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wings folded
7th May 2009, 14:45
There's a nice thread going on, to do with signal box bell codes, with a number of ppruners clearly pretty informed about their subject.

This thread has to do with the current state of our railways.

It has probably been done before, but be kind folks; I couldn't find it.

I binged off a complaint to National Express East Anglia about their alleged catering on the Liverpool Street to Norwich line.

I have a fairly robust digestive system, but their "new" catering effort which replaces a proper meal service hitherto carried out by "One" and "Anglia" and "British Rail" (remember?) was a serious challenge to the system.

They are supposed to reply within 6 working days.

It's been about three weeks. Nothing.

Now, let's get to the point.

Who can enlighten me that to have privatised rail companies is good for me because "competition is good"

This dreadful outfit is the only one allowed to work Norwich to London.

Am I supposed to be happy to think that if I needed to travel from Oldham to Newquay, say, I could probably still only use those companies covering the relevant sectors, but I have "a choice" because there is now "competition" even though you have no choice.

Why did we ever let ourselves fall for this nonesense?

BRL
7th May 2009, 14:48
Who can enlighten me that to have privatised rail companies is good for me because "competition is good"

Why did we ever let ourselves fall for this nonesense?



Blame the torys. They started it and ruined everything.

Standard Noise
7th May 2009, 14:56
Blame the torys
No, blame politicians in general. The current mob, particularly John 'Another G&T please Steward' Prescott promised to sort out the railways and deliver a 'World class' transport system within 5(?) years. Well, they've had 12 years and it's still a shambles, but now it's a more costly shambles than before.

Thank god I don't need to rely on it.

BRL
7th May 2009, 15:00
No sorry. The torys started it and it was a massive mistake. Don't give me that rubbish blaming the current mob. There are billions being invested into the railways right now.

Have a look here for an example and look at all the work that has happened on the West Coast Main Line...... There is so much work going on every night and every wekend.

5.5 Billion onn this one project alone. Thameslink Programme - Find out about the Thameslink Programme (http://www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk/cms/pages/home)

GroundedSLF
7th May 2009, 15:08
Wings Folded - you have made the classic non railway workers error...

You are expecting 6 working days to be just under a week arent you?

6 "working" railway days equates to approx 2 1/2 months in "real" days.

Have to say I totally agree - how is there competition on a route where only 1 company operates?

Having said that, South West Trains made a big leap forward over the 10 years I used them (1998-2008)

wings folded
7th May 2009, 15:15
Thanks GroundedSLF

In the words of Rene from Allo Allo, "Ow could I ave bin so stewpeed"

BetpumpS
7th May 2009, 15:22
Even with the benefit of hindsight, you have to remember that British Rail could not remain as it was - it was a black hole for cash.

Now you may argue that it still is? Well not really. Also acknowledge the fact that the railway is heavily subsidised. Even with franchises costing circa 800m-1.2bn (East Coast for example) , the government still heavily subsidises these routes. If the industry was 100% private with only passengers paying then your ticket would be twice as much.

Regardless of "who started it", it had to happen.

Just like the NHS. It can not remain national for much longer. It is on its knees. Now one unlucky government is going to have to be brave, abandon the NHS and follow the US system.

Naturally that government (even though it needs to happen) will be plagued by the repercussions of this decision for decades.

From what I have read (I'm interested in trains too you know) there was nothing good about BR during its final 5-10 years.

If it was good further back - then i'm sure some of you grandads can tell me about it ;)

wings folded
7th May 2009, 15:46
Also acknowledge the fact that the railway is heavily subsidised. Even with franchises costing circa 800m-1.2bn (East Coast for example) , the government still heavily subsidises these routes. If the industry was 100% private with only passengers paying then your ticket would be twice as much.



Well, we grandads (I have two grandsons, so I speak as someone qualified) can remember when the railway was regarded as a necessary public service.

Some lines were profitable and caused an inward flow of funds to the Treasury, and some were not, causing an outflow.

