that seem ideal for bi-modes. Instead they chose to have a mixed fleet and run diesels for long distances under the wires.

The br website predated the trainline website, so again quite likely.

There is still no unified smart ticketing standard on the british rail network 17 years after the oyster card was introduced in London. Quite likely if British rail existed it would have adopted a unifed smart card system pretty quickly
BR had a website? Really? The World Wide Web was only starting to take off with the general public in 1994 when BR was on the way out.

A unified smartcard system would almost certainly require DfT signoff for the large expenditure of installing infrastructure at every station. Would BR have been likely to have got that?

Mandated by the dFt not the tocs. And london underground has delay repay on more generous terms than most TOCs despite being nationalised and then municipally owned

Mandated by the DfT because the money is seen as coming out of the TOCs pockets, whereas with BR it would presumably have been seen as merely increasing the cost of the railways to the taxpayer. Not sure about more generous on London Underground. Increasingly TOCs are moving to 15 minute delay repay. They also don't have the large set of exceptions as to why they would pay refunds (e.g. strike action on the tube means no money back, unlike on national rail)

Rapid watford dc line upgrade under TfL known as the stinkylink before

London Overground is still run by a private operator. TfL decided to throw money at the new operator to make changes.
If BR had remained, presumably the line would have remained under DfT control. Would they have thrown money at a line that had above-average punctuality and modern rolling stock (Class 350), or decided that other places were more in need of investment?

Will there be standard T&Cs though? So a platform operative lets say R02 will be paid the same in Cornwall as someone employed in Newcastle.?
I guess we don’t k know yet.

Were the T&Cs standard in the BR days? There's certainly been many threads on here about how even within a TOC they're not standardised as different areas/regions have had different T&Cs and they've been unable to get agreement with the Unions.
Day 1, employees will almost certainly be TUPEd across with their current conditions to whichever operator gets the concession for their area. Although new standard conditions for new starters would seem the obvious way forward, those are also unpopular with the Unions who bargain on the basis that all their members should be equal.
 
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Andrew1395

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I have to say some of the comments that BR wouldn’t have done the things private companies achieved is odd. You can’t prove it either way.

But just to say BR had a very capable technology function. TOPS was adopted and introduced in the 1970s. BR had deployed internal email long before 1994, so I am sure it would have managed websites and digital retailing. Probably with partners. As it did when creating and introducing computerised face to face retailing technology with APTIS and PORTIS and Quickfare TVMs. Today’s system of revenue management uses ORCATS, created in 1982 to support the financial management of sectorisation. In the first half dozen years of privatisation, the railway relied heavily on BR created systems. From finance to vehicle management.

I see no reason why BR would not have embraced the technologies now present.

Virtually all the early innovations of the current private sector era of our railways involved teams heavily reliant on staff who had worked in the industry for many years for BR.

BR had electrified the ECML, and of course the WCML. Achieved with that a far greater leap in both technology and culture transforming it from a steam railway. As well as far more miles of commuter railways. It had reopened a large number of stations after the reversal of road is best post war orthodoxy.

HS1 was basically a BR project. Chiltern line modernisation and Liverpool St rebuild shows that these sort of projects predated privatisation.

BR had evolved many technologies. For the APT which failed primarily because it was a project over reliant on project teams from outside the rail industry you have the HST and mark 111 coaches.

it introduced transformative freight trains like MGR and Freightliner services.

BR delivered workforce reforms and efficiencies. In 1994 it employed 10,000s less people in the equivalent of today’s TOCs, and Network Rail. It introduced DOO schemes that the private sector struggle to do. In fact one of the fears of the unions would be the rationalisation of the workforce under aGBR banner.

More important than private/public is the quality of the leadership of the industry, the culture, the strategic vision and skills of the workforce. Backed up the financial resources to deliver a plan that can deliver the vision.
 
