Rail Delivery Group submission to the Williams Review

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by CyrusWuff, 30 Apr 2019.

  1. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    Not sure if this has been posted elsewhere. It's certainly not in the first page of threads in here, anyway.

    The Rail Delivery Group has published its submission to the Williams Review, and it's a doozy!

    The full submission can be found at https://www.bigplanbigchanges.co.uk/changingtrack, but here's their summary of the key ideas:
     
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  3. duncanp

    duncanp Member

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    I saw the guy from the Rail Delivery Group on BBC News this morning speaking from Birmingham New Street.

    My first impression was that what he said was a load of vacuous wibble which sounded very good, but doesn't mean much until we have something more definite.

    To take your first point

    What does this actually mean in practice?

    My recent post (https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...in-trains-plan-for-airline-style-fare.181623/) regarding Virgin trains wanting to ban standing, and plans for "..airline style fares..." has certainly provoked a lively debate, and it shows that there is no one universally accepted point of view.

    Point no. 8

    sounds like it could be sent to Pseuds Corner in Private Eye, and I wonder what the RMT would have to say about "..Develop a new approach to working with the unions..."

     
  4. Sleeperwaking

    Sleeperwaking Member

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    The RDG full report can be downloaded here which goes into much more detail about each point. I haven't read it yet - just downloaded it myself - but page 22 onwards seems to be the bit you want.
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The big concern I have about devolution outside of the big cities (where the PTEs or whatever they're called now would probably manage things well enough) is that local authorities would just cut, cut and cut like they have for buses.

    I also think on-rail competition is a fallacy and should be banned, not encouraged.
     
  6. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    Sounds like pie in the sky
     
  7. ejstubbs

    ejstubbs Member

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    What does "reducing overcrowding on some of the busiest long-distance services" have to do with delivering "easier fares for all"? I mean, both are laudable goals, but I don't see how one relates particularly much to the other.
     
  8. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    I think what they are trying to do is spread the demand out by making it cheaper to travel at times where it is not as busy and making fares more flexible.
     
  9. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I suspect the plan is to move away from the regulated Off Peak Returns, and instead require passengers to purchase train-specific fares, as these are considered "easier" than flexible fares.
     
  10. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    There was also a lady from the opposing point of view who in my opinion hit the nail on the head when she said something along the lines of when people buy a ticket from A to B they want to join the first train from A to B not try and work out if its the correct operator or not.
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    "to increase the income by charging more at times passengers have to travel" is a more realistic way of putting it, given that this will at least in part have been fed by VT's absolutely disgraceful anti-passenger diatribe.
     
  12. CeeJ

    CeeJ Member

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    An interesting report from RDG - naturally positioned with operator’s interests at heart, but this is better than defending the status quo.

    Only omission (aside from a couple of vague references) in terms of ticketing is the integration of smart ticketing and a definitive approach to reducing paper tickets.
     
  13. Sleeperwaking

    Sleeperwaking Member

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    Having had time to read the fares part of the RDG report, it's still not incredibly clear what they're proposing. But one idea seems to be moving to a cross industry "Oyster" card style arrangement - instead of paying a fixed fee for a season ticket (price set assuming travel in peak times), a commuter could "pay-as-they-go" for the actual trains used during the week until they reach the price cap for travel on that route over that time period (similar to how Oyster system stops charging once you've reached the all-day travelcard price for travel in that zone). Commuters with flexible working hours might then opt to travel at off-peak times / work from home more often as it could actually save them some money. Annual season ticket holders could see a reduction in cost as the system would take into account days / weeks when they don't commute, like when they go on holiday.
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    RDG have done a separate paper on fares reform - there's a thread on it somewhere - they will be proposing that.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    If the cost of Season tickets reduces for people who work fewer days, then it is pretty much guaranteed that the cost will increase for those who work 5 days a week and get an average amount of holiday, as any changes are going to be "revenue neutral"

    At present an Annual Season gives you several free weeks compared to paying at the monthly rate. There is no prospect of people paying less, and no-one paying more, unless there is a change in Government policy.
     
  16. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    There was some data on season tickets and the railway planning assumption was something like people would make 280 return trips a year with an annual season ticket but the actual figure people were doing was around 240.

