Nationalisation in 1948 and Privatisation in 1994

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QueensCurve

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Mod Note: Split from the thread on Scotrail subsidising Dutch rail services

It's called the globalised economy and this sort of thing happens in almost every economic sector pretty much everywhere. Complete non-story. If journalists really want to display some justified indignation they should be looking at things like the use of child labour to produce big name branded goods or the near slave labour employment conditions of foreign workers prevalent in certain countries which could certainly afford to do better.

It is part of the globalised economy, but it is also a sign of a privatisation that allowed state owned foreign companies to bid while refusing to allow British Rail to do so.

Doctrinaire.
 
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It is part of the globalised economy, but it is also a sign of a privatisation that allowed state owned foreign companies to bid while refusing to allow British Rail to do so.

Doctrinaire.

Were British Rail ever in a position where they were allowed to bid for any franchises? I dont seem to remember them ever being told that they couldnt - do you have a source to back up your claim as from memory BR was all but disbanded bar a few little bits and bobs so were not able to bid for anything however I stand to be corrected.
 

Shaw S Hunter

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It is part of the globalised economy, but it is also a sign of a privatisation that allowed state owned foreign companies to bid while refusing to allow British Rail to do so.

Doctrinaire.

Very true. But which political party is actively campaigning to change anything, ie doing more than just inserting a paragraph in its manifesto and then ignoring it when in power? If the SNP was free to do so I'm sure it would consider changing things in Scotland but would probably baulk at the cost. And UKIP, which may well be a significant opposition party come 2020, is positively anti-rail.
 

JohnR

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Were British Rail ever in a position where they were allowed to bid for any franchises? I dont seem to remember them ever being told that they couldnt - do you have a source to back up your claim as from memory BR was all but disbanded bar a few little bits and bobs so were not able to bid for anything however I stand to be corrected.

Debate for Railways Act(1994) - there was a concerted effort to allow BR to bid for franchises - did an amendment get passed by the Lords then rejected by the commons?

But yes, it was a campaign at the time.
 

coppercapped

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It is part of the globalised economy, but it is also a sign of a privatisation that allowed state owned foreign companies to bid while refusing to allow British Rail to do so.

Doctrinaire.

That statement makes it clear that you don't understand the reasons.
 

QueensCurve

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Debate for Railways Act(1994) - there was a concerted effort to allow BR to bid for franchises - did an amendment get passed by the Lords then rejected by the commons?

But yes, it was a campaign at the time.

There was an amendment passed by the House of Lords. I am fairly sure allowing BR to bid was taken out later. I think it may have been Michael Branson-Condom who pursued the amendment.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
That statement makes it clear that you don't understand the reasons.

I understand why perfectly well.
 

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Debate for Railways Act(1994) - there was a concerted effort to allow BR to bid for franchises - did an amendment get passed by the Lords then rejected by the commons?

But yes, it was a campaign at the time.

Ahh I see so by the time it came up they were not in a position to bid then or were ever?

Id not long left school and travelling Europe in 94 so missed most of that
 

yorksrob

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I believe there was some flim-flam at the time about a state owned company frightening off potential private sector competitors, hence BR not being allowed/around to bid for franchises, however everybody knows that this was down to pro-privatisation ideology.

Not that it matters that much in the long run why BR wasn't allowed to bid, the fact is that it has left us in an weaker position in comparison to foreign countries with state owned companies which are in a position to benefit from such investment opportunities and is therefore proven to have been a bad policy decision.
 
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coppercapped

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I believe there was some flim-flam at the time about a state owned company frightening off potential private sector competitors, hence BR not being allowed/around to bid for franchises, however everybody knows that this was down to pro-privatisation ideology.

Not that it matters that much in the long run why BR wasn't allowed to bid, the fact is that it has left us in an weaker position in comparison to foreign countries with state owned companies which are in a position to benefit from such investment opportunities and is therefore proven to have been a bad policy decision.

The point about not allowing a nationalised UK organisation to bid was tied up with the performance, season ticket and other bonds which had to be deposited within days of the date when the franchise is granted.

The point about the bonds is that, if the franchisee withdraws from the franchise for whatever reason, the costs of running a competition to identify a successor would not fall on the public purse. The size of the bond is also designed to hurt if the franchisee loses it - it has to be deposited as cash or as a readily convertible instrument. If the franchise runs to term it is re-funded six months later.

