What happened to the railway industry when fully nationalised?

The railways were nationalised shortly after the war and stayed in public ownership until the 1990s under John Major. The track, stations and signals, the bulk of the assets, were renationalised by Labour early this century.

In 1950 BR employed 606,000 employees. They looked after a route network of 19,471 miles of track  with 8487 stations. By 1967 owing to the sharp decline in rail travel and changing patterns of housing and population growth the network was down to 13 172 track miles with 3498 stations. The number of employees nearly halved over the 17 year period, to 318,000. Train travel which was more than fifth of land travel after the war slumped to 9.5% of the total by 1967.

Post 1968 the decline continued  in staff  numbers and in travel. The long fall in train travel as a proportion of total travel only altered following privatisation in the 1990s. Today there are 10,261 route miles and 190,000 employees, with 2500 stations.

There was  no shortage of investment for much of the period. The railways were encouraged to shift from coal and steam power to diesel and electric. There was plenty of subsidy. Despite this,  season ticket prices rose every year in real terms, as the railway struggled to get enough revenue to keep up with its fast growing costs. The railway dumped lots of cheap seats on the market for off peak and unpopular routes, whilst charging very high prices for peak offerings on well travelled routes.

The railway failed to keep many of its former passengers, and did not make a compelling case to potential new customers. The nationalised railway failed , for example, to put in a short rail link from Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, to the mainline into London that passed nearby. It watched as London Transport put in a tube line extension instead, leaving passengers to use a route with many stops into the centre and with inadequate space for cases. The freight railway stopped competing for single wagon business, and failed to put in branch lines to the many new industrial estates which came to be located close to the motorway network instead.

There were many rounds of redundancies and job losses, many fare rises, and a permanent failure to reverse the decline of rail use for both passengers and freight. The advent of a more positive industry under the early years of privatisation reversed the downwards trend in travel and market share.

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188 Comments

  1. Prigger
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    I do not see how one gets an integrated cooperating joined up transport system if each sector is in competition one with the other to the extent that even an individual car or truck driver upsets the apple cart and indeed the tram and the bus and the trolley bus,and the mini-bus and the taxi company driver and his boss and everyone’s dog.
    Too many irregularly moving and irregular incompatible bits. Like 28 regiments of a European army trying to put a sentence together they will all understand. Bit of a bummer really.

    • NickC
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Prigger said: “I do not see how one gets an integrated cooperating joined up …”. That is because you are making an unspoken assumption. You assume there has to be central control to get a “cooperating joined up” system. Try substituting “food” for “transport”. And then thinking.

      • jerry
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        @NickC; You do show your ignorance! Every wondered what timetables are for and why railways need them/

        As for food, if there wasn’t integrated cooperating joined up thinking between private companies there would be no fresh food in the shops, probably non in the warehouses either, it would be rotting on the farms or dockside’s as the lorries would up in Scotland waiting for non perishable whisky when they should have been in Kent or were ever waiting for the harvest!

        • Hope
          Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          JR the Tories have destroyed bus use for elederly in the countryside, no trains operating either, how do you suppose these folk should get about to see GP and hospitals?

        • NickC
          Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, The point is that it does need nationalised monopolies to provide (“joined-up”) services, competition can do so too . . duh . . .

          • jerry
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            NickC; But that is not what you said, or even implied, in your rush to repeat the nationalisation=bad, private=good mantra.

            Indeed private railways can provide the cooperating joined up thinking, they did so before 1948 after all, but we are not getting any with the current privatised railway system based on TOCs, so if there can be no return to the pre 1948 ownership model then nationalisation is the better choice -even with the many problems caused by meddling govts and civil service.

          • NickC
            Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            Jerry, But in your rush to to repeat the nationalisation=good, private=bad mantra you overlook the fact that it does not need a nationalised monopoly (or even a private monopoly) to provide joined-up services. Which was the whole point of my comment to Prigger!

            The fact is both the pre-1948 railways (as you are forced to admit), and the pre-1923 railways – even back in the C19th – did. There is no reason why that cannot happen again. You have failed to provide any reason for the government to own the railways (or NR) as now, and as touted by your hero J Corbyn Esq.

          • jerry
            Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; Oh dear, I can see that you gave up reading my comment after the first paragraph…

            What do you not understand about the fact that I would prefer to see a post 1923 style privatised railway, and if you understood anything about rail transport you would understand why I do not wish to see a return to the fragmented economically unsustainable pre 1923 railway system, indeed both they and the current TOC system have many of the same problems.

            I hope no candles for anyone, unlike you @NickC. If I did I would not waste my time posting here, to people such as you, who only ever want to hear comforting prose on how wonderful your version of capitalism is.

  2. Peter Wood
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    trying to dissect the whats, whys and wherefores of nationalised businesses is a waste of time. They will ALL fail, IF they are considered as businesses. If a business is taken into public ownership it ceases, by definition, to be a business; it becomes a political, or ideological, project. The conventions of business cease to apply. Look at the Marxist idealogy of the early part of last century, and the Chavez experiment in this one. Stop wasting time.
    The question to be asked is what activities can only be provided by a government. I would suggest very few; clearly defence (although that has not always been the case), and perhaps healthcare (although the jury is still out on that one) To those that want a private healthcare system, again I suggest you ask yourself, when you visit a ‘for profit’ doctor or hospital; is the doctor/hospital working for my best outcome or his own?

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      @Peter Woods; What utter nonsense, nationalised industries do not stop being businesses any more than the Co-op or John Lewis have stopped being business! The only thing that changes is the management structure, and that is why UK nationalised industries fail, because MPs (and Lords) think they should run them, thus investments decisions have to be placed before the govt. of the day, perhaps a committee of MPs, thus delaying the process and when the politics finally make up their minds the costs have risen or the market has fallen.

      The article today is about railways, both the German DB and French SNCF are nationalised industries owned to this day by their respective States, you can hardly call either “failing”.

      • mickc
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        Err….in other words they cease to be businesses!

      • Peter Wood
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Jerry,
        Your first paragraph makes my point, nationalised industries (The Co-Op and John Lewis are not) come under the control of politicians, hence they cease to be governed by the laws of business, but become political instruments.
        I don’t know if Wikipedia is reliable, but from their report here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_subsidies, German rail subsidy Euro 17 Billion, French Subsidy, Euro 13.2 Billion. So perhaps you would like the same in the UK?

      • Daniel Chilvers
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        I do not think the continental railways are as good as they are reported in the UK. SNCF has built up debts of over EUR40bn which is now costing EUR 1.5bn a year to fund. The obsessive focus on high speed lines (more for national PR reasons) means there has been severe under investment in commuter lines which cannot be dealt with due to the now high debt. From what I can tell the French are busy introducing private competition into their network to help sort it out and make improvements. Google ‘SNCF France’, press translate and see what comes up.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          my experience of travelling on TGV trains is that they tend to be full of pensioners, who apparently get rather large discounts, but hardly any adults of normal working age as they are rather expensive for that demographic. the first class carriages have no food or drinks delivered in the way they would here.

          the cross border trains between France and Italy change crews at the border, and the Italian crews are far more fun and entertaining with the passengers than the French crews.

          as ever first hand experience helps cut through the hype and misinformation.

          • getahead
            Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            N’oubliez pas de composter votre billet!

          • jerry
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            Iain Gill; “the first class carriages have no food or drinks delivered in the way they would here.”

            Good, unless you are disabled (but I’m sure special arrangements can be made), for the rest of us the airline trolley service is a hazard – even more so on a high speed train. Are people that lazy in the UK, that they can no longer get up and walk to the buffet car, or is the real reason that trolleys are cheaper…

        • Diogenes
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          Interesting debate about the French train system. The tariff grid is such that anybody who can book long-distance (ie, TGV) up to 90 days in advance can get very low ticket prices. Imagine a Paris-Toulouse for 20 €, therefore the presence of “Pensioners” on TGVs. (Is Lord Lawson a usual customer?)

