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Potential slashing of rail services in 2021

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yorksrob

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I don't know if anything was seriously under consideration, but definitely more recently than that MPs and local papers up here still talked about the threat of closure.

The key difference with 2000 is that 2000 levels of patronage won't bring back 2000 levels of subsidy, even after making the extra drivers redundant and scrapping half the stock. The pressure from the Treasury will be much greater next year as well. Even if railways were immune to Covid loss making lines would still be in the firing line given the dire government finances.

They really need to be considering all other cost savings before closures. I've gone luke warm over massive structural change to the industry over recent years, however a saving through reducing the number of companies with overheads involved in managing the railway, as an example, should always come before closures of passenger services.
 
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squizzler

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I think you're right. My only post covid train journey was up to Barmouth in North Wales to buy a motorbike, the intention being that it would be used for my frequent up to 100 mile journeys along the south coast that had been previously on the train. Ive been doing that for a month now. Its great fun, especially with a stop at a half way beauty stop like beachy head for a coffee. Journey time is around half that by rail and fuel cost less than a third of the railcard discounted off peak fare. I even enjoy being stopped at Appledore level crossing and counting the number of passengers on the 4 car Class 171s that pass, yesterday it was 4 on an Eastbourne bound service.
Precovid I was spending 2k a year on leisure rail travel. My railcard expires in Jan. I wont be renewing it until I can take long distance walking trips up North again.
Motorcycling might be fun (I am a bicycle user, so enjoy rolling on two wheels also), but if you have switched from the train because of concerns over coronavirus your logic is faulty. Traffic accident statistics for different vehicle categories suggest your bike (actually other road users) is much more likely to kill you then covid caught on a train.
Other than the ones converted to 769s, it should be possible, I reckon, to get rid of all the ex-BR stock in the South East, and possibly the Junipers too.
Targeted electrification in the provinces would enable the withdrawal of all ex-BR stock in the provinces.

We can take a lesson from the Southern Railway in the 1930's. When all the other companies were poleaxed by the Great Depression and highway competition from motor cars and busses, the Southern with its electrification and fast, clock face timetables, would actually continue to win business and recover faster. Speculate to accumulate! The railway needs to find out what its key markets are in the "new normal" and invest with laser precision in those areas. And it needs to compete on quality, because it cannot compete on price.

Combined with fares simplification and all the station renovation already in hand, it is my belief that the railways are in a good place going forward due to all that investment in the boom years. They do actually have a quality product to sell, and actually having an opportunity to choose which customers to go after is a blessing. At the moment the industry is only stuck with 40% of its 'legacy' customers allowing it to pick and chose who it wants to occupy the other 60% of its capacity. A head out to help out scheme in the spring would be the icing on the cake, another example of a modest upfront expense that would repay itself many times over by giving people the opportunity to experience what rail has to offer, many of whom will not have travelled by train recently.
 
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peters

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Why are we talking about mothballing lines? Even if the number of passengers levels out at 50% of the February 2020 figure, that is still roughly the same number as the year 2000. Was anything planned for closure then?

The Oldham line was converted to light rail around then and I seem to recall there were proposals to convert other lines to light rail, not just in areas with an existing light rail system.

I also remember a proposal to reduce the number of local services in to Manchester to allow for more Intercity services to run.
 

Ianno87

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The Oldham line was converted to light rail around then and I seem to recall there were proposals to convert other lines to light rail, not just in areas with an existing light rail system.

I also remember a proposal to reduce the number of local services in to Manchester to allow for more Intercity services to run.

Oldham Loop closed to heavy rail in October 2009.
 

Ianno87

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However the above scheme will likely have gained formal approval around 2000

Powers for Metrolink conversion were granted some time in the early 1990s (but then not exercised for some time until funding was available); the closure notices for the Oldham Loop went up some time around 2004, IIRC.
 