As a nationalised organisation BR could not have got into financial difficulties - the Treasury is always behind it to fork out the cash. Franchises are granted by the DfT, so the question of a performance bond payable to the same organisation which is financially responsible for BR is a nonsense. If it didn't deposit a bond, apart from anything else, there would have been loud cries of unfair competition as the private sector bidders would have to cough up several tens of millions for bonds which BR would have avoided. If BR didn't deposit a bond it would have been construed as illegal state aid.

This is why the cries of disapproval made when foreign nationalised railways bid for franchises and BR could not are totally missing the point. The foreign railways bid as private sector companies and as a consequence have to deposit the performance bonds. The rules are the same for all - there are no exceptions.

I would also point out that British based organisations have successfully bid for train operating contracts on the continent, so the business is not only one way.
 
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coppercapped

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Out of interest, which ones?

National Express for some inter-regional routes in the Rhein-Ruhr area of Germany and the Nürnburg S-Bahn. German franchises are not the same as UK ones in that there is no regional monopoly and the franchisee does not carry the revenue risk.

There are some others elsewhere but I can't remember the details off-hand without looking them up. :(
 

Arglwydd Golau

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National Express for some inter-regional routes in the Rhein-Ruhr area of Germany and the Nürnburg S-Bahn. German franchises are not the same as UK ones in that there is no regional monopoly and the franchisee does not carry the revenue risk.

There are some others elsewhere but I can't remember the details off-hand without looking them up. :(

Thanks. Without wishing to bring up the re-nationalisation debate again, it does strike me, tho', that it was probably not envisaged in 1994 that these kind of headlines would appear (on a reasonably regular basis) in the media, or am I incorrect? Did the privateers think that foreign state-owned companies would run our railway?
 

coppercapped

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Thanks. Without wishing to bring up the re-nationalisation debate again, it does strike me, tho', that it was probably not envisaged in 1994 that these kind of headlines would appear (on a reasonably regular basis) in the media, or am I incorrect? Did the privateers think that foreign state-owned companies would run our railway?

The original (Mark 1) version of privatisation foresaw a state-owned organisation (a Track Authority to be called 'Railtrack') owning the infrastructure which would be funded on the same basis as the trunk roads authority. Train services would be operated by Train Operating Companies which would be lightly regulated with low capital requirements in order to induce companies with direct experience in the service industries to enter the railway business.

The erstwhile Strategic Rail Authority (set up by John Prescott) then started issuing much more prescriptive invitations to tender for the second round of franchising with the result that the costs of bidding went up. This brought with it the requirements that bidders had deeper pockets and not only for the larger performance bonds that were being demanded.

In turn this meant that the ex-BR management buyout teams were effectively sidelined as they weren't in a position to raise such large amounts of capital. They could run the businesses on the cash-flow they generated but couldn't come up with lump sums of £10 or £20 million. This meant only the big boys could play. And eventually the commercial arms of the nationalised continental railways realised that here was a business opportunity.

In any event, the continental railways are not 'running our railway'. At most they are running some of the franchises granted by the DfT. The infrastructure is now, again, state owned as it would have been in the original plan.

So, in answer to your original question - no it doesn't look as if the original architects of privatisation thought that the continental railways would be running our railway. And they are not.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Adding to my previous post...

There seems to be a large body of opinion presented on this Forum, that there is much that is better on the continental railways compared to the way things are done here and we should learn from them.

There is also a large body of opinion that denigrates the operation of many of the trains in the UK by the same continental railways.

This is schizophrenic...:?
 
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Arglwydd Golau

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The original (Mark 1) version of privatisation foresaw a state-owned organisation (a Track Authority to be called 'Railtrack') owning the infrastructure which would be funded on the same basis as the trunk roads authority. Train services would be operated by Train Operating Companies which would be lightly regulated with low capital requirements in order to induce companies with direct experience in the service industries to enter the railway business.

The erstwhile Strategic Rail Authority (set up by John Prescott) then started issuing much more prescriptive invitations to tender for the second round of franchising with the result that the costs of bidding went up. This brought with it the requirements that bidders had deeper pockets and not only for the larger performance bonds that were being demanded.