          Given the problems of daily commuters around regional métropoles (Paris but also Lille, Lyon, Toulouse, Rennes, Strasbourg, …),the French official government train transport policy for 2018 is (supposed to be) about the improvement of the TER (Regional Transport).

      • lojolondon
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        They are failing because they absorb huge amounts of public (ie. taxpayers) money. A competitive, privatised system would pay huge amounts in tax. My nomination for the next public organisation to go private is the Biased BBC.

        • jerry
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          @Peter Woods; BR was still a businesses in the usual sense of the meaning, customers still had to purchase tickets or pay for transit of their goods. I would agree that our nationalised health care system, the NHS, is not a business in that usual sense because of being free at the point of use/need.

          As for state subsidies, why not, after all for most it will be a “swings and roundabout” equation, slightly more on income tax but less road traffic and cheaper fairs. What is more when you consider the Billion passenger-km travelled whilst both German and French total subsidises are higher they because more passengers travel by train they would out lower per person

          @Daniel Chilvers; You have a nerve, talking about debt, remind me how much the private banks had to be bailed out for, something in the order of £500bn….

          • NickC
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, As usual you get it wrong – about government bailing out the banks this time. According to the National Audit Office the provision was in two parts: guarantees of £1029bn (not actually called on); and a cash outlay of £133bn.

          • jerry
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            NickC, As usual you get it wrong – if your figure is correct then it worse than I suggested, if provision has to be made then that amount has to available and accounted for, meaning that other taxpayer funded projects get shelved – as they6 were…..

          • NickC
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, Both the £1029bn and £133bn figures show your guess of “the order of £500bn” to be incorrect. Moreover, what part of “not actually called on” don’t you understand? The £1029bn was not called on, so not spent. Indeed the current level of support has reduced to £12bn of guarantees, and £46bn of cash. The rest has been repaid/recovered.

          • jerry
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; Yours is the economic illiteracy of unthinking political hyperbole.

            Possible expenditure still needs to be budgeted for – and when that support had to be arranged there was no certainty that it would not be needed, nor that any of the support would be recovered is used, indeed things could have gone from the very bad to even worse.

            The ‘capitalist’ banking crash of 2007-8, purely in the UK alone (even at your £46bn “cash” figure), makes Healey’s £2.3bn IMF bailout of 1976 look like a village tea party by comparison – even when adjusted.

          • NickC
            Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            Jerry, No matter how you twist and turn, you got the amounts wrong. And their use wrong, as well. If the guarantees had had to be spent then then that would have been added to UK debt. Which is what you originally claimed. But the guarantees were just that, not spent, so not added to our debt.

          • jerry
            Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; I’m using your figures!….

      • Bob
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        @Jerry
        The thing that keeps a business efficient is competition, if you take that away there’s no particular need to be efficient.

        p.s. What is your point about the co-op and John Lewis?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          The effective competition is from what has long ago become a far superior means of transport, namely the automotive road vehicle, and in most cases the older, now obsolescent, means of passenger transport only survive because there are substantial minorities who do not have access to their own cars and/or are unable to drive one.

        • jerry
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          @Bob; But competition is not efficient either, especially when far to many passengers have only a “Hobson’s Choice”.

          Lets face it, if the current railway system worked, never mind being “efficient” we would not be having this sort of debate, nor would totally level headed commuters (and one-time Tory voters) be siding with the Labour party on this.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          And a very strange definition of what a business is from Jerry.
          As long as people buy something it’s a business.
          It has to be free to be nationalised.
          Nothing to do with ownership or monopoly.

          • jerry
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; I said no such thing! Oh and by your rational the UK water companies are still nationalised…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

            Water companies like gas and electric companies are owned by their shareholders.
            They are not nationalised.

            BR was a nationalised organisation.

          • jerry
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

            Edward2; First you said “As long as people buy something it’s a business.”, but people bought train tickets from BR, so by YOUR definition BR could not have been a nationalised industry…

            Now you claim that “”companies are owned by their shareholders”, but a nationalised industry or company has shareholders, us the taxpayers, our investment being over-seen by the government in much the same way as a investment management company might (or that is what the Govt. should be doing)….

            The only strange definitions being posted are from you @Edward2 and @Bob. Quite frankly neither of you understand what “Nationalisation” is and is not, but then you are not interested, in your minds it’s part of nasty Socialism and thus bad, not a valid alternative in certain circumstances – you do know that Amtrak in the USA is effectively a nationalised rail operating company, being set up during the Nixon Presidency?

          • Bob
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            @Jerry

            “a nationalised industry or company has shareholders, us the taxpayers, our investment being over-seen by the government in much the same way as a investment management company might”

            No Jerry, the govt don’t run businesses like the private sector do. Nationalisation removes the profit motive, and the business becomes a tax gobbling job creation scheme staffed by slackers with no idea of customer service and their pension liabilities soon become unmanageable with politics driving decision making to the detriment of the business.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

            You are going round in pedantic circles Jerry
            Read your original post.

          • jerry
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            @Bob; In your opinion…

            @Edward2; You were the one going round in pedantic circles of your own making, even going as far as contradicting yourself within two comments!

          • Edward2
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            Jerry going for a hundred posts on one thread.
            Give it a rest.

          • Bob
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry
            Look at the history of nationalisation, GPO, NHS, BBC, British Leyland, a litany of inefficiency, bloated bureaucracy, customer abuse and unmanageable pension liabilities ultimately leading to abject failure.

            You seem to have a fixation with statism; are you a refugee from one of the failed communist dictatorships? – that would explain a lot.

          • jerry
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Considering your input so far in this debate Eddie, take your own advice….

            @Bob,. Yes look at the history of nationalisation in the the UK, failed policies from govt, unlike in Germany for example (even the USA do things better then the UK does). It is not nationalisation per se that’s the problem but our seesaw political system. Just look at the four industries you cited, non of the problems in those industries was caused by then being state owned apart from how politicians tried to micro-manage them for political gain or (in the case of BLMC/BL) inherited problems that were the reason why it was nationalised.

            I do not have any fixations, unlike you with your private=good, public=bad mantra. I believe in what is best, or at least second best, not just what ever fits a political dogma and never mind the consequence.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      One of the reasons defence is state owned is that only the state has the legal right to bear arms for the purpose of killing people either in UK or abroad. The railways are somewhat different. One of the actuarial tasks undertaken by them is calculating how many injuries or deaths would be avoided per pound of investment in safety measures. Believe it or not, whilst safety is important it is not worth infinite amounts of money. The same goes for any mode of public transport. But where to draw the line and if they get it wrong, whatever that means, is it manslaughter, is it wilful negligence? We make such decisions in our daily lives all the time and sometimes we do get it wrong with consequences for others as well as ourselves. Why is a corporation any different? Because they can afford to be more precise in their calculations and more people are likely to be involved in any one incident. But it is still managed risk, not guaranteed safety.

  3. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Difficult to know what to say.
    Market share isn’t really a valid concept here. Comparing market share with road , coach or air is comparing apples with pears. It’s more instructive to say what SHOULD happen when there is a pair of parallel metal tracks running between major hubs, terminating in centres of those hubs. This is an advantage not shared by either road or air. So what SHOULD happen is that a set of comfortable people-holding containers, optimal in capacity, should be projected along those lines carrying their cargo at optimal but safe speed, stopping to collect and drop-off other passengers en route when necessary and at optimal points along the way.

    It’s an amazing 21st century opportunity for somebody, probably only second to somebody being given the NHS to optimise, just by clever use of existing infrastructure + new technology + skills as needed, not as presently available. Like the NHS, it needs metaphorically tearing up and starting again with a completely new model.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      Incidentally, this is the antithesis of Mayism-talking drivel then doing nothing.

      A completely new model is needed, and frankly Corbyn is more likely to lead to that by a circuitous route than is May, or anyone in her orbit.

      We really do need a change.

