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Hmmm.ūü§Ē Let's see how this works out!¬†

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57176858.amp

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Good luck to them. According to the Tories (at the time) British Rail failed because it was a state-owned monopoly with no real competition. We all know the Tory competition mantra has limited uses and applications, IMO this was one of them. They tried to set rail region competing against rail region, rather than rail competing against other forms of transport. It would be nice if this bunch got it right.

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From a Government Document about GBR:

"....But unlike most privatisations, that of the railways has never 
become publicly accepted, because its failings have remained 
all too obvious. Breaking British Rail into dozens of pieces was 
meant to foster competition between them and, together with the 
involvement of the private sector, was supposed to bring greater 
effciency and innovation. Little of this has happened. Instead, 
the fragmentation of the network has made it more confusing 
for passengers, and more diffcult and expensive to perform the 
essentially collaborative task of running trains on time."

Something of a climbdown, no? ūüėĀ¬†

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8 minutes ago, Monitor Gold Ten said:

From a Government Document about GBR:

"....But unlike most privatisations, that of the railways has never 
become publicly accepted, because its failings have remained 
all too obvious. Breaking British Rail into dozens of pieces was 
meant to foster competition between them and, together with the 
involvement of the private sector, was supposed to bring greater 
effciency and innovation. Little of this has happened. Instead, 
the fragmentation of the network has made it more confusing 
for passengers, and more diffcult and expensive to perform the 
essentially collaborative task of running trains on time."

Something of a climbdown, no? ūüėĀ¬†

Absolutely ūüĎć I have never used the railway much but Feel for all the people who have had too rely¬†on as it has disintegrated into practicly a third world service but top ticket prices.

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30 minutes ago, Monitor Gold Ten said:

From a Government Document about GBR:

"....But unlike most privatisations, that of the railways has never 
become publicly accepted, because its failings have remained 
all too obvious. Breaking British Rail into dozens of pieces was 
meant to foster competition between them and, together with the 
involvement of the private sector, was supposed to bring greater 
effciency and innovation. Little of this has happened. Instead, 
the fragmentation of the network has made it more confusing 
for passengers, and more diffcult and expensive to perform the 
essentially collaborative task of running trains on time."

Something of a climbdown, no? ūüėĀ¬†

Frankly, it makes a refreshing change for a government, regardless of its "flavour", to actually admit that a previous policy hasn't worked, rather than just apply spin to make a failure sound like a success. I'd far rather read an honest admittance like that, and then see the plan to put it right. As a nation we are so afraid of failure, it's one thing that I really admire the US for in comparison, they are much more prepared to try something and then if it doesn't work, admit it, stop it, and try something else. As long as lessons are learned from the prior failures then the next attempt is nearly always better.

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54 minutes ago, Monitor Gold Ten said:

From a Government Document about GBR:

"....But unlike most privatisations, that of the railways has never 
become publicly accepted, because its failings have remained 
all too obvious. Breaking British Rail into dozens of pieces was 
meant to foster competition between them and, together with the 
involvement of the private sector, was supposed to bring greater 
effciency and innovation. Little of this has happened. Instead, 
the fragmentation of the network has made it more confusing 
for passengers, and more diffcult and expensive to perform the 
essentially collaborative task of running trains on time."

Something of a climbdown, no? ūüėĀ¬†

So what's new, it's still going to be privatised probably with profits going to foriegn companies.

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Posted (edited)

Unfortunately, there's much ignorance and misreporting about the structure and ownership of the railways, ever since the mid 1990's privatisation.

It hasn't been all one continuous situation and there have been several different arrangements over the last 25 years.

Britains railways have been in public ownership since the ill fated Railtrack was abolished in 2002. The whole railway infrastructure, tracks, stations, signalling, control of track usage and all the land involved, belongs to Network Rail, which is a public body. i.e. the railways are already Nationalised.

Apart from a couple of small Open Access train operators on the east coast mainline, since "privatisation", all passenger services have been controlled and carried out on behalf of the DfT, who effectively subcontracted the operation of those services to private companies, through a system of franchising. Those train operating companies (TOCs) don't actually own anything, they just buy the right to provide a service for a fixed contract period.

The franchising system has changed shape a number of times over that period and apart from the first 4 or 5 years, where a number of early franchise operators were absolutely woeful and had to be thrown off, worked very well for most franchise areas until about 2012-15 (when it all went badly wrong).

However, the franchise system never suited the inherently loss making franchise regions, such as Northern and Wales etc.

The whole thing was badly messed up by government interference when the Blair administration abolished the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and handed all its functions over to the DfT, who went on to increase their involvement in the day to day management of the passenger franchises. The DfT's meddling and high levels of micro-management has contributed massively to many of the problems with the railways today (Covid aside).

The other significant contributor to the failure, lies with the Treasury who pushed the DfT into requiring ever increasing amounts of money to be paid by the train operating companies, for the rights to operate many of the franchises. This increasingly led to the financial basis upon which the franchises were let, being largely unachievable, with little or no resilience to unforeseen events and leaving the TOCs extremely exposed to fluctuations in passenger demand. More fool the operators who signed up for the madness.