In turn this meant that the ex-BR management buyout teams were effectively sidelined as they weren't in a position to raise such large amounts of capital. They could run the businesses on the cash-flow they generated but couldn't come up with lump sums of £10 or £20 million. This meant only the big boys could play. And eventually the commercial arms of the nationalised continental railways realised that here was a business opportunity.

In any event, the continental railways are not 'running our railway'. At most they are running some of the franchises granted by the DfT. The infrastructure is now, again, state owned as it would have been in the original plan.

So, in answer to your original question - no it doesn't look as if the original architects of privatisation thought that the continental railways would be running our railway. And they are not.

Yes, I appreciate that they might not be 'running our railway'...(and I do understand the status of Raltrack and subsequently Network Rail) but it is the perception (by many) that they are...that is what I was asking!
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Did the privateers think that foreign state-owned companies would run our railway?

I don't think HMG expected the franchise bidders to be dominated by bus companies as much as they have been.
Serco was in there at the beginning (outsourcing specialists), and briefly BA was interested.
Many of the original franchises were actually management buy-outs (ie ex BR managers), before their TOCs were bought out by the bus bandits (once they were seen to be going concerns).

Arriva was of course the leading "European" British operator before being bought by DB, and is still based in Sunderland.
Arriva may yet be sold off by DB who need the cash.

Anyway, the German, Dutch and French governments have no control over UK franchises, they are let strictly on DfT's commercial terms.

We don't have a public sector rail operator (bar TfL and DRS).
Neither of these is interested in bidding abroad.
Stagecoach, Govia and First could bid in Europe but seem to prefer to burn their fingers in the USA.
National Express has dabbled in Europe and has a foot in the door. It also runs some airports.

MTR is part government-owned in Hong Kong of course, and the Japanese are taking an interest in UK rail franchises.
 
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yorksrob

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The original (Mark 1) version of privatisation foresaw a state-owned organisation (a Track Authority to be called 'Railtrack') owning the infrastructure which would be funded on the same basis as the trunk roads authority. Train services would be operated by Train Operating Companies which would be lightly regulated with low capital requirements in order to induce companies with direct experience in the service industries to enter the railway business.

The erstwhile Strategic Rail Authority (set up by John Prescott) then started issuing much more prescriptive invitations to tender for the second round of franchising with the result that the costs of bidding went up. This brought with it the requirements that bidders had deeper pockets and not only for the larger performance bonds that were being demanded.

In turn this meant that the ex-BR management buyout teams were effectively sidelined as they weren't in a position to raise such large amounts of capital. They could run the businesses on the cash-flow they generated but couldn't come up with lump sums of £10 or £20 million. This meant only the big boys could play. And eventually the commercial arms of the nationalised continental railways realised that here was a business opportunity.

In any event, the continental railways are not 'running our railway'. At most they are running some of the franchises granted by the DfT. The infrastructure is now, again, state owned as it would have been in the original plan.

So, in answer to your original question - no it doesn't look as if the original architects of privatisation thought that the continental railways would be running our railway. And they are not.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Adding to my previous post...

There seems to be a large body of opinion presented on this Forum, that there is much that is better on the continental railways compared to the way things are done here and we should learn from them.

There is also a large body of opinion that denigrates the operation of many of the trains in the UK by the same continental railways.

This is schizophrenic...:?

Not schizophrenic.

Firstly, it might be different if continental railways were running ours as an act of kindness. They're not. They're doing it for financial gain, and who can blame them.

Secondly, if there is a large body of opinion on the forum which agrees with the way continental state enterprises run their railways, why on earth would it be pleased that our own state enterprise (which was world leading, in spite of the lies propegated by Major's lot) had to be sacrificed. That really would be a bizarre contradiction.

I'm guessing that Germany has found a way for DB to compete to run their services, which just illustrates that our Government wasn't interested in such an approach in the first place, due to ideology.
 

Agent_c

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National Express for some inter-regional routes in the Rhein-Ruhr area of Germany and the Nürnburg S-Bahn. German franchises are not the same as UK ones in that there is no regional monopoly and the franchisee does not carry the revenue risk.

There are some others elsewhere but I can't remember the details off-hand without looking them up. :(

Didn't National Express succeed in Australia about as much as it did with EC?
 

Mordac

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I don't think HMG expected the franchise bidders to be dominated by bus companies as much as they have been.
Serco was in there at the beginning (outsourcing specialists), and briefly BA was interested.
Many of the original franchises were actually management buy-outs (ie ex BR managers), before their TOCs were bought out by the bus bandits (once they were seen to be going concerns).