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Wolfie

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The APT had gone in the bin long before privatisation. Surely the institutional memory of BR would be that it was a failure, it took the fresh thinking of Virgin and Railtrack to envision a 140mph WCML that needed the Pendolino. (Of course that didn't entirely work out, but they took the risk).
Suggest that you really need to look up the Inter City 225. Reportedly drew up to 80% of it's engineering from the APT Operated in non-tilt mode on the ECML but was designed to take tilt and operate at 140mph with in-cab signalling. The latter version was at least in part intended for the WCML.

Won't address the rest of your comments in detail except to wonder what the heck class 350s have to do with London Overground and also to question, if BR had not been broken up and privatised, if class 350 would even have existed.
 
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JamesT

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Suggest that you really need to look up the Inter City 225. Reportedly drew up to 80% of it's engineering from the APT Operated in non-tilt mode on the ECML but was designed to take tilt and operate at 140mph with in-cab signalling. The latter version was at least in part intended for the WCML.

Won't address the rest of your comments in detail except to wonder what the heck class 350s have to do with London Overground and also to question, if BR had not been broken up and privatised, if class 350 would even have existed.
Sure, the Mk4 took some cues from the APT and potentially could have been modified into a tilting design. But those plans were knocked back several times.

My mistake with the class 350. The bit of Silverlink that got them wasn’t the bit that ended up as Overground.

Though probably a more pertinent comparison would have been with Merseyrail. Running the same rolling stock, both moved from a national franchise to a local concession. Given the very different levels of investment since suggests the ‘nationalisation’ wasn’t quite the panacea the previous poster suggested.
 

Annetts key

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We can play what if until eternity and we are unlikely to agree. It’s perfectly possible that some of the items above may well have been adopted or done by BR. Especially if it was considered to improve safety without too much increase in cost. Or the operational benefits were seen as worth it for the cost. Or long term benefits could be seen.

BR was investigating various technologies behind the scenes. For example, to improve staff safety, they were developing and testing inductive loop warning systems. See this link.

The APT had gone in the bin long before privatisation. Surely the institutional memory of BR would be that it was a failure, it took the fresh thinking of Virgin and Railtrack to envision a 140mph WCML that needed the Pendolino. (Of course that didn't entirely work out, but they took the risk)
Maybe, but who is to know if they may have revisited the idea later on?

But despite this, apart from the Class 73 and 74, BR didn't produce any bi-modes. The conditions for their use were there, especially on the ECML where there are routes that extend off the end of the electrification that seem ideal for bi-modes. Instead they chose to have a mixed fleet and run diesels for long distances under the wires.
But where was the drive for this back then? The world has changed. I’m sure that if BR existed now, they would either already have, or would be developing bi-mode trains.

BR had a website? Really? The World Wide Web was only starting to take off with the general public in 1994 when BR was on the way out.
Yes, really. Many years ago I discovered it. But by then BR had already started to be broken up.

Were the T&Cs standard in the BR days? There's certainly been many threads on here about how even within a TOC they're not standardised as different areas/regions have had different T&Cs and they've been unable to get agreement with the Unions.
Day 1, employees will almost certainly be TUPEd across with their current conditions to whichever operator gets the concession for their area. Although new standard conditions for new starters would seem the obvious way forward, those are also unpopular with the Unions who bargain on the basis that all their members should be equal.
The books of the BR terms and conditions still exist (and parts of them are still used, as they are still applicable). Both the RMT and Network Rail have them available. RMT on their web site and Network Rail on Connect (their internal intranet).
They were National agreements between BR and the unions. Hence although there are differences between different departments and functions, for example, all guards across the network would have been in the same T&Cs. It was similar for the other grades.

One thing is certain though. If BR had been running the railways, it is highly unlikely that we would have had to wait for years before the Southall crash inquiry could be held. So it is perfectly possible that BR would have taken action to improve safety before the Ladbroke Grove crash occurred. It may well have driven ATP to be fitted to more trains and lines. Or maybe speeded up the development of a different system (maybe TPWS).

