Rail Review

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Jorge Da Silva, 4 Sep 2018.

  1. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Member

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    It has been revealed that Theresa May maybe planning for a major shake-up to the network following the chaos experienced with the East Coast as a major review into the system is carried out.

    https://www.ft.com/content/48a17bcc-b042-11e8-8d14-6f049d06439c
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...or-britain-railway-review-amid-commuter-anger


    From Financial Times:
     
    Last edited: 4 Sep 2018
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  3. LeeLivery

    LeeLivery Member

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    "Regional routes" =
    Southern, LM (Without the Scottish), Great Western (Without the Welsh), LNER?
    Or Southern, Midland, Northern, GWR, GER?
    Or German style?
    Or Japanese style?

    Edit: No matter what it is, if Grayling is involved I don't have much hope in it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 4 Sep 2018
  4. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Member

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    That's very true. Grayling is doing only one thing...



    Failing.
     
  5. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    The FT article muddles things up by portraying all the railway's problems as being down to the franchising system.
    The VTEC franchise failure is quite different to the May timetable meltdowns, which were largely caused by Network Rail enhancement delays and change management issues, which are not mentioned.
    NR is of course already in the public sector and outside the franchising system.
    I doubt DfT and Grayling have any clear idea yet what the East Coast Partnership is going to look like, which might be the template for a new franchising system.

    The Guardian article concentrates on the NR announcement of an ETCS programme for the southern ECML, where it wants a long-term private sector partner.
    This can only be one of the signalling majors (Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier, Hitachi).
    This isn't quite what Grayling wants which is external investment into NR enhancement projects.
    https://www.railwaygazette.com/news...-seeks-east-coast-main-line-etcs-partner.html
     
  6. 3141

    3141 Established Member

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    The ending of the VTEC franchise, and then the timetable problems at GTR and Northern plus the disputes over DOO, combine to produce a feeling of public dissatisfaction, and I find it very understandable that Theresa May supports a review, particularly since there are many Conservative constituencies in the areas affected by the DOO disputes and the timetable problems. With the Labour Party offering nationalisation as its solution, which the Conservatives would not support, she needs to come up with something else.

    Grayling isn't a fool, despite the opinion of some people on this forum, and he'll be aware that the number of bidders for franchises is declining, that VTEC wasn't the only franchise facing problems, and that it's not popular - at least among some parts of the media - if franchises are won by foreign bidders. It's entirely understandable that he'd be supporting a review of the franchise system.
     
  7. plcd1

    plcd1 Member

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    Grayling is worse than a fool. He thinks he knows a lot and is very clever when that isn't the reality. That's far more dangerous than being a fool. There is a clear trail of failure from past departments where he has held Ministerial roles. If that doesn't ring alarm bells I don't know what should.

    The most telling sentence in that FT article is where it is says the Treasury is not convinced that another review is required. In short the Treasury don't want to see a huge amount of money frittered away on yet more structural change in the rail industry. They are desperate to keep as much money in reserve to deal with the consequences of Brexit after next March. They are unlikely to countenance Grayling faffing around the split of operational and investment decisions nor changing how Network Rail or TOCs are structured. We have no idea how responsibilities are to be amended in Grayling's more "co-operative" South Eastern franchise - the silence is ominous. Throw in West Coast and East Coast Partnership and you have the potential for an enormous mess on the two most important main line routes in the country plus a commuter franchise with an enormous asset condition backlog that largely serves Tory constituencies. These are the last places where you start experimenting with operational and safety accountabilities.

    My sense of things is that private sector investors are going to be extremely nervous about the risk they are being asked to take on, the lack of follow through on NR's commitments to do work to enable franchisees to meet their franchise milestones and also the reckless approach Grayling takes as to who is to "blame" for failure - in short reputational damage to brand and company names. Anyone with a brain would now be running a thousand miles in the other direction rather than take on a TOC franchise.

    For whatever reason there are still problems with Network Rail's planning and day to day delivery of infrastructure. It also looks to me as if the DfT's decision to remove enhancement funding from NR and to move the "appraisal" process out of the public eye is causing enormous problems. There is a process dislocation which then undermines NR's ability to plan its asset management properly and thus its annual programmes of asset interventions. This then causes procurement and cost problems because there is no clear "pipeline" of work for contractors. Finally it feeds into their ability to plan the timetable and required adjustments for engineering works. How you run a train service effectively in the midst of that, never mind any problems the TOCs themselves create, is the real question. And now Grayling wants the industry to consider structural change on top of coping with all of that dysfunction? Err no thanks. I'll be completely honest and say I don't have my own alternative - I just don't think Grayling is the man to "fix" anything on the railway system.
     