Arriva was of course the leading "European" British operator before being bought by DB, and is still based in Sunderland.
Arriva may yet be sold off by DB who need the cash.

Anyway, the German, Dutch and French governments have no control over UK franchises, they are let strictly on DfT's commercial terms.

We don't have a public sector rail operator (bar TfL and DRS).
Neither of these is interested in bidding abroad.

Stagecoach, Govia and First could bid in Europe but seem to prefer to burn their fingers in the USA.
National Express has dabbled in Europe and has a foot in the door. It also runs some airports.

MTR is part government-owned in Hong Kong of course, and the Japanese are taking an interest in UK rail franchises.
Don't forget Translink! (Not that they have any more interest in bidding abroad than the other two.)
 

coppercapped

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Not schizophrenic.

Firstly, it might be different if continental railways were running ours as an act of kindness. They're not. They're doing it for financial gain, and who can blame them.

Secondly, if there is a large body of opinion on the forum which agrees with the way continental state enterprises run their railways, why on earth would it be pleased that our own state enterprise (which was world leading, in spite of the lies propegated by Major's lot) had to be sacrificed. That really would be a bizarre contradiction.

I'm guessing that Germany has found a way for DB to compete to run their services, which just illustrates that our Government wasn't interested in such an approach in the first place, due to ideology.

This reads like a response to something that you wished I had written rather than a response to what has been written.

And get over this 'ideology' stuff. That fact that there was a British Railways for the ideologists to privatise was due to another set of ideologists having set it up in the first place.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Have they deducted a management fee before calculating their profit?

Has who deducted a management fee? And a management fee for what?
 

yorksrob

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This reads like a response to something that you wished I had written rather than a response to what has been written.

And get over this 'ideology' stuff. That fact that there was a British Railways for the ideologists to privatise was due to another set of ideologists having set it up in the first place.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Has who deducted a management fee? And a management fee for what?

Well it was all ideology. Trying to make out that the privatisation we got was some sort of well thought out process, arrived at through some sort of an objective process is nonsense. Suggesting at we should be grateful that our competitor countries have been able to extract a profit from our balkanised railway doesn't wash.
 

coppercapped

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Well it was all ideology. Trying to make out that the privatisation we got was some sort of well thought out process, arrived at through some sort of an objective process is nonsense. Suggesting at we should be grateful that our competitor countries have been able to extract a profit from our balkanised railway doesn't wash.

Again, you are arguing against something I never wrote or suggested.

As for ideologists getting things completely wrong you have to go no further than the nationalisation of the British railways in 1948 to see what a pig's ear the other lot of ideologists made of it.

I’ve written this before but it is worth repeating. Sidney Webb wrote what became Clause IV (now superseded) of the Labour Party’s constitution in 1917.

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

In 1942 the annual Labour Party Conference passed a resolution urging the Government to coordinate road, rail and canal transport under national ownership. This idea of national ownership remained and was adopted by Labour in December 1944 and appeared in the 1945 election manifesto as “There are basic industries ripe and over-ripe for public ownership and management in the direct service of the nation.” These industries were the railways, coal, road transport, the Bank of England, civil aviation, external telecommunications, electricity, gas and steel.

The 1947 Act nationalising inland transport set up the British Transport Commission to encourage each form of transport to specialise in the types of services for which it was most suited. It also set up the public bodies known as 'Executives' to assist it in this task and act as its agents.

The ideologists completely screwed up as their chosen form of organisation could not - and did not - fulfil the aims set out for it in the Act.

The aim was the coordination of inland transport, so it would have been sensible to have set up the BTC functionally - engineering, operations, commercial, financial and so on - so the most effective mode, or modes, for a particular movement could have been identified. But the Act setting up the BTC also set up its 'agents' by form of transport, the Railway Executive (RE), the Waterways Executive, Road Haulage and so on, and the Government appointed the members of these Executives directly.

Of course the result was that each Executive fought its own corner and the BTC had little or no control over them - it did not control the Executives' budgets except at the highest level, it could not move Members of an Executive to a different job or fire those who were thwarting the aims of the Commission because these members of the Executives had been selected by the Government. Stalemate.