Carlisle

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Powers for Metrolink conversion were granted some time in the early 1990s (but then not exercised for some time until funding was available); the closure notices for the Oldham Loop went up some time around 2004, IIRC.
Ok, thanks for the details. I remember Labour’s decision to cut funding for light rail schemes around that time, but wasn’t sure if it’d delayed the Oldham scheme
 
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The Ham

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I come back to the point that beyond the next 12 months, where there's likely to be significant uncertainty about passenger numbers, we can be fairly confident that 50% of pre Covid-19 levels would be fairly easy to achieve (in that we've been seeing 40% over the late summer with many avoiding significant amounts of their travel) and then it's just a case of how much more we could see beyond that. One thing to consider in that is whilst the government was saying "we'd like people back in offices from September" a lot of big business had made the choice to say "well allow working from home until at least the end of 2020" and so many people started working from home where it was practical for them.

A 30% fall due to commuting still requires commuting levels to broadly halve. To do that you need 50% of jobs to be done 100% at home with no one opting to work in the office at all (or a combination of factors which results in the same answer).

For starters some jobs for which people commute aren't able to be done from home, then there's those who live alone or flatshare where a lot of their social interaction is at work (a lot of whom would probably opt to be in the office, and may even move jobs to work in an office of they were told that their company was 100% WFH), then those without the space to have a good working space (including those who work at opposite ends of the kitchen table, or worse the sofa).

Even when you've considered all of them there's going to be a load who do WFH, but go in an average of twice a month well they'll still be doing 10% of their days in the office.

Then there's likely to be some who had been driving who then no longer do so (15 miles to work when doing 9,000 miles a year is 75% of your miles) and so would use the train going forwards for some of their travel. That's likely to mean a reduction from 2+ cars per household rather, than from 1 to none, however there's a lot who fall into that category (circa 8 million households in 2018) and so even a modest shift of a few trips a year could add up quite quickly as car use is much higher than rail use. A shift of 0.625% of miles from road to rail (an average of 63 miles per person, assuming 10,000 miles traveled) would roll back 5% of the pre Covid-19 passengers (so making the difference between 50% and 55% of pre Covid-19 numbers).

I suspect that being able to get a seat (especially heading towards London, but not necessarily going to London) may also change views.

Yes rail use is tiny compared to pre Covid-19 levels, however once life returns much more towards normal then demand could return fairly rapidly. Maybe not to 100% for a few years (maybe even 5 years), however it could get back to 80% within 18 months of now fairly easily.

Anything that was looking at mothballing lines would probably take a fair chunk of that time to implement anyway (public consultations, reviews, etc.). As such doing so would lead to justified calls for those lines to be reopened within years rather than decades (as we the case for Beeching reopenings).
 

Horizon22

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I await with baited breath the proposed service reductions especially as it's my patch. As most routes serve London, I would support a half-hourly service at the very least. My train home from Victoria is always busy (i.e. 1 person to each seat bay)

What lines in Kent could possibly be mothballed? I suggest none at first glance; there aren't many branch lines and services via the Medway Valley provide useful links from the Medway Towns to Maidstone and Tonbridge. How much usage does the Bromley North branch see?

I was very disappointed (many months ago) that services between Dover and Ramsgate (via Deal) are generally only 1 an hour when 2tph would be most useful IMHO. I hadn't realised until I used the line a few times recently that this was the case.

Ashford-Hastings is always busy when I see them and the link to towns on the Sussex coast is most welcome/useful.

Fewer peak specials would likely be the changes on a mostly metro route like Southeastern runs.
 

Ianno87

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Ok, thanks for the details. I remember Labour’s decision to cut funding for light rail schemes around that time, but wasn’t sure if it’d delayed the Oldham scheme

Pedant: Labour didn't cut the funding; the estimated cost increased to exceed the funding that was on the table.

That was why Phase 3 was split into Phase 3A and Phase 3B; with the original money used for 3A (which covered the Oldham/Rochdale route without the Town Centres, and as far as Droylsden and St. Werburgh's Road)
 

paul1609

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Motorcycling might be fun (I am a bicycle user, so enjoy rolling on two wheels also), but if you have switched from the train because of concerns over coronavirus your logic is faulty. Traffic accident statistics for different vehicle categories suggest your bike (actually other road users) is much more likely to kill you then covid caught on a train.

My concern is not my mortality (Covid or Motorcycling) but the risk of me carrying the virus into my small rural community from passing through (and changing at) population hotspots such as Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing with their large student populations. Use of the motorbike eliminates that risk in my estimation.

