"What if" scenario- what does BR without Beeching look like?

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by L+Y, 20 Jul 2018.

  1. Pigeon

    Pigeon Member

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    But this is like testing whether or not someone can continue to be employed in some sedentary occupation by chopping their legs off and seeing if they work better because they don't need to eat so much.
     
  2. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Member

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    Or possibly losing excess weight from, say, 20 stones down to 12 stones along with improving diet in future and starting to go to the gym, giving up smoking and so on?
     
  3. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    That might be true if they'd actually tried to slim down some of those passenger routes, such as Shoreham - Horsham, York - Beverley etc, by de-staffing, singling etc, your analogy might have been apt.

    As it it, they were slashed without any consideration as to how they could bee "slimmed down" so Pigeon's comparison is far more accurate.
     
  4. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Member

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    I really think that we are going to have to agree to disagree. Subject to the limitations that I have mentioned before (e.g. the relatively late arrival on the scene of automatic level crossings) both of the lines mentioned had benefited from cost reduction. York-Beverley in particular had been converted to DMU operation quite early on and smaller stations closed or de-staffed. The Shoreham-Horsham line was dieselised under Beeching! It was ironic that the privately owned Southern Railway had planned to electrify the line but the plan was ditched when the railways were nationalised.
    There still seems to be a widespread failure to appreciate just how little cash there was to invest in BR in the early 1960s. Political goodwill and Treasury confidence had been trashed by the disappointments of the Modernisation Plan and the government had taken control of any significant new authorisations. It required someone of Beeching’s determination and clarity of thought to obtain the Minister’s support for further spending.
    Gaining approval for investment in busy routes with reasonable prospects was just about possible. Hence we saw the go-ahead for electrification and re-signalling to Bournemouth and Glasgow-Gourock/Wemyss Bay, for example. These projects eliminated some remaining pockets of steam traction and greatly improved both the economics and passenger appeal. The Scottish scheme in particular also saw significant track rationalisation in the window of opportunity provided by re-signalling.
    There was no way these (and other) schemes could have been afforded had BR still been saddled with the obligation to continue to operate and renew thousands of miles of routes with far lower (and commonly still falling) patronage.
     
  5. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Even when he did that interview the ECML north of Newcastle only carried abiut one class 1 service an hour, and in 1965 it was half that, so he had a point. The WCML was busier then and now.

    Fortunately, both were retained!
     
  6. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I fear that we will have to disagree over this. It's interesting that you mentioned the Southern Railway's pre-war plan to electrify Shoreham - Horsham. I strongly suspect that had that happenned, the route would still be with us today.

    And as you mention, it did get investment, with the arrival of class 207 DEMU's in the early 1960's. The de-staffing and closure of some signal boxes might have made the crucial difference.

    On your other point, it's interesting to ponder whether the Bournemouth Line electrification was worth the run down of services throughout Sussex. Afterall, a TC would still be very comfortable, whether hauled by an REP, or class 33 throughout.
     
  7. Journeyman

    Journeyman Member

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    BR had to make difficult decisions like this all the time, based on the limited funds available. Partial electrification to Bournemouth, rather than all the way to Weymouth, lumbered BR with a difficult, awkward and expensive method of operation that required a special fleet of locos and non-standard EMUs for twenty years, which might have made the scheme cheaper initially but probably ended up making it more expensive over the years.

    I'd say sacrificing barely-used branch lines for a significant improvement to a busy main line was worth it, yes. The same happened again in the eighties, when the Tunbridge Wells - Eridge line was sacrificed to make the Hastings scheme viable.
     
  8. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Well, we shouldn't underestimate the level of policy failure by Government either. We had Whitehall which would throw billions of investment at the road network at the drop of a hat, yet was unable even to reroute the Uckfield line via Hamsey as an example.

    The closure programme was an iniquity perpetrated by government, Whitehall and BR, with varying levels of culpability at varying times. How easily, with these difficult choices it would have been for the Marshlink to be bargained away for some improvement elsewhere. I'm glad they didn't and it wouldn't have been worth it.
     
  9. Journeyman

    Journeyman Member

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    The investment in the road network was a simple response to what people wanted. Car ownership was going through the roof, as living standards and aspirations improved, and it's clear that the way people travelled was changing. In most places, rail use was static or declining, and attempting to justify investment was pretty challenging. I think the fact that Uckfield to Lewes has stayed closed is an indication it's still probably not all that viable, despite the popularity of the idea in the area.

