Rail Review

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

  1. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Did I hear them say they'd brought in some geezer from John Lewis to look at a similar partnership structure? Well the thought of an extra bonus to boost our salary would get my vote :D
     
  2. js1000

    js1000 Member

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    The problem isn't so much privatisation but fragmentation.

    The track is owned and maintained by the government, timetable requirements are drawn up by the Department for Transport, the service is operated by private sector companies and the passenger travels on trains (mostly) owned by banks.

    I'd rather the whole railway is either fully nationalised (services operated by government and carriages owned) or fully privatised.

    The lack of vertical integration and joined up thinking is killing it at the moment. Look at the recent timetable debacle - who was mostly responsible for that? No one knows because they can all conveniently point the finger of blame at each other. Who loses out the most? The passenger of course.

    And I doubt that famous radical and imaginative Maybot will do anything to improve the railway system. She's utterly useless.
     
  3. KashmireHawker

    KashmireHawker Member

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    That is correct and confirms the Tories love a John Lewis connected man, with Andy Street winning the West Midlands Mayoralty last May!

    Despite there profit becoming nil in the first half of 2018, JL is still a strong company of whom it’s lead people know what it takes, to run such an organisation and the DfT needing its bosses help is probably the smartest move.
     
  4. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    I will go with that move then & see what it beholds. Thanks.
     
  5. GrimShady

    GrimShady Member

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    We'll said! Go back to the old sectors. Far better to offer a standard product rolling stock wise and to stop these silly procurements of small multiple fleets that are all mostly incompatible with each other.
     
  6. Panupreset

    Panupreset Member

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    You don't order a review without telling the person who is doing it what the outcome needs to be.

    Expect Drivers and Unions to be blamed for most of the current systems problems, with a recommendation of Driverless train technology (whatever the cost) and more anti trade union legislation.
     
  7. lordbusiness

    lordbusiness Member

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    God help us if it ends with greater government control.
    Without turning this into another nationalisation vs privatisation debate. Every dealing I've had with the DfT and the Civil Service in general give me no confidence on their ability to successfully manage anything.
     
  8. HH

    HH Established Member

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    I think David Leeder has the right of it.

    Whatever the results of the report, nothing fundamental will actually change.
     
  9. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    Attack of the "rail industry Blob" - that's a new one!

    Whilst capturing that the railway acts sort-of self aware with no single brain in charge, I prefer the metaphor of an ecosystem to be managed in passenger's interest rather than some kind of alien to be destroyed - a metaphor that might have been crafted by the proponents of nationalisation.
     
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2018
  10. lordbusiness

    lordbusiness Member

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    It will certainly make interesting reading. I suspect the Government rationale is partly to show that they are attempting to do something and partly to counter, or at least partly counter the clamour for nationalisation.
    Personally, I think the industry suffers from an inability to manage expectations and given all the factors both within and outside the industry, actually delivers pretty well. Sure everyone wants a railway where everyone gets a seat, trains run on time all the time, trains or infrastructure never break, fares are cheap and they don't crash. Are all these things achievable?

    It doesn't help that the industry makes promises it often is able to deliver.

    Remember, 8 out 10 owners said their cats prefered it sold a hell of a lot of cat food.
     
  11. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    When BR was nationalised there was little or no government control. BR negotiated a budget with the DfT and then was allowed to get on with it. Imagine what BR could have done if it had had the levels of funding that the so called private operators get today in the form of subsidy.
     
  12. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    But it would never have had that level of funding in the public sector.
    BR had to live within Treasury controls which meant things like pay restraint and a limited amount of capital - hence few new projects and a patch and mend policy.
    The aim of the new money at privatisation was supposed to be a one-off injection to get the railway up to modern standards.
    Unfortunately it (mainly NR) has found a way of consuming the same high level of funding (£8 billion a year) indefinitely, with regular fiascos over costs and operation.
    The operators (public or private) essentially break even.
    Network Rail (under 100% government control) is the elephant in the room.
     
