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Is this government likely to turn against railways?

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DerekC

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I have a worry that this government may turn against railways. It has all the old-fashioned Tory ingredients which accompanied the long anti-railway period in the 1950s and 1960s and we are in the middle of a politically very embarrassing series of strikes (not making any comment on the rights or wrongs, just stating facts). There are some strident voices which are arguing that railways are a dinosaur which we can no longer afford, should be replaced by automated roads etc etc. Could this result in an end to the "railway consensus" which has been with us for the past 25 years, with major cuts to railway investment?
 
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WatcherZero

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Some mood music from the new chancellor today.

He said he was willing to splurge on rail and road infrastructure projects in the short term to help fight the negative impact of brexit but that they would in the long term be further fiscal tightening. He also said that they would only be looking to smaller projects which could break ground almost immediately rather than larger projects which would take years to get off the drawing board because they wouldn't provide any short term economic stimulus.

That sounds good for Transpennine rail upgrade program (options supposed to be presented to Government for selection by the end of next year and a quick turn around in to construction work), bad for Sheffield road tunnel, Crossrail 3 or any other grand projects which would take a decade before they were able to start construction.
 
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Domh245

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Some mood music from the new chancellor today.

He said he was willing to splurge on rail and road infrastructure projects in the short term to help fight the negative impact of brexit but that they would in the long term be further fiscal tightening. He also said that they would only be looking to smaller projects which could break ground almost immediately rather than larger projects which would take years to get off the drawing board because they wouldn't provide any short term economic stimulus.

What kind of quick projects could be done on the railway? I can't imagine that there are many that would get much done at all.
 

Cowley

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I'd like to think that in this day and age turning against the railways would be a mild version of political suicide. It's a good question though.
The railways are having their day again in some ways and are seen as a 'Green' solution to the generally over stretched transport systems in this country.
The HS2 project has not been managed very well as far as the media go perhaps but could you imagine the government trying to push a new motorway scheme through the Chilterns instead? They wouldn't be able to put much of that into tunnels...
I'm not sure where Swampy is these days but I think B&Q would soon sell out of shovels and any equipment that could be used for climbing trees.
I think most rail improvement schemes seem to be quite well accepted by the general public and there is a general feeling not just in this country but also in Europe and other parts of the world that railways are the best solution for certain types of transportation.
 

superkev

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With many of the enhancements they have paid for rumbling slowly along and seemingly taking longer than a world war at ever escalating cost I do worry the treasury may pull the plug and move there investment to say driverless trucks and cars.
K
 

Shaw S Hunter

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I think the OP's basic premise is wrong. The 1950s saw a Tory government finance the 1955 Modernisation Plan; it was the poor organisational structure of BR which led to much of the money being effectively wasted. Quite possibly this led to the Treasury becoming an anti-rail body but not necessarily the politicians. And while people are quick to criticise the Beeching closures they were just a part, and an unavoidable one, of the Reshaping Plan which led to things like Inter-City, Freightliner, merry-go-round coal trains, etc.

It might be truer to suggest that under the coalition of 2010-2015 the railways did particularly well thanks to Lib-Dem influence and that the current situation is a return to more normal Tory policy regarding railways, in particular seeking to reduce the payroll as a quid-pro-quo for significant investment. Far more worrying in my view is the possibility of ever more micro-management by the DfT. The desirability of avoiding this is just about the only thing that makes the creation of a new "British Rail" in any way a good thing.
 

yorksrob

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There are some elements of truth in the above post, but it omits the main reason for the decline of rails fortunes with the Government in the 1960's. The rise of alternative modes in comparison to rail. Governments are naturally attracted to what seems shiny and modern. My fear is that something more shiny and modern comes along and steals rail's thunder. My hope is that as a small, relatively crowded island, whatever shiny modern thing that comes along proves impractical to replace the railway or remains too expensive for a significant proportion of the population.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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With many of the enhancements they have paid for rumbling slowly along and seemingly taking longer than a world war at ever escalating cost I do worry the treasury may pull the plug and move there investment to say driverless trucks and cars.
K

Network Rail, in particular, has to show it can deliver improvements for an acceptable cost/timescale.
"Shovel ready" is not a term you can use about any of the major programmes, which take 1-2 parliaments even to start.
HS2 is coming up to its final go/no go decision point, which will be a bellweather (though it's not "the railway" as we usually understand it, not being built/run by NR).
We'll know what the government thinks of the railways long term by this time next year when they publish the CP6 HLOS.

Beyond that, the franchising system needs to stay on track.
If the bidders vanish, because of low returns or "trouble", we will be in a different sort of crisis.
 

physics34

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Just wish the railways were seen as a great asset rather than some cash hungry monster that they always see it as.
 

Tetchytyke

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Things have changed in recent years, London would grind to gridlock without the public transport system, and Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham aren't far away from that position either.