But you could get a train, it was usually on time and it did not cost an arm and a leg. There was a sense of service.

I bet the name Beeching means little to you.

To us grandads, it gives us unpleasant ripples of memories.

Len Ganley
7th May 2009, 16:00
I bet the name Beeching means little to you.


Indeed it was the often maligned Dr. Beeching who, as head of the British Railways Board in 1965(?) who compiled the report on the railway network which started the slippery slope to where we are today.

BRL

No sorry. The torys started it and it was a massive mistake. Don't give me that rubbish blaming the current mob. There are billions being invested into the railways right now.



You, sir, are talking utter tosh.
It was a Labour government that decided to implement half of the Beeching report (the cost saving part) and ignore the other half (the investment bit) The minister responsible was, I believe, Barbara Castle (1968 Transport Act). Whether or not you agree with anything contained in Beeching's report, Labour and the unions have to take the blame for the current state of the railway system

wings folded
7th May 2009, 16:14
Whether or not you agree with anything contained in Beeching's report, Labour and the unions have to take the blame for the current state of the railway system


And Mrs Thatcher's legendary despise of railways had no effect then I suppose?

G-ALAN
7th May 2009, 16:31
The thing is, no matter how much investment in the railways, one cannont have seperate companies running infrastucture and rolling stock. They simply blame each other for delays, cancellations and screw ups (well in my neck of the wood they do anyway)

Here is an example: Stuck points, So I speak to the nearest customer service guy and get an answer something like oh we can't do anything about that until we liaise with Network Rail. They then blame one another so no matter how much I try I cannot get a refund for my ticket and the price of the taxi fare to work from either company, despite the fact I have already paid a fare which is the highest in Europe :ugh: :ugh:

I'm pretty sure in days gone by a BR engineer would have been out to fix the track problem in a jiffy and then the BR train would have left a few minutes late instead of being cancelled because the train operating company are f*cking helpless to do anything about the failed points thus inconvieniencing about 200 pax :*:* This has happened to me in one form or another, more than once, at more than one station.

Also the trains are NEVER on time. Sitting at the station already 4 minutes late and with a green light showing, the driver casually saunters up to the train with his coffee in hand with no sense of urgency whatsoever, parks is @rse in the seat and doesn't leave for another 2 minutes. Doesn't he know that some of us have places to go/be? FFS!! 7 minuts late is the difference between me having a good day or rushing around like crazy the rest of the day after an arse kicking from the boss for being late!

The government want us to take public transport more, well until they develop a comprehensive public transport system that is a little more than a laughing stock then I don't blame anyone for using cars.

F*ck the tree huggers, none of them have jobs to go to and deadlines to meet :*:*

Don't even start me on buses!

Rant over :}

under_exposed
7th May 2009, 16:36
Even with franchises costing circa 800m-1.2bn (East Coast for example) , the government still heavily subsidises these routes.

How else can they pay the extorsionate leasing costs of the trains?

Avitor
7th May 2009, 16:51
My rail journey. On June 8th, I need to get from Peterborough to Manchester airport.
I logged on to raileasy.co.uk. and booked;-

P.Boro to Doncaster transfer to the trans pennine for Manchester airport. Arrive with 3 hours to spare before book in.

One snag, only 7 minutes for the transfer and I do not know Doncaster station. As I am a pensioner, I arranged for 'Assisted Transfer' I will be met and guided to my connection.

As trains will not wait for late arrivals, it is a good idea to have a contingency plan, mine is that the next train from Doncaster to Manchester is one hour later, leaving still two hours to check in.

TOTAL cost 12.50.

Unless I miss the connection, then I assume I will have to pay for the second leg again, that will not break the bank!

Blues&twos
7th May 2009, 18:47
Or alternatively, the price for 2 adults and 2 children to get from South Oxfordshire to Newquay (return), Friday out, Sunday return, standard class = 497!!!!!!!!!