It has to be said that a 3+ hour train journey wearing a face mask with no refreshment facilities or ability to take a break in the fresh air (apart from during the 6 Minute connection on the Eastbound Journey at Hampden Park) is very unpleasant.
 

squizzler

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Interesting article from a US urbanist news site on how their public transport went into a death spiral during the mid 20th century, and very salient for this discussion on "slashing" services:

Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don't Blame Cars.)

Streetcar, bus, and metro systems have been ignoring one lesson for 100 years: Service drives demand.

One hundred years ago, the United States had a public transportation system that was the envy of the world. Today, outside a few major urban centers, it is barely on life support. Even in New York City, subway ridership is well below its 1946 peak. Annual per capita transit trips in the U.S. plummeted from 115.8 in 1950 to 36.1 in 1970, where they have roughly remained since, even as population has grown... (continues)
 
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Ianno87

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Interesting article from a US urbanist news site on how their public transport went into a death spiral during the mid 20th century, and very salient for this discussion on "slashing" services:

This is why, in my view, keeping off-peak frequencies up, and driving discretionary demand at marginal cost, is likely to be a priority in the post-Covid world.
 

squizzler

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I am convinced the tory party are not going to allow their success with rail to be lost without a fight. Whilst not the political party whose policies I favour, they do take transport seriously as part of the UK's zero emissions agenda. They are after all pushing ahead with new railway construction and intending to ban traditional combustion engine cars from 2030.

It must be remembered that Boris Johnson is especially keen to be seen as a statesmen in the war on global heating, and the UK will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow on November 2021. A cynic might say that this is the only opportunity to cement some sort of reputation as a statesman left to him but I feel he grasps the reality of the situation. Nonetheless slashing the green transport offering in the meantime would be a massive own goal for the government's green aspirations.
 
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TheWalrus

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Could a 20% reduction be better achieved through a greater variation between peak and off-peak services? A station that normally sees 4 tph doesn’t need 4 tph all day.

On the flip side how does this slashing of services work for metros, where turn-up-and-go is their main selling point?
Wouldn’t necessarily reduce costs, you would potentially have staff sat around being paid to do nothing and would still need the same amount of trains to tun the additional peak time services which at off peak times would be sat around.
I would have thought to reduce costs the best way would be to try and go for an all-day same frequency without peak time extras which would in theory save staff and rolling stock costs.
 

317 forever

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It could be years before that becomes clear. Meanwhile English TOCs are collectively being supported to the tune of a million quid an hour (according to the numbers in Modern Railways), on top of the grant to Network Rail.
Actually, I wonder by what margin subsidies are higher than before, especially if subsidies are at an all-time high now due to lower ridership and the need to allow for social distancing on trains.
 

yorksrob

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I'm sure I read somewhere that pre-covid, the railways were reasonably close to covering day-to-day operations, with most "subsidy" actually paying for network enhancements.

I suppose that if it really came to the wire, the easiest thing would be to hold off on the enhancements for a bit, although that would not be without its problems (disruption to skills and supply chains, lack of progress on electrification/decarbonisation etc). Nevertheless, it would still be preferable to Beeching style cuts.
 

Ianno87

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I'm sure I read somewhere that pre-covid, the railways were reasonably close to covering day-to-day operations, with most "subsidy" actually paying for network enhancements.

I suppose that if it really came to the wire, the easiest thing would be to hold off on the enhancements for a bit, although that would not be without its problems (disruption to skills and supply chains, lack of progress on electrification/decarbonisation etc). Nevertheless, it would still be preferable to Beeching style cuts.

Though it's probably more damaging to the wider economy in the long run to lose such jobs and skills. If anything, a good time to crack on with these things whilst being relatively undisruptive to passenger numbers and revenue.

Not that I think such a binary choice actually exists.
 

The Ham

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I'm sure I read somewhere that pre-covid, the railways were reasonably close to covering day-to-day operations, with most "subsidy" actually paying for network enhancements.

I suppose that if it really came to the wire, the easiest thing would be to hold off on the enhancements for a bit, although that would not be without its problems (disruption to skills and supply chains, lack of progress on electrification/decarbonisation etc). Nevertheless, it would still be preferable to Beeching style cuts.

