Transport Select Committee 24 June - Including plans to centralise control of Railways

tbwbear

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… and then there's Japan where the frequency differs between east and west!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Japan#National_grid “Unlike most other industrial countries, Japan doesn't have a single national grid but instead has separate eastern and western grids. The standard voltage at power outlets is 100 V, but the grids operate at different frequencies: 50 Hz in Eastern Japan and 60 Hz in Western Japan.”

Also, as I just learned from the same wikipedia page, 10 regional regulated companies provide electricity to the market in Japan, not a single national operator.
Indeed.

And the way the railways were privatised in Japan in 1987 probably offer the best model for the future in the UK. Sadly, we ignored it.
 
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geoffk

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Not sure when the 'don't travel on public transport unless you have to' will be relaxed but implies something needs to be reconciled between need for health needs vs economic needs.
According to a Northern "spokesperson", they are looking at the implications for the 1m plus guidance which could involve reducing the number of seat "not in use" bands or removing them entirely. There is likely to be a change of message soon as the industry moves away from the current Key Worker/Essential Travel Only message to something more neutral. On its website GWR has subtly changed its message from "essential journeys only" to "try to not travel when it’s busy", so I expect other TOCs will follow suit. You clearly don't want huge numbers descending on Blackpool or the Peak District and yesterday's scenes on Bournemouth beach give the wrong message.
 

tbtc

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Nationalisation and privatisation don't exist in a "perfect world" state - they'd come with all the grubby problems of the involvement of HM Government and/or private companies in the real world.

So, whilst I might like the sound of a hypothetical nationalised network, any actual nationalisation would probably be a lot closer to how other public sector bodies are currently set up (than a bespoke one where the Government hand over a few billion quid to a "Fat Controller" every five years and let them get on with it, with no political interference).

In which case, which current "public sector" model seems to be the most appropriate one? The way that the NHS is managed? Prisons? Higher Education? Schools? Fire Brigade? Social Care? Police? All of those look "problematic" set-ups to me, and I'd need convincing that any of them would be better than the current messy system - not saying that what we have is the best state, but it feels like the railway is in Zugzwang (where any move away from the status quo will weaken things further)

It's not about what you'd do with a blank sheet of paper, it's about how it'd look with the current politicians pulling various strings.
 

lordbusiness

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Much as I accept the industry needs to change I fear Mr Shapps has little idea of the complexities of the railway which coupled with his way of doing business may bring further conflict with the TU's.

But then again, maybe thats what he wants?
 

ainsworth74

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The discussion around using computers to help design and test timetables was fascinating but getting very off-topic in this thread. I have therefore moved it to it's own dedicated thread which can be found here. Please do feel free to continue that discussion in the new thread. It's very welcome!
 
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Much as I accept the industry needs to change I fear Mr Shapps has little idea of the complexities of the railway which coupled with his way of doing business may bring further conflict with the TU's.

But then again, maybe thats what he wants?
Granted Shapps has no real comprehension but pushing a vision that moves the industry forward is no bad thing and with Haines and Hendy at the helm who are time served they will scale back his ambitions to something thats deliverable.
 

kieron

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The word "renationalisation" is being bandied about all over the place here. Let's kick that "fake news" into touch straight away. It's a proposed different model of privatisation to the current one.
It's not common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, but what has been said does suggest that the government intends to introduce a system in which the public sector does more of the work of the railway, and the private sector does less.

Most of the things the government does seem to involve private sector contractors in some capacity, so I'm not sure it's worth talking about something being a "privatised" system or a "nationalised" one any longer. It's not the best time for a "my idea for how a nationalised railway could be run" thread, though.
 

ainsworth74

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There was an interesting discussion about smartcards and similar ticketing matters. It was however a bit off-topic here and going over ground covered in a fairly recent thread. It's therefore been moved to that thread which can be found here. The discussion from this thread is at posts #230 - #245.
 

