How easy is long term thinking on the railway now?

Class 170101

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Stabling at Penzance was looked at and it was a major issue for 9 cars because Long Rock couldn’t be extended at either end. Throughput on night shift is also an issue with the layout as is the ability to service and stable at the station.

In the DA2 negotiations the “normal” loadings on the Plymouth-Penzance section led to a hard choice. You couldn’t justify both the Cornish half hourly proposal and all year round 9 or 10 car operation. The political choice was the Cornish half hourly because you could always extend the 5 car units when the all year round loadings justified it. Go 9 car then would have lost the Cornish half hourly, probably for good.

One of the advantages of 5 car operation is that no money needed to be spent at the Penzance end - a major factor in getting the 802 sets approved was the relative ease with which they could be introduced - no major depot expenditure needed to be undertaken. High summer services could also be augmented with relative ease, that is why an extra unit was contracted for in the summer months, to free up the required units.

About three or four years ago I spotted that NR were going to sell off Ponsondane. I told GWR (the then deputy MD) to get it stopped as, if we wanted to go all 9 or 10 car to PZ in future, we needed it. He and his team have subsequently done a superb job of not only securing the site for the future but getting funding in place to put the sidings back in for stabling. Meanwhile GWR has looked at the working arrangements at Long Rock to get slightly more than the previous limit of 1 x 9 car on the depot at once but get it wrong and you stitch the depot up. However, you really do need Ponsondane to get all the 5 or 6 PZ starters and finishers to be 9 or 10 car.

The problem with any scheme for the long term is that you have to do it sequentially, always with an eye for the future because funding for everything at once just isn’t forthcoming. Although Reading depot doesn’t see IET units, at the design stage it was going to for LTV services. Turbos, not electrics, were going to be the other traction maintained there.

The late Stuart Baker, in one of his DfT value management exercises, mandated the Reading servicing shed design be reduced to two roads, 6 turbo cars long. The east sidings would only be built when the IET’s were being built. I went potty, rang up his then assistant and to cut a long story short, we got the depot we have today. It was built with electrical clearance and 8 car EMU operation in mind, not because the DfT wanted it - electrification wasn’t on the agenda then - but I felt it was most likely to happen and I didn’t want to see an overly expensive and disruptive extension happening later on - I have seen too much of that kind of thing before. Stuart wasn’t told that we had done this (deliberately) until much later but the millions we saved!

It’s hard going sometimes to get what you want but you can’t give up because you are in danger of waving goodbye to the future if you do.

Following on from the GWR Yaw Damper thread, the MD referred in this post now no longer works for GWR, but elsewhere in First Group from what I remember reading in the railway press. How easy is it to get long term thinking when those in senior positions only last as a franchise or even move on mid term by their decision or someone else's decision or those at the DfT / Treasury / political party whether it be civil servants or ministers move around every couple of years it seems?
 
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mmh

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Following on from the GWR Yaw Damper thread, the MD referred in this post now no longer works for GWR, but elsewhere in First Group from what I remember reading in the railway press. How easy is it to get long term thinking when those in senior positions only last as a franchise or even move on mid term by their decision or someone else's decision or those at the DfT / Treasury / political party whether it be civil servants or ministers move around every couple of years it seems?
The long term thinking now comes from Governments. The days of any innovation from franchisees, in the rare examples there was any (Chiltern, Virgin perhaps), are long gone.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The railways group at DfT is more permanent than the ministerial team which is always subject to a reshuffle, however good they are at the transport job.
The top team at RDG is the TOC equivalent, and also hangs around, often exchanging senior roles with individual TOCs.
NR is pretty constant, but is currently reorganising for autonomous "Regions" rather than centrally manged "Routes".
GBR will change a lot of management roles, both in the TOCs and at RDG/NR/DfT.
Hopefully they will then have some permanence so that the changes can be bedded in.

Franchised TOCs only have the reducing franchise length until renewal as their horizon.
Recently that has been in many cases 2 years or less, with the multitude of short-term direct awards issued by the DfT.
The "rail delivery contracts" now being negotiated by DfT with the incumbents stand a chance of being more permanent (Avanti might get a 10-year contract).
 
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thedbdiboy

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This is why the central premise of the Williams-Shapps review is to establish GBR - 25 years of Government + short term franchises has opened up a yawning gap in who is in overall charge of the industry. Government must set overall funding and policy objectives but it is simply not feasible to manage the overall strategic direction without some sort of suitably empowered arms-length body in charge of overall management and with overall financial accountability.
 

dk1

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I never understood those who wished for more government control/nationalisation. It’s all gone rather dull now as expected.
 

Irascible

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I never understood those who wished for more government control/nationalisation. It’s all gone rather dull now as expected.

Railtrack amptly illustrated reasons for nationalisation. However the DfT has had a far more direct involvement in actually running services since "privatisation" than under BR ( although whether the people who would have flowed up to senior management at BR ended up in the DfT I don't know ), so perhaps returning to a publically owned body for everything is actually less direct control again.
 

Ianno87

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SOME franchised TOCs... (etc.). There are TOC people planning to around 2050.

Yes, TOCs do have Strategic Planning functions embedded within them, looking beyond the end of current contracts. Balancing between that and short term politics, of course.

Plus all the Strategic Planning done by Network Rail through Route Studies etc to inform the Department's thinking.
 

uww11x

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Usually TOCs FOCs NR will plan for the next Control Period with longer term plans in the background
 

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