  13. Railwaysceptic

    Railwaysceptic Member

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    Absolutely correct, and that point can never be repeated too often. The tragedy is that B. R. no longer exists so we can't bring it back, and even if we could, the politicians and civil servants would never agree to relinquishing control of the railways by handing it back to industry professionals.
     
  14. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    My understanding is that they could have declared a profit but instead decided to take the opportunity to pay off debts (that weren't due for payment at this time). I wish other companies took that kind of approach.

    If he's dealt with a company with large debts then wait 'till he sees the books at Network Rail!

    Good old nationalised British Rail had plenty of small fleets - we can't blame privatisation for things like the 81/82/83/84/85s can we?

    When BR was nationalised, construction was significantly cheaper (not just on the railways but across all industries). Look at how much it costs to do something simple for the (public sector) Network Rail to tart up the lightly used Breich station- what could two and a half million pounds have bought you in the '80s?

    When BR was nationalised, Health And Safety was significantly cheaper/ simpler. Look at how you could electrify the ECML by closing one line and keeping the other in operation - couldn't get away with cutting corners now.

    We could nationalise today but it wouldn't be like going back to the 1980s. Look at how the Government wants to micromanage everything it touches, look at how it's turned things like the NHS into hundreds of separate business areas. The idea of the Government sitting down with Proper Railway Men once every five years, handing over a bucket of cash and letting them get on with it is an appealing one for a lot of enthusiasts but it wouldn't be like that - no Government would take that lassier faire approach. Instead, we'd have control by the people who many enthusiasts call "DafT" - is that what people want?
     
  15. lordbusiness

    lordbusiness Member

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    But could have that level of funding and budget be guaranteed year on year?
    Would the level of funding from Government match the requirements of the industry?
    BRB would be competing with all the other departments (health, social services, defence, roads etc) for a limited pot of money.
    Dont get me wrong, there are many things wrong with the franchise/ privatisation system and it needs sorting. However I'm not sure relying totally on Govt money with no investment from the private sector will deliver.

    I've often heard said that if you want to see an example of what would have happened if privatisation hadn't happened, look at the region covered by the current GA franchise about 4 years ago. Knackered trains, knackered infrastructure, limited capacity and investment.
     
  16. Gerald Fiennes

    Gerald Fiennes Member

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    BR always apparently looks better the further one is from it. But to pick up just three areas:

    1. BR was never 'left to get on with it' once its budget was negotiated. Its investment programmes were regularly scrutinised item by item (Networker authorisation took about two years), its procurement was watched very carefully by the politicians to make sure enough UK content was bought (step forward the Class 60 and BREL privatisation) and its budget could always be varied if HMG couldn't quite afford things (the early 90s recession, when track renewals were slashed on much of the network).
    2. It regularly raised fares and often did so much faster than inflation. In the final period, they were consistently raised in real terms simply to generate cash for HMG, not to improve services (as is roughly happening currently).
    3. The organisation was never renowned for customer service. It had to move forward. Although putting Prue Leith -- yes, the same one! -- on the Board and all the great steps taken by Messrs Bleasdale, Prideaux and Green to keep the intercity business looking clean and running smoothly, much of the network was far from customer friendly. Just have a look at those great 'Old, Dirty and Late' videos as a reminder!!!
     
  17. Kneedown

    Kneedown Established Member

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    I would personally go back to the regional system for passenger trains, ie LMR, WR, SR, ER etc.
    I see no benefit in making Intercity services seperate to the regional services they connect with, and to do so would inevitably mean that the glamorous Intercity franchise would make all the profits, while the less glamorous Regional franchise would be operating at a loss unless extreme cost cutting were applied. If you're going to have a privatised network, then it is surely best to level the playing field and share the loss making routes among the profitable Intercity franchises.
    Most freight services these days are interregional so keep the FOC's as they are.
     
  18. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    Your history is a bit vague... :(

    BR was not nationalised, it was the private companies that were nationalised. The overarching entity created to run all the nationalised transport businesses was the British Transport Commission and its 'agent' responsible for the railways, known as the Railways Executive, traded as 'British Railways'.