The BTC’s financial remit was vague, to say the least ‘To break even taking one year with another’. No requirements about return on capital or service levels or improvements or safety or anything else. And the Common Carrier conditions were still in force which the Government did nothing to remove. And the Transport Commissioners for Rates - a Government creation - ensured that income lagged behind costs.

And the result of all this was the decline of the railways over the next 35 years to near insignificance for many, if not most, people in the country outside London and a couple of other large cities. Loss of freight traffic, loss of passenger traffic, closures of miles of railway even before Beeching, the waste of money building the BR Standard steam locomotives, the loss of 10 years development in diesel traction and the refusal to extend AWS until the Harrow accident. And so on.

And you go on about the ideologists who de-nationalised the railway. If you like railways the ones who should really bear the brunt of your wrath are the ones who set up BR in the first place.
 

yorksrob

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Again, you are arguing against something I never wrote or suggested.
K
As for ideologists getting things completely wrong you have to go no further than the nationalisation of the British railways in 1948 to see what a pig's ear the other lot of ideologists made of it.

I’ve written this before but it is worth repeating. Sidney Webb wrote what became Clause IV (now superseded) of the Labour Party’s constitution in 1917.



In 1942 the annual Labour Party Conference passed a resolution urging the Government to coordinate road, rail and canal transport under national ownership. This idea of national ownership remained and was adopted by Labour in December 1944 and appeared in the 1945 election manifesto as “There are basic industries ripe and over-ripe for public ownership and management in the direct service of the nation.” These industries were the railways, coal, road transport, the Bank of England, civil aviation, external telecommunications, electricity, gas and steel.

The 1947 Act nationalising inland transport set up the British Transport Commission to encourage each form of transport to specialise in the types of services for which it was most suited. It also set up the public bodies known as 'Executives' to assist it in this task and act as its agents.

The ideologists completely screwed up as their chosen form of organisation could not - and did not - fulfil the aims set out for it in the Act.

The aim was the coordination of inland transport, so it would have been sensible to have set up the BTC functionally - engineering, operations, commercial, financial and so on - so the most effective mode, or modes, for a particular movement could have been identified. But the Act setting up the BTC also set up its 'agents' by form of transport, the Railway Executive (RE), the Waterways Executive, Road Haulage and so on, and the Government appointed the members of these Executives directly.

Of course the result was that each Executive fought its own corner and the BTC had little or no control over them - it did not control the Executives' budgets except at the highest level, it could not move Members of an Executive to a different job or fire those who were thwarting the aims of the Commission because these members of the Executives had been selected by the Government. Stalemate.

The BTC’s financial remit was vague, to say the least ‘To break even taking one year with another’. No requirements about return on capital or service levels or improvements or safety or anything else. And the Common Carrier conditions were still in force which the Government did nothing to remove. And the Transport Commissioners for Rates - a Government creation - ensured that income lagged behind costs.

And the result of all this was the decline of the railways over the next 35 years to near insignificance for many, if not most, people in the country outside London and a couple of other large cities. Loss of freight traffic, loss of passenger traffic, closures of miles of railway even before Beeching, the waste of money building the BR Standard steam locomotives, the loss of 10 years development in diesel traction and the refusal to extend AWS until the Harrow accident. And so on.

And you go on about the ideologists who de-nationalised the railway. If you like railways the ones who should really bear the brunt of your wrath are the ones who set up BR in the first place.

You can dredge up ancient history as much as you like (and as everyone on here probably knows, I'm highly critical of Beeching era BR and some of its more destructive ideology - although I note from past experience you tend to be an apologist for that ideology as well).

The fact remains that the BR that evolved from Peter Parker onwards was a disciplined world leading railway that many of us didn't want to see broken up.
What is your groan "There is a large body of opinion that denigrates the operation of our railway by the same continental railways - this is schizophrenic" supposed to mean, other than we shouldn't disagree with such a situation which logically means we should accept the break up of BR as a good thing since this situation wouldn't have arisen otherwise.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The break up of the BR family led to a massive set back n the development and introduction of new trains, electrification and network expansion in England. It also led to a real disruption in the day to day running of the railway. Some of these only started to be addressed a decade ago. Network expansion in England has only just started to get off the ground again, so you'll have to pardon my "schizophrenic" outlook.

Of course, all of this is itself, to an extent "ancient history". However, the outcome today is that our railway industry does not compete with those of our neighbours on an equal footing, and it is this that forms my current objection to the ownership of today's railway companies.
 
