Great British Railway Disaster?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by plymothian, 16 Nov 2011.

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  1. plymothian

    plymothian Member

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    I recently dug out a bok published by the Independent on Sunday in the early stages of privatisation detailing what it - through readers' stories - then saw as he Great British Railway Disaster.

    Which of these forecasts, if any, are still relevant or are still evident in some way? I've tried to condense the book as simply as possible.

    - Connections are not held between TOCs
    - A TOC is in no obligation to get you home if you missed your connection due to another TOC, unless they agree to reimburse the fare incurred
    - TOCs will not tell you the cheapest fare if it's run by another company
    - TOCs will not advertise rival's trains on their timetables or at their stations necessitating the consultation of many timetables
    - TOCs cannot put up more info signs or make improvements to stations else they'll incur extra rental charges from Railtrack
    - Full UK timetables will only be available from retail outlets
    - Stations will be separated according to TOC operations, necessitating consulting different staff, using different entrances and ticket offices
    - You will have to book a ticket for each TOC used through their own booking line
    - TOCs will not accept a ticket bought through another TOC even if they run parallel routes
    - Guards will charge prices for their own TOC even if operating on another TOC's service
    - Bikes may/may not be taken on trains, may/may not be charged for
    - Through tickets to the continent via Eurostar cannot be bought
    - Regional trains connection to Eurostar cannot be used unless you buy through Eurostar
    - Group travel will become more difficult as restrictions will be imposed on busy trains
    - RedStar will become inconvenient and too expensive to use
    - TOCs will close depots and thus more trains with faulty/full toilets will run
    - One broken TOC's train cannot be recovered by another TOC's
    - Charter trains will become less common due to access charges
    - Trains will be conveyed by road for maintenance more due to the high cost of access charges
    - Wrangles about who owns what land - Railtrack/TOC/local council cause maintenance issues
    - New stations will be harder to open due to increase charges and/or reluctance for a TOC to pay more access charge
    - Toy trains will cost more because TOCs will charge for their logo use
    - Snowploughs will not be used because the locos for them are owned by freight companies
    - Railtrack now charge taxis for waiting on their premises
    - Signalboxes are controlled by representatives of rail companies arguing who's train will get priority
    - Local travel card schemes will die due to TOCs' reluctance to accept the loss of revenue
    - Ticket prices for heavily used services will increase to put people off
     
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  3. deltic

    deltic Established Member

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    This if memory serves me was based on a young Christian Woolmer showing his lack of knowledge of how BR used to operate

    but to answer your question in my opinion

    - Connections are not held between TOCs - correct
    - A TOC is in no obligation to get you home if you missed your connection due to another TOC, unless they agree to reimburse the fare incurred - wrong
    - TOCs will not tell you the cheapest fare if it's run by another company - wrong
    - TOCs will not advertise rival's trains on their timetables or at their stations necessitating the consultation of many timetables - wrong
    - TOCs cannot put up more info signs or make improvements to stations else they'll incur extra rental charges from Railtrack wrong
    - Full UK timetables will only be available from retail outlets - partially correct but not really much in demand these days
    - Stations will be separated according to TOC operations, necessitating consulting different staff, using different entrances and ticket offices - wrong
    - You will have to book a ticket for each TOC used through their own booking line wrong
    - TOCs will not accept a ticket bought through another TOC even if they run parallel routes depends on type of ticket
    - Guards will charge prices for their own TOC even if operating on another TOC's service - wrong
    - Bikes may/may not be taken on trains, may/may not be charged for - partially true but rules are not much different from BR
    - Through tickets to the continent via Eurostar cannot be bought wrong
    - Regional trains connection to Eurostar cannot be used unless you buy through Eurostar trains no longer run
    - Group travel will become more difficult as restrictions will be imposed on busy trains wrong
    - RedStar will become inconvenient and too expensive to use - closed due to hatfield
    - TOCs will close depots and thus more trains with faulty/full toilets will run wrong
    - One broken TOC's train cannot be recovered by another TOC's true
    - Charter trains will become less common due to access charges - dont know
    - Trains will be conveyed by road for maintenance more due to the high cost of access charges - correct
    - Wrangles about who owns what land - Railtrack/TOC/local council cause maintenance issues wrong
    - New stations will be harder to open due to increase charges and/or reluctance for a TOC to pay more access charge true
    - Toy trains will cost more because TOCs will charge for their logo use
    - Snowploughs will not be used because the locos for them are owned by freight companies wrong
    - Railtrack now charge taxis for waiting on their premises - has in some places but not in most
    - Signalboxes are controlled by representatives of rail companies arguing who's train will get priority - wrong
    - Local travel card schemes will die due to TOCs' reluctance to accept the loss of revenue - wrong
    - Ticket prices for heavily used services will increase to put people off - true but that happened under BR
     
  4. the sniper

    the sniper Established Member

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    I didn't know it lasted that long!
     
  5. HH

    HH Established Member

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    I would say not true. Early doors charter trains actually saw a boom. Fuel prices and lower demand due to the economy have seen a drop the last few years.

    NR (and previously Railtrack) own all the stations. It's usually the cost of building that puts them off, rather than the TOCs. They only get built if at least partially funded from elsewhere.
     
  6. ChrisCooper

    ChrisCooper Established Member

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    Remember though this book was written in the early stages of privatisation, so whilst some things will not be true now, they would have been in the past. Some of it was possibly either speculation about what might be, or based on what TOCs would have liked, but thankfully never happened, either because it was blocked or they thought better of it. Compulsory reservations on long distance trains is one that Virgin at least wanted but either they were not allowed to introduce or sensibly decided against.
     
