Railways

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El Pollo Diablo
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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 8:37 am

I'll post thoughts later today. It's welcomed but not particularly impressive.
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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 9:04 am

One brand! One logo (the old one)! Something something! Success!
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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 9:14 am

Current quotes and responses:
This government profoundly believes in the future of the railways ... We have proved it by pressing ahead with High Speed 2 (HS2), improvements across the north of England, the new Oxford-Cambridge line and our programme of reversing the Beeching closures.
So, HS2 which is taking years longer than anticipated, improvements across the north of England which still haven't been finalised, East West Rail which is taking years longer than anticipated, and what programme of reversing the Beeching closures?

This bit is actually correct
But the current sums being paid to operate and maintain the railways are not sustainable. To truly secure rail’s future, there must be radical change. The railways lack a guiding focus on customers, coherent leadership and strategic direction. They are too fragmented, too complicated, and too expensive to run. Innovation is difficult. Incentives are often perverse. Some working practices have not changed in decades. There must be single-minded efforts to get passengers back. In short, we need somebody in charge.
Unfortunately those "single-minded efforts to get passengers back" didn't extend to not putting prices up back in January
Private sector innovation has helped deliver the spectacular growth the railways have seen in the last quarter-century
No it hasn't

This all depends on how they contract everything, doesn't it? Creating an actually reasonably-sized procurement department would help
Under single national leadership, our railways will be more agile: able to react quicker, spot opportunities, make commonsense choices, and use the kind of operational flexibilities normal in most organisations, but difficult or impossible in the current contractual spider’s web. A simpler, more integrated structure will cut duplication, increase Great British Railways’ purchasing power and economies of scale, and make it easier and cheaper to plan maintenance, renewals and upgrades.
We are investing tens of billions of pounds in new lines, trains, services and electrification.
I am not aware of any current electrification work going on
Government investment has quadrupled since privatisation
Yes, I'm sure it has, in part because the Government deliberately reduced its investment prior to privatisation because it was privatising it

It f.cking says this:
The assumption of a network in inevitable decline has ended: instead there are thousands of new, cleaner train carriages, improvements to stations and the opening of dozens of new ones, and increasing electrification to make services greener and quieter. In 2019, rail travel achieved its highest share of all miles travelled in Great Britain since 1967
On the eve of the pandemic, passenger numbers had more than doubled since privatisation, a greater rise than road use in Britain and a far greater rise than in most comparable countries over the same period. Great Britain had one of the most intensively used networks in Europe: on average, a mile of track in Britain carried twice as much traffic as in France. Crucially, our railways are also among the safest in Europe.
which is all true, but then this:
These are significant successes, for which the privatised railways do not get enough credit.
Yes - the railways are safer now because Railtrack failed on safety and was f.cking nationalised! Electrification was dictated by and funded by government, and contracted by the nationalised part! The new, cleaner train carriages were purchased using government money, dictated in the franchise awards and cleaned using poorly paid outsourced cleaning staff!

The privatised railways don't get enough credit because the privatised railways f.cking failed, you f.cking c.nts
While successive governments have sought to balance the cost of the railways between taxpayers and farepayers, government funding still made up nearly a third of the industry's income in 2019/20
This is far lower than pretty much every country in Europe
A lack of innovation and incentive to modernise is partly responsible for this. Whilst London's Oyster and contactless schemes demonstrated many years ago how a better passenger experience and cost efficiency can come together
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Re: Railways

Post by Fishnut » Thu May 20, 2021 9:58 am

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:14 am
our railways will be more agile: able to react quicker, spot opportunities
How do you make a railway "more agile"? This all sounds like tech start-up influenced bullshitting.
El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:14 am
Government investment has quadrupled since privatisation
I will happily admit my ignorance of business and finance, but isn't the point of privatisation that the companies pay for things themselves so the government can put it's money elsewhere? Why did we privatise if we still give them money? And why are you bragging about it?
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Re: Railways

Post by TopBadger » Thu May 20, 2021 10:34 am

So the headlines read that railways are being nationalised (a popular Corbyn policy), but that actually very little is changing apart from a new name and logo, because wasn't RailTrack effectively under national control anyway?