      • jerry
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        @SJS; Indeed… I’ve suggested this before, people do not necessarily want Corbyn never mind Momentum BUT they are totality sick and tired of the status quo, just as they were in 1979…

        What are their options apart from Labour though, UKIP offers Thatcherism on stilts to some degree but without the intellect, the LibDems are wedded to the EU even though the voters are not, the conservatives just offer more of the same old same old, the Greens have little to no economic understanding, the true “money tree” party.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          A lot of the best ideas are coming from outside of politics, Jordan B Peterson for instance although wrong about some things, is broadly correct in his analysis of the politically correct nonsense from the political class and the mess it has got us into. Granted he is Canadian, but a lot of his views are valid here too.

          Expecting the tribes in parliament to have a clue is a waste, we need new ideas and new leaders.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Once something is nationalised it, almost always, fails to respond to its paying customers. If they are not paying at the point of use (as with the NHS or education) it is generally even worse).

    Much more likely they will just demand more and more taxpayer subsidies or “investment” as they like to call it. Money they will nearly always waste in one way or another.

    So post the bundled reshuffle it seems we still have to suffer tax, ’til the pips squeak, Philip Hammond and the LibDem climate alarmist Greig Clark. Can we therefore assume that T May is going to continue with her broken compass, socialist light path? She seem far more concerned that we have more women & “minorities” in government than that we have the best people & a sensible sense of direction.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      The BBC seems very excited by the thought of Oprah Winfrey as president. Even going to the extent of getting an actor to read out her entire speech. The speech was more of the the same lefty, PC, emotion over brain, drivel that did so much to put everyone off Hillary Clinton. Clearly Oprah is rather better than Hillary, but then who isn’t.

      I suspect Trump will get a second term if his health holds out under the surface he is doing the right things for the economy on energy and taxation in particular.

      I must check out the current odds on his winning a second term.

      • ale bro
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        the BBC has never found a US Democrat it didn’t like. The BBC coverage of the US election was one long Clintorama. I really wish the BBC had credible US coverage.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          yes having lived in the US, and speaking regularly to Americans, mainly friends out there, I felt more in touch with the reality out there than the BBC was with its massive budget and numbers of staff supposedly tapping into what was going on out there. My assessment turned out to be 100% spot on, and the BBC completely off the mark, far from being the first time. The BBC is blinded by its group think.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          Indeed they were orgasmic over the (entirely predictable) dire failures of Obama and Bliar.

      • rose
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        I liked the young African American woman who sweetly explained to Newsnight that celebrities are not the answer. She said they had plenty last time and now they needed policies, not speeches. Heresy! And they broadcast her!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Some good policies from the UK government would be very welcome indeed it would be amazing.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Trump is vulnerable if what was revealed in this new book is true. In particular promising to reduce immigration to the voters, by for instance cutting back on H1-B visas and their abuse, while simultaneously telling big business he is happy to keep the immigration floodgates open… its a dangerous position for him to be in. It makes him as bad as those he wanted to remove from the swamp. The voters wanted and need to see real impact on things like reductions on H1-B visas, and the reality is the voters are correct and big business is wrong (for lots of reasons), if no real action and no reduction in H1-B comes Trumps whole position is in danger.

        Same with Ms May and her promises to reduce immigration, while doing the opposite, and continuing to print intra company transfer visas like confetti.

        What will replace them and how though is a big question, it doesnt look like the conventional political class and journalism will do it. Something else needs to emerge.

        And as for a UK Government which has not even raised the immigration issue with the EU negotiators, it tells us a whole lot about our political class.

  5. StanleyW
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Todays effort is a history lesson from one particular point of view..it’s hard to know what you want us to comment on..after March 2019 we’re going to have plenty of time to agonise over these former ideological arguments..it seems

  6. Harry
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    What is the point in all of this..why does everything have to be hard right or hard left? is there no middle ground in this country that things can’t be worked out in a sensible way?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Quite correct.
      The problem is that things used to be done for the good of the country and community by well-meaning folk. There are still a few out there who think like that, and are also capable of coming up with sensible solutions. However, somehow, we seem to have been landed in the past 25 years with well-meaning but useless folk in charge, such as May or Major, or others we could name who are clever and able but less well meaning and therefore out for their own interests.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      What do you mean? Corbyn is proposing the Complete nationalisation of rail and other industries. JR – unlike Mrs May’s govt – is using coherent argument and facts to point out that this will be an expensive disaster, as it has always been in the past.

      • jerry
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        @Richard1; The only incoherent argument is the one that uses dogma to repeat the Private=good, Nationalisation=bad mantra. Other countries, for example Germany and France, have state owned railway systems and their abilities to serve the customer (both passenger and freight) is far better than the TOCs here in the UK can.

        • getahead
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          With heavy subsidisation we are informed.

        • mancunius
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:01 am | Permalink

          Yes, I notice a lot of those who’ve never lived and worked in Germany seem to glibly praise all its societal works and pomps in season and out of season. Clearly you haven’t been following German public opinion or the country’s press coverage of its rail system. A once exemplary service has been overcome by problems of management and industrial strife in recent years. I just googled it in German and came up immediately with the news headlines:
          ‘Is the German rail service as bad as everybody thinks it is?’ (ZDF) The story begins: ‘All those who commute to work by rail during the rush hour can doubtless confirm the view that nothing seems to function at all…They are united in their anger…the really high rate of late arrivals…’ etc Further headlines within the first five Google hits refer to cynically increased prices, the stubborn and damaging strikes, the rail company’s endemic lateness in paying suppliers’ bills, the featherbedding of many of the staff…
          Of course, you could have pointed to Swiss Rail, a still excellently run system – but then they’re not in the EU, are they…;-)

          I doubt there’s much the DB can teach us; they have much the same problems as BR.

          • jerry
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

            @mancunius; “I doubt there’s much the DB can teach us; they have much the same problems as BR.”

            Only someone utterly clueless, reliant only on the German MSM (no doubt via the internet), would suggest that our railway system is better than DB are.

            Only the hard right ever think that all strikes are ‘damaging’, only the right think that all strikes are wrong, on the other hand many of the paying Plebs who actually use the railways (both here in the UK and in Germany) realise that there are genuine grievances and problems, some to do with passenger safety. You might also find a clue about the true state of the Swiss rail system, not such a sweet running timepiece if the truth be told.

        • NickC
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, Your argument amounts to Private=bad; Nationalisation=good. How is that different in principle? You have not provided any rational argument to support your assertion, nor your claim that the opposite is “dogma”.

          The rational case is that, where competition is viable, provided that competition is overseen by the rule of law, competition always delivers a better outcome. And less political control.

          • jerry
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; I never said it was!

            I’m not actually in favour of nationalisation, but that is a better solution to the problems of today than the status quo. My preferred method of privatisation has always been a return to four or five geographical private railway companies responsible for their whole system, track and building infrastructure, passenger and freight trains etc. Through train track access-rights (“running powers” as they used to be called) could be been written into law, as was the case before 1948.

            Competition is not viable on a linear transport system that relies on a working-timetable to operate smoothly, which the railways do by nature, any competition comes from outside of the industry, from road, air and shipping (in the case of cross-boarder European travel).

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      No middle ground at all. Just the socialist May/Hammond agenda or even more socialist Corbyn one.

    • getahead
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Harry, with the country being controlled by the “establishment” what we are getting is the middle way, but it is not the voters’ middle way, it is the establishment’s middle way.

  7. Mark B
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    And what effects did the cuts proposed by Dr. Beeching have ?

    With the rise of the car and government spending on motorways is it any surprise that rail travel began to fall. Old, dirty, unreliable and more and more costly, it was inevitable what was to follow.

    But as the car has become more popular, increases in population and housing plus, more road freight, rail could indeed make a return.

    What we need is a new model. The infrastructure, including the trains and stations themselves, need to be brought into public ownership. The purchasing power of the government can make rail more affordable if properly planned. The management / administration and staff must remain in the private sector. They can bid to run the franchise and part of that bid can be to show how cheaply, but realistically, they can charge their fares.