I can see Network Rail being readied for privatisation again, because Railtrack was such a resounding success, but I think investment will be sustained in the network. I don't see that there's much of a choice, at least in the cities. If they couldn't get something like the London Ringways through in 1965, they definitely won't now.

I wouldn't be surprised if HS2 gets canned. I wouldn't be sad either. I think it is a waste of money.
 

Bletchleyite

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I wouldn't be surprised if HS2 gets canned. I wouldn't be sad either. I think it is a waste of money.

As I've said before I don't think it should be canned, but I do think it should be reduced in scope to be more like a Swiss Neubaustrecke - basically 2 "superfast" lines for the WCML south of Birmingham to add capacity. It does not need dedicated stations, nor dedicated trains (Pendolinos at 140mph would be fine), nor dedicated ticketing, nor to go north of Birmingham in the foreseeable future. It's about capacity, not specifically speed, and that could be delivered more cheaply.

That aside, upgrading to a German standard of city transport network (bus, heavy rail, tram and underground where appropriate) should be the priority for transport project spending in my view.
 

Bletchleyite

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How much of the country could be equipped with ERTMS for the cost of HS2?

How much of the country needs to be equipped with ERTMS?

Doing that would strike me as a waste of money. Because of our limited loading gauge, interoperability is a pointless gimmick except on a small number of lines e.g. HS1. Assuming we Brexit I would hope such requirements were dropped entirely.
 

swt_passenger

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How much of the country could be equipped with ERTMS for the cost of HS2?

Potentially none, because the HS2 budget does not become available for use by the 'rest of the railway' if HS2 were cancelled.

This point has come up about a million times in the HS2 discussions so far. (That may be a slight exaggeration...)
 

The Ham

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How much of the country needs to be equipped with ERTMS?

Doing that would strike me as a waste of money. Because of our limited loading gauge, interoperability is a pointless gimmick except on a small number of lines e.g. HS1. Assuming we Brexit I would hope such requirements were dropped entirely.

What does ERTMS have to do with our loading gauge.

As I understand it, it is a signalling system which allows more trains to run (and potentially at higher speeds) than the existing signals which rely on track side lights.
 

Ianno87

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What does ERTMS have to do with our loading gauge.

As I understand it, it is a signalling system which allows more trains to run (and potentially at higher speeds) than the existing signals which rely on track side lights.

ERTMS/ETCS allows capacity for additional trains to run in specific circumstances only, and does not avoid the need to undertake conventional infrastructure enhancement to complement it. Applying it across the whole network in a blanket manner does not in itself magic additional capacity into existence (nor does some of the network even need additiobal capacity).
 

coppercapped

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I think the OP's basic premise is wrong. The 1950s saw a Tory government finance the 1955 Modernisation Plan; it was the poor organisational structure of BR which led to much of the money being effectively wasted. Quite possibly this led to the Treasury becoming an anti-rail body but not necessarily the politicians. And while people are quick to criticise the Beeching closures they were just a part, and an unavoidable one, of the Reshaping Plan which led to things like Inter-City, Freightliner, merry-go-round coal trains, etc.

It might be truer to suggest that under the coalition of 2010-2015 the railways did particularly well thanks to Lib-Dem influence and that the current situation is a return to more normal Tory policy regarding railways, in particular seeking to reduce the payroll as a quid-pro-quo for significant investment. Far more worrying in my view is the possibility of ever more micro-management by the DfT. The desirability of avoiding this is just about the only thing that makes the creation of a new "British Rail" in any way a good thing.

Yes!

Quite apart from the waste of much of the money made available for the 1955 Modernisation Plan, by the time Network Rail has finished the GW electrification it will be some 3 years late and some £2,000,000,000 over budget.

The trains will be no faster than before.

I am not surprised that the grown-ups in the Treasury have taken the keys away from the children. Some of these children can also be found playing trains in the Department for Transport.
 

swt_passenger

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ERTMS will also provide for ATP functionality on routes not yet fitted with ATP. That is presumably a major safety benefit.

I don't see NR abandoning ERTMS just because of Brexit, and this has been the general view in earlier discussions in these forums.
 

edwin_m

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ERTMS will also provide for ATP functionality on routes not yet fitted with ATP. That is presumably a major safety benefit.

I don't see NR abandoning ERTMS just because of Brexit, and this has been the general view in earlier discussions in these forums.

It's actually a fairly small safety benefit because TPWS and other changes have already eliminated most of the accidents that ATP would have prevented had it been introduced 25 years ago.

The reasons for ERTMS are primarily a certain amount of extra capacity (but by no means a solution to every problem) and potential cost saving. The latter arises from reducing the amount of trackside equipment, but also because of signalling being produced in larger quantities to cover multiple countries instead of being bespoke for the UK market. Alternative systems are only available from single suppliers, whereas ERTMS track and train equipment will work together whoever they are bought from.

