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TheOddOne
6th Dec 2004, 13:00
On another forum I was asked to be more specific about a comment I made about the cost of running the railways. It seemed inappropriate to the Rumours & News forum to continue the comment there; I've never started a topic before, so apologies if this is old ground - here goes...

Before I start, I do want to say the from my limited experience the British Transport Police do an excellent job, I notice that Andy Trotter has recently moved from a Terrorism brief in the Met to Deputy Chief Constable of the BT Police. From his TV apperarances he seems like a straight talking bloke. However, the unit based at Waterloo use road vehicles to get about in!

Firstly, look at this newspaper article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/transport/Story/0,2763,1356217,00.html)
The UK taxpayer seems to be giving up to £4,000,000,000 to the railways each year. The article suggests that in many cases it would be cheaper to pay for taxis for people than to run the local railways. Notwithstanding arguments about taxation on aviation fuel and paying for 'environmental damage' the aviation industry, taken overall neither asks for nor receives widespread subsidies form the taxpayer; rather it is a net contributor in corporation tax, pasenger levies, staff income tax etc etc.

Someone recently told me that even on the heavily used routes, more fuel is burnt per rail passenger doing say London/Edinburgh than an easyJet A319 on the same route. I haven't researched this, but if it's true, it knocks the environment argument into a cocked hat!

By the same token, road users in the UK are major net contributors to the Exchequer.

It may well be cost-effective to scrap many railway lines - you can pay for an awful lot of taxi journeys with £4 billion!

There's an excellent case for maintaining and improving mass transit systems in major population centres - I ALWAYS use the train for going up to town, I haven't driven in London for years, but, really, shouldn't there be a general principle here of 'the user pays'? Why should I give money to someone for their jouney to work?

To my mind, subsidies should be used to provide finance for infrastructure improvements that will eventually pay their own way, not to prop up an inherently inefficient and outmoded system.

Lastly, one good thing that can be said about the railways, they're extremely safe, nearly as safe as public transport aviation!!!!!!

Cheers,
The Odd One

BRL
6th Dec 2004, 13:52
I don't get it. First off they say subsidies have 'ballooned' up to 4bn. Further down they report last year so many companies recieved so much of the 2bn subsidy :confused: So over the last year has it risen by 2bn or what?

Also worth noting is they don't say that the subsidies have to be paid back by the companies. All of them. Every penny.

The SSK
6th Dec 2004, 14:10
Here are some European Commission figures on State Aid for transport undertakings, annual average for 1998-2000:

Total €33.2 billion
of which railways €33.1 billion

The source is the Competition Directorate (DG COMP) and the document is COM(2002)242 final, if you're interested

TheOddOne
6th Dec 2004, 14:39
Also worth noting is they don't say that the subsidies have to be paid back by the companies. All of them. Every penny.

Wow! Really? How on earth do they manage that, then, unless they get given an even bigger subsidy next year so that they can pay back this year's and still run at a huge loss. Perhaps that's why it's sprung from £2 billion to £4 billion.

If it's true that they have to pay back the subsidies, then they're really loans. I can see the point to buy new rolling stock, say. The new Desiro stock is a fabulous ride, everything a meduim-distance train should be and NEARLY as good as the Swiss trains. South West Trains have even adjusted the timetable so that more efficient use of them can be made, taking the pressure off the suburban services.

I'd love to see the figures for the whole system since nationalisation, 50 years ago. I bet they will show a net loss. Anyone got easy access to the numbers?

Cheers,
The Odd One

stagger
6th Dec 2004, 14:45
Someone recently told me that even on the heavily used routes, more fuel is burnt per rail passenger doing say London/Edinburgh than an easyJet A319 on the same route. I haven't researched this, but if it's true, it knocks the environment argument into a cocked hat!

Not true.

For short-haul routes, fuel consumption per passenger kilometre is substantially greater for air than for rail.

The German Airports Association (who are interested in promoting aviation) can only manage to boast that...

" specific primary fuel requirement of air traffic today - even for short domestic flights - only exceeds that of high-speed rail travel by a factor of 3"

Jerricho
6th Dec 2004, 14:49
I think the London railway system could take some serious heed and learn from other systems around the world. Leaves on the line...........:yuk: :yuk:

BRL
6th Dec 2004, 15:12
I think the London railway system could take some serious heed and learn from other systems around the world. Leaves on the line..........
It's a world-wide problem.
It happens anywhere there are trees next to a track in autumn, not just London, anywhere.
Did you used to read the Sun newspaper by anychance when you were in the uk? Yours is the kind of comment that only a sun reader could come out with. :mad:

TheOddOne, it is certainly true, they use whatever profit they make to pay back the cash. Some companies have already paid back and all the profit is theirs. Subsidies by the way, to the companies, started at a certain level and gradually reduced over the seven year period.

Companies do not buy new trains. It is a common public misinterpretation that this happens. The trains are owned by two leasing companies and are hired out. A common one is Virgin have 'spent' millions on new trains but in reality, they just lease the units from Angel or Porterbrook.