    Removing the capital costs would help to reduce the cost of fares and the need for government subsidy. If a private rail provider fails, the franchise can be sold to another private management company. We will always own the stock.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Well done Dr Beeching he saved the taxpayer a fortune on pointless and largely unused expensive lines. Now we have May and Hammond building new white elephants such as HS2 wasting vast sums of taxpayers money.

      In many cases with Beeching it was cheaper to give the few users the taxi fares!

  8. jerry
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Once again you fail to lay any historical facts about why the railways were nationalised, I wonder why. Once again you say that the UK railways were not kept short of vital investment, that is untrue, the only period were the railways were fully funded (originally, on terms very favourable to the govt though) was between 1955 and 1965, then of course you fail to mention the major reason why so many people stopped using the railways from the mid 1960s – the Beeching Cuts, other than to blame them on the railways and not the govt. (or Minister [1]) who commissioned the reports, it has since been recognised that if a would-be rail passenger or freight has to start their journey by road they will complete their journey the same way.

    In the 1980s the railways were woefully underfunded compared to our European neighbours, whilst both France and Germany were developing high speed trains and lines the UK was slagging off BR and their under-funded APT project, eventually abandoned and the technology sold off to other countries train builders, only to be sold back to the UK in the shape of the Class 390 trains for the WCML…

    You fail to mention “Network South East” initiative by BR (no doubt because it doesn’t your argument), that saw passenger numbers grow significantly and of course it was this which feed into the increased passenger numbers post 1994, not privatisation per se.

    Reply The cuts took place throughout the long period, and large sums of investment were paid by taxpayers every year

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; Why did you remove my footnote, the facts are known, they are in the public domain (for a long time now, heck it was known at the time if people bothered to check at Companies House) and the person is long dead. Nor did I actually name the person!

      As for your reply, utterly irrelevant, the French and German taxpayer properly funded their nationalised railways and look at them now, as well as building their own motorway networks, I believe both still have railway wagon load freight too, with private sidings etc…

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Jerry

        Have to agree that the French are certainly investing in their infrastructure, not only rail but road as well judging by the new roads we see being built every year when we go on holiday.

        Perhaps they do not have the same expensive time consuming discussions and inquiries that we do, which would stop them acting for decades before they either start or abandon projects.

        If you want to travel on a railway that works like clockwork take a look at the Swiss, trains arrive and leave to the second or did when we took a rail based holiday there a few years ago.

        • 37/6
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          Both French and Swiss trains are mainly nationalised and heavily subsidised.

      • Alison
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Quick comment re French railways, for info, and not seeking to defend UK railways, now or in recent decades: End Nov, across the Channel, I watched an item on French news re SNCF data released by the new French railways regulation authority (Arafer), reporting worrying falls in French train usage. Ex TGV, on average regional trains are not more than 25% full. These trains are heavily subsidised (eg 65% in Alsace, over 90% in Limousin). The TGV figures are up because the SNCF introduced a cheap fare offer (Ouig0). (data quickly checked on Liberation: http://www.liberation.fr/france/2017/11/16/ceux-qui-voyagent-aiment-de-moins-en-moins-prendre-le-train_1610541 )

        Anecdotally re German railways, my experience recently is of frequent signal faults, breakdowns; fellow German travellers confirmed frequent problems, delayed, cancelled trains …

  9. Duncan
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Keep the railways or indeed any other organisation out of the hands of the unions. When these political entities poison any organisation you just know the customer and the taxpayer will always suffer on the altar of political leverage

    The rail unions are determined to undermine TOC’s. Their political agenda is to damage TOC’s, damage their reputation and incite passenger discontent to force a political solution which for the unions is total nationalisation and a massive increase in union power to control the movement of traffic by rail.

    It is unfortunate that we have a government far too willing to pacify such damaging activity

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      @Duncan; Quite the opposite in fact, the one set of people who know what is needed are the workers, both France and Germany understand the concept of this, and just look at how their nationalised railways flourished. Of course both also had sympathetic political leaders and their govts.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Quite a few UK TOC’s are owned/ controlled by continental state-owned railway companies. And it appears they are doing reasonably well, both financially and in terms of customer satisfaction. Isn’t it ironic that the British state is incapable of performance that the German or Dutch state deliver on the UK state’s home turf?

      • NickC
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, Quite the opposite. In fact. Because the “workers” (employees) are not the Unions. And the Unions are not the employees. And the Unions have a particular, usually marxist, axe to grind over-riding any concern for the paying passengers.

        • jerry
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; Best tell that to the German and French then, never mind the Swedish and Dutch etc. – all who have better railways, better living standards, better economies.

          Once again all you prove is your own bias, your own political dogma, you and those who think like you are the people who are destroying this country, not the unions (any more)…

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      The unions are just taking advantage of a monopoly provider to enrich their members.

      It is what unions do and is why customers of monopoly providers need protection from unions

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Indeed and a PM who wants “to build on EU workers rights”.

      I see that Carrie Gracie the BBC editor says she refused an offer of a £45,000 pay rise. Am I the only one who thinks that £45K just on its own (with the generous BBC pension scheme on top) is about the right pay level for someone in her position at the BBC? Yet another Oxford PPE person I see.

      If she thinks she is worth more in the market why does she not resign and get a job somewhere else? The real scandal at the BBC is how overpaid and over pensioned so many senior people are there. All of them, almost without exception, are dire, PC, lefty, chip on the shoulder, arts graduates it seems.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        That’s “Luvies” for you… I think she was on £135,000 and offered another £45,000. None of them are worth that sort of money.

        The Duty Manager at BBC New Broadcasting House probably gets half that amount, with real responsibility that goes along with the job…

      • jerry
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        @LL; “Am I the only one who thinks that £45K just on its own (with the generous BBC pension scheme on top) is about the right pay level”

        It would be if that was the pay level for the grade, but apparently it is not, apparently men are getting more. Once again you singularly miss the point, in your rush to try and rubbish the BBC – or do you think that women should be paid less than their male colleagues doing the same work/role?!

        My only disagreement with the lady in question is that she should have resigned from the BBC, not just her previous role within, if she thinks there is inequality in pay, so why didn’t she, perhaps this an industry wide problem and not just a BBC issues as some in the UK media are making it…

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          gender discrimination in permanent staff is easily challenged in employment tribunals. unlike lots of other kinds of evil corporate discrimination.

          but the whole way the issue is framed by the chattering classes and legislated misses a lot of points, and misses the biological differences which tend to allow men to take more risks in their career, work longer hours, work longer away from home, and other such stuff which is mostly inadequately accounted for in any attempt to analyse gender pay differences.

          Again the views of Jordan B Peterson in his youtube lectures on gender discrimination laws etc are well worth a look, he has a lot to say on why these issues are focussed on.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Did she resign her limited company or was she employed?

          Instead of moaning about gender discrimination at the BBC she should be berating her agent for not creating a brand worth paying more for.

          Assuming these people are at the top of their game one supposes these amounts are around the going rate but it does seem rather a lot for their “talents”

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Not true, Duncan.

      The unions have been prepared to overlook lots of things – including sub standard cabs, walking routes, yard lighting… and on, short break times, 2am, 3am whatever stupid-o-clock book-on times.

      • jerry
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        @37/6; You should try being a self employed lorry driver, assuming adequate rest periods, they leave when the customer demands, and often have to park up in poorly lit or unlit locations…

  10. Richard1
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Twice as many people now use the railways as was the case when it was nationalised, and the railways now pay a dividend to the state as opposed to requiring a subsidy. But it is of course c. 75% nationalised. Perhaps it would do better still if it was further privatised?

    • Peter Parsons
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      To quote from the first page of the ORR’s most recent rail finance report: http://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/22982/rail-finance-statistical-release-2015-16.pdf

      “Net government support to the rail industry totalled £4.8billion in 2015-16 (excluding Network Rail loans).”

      In the last year of BR the figure was about £2billion (so less than half).

      The only states the railways pay a dividend to are the French, German, Italian, Dutch etc. states, all of whom make a profit out of running UK railways.