This new set-up, brings together the DfT's role with that of the network owner (Network Rail) and assumes many of the responsibilities now carried out by the TOCs. 

It's a solution many people in the industry and informed observers have been calling for for a number of years. Subcontracting the passenger services out to private operators should now give very clear lines of accountability and ideally should remove a lot of the regulatory and contractural complexity that has burdened the railways for years. Whether it'll work or not we'll have to wait and see. The worry is that the DfT will still have its interfering fingers into the pie.

  ..

..

Edited by High 5
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19 minutes ago, High 5 said:

Unfortunately, there's much ignorance and misreporting about the structure and ownership of the railways, ever since the mid 1990's privatisation.

It hasn't been all one continuous situation and there have been several different arrangements over the last 25 years.

Britains railways have been in public ownership since the ill fated Railtrack was abolished in 2002. The whole railway infrastructure, tracks, stations, signalling, control of track usage and all the land involved, belongs to Network Rail, which is a public body. i.e. the railways are already Nationalised.

Apart from a couple of small Open Access train operators on the east coast mainline, since "privatisation", all passenger services have been controlled and carried out on behalf of the DfT, who effectively subcontracted the operation of those services to private companies, through a system of franchising. Those train operating companies (TOCs) don't actually own anything, they just buy the right to provide a service for a fixed contract period.

The franchising system has changed shape a number of times over that period and apart from the first 4 or 5 years, where a number of early franchise operators were absolutely woeful and had to be thrown off, worked very well for most franchise areas until about 2012-15 (when it all went badly wrong).

However, the franchise system never suited the inherently loss making franchise regions, such as Northern and Wales etc.

The whole thing was badly messed up by government interference when the Blair administration abolished the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and handed all its functions over to the DfT, who went on to increase their involvement in the day to day management of the passenger franchises. The DfT's meddling and high levels of micro-management has contributed massively to many of the problems with the railways today (Covid aside).

The other significant contributor to the failure, lies with the Treasury who pushed the DfT into requiring ever increasing amounts of money to be paid by the train operating companies, for the rights to operate many of the franchises. This increasingly led to the financial basis upon which the franchises were let, being largely unachievable, with little or no resilience to unforeseen events and leaving the TOCs extremely exposed to fluctuations in passenger demand. More fool the operators who signed up for the madness.

This new set-up, brings together the DfT's role with that of the network owner (Network Rail) and assumes many of the responsibilities now carried out by the TOCs. 

It's a solution many people in the industry and informed observers have been calling for for a number of years. Subcontracting the passenger services out to private operators should now give very clear lines of accountability and ideally should remove a lot of the regulatory and contractural complexity that has burdened the railways for years. Whether it'll work or not we'll have to wait and see. The worry is that the DfT will still have its interfering fingers into the pie.

  ..

..

Why don't they?

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Well I'm sure they will find a way to line their greedy grubby little hands.

In Greater Manchester the Mayor is bringing back buses under local control as the deregulation of buses was also a disaster for passengers and still is. Different companies running over the same routes, no transferrable passes from one company to another, scrapping of less profitable routes unless the local council subsidises the route. They don't get a share of the profitable routes though.

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8 hours ago, High 5 said:

Britains railways have been in public ownership since the ill fated Railtrack was abolished in 2002. The whole railway infrastructure, tracks, stations, signalling, control of track usage and all the land involved, belongs to Network Rail, which is a public body. i.e. the railways are already Nationalised.

Apart from a couple of small Open Access train operators on the east coast mainline, since "privatisation", all passenger services have been controlled and carried out on behalf of the DfT, who effectively subcontracted the operation of those services to private companies, through a system of franchising. Those train operating companies (TOCs) don't actually own anything, they just buy the right to provide a service for a fixed contract period.

Excuse the fairly significant snip. If a government doesn't carry out the actual public service directly, then it is privatised. That's the definition of privatisation. That they oversee and regulate it is not nationalisation. In any case what Thatcherisation actually did (and we can count Blairism in with this) was to create a system where so-called private companies get propped-up by government funding even though many have had CEOs and staff and some shareholders paying themselves huge profit bonuses. So classic Thatchernomic corruption: public spending diverted into shady private companies to provide public services they are incapable of providing because they are more interested in turning a profit than providing a service.

You see the exact same thing happening in the NHS right now, which has been the case ever since the '80s Tories introduced the 'internal market'. It's essentially the same model mutatis mutandis. Their 45-year error has been to think that common-sense private sector activity like e.g. food production or home furnishings is also the ideal methodology for delivering public services. These monetarist fools have slowly and dimly realised that private companies run out of money and aren't particularly interested in actual public service. Yet even though it fails every time, they still pursue it.

There was no fundamental problem with British Rail; the old 'cost' and 'inefficiency' arguments are easily demolished and the record of the last 25 years makes it even easier to do.

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6 hours ago, Le Baron said:

Excuse the fairly significant snip. If a government doesn't carry out the actual public service directly, then it is privatised. That's the definition of privatisation. That they oversee and regulate it is not nationalisation. .......