Bletchleyite

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So if you're a TOC bidding for one of these contracts but get no revenue and have no say in investment what encouragement is there for companies to bid?
One approach that might work is switching the competition from "this is what we want, who's going to do it cheapest" to "we want to spend a fixed £X for the N-year contract, what can you do for us within these operational and financial constraints?" - that would allow at least some commercial creativity to come into the overall mix, and it is I believe how e.g. the Libertybus contract in Jersey was let.

With regard to revenue protection, this could be maintained by way of penalty clauses for the "TOC" based on surveying.
 

tbwbear

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So if you're a TOC bidding for one of these contracts but get no revenue and have no say in investment what encouragement is there for companies to bid?
Isn't the whole idea now that it runs along the lines that TfL use in London for bus services ?

You have an organisation akin to TfL "Rails for Britain" (just joking) and the various private companies have the same encouragement to bid as those bidding for buses in London.


Presumably the various companies running London bus services still have some encouragement to bid ?

Presumably it is cheaper for TfL to have private companies (including foreign public bodies like RATP / Abellio) running services than running them themselves (i.e. - when it was London transport) ?


Personally, I dont understand why, given the fact they have no say in investment and they cannot get the revenue, a private company is any better. or why a public body running the services (ie LNER, Northern) is such a bad idea.

Is there really going to be that much difference ?

Isnt this a case of the government not wanting to admit there really is little of privatisation left - Railtrack failed, franchises have failed.....

They are just desperate to keep some private name on the side of the train (even if it is a subsidiary of a nationalised foreign operator) ?


But TfL is the model - Isn't it ?

Did I hear that bit correctly ?
 

flitwickbeds

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The concept of privatisation should have been that Alpha Trains and Speedy Trains both want to run services between Birmingham and Manchester. They both have the opportunity to purchase paths which they wish to use at a set rate (unfavourable paths, eg ones where ridership is generally low, could be offered at a discounted rate to encourage them to be taken up, or be included in a bundle with other paths) and then they are responsible for making that service work. If the customer service is rubbish on Speedy Trains or they don't have enough carriages then that is likely to result in more customers going to travel with Alpha Trains instead and Alpha Trains will be the more commercially successful company.
That works fine between two city centres. How does it work between two non-city locations, or a rural location to a city centre? Does every line have to have a minimum of two operators? Does that then limit the paths, meaning Alpha Trains and Speedy Trains have less-frequent trains? On a 4tph pattern (alternating every 15 minutes between Alpha and Speedy), can you board a Speedy train if the previous Alpha train was cancelled?
 

Dunfanaghy Rd

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Will this brave new world include doing away with the money-go-round of compensation to TOCs when the railway is shut for engineering work? The operators are, after all, the beneficiaries of maintenance and upgrades; seems daft to 'compensate' them for parking their trains for a weekend.
Pat
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Will this brave new world include doing away with the money-go-round of compensation to TOCs when the railway is shut for engineering work? The operators are, after all, the beneficiaries of maintenance and upgrades; seems daft to 'compensate' them for parking their trains for a weekend.
Pat
Well the DfT will then be taking the hit of reduced revenue.
One way or another, the railway is losing money for engineering possessions, when contracted services can't run.
 

PupCuff

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That works fine between two city centres. How does it work between two non-city locations, or a rural location to a city centre? Does every line have to have a minimum of two operators? Does that then limit the paths, meaning Alpha Trains and Speedy Trains have less-frequent trains? On a 4tph pattern (alternating every 15 minutes between Alpha and Speedy), can you board a Speedy train if the previous Alpha train was cancelled?
Of course not - but if Smalltown Community Transport are the only operator on one section of line then they will simply gain all the revenue for that flow. A competitor could then come along and say, well, SCT have built up quite the popularity on this route, so now Speedy Trains will run down there too.

If SCT and Speedy Trains wished to come to some agreement to carry each other's passengers on a routine basis or in the event of disruption then that would be a commercial matter between themselves. They may find it beneficial to do this if the route was acting as a feeder into their mainline services, for instance.