    You are correct that at the time of nationalisation there was little Government control. This was because the BTC as a whole made a profit and this was because its largest 'agent' was the Railways Executive and this was profitable. In turn this was because the constituent companies were still, in 1947, cash positive - in spite of all the claims made subsequently that they were nationalised because they were broke.

    BR's profits then started to slide and by 1953 it no longer could cover its total costs and two years later, in 1955, it could no longer even cover its operating costs. At this point its sponsoring ministry, the Ministry of Transport, became closely involved in its funding covering both operating and capital expenditures and in fares setting.

    There was never, ever, a time since then when the MoT, or its later equivalents, was not very closely involved with BR's finances. Where the idea came from, that BR was given a pot of money and then left alone, I have no idea. It is, quite simply, not true.
     
  19. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Sorry I should have phrased that a bit better - what I mean't was "when we had a nationalised railway under BR"
     
  20. GrimShady

    GrimShady Member

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    No but they were part of an evolutionary design resulting in the Class 87/90. They could still interface with all other coaching stock at the time. Masses of small multiple units now can't.

    BR wasn't perfect in this regard, most of the modernisation plan was a complete waste of resources.

    They could still do a national traction plan and moving stock between sectors was much easier then than now.

    BR PLC is what's required.
     
  21. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    OK! Point taken. :)
     
  22. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    BR did not negotiate with the DfT , they and LT , were summoned once a year to the offices and given a letter with the finance total given by HMG.

    There was also a general letter giving "advice" as to what the general direction they should follow over the next 12 months or so.

    There are a number of well written books giving the overall views of the (anti-rail) stance of the DfT and politicians.
     
  23. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    There's a common misconception that the TOC's receive a net amount of money either directly or via the NR grant.

    If you look at the headline of £4 billion given to the railway industry each year you can see why.

    However of the money given something like £3.5 billion is given to NR for enhancements to the network with a further £0.8 billion spent on HS2.

    To me that looks like that the TOC's, FOC's and the like for like maintenance NR undertakes is all covered by other income sources.

    Even if there's some enhancements which would otherwise require maintenance the overall general picture is that most of the subsidy is spent on improving the railways. Much of which will result in lower costs, improved capacity or a combination of the two which will likely improve the picture in future years.

    Part of the problem with the current franchise system is that there's no ability for there to be investment which can used to reduce costs (such as reducing the risk of delays and/or electrification) or improve capacity (such as grade separated junctions).

    Now if this was done in such a way that resulted in TOC's paying a significant amount of future savings/future income to pay for it then the overall cost to the government would be fairly small (if not cost nutral) over time yet there would be much more improvements to the network.

    For instance if SWT had been allowed to do something like this to build a grade separated junction at Woking the number of delays caused by the junction would have fallen (saving delay costs) as well as providing scope for the potential for extra services (increasing income).

    That one project probably wouldn't have hada significant impact on the whole network, however if there was enough such schemes then the overall result could be quite transformative.
     
  24. plcd1

    plcd1 Member

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    And here is the official news article from the DfT announcing the much vaunted Rail Review.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-root-and-branch-review-of-rail

     
  25. WombatDeath

    WombatDeath Member

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    Yeah. I'm not particularly bothered about nationalisation, I "just" want a single point of accountability that removes perverse incentives for anti-passenger behaviour.
     
  26. MML

    MML Member

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    Just what the industry needs. More highly paid executives who talk the talk buzz words and all. Significant challenges never seem to prevent these parasites collecting their gongs and executive bonuses for a job well done. Even though in most cases, it's not well done at all. And so we have another enquiry so lessons are learned, more quangos and more overpaid executives.

    If the CEO of Network Rail was really doing his job, he wouldn't put up with the mess of scrap metal, rails and ballast which is dumped line side by the organisation and its contractors. Shoddy maintenance and lack of leadership.
     
  27. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Well, hopefully the new CEO will make some changes, but he has only been in the job a month...
     
  28. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    The XC refranchising next year has been suspended.
    So we can stop speculating about the future of Voyagers for a bit.
    Arrival will continue until the rail review has reported.
     
  29. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Who is this Arrival that everybody keeps talking about?
     
  30. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    I've found an answer for you here... ;)
     

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