......eventually.

......and using twice as many staff as necessary !
Hmm, I’ve seen plenty of contractors propping up shovels doing nothing, all being paid for by private engineering companies working on behalf of a private railway company...
 

JamesT

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One thing is certain though. If BR had been running the railways, it is highly unlikely that we would have had to wait for years before the Southall crash inquiry could be held. So it is perfectly possible that BR would have taken action to improve safety before the Ladbroke Grove crash occurred. It may well have driven ATP to be fitted to more trains and lines. Or maybe speeded up the development of a different system (maybe TPWS).

The Southall Inquiry was delayed by the criminal proceedings against the driver and GWT. Surely exactly the same process would have had to be followed if BR still existed?
 

domcoop7

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The only innovations I can think of in the railways coming from the TOCs post privatisation are:- 1) Virgin Trains' ramping up of ticket prices and aggressive discounting for advance purchase (discussed on another thread); 2) Chiltern's Project Evergreen II; 3) Open Access Operators; 4) New routes by TOCs almost all of which were quickly dropped when the Strategic Rail Authority came into being as they considered on-rail competition to be "ORCATS raiding" (getting disproportionate extra revenue without justification).

When the franchises were first let, under what was then called OPRAF (Office of Passenger Rail Franchising), there were two categories. The short franchises, who were let to do their own thing pretty much, and the longer ones (Connex South East, South West Trains, LTS, Virgin off the top of my head).

The longer ones had specific requirements to introduce new trains or timetables, in return for longer franchise periods. Unlike the shorter contracts, the longer franchises were more prescriptive about what was to be done. Nothing of what these franchises did was just "innovation" - they were specified in the contracts and effectively agreed based on existing plans already provided to OPRAF. Evergreen I on Chiltern, Slam-Door replacement, LTS upgrading, Pendolinos on West Coast - these were all Franchise commitments which in reality were planned to happen no matter which private company won the respective franchises.

Who do you think provided these plans to OPRAF? Where did they get the idea from that the WCML could be upgraded to run 140MPH tilting trains with in-cab signalling, do you suppose? (Which it turn out in the end wasn't possible anyway, but they didn't know that). It was people who worked for the railway and would formerly have worked for BR. Some now in private consultancy, and some hired by TOC / Railtrack / OPRAF teams. But these were very much off the shelf plans.

Without privatisation, and with sufficient funding, these plans could have been put into operation, but rather than a four-five year hiatus during the privatisation programme, work could have been underway by 1992 (which is when new plans were shelved pending the Railways Act of 1993).

[Now would BR have got sufficient funding? Probably not under the Major administration, since one of the benefits of privatisation from that government's point of view was that borrowing to fund the investment would be off the government's books. The Blair administration from 1997 onwards also had the same views (no doubt the same civil servants in the Treasury giving the same advice), but they got around it by massively ramping up their "Public Private Partnership" scheme. What happened on London Underground is probably a fair arbiter of how a non-privatised BR may have worked, and it still involved quite a lot of privatisation even under Labour].


The shorter franchises, like Valley Lines, Regional Railways North East, Merseyrail, etc., did nothing of any significance whatsoever. North West did try a service to London and bought the 175s as an add-on order to the 180s procured by Great Western, but as I said above, none of that lasted so it's hard to see it as a "benefit" of privatisation. I don't know if the Midlands Turbostars were a TOC innovation. Even if so, they were just the latest model of British Rail's Networkers, and had been mandated in the Chiltern Franchise agreement, so it's not really a wild innovation.

The Blair Government's Strategic Rail Authority came into being in the late 1990s and pledged to both encourage innovation at the same time as being far more restrictive in obligations of TOCs. This was never going to work (and indeed didn't). The TOCs as we know in hindsight gamed the system, by bidding for 25 year franchises, promising to rebuild all the stations in solid gold encrusted with diamonds, but only in year 24 and only on the basis that the franchise support subsidies were paid up-front in years 1 to 4. Of course they took the money in years 1 to 4 and when it got to year 5 decided that passenger forecasts weren't up to scratch after all and handed the keys (but not the money) back.