The key concept in my plan for privatisation would be that the customer does not see a train and think, well, a train is a train, they see a Speedy Train and say, I prefer to give my money to Speedy Trains because they are faster/cleaner/more frequent/have better customer service etc etc. If Speedy Trains then lets that customer down they will think, I don't want to give Speedy Trains my money any more as they are rubbish. The way the UK rail system is set up you simply cannot do that in most cases as a proportion of your ticket money,when on a non-operator specific ticket will go to the company you are avoiding regardless of whether you use them or not. Therefore it is a win/win for them whether they give poor service or not.
 

The Planner

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Will this brave new world include doing away with the money-go-round of compensation to TOCs when the railway is shut for engineering work? The operators are, after all, the beneficiaries of maintenance and upgrades; seems daft to 'compensate' them for parking their trains for a weekend.
Pat
Well the DfT will then be taking the hit of reduced revenue.
One way or another, the railway is losing money for engineering possessions, when contracted services can't run.
Schedule 4 is meant to be cost neutral as the TOCs pay a supplement in their access charges to cover it, though some TOCs have done better out of it over the last few years than others. I agree that it is a mechanism that doesn't help engineering planning though as it prices some people out unless they can integrate with others.
 

flitwickbeds

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Of course not - but if Smalltown Community Transport are the only operator on one section of line then they will simply gain all the revenue for that flow. A competitor could then come along and say, well, SCT have built up quite the popularity on this route, so now Speedy Trains will run down there too.

If SCT and Speedy Trains wished to come to some agreement to carry each other's passengers on a routine basis or in the event of disruption then that would be a commercial matter between themselves. They may find it beneficial to do this if the route was acting as a feeder into their mainline services, for instance.

The key concept in my plan for privatisation would be that the customer does not see a train and think, well, a train is a train, they see a Speedy Train and say, I prefer to give my money to Speedy Trains because they are faster/cleaner/more frequent/have better customer service etc etc. If Speedy Trains then lets that customer down they will think, I don't want to give Speedy Trains my money any more as they are rubbish. The way the UK rail system is set up you simply cannot do that in most cases as a proportion of your ticket money,when on a non-operator specific ticket will go to the company you are avoiding regardless of whether you use them or not. Therefore it is a win/win for them whether they give poor service or not.
But do you not see that, for the end user, the choice and simplicity significantly worsens even for inter-city travel under your proposal?

At the moment on the ECML "Speedy Trains" runs all the trains between London and Birmingham. Meanwhile "Alpha Trains" runs all the slower trains between London and Birmingham. There are single, return and season tickets available for travel on both operators - so you buy a ticket, turn up and go on whichever train takes your fancy. Let's say for easy maths there are 12 trains an hour between London and Birmingham across both operators.

If you open up competition and suddenly there are 4 operators (and presumably no "London to Birmingham" ticket for use on any operator) using the same number of paths, that means each operator can only do 3 trains an hour. Instantly a customer has to choose an operator they want to travel with, and wait longer than they do now for the next departure on their specified operator.

Not to mention there would have to be 4 separate ticket offices (one for each operator) in both stations and/or forcing people to choose on a machine which operator they want their travel to be with.
 

tbwbear

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Of course not - but if Smalltown Community Transport are the only operator on one section of line then they will simply gain all the revenue for that flow. A competitor could then come along and say, well, SCT have built up quite the popularity on this route, so now Speedy Trains will run down there too.
The problem is that Smalltown Community Transport will need a government subsidy to operate between Manchester and "Notsopopular-ville"

And that is always going to be the issue.

This is not "how you privatise the railways" - because you can't completely do that and keep all the places that have rail links now still connected.

To maintain the current network, you need to have a government subsidy of some sort or another....

So it is more a question of "what level of government interference" do you have.

Whether you are using a system like BR, of relatively little operational interference (and a fair amount of innovation) or the current system of a lot of DfT involvement (and little free thinking to innovate).

There are various models that can be used and are being used around the world - the current one here is definitely broken though.

Your model ignores the government role.