Much of the above is still to be proven in practice, but if it all happens the ERTMS will pay for itself in reduced costs, especially as it is mostly being introduced when existing signalling is life-expired instead of replacing it prematurely.

Various countries have adopted ERTMS despite not being in the EU, not having any rail connection to the EU and not wishing to join to EU. It makes sense to adopt it even if not compelled to do so.
 

route:oxford

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I have a worry that this government may turn against railways.

If these worries are causing you nervousness, anxiety or sleepless nights, first of all you should speak to your GP. They will be able, in the first instance, to give you some guidance on coping strategies.

We are in the middle of a politically very embarrassing series of strikes (not making any comment on the rights or wrongs, just stating facts).

It doesn't appear to have caused any embarrassment to Nicola Sturgeon following the strikes at Scotrail and Caledonian... Humza Yousaf simply referred to them as "frustrating".

There are some strident voices which are arguing that railways are a dinosaur which we can no longer afford, should be replaced by automated roads etc etc.

Can you name the voices specifically, or is it just voices that you hear?

If you Google search "railways are a dinosaur", there is just one reference to it in the whole world - and it's this very thread.

http://bfy.tw/7cIj

Could this result in an end to the "railway consensus" which has been with us for the past 25 years, with major cuts to railway investment?

We are protected from failure to invest as long as there is a franchise system.
 

Robin1966

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I'm not sure where Swampy is these days but I think B&Q would soon sell out of shovels and any equipment that could be used for climbing trees.

Hee, hee, as a former road protester, and friend of a certain Daniel Hooper, I know EXACTLY where Swampy is these days... ;) :D
 

WatcherZero

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Netherlands hasn't really tried it yet. They have installed it on several lines but the rolling stock it was to be used with, Fyra was withdrawn after 3 months. They don't have rolling stock to do further testing so have decided to wait until Germany and France catch up before doing a full national rollout.
 

Muzer

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If these worries are causing you nervousness, anxiety or sleepless nights, first of all you should speak to your GP. They will be able, in the first instance, to give you some guidance on coping strategies.



It doesn't appear to have caused any embarrassment to Nicola Sturgeon following the strikes at Scotrail and Caledonian... Humza Yousaf simply referred to them as "frustrating".



Can you name the voices specifically, or is it just voices that you hear?

If you Google search "railways are a dinosaur", there is just one reference to it in the whole world - and it's this very thread.

http://bfy.tw/7cIj



We are protected from failure to invest as long as there is a franchise system.
Probably referring to things like this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...ew-high-speed-routes-built-expert-claims.html

Try to actually look things up before you sarcastically claim they don't exist.
 

Muzer

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The word "dinosaur" was not mentioned once in that article.

Try "Ctrl & F" before you claim something exists.
Where were the quotation marks around dinosaur in the OP? Did he ever state or even imply that people were literally calling the railway a dinosaur? No! Anyone can see that he was saying that people were expressing the general sentiment that the railways are an old-fashioned industry soon to be obsoleted by new technology. That's what dinosaur means in this context. Stop being obtuse just for the sake of it.
 

route:oxford

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Where were the quotation marks around dinosaur in the OP? Did he ever state or even imply that people were literally calling the railway a dinosaur? No! Anyone can see that he was saying that people were expressing the general sentiment that the railways are an old-fashioned industry soon to be obsoleted by new technology. That's what dinosaur means in this context. Stop being obtuse just for the sake of it.

I'm using quotation marks around the word "dinosaur" as I was quoting his content.

You don't need to use the quotation marks when you rekey the words into the search box for "The Daily Mail" website. Now, you may have spotted that I've used quotation marks for a second time. This isn't because you quoted a link from the website, but simply because it is convention when detailing the name of a book, journal or newspaper to put it in quotation marks.

Give it a try...

If he's heard a lot of voices that "railways are a dinosaur", surely at least one of them would have found a quote somewhere online.
 
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Muzer

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I'm using quotation marks around the word "dinosaur" as I was quoting his content.

You don't need to use the quotation marks when you rekey the words into the search box for "The Daily Mail" website. Now, you may have spotted that I've used quotation marks for a second time. This isn't because you quoted a link from the website, but simply because it is convention when detailing the name of a book, journal or newspaper to put it in quotation marks.

Give it a try...

If he's heard a lot of voices that "railways are a dinosaur", surely at least one of them would have found a quote somewhere online.
You've misunderstood me. I'm saying that in the OP, he didn't put quotation marks around the word dinosaur. Therefore, he's not saying that people have literally said the quote "railways are a dinosaur". He's saying that people have expressed the sentiment that railways are a dinosaur, but perhaps not through that specific phrase. That sentiment is certainly expressed in the linked article.

Did you ever learn the difference between direct and indirect quotation at primary school?
 
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