I think it was 3 changes on the way there and 1 on the way back.

Oh, and there were no trains from Newquay on the Sunday, so we'd either have to get the bus to a station where there were trains, or return on Monday.

We took the car.

Scumbag O'Riley
7th May 2009, 19:32
Am just finishing a thoroughly lucrative 12 month contract down in London and have had to travel down there from Nottingham area on train. At first five days a week, latterly one or two days a week, look back on those early days and wonder how I did it.

Anyway. 12 monthly season tickets must have given the train franchise, whatever it's called now as they keep changing, 8k-10 ish of hard cash. Reckon it worked out at about 35 a day in second with a season ticket which isn't bad, far better than the 120 or so I'd have had to pay if I was buying peak tickets on the day, that is a rip off.

I have to say the train service is excellent. Only half a dozen times was I annoyingly late, more often than not on time. An extremely good and reliable service. I would actually trust it to get me to London in time to catch a plane out of LHR. If only LHR could be 25% as reliable as the trains.

What really really really pissed me off was the parking. They doubled the price in 12 months, and if I didn't get to the station by the 7.20 train I probably wouldn't get a spot. Thats even with paying their extortionate rip off car park season ticket charges.

They provided an excellent train service (regulated and subject to penaties if they failed to deliver of course) but showed their true nature in the way they treated their car parking customers (unregulated).

And there is no public transport which could get me to/from the station where I live.

When I were a lad, talking 70s really when started getting around on me own, trains were cheap but hardly reliable. The train service itself is unrecognisable from those days.

As long as you are going to/from London of course :)

What really interested was watching other passengers. Selfish behaviour like I have never seen before, and when I spent a couple of months in first, they were worse than the people in second.

Mostly public servants in first class you know. Private sector couldn't be so wasteful.

radeng
7th May 2009, 19:41
The problem came in 1919. The Government having agreed to guarantee railway company receipts during WW1 reneged in sofar as wartime traffic had not paid for maintenance. So the 'Big Four' were formed because some railways (e.g. the Highland had such arrears of maintenance from hauling trains to Wick for Scapa Flow ) were so far behind that they would have gone under.

Come 1939, we had a repeat. The Government took over the railways. After the war, the LABOUR government decided that they could not pay the railways on the previously agreed scale - which guaranteed an income, but made no provision for maintenance. Not only that, but the Government had taken more cash in receipts than the railways had! So the railways were in a parlous state as regards deferred maineinance. Neverthelss, BR made a profit up until 1955 - despite labour's ruling that the compensation for shareholders should come out of the British rail profits AND that the railways should be a 'milch cow' for the rest of the British Transport Commission (canals, road transport, shipping etc) . Then the govt of the day (Tory now) saw that stimulating the economy by building roads and encouraging car manufacture meant more jobs and more taxes and generally more wealth. So that's what they went for, even at the expense of pushing stuff off rail that was better there. British railways became bureaucratic, but for a long time, figured they had to provide a service - even after the economic disaster involved in getting rid of steam in a mad dash, and taking every kind of loco offered by manufacturers to 'give a showcase to the world for British firms' - which didn't work anyway. The original idea before governement interfered (both Tory and Labour after 1964) was to test thoroughly new diesels, and when the reliability was proved, introduce a limited number of classes. Post privatisiation (which was done in the most stupid way possible) the concept of service was pushed out in place of straight profit, dishonesty and a devil take the hindmost attitude.

Long gone are the days of the London and North Western Railway, whose Chairman, Sir Richard Moon (he made Captain Bligh look like a woolly minded liberal!) told his managers ' Remember first that you are a gentleman, and secondly, that you are an officer of the London and North Western Railway. Therefore promise nothing lightly, and ensure that whatever you do promise, you faithfully carry out'. Incidentally, the L&NWR often paid dividends of 10%.