Jerricho
6th Dec 2004, 15:21
Yours is the kind of comment that only a sun reader could come out with.

BRL, don't be so damn rude. I would expect much better from you, rather than falling back on your country's readiness to lable someone as "whatever reader" (most people round here know my thoughts on the media anyway).

Take a look at the mass transit systems in Japan, Singapore and dare I say it, France. You can almost set your watch by a train in Japan. My inference to "leaves on the line" is just one of MANY problems with the UK's rail system. And, as you recognise, I was a foreiger in the country and being directly affected by somthing like that which occurs EVERY year at or around the same time, it is almost humourous that nothing over the past god knows how many years has been done about it. I honestly lost count the number of times I marched my way to the station in Farnham to catch a train, only to get there and be met by all sorts of excuses for the train being delayed or cancelled.

BRL
6th Dec 2004, 15:31
I am not being rude mate, we work hard during the leaf fall season, we certainly earn our pay in the autumn. I just get pissed off reading comments like that as I know how much work goes on behind the scenes to keep the trains running and the buck stops with us at the front. Leaves are not funny. They are serious and the only reason there have been no serious incidents is down to us. If I have read your comment the wrong way then I appologise. If not, I stand by what I say and hope your not taking the piss out of a crap situation that faces us all. :)

**edited to agree after reading your edit.....) :) **

Biggles Flies Undone
6th Dec 2004, 15:36
Actually, BRL, the hard work must be paying off - I can't remember a single problem with leaves on the line this year.

Engineering overruns, crew shortages, short-formed trains, problematic new rolling stock, lack of ventilation, too much ventilation, general overcrowding, non-functioning toilets, rude station staff and frequent cancellations - YES. Leaves on the line - NO. :mad:

Jerricho
6th Dec 2004, 15:38
Apology accepted. :ok:

I'm not having a generalised dig at those, like yourself, that are on "the front line" who seem to bear the brunt of frustration of many of these problems.

Very idealistic, and perhaps being involved in the system BRL you have some thoughts, but aside from tearing it all up and starting again (IMHO a very good idea) can be done? The number of "band-aid" fixes that seem to have been pumped into that railway must amount to a staggering amount of money. The Japanese system is astounding in it's reliability. The UK system seems to be proped up by a crutch that rotting from the inside out.

BRL
6th Dec 2004, 15:49
I know where you are coming from, same old problems year in year out, who is doing anything about it? No-one at all.

I think there are too many trains knocking about these days. It is all down to productivity, the more trains you run, the more subsidy you get, hence too many trains taking up all the capacity in the heavily built up areas. One train is late and the knock on effect can last all day. Reduce the number of trains by about 20% and the problems of lateness will start to drop.

They bang on about safety, ramming it home to us during training etc and they give us a shift that is on at 0425, 9hrs 40 mins long, you get your first 30 min beak just before six hours. Productivity at its worst.

Jerricho
6th Dec 2004, 16:10
Actually, it's funny you should mention the number of trains. In my last couple of months before we moved to Canada, I had the pleasure of living 100 yards from a train line. I was very interested in the actual size of the trains that came hurtling past, as some of them were only 3 carriages long. Thing was that even at peak hours, the number of carriages didn't seem to increase much.

Now, I don't begin to profess I have even half an understanding of the most economical number of carriages a train should have, and how passenger loads at different times can affect this, but as you mention, I did wonder on more than a couple of occasions the feasibility of one 3 carriage train ever 4 minutes as opposed to more carriages less frequently.

Don't get me wrong though. The tube and railway does provide a good service in and around London, when it's working (especially the tube. No matter how p*ssed you are, I always knew what "colour line" I needed to head for). All it seemed to take was one little hick-up (why was it always a points failure between Wembley Park and Preston Road that screwed up the NW lines?)

Sky Wave
6th Dec 2004, 18:11
The best way to solve the leaves on the line problem is to cut the trees down. Unfortunately in our country we would fall foul of a number of conservationists who would protest against any such action. The Japanese don't worry about these sorts of things.

Knocking it down and starting again would also be a great solution, unfortunately the conservationist would protest if you carved new straight railway lines across the country.

Get the picture!!

We are a little island and we have to make the best use of the space we have available and the infrastructure that we have in place.

The matter of short trains is only significant if the services are over crowded. I think fewer but longer trains would actually be a reduction in services since trains will either be less frequent or stop at more stops meaning longer journey times.

The majority of the other countries that have railways that you could 'set your watch by' are paid for publicly. Their railway systems are very good, they are a public service as they should be. Foreign rail systems are generally not as complex as our railway network and the lines are certainly not as full to capacity as Britain’s Railways.

With an overcrowded network it only takes one little incident and the knock on effect is immense. Unlike in aviation when if one plane missed it’s slot it can jump straight into the next available slot without affecting any other aircraft on the railway one train is stacked behind the next which is stacked behind the next.

