Letter to members of Network Rail

On Monday I sent the following letter to the longer serving members of Network Rail, who are meant to be the taxpayers’ representatives holding the management to account:

I am writing to you to ask what actions you, in your role as a Public Member of Network Rail, have taken in recent years to protect the interests of taxpayers in the way Network Rail spends money and adds to its borrowings.

I would be grateful for a brief guide to the main issues you have raised and where you have tried to secure improvements to the value for money and financial security of taxpayers’ investment. I am not looking for an executive Network Rail reply to my queries, but to your Member response.

In particular I would like to know:

1. Why you have backed borrowing in foreign currencies for a business whose revenues and grants are all in sterling, exposing it to currency risk?

2. What is your appraisal of the use of derivatives by Network Rail? What is your forecast of the likely gains and losses from the derivative strategies being used?

3. How long will it take to achieve the efficiency improvements identified by the external review of Network Rail?

4. Have you examined the issues arising from the development and use of railway land, and the issues arising when other developers and land owners wish to gain access to their land across the railway?

Yours sincerely

The Rt Hon John Redwood MP
Member of Parliament for Wokingham

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86 Comments

  1. Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    I would not hold your breath for any substantive reply. A similar letter to the BBC trustees addressing their many failing, perhaps?

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “A similar letter to the BBC trustees addressing their many failing, perhaps?

      …and Ofcom (or indeed the DfCMS) perhaps, addressing their many failing, such as to why the UK consumers still only has the one -legitimate- source for satellite encrypted Pay-TV [1], some 22 years after the demise of British Satellite Broadcasting?

      [1] even when non of the platform hosts content is wanted

      • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Jerry

        We have a pay free Satellite TV which is FREESAT it works from the same Sky satellite, so you need a dish and Freesat box which you have to pay for.

        Not all of the same channels agreed, but an alternative without any monthly fees, as is indeed Freeview, and no dish required for this either.

        • Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          @alan jutson: Utter nonsense, we do not, you are talking about UN-encrypted TV, I am talking about encrypted TV. But by your logic all TV is “pay-TV” because you have to buy a TV to even watch it in the first place, all radio is Pay-Radio ‘cos you have to buy a Radio (or at least the components to built a “cats-whisker” yourself…)!…

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            More pedantic nonsense Jerry.

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            Nothing is for free, not even on accassion the air you breathe. some times it is heated at a cost, or cooled at a cost,

            Even gioing for a walk will wear out your shoes, so not sure about your comparison.

            But then its warm, and I am getting older (like us all).

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

            @Ed2: All that comment does is show up your own gross ignorance. 🙁

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

            Not “gross ignorance” Jerry, just gross boredom of yet another nit picking post from you which is totally off the topic of Railways and their funding.

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            @Ed2: If you so object to Off Topic comments best you have a quite word with Mr “Lifelogic”, indeed it was his rant about the BBC that started this! Ho-hum…

  2. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Strange that you do not ask similar questions (1. -3.) of the private TOC’s, as to why they expect taxpayer subsidies and then afford to pay bonuses etc…

    Reply I do not know of derivative trading and foreign currency borrowing by TOCs in their UK railway activities. Could you supply any evidence for this allegation?

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      @JR reply: Sorry I was being rather sarcastic, after all how many UK TOC’s are ultimately foreign owned, why can the UK taxpayer subsidise such TOCs [1] when in some politicians views it is so wrong for the UK taxpayer to subsidise a UK -notionally- state owned industry?

      [1] and what guarantees are there that the profits from such taxpayer investments will remain in the UK

  3. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Will they reply?

    Reply I will not give up until I get a reply

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      John–No credible reply is possible–I used to sell some of this stuff in a minor way but I hope appropriately and in the context of relationship banking rather than trying just to sell the next deal at all costs and then Scapa Flow–and it would never have crossed my mind in all eternity to make a call on Network Rail of all people to this end. But then I wasn’t a big swinging you-know-what.