  8. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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    Agreed, but perhaps that's what has brought this on. A franchised railway system isn't going to work without the franchisees!


    I wonder if you might be kind enough to flesh out the process changes mentioned above (in bold) for those of us who aren't quite so tuned in to developments.
     
  9. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    The planning process for CP5 included major enhancements, which NR reported on quarterly.
    Progress (or lack of it) could be tracked fairly easily, but the reports must have been a nightmare to produce.
    For CP6 the only enhancements in the same process are those hanging over from CP5 (eg GW electrification, Crossrail etc).
    New projects are following another, so far hidden process, so we don't get to see either the detail of the projects, or the priorities DfT/NR are applying to them.
    The TP upgrade is in this category.
    CP6 doesn't start until April 2019, so there's time for some of this to be put in the public domain, but enhancements planning is still a big unknown.
    Grayling basically wants NR to sort itself out on current projects before piling yet more undeliverable (and unfunded) work on to them.
    The big CP6 money has gone on routine operational work on the various NR Routes, to improve performance and reliability.
     
  10. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    If some of the planned CP6 upgrades get shuffled back further, I can foresee even more potential bidders backing out in the long run, especially given the ongoing problems of trying to meet franchise expectations but without the planned improvements that were supposed to aid them. It is very typical public sector modus operandi to be terrified of and back away from problematic projects & wait until someone else decides on their fate, but some of the upgrades like the TP are urgently needed if any of the franchise commitments are ever going to be met.
     
  11. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    The railway system is such a complex ecosystem made up of private, public and even third sector organisations that all these high level review ever seem to amount to is an "ink blot" test (the so-called Rorschach test) in which the government - or individual politicians - of the day demonstrate their own dogmas.

    To wit, the Major government accused British rail of being "deeply inefficient" despite the railway being the most efficient in Europe, because public sector inefficiently was a core belief of that government.

    Jeremy Corbyn, as far as I can tell, blames the railways problems on private sector ownership and lack of investment, despite the problems being largely due to public sector Network Rail's late running enhancements and the massive surge of investment (public infrastructure and private rolling stock) going into the system.

    I'm sure forum members can make their guesses as to what preoccupations the current government will project onto the railway.
     
  12. DenmarkRail

    DenmarkRail Member

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    I'd be good in my view if they bulked all IC services into one permenant operator, which was say 25% goverment owned and 75% private owned, and then bulked Network South East, and Regional Railways etc in the same way, so it was all long term. One of my biggest bites with the network is that as soon as an operator gets established, they get the franchise taken from them... It would almost be a national operator which was private. I'm happy with that.
     
  13. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    The trouble with that is the public 25%, with bottomless pockets and infinite time, can easily screw up the private 75% with a balance sheet to protect.
    Public/private contracts don't have a good track record in the UK (see the LUL PFI contracts), but it seems that is what we are moving towards.
    How the risk gets apportioned and managed is key - they couldn't solve it in the SWT/NR partnership.
    The ECML ETCS programme looks like being the first of a new sort of long-term partnership, this time on infrastructure.
    The NR side (ie LNE Route) will have to be run on a limited company basis for it to work.
     
  14. DenmarkRail

    DenmarkRail Member

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    My issue with long term franchises as such would be that if they have a 20 year franchise, they start with huge investment and it drys up towards the end... With a indefinate public / private operator we'd loose that, and we'd possibly get more intergration.
     
  15. 03_179

    03_179 Established Member

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    Regionalising it could work.

    How about a
    Intercity sector.
    Freight sector
    Regional Railways sector
    Scotrail sector
    Network SouthEast sector.

    Oh yeah they did that and it worked.

    Or even one big operator that is divided in to:
    Southern Region.
    London Midland Region.
    Eastern Region.
    Western Region.
    Scottish Region.

    Oh yes .. did that too and it worked but didn't make money for the mates of MPs.
     
  16. DaiGog

    DaiGog Member

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    I like the German system where the local authority specifies the tender for local / regional services in their area. Keeps the focus on what's needed locally, and they are accountable if and when the specification falls short - with the operator held to account if it's not delivered as per the spec.

    InterCity services are in the hands of the nationalised operator, which has its benefits but DB struggles with reliability and punctuality on this side of its operation. Whether a public-private partnership, or full privatisation of the long-distance services would be the answer - or indeed neither - who's to say?
     
