Trains in the UK

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iSon
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Sun 08 Jan, 2012 16.09

In my opinion, privatisation is never going to fully work as it's focus is going to be delivering profits rather than a quality service. OK, yes, there are measures that have been put in place to ensure that companies run a sufficient service and can't deliberately just focus on areas which make them lots of money and let others just ruin. But it's just not enough because so much is run on the basis of "it'll do" and certain areas get neglected.

Having said that, the managers of each rail company are to be commended as they do an incredibly difficult job - Managing Directors of rail companies are effectively middle management as they get grief from below about resources and then grief from above about new ways to deliver profits. It's also beneficial to have separate teams that are only focussed on the services they run, rather than having to worry about other areas of the country.

Privatisation should also lead to competition with each company trying to outdo the other. Hmmmm, OK that happens in some areas but many routes are served by one operator and it's simply up to them what they want to do. And then when there's a choice - for example London Midland and Virgin Trains who operate similar routes between the Midlands and London - there's just no comparison between the services. It's one of the lesser evils though as at least London Midland price their tickets accordingly for the fact that you face a longer journey on an often uncomfortable seat.

The biggest problem, in my eyes, is that we started out rail network too early. Sounds odd to say I know but we pioneered the railway and took great strides. The trouble is, it meant that we had to think earlier about what happens when things start to fail, how can we implement new technology. Even now, some equipment that holds up the rail infrastructure is incredibly old and for a long time we've had to effectively fire fight in order to keep the network going. For such a long time we didn't take the brave steps of bringing in new technology and instead just mending the old. This is why we are hearing so much about investment now but it's what is costing the passenger so much.

Other countries were able to look at what we achieved - take the best bits and improve on them. Many intercity routes were built with advanced signalling technology available which means that costs can be kept down as the services can be largely automated. OK, we didn't have that luxury but we also failed to see what was happening elsewhere and think whether we should be doing something similar.

All in all though, services are probably at the best they have been for a long time, but boy we've had to pay the privilege to get here. And we will be paying for a long time to come.
Good Lord!
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dosxuk
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Sun 08 Jan, 2012 17.51

cwathen wrote:
dosxuk wrote:
Alexia wrote:At least the leasing agreement means if First lose their GW franchise tomorrow, those Class 43s and Mk3s will still be running back and for Paddington rather than being sold for scrap or off to another franchise.
Don't First own some of HSTs out right though, and are (alegedly) using them as a bargaining chip in the GW franchise renewels?
Not sure how much of a chip they will prove to be though, if Pacers will end up technically illegal through the DDA seemingly for no other reason than they have a two-step entrance, I can't see that MK3 carriages with heavy slam doors and only an external door handle which needs to be pushed practically down to 90 degrees to open will be allowed to survive as it is impossible for disabled people to open the doors.
Chiltern (DB) are imminently launching some DDA compliant Mk3s with powered doors. As I understand it, the other Mk3 operators & ROSCOs are watching with interest with views to thier own conversions.
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WillPS
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Wed 11 Jan, 2012 22.41

I see the high speed rail link has been approved. What are people's thoughts on it? I can't see how all the expense and effort to trim 30 minutes off journeys is worth the effort. I also can't fathom how it will cost £33billion and how it will take 15 years to lay some tracks.
The 30 minute saving should not have been where the emphasis was placed. The real boon in the increase in capacity providing all 3 of the main North-South mainlines with viable competition.

Civil engineering across hundreds of miles takes time. This is a process which has got longer, not shorter, since the Victorian age.

How much is this sports jamboree in London this July gonna cost again?
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Andrew
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Wed 11 Jan, 2012 22.49

By 2033 when it is supposed to reach the North, the government will have changed colours half a dozen times, therefore many occasions for a new government to change/cancel the project, particularly the Phase 2 part. Therefore I have doubts that it actually will happen.