If so then I guess we have to applaud the political nous to get the headlines you want without materially changing anything - though a Tory supportive press helps that a lot anyway.
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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 10:51 am

TopBadger wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:34 am
RailTrack
Railtrack existed for around ten years and has been gone for around twenty. It would be really nice if people could remember that.

Network Rail has pretty much always been public sector, though that topic has been shorn of disagreement since 2014 when the matter was made formal. The difference here is more about stripping DfT interference out of the system, combining several DfT depts with Network Rail, and changing the nature of how train operators are contracted. All of the passenger trains (other than devolved and open access ones) will be under a single brand, like TfL.
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Re: Railways

Post by IvanV » Thu May 20, 2021 10:57 am

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:14 am
I am not aware of any current electrification work going on
ManVic to Stalybridge apparently started recently.

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Re: Railways

Post by IvanV » Thu May 20, 2021 11:09 am

TopBadger wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:34 am
So the headlines read that railways are being nationalised (a popular Corbyn policy), but that actually very little is changing apart from a new name and logo, because wasn't RailTrack effectively under national control anyway?
I think it is a big difference in practice that the infrastructure owner will manage a single budget for both infrastructure works and service provision, receive the fares, procure the operating contracts, set fares, be responsible for overall performance, and manage stations.

The old system set Network Rail (previously Railtrack) in opposition to the operators. That is because the track access contract was in effect a contested arrangement both parties disliked and fought over. Now that the infrastructure provider has the responsibility to contract the operator, etc, it puts them in a position where they want the operator to succeed. They will still have their own petty interests, all bureaucracies do. But it must be better than it was.

Tbh, they have removed the main problem with the present system that I long identified and told anyone who asked me ever since they invented it. And done something pretty much like I have always said they should do all that time.

Doubtless there will still be problems and cock-ups and inefficiency and stupidities going on. Because there is no such thing as a perfect railway institution that delivers perfectly in every aspect. There will still be plenty of room for mess-ups, just like there was in the old days.

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Re: Railways

Post by lpm » Thu May 20, 2021 11:54 am

IvanV wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:57 am
El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:14 am
I am not aware of any current electrification work going on
ManVic to Stalybridge apparently started recently.
What, all 8 miles of it?
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Re: Railways

Post by TopBadger » Thu May 20, 2021 12:36 pm

Looks like this is a genuine improvement then... good. Tories will be pleased it was done on their watch.

Which generates another thought, that whenever I watch the news on TV (admittedly not often) I generally see very little of the opposition. I think I've seen more of Sturgeon than Starmer which can't be great for Labour. Tories seem to have stolen their thunder here.
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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 1:15 pm

Not really. The Daily Mail have simultaneously claimed that this isn't nationalisation but that it means Labour can't have a policy of nationalisation any more.
'The proposals have also taken away one of the truly popular policies of the Corbyn-era Labour Party. Rail nationalisation was supported by the public in large numbers. The Conservative Party have now removed that from Labour, making Keir Starmer's job even more difficult.'
But also
But the reforms are not a nationalising of the railways because services will still be run by privately run train firms which are awarded the contracts. There are more than 20 of these firms currently running the network.
What is likely to happen is that fares will remain high because the government will keep trying to claw back subsidies. The railway will remain expensive because suppliers will continue to have the industry over a barrel. Peformance may improve a bit but not much. The government's claims that this is some sort of historic opportunity will prove unfounded, because the government will need to stump up cash it is wholly unwilling to provide in meaningful numbers.