  17. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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    Problem is the German system works because there are 16 Länder (federal states), who are the authorities that specify the regional services. England has no such regional structure, apart perhaps from Greater London. The new City Regions aren't of the same ilk.
     
  18. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    DB only has until, I think, 2022 as a monopoly inter city operator in Germany.
    After that services will be tendered, not sure on what basis.
    The regional services are generally tendered, but the winner is usually a German public operator (not always DB).
    SNCF is going in the same direction for long distance services, but I think the intention is to give them a long direct award up to 2030 to keep others out till then.
    Regional (TER) services look like being competitively tendered from 2019, but they are locked into long train acquisition deals which SNCF negotiated with the French manufacturers (Alstom and Bombardier) to protect their industry.
    What is two-faced about the French is that they (SNCF, Keolis, Transdev) are cheerfully bidding for services in other countries while the government locks external bidders out of France itself.
    NS in the Netherlands again only has a limited time as monopoly operator of long distance services (some local services are already tendered).
    Finland is tendering Helsinki local services and there are 7 on the short list, including current operator VR, SJ of Sweden, Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, Transdev and MTR.
     
  19. daikilo

    daikilo Established Member

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    Where can I find confirmation of a long distance deal please? Not at all what was reported in media.

    Also, there is no lock I am aware of on train acquisition, they just have envelope contracts if they wish to reorder.

    The French government generally sticks to the wording and timing of European agreements, hence the issues with the unions now when they are to be applied and not years ago when they were agreed.
     
  20. DenmarkRail

    DenmarkRail Member

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    In theory I am aware of some tendering of SOME intercity DB lines, but it’s that poor in terms of planning its only really being spoken about right now. If it happens before 2030 I’ll eat my hat, and if it happens at all, I’ll be surprised.

    It’s like in Denmark they’ve been saying that they plan to privatise for years. It always pops up, and often they get quite far in the process but it doesn’t happen... bits will get split off, and same in Germany, but for now it’ll stay with a core DB BAHN network with very little changes.

    Back to topic - We can’t use this method because we have 2 extreme governments... The railways should be fully completed externally to ensure no political gain. I’d go with creating a huge holding group, which is part government owned, and part owned by each franchise (but not franchise holder). Would work better if they used my franchise model I mentioned earlier.
     
  21. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/policy/single-view/view/sncf-reform-legislation-adopted.html
    As I understand TER train procurement, they have to do it currently through SNCF, who have large long-term framework deals with French-based manufacturing plants.
     
  22. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    Chief Exec of the Rail Delivery Group, Paul Plummer, writes an opinion piece in today's Telegraph:
    The piece suggests that the industry players are willing to submit to a review provided it is done for the right reasons.
     
  23. 47421

    47421 Member

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    Full article

    "If rumours are to be believed, the Government is poised to announce, as early as this week, a review into how rail services are delivered. As the companies running the railway today, we want to see change and a serious examination of how to improve the railway which looks far wider than just the franchising system.

    Any reforms must lay the foundations for a railway that can deliver for a generation to come. This means a review that looks at each and every part of the railway, which is above politics and that starts with what is best for the long-term good of rail customers and the country.

    This desire for change is why, last year, in an unprecedented coming-together, rail companies set out a unified, long-term plan pledging to boost the economy, better connect communities, improve customer satisfaction and provide more and better jobs for our people. Done well, a review should help to turbo-charge the delivery of these commitments.

    Since the Nineties when private companies once again took over running trains, much has changed. Passenger numbers have doubled, safety is among the best in Europe and the rail freight sector has been revived, keeping lorries off the road. Furthermore, taxpayers are benefiting from a £2.2bn dividend as the railway’s operating costs have been transformed.

    However, the challenges facing the network today – squeezing more trains on to tracks that resemble the M25 at rush hour, harnessing technology so that rail keeps pace with innovations in other modes of transport, attracting investment in a vital public service when taxpayer funding is squeezed – require the whole railway system to be re-engineered.

    The role of every organisation involved in running the service should be considered, from Network Rail’s routes and train companies at the front line, to government and regulators behind the scenes. And, while a review must be approached with an open mind based on hard evidence of what works, all options should be on the table.

    For these reasons, and so that the country can have confidence in any proposed reforms to such a vital public service, a review should be independently led. Anything less risks the perception of a politically motivated fudge that fails to deliver what is best not only for our customers but for the nation’s long-term future. What’s needed is an open and transparent debate so that the outcomes of a review have broad support from customers, the public and, as far as possible, across the political spectrum.