David Cameron and all the current ministers will be well into retirement by then!
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WillPS
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Wed 11 Jan, 2012 22.50

Andrew wrote:By 2033 when it is supposed to reach the North, the government will have changed colours half a dozen times, therefore many occasions for a new government to change/cancel the project, particularly the Phase 2 part. Therefore I have doubts that it actually will happen.

David Cameron and all the current ministers will be well into retirement by then!
It's supported by a cross-party selection of MPs. I'd say it's pretty safe.
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Steve in Pudsey
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Thu 12 Jan, 2012 19.47

cwathen wrote:One argument I *don't* buy when moaning about britain's railways is the 'age of rolling stock' arguments. Trains are not cars. They are built to have long service lives - 20 years is not old in train terms. Most of the DMUs and EMUs built in the 1980's were introduced to replace stock which was built in the 1950's which was 30+ years old at the time.
For a proper DMU or EMU you'd have a point. For stock like Pacers that were designed as a cheap stop gap, I would have to disagree. The 142 is effectively a Leyland National bus bolted to a freight wagon. How many Leyland Nationals do you see out there on the roads these days?
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WillPS
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Fri 13 Jan, 2012 00.16

Steve in Pudsey wrote:
cwathen wrote:One argument I *don't* buy when moaning about britain's railways is the 'age of rolling stock' arguments. Trains are not cars. They are built to have long service lives - 20 years is not old in train terms. Most of the DMUs and EMUs built in the 1980's were introduced to replace stock which was built in the 1950's which was 30+ years old at the time.
For a proper DMU or EMU you'd have a point. For stock like Pacers that were designed as a cheap stop gap, I would have to disagree. The 142 is effectively a Leyland National bus bolted to a freight wagon. How many Leyland Nationals do you see out there on the roads these days?
The Pacers were built with a planned 15 year service life (this had expired by 1997, allowing the ROSCOs to pick them up for sweet F.A.).

Most EMU stock is built for 40-50 years, and most DMU stock was built for 30 years (before somebody dreamed up the idea of re-engining stuff, allowing the HSTs to continue use).
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martindtanderson
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Sat 14 Jan, 2012 04.29

I am not a huge afficianado (spl?) when it comes to trains, my interest goes as far as signage on the London Underground and a fondness for classic Thomas the Tank Engine!

But I think when it comes to infrastructure, it should never be subject to profiteering, and instead should be run with the aim of providing an essential service, taking in the amount of money it needs to cover staff and running costs, as well as upgrade, upkeep, and future expansion/investment!
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Alexia
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Sat 14 Jan, 2012 14.27

martindtanderson wrote:But I think when it comes to infrastructure, it should never be subject to profiteering, and instead should be run with the aim of providing an essential service, taking in the amount of money it needs to cover staff and running costs, as well as upgrade, upkeep, and future expansion/investment!
Well that's alright then, because a few years ago, the profit-making company (Railtrack) was replaced with a "non-profit making company" :lol: (Network Rail).
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martindtanderson
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Sat 14 Jan, 2012 20.43

Alexia wrote:
martindtanderson wrote:But I think when it comes to infrastructure, it should never be subject to profiteering, and instead should be run with the aim of providing an essential service, taking in the amount of money it needs to cover staff and running costs, as well as upgrade, upkeep, and future expansion/investment!
Well that's alright then, because a few years ago, the profit-making company (Railtrack) was replaced with a "non-profit making company" :lol: (Network Rail).
Sadly we still have private organisations/companies running the service side, and the trains/station facilities
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WillPS
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Sun 15 Jan, 2012 03.00

Alexia wrote:
martindtanderson wrote:But I think when it comes to infrastructure, it should never be subject to profiteering, and instead should be run with the aim of providing an essential service, taking in the amount of money it needs to cover staff and running costs, as well as upgrade, upkeep, and future expansion/investment!
Well that's alright then, because a few years ago, the profit-making company (Railtrack) was replaced with a "non-profit making company" :lol: (Network Rail).
How much work do Network Rail do and how much is actually done by the likes of Serco and Balfour Beatty?
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