  4. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Of course this excellent letter should have been sent by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, and I can’t understand why they refuse to take an interest.

    Reply I did write to the Chairman of the PAC, who wrote refusing to pursue the issue of the derivatives and foreign currencies.

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Did she give a specific reason for refusing to pursue it ?

      • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Roy–Or any reason??

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      @JR reply: That might be because she knows all to well that do so will disturb the hornets nest that is the privatised railway industry in the UK. There will be far more questions raised than any number of answers given by NR…

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      An outrage that the committee did not address the issue but even if they did the outfit would, I suspect, still remain, like so much of the state sector, totally out of and control. I see that 40% of people would not recommend their local A&E to friends for example will it ever change? So much of public sector delivers nothing of value often just another tax, fine, licence or inconvenience the public outfit.

      May I recommend both Lord Tebbit and Delingpole blogs today.

      • Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: “I see that 40% of people would not recommend their local A&E to friends for example will it ever change?

        For all your university education you are non to hot on percentages, if 40% are unhappy than that means 60% (and majority) ARE happy and WOULD recommend their local A&E to friends! 😛

        • Posted July 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          Jerry

          I guess you’re non too hot on common sense . 40% against doesn’t mean that 60% are for. You would need to see the actual results but what about those who are undecided, or who would neither recomend nor deny or have no view or who have never used the service to know?

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

            @libertarian: Wrong again, it was a simple Yes or No question; 40% said they would not recommend their local hospital and that leaves 60% who would.

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            1. Learn to read and cut the sarky, you’re not clever enough to pull it off.

            @. I said IT DEPENDS ON SEEING THE ACTUAL RESULTS..

            Provide a link and show me that 60% chose YES they would recommend.

            Then explain how ANY organisation would survive if a third of their users/customers/clients wouldn’t recommend their service to others

        • Posted July 31, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          Jerry
          In the world of customer satisfaction statistics, of which I have some experience, a figure above 15% dissatisfaction is regarded as being poor.
          Here we have 40% of customer survey returns saying they would not recommend the service to others, so this is a very poor result.
          Most companies look for a positive rating of at least 90%.

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            @Edward2: But of course, by your logic, many of the 40% might well be happy with 99.999E% of the NHS service… Trying to extrapolate such information from a Yes, No type question is just silly, as you would know if you actually did knew anything about customer satisfaction statistics!

            I would have had more respect for your ‘logic’ had you questioned the error base caused by the unknown percentage who gave no opinion…

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            Stick to what you know about Jerry and stop trying to argue just for the sake of it.
            My facts on this are correct.
            A 40% figure of people who actually said they would not recommend it to others is very poor by any commercial standards.

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            @Ed2: It’s dirty pots and kettles time again…

        • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          Jerry–Absolute rubbish on your part–The 60% could well have been neutral or neither happy nor unhappy as they say. Not a question of percentages, more statistics. The logic of formal dichotomy is not appropriate here. The chip on my shoulder sends its regards. XX

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            Leslie Singleton: Equally the 40% might not be totally unhappy, they might just be a little unhappy, perhaps the (DT or FT wasn’t available on the ward 😛 ), your logic cuts both ways…

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Further comment on Jerry below–It is of course certainly true that more information would have helped (Usual breakdown in questioning these days might be Very Happy, Happy, Neither, Unhappy, Very Unhappy but of course even that can be improved) but on the information we were given your comment was, I repeat, absolute twaddle and not even close to being likely. XXX

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

            @Leslie Singleton: You are of course allowed your OPINION but on the information given 40% were unhappy and 60% were happy, so the only person talking absolute twaddle is clearly you.

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            You do talk dribble.

            ON THE INFORMATION GIVEN?

            That was that 40% were against. NO OTHER INFORMATION was given , YOU made it up. You really do struggle with facts and reality

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            @libertarian: Indeed, but that leave another 60% who are happy. Duh!… 🙁

        • Posted August 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          Not so, some may have been undecided or don’t knows. Anyway for 40% not to want to recommend a free at the point of use service is dreadful what if they had been charged £300 each too would anyone have recommended it at all?