Although there are many areas where things could be improved given sufficient funding you have to appreciate that the problems faced are not as simplistic as the press would have you believe.

Daysleeper
6th Dec 2004, 20:00
The best way to solve the leaves on the line problem is to cut the trees down. Unfortunately in our country we would fall foul of a number of conservationists who would protest against any such action.
Actually Network Rail have a very aggressive tree felling policy. Its was on the news repetedly in the autumn usually with a bunch of people complaining that they could now see and here the railway line that had been hidden by the trees at the foot of their gardens for the last 20 years.



Also from The Daily Telegraph | June 21, 2004 | Paul Marston

Engineers at Lancaster University said trains had failed to keep up with the motor and aviation industries in reducing fuel needs.

They calculate that expresses between London and Edinburgh consume slightly more fuel per seat (the equivalent of 11.5 litres) than a modern diesel-powered car making the same journey....
and tilting Pendolino trains, due to come into full operation between London and Manchester in the autumn, are reckoned to weigh more per seat than the forthcoming Airbus A380 double-decker. (though that may be obvious)

Jerricho
6th Dec 2004, 20:01
Get the picture!!

Sky Wave, get down off your high horse. Go and read the full thread. There is so much more wrong with the UK rail system than "leaves on the line".

BTW, the UK system is not unique as serving a "little island" with a large population and high demand and complexity, hence my comparision to Japan (infact, there can be a few parallels drawn between the 2 countries). Their system is privately owned (I believe there are 6 or 7 different companies involved).

I conceed there is a major cultural difference between the two countries, where in Japan if a service isn't up to scratch, it is seen as a failure, and responsibility is taken. In the UK, it just seems that everybody starts pointing fingers, passing the buck and says "Not my fault mate!" (that's not a dig at you there BRL......I'm talking about supposed decision makers that earn their mega yearly bonuses without having really done anything to set things straight). Then the enquiries start............only to come up with the conclusion "Yep, it stuffed". :rolleyes:

As I said (and I say the same thing about Heathrow Airport), the best thing would be to level it and start again.

Grandpa
6th Dec 2004, 21:39
....inside London at full speed in a few month.

Only to show you what progress you can have with a nationalised enterprise.

Yes I can hear some of your yells, and it isn't forcibly allways met.........but how can I tell you my pleasure to travel from Paris to Provence in less than 3 hours under confortable air con.

French railways have taken 2/3 of the markett on this line, it's an evidence here that airlines will progressively withdraw: they can't compete on economy ground and pollution too.

Sky Wave
6th Dec 2004, 22:22
Jerricho

Not on my high horse mate. And thanks for the invite to read the thread.

As you say the cultural difference is a large factor when you consider the subject of a total rebuild. If the Japanese want to build a nice new high speed railway line that's what they'll do, peoples feeling towards it would not be a concern and no one could stop them building it. If we decided to build a new line from London to the West Country as an example we'd get countless protesters, we'd have to relocate listed buildings, we’d have to avoid nature reserves and would Joe public be willing to pay the massive price for doing it? Not a chance, there would be an uproar.

Don't get me wrong, it would solve all the problems, but not at a sensible price, both economically and environmentally.

Before someone says it, I know that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link has been built and I have no idea how much protest was put up against it, but CTRL runs through a lot of open country before tunnelling its way to St Pancras.

I never implied that the problem of leaves is the only problem facing our railways, there are hundreds of improvements that could be made but it all comes down the question of ‘could your money be better spent on something else’, like the National Health Service for example.

Another example of how things differ in our country, if we have a suicide (and they are a regular occurrence), the police will usually close the line and call in scene of crime officers to photograph the scene in case it was actually a murder. The line is typically closed for 4 to 6 hours. In Japan I believe the thinking is if they were stupid enough to get in front of the train then that's their fault and the show would go on.

Jerricho
6th Dec 2004, 22:43
Reading your last paragraph there Sky, sometimes, I really think those Japanese have got it right.

Sky Wave
6th Dec 2004, 23:12
“Japs have got it right”, Maybe

I think we are the only country in the world that fences our entire railway. Other countries rely on people using their common sense, and not playing on the line. If we stopped providing and maintaining fencing it would save a load of money, right up to the point that someone gets killed and the family sues for damages. What a great culture we live in. :sad:

Feeton Terrafirma
6th Dec 2004, 23:28
Its stupid question time. (fair warning)

How can leaves on a line cause a train to be late?

Bear in mind that I live in country with virtually no native deciduous trees, and only see the ones planted by the early English settlers.

Jerricho
7th Dec 2004, 01:36
Feets, it's not a stupid question, as I asked the exact same thing the first time I heard it.

It seems that leaves on the line, combined with the the occasional rain shower that Blighty gets now and then, causes slipping and reduced braking capacity of trains, thus requiring speed restrictions to be enforced............and delays for one and all.

I also remember being told something about that years ago when steam trains were all the go that it was barely a problem, as there were teams of people who went out and actually cut back tree and shrubs around train lines to stop the possibility of a stray spark getting into vegitation and causing a fire (useless fact of the day number 1).

