Monday, 5 May 2014

Sorry, but I like railways

Oh no, not to any sort of geekish extent - I don't have photos of trains, or collect old platform destination plates or anything. And during the working week I have nothing but loathing and contempt for Southeastern and its cheapo cattle-trucks. But then again their rolling stock has to transport spliff-smokers, women with scabies, late night vomiters and people who live in Dartford. Far safer to stand, anyway. No, I like trains in the Michael Portillo sort of way - but sans the campness and too-tight pink trousers. Which is why I don't want them run by Miliband.

Re-nationalising the trains is something that comes up from time to time. We learn in Economics 101 that the rail network is a natural monopoly, on which basis we've handed it over to a body that as a consequence, as any construction firm knows, is utterly unresponsive to any sort of approach short of a court-order. If your scheme means moving one of their fences a metre for six months, better schedule the start-date for 2018 - for that's realistically how long it will take them to agree. They are an 'authority'; slow, bureaucratic, riddled with jobsworthery, inefficiency, obstructionism and with an infuriating arrogance in the knowledge that you can do nothing about it. Even though the actual trains that run on their tracks are private, Network Rail is exactly what a nationalised rail operator in the UK in the 21st century is like. And that moronic lunatic Miliband wants more of it?


Michael said...

Nearly as bad as trying to buy a site from Maidstone Borough Council!

Weekend Yachtsman said...

You could say the same things about the phone network and OpenReach.

Anonymous said...

Yup, Roscos and Railtrack and railway franchises - what a fucking horlicks.

Yet, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is run efficiently and it works.
Vertical integration is the way they [Major's idiots] should have done it. Thus, make the franchises responsible for rolling stock, lines and timetables and allow competition on lines, ie make Virgin north west responsible for the lot [lines, rolling stock, stations etc] and for example - say with Stage coach [or whoever] on Great Western but then, Stage coach can use North west lines and stations and compete with Virgin for passengers travelling on the north west network.....and vice versa.

It's the only way but never, NEVER put it back into public ownership.

Anonymous said...

The EU separated the track from the train operations. This why on privatisation we had Railtrack which became Network Rail. France Rail operates the track in France whilst SNCF runs the trains.Same in all EU countries. EU Directive 91/440

The only common denominator is that overall they all lose money and require tax payer support unlike the roads.

Anonymous said...

Feckin' 'ell. I didn't realise that the way that our rail operation works (sic) was the subject of an EU diktat. No wonder it's shite!

Coney Island

anon 2 said...

Well of course its euro -- look at the nasty foreign measurement R cites!

And then look at the ugly hat - nothing British about that. Same with the way all the uniforms are made now.

Anonymous said...

Actually, what "Europe" was trying to do was to stop the various state-owned railway companies being obstructive about cross-border freight trains - "You cannot run your locos on our lines because they are not like our locos, so stop the train for an hour or two whilst we put one of our locos at the front. This would then be repeated at the next border.
Splitting the infra-structure and the operator was part of the process of soling the problem.
The way it was done in the UK was nothing to do with Europe - we chose to do it that way.
The current Train Operating Companies (ToC) invest very little of their own money, hence the profits they make show a very, very higgh return on capital is very, very high.
The current system requires masses of clerical time in allocation the "cost" of delays - Network Rail on ToC, ToC on ToC, ToC on Network Rail, ToC on ToC on ToC and so on.
The profits and the costs are paid for by the fare-payer and the tax-payer.
There MUST be a cheaper way!

Mike Spilligan said...

I was a regular British Railways traveller (before we became "customers") and it was almost always a poor experience. When delays occurred no one knew what to do, or even if they did cared less about doing it - and so on. It might be said that 90% trains ran and ran fairly well to time, but that was due to a few enthusiastic staff who "carried" the rest. All those on the payroll, whether they worked well or not at all were guaranteed a state pension of sorts. Any one who remembers any different is just succumbing to nostalgia, not reality.
BTW, in Edwardian times there were about 30 companies who ran the railways really well, bearing in mind the technical limitations. One train might have coaches from 3 companies and a "big-wig" might have wanted a horsebox added at short notice. That wasn't a problem as they employed an army of clerks with nothing more than the telegraph, carbon paper and an indelible pencil - less power than a couple of PCs today.

G. Tingey said...

WRONG - fopr the right reasosn pr RIGHT - for the wrong reasosn, as the case may be.
WE ALREADY HAVE a nationalised rail industry - mis-micro-managed by DafT - who stop entrprising rail operators from introducing better services, so as to benefit their freinds who have the major francises.
What we might want is what Labour seem to be proposing, to take the frnachises in-house (As "East Coast" is at present) or going over to the "Concession" model as uses very well by Merseyrail or London Overground .....

There is also the point that the "privatised" railway gets about three-four times the sunsidy that BR did.
If BR had been given the money that the "private" operators get, the service would have been a LOT better.
Mike Spilligam -- err. considerably more than 30, though that would cover the major concerns.
Anon - also highlights the problem at present - division of responsibilities & demarcation boundaries that makes it almost impossible to get anything progressive done.
It was deliberately set up that way, of course, by the vile Major & his crooked chums - it was a last-ditch deliberate wrecking exercise

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