MPs table early-day motion against McNulty reforms

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Pumbaa

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From the Graun: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/08/train-travel-worse-government-plans

Trains will become more crowded and expensive and services will be cut under government plans for the railways, MPs have warned.

More than 100 MPs have signed an early day motion criticising government proposals to break up Network Rail and curb funding.

The motion warns that the government's plans will "worsen passenger services through the loss of thousands of frontline workers from trains, stations, ticket offices, safety-critical infrastructure and operational roles", and "will result in higher fares, cuts in services and more crowded trains".

The government has demanded that the industry make savings, with a view to cutting subsidies as well as pledging to end the annual above-inflation fare rises. Ticket office closures look certain after Justine Greening, the transport secretary, confirmed this year that she wanted the industry to deliver savings of £3.5bn a year by 2019. Responding to the review conducted by Sir Roy McNulty last year, she said passengers and taxpayers were picking up the tab for a "costly efficiency gap" and reform was long overdue.

The signatories say that proposals to break up the track operator, Network Rail, will make the railways more complex and less efficient and ignore the experience of European counterparts.

The motion, tabled by the Labour MP John McDonnell, has attracted cross-party support including the former Liberal Democrat leaders Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell. It urges the government to run the railway as a "public service" with "affordable fares and proper staffing levels".

The TUC has meanwhile highlighted figures from the rail regulator showing that increased fares have come while investment in the network by train operating companies has halved over the last five years, from £743m in 2006-07 to £377m last year.

The TUC deputy general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: "MPs from across the political spectrum are voicing the concerns of thousands of their constituents who feel ripped off by private train operators who inflict heavy fare rises while cutting staff on trains and stations and keeping investment in decent facilities on trains and stations to a minimum.

"These same companies are now being rewarded by the government with longer franchises and more freedom to maximise profits while cutting staff and closing ticket offices, showing exactly where ministers' priorities lie – not with the passenger but with the executives and shareholders of the train operating companies."

The RMT union's general secretary, Bob Crow, said: "The scandal of rail privatisation, which has bled billions in private profit out of our transport system for the last two decades, not only continues but is set to worsen under the plans laid out in the government's McNulty rail review.

"This government has learnt nothing from the tragedies of the past and is allowing the profiteers to bleed the railways of desperately needed investment while creating the perfect conditions for another Hatfield or Potters Bar. It is a national disgrace."

The rail minister, Theresa Villiers, said: "There is a consensus in the rail industry that inefficiency and waste is costing hard-pressed farepayers and taxpayers too much. That is why the government has set out a roadmap for action alongside the industry to deliver real value for money so we can end inflation-busting fare rises and deliver a better service for passengers."

Discuss.
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Also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17932161
 
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anthony263

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I do agree that there can be savings in the rail industry however I think the DFT meddling in things is not helping the situation.

One example would be the white elephant known as IEP in my opinion this train is going to be a massive waste of money and it would be cheaper from more electrification and ordering pendolino/class 180's from alstom which is what Angel trains were looking at as a cheaper alternative to IEP.

Paying big premiums is also something I think doesnt help as that money could re-invested by the train operator perhaps additional rolling stock/services.
 

HSTEd

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Paying big premiums is also something I think doesnt help as that money could re-invested by the train operator perhaps additional rolling stock/services.
In all but one case that I am aware of (FCC apparently), premiums are entirely used to defray the enormous subsidies directed directly to Network Rail, apparently in an attempt to hide the collosal subsidies required on the rail network and thus cast it as being better value for money than under BR.

So reducing premiums would mean yet more profit for operators and yet higher subsidies.
 

Tiny Tim

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The clamour of MPs jumping onto a bandwagon is barely audible over the petulant squealing of the Train Operating Companies.

The railway press has been stuffed with so-called analysis of McNulty, all carefully designed to discredit him and his report. Attempts to pretend that our railways aren't costing too much are futile. Commentators try to dismiss McNulty's comparisons with other railway systems, but it's not possible to change the amount we, as taxpayers, have to pay, and it's too much.