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Shaw S Hunter

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Hmmm, coppercapped vs yorksrob, their views appear to mirror very nicely the problem with politicians' thinking about railways in this country.

For what it's worth I think coppercapped's summary of how the railways were nationalised is a fair one and highlights how Labour, in whatever form, has a strong belief in public ownership of the railways but no clue as to how to manage their finances which has always led to stagnation during their periods in office. The Tories on the other hand are inclined to maximise the commercialisation of railways but also know from the experience of the Beeching era that anything that leads to line closures will lose them an awful lot of votes. Thatcher, whatever else she did, was at least smart enough to consign the Serpell Report to the back of a dusty shelf somewhere and leave well alone.

As for yorksrob mentioning (Sir) Peter Parker his most famous public comment was to talk about "the crumbling edge of quality" or in other words that while the best efforts of all concerned might well allow BR to show off some shiny examples of very good practice underneath it all the system was being run on a shoestring and large parts of it were liable to fail in some way at any time.

Other countries can often appear to have better ways of doing things but their historical backgrounds are very different to ours. They generally have both a much longer history of public ownership, with large parts of their networks being constructed under central direction if not outright nationalisation, and also a much stronger public consensus for supporting their railways so that politicians don't use railways as a political football. Our preference for an adversarial parliament means we are highly unlikely to ever reach such a consensus and so we will continue along the same ideologically driven paths.
 

coppercapped

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Hmmm, coppercapped vs yorksrob, their views appear to mirror very nicely the problem with politicians' thinking about railways in this country.

For what it's worth I think coppercapped's summary of how the railways were nationalised is a fair one and highlights how Labour, in whatever form, has a strong belief in public ownership of the railways but no clue as to how to manage their finances which has always led to stagnation during their periods in office. The Tories on the other hand are inclined to maximise the commercialisation of railways but also know from the experience of the Beeching era that anything that leads to line closures will lose them an awful lot of votes. Thatcher, whatever else she did, was at least smart enough to consign the Serpell Report to the back of a dusty shelf somewhere and leave well alone.

As for yorksrob mentioning (Sir) Peter Parker his most famous public comment was to talk about "the crumbling edge of quality" or in other words that while the best efforts of all concerned might well allow BR to show off some shiny examples of very good practice underneath it all the system was being run on a shoestring and large parts of it were liable to fail in some way at any time.

Other countries can often appear to have better ways of doing things but their historical backgrounds are very different to ours. They generally have both a much longer history of public ownership, with large parts of their networks being constructed under central direction if not outright nationalisation, and also a much stronger public consensus for supporting their railways so that politicians don't use railways as a political football. Our preference for an adversarial parliament means we are highly unlikely to ever reach such a consensus and so we will continue along the same ideologically driven paths.

Thank you for your comments. As it happens I think that the law of unintended consequences also struck in the period after privatisation and caused many of the issues which subsequently came to light. But rather than let the industry find its own solutions the Strategic Rail Authority was set up and muddied the waters. It placed additional commitments on the TOCs, which increased their financial exposure and bidding costs. As a result it meant that the size of the performance bonds increased which then meant that only bigger companies could afford to bid.

At the same time the SRA hoped to let longer franchises with the quid pro quo that the franchisees invest in the infrastructure - but never clarified the mechanism by which joint ownership of such investments would be managed. There was also a dichotomy in that the SRA specified in increasing detail what the TOC should supply, but it did not control the funding via the subsidy which remained in the hands of the Treasury.

On the other hand, after a slow start, private investors were amenable to investing in the ROSCOs as the ROSCOs’ assets were easily identifiable. A train is a complete thing - but it’s a bit difficult to identify the owner of part of a flyover bridge, a couple of turnouts and a platform face. How is the franchisee to be reimbursed if the franchise is not renewed 15 years later?

It is not surprising that it all ended in tears.

People get hung up over ownership. That is not really the issue - the real issue is about the targets that management must meet and the framework within which it can operate to meet them. The situation for private companies is simple - they have to make a profit to survive and not break the Law. Nationalised businesses are more complex in that they often have to meet political, social and economic targets at the same time - and sometimes these are mutually incompatible.