    Iniquity is a bit harsh. I don't think it's particularly fair or sensible for governments to subsidise services that no-one uses, when there's always more pressing demands elsewhere. I still think that, given the circumstances and the information available at the time, the majority of Beeching closures are justifiable, even if they subsequently turned out to be inconvenient. Those involved didn't have crystal balls, and the data they had to work from was somewhat crude. I think I can forgive them for that.
     
  10. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I think that you're about as wrong as its possible to be about Uckfield Lewes. The only reason it hasn't been reopened by now is central Government's pathalogical incapability of seeing the value of any rail opening that's not a mega-project. I wonder how many miles could be reopened with the money Government is currently paying TOC's not to settle their indistrial disputes (I digress).

    The way people moved around may have been changing - but not at the speed to justify the extent of the cuts. They tried to force people on to buses, which didn't work, and ended up forcing people to drive or move.

    I don't think that iniquity is a harsh word for the closure programme. No one party was wholly responsible, but when you take together the lack of belief in the regional passenger railway by BR, the idealogical obsession with motor transport displayed by successive Governments and a seemingly pathalogical obsession with closing route milage of civil servants responsible for railways at the time, you get a toxically bad policy. No one wanted the closures, and no one voted for governments that proposed them, but we were lumbered with them because the Ministry thought it knew best.

    You use their same terminology of services 'that no one uses' which is an untruth because the real criteria would be better described as 'services which don't appear to cover their costs without considering potential cost savings, taking into account revenue from intermediate stations, but not incoming revenue or end to end revenue which we assume will travel via another route'. This is a world away from 'services that no one uses'.

    This is a very personal issue for me because this iniquitous closure policy nearly put paid to several routes that I use regularly. The Marshlink, which I have used for over thirty years was both listed by Beeching and subjected to a strenuous closure attempt in around 1969/70. The S&C, again listed and almost closed during the 1980's. This is amply illustrative of how disastrous this policy was. We struggle with some of the single trackings and rationalisations of the 80's, yet can you imagine how hobbled the railway would be today if the second route to Birmingham, or the ECML north of Newcastle had been run down and closed ? We have the failures of the closure programme, not the programme itself to thank for the railway we have today.

    Then we have posters on here who naively believe that had Beeching stayed and been allowed to complete his closure programme, the railway would have entered into some sort of land of milk and honey, rather than continuing into a spiral of irrelevance and decline.
     
  11. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    The decline into irrelevance was under way before Beeching came in. Whether or not it resumed after he left office, he at least made a genuine attempt to halt it. 'Keep muddling on as if it's 1905' wasn't going to bring about a land of milk and honey, and everyone at the time knew it.
     
  12. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Continually slashing away at the network wasn't going to halt the railway's decline into irrelevance, particularly if we'd got to the secondary routes. Make no mistake, a railway "just concentrating on what railways do best" would have withered and wasn't what the country needed (certainly in terms of passengers).
     
  13. Helvellyn

    Helvellyn Established Member

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    This is an interesting thread so I will offer a few observations/thoughts.

    Firstly, it's an emotive subject but then again isn't it the case that railways have an ability to do that? It has been said that a steam engine is the nearest thing to a living machine built by man. Ask a child to draw a train and how many will draw a steam train? Why are Thomas weekends or Santa Specials so popular? There is a rose-tinted romanticism to rail (separate to the realities of today) that links back to a bygone age. For many people Beeching closures can be linked back to steam, complete with B&W photos. Emotionally we bemoan the loss even if rationally we could understand it.

    A parallel could be what is happening with the High Street. We bemoan the loss of banks, our favourite stores closing down, empty shops and the glut of coffee shops and charity shops. Then we settle down with a cup of tea, do our internet banking and browse Amazon or eBay. Emotionally we have a rose-tinted vision of the High Street, the local shops, friendly service but at the same time rationally we enjoy the convenience of internet shopping. Just as we have grown used to shopping at out of town retail parks.

    Secondly, I think it is agreed Beeching had a rudimentary set of figures. It's said there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Hindsight says that today a more sophisticated analysis would have been done. But equally if BR had those sort of tools would the Beeching Axe have been required? It's been shown BR had already been closing lines and with more sophisticated analysis it is likely more would have closed sooner just as some would have survived.

    Plus today we have revenue management tools letting TOCs work to fill off peak trains. The airlines have done similar. That is an industry where it used to be quipped, "how does a Billionaire become a Millionaire? He buys an airline."