The horrible truth is that privatisation hasn't saved any money (possibly the opposite) and has only increased government interference in how the railways are run. The trouble is that now many companies depend on Britain's railways to make a profit for their shareholders. No wonder they don't like McNulty.
 

Wath Yard

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The horrible truth is that privatisation hasn't saved any money (possibly the opposite) and has only increased government interference in how the railways are run. The trouble is that now many companies depend on Britain's railways to make a profit for their shareholders. No wonder they don't like McNulty.
Correct. A number of large influential companies have a vested interest in retaining the status quo, as do the unions. I really can't see any of the proposals coming to fruition due to the opposition.

The ironic thing is that Labour and the unions claim that services will be cut if the proposals are adopted, however it is the exact opposite - services will be cut if they're not adopted as we can't afford to keep subsidising the railway to the extent we currently do.

As for the Early Day Motion - it was Labour who introduced the RPI+1% fare increases to increase the % paid by passengers and it was their awarding of short term franchises that helped push up the cost of the railway in the first place. So wittering on about reducing fares, and running the railway as a public service is laughable.
 

Tiny Tim

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As for the Early Day Motion - it was Labour who introduced the RPI+1% fare increases to increase the % paid by passengers and it was their awarding of short term franchises that helped push up the cost of the railway in the first place. So wittering on about reducing fares, and running the railway as a public service is laughable.
As usual convenient amnesia features in politics. The Conservatives rushed (bungled?) privatisation, Labour have done little to improve on it. Both sides like to pretend the present arrangement is working. It isn't.
 

TEW

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McNulty doesn't really attempt to solve the problems it highlights. It spends the whole report showing how fragmentation has lead to an increase in costs, but then advocates further fragmentation, that's the main criticism of it.
 

Fincra5

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Seems like the staff who actually deal with the public who will be hit. The ones they actually need. I can't think of the massive amount of pointless positions there must be in the management system within each TOC. A lot of middle managers not doing much :)
 

Tiny Tim

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McNulty doesn't really attempt to solve the problems it highlights. It spends the whole report showing how fragmentation has lead to an increase in costs, but then advocates further fragmentation, that's the main criticism of it.
Quite. But at least three lengthy articles I've read recently try to argue that McNulty's sums are wrong, and that the present system is in fact, value for money. These claims are part of a campaign on the part of the TOCs to maintain dividends. We're not well-served by our press, who have published extensive criticism of McNulty with little balance. McNulty may not have got it all right, but he doesn't deserve some of the (quite personal) remarks made about him in supposedly reputable magazines.

Sir Roy McNulty doesn't believe a radical change is necessary, so has recommended some serial tinkering. This may well prove futile.
 

Ferret

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McNulty doesn't really attempt to solve the problems it highlights. It spends the whole report showing how fragmentation has lead to an increase in costs, but then advocates further fragmentation, that's the main criticism of it.
My main criticism of it is that he advocates closing ticket offices and extension of DOO but doesn't explain who'll be collecting the money that makes the wheels go round. It was a horribly flawed piece of work.
 

ainsworth74

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It was a horribly flawed piece of work.
I would loved to have seen what it looked like before the DfT got their hands on it and made sure it was 'on message'. One of the reasons I don't bash McNulty over the head about his report is that I'm far from convinced that what was actually published really was his report anymore.
 

Wath Yard

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Quite. But at least three lengthy articles I've read recently try to argue that McNulty's sums are wrong, and that the present system is in fact, value for money. These claims are part of a campaign on the part of the TOCs to maintain dividends. We're not well-served by our press, who have published extensive criticism of McNulty with little balance. McNulty may not have got it all right, but he doesn't deserve some of the (quite personal) remarks made about him in supposedly reputable magazines.
I'm not sure what you expect from the railway press. Most of it is poor quality and, other than the specific enthusiast sections, usually does little more than print TOC press releases.