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            Lifelogic–Jerry doesn’t seem to understand about dichotomy, which this is not (Jerry–It means “cut in two”, not applicable here). In particular, he should try looking at it in terms of a numerical scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is unhappy and 10 is happy. Then 40% being around 0 does not mean that 60% are around 10–they could easily be around 5. Also, I offer the insight and analogy of “No dogs allowed” What does this mean? It does not (as the sign on the grass seeks to state) mean “Dogs are not allowed”, rather that “No dogs”, ie people without dogs, are allowed, which is very different.

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            @Leslie Singleton: If 40% wanted to stay in the EU people like you would not be writing the clap-trap you are, you would be quite happy to point out (until the cows come home) that 60% want out!…

          • Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Penny still not dropped then Jerry
            In the particular world of customer satisfaction statistics which are different to normal political polls, if you get more than 15% state that they are unhappy with the quality of your service then your company has a big problem.
            40% is therefore a very poor result.

          • Posted August 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            Edward2: “Penny still not dropped then Jerry

            Unlike for you Ed2, yes it has thanks.

      • Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        If Dingbat is your depth of thinking then I’m wasting my time. However its interesting that you say public sector does not deliver at a reasonable cost as most costs about 70-80 of a business are fixed then where do the cost savings come from? Thats right the erosion of pay benefits, pensions and job security on the workforce who then get their pay topped up via the state in the form of tax credits and other benefits to top up low pay. Not however for the managers implementing these changes who in their most fantasist form as the chairman of the Nationwide BS tells us the man in the street does not understand why they are so highly paid. He forgets that the man in the street and a tramp do not have such wealth differences and how a cut price manager would never be accepted no matter how good he was and laughably goes on to compare the likes of himself to a football player or a film star who we actually have the choice of not paying for their services. The Soviet Union is alive and well in Britain.

        • Posted August 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          The main reason you are wasting your time is you rarely have any good or rational arguments to put, often as above it is hard to see what point is being made at all.

          Staff in the NHS could clearly be utilised far more efficiently, operations are often cancelled for want of a hapeth of tar, or general incompetence.

          Many spent their time covering up for errors, lying/pr about how good the nhs is, or defending litigation due to incompetence. These people could go for a start. Then they could work for 7 day a week on sensible shifts so expensive equipment was not left idle and thus perhaps stop all the excess deaths that seems to occur each weekend. Then they could have a sensible purchasing plan instead of being rips of all the time.

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            I agree Lifelogic
            I hate that often repeated mantra “free at the point of use”
            It is a lie
            It should be” you’ve already paid over £2000 per annum for this”

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

            Lifelogic “The main reason you are wasting your time is you rarely have any good or rational arguments to put, often as above it is hard to see what point is being made at all.

            Cough, that argument could be apply to you LL, in fact I had to re-read Bazman’s comment to check that you were not actually “quoting” him…

        • Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

          Bazman

          The Nationwide Building Society is a a not for profit mutual, so I think you might want to pick a different example. Socialist clap trap blaming successful people for the woes of the unsuccessful is par for the course.

          Here’s an idea why don’t your hard pressed workers get the job as a senior manager on a big salary and performance bonus

          • Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

            I agree Libertarian, become self employed as many do, or start a small business as many more do and then go on to employ others.
            Being an employee seems to be a such an awful life according to some people who post on here so break free and just earn your own living using any sellable skill you have.

          • Posted August 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

            Bankers were successful for themselves and their failures are to blame for the woes of many failed people. You are trying to make managers who have been given executive powers and used these powers to cause failure into some sort of entrepreneurs who have achieved great things at great personal financial risk. This is on the real claptrap, read my post again and tell us why gouging out profits by lowering pay and conditions at the expense of the taxpayer is acceptable?

          • Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:09 am | Permalink

            How would you be able to employ others if everybody broke free?

          • Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            They would be employed and not used Margaret.

  5. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Good questions all – I know you have raised them on many previous occasions. The foreign currency and derivatives activity is really a massive scandal and if it were covered by the press in the same way as other financial scandals (such as PPI mis-selling and a host of others) no doubt heads would roll, but somehow this one hasn’t captured the popular imagination by being under-reported. Keep up the good work.

  6. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Who are these people? What is their background? Who appointed them?

    Reply There is a list on the NR website.

  7. Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    This is an excellent letter. What is disturbing is that it is likely to be regarded as an outstanding initiative when in reality this sort of probing and holding the Executive to account publicly and forthrightly should be the norm. The fact that Cameron needs a mildly outspoken Aussie to tell him the blindingly obvious is another very depressing comment on how out of touch with reality so many in Parliament are.

  8. Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    An excellent letter John. This is just the sort of diligence one should expect from Members of Parliament who claim to represent and act in the public interest.

    I imagine the recipients will be clueless as to how to respond to your forensic questioning. No doubt you will keep us informed regarding replies.

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Glenn–What would be good would be a way to ensure that the Margaret Hodges of this world get to read, and occasionally even to understand, correspondence such as this on John’s Diary.

      Reply I sent her the issues about Network Rail, so I know she had those in front of her to read.

  9. Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    You could have added= Who advised NR in this matter? Are they employees or consultants and what fees and charges have been paid? The vast amounts are often ignored by the press, as the numbers are lost because of the lack of mathematical skills of journalists. Dividing by 60 million and expressing in the amount per person would put the scale of mis investment into perspecttive.

  10. Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Very good questions, but I doubt if you will get a meaningful reply. No doubt any replies will be carefully drafted by lawyers (at the public expense) telling you why they can’t supply any information – data protection act, commercial confidentiality, etc.

  11. Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Had their dealings come good they would have been feted as heroes now and our rail network would be flush with cash.

    They didn’t come good.

    It really is as fifty:fifty as that. Like bankers, they can afford to put things at stake when there are no personal consquences.

    How long have these dealings been going on ? Was it prior to the re-nationalisation of the rail network ?

    Can anyone look at rail privatization and honestly say ‘that went well’ ?

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      @Anonymous ‘ ….Can anyone look at rail privatization and honestly say ‘that went well’ ? …’

      Can anyone look at anything the government is involved with and say ‘that is well run’?

  12. Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    … keep up the pressure… As an MP you stand a better chance of a response than we poor voters would get.

    I note that the PAC is rather selective in what it will inquire into – how convenient for some eh?!

  13. Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Network Rail’s hedging strategy aims to achieve a known fixed rate on current and future debt issuances. A key judgement is in relation to the highly probable future issuances. At 30 September 2012 Network Rail has deferred derivatives with a market value of £140m in equity to use against highly probable and expected future issuances. Interest rate swaps with a market value of around £42m are due to start before 31 March 2013.

    Borrowings: As anticipated, net borrowings have increased from £27,201m at the year end to £28,044m. The increase is primarily due to the funding of capital investment and to a lesser extent the increase in the valuation of RPI-linked bonds. £1.5bn was raised in the half year through the issue of six new bonds, denominated in US dollars and sterling. US dollar issues are immediately swapped to sterling so no currency risk is taken. During the first six months of the year £600m was raised under the Commercial Paper programme.

    All sounds pretty normal for what is legally a private sector company granted a monopoly licence to operate, maintain and enlarge a £45 billion train set? (NR Accounts)

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      If you are right Acorn, then there should be a prompt and comprehensive reply.

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      @Acorn: Indeed, the problem seems to be that NR is being far to successful, proving that a state owned company (the state being the shareholder in what, as you say, is legally a private sector company) can be run better than a company otherwise run for investor profit – saying that, their does seem to be problem with the bonus structure within the NR but then that is a wider issues, NR having to match like-for-like to be able to recruit the best/right people. If politicains want to sort that issue then they need to tackle the problem at the corporate level and not pick on individuals at the company level.