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      @Richard1; “Twice as many people now use the railways as was the case when it was nationalised”

      Thanks for the laugh!

      Do remind us what the UK population was in 1948, and what it was in 2017?… If you are correct, taking population growth into account, what you are boasting about is a cut in the number, not an increase.

      The UK railways are still being subsidised to something like £4.4bn.

  11. Bob
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Do you think ability or ethnicity and gender should be the criteria for selecting government ministers?

    • rose
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I am a married British Caucasian mother but I feel much better represented by the bachelor Kwasi Kwarteng than I ever could by Amber Rudd or Mrs May or a host of other “Conservative” women. This idea that one has to be served by people who look like one or are the same sex is completely wrong-headed. I bet Mrs May and Gavin Barlow go to the best doctors and dentists they can find, not just to people of the right description, whatever that might be.

      • rose
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        And you may be sure we won’t get Kwasi Kwarteng – because she doesn’t tolerate intellectuals or Etonians, even scholars, and he is both.

        • rose
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, Gavin Barwell. I wonder why I couldn’t remember.

          • rose
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:30 am | Permalink

            PS If the PM wants the Cabinet and government to look like the country, she could make an easy start by having them 52% Brexiteer, or maybe more now that people have come over.

          • Bob
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

            @rose

            ” If the PM wants the Cabinet and government to look like the country, she could make an easy start by having them 52% Brexiteer, or maybe more now that people have come over.”

            she meant alike racially not ideologically.

            Ideological diversity isn’t one of her objectives, which is why it’s Sir Nick, rather than Sir Nigel.

  12. Original Richard
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve never thought that replacing a public monopoly with a private monopoly would produce a better outcome for the public in the long-term. Privatisation only works if it produces competition.

    I’ve also never understood why the public could not continue to own the railways and having private operators bid to run sections of the railway with the lowest bidder rather than the highest bidder winning the job.

    Then at least we have a chance to have an integrated system with pricing which is consistent and rational.

    The technological way forward for the railways is for driverless trains, which should be easier to implement than driverless vehicles.

  13. Richard1
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    It is ridiculous that shrieking leftists have managed to force Toby Young from his position on this new student committee. The creation of three new free schools is a real achievement which will improve lives and prospects for thousands of children. What have all the shrieking leftists ever done? Mrs May should have been more robust and told them to get lost.

    • rose
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      She should have gone on the offensive and demanded to know why they were ganging up on him? Why did they want him out? Was it because he is now a conservative, having been born a socialist? Mrs T would have.

  14. David Murfin
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Discussion about the railways always seems to centre on the needs of passengers.
    Have the railways ceased to carry freight?
    Last summer I took an unusual journey for me, which involved waiting on a platform (hardly a station) on the Trent Valley line for a mid-afternoon London train. The train was half empty. Five or six long freight trains passed me before my train arrived – and I thought freight was shifted at night? What went past was unsuitable for flying, and would have needed a fleet of heavy trucks to shift by road. The M6 round Birmingham is busy enough as it is.

    • mike fowle
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Last year I was able to do a tour of Felixstowe dock, the country’s busiest container port. It has three rail termini and last year handled 1 million TEUs by rail for the first time.

  15. Blue and Gold
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Mrs. Thatcher, as with many things, was partly to blame for the mess that national rail is in.
    She looked down on people who used public transport and failed to invest in the railway system. Way back when I did InterRail in Europe after indulging in the superb railways of the European system, coming back to the UK was like coming back to the stone age.

    Things have not changed much.

    The Far Right Tory MPs are just as much a danger to this country as the Far Left and I agree with another comment that everyone should ‘meet in the middle’.

  16. Duncan
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    WE NEED TO GET RID OF THERESA MAY NOW

    Her liberal left pandering is seriously damaging my party. She now represents a significant threat to the future electoral prospects of my party and her disgusting pandering to the squealing lefty Twitterati shows a pathetic weakness

    She’s no Conservative. She’s a liberal left cuckoo

    Stop pandering to the left AND START ATTACKING THEM

    Understand that the silent majority are not politically active and are not affected by lefty views

    Attack all areas of liberal left bias AND STOP APOLOGISING

    • MickN
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      I am heartily sick of seeing people being slaughtered by the PC Twiterati mob for things that they said in jest years ago. It should be pointed out to Mrs May that Tony Blair used to jump on the mob bandwagon and try to be all things to all people. All it got him was to be the most despised politician in this country, hated in equal measure by his own party as by others.
      STOP jumping on any bandwagon that criticises Donald Trump and joining the deranged howlings of the pc hate mob.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      Why is this comment not deleted? It is offensive, lacks foundation and is clearly off-topic. Whoever actually does the editing, keep in mind that you may want an audience of mainstream people.

      • NickC
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Rien, Indeed why was your comment not deleted? It was offensive, lacks foundation and is clearly off-topic. We don’t like censorship here, but maybe you do in the EU?

  17. Ed Mahony
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    I think some Tories have their economic model very wrong. I’m talking about those Tories (and i don’t know your views exactly) who look to the USA as their main economic model in general.

    1) Scandinavian countries have very high public sector workers, but relatively high GDP per capita, and relatively low social ills (unlike USA that has terrible social problems). Japan and S Korea have relatively low public sector workers, but lower GDP per capita than the Scandinavian countries.

    2) Tories who look to the USA, often have nothing to say about Silicon Valley. It’s all about looking at New York’s financial services (and/or Singapore) – important as financial services are. But you don’t want all your eggs in one basket especially what we learned in last financial crisis.

    3) Germany has much higher productivity than us. And they export far more than us to the rest of the world (yes, euro helps but not all about the euro). Germany, like California, has a strong high tech industry.

    So some/many Tories are looking at the USA too much, and looking at it in the wrong way:

    1) They focus too much on New York’s financial services (important as they are – even worse, some Tories focus even more on Singapore)
    2) They ignore, to an important degree, the importance of California’s Silicon Valley and trying to replicate that here in the UK and the rich benefits of that in terms of jobs, productivity and revenue)
    3) They ignore USA’s terrible social problems, tied up to a degree, with its economic model
    4) They ignore the successes of the Scandinavian countries (with high public sector workers, high GDP per capita, and relatively lower social problems).
    5) They ignore the great success of Germany in terms of low productivity and high exports of high tech and tech manufacturing in general.

    Reply THis is nonsense. I know of no Conservative who speaks or writes on economic matters who thinks in the way you describe. You can find my views on this site, which stress the importance of new tec business and have never praised New York financial services.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      And the reason for this, i think, is that we’re caught up in reactionary ideology here in the UK, instead of focusing objectively more on what works best abroad, what to avoid, and so on.

      I might be wrong. But that is how it appears to me looking at the evidence.

      • rose
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        I think it is an advantage in some ways to be an authoritarian country with an authoritarian past. We are not and America is not. But most of the big continental countries are. You are right to say a lot of argy bargy goes on here rather than constructive building. But in the end I think of Enoch who used to say: Does every generation have to learn again the lesson that there are more important things than that the trains run on time?

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

          Where are these “big authoritarian countries” in Europe? Russia?

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I’m not saying you do. But Mr Fox, and others, come over as if they want to replicate the American economic model. Meanwhile, I’ve never heard him speak of California’s tech industry or about what countries such as Sweden–Denmark and Germany are doing right, and about how to avoid the social ills of America
      Best regards

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        And also countries such as Netherlands and Switzerland

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Then there are those Tories who look to the Singapore model (again not saying you do, but certainly there are Tories who do). This concerns me a lot.

      • Andy
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        They have no idea which ‘model’ to look to – because they didn’t realise they needed to. Seriously, they spent 30+ years bitching about the EU and its predecessors and – at no point – did any of them ever come up with a plan to make things better. Some of them have already learned, to their cost, that compromise is a key skill in politics, diplomacy, economics and trade. Those that haven’t yet learned this most basic lesson have a shock coming their way.