If you compare the ORR figures for net subsidy and deduct off the Network Rail enhancement spending, HS2 spending and Crossrail spending you end up with a subsidy figure of between £100 million and £500 million for the last few years (it's increased of late).

Now whilst a full year of £1 million per hour (assuming that's 24 hours a day) comes in at £8.75 billion I would expect that was when passenger numbers were at their low point, given that they are quite a bit higher (but still at 30% to 40% of late) it's likely that the numbers will not be that high over the year.

It should also be noted that if TOC's were to furlough their staff that would add a lot to the costs of that scheme (just the 22,000 drivers would be £0.5bn on the bare basic £2,550 figure), so it's a case of do you pay more and get something or make a saving and end up with key workers not being able to get to work to save lives?

Though it's probably more damaging to the wider economy in the long run to lose such jobs and skills. If anything, a good time to crack on with these things whilst being relatively undisruptive to passenger numbers and revenue.

Not that I think such a binary choice actually exists.

Indeed, anyway a significant amount would come straight back to the government through direct and indirect taxes, before you consider the cost savings from people not needing to claim benefits (again either directly or indirectly).

Going off subject is why trying claim back benefits too quickly as people start to earn more money is counter productive as if your earn an extra £1 but then pay 25p in tax and loose 60p in benefits many aren't going to think that the extra 15p is worth it especially once you've factored in your costs (travel costs, childcare costs or just that you've got less time and so need to rely of convenience food more). For instance if your bus ticket is £4 then you've got to earn £27 to cover that and not be out of pocket let alone have any extra money.

Even at £10/hour would you really be bothered to work 4 hours to take home an extra £2 after paying for your bus travel, or even £6 if you could walk to it?

If it was close to an extra £15 to £20 for that 4 hour shift then more probably would (even if it resulted in some extra costs which the reduced it a bit below that amount) and so it would reduce the benefits bill more than is currently the case.

However such measures look like being on benefits is better and so wouldn't be popular with many people.
 
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philosopher

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Though it's probably more damaging to the wider economy in the long run to lose such jobs and skills. If anything, a good time to crack on with these things whilst being relatively undisruptive to passenger numbers and revenue.

Not that I think such a binary choice actually exists.
Some improvements such as electrifying more of the rail network may help the railways save money in the future.
 

yorksrob

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Though it's probably more damaging to the wider economy in the long run to lose such jobs and skills. If anything, a good time to crack on with these things whilst being relatively undisruptive to passenger numbers and revenue.

Not that I think such a binary choice actually exists.

If you compare the ORR figures for net subsidy and deduct off the Network Rail enhancement spending, HS2 spending and Crossrail spending you end up with a subsidy figure of between £100 million and £500 million for the last few years (it's increased of late).

Now whilst a full year of £1 million per hour (assuming that's 24 hours a day) comes in at £8.75 billion I would expect that was when passenger numbers were at their low point, given that they are quite a bit higher (but still at 30% to 40% of late) it's likely that the numbers will not be that high over the year.

It should also be noted that if TOC's were to furlough their staff that would add a lot to the costs of that scheme (just the 22,000 drivers would be £0.5bn on the bare basic £2,550 figure), so it's a case of do you pay more and get something or make a saving and end up with key workers not being able to get to work to save lives?



Indeed, anyway a significant amount would come straight back to the government through direct and indirect taxes, before you consider the cost savings from people not needing to claim benefits (again either directly or indirectly).

Going off subject is why trying claim back benefits too quickly as people start to earn more money is counter productive as if your earn an extra £1 but then pay 25p in tax and loose 60p in benefits many aren't going to think that the extra 15p is worth it especially once you've factored in your costs (travel costs, childcare costs or just that you've got less time and so need to rely of convenience food more). For instance if your bus ticket is £4 then you've got to earn £27 to cover that and not be out of pocket let alone have any extra money.

Even at £10/hour would you really be bothered to work 4 hours to take home an extra £2 after paying for your bus travel, or even £6 if you could walk to it?