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Acorn. Why are you quoting from the half year to September 2012, when the full year accounts to March 2013 are available for discussion?

      • Posted August 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Because I already had the interims to hand in this computer.

        But the full year does raise a point. Look at note 10, Tax, to the accounts. There has been a lot of froth from politicians lately about Corporation Tax. See how much NR paid on that revenue?

        Corporation Tax has always been a voluntary tax. Tax reliefs, enacted by (politicians, some of whom want to be friendly with business ed), all over the planet, have made it so. Corporation Tax should be globally abolished. Corporations are owned by households ultimately. Personal (Household) income tax should be paid, anytime money is taken out of a corporation’s (untaxed) earnings. CGT on capital extraction from a corporation likewise. The only tax those operating a corporation should have to worry about is VAT, in our case. Import and export duties, is a separate matter for much future discussion on this site.

  14. Posted July 31, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Wishing you luck Johnny, but, will not hold our breath !
    Mefears NR be still couched in the culture of Coucher !!

  15. Posted July 31, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    John

    Have you not considered questions 1 and 2 maybe related? It may well have been more economical to borrow fixed term in Euro or USD and the swap this using derivatives into floating rate sterling. The only problem with this is the accounting treatment of both transactions may differ. The foreign currency gains and loses should offset but under current accounting rules the fixed/floating swap would be marked to market and an account loss/gain posted yearly but the fixed rate loan would not.

  16. Posted July 31, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Presumably the foreign currency borrowings are a hedge against purchases made overseas yet to be paid for, in which case a subsidiary question might be why buy overseas?

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      JimF–Purchases overseas yet to be paid for sounds like an unmatched liability in currency and assuming so the currency required I would have thought would have needed to be purchased not borrowed.

  17. Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    When the members organisation was set up was there a written constitution of their purpose? What are they authorised to do? What would be their monthly remit? How much does their wage/pension/ni bill cost the public purse? Is it one of these quangos that are set up with no-one employed to take ultimate responsibility? Are the members qualified in accounting and finance to take the role on? Who set them up and what sort of contracts were they given e.g. are they employees or self-employed consultants? All very intriguing.

  18. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I applaud your attempts to get valuable information but as in the case of most such requests the value of the response is proportional to the calibre and competence of those required to answer. So don’t expect much at all.

  19. Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    http://www.networkrail.co.uk/structure-and-governance/members/biographies/

    I guess that these individuals will be the joyful recipients of your letter. I do wonder how much they will be aware of the financial dealings of the company…

    zorro

    • Posted August 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      There seem to be some sound people, in theory, but are they remotely motivated to run a good railway? I tend to take the view that a business should, in the end, be run by an odd number of people fewer than 3 and with a skin in the game. A huge committee doubtless many with other interests, spending tax payers money on things for others they. Ever meet is never going to work.

      Look at the BBC and the huge list of Lord Patten’s interests for example.

  20. Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/3684.aspx

    Here is the list of committees….good to see the Renumeration Committee high on the list, just below H&S and ‘Audit and Risk’……Let’s hope that they can explain the financial strategy effectively…..Policy and Performance Committee is last on the list.

    zorro

    • Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Remuneration

      • Posted August 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Its called pay. Do cleaners receive remuneration and compensation for their work? What does this tell us of the culture these managers live in having a committee set their pay. Imagine how they would react on finding out cleaners have such a committee? My respect is non existent for these middle class smart arses who will only answer question If they are forced to by law or the threat of the sack with no pay. Yes no ‘pay’.

        • Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Agreed

  21. Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Re rails safety: a man was shown on TV having been captured on CCTV drunk and leaning against the rail carriages , he then fell onto the rail lines…..how can this happen? How was a heavily inebriated man allowed to go any way near the track?

    • Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      @mb-j: “How was a heavily inebriated man allowed to go any way near the track?