A privatised, uncontrolled free for all, just means less choice (as per the post above) and less services to less towns and cities.

It is cherry picking of the best routes and the loss of the unpopular ones.
 

matt_world2004

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The TfL contracts are still the cheapest bid. But any failings by the operator on a huge amount of metrics results in huge fines. So you bid hugely over the base cost to deliver the contract and then try as much as possible to minimise any fines. Iirc the fines for MTR Crossrail are £150 a minute for delays and £10 000-£50 000 for service cancellations. the baseline of any TfL rail contract is that the operator needs to perform each of the metrics to 100% with fines for any below that level. and no bonuses in the contract except for perhaps contract extensions.

The contracts have fines for everything from ticketless travel, station ambience, station staffing levels , customer service delays and some other metrics.

The operator pays fines regardless for the reason for failing to reach the metric. For example; a fire in the underground station at bond street resulting in Crossrail trains skipping stops. MTR would still pay a fine for skipping stops even if it was TfL or London underground that ordered it.

This can put huge pressure on the staff to work extra hours to avoid getting penalties. , it can also leads TfL based operators to pressure network rail and other providers to prioritise their services.

Despite the strictness of the contracts Operators do find loopholes. Generally speaking, You are fined more hugely for cancelling the last bus; than running it late. For example; so one operator would instead of cancelling a school bus, run it at 19:00 instead of 16:00
 
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RealTrains07

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Perhaps a good one though. Ask the public whether they want to spend (for example) £1 billion on a new fleet for SWR suburban services (very much needed) or on hospitals/armed forces/almost anything else and the railway will never come out on top.
Problem is the government and some TOCs have wasted money on trains that aren’t actually needed yet while that money could have actually been used in sectors elsewhere which need the investment more. The railways have already had more than enough money spent on new trains as it is.
 

BayPaul

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But do you not see that, for the end user, the choice and simplicity significantly worsens even for inter-city travel under your proposal?

At the moment on the ECML "Speedy Trains" runs all the trains between London and Birmingham. Meanwhile "Alpha Trains" runs all the slower trains between London and Birmingham. There are single, return and season tickets available for travel on both operators - so you buy a ticket, turn up and go on whichever train takes your fancy. Let's say for easy maths there are 12 trains an hour between London and Birmingham across both operators.

If you open up competition and suddenly there are 4 operators (and presumably no "London to Birmingham" ticket for use on any operator) using the same number of paths, that means each operator can only do 3 trains an hour. Instantly a customer has to choose an operator they want to travel with, and wait longer than they do now for the next departure on their specified operator.

Not to mention there would have to be 4 separate ticket offices (one for each operator) in both stations and/or forcing people to choose on a machine which operator they want their travel to be with.
A move towards single leg pricing and (ideally smarter) e ticketing could go most of the way to solving this issue. If after you tapped in and out the system worked out what train you probably travelled on and charged you accordingly, then there would be no inconvenience for the passenger, especially if this also covered advance purchase tickets, and automatically allowed you to switch trains in the event of disruption to your scheduled train, with your booked operator being charged by your actual operator.

This would also encourage all operators to improve their services and Timetables, as their income would depend on who actually used their trains on the day. I think this would only be relevant for intercity type operators. Others would need a different model.
 

lordbusiness

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So if you're a TOC bidding for one of these contracts but get no revenue and have no say in investment what encouragement is there for companies to bid?
Normally targets are written into the contract which if achieved or exceeded triggers a bonus payment over and above the management fee.
 

Bletchleyite

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A move towards single leg pricing and (ideally smarter) e ticketing could go most of the way to solving this issue.
Single fare pricing (as I call it, to differentiate from single leg pricing which to me says "one ticket per vehicle journey") is absolutely key to pretty much all of the "decomplication" improvements and really should be implemented immediately throughout the UK regardless of any other scheme (and a time when revenue is basically irrelevant is a perfect time to do it). It needn't mean removal of return tickets like LNER did, it'd simply mean they were twice the relevant single.
 