    Look back at old BR timetables and see how infrequent services were on many routes - even prime InterCity routes. Look how BR modernised routes and then had surplus capacity, e.g. Manchester-Bury where excess 504s were ordered or the North London Line were similar happened with 501s. Look at the North West where 304 units were ordered as four-car units but could be reduced to three-car in the mid-1980s.

    I can't find the link but BBC News had an interesting article this week about how some towns have reinvented themselves and others haven't. For example, employment in London was declining until the early 1990s then started growing. Now working patterns are changing even if employment still grows.

    In the early 1990s recession BR cut services quite heavily as well as reducing train formation lengths. Similar happened in the recession of the early 1980s. For example BR had ordered 27 HST sets for Paddington-Bristol/South Wales services and then a further 14 for services to the South West. Yet service reductions, tightening of diagrams and retention of loco-hauled services for some less intensive diagrams (an out and back working) meant 1 set went to CrossCountry and 10 to the Midland Mainline to modernise that route.

    All in all we can debate the merits of Beeching but being that mix of emotional versus rational it will never be straightforward.
     
  14. Gareth Marston

    Gareth Marston Established Member

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    Given that you can unpick various figures and contrast them with figures given for the same sort of traffic on different pages which give different answers depending on what the reports narrative is saying at the point using pen and paper calculations - you cant take its conclusions and analysis seriously. There's nothing emotive about that Beeching would have failed his Maths O Level!
     
  15. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Seeing as Beeching graduated from Imperial College in London, no less, with First Class Honours in Physics (which is essentially applied mathematics), at a time when people getting Firsts were just the top couple of percent of students unlike today, and seeing as he went on to get a Masters and then a Doctorate in Physics, I think the chances of him failing O level Maths are somewhat remote.
     
  16. pt_mad

    pt_mad Established Member

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    Saying that in hindsight the East Coast Mainline North of Newcastle could have been closed was hardly his wisest comment though was it? Or that the second route from London to Birmingham could have been closed.
     
  17. Gareth Marston

    Gareth Marston Established Member

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    I jest in part but am serious also - look at the worked example of his "typical branch line" and its high costs which supposedly showed how hopeless and uneconomic branch lines were and then plough through the data given elsewhere in the report and its clear none of the examples given were operating at anywhere near the costs claimed- partly as no branch line had the hourly service that was given in the "typical"example!

    When you start fabricating stuff don't be surprised if people question your motives and conclusions.
     
  18. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    Adding to your post I find it interesting that so many of the posters who consider Beeching was incorrect either misrepresent his reports or suggest the whole thing was a malevolent act of government. It is as if they are incapable of understanding the enormous technological, social, economic and political changes that had occurred between 1939 and 1960. The railways had, to a large extent and for many reasons, got stuck in 1939 but the world had moved on.

    A diversion. For any new development to be successful in terms of adoption by its target market, and even of other markets which were not originally foreseen, it has to:
    • fulfil a need,
    • be simple to use,
    • be more convenient than alternative ways of accomplishing the same aims,
    • and be inexpensive in relative terms.
    One example is the telephone. If fulfils a need to communicate with other people, it is simpler than writing and posting a letter - in the early days one lifted the receiver and asked the operator for ‘Bayswater 1234’ and a few years later one turned a dial. Much easier than finding paper, pen, ink, an envelope and a stamp and then taking the letter to a letter box. The telephone was immediate, the letter was not, and the cost per call was low and comparable to the cost of the stamp.

    For these reasons the telephone network became the largest man-made construct in the world’s history. It spanned continents and made instant communication possible. It was the death of distance.

    And then mobile phones arrived and they were even more convenient; their take-up was immediate and dramatic.

    The same with motor cars. They fulfilled the need for individual travel much more conveniently than a horse - they didn’t bite or kick and didn’t need feeding or grooming or mucking out even when they were not needed. They were more hygienic than the horse, especially in cities in the summer... A car was simple to drive and it used rights of way which already existed. By the end of the First World War it offered protection from the elements and a chauffeur was no longer needed. The development of the electric starter opened up a wider market and the car sold on its merits. From the 1920s onwards sales increased dramatically in ALL industrialised countries.