If it was close to an extra £15 to £20 for that 4 hour shift then more probably would (even if it resulted in some extra costs which the reduced it a bit below that amount) and so it would reduce the benefits bill more than is currently the case.

However such measures look like being on benefits is better and so wouldn't be popular with many people.

It's a lose lose situation, of that I've no doubt. However I believe that large scale cuts which could potentially be permanent, and service cuts that are so severe as to render a service unusable, are the very worst choice that could be made.
 

Ianno87

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It's a lose lose situation, of that I've no doubt. However I believe that large scale cuts which could potentially be permanent, and service cuts that are so severe as to render a service unusable, are the very worst choice that could be made.

Playing Devil's Advocate, providing infrastructure is maintained, services are relatively easy to restore if the political will and money are there (big "if" admittedly). Specialist planning / design / delivery skills are not.

Some lines admittedly do still have service levels that are legacies of 80s / early 90s cuts, which had been slowly in the process of reversal.
 

yorksrob

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Playing Devil's Advocate, providing infrastructure is maintained, services are relatively easy to restore if the political will and money are there (big "if" admittedly). Specialist planning / design / delivery skills are not.

Some lines admittedly do still have service levels that are legacies of 80s / early 90s cuts, which had been slowly in the process of reversal.

I guess it depends if one thinks the big "if" is a risk worth taking. Personally I'm not convinced.

Better to get the passenger numbers recovering across the network at the earliest opportunity and get customers "in the bag" than to try and haggle over individual reopenings from a destroyed passenger base later.
 

Bald Rick

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The above financial analysis is not quite right. What follows is fairly broad-brush, but on the right wicket (I refuse to use the term ball park)

In the financial year 2018/19 (the last year numbers were published), fares and other non Government income was £12.8bn, excluding the railways of NI (£0.1bn) and the one off sale of NRs tenanted estate (£1.5bn).

Industry cost was £19.1bn (excluding franchise payments to Government, and NI again). The costs of HS2 and Crossrail are excluded, except for where NR incurred the cost.

That makes the pre Covid ‘farepayer’ / taxpayer split at roughly 67/33.

Note that the taxpayer share totals £6.3bn, but only £4.3bn was direct support from Government. The £2bn difference was made up by the receipts of the one off sale of NRs tenanted estate (£1.5bn) and Government sanctioned borrowing by NR.

It’s all in here:



It’s a common mistake to assume that the % of fares income received during this year matches the % of passengers travelling. It doesn’t. As we know from elsewhere on these pages, the busier trains have tended to be short distance commuting into cities, and long distance leisure. Notable by its absence have been the high yield markets: long distance commuters and premium business travel. Importantly these markets are also much more likely to drive to the station and pay for parking. So, even when passenger numbers peaked at the hugh 30s% a month or so ago, income would barely have reached 30% - my guess is that it would have been high 20s%. It won’t be that now, and obviously wasn’t from April to July.

Therefore, assuming the industry is, at best, receiving 30% of normal ‘farepayer’ income, the other 70% is missing, and that is a £9bn hole in the income. (Which is where my £1m an hour comes from). To make it easy let’s say it reduces from £12.8bn to £4bn.

Industry cost will have fallen a little with fewer trains running, but not much. 5% at best, say just over a £1bn, to make it £18bn.

That makes the current industry finances, very roughly, £4bn farepayer income for £18bn cost, ie £14bn taxpayer support.

That makes the current ‘farepayer’ / taxpayer split at roughly 22/78. At best.
 

yorksrob

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That's all the more reason why the industry needs to build on the network wide 40% of passengers who were willing to come back.

The industry must resist a line by line approach of cuts as such an approach will only cause damage in the long run.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Some improvements such as electrifying more of the rail network may help the railways save money in the future.
Electrification is the only worthwhile enhancement to the network and its disappointing that DofT haven't just told NR to get on with MML and stop spending money on other enhancements schemes. Also NR need reshaping to be primarily an operations and maintain organisation and ring fence the part of the organisation that is working on enhancement schemes that consume vast amounts of cash being developed over many years by well paid teams into a separate arm under the DofT. NR should also be tasked for developing a national timetable that builds in good connections as key measure of how good it is not one that is obsessed with PPM. This will then allow for the curtailment of many services that duplicate other routes a la TPE operating Newcastle to Edinburgh. This allows stock and train crew resources to be used to provide good levels of frequencies over there core routes without incurring additional costs.