    The RDG approach seems to be breaking down fares into small legs, it always costs X between point A & B no matter the company and there isn't an alternative route with a different price or the possibility that it would be cheaper with split ticketing, these prices would be set by a national regulator and essentially dictate what the Tocs are paying into network maintenance. But then rail companies could discount the standard price out of their own pocket, for instance one may offer an off peak deduction while another may offer a discount for operator specific tickets, essentially rather than competing on route choice they are competing on discounting, but the taxpayer/infrastructure provider isn't losing out because they are always paying the same for the network capacity and right to carry that passenger.
     
    Last edited: 30 Apr 2019
  17. Sleeperwaking

    Sleeperwaking Member

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    Well yes, that is stage one of their fare review plan (see below). Also, clearly, the purpose of this report is to suggest changes / improvements to the current system (from an RDG perspective), so I don't quite see the point in immediately writing off the proposals because they wouldn't work under the current system...

     
  18. thejuggler

    thejuggler Member

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    I don't know where you live, but local authorities haven't run buses for decades in my area.

    The bus companies decide where to run buses, the local authorities try to influence routes, but they don't have much say if a route isn't profitable or becomes so unreliable a timetable can't be fixed.
     
  19. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    Many places the bus routes are subsidised and so while the bus operators choose where they run, they now only run profitable routes with other routes abandoned due to a lack of PTE funding.
     
  20. Randomer

    Randomer Member

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    I think people reading the submission need to remember that the RDG despite making several pro passenger soundbites in various interviews is at its heart a body ran for the interests of its members, the train operating companies.

    Having only read the introduction to the report and the summary as posted above a cynic might think that the driver for fares reform and particularly season tickets is that the number of people using yearly seasons (which make up the biggest guaranteed income for most TOC) is going down. Likewise the number of businesses prepared to pay the full anytime rate for there staff to travel outside of London.

    For some reason I chopped part of my post when copy pasted:

    As a country decisions need to be made by political parties about how much tax they are prepared to use to subsidise rail travel and public transport in general in the interests of the economy, environment and country as a whole. Not just a dogma of "private run is best" or "bring back BR".

    However, I would be greatly encouraged by point 2 i.e. removing DfT influence to a more hands off approach but this seems like a return to the Strategic Rail Authority and most posters will realise how long that lasted.
     
  21. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    In my area Stagecoach decides where they run but with funding from the council and Department for Transport. Devolution though works on rail with TfL primarily because they are able to integrate it with other modes of transport and put it on the tube map. TfN could run Northern under the proposals and as it is represented by different people in the North it would work better than being controlled by Westminster. Which would you like Westminster or the people who represent those areas (e.g. Transport for London (for rail services in London), Transport for the West Midlands (for services in the West Midlands and Transport for the North (for services in the North)).
     
  22. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    I disagree but I accept that on rail competiton should not be seen as the be all and end all.

    To be fair a season ticket does do this.
     
  23. ABB125

    ABB125 Member

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    I see the RMT has issued its usual posotive response to this submission. Here are two articles from their website (the second is specifically about this topic). Can anyone spot a pattern?
    I've drafted another press release for them, to save them from having to do it:
    Sorry for slightly changing the topic, but i couldn't help myself. The important thing to bring away from this post is that, surprise surprise, the RMT has nothing but negativity to shout out about this story.
     
  24. Randomer

    Randomer Member

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    So having read through the report some parts stand out to me as a little bit disingenuous:

    I believe that the power to even out the passenger loading already lies with the TOC concerned if they wished to. Virgin Trains in particular could easily balance passenger load with less onerous off peak ticket conditions in the evenings but chooses not to do so for revenue reasons. It is interesting to compare loadings on a Friday evening between VTWC and LNER whose off peak evening restrictions are shorter. Removing such restrictions only on Fridays could easily reduce the crush loading seen on the first off peak trains leaving Euston.

    Surely the question here is what model allows the local authority (or passenger transport executive) to afford such a policy without further funding from central government. Effectively the poorest, most deprived areas which would benefit from such a policy are the ones also least likely to be able to afford it in the current funding system.

    Does anyone else see a dichotomy between having a central controlling mind (effectively what is proposed on Page 48-49) and greater local devolution?

