State rail operator hunts for staff to run failing routes

AndrewE

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In the "Times" today
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/...nts-for-staff-to-run-failing-routes-qk2pl2w6t
The government’s in-house train operator faces a struggle to recruit enough rail experts as concerns mount that at least five major franchises are at risk.

Sources said that the so-called operator of last resort (OLR) — a subsidiary of the Department for Transport — was finding it difficult to cope with a mounting workload caused by the implosion of train companies.

A number of former railway executives are understood to have been asked to come out of retirement to work for the organisation amid uncertainty over the future of the franchising system.
but as it's behind a paywall I can't see any more!
Anyone here tempted?
I am tempted - but only to suggest that the DfT should have recruited them a couple of decades ago, so that it might have made a better fist of the remits it has been issuing from its Ivory Tower!
 
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js1000

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Nope.

DfT, Train companies, Network Rail, Rolling stock companies, Regional Bodies (i.e. TfN), Unions...

Far too much fragmentation in a convoluted system that's built perfectly for blame games and a lack of vertical integration to make efficiencies.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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They could always ask Stagecoach and National Express to lend a hand, with Virgin doing the marketing...
Andy Burnham and Mick Cash are always ready with advice too.
 

pinkmarie80

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Full article-

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The government’s in-house train operator faces a struggle to recruit enough rail experts as concerns mount that at least five major franchises are at risk.

Sources said that the so-called operator of last resort (OLR) — a subsidiary of the Department for Transport — was finding it difficult to cope with a mounting workload caused by the implosion of train companies.

A number of former railway executives are understood to have been asked to come out of retirement to work for the organisation amid uncertainty over the future of the franchising system.


Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has raised the possibility of renationalising Northern Rail within the next three weeks because it is close to financial collapse. He has asked the OLR to draw up detailed plans for the huge Northern Rail commuter network. A decision will be taken by the end of the month whether to place it in state hands or give its existing private operator, Arriva, a short-term contract under new terms.

Industry sources said it looked increasingly likely that Mr Shapps would choose temporary renationalisation to “make an example” of the German-owned franchise.
 

Helvellyn

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Apparently SWR don't serve anywhere west of Weymouth according to the map in the above post!
Never mind that - LNER are obviously running stealth services to Glasgow Central via the S&C and GSW route, Glasgow Quern Street and Inverness via Aberdeen!
 

Bertie the bus

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How about asking Adrian Shooter to stop tinkering with tube trains in a Midlands field and go back to doing what he did well?
 

RealTrains07

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In the "Times" today
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/...nts-for-staff-to-run-failing-routes-qk2pl2w6t
but as it's behind a paywall I can't see any more!
Anyone here tempted?
I am tempted - but only to suggest that the DfT should have recruited them a couple of decades ago, so that it might have made a better fist of the remits it has been issuing from its Ivory Tower!
Couldnt agree more. The DfT should have been prepared for this since day 1 of privatisation. Yes the issue was probably treated as one of those ‘just incases which is unlikely to happen’ situations in the early days/years of privatisation but doesn’t mean it would never have happened.

Unlike now with 5 franchises facing calls for removal. Some closer than others but still its no excuse to be panicking about needing workers now
 

RealTrains07

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The government’s in-house train operator faces a struggle to recruit enough rail experts as concerns mount that at least five major franchises are at risk.

Sources said that the so-called operator of last resort (OLR) — a subsidiary of the Department for Transport — was finding it difficult to cope with a mounting workload caused by the implosion of train companies.

A number of former railway executives are understood to have been asked to come out of retirement to work for the organisation amid uncertainty over the future of the franchising system.


Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has raised the possibility of renationalising Northern Rail within the next three weeks because it is close to financial collapse. He has asked the OLR to draw up detailed plans for the huge Northern Rail commuter network. A decision will be taken by the end of the month whether to place it in state hands or give its existing private operator, Arriva, a short-term contract under new terms.

Industry sources said it looked increasingly likely that Mr Shapps would choose temporary renationalisation to “make an example” of the German-owned franchise.
Since when was GA under threat of nationalisation? Very new to my ears?
 

High Dyke

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Hold on, are we saying there are not enough rail industry experts to run the in-house operators, when the DfT are the ones calling the shots on franchise requirements....?? o_O
There are plenty of "experts", just not enough with experience in railway operations. Far too many times senior managers have arrived from other industry, where they may understand management techniques, but if they have not worked their way up through the ranks as a railway employee - which many in the past have done - then they seldom understand the needs of the railway and its users. Politicians only know what the civil servants tell them and civil servants can only see how little investment they need to supply to ensure the whole rail network doesn't fail completely.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Back to the question - there is still a considerable pool of "retired" , can I say it - "ex BR", middle and senior managers that might be recruited. For a period.

They probably retired , and I can think of a good few , for the simple reason that they were exhausted with the complex regulatory , contractual railway and all the other things that have happened since the Railways Act of 1994 , which they had to implement and manage for the last 25 or so year. They are about the only ones who have practical experience of "one railway" , so perhaps , and dependant on the Williams Review , there might be some potential there , depending on what occurs. In my 37 years of service , it got to a point where the job ceased to be enjoyable.