Feeton Terrafirma
7th Dec 2004, 01:42
Its stupid question time (again). (fair warning)

How hard is it to fit a pair of rotary brooms to the front of the train? Thinking something along the lines of the brushes used on streetsweepers.

Rollingthunder
7th Dec 2004, 02:40
It's not a question of loose leaves on the rails. They get pressed/packed/melded with the rail surfaces after getting wet and compressed by train wheels.

They are looking into a laser device to clean the rails.

allan907
7th Dec 2004, 06:39
Probably wrong....but I think that the reason that steam locomotives didn't have a problem was because of the higher adhesion weights on the driving wheels and also the possession of high pressure steam sanding devices fitted just in front of each driving wheel - just blasted the sh*t out of the leaf gunk on the rail.

gruntie
7th Dec 2004, 07:00
It's not a question of loose leaves on the rails. They get pressed/packed/melded with the rail surfaces after getting wet and compressed by train wheels.

Yes that seems to be the problem, but surely can be dealt with by this logical suggestion:

How hard is it to fit a pair of rotary brooms to the front of the train? Thinking something along the lines of the brushes used on streetsweepers

The point being, if every train sweeps its own track, then the leaves would never get squashed by any wheels in the first place.

Being just leaves, and not a sticky, squishy mess, then they are much simpler (ie, cheaper) to deal with, aren't they? Even rotary brooms might then be over the top - a couple of plastic bog brushes might suffice.

Or am I completely barking?

BRL
7th Dec 2004, 09:29
Completely barking mate, they have tried it in Scandinavia and it bombed out big time.. :D :D

As for leaves, they fall down, get crushed on the track by the train. This produces a kind of mulch that lays on the track. This is the railway equivilent of black ice. If you are a car driver you will know what I mean. If you are a biker, you will will sympathise with me here!!! Try driving your car on a long road covered in black ice at around 90mph. Then, about three miles away from a certain point, say traiffic lights at a junction, start to brake and see what happens. This is similar to the leaves effect.

If you look at the track that is affected during leaf fall, it will appear black rather than the usual silver metal that we all see. The train will then find it hard to pull away from a stand. If you give it too much power, the wheels simply spin like in a car. Sometimes pulling away from a station can take some time, this, combined with extended braking distances, is what causes the delays. I have not known any speed retrictions being placed just because the leaves are down.

In the old days, the big steam engines had sand boxes to help them and also as pointed out, they were quite heavy too but I am not sure if that was a hinderance or a help to be honest.

When the leaves come down you know it is going to be hard stopping, it is even worse when there has been a rain shower or it is raining and the rails have not been treated, it really is like a skid pan out there and you really have to concentrate and use your experience to the max. The timetable goes out of the window in the leaf fall season. We just take it easy and extend our braking distances somewhat to adjust to the conditions.

We can tell if it is going to be a bad leaf fall season by how much rain there has been in the summer. If lots of rain, the leaves will be 'juicy' full of water if you know what I mean. If it has been a dry summer, then the leaves will not have as much moisture in them so the effect will not be too bad during leaf fall.

They are starting to get something done about it. There is a machine that goes along with a high pressure water cannon on it that blasts the leaves off, it 'cleans' the line of leaves and then it will lay down a mixture of sand and chemicals called 'Sandite' that helps the train grip the rail head and it really is helpfull. Trouble with this is there are only about six of them in the southern area and they cannot cover all lines all of the time. When one leaves London and heads down to Brighton, it can only do two of the four sets of track going down that way untill it comes to two lines. Then it will head back up to London, by the time it gets there it will be time to come out and do it all agian, it is a no-win situation, it's very good when they are out but there is not enough of them to make a lasting impression.

It is a pretty serious problem and it is scary too. Your heart is in your mouth when the train starts to slide when you are doing around 90/100mph and the brakes are not working......
:uhoh: :uhoh: (even worse when in thick fog!!!!!)

Kolibear
7th Dec 2004, 09:41
BRL,

If "British Rail" printed out your last post & pinned it up at their stations, rather than just blanded annoucing 'delays due to leaves on the track' , they would probably gain more sympathy from their customer.

Thanks for an informative post.

Sky Wave
7th Dec 2004, 09:48
Even rotary brooms might then be over the top - a couple of plastic bog brushes might suffice

I don't think the biggest part of the problem is leaves that fall off the trees and then settle on the rail head. When a train is travelling along you get a low pressure area underneath it, which cause leaves that are on the trackside to get sucked underneath and crushed by intermediate wheels sets, not the leading ones. Secondly for the brush to be effective against any of the wet leaves that have settled on the rail head it would need to exert a reasonable amount of pressure and I would guess that it would very quickly either wear out or get knock off by rail joints, and gaps in point work. It's not a ridiculous idea, I think it was one of the first things that they ever tried, it just didn't work.

thus requiring speed restrictions to be enforced............and delays for one and all.