So no benefit to that era of privatisation either.

And meanwhile the SRA became ever more prescriptive starting, effectively, to write the timetables and route maps, curtailing Cross-Country, specifying individual units to be used by individual TOCs, etc. And meanwhile Hatfield happened and Railtrack was made insolvent by Steven Byers, and privatisation has been dead in the water ever since.

[It just took a bizarre combination of a left-leaning Tory government with a large majority and a popular policy agenda (Brexit) to sign the death certificate. Gordon Brown couldn't do it, because he'd have been made out to be a communist. George Osborne couldn't do it because it's against his very nature. Theresa May couldn't do it, because her government struggled to do anything. The current government (whatever your views of them) have a large majority and enacted Brexit (which whatever you think of that is popular with the public, hence the government's popularity ratings still being unusually high at this point in the election cycle). Politically, this means they can do whatever they want - even if it's virtually the same thing that Jeremy Corbyn was advocating for and got slaughtered for it.]

But moving back to the topic at hand, nothing done on the Railway since circa 2005 has been done without the Government of the day directing it to be done. Indeed, the rationale for abolishing the Strategic Rail Authority and creating Control Period Funding Settlements, High Level Output Statements, and the like was that the Government are running the show anyway, so let's drop the pretence and bring the people directly into the Department for Transport. That being the case, anything done since 2005 would have almost certainly been done in an alternate world where BR still existed.
 

Annetts key

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The Southall Inquiry was delayed by the criminal proceedings against the driver and GWT. Surely exactly the same process would have had to be followed if BR still existed?
Iit was delayed because none of the private railway companies involved wanted to admit liability and therefore risk prosecution in court. Or to provide evidence and information that could be used in a court case against them in a prosecution.

BR when it existed before its breakup was the only organisation involved, so it saw no point in such legal matters and would therefore cooperate with an official public inquiry. Often it would admit liability anyway. It also would carry out its own internal investigation and if it found a clear root cause, it would take action itself.
 

deltic

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Delay-repay (when did BR ever refund any money for poor performance?)
John Major's Citizen Charter brought in refunds or extensions to season tickets linked to delays and poor performance on British Rail.
 

Failed Unit

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I know this isn’t an electrification thread but I think BR would have done

MML, GWR (although not sure about Plymouth and Penzance) and Basingstoke - Birmingham.

it may have even done Felixstowe - Birmingham via Peterborough.

we would not see modern EMUs getting cut or homeless like the 379s (i suspect even the 321s would have found new life operating say Sheffield- Leeds local service)

I doubt we would see the bi-modes. I suspect they voyager / meridians would covered London - Aberdeen / Inverness. (Or maybe even the 91s getting dragged) as no privatisation may have meant they never built them in the first place. BR was good on mainlines of putting the cost of rolling stock into the business case. Under BR this would certainly be considered when doing MML / GWR. The HSTs need to go so electrify and build new trains. The plan this time around but under one organisation it is easier.

timetabling is interesting. We lost many useful routes under privatisation because the crossed franchises. People will debate about the timekeeping of the CT routes. But if they all picked up delays at point x, they may have fixed point x rather than split the service. Even the some of the once per day trains may have survived. Never money spinners but great for moving leisure travelers. Skegness - Birmingham for example isn’t a core route but did give people a choice not to drive. Remember missing a connection at Nottingham makes your journey 1 hour longer.

I think some things will always be open to debate. Would BR have priced off demand ahead of some of the infrastructure schemes we have had? Are some routes now too frequent? To me TPE north at 4 TPH works. 5 has pushed it too far. Do Birmingham/ Manchester need 3 tph off peak. (Although in Manchester’s case you could argue the 3rd doesn’t count as it offers a different route)

i am unsure under BR is London - Leeds half hourly would have happened and if it did if one would be via MML. Saying that BR did make Sheffield- Manchester half hourly.
 