.....There was no fundamental problem with British Rail; the old 'cost' and 'inefficiency' arguments are easily demolished and the record of the last 25 years makes it even easier to do.

Just to take two of your points.

The provision of passenger services is indeed privatised, i.e. contracted out,¬†but the lazy inaccurate narrative has been that the railway was ‚Äú‚ÄĚsold off‚ÄĚ‚ÄĚ, or is in ‚Äúprivate hands‚ÄĚ, when in fact the ownership of the actual railway, the infrastructure, having been sold off in the mid 90‚Äôs, was in fact renationalised and brought back into public ownership, a mere 7 years later.
The provision of passenger services was only ever subcontracted out. Privatised, only in the sense of who provided the service on behalf of the DfT.

As for the record over the  last 25 years. The narrative that it’s been an unmitigated disaster and a serious of failures is entirely false, driven largely by an ill informed press, who’s shallow, often ill educated approach on almost any subject,  is to look for sensation, scandal and finding victims to blame. The successes and improvements to the railway network have outweighed the failures by a long way, but that fact doesn’t excite our journalist friends one bit.

I could waste my time here detailing any number of events that were reported as failures of the railway, privatisation or the franchise system, that were in fact the results of various factors, that were in the most part down to failures of the DfT or Network Rail, the ‚Äústate‚ÄĚ elements of the set-up. Not to mention¬†the politically motivated¬†RMT guards disputes.
High cost of tickets...largely down to the DfT as they control the regulated fare structure and annual price increases, plus the Treasury, who mandated that the passenger should bear the greater share of the costs and ensured that the politicians ( it was Labour at the time) burnt it into government policy.

This restructuring of the rail network is long overdue and if done right, should work an awful lot better than anything we’ve had since the end of WW2. The questions are, how much meddling and control will the DfT wish to retain, will the new body GBR really have the required level of independence and autonomy, or will it just be the rail department of the DfT in disguise?
There’s also the question of reduced public funding and if this change will also reduce the amount of private capital that has been made available and kept the system running for the last 20 years?

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, High 5 said:

As for the record over the  last 25 years. The narrative that it’s been an unmitigated disaster and a serious of failures is entirely false, driven largely by an ill informed press, who’s shallow, often ill educated approach on almost any subject,  is to look for sensation, scandal and finding victims to blame. The successes and improvements to the railway network have outweighed the failures by a long way, but that fact doesn’t excite our journalist friends one bit.

I could waste my time here detailing any number of events that were reported as failures of the railway, privatisation or the franchise system, that were in fact the results of various factors, that were in the most part down to failures of the DfT or Network Rail, the ‚Äústate‚ÄĚ elements of the set-up. Not to mention¬†the politically motivated¬†RMT guards disputes.

Erm, I don't know about the services where you live but in these parts the busy Calder valley line does not just suffer disruption but wholesale cancellations with little or no warning. Strikes, work to rules which have rendered weekend and evening services a thing of the past in many instances. From a twice an hour service to Manchester there was nothing in the evenings for over 12 months only recently. If anything approaching this level of disruption had occurred when it was under British Rail the Daily Mail and Daily Express would have been apoplectic with outrage but because their corrupt chummies have overseen this hardly a murmur. Same as the East coast line bail out, it's like the bailing out of the banks. There may be more trains on the line now but they don't stop where they used to and only this week we had to get two trains to travel a simple journey that once took less than a half an hour to now a 50 + minute carry on.

 And don't get me started on the state of the roads after their austerity measures they're a disgrace.

N.B. I am stating facts not un-educated Tory rhetoric.

Edited by Pete the Feet
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Pete, there's no denying that some regional areas, particularly in the North of England, have missed out on rail investment and have been left to slowly degrade in service levels. Bear in mind that was ever so, but that's no excuse for not addressing those issues. For example, south of the Manchester airport, people don't know what a Pacer is, apart from those in the S. Wales Valleys and on the Devon and Cornwall branch lines.

You mention the East Coast line bail-out. I'm curious. Do you actually know or understand what happened there? It would be interesting to know if you do, or if it's a case of holding some misguided notion, based on completely inaccurate and ill-informed press reporting.

 n

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5 hours ago, High 5 said:

There’s also the question of reduced public funding and if this change will also reduce the amount of private capital that has been made available and kept the system running for the last 20 years?

Well the thing is there isn't that much 'private capital' invested in the rail system at all. These 'private' contractors are persistently on the cadge from public spending, which goes on exorbitant salaries. The press haven't made any mistakes in that regard. This is the core problem: the governments since 1979 have been wedded to ideas of private outsourcing, which only results in a vortex sucking away both direct public spending and most of the normal lines of credit these companies have.

The U-turn on total infrastructure privatisation should already have been a clue that the whole idea was nonsensical. It's astonishing really that they got away with (and still get away with) claiming British Rail was a money pit - it wasn't because from Callaghan's government its funding was radically curtailed and had been slowly trimmed from the late 60s - when the chaotic shambles they have now allows public spending to be syphoned off by the boards of 'service operators'. Same story for buses.

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