    While it is sensible to take time to ensure that we have the very best underlying structure for running our railway, it is important to avoid a state of limbo during such deliberations. We must therefore be allowed to get on with delivering our plan to introduce 6,400 extra services a week and 7,000 new carriages by the early 2020s.

    Over the summer, we have been conducting the biggest consultation in living memory on reforming rail fares. This will inform proposals for governments to overhaul out-of-date regulations, which result in a system that causes confusion and frustration, puts people off travelling and stifles innovation. Our efforts to make it simpler for people to get the best deal for their journey must not stall.

    Equally, the people who use the railway every day and the communities and businesses who rely on it must not be denied improvements that are already in the pipeline, or that are enabled by innovation and investment happening today. So, we must continue to promote change while we debate the long-term future.

    The real mark of success for any review will be the extent to which it leads to concrete change that is supported by customers and the wider public. A genuinely reformed railway will unlock a new generation of innovation and investment that is driven by competition and choice for customers, best delivered, in our view, by the public and private sectors working together. It must enable the companies at the front line of delivering services to be more agile and responsive to the changing needs and expectations of their customers and the communities they serve. This means creating a system that gives governments the confidence to step back from well-meaning detail like specifying the number of carriages for a specific train, and to focus on the broader social and economic outcomes they want the railway to enable.

    A better model for our railway will ensure that the cost of running it does not rise, protecting taxpayers and passengers. It will align the objectives of the engineers responsible for the tracks with the staff who run the trains. It will ensure the thousands of dedicated people who work tirelessly to keep the service running have long, fulfilling careers, with a greater stake in the railway’s future.

    Above all, though, a successfully reformed railway will have customers and communities at its heart. It will enable the companies responsible for delivering rail services to focus on what is best for the people and the local areas they serve and, in doing so, to deliver value for money for the taxpayer who helps to fund it.

    There are no straightforward answers. What is certain is that simple changes will not achieve the transformation in rail services that everyone wants. But real change that makes the railway simpler and better for customers, businesses and communities is possible. It demands big, broad and independent thinking. Our customers and the country deserve nothing less.

    Paul Plummer is the chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group"
     
  24. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    Thanks, @47421 I new somebody with access would be able to help out. I apologise that I could only put that in front of the paywall (new since I last looked at that paper I think) unfortunately I only had access to the dead tree version of the article!
     
  25. HH

    HH Established Member

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    As previously mentioned elsewhere, I can't see many being interested in the new CrossCountry franchise. If I'm correct, some change might be forced - as was noted above, you can't have a franchising system with no franchisees. Or more correctly, if you only get one, or even two, bidders, you probably won't get a price the Treasury will be happy with (they certainly weren't ecstatic on SWF).
     
  26. KashmireHawker

    KashmireHawker Member

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    Well we could find out the number of bidders tomorrow, if the DfT’s EOI document told the truth on announcing the shortlist date and that further qlarification from interested companies isn’t needed.

    Personally think they’ll be no more than 3 and the Department has probably and very happily accepted 2 companies to bid, considering CrossCountry’s size and thus the scale of work that must be done
     
  27. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Possibly of interest is a piece in the FT:
    Failings of East Coast rail franchise laid bare by UK probe
    So, nothing to see here then - DfT has learned lessons, as usual; no-one thinks Grayling's ideas are any good and NR has "room for improvement". Doesn't fill one with confidence, does it?
     
  28. hwl

    hwl Established Member

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    The BBC article is slightly different in tone especially on NR:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45484966
     
  29. FQTV

    FQTV Member

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    If you didn’t know who had written it and what his current role is, you might think that the piece was an articulate manifesto for nationalisation, with the train operating companies being relieved of their burdens.
     
  30. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Member

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    According to BBC news today, details will be announced next week!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45532566

    From the BBC
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2018
  31. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Until 2 years ago, Keith Williams was CEO of British Airways.
    According to the Sun (!) Colin Matthews is also to be involved.
    Colin is Chair of the Highways Agency and was previously CEO of BAA at Heathrow and before that a BA director.
    These are both people who are/have been close to government transport policy (all shades) and the public/private interface.
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7262907/transport-secretary-train-probe-state-control/
    One thing the review evidently isn't about is what the future franchise map for Cross Country should be!
    The current franchise letting process will no doubt continue for at least another year, during which the South Eastern, West Coast Partnership and East Midlands franchises should be awarded.
     

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