I'm not aware that speed restrictions have ever been imposed due to leaf fall. The fact is the trains can't pull away from stations and signals and they need to brake very early and approach stations and signals at a crawl to ensure that they don't skid by. If you've ever sat near a motor coach on a train in leaf fall season you can hear the problem for yourself.

Probably wrong....but I think that the reason that steam locomotives didn't have a problem was because of the higher adhesion weights on the driving wheels and also the possession of high pressure steam sanding devices fitted just in front of each driving wheel - just blasted the sh*t out of the leaf gunk on the rail.

Not entirely wrong. The weight of a steam engine gave it more traction but they still suffered with the problem in steam days, it just wasn't as bad. Steam engines did have sand laying devices, and a lot of modern trains also have sanding devices. Secondly older rolling stock had brakes which were applied directly to the wheel tyres which meant the wheels remained clean even if the track didn't. These brakes were not very efficient so we now use disc brakes which are on the axle and therefore the wheels don't get cleaned.

[EDIT] Just seen BRL beat me to it.

PeetD
7th Dec 2004, 13:24
back on topic,

there was a crash y'day on an unmanned level crossing in Lincolnshire. 2 guys in a van were killed. :{ . more to the point, there were 5 people on the train: the driver; the guard; and 3 (count them, 3) passengers (aka customers). how much per passenger did it cost to operate this service and how much did they pay?

until we axe the country routes in rural areas, the railway will consume all the money the govt throw at it on our behalf.

WE Branch Fanatic
7th Dec 2004, 13:44
So us rural people will have our branch lines taken away, yet still fund the rest of the network via taxes?

TheOddOne
7th Dec 2004, 14:58
I think the point is that if the most heavily subsidised routes were removed from the system, then no-one would be paying taxes as the remainder of the network would be self-supporting. I accept that there may well be issues for communication in some parts of the country and for some groups of people who for one reason or another can't support their own communication needs; it's just that the railway is an inherently inefficient way of doing it. I can't see anything wrong with a subsidised taxi service, whether it's in an inner city or a 'rural' area (whatever that means these days - I believe that no-one is more than 30 mins drive away from an Asda or a Tesco!)

I understand that in some locations, people are proposing to take over certain routes and run them for themselves - fine! If they can make themselves self-sufficient, mixing perhaps leisure travel with local communication needs, then they get my full support, indeed the line into Swanage does get our patronage twice a year; in fact I've never gone to Swanage by road.

Cheers,
The Odd One

terryJones
7th Dec 2004, 18:41
Silly question, but since the railways were sold off to private enterprise, why the hell should the government STILL be paying out at all?
They either belong to the country, and we all foot the bill via taxation, or some greedy sod thought it would be a way of making a quick quid and bought them. This being the case, I fail to see why the public should be expected to pay.
I assume I have missed something somewhere, perhaps someone could explain it in such a way as to make sense.

BRL
7th Dec 2004, 19:11
The govenrment via us(tax payers), pay big money to the train operating companies. They in turn pay the subsidy back over a space of years, I think it is how long they have their franchise for. Usually seven years. They pay the money back from their profits until after a certain amount of time they have paid up and all the millions they make is all theirs. I think it is mentioned in an earlier post on this thread about that.

For further information how it was expected to work, go and ask your nearest tory mp.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
7th Dec 2004, 20:05
Funny how it's a 'subsidy' when spent on railways, but 'investment' when spent on roads. :confused:

As for using taxis, how can one travel from Cheshire to Euston non stop in air conditioned quiet comfort in 2 hours, with a 'silver service' breakfast served at the table, in a bleedin taxi? And at £240 a throw, you other taxpayers are not subsidising me. Inter City pays its way.

But roads don't. The subsidy from the taxpayer, not least the motorist, to pay for public roads is very considerable. This is mainly because the road freight industry pays but a tiny fraction of its direct operating costs - we all pay the rest. That's why we need to get as much freight as possible off the roads and onto rail, as they do in mainland Europe to a far greater extent than us.

SSD

Astrodome
7th Dec 2004, 21:36
Fuel Efficiencies Someone recently told me that even on the heavily used routes, more fuel is burnt per rail passenger doing say London/Edinburgh than an easyJet A319 on the same route. I haven't researched this, but if it's true, it knocks the environment argument into a cocked hat! Engineers at Lancaster University said trains had failed to keep up with the motor and aviation industries in reducing fuel needs. They calculate that expresses between London and Edinburgh consume slightly more fuel per seat (the equivalent of 11.5 litres) than a modern diesel-powered car making the same journey Rather hard to see this as all the expresses running between London and Scotland are electrically operated and have been for many years!.



Subsidies Subsidies are paid to Train Operating Companies (TOCs)in order to maintain the minimum service standards that were existent at Privatisation. The fear was that, as one can never make a public service like the railways operate profitably AND provide the level of service that people WANT (but don't use(!) that TOCs would reduce train service patterns to a level that remunerated them sufficiently.