Ultimately, the British public (who, let's not forget, are c.nts) are fairly unlikely to feel particularly rosy about the railways any time soon, so I don't see nationalisation losing its ability to attract. If anything, these reforms make it a f.ckload easier to renationalise in the future.
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Re: Railways

Post by wilsontown » Thu May 20, 2021 1:25 pm

lpm wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 11:54 am
IvanV wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:57 am
El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:14 am
I am not aware of any current electrification work going on
ManVic to Stalybridge apparently started recently.
What, all 8 miles of it?
Yup. There are also overhead line gantries going in between Colton Junction (south of York, where lines to Leeds diverge from the main ECML) and Church Fenton. Not much use in itself.
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Re: Railways

Post by plodder » Thu May 20, 2021 1:40 pm

This looks like a good summary of the reforms:

https://twitter.com/seatsixtyone/status ... 0188386307

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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 1:46 pm

It's okay. The only challenge I'd make is this tweet:
More standardisation, less fragmentation? Probably. Less innovation and no Chiltern-style investment as it all now needs to come from government? Possibly. We shall see.
The "less innovation" would be pretty much impossible, to be honest, other than the "Chiltern-style investment". The "Chiltern-style investment" is pretty much the only example in the last 25 years of TOCs willingly doing something to improve the service beyond what was already demanded by the DfT during the franchise competition. Instead, TOCs have used those franchise contracts as a barrier to bat away any and all attempts to make progress. The government has, at almost every turn, had to specify and/or pay for every other improvement to the railway.
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Re: Railways

Post by IvanV » Thu May 20, 2021 2:16 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 1:15 pm
Not really. The Daily Mail have simultaneously claimed that this isn't nationalisation but that it means Labour can't have a policy of nationalisation any more.
'The proposals have also taken away one of the truly popular policies of the Corbyn-era Labour Party. Rail nationalisation was supported by the public in large numbers. The Conservative Party have now removed that from Labour, making Keir Starmer's job even more difficult.'
But also
But the reforms are not a nationalising of the railways because services will still be run by privately run train firms which are awarded the contracts. There are more than 20 of these firms currently running the network.
What is likely to happen is that fares will remain high because the government will keep trying to claw back subsidies. The railway will remain expensive because suppliers will continue to have the industry over a barrel. Peformance may improve a bit but not much. The government's claims that this is some sort of historic opportunity will prove unfounded, because the government will need to stump up cash it is wholly unwilling to provide in meaningful numbers.

Ultimately, the British public (who, let's not forget, are c.nts) are fairly unlikely to feel particularly rosy about the railways any time soon, so I don't see nationalisation losing its ability to attract. If anything, these reforms make it a f.ckload easier to renationalise in the future.
The railway is already pretty nationalised in that the state owns all the infrastructure and controls the operators pretty strongly through contracts. Under this arrangement it will be a bit more nationalised, because the state is taking over more of the decisions. The state will control the fares and timetable and everything, aside from a few small open access operators and freight operators. Though the white paper does talk about giving some operators a bit of commercial flexibility. Even the European Commission says that contracting out rail operations is a good thing because reduces costs. And open access for intercity services is a right across the EU, quite a few countries now have more open access services than Britain.

But you can nationalise more. When the unions talk about nationalisation, they want the operations to be taken back in-house by the state. That's so that they have one big British Rail they can take more effective strike action against to demand more pay and uniform terms, like they used to. The labour party probably speaks with forked tongues on that. The more centrist bit of the labour party probably realises that there are downsides for customers in such an arrangement.

Another bit of nationalisation that could be done is for the state to own rolling stock, rather than having Roscos own it and lease it out on short term contracts. That increases the financing cost, as they charge a premium for the occasional risk they won't get a follow-on deal, as has happened on a small numebr of occasions. But the state isn't very good at buying rolling stock, as it shows when it sticks its nose into it. It does that for the good reason that TOCs might make it too specific to their immediate needs, but overall effect is unfortunate. Rolling stock services are substantially more expensive here than on the continent, from that combination of expensive finance and state-interfered unfortunate specifications. The white paper doesn't seem to change the present rolling stock arrangements very much. Bit disappointed at the lack of analysis on that.