My main criticism of it is that he advocates closing ticket offices and extension of DOO but doesn't explain who'll be collecting the money that makes the wheels go round. It was a horribly flawed piece of work.
This is a deliberately misleading comment. I don't believe he advocates closing ticket offices and introducing DOO on the same lines. There are already many lightly used stations without ticket offices, and a number of DOO services. Fares are collected and they could be if either or both were extended.
 

Fincra5

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I'm not sure what you expect from the railway press. Most of it is poor quality and, other than the specific enthusiast sections, usually does little more than print TOC press releases.



This is a deliberately misleading comment. I don't believe he advocates closing ticket offices and introducing DOO on the same lines. There are already many lightly used stations without ticket offices, and a number of DOO services. Fares are collected and they could be if either or both were extended.
You have to agree though that most fares from un-manned stations are dealt with more often than not by the Guard... along with TVMs (which fail a lot). Having DOO is basically a faceless company, you may see the occational RPO. #
 

TEW

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My main criticism of it is that he advocates closing ticket offices and extension of DOO but doesn't explain who'll be collecting the money that makes the wheels go round. It was a horribly flawed piece of work.
Indeed, he's trying to find all these small ways to save money, such as that one which wouldn't really work, rather than getting to the root of the problem. The extension of DOO and reduction of ticket office hours are quite rightly things that people don't want, and they are the main things that the unions and press have picked up on.
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I'm not sure what you expect from the railway press. Most of it is poor quality and, other than the specific enthusiast sections, usually does little more than print TOC press releases.
If you want to read some good quality insight in to McNulty and the Command Paper, as well as the industry generally I'd suggest reading Roger Ford's Informed Sources in Modern Railways.
 

Tiny Tim

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I would loved to have seen what it looked like before the DfT got their hands on it and made sure it was 'on message'. One of the reasons I don't bash McNulty over the head about his report is that I'm far from convinced that what was actually published really was his report anymore.
".....let me make it quite clear that it is not true that the report was written to fit in with the views of the Transport Secretary at the time, Philip Hammond. I had genuine independence; nothing I wanted to say was left out of the report, and conversely nothing I did not want to say is in the report." - Sir Roy McNulty
Dodgy dossier? I don't think so.
 

PHILIPE

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McNulty doesn't really attempt to solve the problems it highlights. It spends the whole report showing how fragmentation has lead to an increase in costs, but then advocates further fragmentation, that's the main criticism of it.
McNulty probably was not allowed to tackle the issue as it would be going against Govrernment dogma re privatisation. I am not defending nor opposing privatisation at the moment but the Railway was not a suitable industry to privatise.
 

yorksrob

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Whilst I agree with a lot of the things above, I think he needs to be reined in on his recommendations for the Regional Railway most of all. There needs to be an acceptance of it's importance as an integrated part of the national network, and let's face it, the towns and villages served by it need to be linked to the national network. For those unconvinced, I would suggest they look at the number of people who travel the Whitby branch end to end, with many making onward connections.
 

Ferret

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This is a deliberately misleading comment. I don't believe he advocates closing ticket offices and introducing DOO on the same lines. There are already many lightly used stations without ticket offices, and a number of DOO services. Fares are collected and they could be if either or both were extended.
I'm sorry, which planet are you currently inhabiting? He clearly says that the default method of working apart from where operational circumstances dictate otherwise should be DOO and that ticket office hours should be reduced too. Not sure what other interpretation you can make from that quite honestly!
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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If you want to read some good quality insight in to McNulty and the Command Paper, as well as the industry generally I'd suggest reading Roger Ford's Informed Sources in Modern Railways.
The recent Modern Railways cover of the Command Paper was an excellent piece of considered railway journalism.

There are those who decry this magazine, stating it is too "managerial" in its tone, but I have been taking it for many years and it does tend to offer a more "grown-up" (pardon the phrase) summation of matters.

Alan Williams' end of the publication article this month..."Dear Secretary of State"...was a well worded and entertaining "so called open letter", which does convey the feelings of matters at present.

