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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Guido Fawked – More Rail Industry Ignorance

When it comes to the railways, everyone’s an expert, no matter how pitiful their expertise, and to illuminate this by the light of their burning trousers has come the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who know sweet Jack about the rail industry. Staines personally took charge to tellSocialist Disease is Returning – Support for Nationalisation of Railways on the Rise”.
The Great Guido ponders upgrading to a larger seat

Go on then, O Great Guido, give us all a laugh: “Crowded commuter trains and shoddy services are blamed on the privatised rail companies. People forget how truly abysmal the railways were when they were nationalised and called British Rail”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, Network Rail, which owns and runs the tracks, and almost all the stations, is nationalised already.

And two, the business-led BR of the late 80s and early 90s gave a pretty good service and excellent taxpayer value, which, for the 90% plus of the population who do not use trains regularly, was A Very Good Thing. Try again: “The left goes on about public subsidies to private profit, which is true and something of which Guido would normally disapprove, however the alternative is to close the railway network”.
King's Cross Station, London

YOU JUST TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING CALLED BR WHICH DIDN’T DO PRIVATE PROFIT. But do dig yourself in deeper: “The truth is that very few railway services anywhere in the world outside metropolises are economically viable”. Hello Fawkes folks! Inter-City passenger services, which by definition venture outside metropolitan areas, are the country’s most lucrative.

But if you don’t succeed, er, suck some more seed: “This has basically been the case since the automobile became ubiquitous, and the situation has worsened as flying has become relatively cheaper”. What happened to Nigel “Thirsty” Farage last Friday afternoon? And what happened to regular flights from London to Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and other cities? Faster rail services killed them off.
Eurostar at St Pancras International

The Great Guido, though, does not allow such inconvenient detail to detain him, as he goes into full panic mode: “The rail companies and the utilities better start investing in self-defence and explaining their case to the public”. They already do – it’s called the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). Any pundit who knew one end of the industry from the other would not need telling this.

Then, to put the lid on the Fawkes rabble’s lamentable show, a follow-up post tellspeople forget how truly abysmal the railways were when they were nationalised and called British Rail”. The author of that post was Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham. When the sell-offs began in 1994, he was all of three years old.

All of which proves that those who know bugger all about the railways only make themselves look daft by advertising the fact. Another fine mess, once again.


rob said...

"people forget how truly abysmal the railways were when they were nationalised and called British Rail”. The author of that post was Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham. When the sell-offs began in 1994, he was all of three years old".

Yes, a bit unfair on Thomas the Tank engine which must have been the inspiration. But what can he do when he gets his directions from the Fat Controller.........

(from the photo the control ain't working)

Anonymous said...

I am regulalrly subjected to trips on Pacer trains. The 30 year old bus on rails. Noisy, slow, cramped, uncomfortable. These were introduced just before privatisation and they are certainly no better than the DMU used by a local heritage line. At least with a DMU you can sit at the front and pretend to be the driver! Even the class 158 trains are now getting to 25 years old and no indication they will be replaced any time soon.

If this is the result of 25 years of a private rail system being back BR.

SteveB said...

went from Crewe to Carlisle yesterday.

The Virgin train had left Birmingham on time but was 10 late by Crewe. A late running London Midland Brum- Wolverhampton stopping train had been allowed to go just in front of it, due to the complicated private contracts VT can't demand that NR hold it. Just before Wigan it got slowed again, the First Transpennine Manchester- Glasgow that should follow (and provide connections to Penrith and Glasgow) had been allowed to go in front and was taking the platform - and also at Preston. We struggled into Carlsile 15 late - to find that TPE had woken up and realised what was happening so had allowed their train to be held for the Glasgow passengers - unfortunately the Penrith passengers were now stuck in Preston.

Coming back - absolute chaos and not due to weather. Nothing had come from Glasgow for a couple of hours. Mainly because nothing had got to Glasgow on time earlier! Two freight trains in difficulty (or was it one causing problems in 2 places??) had wrecked the north bound plan earlier on. Unreliable freight trains cause these delays all over the country on a regular basis but as long as the companies pay their fines no-one will take any enforcement action. As part of the Virgin difference there are now more or less no staff on the stations so unless you had years of railway experience it was difficult to work out what to do. But the digitised, automated announcement was very sorry. Staggered into Crewe over an hour late.

In big, bad, centralised BR days there was a person in each regional control room would have authority to get a grip and coordinate in the interests of the greater good. Now a similar person at Network Rail control has a stack of contracts to plough through and by the time he's worked out what options are permitted it's too late to use them.

And changing the subject only slightly. Yesterday marked the traditional bleating by the UK media that the railways had announced (2 months ago but let's not quibble) that some routes, especially into London, will be closed for a few days around Christmas during what is normally their quietest, least commercial period, so that the heavy maintenance can be done. Yes, the privatised railway is basing work plans on commercial issues and it's terrible!!!!