I suspect the present government is not in the business of reducing fares if it costs them more money. In fact probably what a single national simplified fares system does is give them the opportunity to take away some of the cheaper fares you can find. Maybe they'll give some of that back in reducing the overall level of some fares, but I wouldn't bet on it. What is the socially optimum level of fares, when you take into account that "I want to pay less" means that probably the government pays more in many cases, is a tricky issue with no single correct answer. But I think it is hard to defend the current level of intercity full fares, especially on routes with no competition like London-Manchester and London-Bristol. The great majority of peak intercity services run not very full because of the high fares, thus underusing a very valuable asset. But a few are oversubscribed like Friday late afternoon and evening. Maybe you need some kind of airline-type fares arrangement for those few oversubscribed peak services, while reducing the normal level applying at other times.

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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu May 20, 2021 3:39 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 2:16 pm
Even the European Commission says that contracting out rail operations is a good thing because reduces costs.
Yes. The European Commission is wrong about this. It doesn't reduce costs. How do I know? Because we have one of the more expensive railways right here and we've been letting private companies run the trains for years. Yes, you can argue about franchising vs contracting etc etc but ultimately you've got private companies being signed up to run trains to a set list of criteria for a set list of rewards and penalties. The key difference is what those contracts contain. That remains to be seen.
And open access for intercity services is a right across the EU, quite a few countries now have more open access services than Britain.
Meh. Open access is of little concern. And we aren't in the EU.
But you can nationalise more. When the unions talk about nationalisation, they want the operations to be taken back in-house by the state. That's so that they have one big British Rail they can take more effective strike action against to demand more pay and uniform terms, like they used to. The labour party probably speaks with forked tongues on that. The more centrist bit of the labour party probably realises that there are downsides for customers in such an arrangement.
Curiously, the currently nationalised part of the railway hasn't seen a strike in 27 years. The currently privatised parts of the railway have seen many, many strikes in the last 27 years. Your argument on this doesn't hold water.
Another bit of nationalisation that could be done is for the state to own rolling stock, rather than having Roscos own it and lease it out on short term contracts. That increases the financing cost, as they charge a premium for the occasional risk they won't get a follow-on deal, as has happened on a small numebr of occasions. But the state isn't very good at buying rolling stock, as it shows when it sticks its nose into it. It does that for the good reason that TOCs might make it too specific to their immediate needs, but overall effect is unfortunate. Rolling stock services are substantially more expensive here than on the continent, from that combination of expensive finance and state-interfered unfortunate specifications. The white paper doesn't seem to change the present rolling stock arrangements very much. Bit disappointed at the lack of analysis on that.
Yes, agreed. That is disappointing. Letting the new GBR procure and own the trains would seem to be the most sensible arrangement.
I suspect the present government is not in the business of reducing fares if it costs them more money. In fact probably what a single national simplified fares system does is give them the opportunity to take away some of the cheaper fares you can find. Maybe they'll give some of that back in reducing the overall level of some fares, but I wouldn't bet on it. What is the socially optimum level of fares, when you take into account that "I want to pay less" means that probably the government pays more in many cases, is a tricky issue with no single correct answer. But I think it is hard to defend the current level of intercity full fares, especially on routes with no competition like London-Manchester and London-Bristol. The great majority of peak intercity services run not very full because of the high fares, thus underusing a very valuable asset. But a few are oversubscribed like Friday late afternoon and evening. Maybe you need some kind of airline-type fares arrangement for those few oversubscribed peak services, while reducing the normal level applying at other times.
The current government is absolutely, 100% guaranteed not to reduce fares. Any efficiencies which do lope into view will be quite a long way off in the future. In the short term, quite a lot of my colleagues face the prospect of redundancies due to the pandemic. Performance will likely get worse when this happens.
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Re: Railways

Post by jimbob » Thu May 20, 2021 4:07 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:58 am
Nicked this from New Civil Engineer from last year:
The scheme on the Hope Valley railway line between Manchester and Sheffield involves building new passing loops around the Bamford and Dore sections of the line enabling more trains to run and increasing passenger and freight capacity.