    • NickC
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Ed Mahoney, You go on and on about “California’s Silicon Valley” quite overlooking the fact that many of the Silicon Valley companies (Apple, Microsoft, Intel) are over 40 years old. And even the newer ones (Facebook, Google) are hardly revolutionary because they use technology created by the older businesses.

      The UK lost out when Labour ditched our space program (which propelled the USA’s integrated circuit technology industry, underpinning all the internet services) and because Tony Benn’s white heat of technological revolution (British Leyland?) was dated even in the 1970s. You are copying him.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        @Nick,

        I’m not just talking about the Apples of this world (but anyway what’s wrong with that? – have you got a better sort of company / industry to focus on!) but new companies like them popping up all the time. Thousands. All of which add up to a lot. And my argument isn’t just Silicon Valley only. It’s High Tech in general, including everything from building parts to satellites to building robotic equipment used in operations etc. And related to all this, software, digital media, digital data, and so on. It’s huge.

        To compare my argument to Tony Benn and British Leyland is frankly utterly bizarre. Sorry, but it’s like you’re caught in some kind of anti-socialist reactionary time warp. Socialism still a problem but not what it used to be (Corbyn a blip). Real economic concerns are how to we respond to / go with the rise in:

        1. Globalisation (I’m in favour but there are still challenges)
        2. Automation (I’m in favour but there are still challenges)
        3. China
        4. Low Productivity in the UK

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          By the way, my background is in the high tech industry (servers, storage, software and digital marketing – over 15 years).
          I’m also an anti-socialist (but not obsessed by socialism).
          A capitalist.
          And a Conservative.

          Perhaps that might explain why i find you comparing me to Tony Benn and British Leyland utterly bizarre.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        @Nick,

        Obviously for a government to invest directly in a company – any company, British Leyland or whatever – would be ridiculous. I’m talking about soft, creative investments to encourage the high tech industry in general. For example

        – government-owned high tech hedge fund, such as Yozma Venture Capital in Israel in 1990. A massive success, leading to Tel Aviv becoming a key world hug in the high tech industry.
        – Subsidies for firms in targettd technolgies
        – Subsidies for leading researchers to move to the UK
        – Awards for entrepeneurs
        – Support to high tech venture investors wanting to invest in the UK
        – Support to entrepreneurs in general
        – Government focus on getting young people trained in coding as well as tech training in general. Ireland has been very good at this. Recently two Irish men in their 20’s, from Limerick University, have become billionaires after setting up a software company in California.
        – building first class roads and railways and beautiful towns and houses between Oxford and Cambridge to encourage tech companies to invest here

        I’m only scratching the surface here.

        Regards

  18. Bert Young
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Travel in all its forms has become much more personalised and those systems that attempt to provide it have to adapt . The capital costs involved are considerable and a reasonable rate of return has to be achieved if its survival is to continue . Moving the increasing population around is more complex – land is expensive and its availability is running out ; home based enterprise is a way forward and offers some of the solution . Rail travel has only a short term future .

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Actually I think all forms of collective public transport may have only a short term future if driverless vehicles are fully exploited. Why walk to a bus stop with your luggage and try to catch a bus to somewhere near where you want to go and then have another walk to your final destination, if instead you can book a low cost driverless taxi to take you and your luggage door to door? No human driver means no costs of a human driver, so it would be more like being ferried around by a family member or a friend but without them having to commit their own time to do that for you, and as for parking problems they could more or less disappear as the vehicles took themselves off to their depots when not needed on the road.

      • Diogenes
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Read too much sci-fi recently?
        Whether it is with or without a driver, a “car” takes space on the road, and congestion in areas of “strong demand” will remain the same or get worse. Please tell me how the driverless car will improve the twice daily school runs or the summer migration.

  19. Andy
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The London Underground and Overground completely disprove your point.

    Effectively state run railways and, yet, probably the best in the country and among the best in the world.

    A smart, well run, modern system (despite its age) which is growing sensibly.

    TfL also leads the way in innovation. We forget how the Oyster Card transformed travel in London.

    Nearly two decades on from that most private rail companies have nothing similar.

    TfL has trains which can also basically drive themselves. What is lacking is not the technology but support among the public for such a move (and a politician with the balls to push it through).

    TfL puts virtually every other rail organisation in the country to shame.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      deary me this is laughable

      the tube is run by the staff despite and not because of the management

  20. Peter
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    “Post 1968 the decline continued in staff numbers and in travel. The long fall in train travel as a proportion of total travel only altered following privatisation in the 1990s. ”

    This was not a consequence of privatisation though.

    The rise of the car and the Beeching cuts took passengers away from rail.

    The problems of too many cars – parking issues, petrol crises and congestion charges – have pushed many travellers back onto the railways.

  21. Epikouros
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    The perfect example of what occurs when the state is in charge of a business that provides a good or service. Others are the coal industry, steel(already mentioned by you), NHS to mention a few the most prominent not to mention when they rescue failing ones like British Leyland or give misguidedly hugh subsidies to things like renewables and other green initiatives. Needless to say they all fail miserably, or are kept going at massive cost and waste of resources. The cost of course is not coming out of the governments pockets but the taxpayers(so why should they care if it is ill spent as long as it gains them popularity with the unions and the voters who are deluded into thinking that it is justifiable on social justice grounds) and resources are being denied from those business that can use them productively to ones that do not.

  22. 37/6
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    The material time is the decade before privatisation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_of_the_privatisation_of_British_Rail#/media/File:UK_total_rail_subsidies_1986-2015.png

    This is a graph of government subsidies from the late ’80s to 2015. Around £2.5bn in 1994 to what I’d say looks like £6bn average to 2015 after including the spike in subsidy to £8bn after the Hatfield crash – itself a result of under investment.

    The return of passengers to rail is not because rail is popular but because road travel and city living has become so difficult.

    We’d better face up to it. We have been completely wrong footed by an unexpected population boom – 538,000 increase in 2015. Around 4 million new people since privatisation, most of them living where people want to work.

    This renders all of the previous decades of policy on the shift from rail to road totally and utterly wrong. Had, say, mass immigration been an open and popular policy then a programme of rail building would have taken place before hand.

    It didn’t.

    Privateers have empowered the unions because the railway (unlike steel/coal) is booming but in all the wrong ways.

    And the *minor* issue of huge population growth on rail demand does not feature in your post, from which I infer the subject is still taboo.

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Amendment – My £6bn is an overestimate but that graph looks well above the £2.5bn 1994 figure anyway. There was a spike in subsidy prior to privatisation too, possibly an enticement for potential investors.

      I can’t find figures for subsidy today but the reduction is accompanied by fare rises.

      Incidentally here is a chart of public/private ownership involvement in some of the EU railways that many extol for their levels of service, putting ours to shame.

      http://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/2735/rvfm-civity-benchmarking-090511.pdf#page=40

      I accept that Network Rail being ‘private’ is wrong.

  23. Rien Huizer
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Simple question: why are about half the train operating companies controlled by foreign state or semi-state train companies? They appear to make at least some money. Why was the UK state unable to run its own railways profitably? I find this very odd. The UK has a rail system (gauge, signalling, tunnels and bridges for smaller trains etc) that differs a lot from the foreign ones. So they have no advantage in buying rolling stock. They have no advantage in installing their own control systems. So where are the natural efficiency gains these operaters bring to the UK situation?

  24. DaveM
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    OT JR. Will you be telling the PM what job you want today? Isn’t that how reshuffles work in the twilight zone of May’s No10?

    OMG – never before has a PM been so out of control.

    • Andy
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Amusing, isn’t it? Brexit is to blame for all this. The Tory government is, quite literally, dying before our eyes. It’s really enjoyable to watch.

      The particularly fun thing is they think putting a different slightly-older-than-middle-aged white man in charge of the party will help. Add in a couple of ‘ethnics’ and they think the job’s done.