These days, the railway companies wriggle out of commitments somewhat like a skewered caterpillar, while many of the 'managers' are that, with no technical knowledge of their job. As long as they have an MBA ( which of course, stands for 'Much Bigger [email protected]@le'), they're in. The accountants of the late 70 and 80s didn't help: rolling stock in the sidings was an unused asset, so it could be disposed off. It was paid for so no money was saved..but money was lost when trains had to be cancelled for lack of rolling stock or locos....

If we had a compensation culture for delays and overcrowding as we have for airlines, things might improve. Hit the management in their pockets and they'll have incentives to improve service. Until that happens, there's no hope.

BRL
7th May 2009, 20:10
Len Ganley For the pedant in you I should have made it clear I was talking about the privatisation of the late 90's :rolleyes:

TBirdFrank
7th May 2009, 21:51
OK - lets get this clear

Railways in the UK are not profitable - full stop.

By 1993 the dreadful, stick in the mud, unimaginative, unitary industry that was BR management were achieving the feat of running a railway that they had electrified from London to Edinburgh on both coasts, had fleets of HSTs covering other Inter City routes, had accommodated Eurostar and were generally not making too bad a fist of it.

The cost to the taxpayer was 0.75bn per annum

THEN

Along came the Tories - led by John "Interesting" Major.

He privatised BR by breaking it up into over 100 companies, all contracting with each other and working for their own bottom line. The network was splintered. Trains were sold to investment wankers and leased back. Drivers could no longer sign outside "their" TOC and after fifteen years the result is plain to see.

Simple chaos!

Blockades instead of diversions

Fare levels that make flying to New york cheaper than taking the train from Manchester to London

And the cost of this Tory balls up today in taxes paid by you and me- 6Bn per annum!

Don't let anyone sell you the line that BR were bad before reading, and thinking that one through.

BR weren't perfect - but the Tories - then Labour + Network Rail + the Merchant Bankers + the Busco TOCs - well what a shambles - You couldn't have written it!

Is there a way back - yes - break the mould - let the whole festering pile collapse and then unitise the lot again -whether private or public does not matter, provided the management is made up of the right stuff.

It would probably take about a decade to create a unified strong management culture again, but what is sure is -

We sure as hell can't go on like this - and I'm getting too old to start all over again.

Keef
7th May 2009, 22:12
I think G-ALAN has the nub of it. How can it make sense to have separate companies running different bits of the same process? Railtrack, Train Operating Companies, etc? Madness! Nobody is responsible for making it all work.

Maybe JB should take over the UK rail network :)

Avitor
7th May 2009, 22:18
Politics apart, I am serious when I say, anything Prescott gets involved with is fecked.

TBirdFrank
7th May 2009, 22:54
He put a moratorium on the whole purpose of my employment!

That was my career fecked!

Redundant in 2001 - pension approximately half of what it would have been if I had lasted five years longer!

But the most annoying thing - ran into him last year - Big Man was the press reputation - No he's not!

He's about 5'5" - both ways!

Lon More
7th May 2009, 23:16
I've held shares in Eurotunnel for many years. originally paid about 1 per share IIRC. Just been "consolidated" at around 720 old shares for 1 new one and a dividend announced of 0.04 per share.
Might have been better investing in an airline.

sisemen
8th May 2009, 05:29
Two things appear to have been missed in this polemic discussion:

1. The advent of cheap motoring and a network of good fast roads (well, they were in the 60s!)

2. The constant "buggeration" factor with militant unions.

The internal combustion engine served to reduce the passenger miles and profits of the rail system and the unions simply exacerbated that problem when passengers voted with their feet.

The shangri-la was to get back to the (relatively) peaceful work forces and innovative marketing progammes of the "Big Four" privatised companies. Unfortunately the 90's model managed to **** it up completely, with the biggest mistake being no one company in overall charge of an area (rolling stock, marketing, track and infrastucture). By the 90s the accountant appeared to be in charge rather than the professional manager and practical engineer.