There will always be differences of opinion between varying approaches to running such a public business as the railways. I am certainly in the camp that sees its value in running a transport service that helps as many people as possible and support the concept of subsidy. This does not mean that the subsidy should open-ended - the train service should be operated as economically as possible and the TOC should encourage as many people as possible to use the trains.

What I do object to is the knee-jerk reaction that any changes made to BR were, practically by definition, evil, made by evil people and brought bad things on us. This smacks of being a mixture of religious and political fervour and does not help in plotting a path to the future. It is conservatism of the highest order.
 
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yorksrob

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Hmmm, coppercapped vs yorksrob, their views appear to mirror very nicely the problem with politicians' thinking about railways in this country.

For what it's worth I think coppercapped's summary of how the railways were nationalised is a fair one and highlights how Labour, in whatever form, has a strong belief in public ownership of the railways but no clue as to how to manage their finances which has always led to stagnation during their periods in office. The Tories on the other hand are inclined to maximise the commercialisation of railways but also know from the experience of the Beeching era that anything that leads to line closures will lose them an awful lot of votes. Thatcher, whatever else she did, was at least smart enough to consign the Serpell Report to the back of a dusty shelf somewhere and leave well alone.

As for yorksrob mentioning (Sir) Peter Parker his most famous public comment was to talk about "the crumbling edge of quality" or in other words that while the best efforts of all concerned might well allow BR to show off some shiny examples of very good practice underneath it all the system was being run on a shoestring and large parts of it were liable to fail in some way at any time.

Other countries can often appear to have better ways of doing things but their historical backgrounds are very different to ours. They generally have both a much longer history of public ownership, with large parts of their networks being constructed under central direction if not outright nationalisation, and also a much stronger public consensus for supporting their railways so that politicians don't use railways as a political football. Our preference for an adversarial parliament means we are highly unlikely to ever reach such a consensus and so we will continue along the same ideologically driven paths.

One of my big problems is with unnecessary upheaval, which is why, in spite of my disagreement with the original privatisation process, I'm relaxed about keeping the current structures in place, particularly now that things have settled down.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a school of thought that just because things have worked out well in the end (usually because those on the ground who get hit with these ideologically driven upheavals, have finally got whatever hairbrained scheme dreamt up by the politicians, working in some form) that we should forgive badly thought out policy decisions and their misguided motivations. This effectively gives Governments carte blanche to throw all the balls up in the air whenever they feel like it, even when they haven't got a clue how such schemes will work out for the country.

As for the original nationalisation, there seems to be some confusion among some of its critics who suggest that it was ideologically driven, and shouldn't have happened, yet in the same breath criticise it for not going far enough in stopping the regions from behaving as though they were still the big four.
 

swt_passenger

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We don't have a public sector rail operator (bar TfL and DRS).
Neither of these is interested in bidding abroad.

TfL isn't actually a train operator in this context.

It is a specifying authority for a subset of the national network, and the contracted operator is still a private company but working on concession terms.

London Overground is presently operated by a joint venture Arriva/MTR ,but will be operated by Arriva alone from next month, following a competition.

TfL Rail routes that will become Crossrail are operated by MTR Corporation.
 

AngusH

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As for the original nationalisation, there seems to be some confusion among some of its critics who suggest that it was ideologically driven, and shouldn't have happened, yet in the same breath criticise it for not going far enough in stopping the regions from behaving as though they were still the big four.

Isn't that sort of two different questions though?

1) should the railways have been nationalised?

2) Given that they were nationalised, was the approach correct?


With the benefit of hindsight of course :)


Edit:
The first is more of an ideological question than the second I think.
 
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yorksrob

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Isn't that sort of two different questions though?

1) should the railways have been nationalised?

2) Given that they were nationalised, was the approach correct?


With the benefit of hindsight of course :)


Edit:
The first is more of an ideological question than the second I think.

Personally I don't think so.

If you were against nationalisation, you would have been left with the big four, and the separate approaches, lack of a unified policy and muddling through as before, for which early BR is always criticised
 

Harbornite

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As for the original nationalisation, there seems to be some confusion among some of its critics who suggest that it was ideologically driven, and shouldn't have happened, yet in the same breath criticise it for not going far enough in stopping the regions from behaving as though they were still the big four.


I think they would argue that the regions should have lost autonomy because they were all part of the same company, whereas the big 4 were not.

Ideally, the railways would have been sectorised from 1948 but as we know, this didn't happen.
 
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