Renationalising the UK rail network – a good idea?Back to Forum
And get rid of five abreast on SWT……..there I go again!
Seriously in answer to the questions from NTarrant:-
1. Bad old days of BR. That is simply by making sure that a mixture of people with railway experience and business nouse are running the railways. Most businesses only improve by the regular injection of new blood and new thinking.
2. Profits would be ploughed back in to improved services and facilities, and once it is all perfect a reduction in prices. Joined up thinking with a national rail network and not the current madness of ticketing and hidden fares.
3. That simply has to be political interference being legally banned ( I think that is what Canucklad was referring to). Perfectly good public sector businesses operate in the commercial world, absolutely no reason to see why UKNational Rail could not be one of them. Channel 4 for instance…politically and financially a sound business.30 Sep 2015
What a great debate, and what great arguments both sides put forward, though I personally may not agree with all that said.
In a nutshell, the for camp says that privatised railways are doomed as they put shareholder profits before passengers.
The against camp says that nationalised railways are doomed as they are run in favour of unions and not passengers.
Personally, I wish our railways were indeed nationalised, if only to get away from the mess that we are in. Passenger numbers have soared and yet many lines still run rolling stock from the 70s. While many in the south have seen improvements, those of us up north still have to contend with pacers (I.e Leyland National bus chassis on railway wheels). And fares continue to rise and rise. What is most gruelling however are walk-up fares.
Consider the following vis-a-vis a train I regularly take in France and one I take in the UK. The distances are the same or thereabouts – journeys that cover 250kms.
Boulogne-Paris Nord, 2nd class walk up fare single: €38.50
Cardiff-Paddington, standard class walk up fare single: £112! Even the off-peak fare of £58 is outrageous in comparison.
Also consider the following. For all her faults, and boy did she have a lot, even Thatcher left the railways well alone and kept them under government control (despite the sheer lack of investment she oversaw), it was only that fool Mr Major that decided to go ahead with the privatisation.
And for all those that say things won’t get better under public control, I say that the status quo is not an alternative either and I cannot believe that the Stagecoaches, Virgins, Abellios and Deutsche Bahns of this world are in the slightest bit interested in improving things for UK rail travellers.30 Sep 2015
Some fascinating responses. For 15 years and through multiple jobs i’ve had to endure the North London Line through shoddy government run services, infinitely worse services when privatised (thanks Silverlink..) and finally when taken over by Tfl have the joys of one of the cleanest, safest, best value and most reliable train service in the country.
It’s gone from almost closed, to frequently cancelled overcrowded 2 car, every 20 minute services (albeit almost always ‘free’) to 5 car air conditioned trains in permanently manned stations – an absolute joy to behold. I can only trust that renationalising the trains will see ‘Overgroundisation’ applied to train services over the entire country!1 Oct 2015
The railways are still partly nationalised and there are two issues I wonder if everybody understands.
1. Network Rail formerly Railtrack is still government controlled and far too big to be efficient. However praise where praise is due, it most effectively dealt with both Dawlish and the Harbury slippage that shows its engineering side is fine but its ability to manage projects is questionable – dare I mention London Bridge. It is also protected from the customer by the ToCs (Train Operating Companies).
2. Department forf Transport. Funny that whenever there is a positive such as an upgrade or new trains it is the Department that claims responsibility with Patrick McLoughlin or Claire Perry making the big announcement. When something goes wrong it is always Network Rail or the train operators to blame. I am not sure how many people are aware that the DfT controls all aspects of a franchise, where trains can run, how frequent and even how long. Any variation requires a myriad of paperwork.
Now I do agree that the current system is crazy, but I would like to see the Train Operating Companies getting control of the tracks (like pre 1948) the DfT keeping its nose out of it and the ORR regulating the ToCs including line access and fare increases. I also believe those organisations should be able to bid for improvement funds, but those should be doled out like the Heritage Lottery Fund does giving a percentage of the cost and requiring the ToC to find the rest and any overruns. That would require proper accounting and may generate some interesting and real competition.1 Oct 2015
The Tory blues have spread to so many parts of this country as to highlight it’s inadequacies and lack of potential. We should be looking to and have already implemented a national system akin to the success stories of the TGV, Swissrail, DB, the AVE and excellent regional rail in Spain. Instead it’s a poor tangle of overpriced services which simply do not deliver and offer value for money no matter what anybody says.1 Oct 2015
Ps I like Canucklad’s suggestion of a sort of John Lewis partnership approach to getting the staff onside – sadly there will still be “culls” needed of outdated “jobs”1 Oct 2015
As for other posts, I couldn’t care one bit about Transport Secretaries. In the fullness of time, politicians come and go. What’s important is that we have a centralised system that is run by railway officials and aficionados that puts the needs of passengers first, not profits.1 Oct 2015
The idea of a John Lewis style staff involvement is a good one. However that would never happen in a nationalised railway as it would be seen as too capitalist and defete the object of government control.
Both Stagecoach and First operate employee share option schemes which are popular with staff, whilst not in the same league as John Lewis, still employee involvement. In a nationalised company no one has ownership or involvement.
I find it intriguing that the number of business travellers here on the forum seem to deny transport companies from making a profit from the railways, but before anyone cries subsidies, remember that Flybe receives subsidies for running Scottish Highland and Island services and other than a recent blip in profits, makes a profit1 Oct 2015