      Because cost-cutting (by TOC’s in the vast majority of locations, not NR, who merely own the station) has removed staff from many stations, staff who in BR days would have prevented this sort of thing happening. CCTV is very good for monitoring and recording but no good what so ever at delivering an immediate response to any issue seen, only feet at the location can do that.

      This is another reason why I am mystified why our host is concerned with standard business dealings that had NR been a private company would not merit a mention, but seems totally unconcerned at the problems caused by how the TOC’s are running their day-to-day businesses when they also receive money from the taxpayer.

      Reply I am still awaiting your evidence that TOCs have been using public money to trade in derivatives and take out foreign currency loans. These are the big issues re Network Rail and I do not think they apply to the TOCs.

      • Posted August 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply: Did you not read my reply to that when you cleared it at moderation?!

        As for TOCs, no I don’t suppose for one moment that a politician who was part of the government that created the mess that is the UK’s current railway system will wish to see any of the the many problems with the private TOC’s, only NR and ECML seem to have big issues that need sorting (meaning, no doubt, re-privatisation) despite both being highly successful enterprises… You seem to have picked on, an otherwise standard, business practice within modern commerce, simply because NR is wholly owned by the state – and what is the bet if NR was merely sitting on this money in a UK bank account people like you would be complaining that NR should be investing the taxpayers money to create the best return! I have no question that, like with the ECML, a case is being built for the re-privatisation of NR, and most likely just in time for early 2015.

        Reply If Network Rail generated cash for taxpayers instead of taking cash from taxpayers I would be delighted and recommend it should be used to cut the deficit immediately, but that as you know is very unlikely. I am not picking on standard business practices. I am asking important questions about how NR spends a lot of public money, and how it is by independent analysis inefficient. Someone needs to cross examine them about the foreign currency loans and derivatives.

        • Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          @JR reply: NR is wholly owned by the taxpayer, any investment is beneficial to the taxpayer, so do you want NR not to invest and thus receive no benefits from such investments and thus require even more direct UK taxpayer support?!

          • Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

            …Any investment by the taxpayer is beneficial to the taxpayer…
            Interesting logic of yours Jerry and straight out of one of save the world Gordon’s speeches

            Especially as in this example the money only travels one way.
            Out of the taxpayers hands and straight down the drain.

          • Posted August 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            @Ed2: Do feel free to find a clue about how the current UK railway structure works, and how TOCs are being funded by taxpayers money, but perhaps you don’t care, perhaps you have shares in one or more TOCs, perhaps the real grudge you have against NetworkRail is that you lost money when RailTrack became ‘FailTrack’ and went bust?

          • Posted August 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            Jerry
            Just stop all this childish accusations about other people’s motives every time your argument fails.
            I have to say to you again, what you have accused me of is totally incorrect.
            And a decent person would apologise.
            None forthcoming from your last defamatory accusation about me, I note.

          • Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

            @Ed2: For Christ sake, go learn to read….

            I have not accused you of anything, go and find out what a rhetorical question is, when you have, come back and resume the debate in an adult way – the only person being childish (and defamatory) is you “Edward2”.

        • Posted August 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, do you not accept that Network Rail should be obliged to make a profit? How do we achieve that? Perhaps by doing necessary track maintenance, charging more for track access, sweating the assets, development, selling off surplus land and paying down debt.

    • Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Margaret–Blimey, Are you serious? What do you expect, Stations to be manned or something?? And even then staff would (rightly) worry about a confrontation for fear of some highly subsequent Judge coming up with a crazy ruling against them.

      • Posted August 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Indeed

  22. Posted August 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how long they will take to reply and what they will say. Were they to be brief and honest, it would go something like this:

    1. Because we’re very clever.
    2. Because we’re very clever. We ‘know’ there will be gains, even though we don’t the bet being struck and haven’t looked at the small print.
    3. Until the 12th of never, and that’s a long, long time.
    4. The issues are that we want to be bloody minded dogs-in-the-manger and to fleece everybody else as much as possible.

  23. Posted August 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink
  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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