It probably needs re-nationalising as an essential service which does require additional governmental funding - but the likes of the weird bearded one and his virgins would kick up such a fuss that it might never happen (unless he gets into deep, deep poo and requires a bail-out)

Oooo! It would appear that the word "e k f c" (rearrange as necessary) is now automatically asterisked!

Gulfstreamaviator
8th May 2009, 05:51
Russian state railways has asked for the government to help them, up until a few months ago, they were highly profitable, and an example to the railway world, (so I am assured).

Then what about Swiss Railways, are they profitable, at least they are on time, to the second.

Many years ago, I travelled several times a year from Surrey to North Wales, plus a steamer trunk, (PLA). I always had a seat, and always had a meal or two, and arrived within walking distance of my destination, on time.

Thats progress.

wings folded
13th May 2009, 16:43
For anybody still awake and interested, I have had a reply:


Thank you for your emails dated 22nd April and 8th May concerning our on
board catering. I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

I am really sorry that you are unhappy with the on board catering that is
now being provided in place of the previous restaurant service. A copy of
your email has been passed to the Catering Manager and I have asked that
she review your comments internally.

Whilst I appreciate your dissatisfaction with the service you received, i
can confirm that there are no plans to reintroduce the former type of
restaurant catering on our mainline. I apologise for any disappointment
this may cause you.

Nevertheless, I am sorry that you are disappointed and I thank you for
taking the time and trouble to let us know how you feel.



As an aside, I learn that they will now charge 2.50 for a seat and also that they have more or less admitted that they are bankrupt and would like the government (that means us) to help out.

What a shambles.

Anybody else out there in favour of:

1 Immedaite withdrawal of the franchise
2 Confiscation of those assets which were state funded
3 replacement of their tenure by a publically owned body (we could call it British Railways, for example)
4 I could go on - such as return of dividends paid to shareholders if it were found to be that the underlying profitability was fictional... and so forth.

What do you chaps think?

Sultan Ismail
14th May 2009, 03:49
I remember Beeching, and the effect he had on Railways and the Railway industry. Thanks to him I have been an ex-pat for 40 years installing railway systems in developing parts of the World where investment is recognised as growth.

But back to Britain, the rail service as seen by this ex-pat is just great, on my last trip 3 weeks ago I was able to prepare a timetable covering my various rail trips over several days thanks to Trains UK.
When I arrived the trains were there at the platform and departed on time, eventually arriving on time. I was impressed by the Ticket officer at Kings Cross recommending a 30 minute delay in my departure to ensure the cheap rate teturn ticket. No problem, that was my planned train anyway.
Ok, it was a short journey, KX to Ely via Cambridge.

A couple of years ago during the reconstruction around KX it was necessary to terminate the trains at Alexander Palace, the alternative service provided by bus was superb with plenty assistance and ticket staff with mobile dispensers ready to get you on your way, and amazingly getting us to Cambridge on time per the original timetable.

You've never had it so good :)

Flew back to Bali Ha'i in an A380, like to hear about that?

Tercarley
14th May 2009, 07:45
For cheaper fares try Trainline. Failing that a Family Railcard, Senior Railcard, take your pick. Its sometimes cheaper to buy one of these cards. And it lasts for a year.

Have to say that have used South West trains quite a lot and find them OK and generally on time!

ORAC
14th May 2009, 08:01
The thing is, no matter how much investment in the railways, one cannont have seperate companies running infrastucture and rolling stock. Blame the EU, not the UK parliament - Tory or Labour.

This is/was all part of the EU implementation of an open borders policy and also to lead towards an equalisation of costs between road and rail. The UK had no choice but to separate the track operator from the train operators.

White Paper: A strategy for revitalising the Community's railways (http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l24014.htm)

The SSK
14th May 2009, 08:20
Speaking of the EU, are you aware that railways cost the European taxpayer more in subsidy than the evil Common Agricultural Policy.

I think the total is in the region of 40 billion a year. It used to be published in the EU's State Aid Monitor, but it was quietly dropped because the amounts were too embarassing.