As this would have been disasterous it was proposed that subsidies would be paid to ensure the maintenance of a specified level of service (a Service Agreement). TOCs in the longer term are expected to operate more efficiently and market their services to ensure that the level of subsidy is reduced year on year to zero, over a seven year life I believe.

The TOCs are not expected to repay the subsidies, but to operate to a decreasing level.

Interestingly enough the whole of Branson's Virgin Trains outfit is subsidised by the taxpayer, although why has never been properly explained as subsidies were originally intended for commuter and local routes.

InterCity (part of the which he took over) was actually running in profit at Privatisation.

Of greater importance is the whole concept of railway operations in this Country which have become an accountants and lawyers dream, with Companies claiming and counter-claiming costs against one another.

Every train delay has a cause, and the rules are that the organisation responsible for those delays pays anyone affected (the Compensation Culture if you like). There is a whole hierarchy devoted to this pecunious activity, with a small army of people fighting to find ways of losing their liabilities and gaining recompense from others. In every Network Rail Control Office and in the larger Signalboxes, there are staff whose sole purpose is to identify and allocate train delay.

A true story.
Derby station one Saturday night. A 'local' train arrives in the station and is delayed because a passenger has ben 'taken ill'..i.e. pissed.
The train cannot proceed until the moron is removed by ambulance.
As a result it delays a number of other services which have had to be re-platformed and this has in turn impacted like a domino effect.
Net result is a number of train delays, which in effect is someone's loss and others gain.
Now the TOC affected immediately DISPUTES the delay causation as being its responsibility, because its policy is to dispute ALL delays. In actuallity the delay IS the TOCs loss.
The net result is that this delay has to be subjected to detailed analysis and arbitration by a hoard of different people, which in some cases has to go before an independent adjudicator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. And by the way, WE as the taxpayer, pay for this.

Now you need to imagine this scene being repeated thousands of times a day, and then think of the costs of that fiasco going on constantly.

A number of TOCs now have MORE staff engaged in the behind the scenes commercial claims activity than in running front line services. They see delay attribution as a method of gaining 'free' money that cannot be offset against subsidies paid.

I from personal experience have seen the effects of this culture on our ability to maintain the Railway, with in one case a TOC DEMANDING money for 'delays' we would cause by carrying out vital track renewal even thought the route was BLOCKED elsewhere and trains were NOT running!!!!!!!!!!!!

The same Company spends an awful lot of time decrying the maintenance standards and track and infrastructure condition yet is very adept at making incredible and sometimes eye-opening financial claims for perceived 'loss' due to route closures for essential work even though the outcome of the proposed work is for the TOC's own benefit.

Indeed I was involved in a case where a section of route was blocked for a week unnecessarily as the TOC wanted to be re-imbursed for short notice changes to the engineering plan even though the route was blocked elsewhere. The net result was that it was less expensive to leave the route blocked despite the wholesale diversions that it brought about.

I could tell you story after story along these lines that demonstrate the madness that has now descended upon the UK railways, and the cynical way that TOCs operate for their own financial gain before passenger interests.

I have to work with this madness and try to deliver infrastructure improvements at lower and lower costs when actual costs are rising.

I cannot wait to retire and get out of this madhouse.

By the way, unannounced by the media but six men have been killed on the maitenance of the railways this year so far.

BRL
7th Dec 2004, 22:20
Excellent post there Astro. Good to see the frustration goes up to a higher level than us at the front. :)

Here are a few examples of stupid waste of time, remember privatisation is a good thing according to some......

Class 319 train breaks down. Train behind could move up and help the failed train by coupling up to it and 'pushing it out of the way'. Train behind belongs to company 'B' who refuse to help as the longer train 'A' is blocking the line, the more money they can claim back for the delay :mad: Privatisation, so much for providing a better service for the customers.

Another stupid one was a train came into Brighton one day from Cardiff. The driver changed ends and was made aware his headlight wasn't working. A portable headlight could be provided by company 'A' for the train to return to Fratton but they refuse to supply it. Train now with no headlight has to travel along for about 40 miles at 20mph, yes thats 20 mph without a headlight, whereas it could have travelled at 75 mph with a portable one. There were three in the office by the way, could have been done but no, they would rather see the train crawling along holding everything up behind earning money for the train company that could have helped.

I bet you Astro could provide some classic stories like this, it happens all over the place.

Rollingthunder
7th Dec 2004, 22:46
And I thought the airline business was cut throat. Even with all the competitiveness we loan out parts to those in trouble as long as their credit is good.Often this is done from one side of the world to the other. Pool parts are through the IATA clearing house based on structured rules and non-pool parts on loans or sales dependent on value of the parts. Typically the rate is 1/365th of it's value per day on a loan . Nice little earner sometimes. Squeezed a cheque for a quarter million out of Northwest Territorial once. Point is if someone is AOG or just in a bind we help and expect the same help in return when we need it.

Back to the choo choos.

BahrainLad
8th Dec 2004, 06:19
Rather hard to see this as all the expresses running between London and Scotland are electrically operated and have been for many years!