    Railways, for the population in general, are not as simple to use as a car. Unless one lives within walking distance of a railway station many people will need another form of transport to reach the station, especially if one has luggage. (TfL reckons that the catchment area of a bus stop lies within a 400 metre radius of the stop, so if the walking time to the station is more than about 15 minutes - about a mile - the car becomes attractive for short journeys. In a small town or a rural area one can be 7 or 8 miles away after 15 minutes in a car). Transporting luggage was simple - it went in the boot and didn’t need to be carried or sent in advance. The same considerations apply for arrival at one’s destination. One doesn’t have to wait as is the case for a train - and I’ve yet to hear about anyone who has missed his car.

    Unless one’s local station was a junction with a series of radiating routes in most cases one could take the train going either one way or the other way. Of course neither of these directions might be the one you wanted.

    When a cheaper, easier, more convenient method of transport than the train for the journey under consideration became available people used it. There was NO CONSPIRACY about road building in the UK - the construction of roads suitable for the motor car started in ALL the industrialised countries in the 1920s - Autoschnellstrassen, autostrada, freeways, the Great West Road and so on and so forth.

    The world had changed by the mid- and late-1950s - and not only in the number of cars:
    • In the late nineteen forties, the typical manual labourer in Britain was entitled to just one week's paid holiday a year
    • From the end of the Second World War until about 1955 more than 70 per cent of British workers were in manual labour, afterwards this number fell quite quickly
    • In 1950, the average UK salary was just over £100 PER YEAR
    • After 1950 wages and salaries increased significantly
    • Only after the Second World War did it become normal to work five days a week rather than six.
    The railway employed a large number of manual workers so these changes were reflected in the railways cost base and were also instrumental in driving BR into deficit - quite apart from the loss of passenger and freight traffic. The system had to change with the times.

    Rose tinted spectacles combined with a strong dose of delusion and an inability to comprehend the circumstances of the time seem to be common traits among some.
     
  19. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    The motor car might have been more convenient for some, but you still have to own one, learn to drive it and maintain one. For commitment phobes, public transport is still a lot more convenient.

    Anyhow, the problem with the closure programme from Beeching onwards, was that it paid lip service to what people needed, and was driven by national budgets and what Governments were politically prepared to cough up for, rather than local needs on the ground. This is why we end up with the ludicrous situation of lines like Uckfield - Lewes being closed.

    If governments at the time were genuinely interested in reshaping the railway to the country's needs, they would have modified the requirement to cover costs on a year by year basis a lot earlier.
     
  20. Ken H

    Ken H Member

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    cars have high fixed costs like owning the car, MOT, insurance etc. And relatively low variable costs. People compare the cost of a train ticket with the amount they would spend on fuel with no through to depreciation, servicing or tyres.
     
  21. silverfoxcc

    silverfoxcc Member

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    It was when i was 17 and the Beeching report came out, that i lost all confidence in polititians and since then have never ever believed a word they promise and it all hinged on the Labour Govt of 1964
    They, IIRC, got elected on the mantra they were they peoples and working mans govt
    They also ripped the Conservatives to shreds over the Report ...loss of jobs, communities suffering etc etc
    So what did they do when they got in? ....tiddly bloody squat.. to reverse it or even amend it. and whilst is may have been a bit OTT they let it carry on
     
  22. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Member

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    Particularly as far as your final paragraph is concerned, I think that a lot of people were quite surprised by Beeching’s demonstration that around a third of the network was only carrying a couple of percent of total (rail) traffic and, by implication, a minuscule proportion of the country’s needs. Once again it is worth pointing out that the overwhelming proportion of public transport journeys outside London in the early 1960s were on the dense network of local bus services and that car travel had already overtaken rail travel.
    It took quite a long time for people to come round to the idea that some trains might be worth subsidising. As I have pointed out before, both Ernest Marples and Richard Beeching were in fact very open to ‘new’ concepts of cost-benefit analysis, the possible opportunity for subsidy for urban commuter rail services in particular, the challenges of unchecked ‘traffic in towns’ and the problem that lorries didn’t fully pay for the wear and tear that they caused.
    It is surprising that few people consider the ‘conurbation’ studies that were kicked off around 1963. Marples himself inaugurated the process in Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. Sadly, with the change of government in 1964 the momentum was lost and the idea had to be revived by Barbara Castle (as passenger transport executives) some years later. Beeching was let go prematurely despite wanting to complete his work on road freight costing structures.
    I know that some people on here will never believe that we have Marples and Beeching to thank for pulling Britain’s railways out of an almost terminal stall by providing sufficient thrust to avoid complete bankruptcy in the early 1960s. I lived through it, saw what was going on, had my local passenger service withdrawn, understood why and was still sufficiently confident to join BR when I left school.
     