Roger Ford is an excellent wordsmith and his "Informed Sources" articles are also always worth reading.
 

anthony263

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The recent Modern Railways cover of the Command Paper was an excellent piece of considered railway journalism.

There are those who decry this magazine, stating it is too "managerial" in its tone, but I have been taking it for many years and it does tend to offer a more "grown-up" (pardon the phrase) summation of matters.

Alan Williams' end of the publication article this month..."Dear Secretary of State"...was a well worded and entertaining "so called open letter", which does convey the feelings of matters at present.

Roger Ford is an excellent wordsmith and his "Informed Sources" articles are also always worth reading.
I have to agree with the comments made above too be honest I find Modern railways to be the best rail mag out of all of them with Todays Railways UK and The Railway magazine in a joint 2nd.

Rail I do think has become terrible
 

Tiny Tim

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'Modern Railways' is the only magazine to have published any balance to negative reporting of McNulty and the command paper. Despite this, the editorial ethos of 'Modern Railways' does seem (at least to me) quite conservative. (small 'c' intended.) I read a selection of railway magazines, and they all seem to recycle press releases fairly uncritically. It's more lazy journalism than bias, but allows the corporate media machine an advantageous position.

Michael Schabas ('Modern Railways', May) doubts that British railways are less efficient than their foreign counterparts because '....the opposite seems more likely to be true.' Or to put it another way, he doesn't like McNulty's figures and prefers to believe something else. Very scientific, I'm sure.
 

WatcherZero

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Todays Railways UK is improving but to me its still amateurish and based on hearsay rather than actual investigative reporting, I even recognise some of their 'news' as originating from discussion boards. RAIL at least did a lengthy report across several issues actually testing and comparing the journey and service quality between the UK and the continent.
 

DaveNewcastle

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McNulty doesn't really attempt to solve the problems it highlights. It spends the whole report showing how fragmentation has lead to an increase in costs, but then advocates further fragmentation, that's the main criticism of it.
Quite. But at least three lengthy articles I've read recently try to argue that McNulty's sums are wrong, and that the present system is in fact, value for money. These claims are part of a campaign on the part of the TOCs to maintain dividends. . .
Surely the elephant in the room is the disproportionately high cost of doing (almost) anything constructive with our railways.

It has become so expensive to lay new track, maintain existing track, re-signal track and to buy rolling stock that we're where we are: managing a victorian legacy which is too costly to change.

That makes the Railways easy prey to political, social or economic rhetoric - because it can't respond to its critics (constructive or accusatory).

I've not been persuaded by the argument that privitisation is a handicap to development, but I have been persuaded that privitisation has institutionalised much of that inertia against change.

[As an aside, it has amused me to see how many senior rail professionals claim on their CV's to have embraced and excelled in 'change manangement']
 

Ferret

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Dave - not to mention the extraordinary cost of leasing trains from leasing companies....who are owned by banks.
 
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McNulty probably was not allowed to tackle the issue as it would be going against Govrernment dogma re privatisation. I am not defending nor opposing privatisation at the moment but the Railway was not a suitable industry to privatise.
Neither, I would suggest were the water boards? That's another story.
 

IanXC

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Dave - not to mention the extraordinary cost of leasing trains from leasing companies....who are owned by banks.
Well you can hardly blame the investors! Opportunity to purchase a ROSCO aka licence to print money?!

Anyway they're mainly owned by investment funds, pension funds and infrastructure companies now.
 

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I've noticed that the cost (as quoted by Network Rail) of laying new track has soared. I know that the price of steel has risen, but does this account for the eye-watering sums expected for re-laying existing routes? Does NR quote an artificially high figure? Are there other reasons why track renewal now seems to cost so much?
 

ANorthernGuard

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I'm sorry, which planet are you currently inhabiting? He clearly says that the default method of working apart from where operational circumstances dictate otherwise should be DOO and that ticket office hours should be reduced too. Not sure what other interpretation you can make from that quite honestly!

Thats how myself and most staff read it, A licence to cull staff and reduce safety, good luck for the future to my colleagues, we will need it!
 
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