Funny, I could have sworn that those GNER HSTs that shuttle between Aberdeen, Inverness and London are diesel powered........;)

allan907
8th Dec 2004, 06:55
The Odd One Dr Beeching tried that one in the 1950s and almost single handedly managed to do away with the entire railway system. It took 25 to 30 years to get over that debacle when road congestion eventually brought people back to the railways. As a mass, fast, people moving service the railways are second to none.

Sky Wave
8th Dec 2004, 09:17
I don't know the exact figures, but I do know that the amount of money spent readying British Rail for privatisation was enough to have provided us with a superb railway system. (Perhaps Astrodome will know some figures, although I don't think the true cost has ever been published).

What’s done is done, that money has been wasted and now we are left with a situation where there must be well over a hundred different private companies involved in running the railway system, each of these companies is expected to make a profit. (Track maintenance has recently gone back to Network Rail, so that’s one saving).

With all these companies profiting from the railways it's very easy to see that it was never going to be as economical to run as it was when it was in public hands. The railway needed a shake up, it needed new management at the very top level, to get new ideas about how the private sector runs business and how to control budgets down to the lower managers. (there was always an attitude that if you don't spend your budget, it will be cut next financial year, and if you over spend you get more).

There is one group of people who have done very well out of privatisation and that is the staff. Having a choice of companies to work for means competition for the best staff and hence salaries go up and conditions improve. From a passenger point of view it's done nothing. Yes we have new rolling stock but that had to come anyway due to the regulations on cup and cone couplings. The TOC's do not need to compete with anyone else because they are the only company running a service from point A to point B, therefore they have no incentive to reduce prices and improve services, the whole idea was flawed from the beginning.

Prior to the maintenance going back to Network Rail, there were some maintenance companies (No names BB) that could not afford to pay the penalties arising from the delays that were attributed to them, and therefore Network Rail paid the penalties for them (the tax payer) to the TOC’s. The whole thing is scandalous and the sooner we reduce the amount of people profiting from something that should be a public service the better.

OK jerricho, I'm on my high horse now:D

until we axe the country routes in rural areas, the railway will consume all the money the govt throw at it on our behalf

That's really not the way. Have you seen how congested our roads are? If you take away these lines the congestion in the large towns and city's would be worse, the death toll on the roads would increase, and no matter what you say a train is more environmentally friendly than cars.

You can always find examples of empty trains. The last stop on any line doesn't have many passengers during the off peek times as they've got off at previous stops (There are exceptions). If you keep cutting the last stop out you'll end up with a line from central London to zone 6. Also a train running towards London at 16:00 will generally be almost empty, when it leaves London at 17:00 it’s full and people are standing. The service involved in Mondays crash left Peterborough at 12:41, that's hardly a peek time service, perhaps the train was full at 08:00 and 17:00.

We need to increase the services on rural lines so that people don't have to wait two hours for a train, it needs to be a regular, fast and reliable which would encourage people to use it and maybe then we can cut traffic congestion in town centres.

Talking of the line to Swanage that was closed by Mr Beeching because the ticket office at Swanage was not making enough money. It completely ignored the fact that the holiday makers were buying tickets from their local stations and in fact the line was well used.

Just a thought, I went on the Poole to Studland ferry last night and there were only 3 cars on it. Perhaps we should close the ferry and make people drive round the long way.:ok:

Climbing down from high horse now.

SW

MadsDad
8th Dec 2004, 09:46
Sky

Talking of the line to Swanage that was closed by Mr Beeching because the ticket office at Swanage was not making enough money. It completely ignored the fact that the holiday makers were buying tickets from their local stations and in fact the line was well used

Swanage wasn't the only place like that, Minehead was similar - a lot of people with return tickets to Butlitz but no sales at Minhead itself. And by a coincidence both places are now home to thriving preserved railways.


(And totally off the plot but did you know the code for bold + your first pseudonym comes out as BSkyB?).

Shaggy Sheep Driver
8th Dec 2004, 11:38
I don't think it was entirely the fault of 'management' that BR was not particularly enterprising or forward thinking. They were, and always have been, starved of investment by HMG. If the sort of money now going into the rialways had been forthcoming in BR days, we'd have had a superb railway.

The drip-feeding of cash, and uncertainty of funds, made forwrd planning just about impossible. Instaed of being able to make really worthwhile long term investments in infrastructure, BR management had to 'make do and mend' on totaly inadequate government funding.

There were some very good managers in BR, some of whom are now in the TOCs. Chris Green, of Virgin Trains is known as 'the best chairman BR never had'.

SSD

phnuff
8th Dec 2004, 15:03
I have heard of examples in which 'possessions' (when the track is taken out of use for maintenance) are booked on a number of weekends in sequence because nobody is quite sure when the work is to be carried out. Each possession has a cost in terms of compensation to the TOCS and each means major disruption to the punters.

From my view point, the railways in the UK are run by a bunch of very dedicated and determined employees, in spite of the best efforts of Government, quango's, TOC management, Contractor Management and those drip feeding the industry money.