All this though is predicated on DofT and SoS Shapps urgently setting out what they want out of the railways and then enabling an organisation to deliver it. Shapps keeps talking up concessions but then it goes quiet again. Maybe the damascene conversion that Johnson has allegedly had over making environment and green energy a big theme (plays to Biden) has to be launched then Shapps can announce a rolling electrification programme and the Willaims white paper.
 
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The Ham

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The above financial analysis is not quite right. What follows is fairly broad-brush, but on the right wicket (I refuse to use the term ball park)

In the financial year 2018/19 (the last year numbers were published), fares and other non Government income was £12.8bn, excluding the railways of NI (£0.1bn) and the one off sale of NRs tenanted estate (£1.5bn).

Industry cost was £19.1bn (excluding franchise payments to Government, and NI again). The costs of HS2 and Crossrail are excluded, except for where NR incurred the cost.

That makes the pre Covid ‘farepayer’ / taxpayer split at roughly 67/33.

Note that the taxpayer share totals £6.3bn, but only £4.3bn was direct support from Government. The £2bn difference was made up by the receipts of the one off sale of NRs tenanted estate (£1.5bn) and Government sanctioned borrowing by NR.

It’s all in here:



It’s a common mistake to assume that the % of fares income received during this year matches the % of passengers travelling. It doesn’t. As we know from elsewhere on these pages, the busier trains have tended to be short distance commuting into cities, and long distance leisure. Notable by its absence have been the high yield markets: long distance commuters and premium business travel. Importantly these markets are also much more likely to drive to the station and pay for parking. So, even when passenger numbers peaked at the hugh 30s% a month or so ago, income would barely have reached 30% - my guess is that it would have been high 20s%. It won’t be that now, and obviously wasn’t from April to July.

Therefore, assuming the industry is, at best, receiving 30% of normal ‘farepayer’ income, the other 70% is missing, and that is a £9bn hole in the income. (Which is where my £1m an hour comes from). To make it easy let’s say it reduces from £12.8bn to £4bn.

Industry cost will have fallen a little with fewer trains running, but not much. 5% at best, say just over a £1bn, to make it £18bn.

That makes the current industry finances, very roughly, £4bn farepayer income for £18bn cost, ie £14bn taxpayer support.

That makes the current ‘farepayer’ / taxpayer split at roughly 22/78. At best.

Although that £19bn still includes the circa £4bn of enhancements spending, of that was paused (or excluded, for reasons why are below) and with the other savings you suggest then the costs fall to £14bn with £4bn of farebox income, that's then a 28/72 split.

However if we'd shut the railways down during lockdown a lot of the costs would have still fallen at the door of the government. For instance the ROSCO's would have still required paying, furlough costs would have been significant, as would have been the loss of tax take.

That's before you consider that NHS staff wouldn't have been able to get to work out other secondary impacts from the railways not running.

Even if there's enhancement spending (and this is why is suggest that is excluded) that's based on future benefits (reduces costs, income, etc.), meaning that a few bad years during the playback period would have an impact on their viability but may only "cost" a fraction of the total spend over the longer term. Anyway chances are that there's significant benefits to the government from that spending (like the £500 million cost of eat out to help out had already brought measurable benefits of 50% to the government due to reduced furlough costs, increase tax take, etc.).

Also within previous years (and I was looking at the last few years) there's been some NR spending on Crossrail. However I'd also highlight it depends on where you look at ORR as to what numbers they include. In their net subsidy reports they do include HS2 spending figures.

Whilst I agree that this year is a nightmare on terms of costs vs income, staying at 30% to 40% of passengers going forwards (unless we continue with Covid restrictions long term) is unlikely.

We can debate what level of passenger use there's likely to be, however I've previously suggested that 70-85% of pre Covid levels within a year to 18 months could well be likely and getting back to 90% or more within 5 years could also be likely.