  23. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    The total population of Great Britain (I've left out Northern Ireland as the DVLA figures used later only cover GB) is just over 64 million of which some 15 million will not hold a driving licence because they are either under 18 or over 80 as I assume many of these will no longer be active drivers. This means that there are some 49 or 50 million adults who are eligible for a licence. An FOI request revealed that the DVLA holds details of driving licence holders in Great Britain only and as of 30 September 2014, there were 45.5 million active driving records in GB. In other words there are some 4 to 5 million people who could hold driving licences, but don’t which is about 10% of the size of the licence holding group. Some of these of course will not hold licences on medical grounds. The non-licence holders will be spread across the UK, but will be concentrated mainly in large towns and cities where the public transport network is dense and the frequency acceptable so the need to drive is less.

    DfT figures show that there are some 30 million cars registered for use in the UK and an additional million motor cycles, scooters and mopeds. So there are about 1.5 licence holders for every car in the country. The 2011 Census showed that 26% of households had no car or van, 42% had one, 25% had two, 6% had three and 2% had four or more. Compared to the 2001 Census, the number of households with no cars had fallen while the number with cars had increased. Other statistics show that the bulk of the households with no car or van were concentrated in urban and city areas; in low density areas almost all households had a car or van. The fact that a household did not have access to a car or van does not mean the householders have no driving licence.

    The commitment phobes make up a small number of people scattered across the entire country. Why should the bulk of the population pay for an expensive service to be supplied to half a dozen people in, say, Market Weighton who choose to exclude themselves? The ‘local needs on the ground’ as you put it were minimal. It might be an inconvenience that the train service was removed but in most cases it wasn’t hardship and some places, like Dorchester-on-Thames, never had a train service anyway. It’s not as if the commitment phobes can’t get around; there are buses, taxis which they can certainly afford because they are not paying the fixed costs of a car, hire cars, cadging lifts from friends, bicycling or walking. All that they are unable to do is travel by train from a place they think should have a train service. And the train service probably didn’t take them to where they wanted to go anyway, at least not directly - Market Weighton to Gilberdyke by train is quite circuitous.

    Their choice.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2018
  24. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    One could equally ask why people should be forced to pay for an expensive, inconvenient, and in terms of congestion, environmentally problematic mode of transport.

    For me, certainly for most of the past twenty years, I would not have been able to afford both major expenses of keeping a roof over my head and running a car. Motor transport would have been an unjustifiable extravagance. I was fortunate in that I grew up in a town that was well connected, however someone making their way somewhere like Market Weighton probably would be forced to up sticks to find work.

    I should also point out that of my close family four of us have held driving licences over the past fifty years. One used to drive prolifically but gave up due to poor eyesight. One learnt but has chosen not to drive out of preference. One lives in a country with poor public transport and drives daily. Another is an occasional driver who doesn't run a car. Just because people hold a driving liscence, doesn't mean they have driving as their primary form of transport.
     
  25. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Whichever party wins, the Government always gets in !
     
  26. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    The damage is there to be seen, whenever the trains can't get past Dawlish or whenever almost the whole Sussex coast is cut off due to disruption or whenever ctizens of Tavistock or Okehampton are stuck in traffic.

    The people who resisted the closure programme publically like Sir John Betjaman, or the local passengers groups who resisted closure, such as those who resisted closure of Hurst Green to Lewes, or the local managers who found ways to make routes survive, who are the real saviours of the railway.

    I believe Dr Beeching sincerely felt that he was doing the right thing. But you only have to see the interview from the 80's posted above to see that he would have caused far greater damage had he remained.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2018
  27. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    But these areas are NOT cut off, they are only not reachable by train. As some 90% of all domestic journeys are not made by train the number of people inconvenienced is quite small. Most people would never realise that the railway is impassable - and if they did, it wouldn't affect them.
    Reopening, or rebuilding, the Lewes-Uckfield link is one of the most studied and analysed rail reopening projects of recent times as can be seen from the list of reports from 2008 on the East Sussex council’s website.

    If I remember rightly the headline cost, in 2008, was I think about £140m for the base case of single track and about £200m with double track and intermediate stations. Obviously with 10 years’ inflation these numbers would be higher now, using the BoE deflator I would guess around £175 million or £250 million respectively.