      Seriously. Support for the Conservatives among anyone aged under 50 has collapsed. We spend our days, literally, laughing at how inept and irrelevant you are. Jeremy Corbyn has been a God-send for you. Without him Labour would annihilate you. Seriously, you’d lose 150 seats. Wokingham would be a marginal. A major political realignment is coming within the next decade – with Brexit and age being the two defining factors that will kill the Tories off permanently.

      Reply Not what the current polls suggest. Nor are there any plans to have another election as we have just had one where Conservatives won many more seats than Labour

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        “Brexit is to blame for all this.”

        Of course it is, if only we had voted to stay in the EU we would still have the wonderful David Cameron as Prime Minister … not to worry, three quarters of the new cabinet supported your side in the referendum:

        http://facts4eu.org/news_jan_2018.shtml#cb2

        That is what the media mean when they talk about maintaining the balance between Remain and Leave supporters in the cabinet, it’s like the balance in the resources available for the referendum campaign.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Ageist.

      • Andy
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        With respect, most of the polls put you well ahead before June’s election – and you scraped it. Conservative, again, flattered by an electoral system which gives them and Labour an unfair advantage. 42% of the vote, 49% of the seats.

        Anyway, I am more than happy for you to continue to believe the polls. A combination of unpopularity and complacency will be awesome to watch. You’ve got a plan B I take it? You do realise that even your seat will soon not be safe?

      • DaveM
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        No Andy, Brexit is not to blame. Theresa May is to blame, and before her David Cameron. And Brexit wouldn’t be happening if it hadn’t been for Blair and Brown and Major unilaterally signing away our sovereignty.

        • DaveM
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          Also, who says I’m a Conservative? Even if I was, I’m well under 50 as are the majority of my friends and colleagues – you don’t speak for any of us. You seriously overestimate the number of people who are like yourself.

      • jerry
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        @Andy; “Without him [JC] Labour would annihilate {the Tories]”

        Do feel free to remind us of the 2015 GE result, with EM as Labour leader, , compared to the 2017 GE result with JC as Labour Leader….

        @JR reply; There were no plans to have another election last April either, and the polls said that if there was one a JC lead Labour party would be annihilated, the rest is history as they say… If the DUP walk, or if the europhile wing if the party do the equivalent of what the Maastricht rebels did then all bets are off.

        • Andy
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          In 2015 the Conservatives had a moderate leader and were a sensible party.

          • jerry
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

            @Andy; But Mrs May is far more moderate than Cameron, yet Corbyn does far better than Miliband did, your explanation is thus nonsense!

  25. formula57
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The period after the Major government’s privatization was extensively troubled by crashes, some fatal, with future Deputy Prime Minister Prescott making much noise about the inadequacies of rail safety measures as I recall.

    O/T about the alleged reshuffle – let is take a moment to congratulate all about the Prime Minister for keeping their heads while she was losing hers.

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Once again the discussion starts without any acknowledgement that at present the railway system in the UK is claimed by the EU to be just part of the EU’s railway system and is therefore subject to EU laws. Just like the postal system in the UK is held to be just part of the EU’s postal system and is subject to EU laws …. it is an oddity that some people manage to combine fanatical support for EU membership with equally fanatical support for complete re-nationalisation of the railway system in the UK, which would clearly be contrary to EU law; but then it has been observed over the years that many of the most vocal supporters of EU membership are the most abysmally ignorant of that which they support …

    • Andy
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      It is very doubtful that rail re-nationalisation is ‘contrary to EU law’. This is an argument which has been put forward by Professor Danny Nicol but which is widely discredited by other experts in EU law and which would require a test case to prove it one way or another.

      However, even if it is correct why would you object? You’re a hard-right winger, you hate nationalisation. And, if you did turn out to be right, the EU and you would be on the same side. Standing up for private enterprise against nasty government. Gosh, the realisation that you may agree with the EU on something .. how does that make you feel?

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        EU Directive 91/440.[9]

        You proclaim that you own the centre ground and smear everyone else either side of it as extremists.

        What an Andy-centric Andy you are.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        It is not doubtful that it would be contrary to EU law to put infrastructure and operations back together in a monopoly company, whether that was a state owned successor to British Rail or a privately owned successor.

        And the EU Commission clearly does not think that this would need to be decided in any test case, or it would not be saying:

        https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/transport_en

        “Any licensed rail company can now offer its services anywhere in the EU.”

        How do you suppose that could work if the exclusive right to operate train services in one of the EU member states, the UK, was permanently vested in some successor to British Rail?

        You would do better to read and think a little more and rant a little less:

        http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/01/07/why-do-some-people-think-nationalisation-a-good-idea/#comment-911516

        “Perhaps some people think nationalisation can be a g0od idea because in certain cases it can be a good idea. Just as in other cases the best model will be private ownership and control, albeit within whatever laws and regulations may be necessary.”

        • Andy
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

          You haven’t read what you posted. Any licensed rail service can OFFER its services. The government does not have to accept it. The vast majority of the EU’s railways are state run.

          You can lie as much as you like. There is simply nothing in EU which specifically rules out nationalisation – as much as you might wish it so.

          And even if your lies were true, as I said it would simply put you on the same side as the EU.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            Don’t be silly. If EU law says that any licensed company can offer its services anywhere in the EU then EU national governments are bound to treat those offers seriously through some kind of tender process. Do you really think the UK government could get away with saying “Thank you all for your offers, but we decided to give a permanent monopoly to this particular organisation X so you have all been wasting your time”. As stated on an earlier thread, it is really about liberalisation rather than privatisation:

            http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/01/07/why-do-some-people-think-nationalisation-a-good-idea/#comment-911560

            but the fact is that as long as we are in the EU it will not be possible to reconstitute anything like British Rail.

            “These national companies were vertically integrated organisations and it was difficult or impossible for private or regional enterprises to run their own trains on the national networks, or to compete in other EU countries’ railway systems. Thus in 1991 EU Directive 91/440 was created to make it a legal requirement for independent companies to be able to apply for non-discriminatory track access (running powers) on a European Union country’s track.”

            I have no time for those who propose that we should act in bad faith. If we sign up to something we should use our best endeavours to perform it, not try to wriggle out of it.

    • rose
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      “but then it has been observed over the years that many of the most vocal supporters of EU membership are the most abysmally ignorant of that which they support …”

      Yes, indeed, I have known Liberal activists, councillors, and even an ex MP say Free Movement includes only workers – as if the second directive were never given.

  27. Jason wells
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    We voted to leave so why do ee want a new deal..we say better a no deal than a bad deal..can hardly blame the europeans from making their own plans..DD is starting to look like abit of a clown lately..we’ll just hqve to make our minds up about what di we want and then qccept what the EU will be prepared to give..all of this play acting by government and DD will get us nofwhere..except to be the laughing stock

  28. Mockbeggar
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Whether the railways are nationalised or not is secondary to considering the internal transport needs of the country.

    The roads are nationalised and are free for anyone to use at any time of their choosing. They are, in other words fully subsidised (especially for foreign vehicles, especially HGVs); never mind how the money is raised to fund them since all road tax and fuel duty goes straight to the Treasury like any other tax.

    This system makes freight transport by road very attractive. Companies can operate Just-in-time delivery a save themselves warehouse and storage costs. That means that the inside lane of most motorways is off-limits to private motorists and the outer (supposedly overtaking) lanes are clogged up causing endless and expensive delays for every other road user.

    We need to charge a sensible proportion of the costs to freight (arguably subsidised by the private car at present) using modern computerised methods of road charging by distance.

    Companies may then turn their attention to to sending goods by rail and encouraging the Rail Network to install rail heads in many more industrial estates.

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      @Mockbeggar; “charge a sensible proportion of the costs to [road haulage] freight”

      Great idea, assuming your intent is to increase inflation, do you really think that any company would simply absorb such charges as lower bonuses and/or share divs?!

  29. FrankW
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Was reading somewhere if we want to do a deal with the americans post brexit then we had better invite Trump to the wedding..great britain allright

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      It must depend who else is invited to that event, but if other world leaders are invited then surely it could be seen as a gratuitous insult not to invite the President of the United States, which after all remains our principle ally.