WelshBluebird

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The concept of privatisation should have been that Alpha Trains and Speedy Trains both want to run services between Birmingham and Manchester. They both have the opportunity to purchase paths which they wish to use at a set rate (unfavourable paths, eg ones where ridership is generally low, could be offered at a discounted rate to encourage them to be taken up, or be included in a bundle with other paths) and then they are responsible for making that service work. If the customer service is rubbish on Speedy Trains or they don't have enough carriages then that is likely to result in more customers going to travel with Alpha Trains instead and Alpha Trains will be the more commercially successful company.

The customer will see little benefit from competition as this only exists in a handful of areas due to the geographically based structure - it doesn't matter if the customer service is appalling and the units are knackered on Speedy Trains, as they are the only train operator that the customer will be able to choose to get from A-B.
Isn't the issue you point out with the current system also a risk in your suggested system though?
If Speedy Trains buys all or most of the paths, especially the ones in the commuting or leisure peaks, then people will likely use them regardless of how good or crap they actually are. Even if Speed Trains only buys slightly more paths, say 4 out of 6 per hour (numbers made up of course), then people will probably prefer to travel with them because not doing so likely means waiting longer. And that is before you consider disruption and ticketing arrangements.
 

BayPaul

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Isn't the issue you point out with the current system also a risk in your suggested system though?
If Speedy Trains buys all or most of the paths, especially the ones in the commuting or leisure peaks, then people will likely use them regardless of how good or crap they actually are. Even if Speed Trains only buys slightly more paths, say 4 out of 6 per hour (numbers made up of course), then people will probably prefer to travel with them because not doing so likely means waiting longer. And that is before you consider disruption and ticketing arrangements.
Could the paths be 'packaged', to include a mix of desirable and less desirable ones. Not full free market, but enough so that there is competition. Taking the WCML, for example, Speedy trains could have 2 Birmingham (inc Scotland via Birmingham), 1 Manchester and 1 Liverpool, whilst Alpha trains get 1 Birmingham, 2 Manchester, 1 Glasgow fast, Chester, and the extra Liverpools.
 

Roast Veg

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And spread your workforce and route knowledge requirements incredibly thin? Sounds like a way for everybody to overspend on providing a bunch of skeleton services all at once. Unless you want them to bid for drivers too?
 

BayPaul

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And spread your workforce and route knowledge requirements incredibly thin? Sounds like a way for everybody to overspend on providing a bunch of skeleton services all at once. Unless you want them to bid for drivers too?
It could depends how it is done to a certain extent. For example, if Speedy Trains and Alpha trains also had the Transpenine Manchester/Liverpool - Scotland, and the LNR semi-fast services split between them, they would probably have a similar number of drivers spread amongst a similar number of depots to the existing operators, just with a different spread.
 

Roast Veg

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But then bidders have to simultaneously compete across the entire length and breadth of the country, and if any such bidder fails to get a specific path then they can't run services at the other end of the country because their driver and traction are stuck and the timetable falls to pieces.

On rail competition has zero chance of working I'm afraid. Especially when the only people who catch any train other than their booked one are railfans or clued-up commuters.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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It seems to work in Italy, with two long distance operators (Trenitalia and Italo) on many main routes, roughly an hourly service each.
Much of the Italian network is new high speed lines of course, but they do thread classic conurbations as well (eg through Milan, Florence, Bologna).
They both run Torino-Salerno which is 988km or over 600 miles taking 7 hours, so is a major operation by both operators.

The same sort of pattern is planned for Spain and France over the next few years, with an independent consortium or two competing with the national operator.
Sometimes it's the same national operators in each other's back yard (eg SNCF in Spain, Trenitalia in France etc).
Austria has Westbahn competing with ÖBB on the main upgraded route Vienna-Salzburg, although Westbahn has cut back recently.
Germany can't seem to get past a minimal open access position with newcomers quickly failing.

In most other EU countries the national incumbent is protected by a long-term concession for up to a decade.
Regional/local services are generally further down the road of tendered concessions.
 
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