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yorksrob

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The jey thing about BR is that it had its research department which was able to pool resources and research all aspects of the railway, such as engineering, ergonomics etc.

Nowadays everything seems to be bought off the shelf from somewhere.
 

Harpers Tate

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It's possibly woth considering commercial activities under this umbrella topic as well.
Possibly an extreme example of this is Northern's £10 (£17.50 weekend) rover ticket. Go anywhere off-peak for a day (or two). But only on Northern services.
1: How would you similarly define which routes (and in some cases, which services on those routes) this would be limited to, absent disparate TOCs?
2: Would BR have had the marketing drive to do such a thing anyway?
There are other examples of commercially-driven "offers" - beyond simple fare competition.
Such schemes are of clear benefit to users and, presumably, of revenue benefit to the Railway.

Sure - a single Railway could make similar offerings, but it seems likely that if one were (for example) allowed to use what is presently a Avanti West Coast long-distance service between Preston and Oxenholme alongside a Northern service en route to (say) Windermere, as opposed to being restricted to the "local" then it seems likely such a ticket would cost more; and that is self-defeating.
 

yorksrob

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It's possibly woth considering commercial activities under this umbrella topic as well.
Possibly an extreme example of this is Northern's £10 (£17.50 weekend) rover ticket. Go anywhere off-peak for a day (or two). But only on Northern services.
1: How would you similarly define which routes (and in some cases, which services on those routes) this would be limited to, absent disparate TOCs?
2: Would BR have had the marketing drive to do such a thing anyway?
There are other examples of commercially-driven "offers" - beyond simple fare competition.
Such schemes are of clear benefit to users and, presumably, of revenue benefit to the Railway.

Sure - a single Railway could make similar offerings, but it seems likely that if one were (for example) allowed to use what is presently a Avanti West Coast long-distance service between Preston and Oxenholme alongside a Northern service en route to (say) Windermere, as opposed to being restricted to the "local" then it seems likely such a ticket would cost more; and that is self-defeating.

NSE did with its Network days.
 

Alfonso

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Virgin trains on board shop instead of buffet? First class lounges (or did these in sectorisatuon days?). Engineering innovation would probably have got there sooner or later whether public, unified, private, or fragmented, but marketing innovation was a bit different.
 

Bletchleyite

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It's possibly woth considering commercial activities under this umbrella topic as well.
Possibly an extreme example of this is Northern's £10 (£17.50 weekend) rover ticket. Go anywhere off-peak for a day (or two). But only on Northern services.
1: How would you similarly define which routes (and in some cases, which services on those routes) this would be limited to, absent disparate TOCs?
2: Would BR have had the marketing drive to do such a thing anyway?
There are other examples of commercially-driven "offers" - beyond simple fare competition.
Such schemes are of clear benefit to users and, presumably, of revenue benefit to the Railway.

Sure - a single Railway could make similar offerings, but it seems likely that if one were (for example) allowed to use what is presently a Avanti West Coast long-distance service between Preston and Oxenholme alongside a Northern service en route to (say) Windermere, as opposed to being restricted to the "local" then it seems likely such a ticket would cost more; and that is self-defeating.

Deutsche Bahn have products for use on local trains only.
 

edwin_m

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BR was world class in rail vehicle dynamics in the 1960s and in solid state signalling in the 80s, to give two examples of technological innovation. It was also pretty good at marketing. The thread title refers to train companies, in its limited franchise term a TOC can't really do any more than marketing initiatives and nor did the system intend them to. Network Rail also encourages and participates in various initiatives but they tend to be rather behind-the-scenes, and the rolling stock industry has innovated in things like traction drives. I'm not sure there are even any major technological innovations still to be had on the railway, more a case of incremental development that doesn't make the headlines.
 
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