  7. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I have a copy of this book, though i haven;t looked at it for quite a few years. I seem to recall quite a few stories that were plainly a result of BR being instructed to act in a certain way as a prelude to privatisation.
     
  8. driver9000

    driver9000 Established Member

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    A failed train operated by one TOC can and has been recovered by another TOCs train.

    Red Star ended in 1999 before Hatfield happened.
     
  9. RPM

    RPM Established Member

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    As Greenback has intimated, many of the failings Wolmar attributed to the privatised railway were actually issues caused by the transition from BR to the new regime. In the book he singularly fails to appreciate this surely very obvious point. As others have also pointed out, he is also completely wrong about many other things... He's not known as the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent for nothing!
     
  10. ACE1888

    ACE1888 Member

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    very informative thread this one
     
  11. deltic

    deltic Established Member

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    While Red Star was brought by Lynx in 1999 they continued trading as Red Star and using rail for some time until rail punctuality collapsed after Hatfield and the whole operation collapsed. However, they had been struggling for some time as the loss of overnight mail and newspaper trains meant it was more difficult to operate and dealing with lots of TOCs didnt help.

    The Red Star name is now owned by UPS who brought Lynx
     
  12. Michael.Y

    Michael.Y Established Member

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    Not a failed train, but ATW's 57s have been dragging Virgin Pendolinos across North Wales this week.
     
  13. Wyvern

    Wyvern Established Member

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    Many of his predictions about fares have been avoided by the introduction of ATOC.
     
  14. driver9000

    driver9000 Established Member

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    As I remember the ATW liveried 57/3s are subleased from Virgin. They regularly appear on Virgin Thunderbird duties away from the ATW area.
     
  15. quarella

    quarella Member

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    Watched a video recording a week or so ago of a programme made by HTV Wales in the summer of 1995. "The last train round Wales". At the start, possibly having read Mr Wolmar's (possibly repeated by Prof Stuart Cole as the Welsh media transport expert) prophecies the presenter, using a rover states that this may be the last time a journey such as this can be made.

    (From memory as tape is in the loft Swansea - Shrewsbury via Llandrindod. Shrewsbury - Holyhead via Chester and journey terminated at Llandudno Jct due to adverse weather with line shut due to flooding Llandudno town to Junction and road transport taking over an hour due to road conditions. Taxi to Blaenau Ffestiniog or Porthmadog thence to Shrewsbury and back to Swansea via Marches and South Wales Main Line).
     
  16. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    It may be worth pointing out that some of the things that we enjoy may not have survived the privatisation process without people campaigning for their retention. News features, and books like this, although not faultless, were important for bringing these issues to a wider audience than the specialist railway magazines, which covered the issues of through ticketing and TOC co-operation in greater depth.

    It's easy to scoff now at some of what might be regarded as scare stories - but without these the railway we know now might have been a lot different.
     
    Last edited: 18 Nov 2011
  17. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Could have, may have, might have. Anyone can write this too. Doesn't make it true.

    Fact is that 99.9% of the people in the railway after privatisation were the same as those before privatisation. Sure there were some changes at the top at the top, but you shouldn't put too much importance on that.
     
  18. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Anyone can write your post as well - it doesn't make it true. 99.9% is not a fact. It's a figure you plucked out of thin air. Few people on the ground changed, but senior management did. And guess what - it's them that make the big decisions.
     
  19. Hydro

    Hydro Established Member

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    You should, because everything changes once new management comes in. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. Sometimes people just want to make a name for themselves, sometimes they don't care. Rarely do things remain the same.
     
  20. xydancer

    xydancer Member

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    Actually, this is sometimes true e.g. LM London-Birmingham timetables do not show Virgin services, but do show Southern. They used to, but for some reason were dropped a couple of years ago. LM Trent Valley timetables show Virgin from Nuneaton/Stafford etc but not Rugby.

    In fact, it's presently impossible to get a single timetable that shows all London-Rugby services.
     
  21. HH

    HH Established Member

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    (Some) New Directors come in. A few other HQ staff. Maybe as many as 20, more often considerably less. In many cases after privatisation the directors were either all the same (management buyouts) or all the same bar 1 or 2 (for example at First Great Eastern the only change was the FD). Staff number thousands. 99.9% is a fact.

    The biggest single change under the first set of Franchises was the significant increases in pay. Outside that, and an increase in commerciality, I don't think much else changed any more than it would have done under BR.

    There was more change in the secondary franchises, but that's much less to do with new management than it was to do with the changed franchise specifications from the SRA.
     
  22. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    There were a lot of very big changes in that the railway lost any sort of strategic forward planning, cross-subsidies which would have been dealt with within BR now have to go via HM Government with all the interference and micro-management that that brings, and with all of the various interfaces involved, it is currently highly opaque where today's taxpayers money goes.
     
  23. RPM

    RPM Established Member

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    The tragedy of privatisation is that is was supposed to free the railways from the dead hand of Government. Sadly, the opposite has happened.
     
  24. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Railtrack had a strategy. Turns out to have been flawed, but they had one. Now we have ORR, NR, DfT all providing 'strategic guidance'.

    TOCs have more freedom now to develop strategies than ToUs did under BR.
     
  25. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    It's not enough to have each TOC developing its own strategy. There needs to be an overall strategy for the network as a whole. At present this is attempted by dilettante politicians, civil servants and Sir Roy.
     
  26. 150222

    150222 Member

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    London midland and southern ARE both owned by Govia.
     
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