    These are not bank-breaking figures, the problem is that the studies showed very little benefit so it is very doubtful it would even cover its operating costs. So the capital costs don't really come into it, the BCR comes out as poor value for money however the project has been analysed and whatever assumptions about possible benefits have been looked at.

    I have no difficulty in accepting that some train services should be subsidised as long as the amount per journey, or per passenger-mile, remains reasonable, but to spend a lot of money to increase the costs of train operation seems perverse.

    Without re-reading the reports in detail, I don’t think the rolling stock costs were included so you would have to add a few million pounds for a couple of trains. I know trains are leased but that is just hiding the capital cost and spreading them over the operating costs.

    For some value of 'damage'.

    The difference between your point of view and mine is that you tend to see everything from the point of view of 'the railway' and its immediate customers. I try to see the railway as part of the whole and endeavour to understand that it does not exist in a bubble, sealed off from the rest of the country. The railway offers enormous benefits - but these are most apparent when it can offer fast transits on dense corridors as railways are a high cost technology. These costs need dense traffic flows, both passenger and freight, to ensure that the individual fare is acceptable without the wider taxpayer having to fork out to cover the difference between income and expenditure.
    For the first time since 1952 the passenger railway now covers all its costs of operation, maintenance and renewal. The Network Grant payable to Network Rail essentially covers the costs of enhancements (electrification, new flyovers and stations, etc.) and the payment of the interest on NR's debt. In this sense it is similar to the grants made by the DfT for road construction.
    To make the argument for further re-openings more convincing, the next stage is for the railway to reduce the costs of operation, maintenance and renewal. This does not have to be a huge amount each year, a couple of per cent would do, but it has to be consistent and continuous. If the railway can show that it can be trusted with its finances so the Treasury can plan ahead with more confidence, then money for capital expenditure could be made available more easily.
     
    Last edited: 18 Nov 2018 at 16:09
  28. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    What is it about this Uckfield-Lewes line? (Brighton and) Lewes have direct trains to London via Gatwick Airport, which has a much quicker journey time than travelling via Uckfield. Anyway, trains travelling from Brighton and Lewes via Uckfield to London were only operated in the last few years that the line was open; previously the service on this line ran from Brighton to Tonbridge. Yes, I am sure that some passengers may wish to travel from Upper Warlingham, Oxted, Edenbridge, Crowborough etc. to Brighton, changing at Lewes; but enough to justify spending 250 million on re-instating a railway? Highly unlikely, it is bound to make an operating loss. I traveled on this line a few years before it closed - in a near empty train. Nothing surprising in that, the line does not connect large centres of population in a meaningful way. I am all for building new sections of railway, but in places that will benefit the major flows of passengers. Add this 250 million to the Exeter- Torbay/Plymouth direct line construction pot.
     
  29. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I do indeed see things from the point of view of the railway's immediate customers.

    The Uckfield line is indeed interesting. One of the interesting things about the 2008 study was that it showed that the single track option would cover its day to day operating costs, much like the rest of the existing railway. The fact that nothing has been done is as a result of this country's inability to calculate the benefits in any meaningful way. There are now two potential traffic generators at the Southern end of the line - as well as Brighton, we have a University and a football stadium at Falmer. That they can't make a business case out of that is a bit of a joke really.

    When it comes to how we view the railway, I would say its you who, like Dr Beeching himself, has more interest in an idealised view of the railway doing only what it "does best" concentrating on bulk flows. The messy reality is that the passenger railway is a network, and for it to be of use to the country generally, it has to be accessible to large proportion of the country. Dr Beeching to the end felt that a railway concentrating on "profitable" bulk flows would lead to a slim efficient network, covering its costs. Unfortunately such a network would have withered and died.

    Your last point is interesting. The railway has clearly already moved from a state of having its day to day operations subsidised to them covering their operating costs. Hasn't this already generated some confidence in the treasury ? Where are all my reopenings ?
     
  30. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Location:
    Yorks
    According to the 2008 study, you're wrong. It suggested that the single track option would cover its operating costs. And what's wrong with spending 259 million on a railway that would be able to cover its operating costs. We spend that much on road by-passes regularly. Why should my taxes pay for capital enhancements for new roads that I am unlikely to use, rather than a railway line that i probably will use ?

    I would certainly prefer my money to be spent providing more transport options, than just speeding up a service that I already have.
     

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