I am a member of the Retired Railway Officers Society* , which meets for a top notch lecture each month - (last week was in person the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police who delivered an outstanding and gripping talk) , just before Xmas we had a very experienced (ex BR partly) , person who talked about "how not to manage franchising . Incredibly hard hitting talk about the rights and wrongs of the "the great experiment"

Now - the lectures always have a good Q+A session afterwards , and the question above naturally arose as to how "embedded experience" could be harvested , and she naturally laughed and pointed to the "grey" audience and said there was plenty of material in the room - maybe a 120 or so ex Senior Officers , MD's , Fleet Engineers , Civil Engineers and so on.

Chris Green / Gordon Pettit , Don Heath , David Maidment , etc - invariably attend - the out going Chairman is one Sir Michael Holden , who not so long ago , ran the East Coast - and before that post Connex South Eastern.

Plenty of material available there ......


(you have to be proposed , seconded and voted in - it has been in existence since 1919 or so - it is quite a privilige to go along)
 

ChiefPlanner

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There are plenty of "experts", just not enough with experience in railway operations. Far too many times senior managers have arrived from other industry, where they may understand management techniques, but if they have not worked their way up through the ranks as a railway employee - which many in the past have done - then they seldom understand the needs of the railway and its users. Politicians only know what the civil servants tell them and civil servants can only see how little investment they need to supply to ensure the whole rail network doesn't fail completely.
Well said - the last thing you need is process - driven experts from the consultancy field / areas. See my post below.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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When you think about it, Keith Williams is apparently about to recommend an independent "controlling mind" for the railway.
And yet there seem few takers for such a job, when it means sorting out the increasing number of basket cases.
Easy enough when it's a going concern like NXEC or VTEC, not so much when it comes with baggage like Northern, SWR and the rest.
You would also be fighting from Day 1 with the know-all politicians from the DfT downwards, and the media.

In all this, "fire the TOC" is a constant refrain.
But you can't fire the other half of the equation (Network Rail).
 

thejuggler

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Railways, like most other public sector bodies, have gone from direct delivery to a commissioner of services. There will be rooms full of procurement managers, contract managers, QC managers, monitoring managers all backed up with lawyers etc, all in place to draw up and manage contracts, not actually run trains on time.

This is fine until the procurement managers don't get anyone bidding, the contract managers identify contract breaches, the monitoring officers see the company is going bust and there are no companies out there fit and proper to deliver the service.

This is potentially where we are now and it can go two ways. Government tries to go back to direct delivery or Government changes the system which means companies start bidding again.
 

Goldfish62

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At what stage does it dawn on them that having privatised railways doesn't work?
Without wishing to get into a debate on private v public ownership, its the structure that's the critical issue, not ownership (the majority of assets and control of our railways lies in the public sector anyway).
 

Bald Rick

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Railways, like most other public sector bodies, have gone from direct delivery to a commissioner of services. There will be rooms full of procurement managers, contract managers, QC managers, monitoring managers all backed up with lawyers etc, all in place to draw up and manage contracts, not actually run trains on time.
Whilst there is some truth in this, I query the ‘rooms full’ part.

In my experience, the number of people negotiating and managing the contracts is relatively small. To take one example, the track / station access contracts between NR and the TOCs in the ‘third rail’ part of the world. These are managed by a handful of people.
 

tbtc

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Shapps is always good for a headline-grabbing news release, a kind of "Dads Army" approach, should be music to the ears of the demographic he's wanting to appeal to - the "it was much simpler in my day" crowd who read the (physical) Sunday papers.

Grayling, on the other hand, never had the political nous to come up with stunts like this - Shapps is much better at the dodge/distract politics (which is not to say that he'll deliver anything better, just that he can conjur up a nice smokescreen when he wants)

We can ignore the fact that things are significantly more complicated nowadays than the environment that these people worked in, because I don't think there's any realistic chance of it happening - if anyone comes in to replace Arriva (etc) it'll be well paid management consultants (as with LNER), rather than begging Sir Topham Hat to come out of retirement

Never mind that - LNER are obviously running stealth services to Glasgow Central via the S&C and GSW route, Glasgow Quern Street and Inverness via Aberdeen!
Disappointing - the Forum rules clearly state that any Glasgow - Kilmarnock - Carlisle - Settle - Leeds service must continue south to (at least) Nottingham :lol:

(but it does maybe say something about how seriously the rest of the country take railways when such *basic* errors can be printed - most people don't use trains more than a couple of times a year though, so will take this at face value)

At what stage does it dawn on them that having privatised railways doesn't work?
It's amazing that the Victorians managed to build thousands of miles of railways (given that there were over a hundred years between "railways" and "British Rail")
 

gimmea50anyday

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That’s where the railway clearing house came in to play.

Franchises don’t work. Get rid. 6 or 7 regional companies plus an expanded CrossCountry taking in some of East Mids, TPE and Northern services and start pooling resources like BR did, that worked and was efficient. Start reducing frequencies but lengthening trains. That’s my opinion anyway...
 

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