By deferring enhancement spending for 12 months that brings a significant saving from the gross subsidy number whilst we determine what the future rail use is likely to be whilst not really having a big impact on the ability to deliver future schemes. However it could be argued that song so from the £27bn road spending over the next 5 years is probably a better user of resources, as peak road use is likely to be impacted by Covid-19 just as much as rail.

For instance, there's less need to travel to a second home as you could just work from there as well as you could from within London and the SE. Likewise there's likely to be an impact on peak hour travel and business' need to travel for meetings.

The impact may only need to be a few percent to mean that we could build new roads in 3 years time rather than now. That's enough to allow us time to see how rail use is doing in 18 months time rather than cutting services and then finding that we were rash in doing so.

As we could be back to 95% within 3 years, and so we'd almost be back to current levels of service. If we've scrapped a list of trains then they would likely need to be replaced fairly quickly to meet demand. As such a deal to reduce last costs by using trains less but still using them rather than the government but leasing then at all may work well and gives you the option to bring them back into service if demand picks back up in the next few years (although I'd look to scrap some trains these would generally be trains which were due to be scrapped within the next 5 years.

Anyway some of the road schemes are only going to push the problem further down the road. For instance, if we did Stonehenge, chances are there'll be bigger problems at the other single carriageway sections along the A303 or even cause problems on the M3 due to extra traffic generation.

The induced demand from Stonehenge could add 180,000 to 225,000 extra vehicle movements a year (+5% of the extra capacity, although more than this could be likely), at a time when we should be looking to reduce car use to help us meet net zero carbon emissions. Such trips are likely to be 50 miles or more, so potentially quite significant in terms of extra miles traveled (9 million to 20 million extra miles traveled a year).
 

edwin_m

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By deferring enhancement spending for 12 months that brings a significant saving from the gross subsidy number whilst we determine what the future rail use is likely to be whilst not really having a big impact on the ability to deliver future schemes. However it could be argued that song so from the £27bn road spending over the next 5 years is probably a better user of resources, as peak road use is likely to be impacted by Covid-19 just as much as rail.
I would guess that most enhancement spending due to be spent during the next 12 months is already committed via signed contracts, so there would be difficult to cancel. It might be possible to delay signing any contracts for 12 months to achieve some saving over a period in about a year's time, but that might prove inadvisable if demand does indeed pick up. It also deals a hit to the economy.
 

Greybeard33

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Although that £19bn still includes the circa £4bn of enhancements spending, if that was paused (or excluded, for reasons why are below) and with the other savings you suggest then the costs fall to £14bn with £4bn of farebox income, that's then a 28/72 split.
No, the Network Rail enhancements spending of £3.16bn (2018-19) is additional to the £19bn total operational expenditure, as explained in a footnote on p23 of the ORR document:
37 Enhancements expenditure is not included in the industry analysis in Figure 1. Figure 1 reflects the finances of the operational railway in one financial year, whereas enhancements are long-term investments. A depreciation charge is included in Figure 1 to reflect the in-year usage of these long-term assets.
In any case capital account public sector spending on enhancements comes out of a different "pot" to current account spending, which includes the operational subsidy to the rail industry. It is easier for the government to fund long term investments from long term borrowing than to cover the day to day operational losses.

Likewise investment in the road network is not relevant to the current cost of keeping the railway operating.

@Bald Rick's analysis appears to be correct.
 

LowLevel

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The structure at present has a lot of duplication and if you were to have some sensible sectorisation/collaboration it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see where savings could be made.

Take a station I am fairly familiar with, Liverpool Lime Street (exclude Merseyrail).

3 train crew depots with their own supervisory and management structure - Northern, TPE and Avanti. Some have centralised resource functions, some are local.

2 dispatch teams, Northern, who look after most services, and Avanti, who deal with an arrival and departure per hour with team leaders and managers each. On top of that there are booking office staff and gateline staff employed by the TOCs, numerous contractors for cleaning and catering from different companies (some of whom work for 20 minutes per hour because they only deal with "their" trains) and the Network Rail station staff as well for security, passenger assistance and the station management team to boot.

All of these different silos have their own chains of command.

What would be the clever person's job would be to work out a better way going forward but the whole web is full of inefficiencies and that is replicated across the network.
 
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