Plans for the line include building a new section of track alongside the existing railway to the east of Bamford station to create a passing loop, which will allow faster passenger services to overtake slow moving freight trains.

At Dore, Network Rail plans to extend the existing Dore South Curve section of track, between West View Lane and Dore South Junction, to allow enough standing room for freight trains. This will then allow passenger services to pass without a waiting freight train blocking either the Hope Valley or Midland Main Lines.

A second track serving Dore and Totley station will be created and a new platform constructed. This will be accessed by a new footbridge and lifts.

A Transport & Works Act Order (TWAO) for the scheme, which is seen as a key enabler for the Northern Powerhouse Rail route upgrade, was granted by the Department for Transport (DfT) in February 2018.

At the time, Transport for the North said it was pressing for the release of funds for the detailed design work during 2018/9, with a view to starting on site in April last year.

Since then progress on the scheme has stalled.
Hollow laugh from Chinley. They could replace some of the rolling stock with actual stagecoaches and I think it might be faster and more modern.
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Re: Railways

Post by JQH » Thu May 20, 2021 5:40 pm

I wonder what the Daily Heil will make of this. Sounds like nationalisation to me.
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Re: Railways

Post by dyqik » Fri May 21, 2021 12:06 am

JQH wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 5:40 pm
I wonder what the Daily Heil will make of this. Sounds like nationalisation to me.
They're celebrating, because they think it means that Labour can't nationalize the railways.

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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Fri May 21, 2021 6:10 am

Yep, I quoted them, up there ^.
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Re: Railways

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 21, 2021 9:52 am

Sounds like communism to me. They'll be packing you all off to collective farms on these new government-controlled trains.
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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Fri May 21, 2021 10:09 am

Had to stop reading the report yesterday as I had work to do but restarting just now whilst I wait for a colleague to stop chatting to his decorator, and just spotted this gem:
The government is committed to supporting public transport and connectivity across the whole of the UK. Its ongoing Union Connectivity Review, led by Sir Peter Hendy, is continuing to assess transport connections and networks in and between the four nations.
For those who may have forgotten, this is Boris Johnson's latest brainspunk about connecting a remote and difficult to reach part of Scotland to Northern Ireland by railway tunnel, so that the journey can take many, many hours by rail from England.
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Re: Railways

Post by dyqik » Fri May 21, 2021 10:58 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 9:52 am
Sounds like communism to me. They'll be packing you all off to collective farms on these new government-controlled trains.
I think the people they get their ideas from used the word "camps" rather than "farms" as railway destinations.

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Re: Railways

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Fri May 21, 2021 12:18 pm

The government will require that Great British Railways be a new organisation, not bound by the cultures or approaches of Network Rail or any other existing organisation in the sector.
Lol
Great British Railways will need to include meaningful numbers of people in middle and senior management roles with substantial experience outside Network Rail, including in some cases from outside the rail and transport industry altogether; and more people with retail and customer relationship experience.
Not least because retail is absolutely f.cked at the moment, and there are masses of people from that industry without work.

But yeah, good luck with that fuckos. I can't see any issues with that whatsoever.
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Re: Railways

Post by plodder » Fri May 21, 2021 1:36 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 3:39 pm
But you can nationalise more. When the unions talk about nationalisation, they want the operations to be taken back in-house by the state. That's so that they have one big British Rail they can take more effective strike action against to demand more pay and uniform terms, like they used to. The labour party probably speaks with forked tongues on that. The more centrist bit of the labour party probably realises that there are downsides for customers in such an arrangement.
Curiously, the currently nationalised part of the railway hasn't seen a strike in 27 years. The currently privatised parts of the railway have seen many, many strikes in the last 27 years. Your argument on this doesn't hold water.
Is that because the Ts and Cs in the nationalised bit are more generous (therefore less efficient)? Southern recently was dragged into chaos by unions falsely claiming that bringing in train supervisors instead of retaining better-paid guards would be dangerous.

Important to be able to pinpoint inefficiencies rather than relying on political tropes which don't serve complex organisations very well.

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