    It works in some countries because they have a much greater separation of local and long distance services. Certainly the information about Sweden in Page 31 misses out that deregulation has brought about much decreased flexibility for long distance passengers (air line style fares as proposed by VTWC recently) and increased ticket prices compared to inflation on long distance services despite competition. I will endeavour to find an English language copy of the latest national passenger satisfaction survey but essentially the only area where passenger ratings are improving is the contracted local services as defined by the equivalent of the regional level PTE (which are admittedly privately operated under contract.)

    Personally I think that this could be the best future structure for the railways under private or public ownership. Indeed the system of the incumbent national operator and private companies bidding for concessions is widespread in countries which I have travelled in with good public transport provision (Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden come to mind immediately.)

    On point 4 the Amy case study in particular:
    This only seems possible if the whole system of franchised long distance operators is swept away entirely but at what point does an operator become long distance. In terms of travel time for example Leeds to Bristol is a much longer journey than Leeds to London yet it is doubtful paths could be found to have meaningful competition for the route.

    RDG must define what it means by intercity. Does it effectively mean WCML and ECML served stations? In which case what about passengers travelling shorter distances on services because a lack of paths means they are the only option on that route for commuting. Or for example does TPE and Scotrail (inter 7 cities) count in which case how does competition work here. TPE couldn't realistically be split into two operators both doing the same routes. Otherwise the idea of point 6, local control over transport becomes moot if the operator is considered to be an intercity one and thus operating on a much more commercial basis. Likewise in the case of thru services serving two local regions e.g. Manchester and West Yorkshire how are priorities set locally in both cases without adversely impacting the local decision making of the other body.

    Perhaps the biggest cultural change might be in training and encouraging staff to continue learning the rules and regulations around ticketing matters. Not allowing passenger through gate lines with valid tickets through not understanding how off peak tickets are valid; "this is a peak time service" or threatening prosecution of passengers with valid tickets (e.g. XC on a route with a more expensive ticket where the correct procedure would be to issue a zero fare excess.) Without this passenger experience will continue to be negatively effected when new ticketing rules and regulations are introduced with the same ineffective training system that some TOC seem to have in place now.
     
  25. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Network Rail, HS2, Freight companies and public owned rail groups e.g. Transport for London and Transport for Wales are members too.

    RMT are missing the point where the RDG aren't calling for deregulation but more regulation through the creation of a new independent regulator with more power over franchises than even the Dft has today as well as handing over control for service specification to more local authorities, closer to the actual passengers and outside the Whitehall bubble. The RDG are also even proposing giving staff and unions a role in writing the Tocs bids to operate services.

    The huge fuss being made over more competition on West Coast in the media shows they didn't read it where it holds up the existing WCML as an example of the intercity competition it wants with West Midlands and Virgin competing to provide capacity on the same line, it also suggests an alternate model of the new national regulator selling capacity the way that Airports sell landing slots.
     
    Last edited: 30 Apr 2019
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    You know they have done, right? (I believe it was a condition of the last Direct Award to do so, and the same has been applied, I think, on the East Coast).
     
  27. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    As long as the traditional season ticket doesn't dissappear.

    I've experienced enough of the amazing dissappearing charge cap on Oyster to know that I don't trust pay-as-you-go arrangements in place of flat fare tickets.
     
  28. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Someone else overseeing franchising is all lovely, but it doesn't equate to an alternative system of regulating fares.
     
  29. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    Maybe off topic, but I wish people who publish these long reports would make them available for download in epub format without all the pictures so people with e-readers (Kobo or similar) can process them quickly without having to read on a monitor.
     
  30. bionic

    bionic Member

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    Yes. All they want to do is keep a foothold in the railways in the face of pretty much everyone saying the current system is not fit for purpose. What they don't want is renationalisation, so this is them offering an "alternative" with their own interests (and profits) at heart.

    The RDG represent TOCs so this of course is completely natural and expected from them.

    Yes. The RMT represent the interests of railway workers, have a socialist constitution and have always been vociferous about public ownership and accountability in the running of the railways.

    The response of the RMT is also completely natural and expected.

    Whether Joe Bloggs chooses to side with either line or pick a stance somewhere between the two does not change the fact that both the musings of the RDG and the RMT are coming from the natural positions of those two organisations. I don't understand why anyone would be surprised or feel the need to get worked up by what either has said.
     
  31. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I agree but go further - the whole fares "simplification" agenda is simply a way to ensure a reduction/removal of discounted fares.
     

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