Someone raised another interesting point at the start of the thread.

Building new roads=Investment
Keeping the Railways going = subsidy


Talk about spin !!

Jerricho
8th Dec 2004, 18:49
OK jerricho, I'm on my high horse now

Sky, you carry on there matey!!! That's some good stuff to read. :ok:

Baron rouge
8th Dec 2004, 19:47
Astro:

It never occured to you that electricity is not produced out of thin air ?:cool:

Grandpa
8th Dec 2004, 19:50
began to turn the conversation to a brighter vision, I will add something:

Trains are not only a matter of owners, passengers, profit....

They means too : less people on the road, less accidents, less pollution...............and then more satisfaction for the citizens.

But politicians (yours and ours) have a trend to ignore public interests and satisfy others who can help for campaigns and influence the media.

Astrodome
8th Dec 2004, 21:25
Can't remember the last time a car went to Scotland on electricity. And though it may surprise you I did get a classical education so I know that electricity can be produced from various sources. You assume it is generated from oil. That shows a lack of knowledge on your part, not mine. And who is to say that the electricity consumed is not provided by Nuclear power stations?...either here...or in France from where I see you post and from whom we in the UK purchase electricity.



BRL Yes you are right, the frustration does go right up to the top. It is worse for us because I have to deal with a technically uneducated client (Network Rail) whose managers are led by commercial issues and cost reduction demands. That is fine provided that they can assess the technical issues, unfortunately in many cases they cannot understand the basics let alone consider the more complex technical issues.

Picture the scene recently.
A senior Network Rail 'engineer', who is technically the representative responsible for giving me direction on technical matters. Unfortunately whilst presumably being bright in his chosen speciality, he knows absolutely nothing about the technical subject for which he has been employed. I was having to give him advice and guidance rather than the other way around.

Now whilst he is a 'nice' guy, I KNOW that in the newly emerging 'thuggish' commercial atmosphere being nurtured within NR, that he will have to deal with less scrupulous organisations in future. We are returning to a time when, once again contract cost will be the key factor in contract award.

We know that as main infrastructure contractors that we cannot beat the 'cheaper' end of the market. This is because of the costs of safety that are now existent within the Industry, and by the fact that we work to very high safety standards....despite what the media would have you believe.

This makes us uncompetitive against less regulated and ethical organisations. NR will select against cost and will ultimately pay a very high price. And once again we will have to ride to the rescue when things have been installed wrongly, or badly.

Finally to those of you who have welcomed the return of maintenance back into Network Rail.

Question for you.....Where have the staff come from?...Don't know?...well let me tell you. The staff are the same staff as previously...except for the managers, who by an extremely cynical operation were allocated to a lower grade than they were previously, and then made to re-apply for their previous job. If they did so, NR could strip them of all their old 'protected' BR conditions of service, and their current contract terms, such as a car, subsidised health, travel facilities, etc.

Many of my colleagues have elected to stay in the lower position, and will now ultimately be forced to leave the Industry by one means or another.

The new managers, are those nurtured from within NR, who have little technical knowledge and practically no experience of maintaining a railway and less understanding of the issues.

At least many of the former engineers in their newly relegated positions can now sleep sounder in bed, whilst those who are taking on the senior roles still fail to understand the depth of responsibility and risk that they are taking on.

BahrainLad How silly of me to overlook the international airports of Inverness and Aberdeen with their regular large jet services. A slapped wrist for me maybe?.....or maybe the comparisons stated related to Glasgow and Edinburgh;)

yintsinmerite
9th Dec 2004, 07:09
Question for you.....Where have the staff come from?...Don't know?..

True, but surely the issue is one of accountability. If you have someone from a contractor paid on a cost plus basis (as I believe many were), its not in their interest to get in, do the job and get out. Working for NR, someone from within the organisation is accountable and if they overrun, 'should' have to explain it.

The new managers, are those nurtured from within NR, who have little technical knowledge and practically no experience of maintaining a railway and less understanding of the issues.

Yes, agreed. Was this not one of the reasons behind the whole WCML debarcle in which 'outside consultants' advised in favour of 'moving block' technology even though the engineers advised against it as it had never been done on the scale required.

It is worse for us because I have to deal with a technically uneducated client (Network Rail) whose managers are led by commercial issues and cost reduction demands. That is fine provided that they can assess the technical issues, unfortunately in many cases they cannot understand the basics let alone consider the more complex technical issues.

And there is the real problem - and it lies outside of Network Rail. Everyone wants a cheap rail service to be run at a profit. I beleve I am right in saying no quality rail service in the world runs at a true profit when assessed by purely commercial terms. Its only when intangerbles like the value to a community are brought in that it all makes any kind of commercial sense. On that basis Network Rail must always try to take the cheapest alternative (which may only be cheap in the short term).

I recently made a journey on German rail. What a difference. Fast and smooth - wonderful. But thats what comes from not starving the industry of capital and running it as a public good.