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Railways

Old 7th May 2009, 14:45
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Railways

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?
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Old 7th May 2009, 14:48
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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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 14:56
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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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:00
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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
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:08
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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)
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:15
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Thanks GroundedSLF

In the words of Rene from Allo Allo, "Ow could I ave bin so stewpeed"
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:22
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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
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:46
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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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 16:00
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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
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Old 7th May 2009, 16:14
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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?
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Old 7th May 2009, 16:31
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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

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
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Old 7th May 2009, 16:36
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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?
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Old 7th May 2009, 16:51
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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!
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Old 7th May 2009, 18:47
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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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 19:32
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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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 19:41
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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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 20:10
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Len Ganley For the pedant in you I should have made it clear I was talking about the privatisation of the late 90's
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Old 7th May 2009, 21:51
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Angry

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.
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Old 7th May 2009, 22:12
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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
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Old 7th May 2009, 22:18
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Politics apart, I am serious when I say, anything Prescott gets involved with is fecked.
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