Blacksheep
14th May 2009, 13:38
...but I have "a choice" because there is now "competition" even though you have no choice.But as an individual traveller you don't have a choice, nor was there any intention to give you a choice. The "competition" element refers only to the competition between rail companies for the licence to operate the service; and you have as much chance of influencing that process as you have of getting a decent meal on your train. :rolleyes:

pa28r driver
14th May 2009, 15:12
have to say that as an employee of swt they are trying(very sometimes)
unfortunately some moron in whitehall sticks his finger in the pie and ruins the crust
privatisation was good for us drivers in terms of salary etc however the main probs for you guys simply is that you cant drive into the capital as quickly or cheaply and the toc's know that so im afraid you sometimes have to eat the s**t occasionally
beleive me the train crews are trying to do their best for you
safe flying etc

hellsbrink
14th May 2009, 16:20
beleive me the train crews are trying to do their best for you

Have met and knew some drivers on various lines including LU. Can go as far as the other staff too. We know many do their best (have stopped various people in London in their tracks when they whine because the train they think is theirs has to go offline because of a technical fault, somehow it was always the smallest member of staff they shouted at until I stepped in and pointed out the issue. Always got a "Thank you" for doing that), and a minority of "ringpieces" spoil the reputation (as they are the only ones who reach the news). Have no words against them drivers I have had the joys of knowing, they were almost as nuts as an electrician.

You work under difficult circumstances, especially as I question the methods used by your unions, but I know, from personal experience, some of you are VERY decent people. The problem lies with the nipples above y'all who sit in offices.

As far as some other staff go, the words I would use cannot be typed here without me risking being banned. "Imbeciles" and "Ignorant" are nice terms. But that's people for you.

wings folded
14th May 2009, 20:58
beleive me the train crews are trying to do their best for you



I began the thread, and I never said nor intended to imply that I had any kind of problem with crews (I have encountered the odd stroppy individual from time to time, but I won't let that influence my overall impression - stroppies are to be found in all walks of life)

I somehow imagine that dedicated railway workers in every sector: driving, catering, signalling, maintenance, cleaning, and the list goes on, must be feeling a little bit desparate about the way things are turning out.

If I am right, then my bleats about the odd inconvenience as a traveller must appear a bit selfish against their daily struggle in their working life.

It might help if we all speak up, however.

So I did.

TBirdFrank
14th May 2009, 21:20
So did I - I don't work on the railway anymore :sad:

KRviator
15th May 2009, 07:16
The thing is, no matter how much investment in the railways, one cannont have seperate companies running infrastucture and rolling stock. They simply blame each other for delays, cancellations and screw ups (well in my neck of the wood they do anyway) Funny you mention that. I derailed my first train last week, and the first thing the track owner said was "That's new track". Bollocks it is. The photo's I took show where the rail has been moving sideways at least an inch, probably more, under the passage of trains...

Here is an example: Stuck points, So I speak to the nearest customer service guy and get an answer something like oh we can't do anything about that until we liaise with Network RailHere again is another problem. We (the traincrews) are not trained to wind over the new points machines they've installed throughout our area. So we can be sitting there, not a dozen yards from the offending mechanism, and we can't try throwing them over and back again to reset the detection mechanism and try to clear the fault. We have to wait for a Signal Electrician, who could be a hundred miles away looking at another fault. Cue delay to freight and passenger trains simply because we no longer "own" the track and therefore, can't touch "their" points machines.:ugh:

Then there's the operating practices of splitting up the above-rail (trains) and below-rail (track and infrastructure) assets, then the spliiting of the passenger and freight networks, and then the freight networks within themselves, meaning my depot hauls coal. There's another depot not a quarter mile from us, same company, different division, and never the two shall meet. We both work our own trains, to our own division rules and our own division Enterprise Agreements.

If nothing else, I'm glad to see things in Britain are as bad as they are in Australia.