      But then of course that is exactly what some people want, they are looking for any excuse to insult him.

      One cannot go out of one’s way to insult somebody and then expect him to go out of his way to help you.

      We haven’t even insulted other EU countries or their leaders, we have just decided to exercise one of our rights under the EU treaties, and in fact a provision which other governments were much keener to insert into the treaties than ours was at the time – that is, when the EU Constitution was being drafted back in 2003:

      http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=CV%20724%202003%20REV%201

      – and look how badly they are behaving without any good cause.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        principal

        • rose
          Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          I would have thought St Geroge’s, Windsor wasn’t big enough to include all this world diplomacy. Anyway, won’t it be a service of blessing? They are usually smaller affairs.

      • gaydar
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Trump is clever enough to see through invites/non invites piffle
        He’s not a politician, is 3 steps ahead and thinks on a different level.
        As is Putin.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        Our “principle ally”. Trump?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          The USA, of which Trump is the current elected President.

          Not too difficult to understand.

      • FrankW
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Denis.. yes we have..our MEPs both Tory and UKIP have been insulting EU leaders and politicians in the EU parluament for decades..our low gutter press have been pouring scorn znd ridicule on european representatives non stop for forty years..so get off your high horse when it comes to Trump..we don’t have the high ground in any of this

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      He was elected President, of course, he should be invited, he represents the American people until he is deselected. Macron and the French held out open arms to him. A few people on Twitter and blogs in the UK shouldn’t dictate what the UK as a whole can and can’t do.

      • jerry
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        @a-tracy; Indeed. It makes me very annoyed when the MSM and even MPs elevate the minority, suggesting that their opinions matter more because they can cite 1 million signatures that have been collected or what ever, totally ignoring the fact that 40 odd million adults have not singed the petition (in the case of those No. 10 petitions).

        Those MPs who present petitions on the floor of the house should not only mention the number of signatories but have to also mention the total number of eligible electorate in their constituency. Might save some parliamentary time when the grandstand isn’t so much grandstand but a soap-box…

  30. PaulW
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    So they’ll be interviewing for Mark Carneys job later this year..JR you know so much about financial matters and beconomics you should really put your own name forward..we’ll be all cheering on from the sidelines

  31. David
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Surely this is just about incentives, rather than public vs. private? The reason private corporations and competitive markets work is because there is a (mainly) monetary incentive to be better than the competition, gain revenue and ultimately make more money individually. The reason the nationalised railways of the past and Network Rail today continue to disappoint is because the government doesn’t reward or penalise enough based on performance. It is the same with companies like Southern Rail. These privatised companies are essentially small monopolies – they get the largely same number of commuters regardless of how poor or good their service is. How many of us have the luxury of choosing between two railway providers to the same destination? I’ll hazard a guess and say none. The bus will take too long. The car is ruled out if you live in London. There is no marketplace for competition, unless it is put in place by the government through novel contracts and reward programs. Public or private, get the incentives right for the people who work there, and you will get results. Reward good, punish bad.

  32. agricola
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Nationalisation is incompatible with the DNA that most of the British are blessed with.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Err. Make that English, not British. Most other parts of the UK have a very strong Nationalistic bent.

    • Diogenes
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Gee, putting “DNA” and “blessed with” in the same sentence needs some chutzpah.

  33. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    For information, the EU sets 2025 as the date for the next wave of enlargement:

    https://euobserver.com/enlargement/140478

    “The paper marks a shift in tone after commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said in 2014 there would be no EU enlargement in the foreseeable future.”

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      I for one will be pleased as punch when we leave, albeit in name only. 😉

      Oh. And I see the Russians are be blamed for something – Again ! Lets hope they spent a bit more than £0.75p then they did on our referendum.

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      So what Denis! Unless you think they will let the UK to rejoin by 2025…

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        So, jerry, we were told before the referendum that no more EU enlargements were envisaged, and now we are told that they are envisaged. In other words, just another blatant lie by the Remain side.

        • jerry
          Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper; Who cares! It is utterly irrelevant to the UK what the EU does post 2019. Brexit didn’t just change the politics of the UK, it has changed the politics of the EU too, hence why some are again openly calling for far greater Federalism. Your comments are thus out of order, in other words, they are just another blatant rant by Brexiteer….

  34. Peter Martin
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree the link to Heathrow should have been put in earlier than it was. But was this BR’s fault or was it Govt who were denying the funds to pay for it?

    I suspect the latter. Governments, of both political parties, chose to fund the building of Concorde. If they had wanted to put in extra railway lines, and make more effort to keep the ones they had, they could, and probably should, have done that instead. The Beeching report was commissioned by Government.

    It’s all a matter of what was considered important at the time. Obviously supersonic travel for the super rich was seen as the best use of taxpayer money.

    Reply The government put a lot of money into the railway. It was their call not to build the spur line

    • jerry
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply; Is that correct, I though each and every investment project had to be agreed with the DfT and/or HMT, BR providing not only the project cost but a cost-benefit study to support the proposed expenditure?

      The only time I can think of a govt. giving BR a whopping £1.2bn cheque and basically told them to “spend it” was in 1955, but then the politicos failed to deal with the outdated laws (Common Carrier) that were causing BR to loose money to road haulage competition as the latter cherry picked the most profitable commodities for customers, leaving BR to pick up the unprofitable scrag-end! But I digress…

  35. Dennis
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Many here in these blogs extol the virtues of a ‘free market economy’. There is no ‘free’ market economy at the present rate of economic activity – the ecosphere is paying for it by being depleted and polluted rapidly.

    • Prigger
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Ecosphere? What planet are you on?

      • Dennis
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        What about biosphere then, better?

      • Mark B
        Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        His not on another planet but an, Ecosphere. Apparently, and I had to Google it, it is an enclosed environment, much like an aquarium.

        • jerry
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          @Mark B; “it is an enclosed environment, much like an aquarium.”

          …or indeed much like Planet Earth!

  36. battleaxe
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Politicians must have to develop very hard shells to put up with the abuse they get.
    I felt desperately sorry for T. May when she was told to get on that night flight to Brussels.
    I feel sorry for D Abbott when she has abuse hurled at her .
    Someone’s got to stand up and do the job.
    I know I couldn’t put up with it.

  37. pleb
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    All us plebs thank JR for his efforts.
    The media might not report our thanks.
    He might not be knighted etc
    but we thank him.

  38. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    There is an apocryphal story of a man complaining to British Rail that there wee no commuter trains stopping at his station. BR replied that they carefully monitor passenger demand and had not observed anyone at his station waiting for a train at those times.

  39. Prigger
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    It is typical of a privatised rail service it would ban the sale of ★ ☭The Daily Worker☭★

  40. John P McDonald
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately the subject of nationalisation always appears to have a political bias rather than a cold look at the facts and circumstances. The impact of the car, road building, and not to mention Beeching all had a major impact on the rail network in earlier times.
    Our governments think in the short term and for party political reasons. We do not have very many MPs with a Technical/Engineering background to perhaps appreciate the technical results of decisions and long term impacts. The environment and congested roads have now reduced the attraction of the car and lorry. Why did we get rid of trams in city centres round about the time the rail network was being reduced? The raise in the use of cars and lorries, coupled to investment in motorways is probably more of a factor than the railway network being in national or private hands.
    The only way to run a network which delivers a service efficiently overall is to have a single ownership of all parts of the network. The buck should stop at Trains UK if the trains are delayed, there are leaves on the line, the fares are high. And one ticket to anywhere bought at any station or on-line is the same price. Trains UK can be wholly owned by the Government or wholly private. The point is that a single entity is responsible for the network. This is also true for Gas, Water and Electricity supply networks .
    The country’s networks should be run for the benefit of the nation at the lowest possible cost consistent with the long term sustainability of the network.
    The way this should be achieved should be based on facts not politics

  41. Anonymous
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Off topic but are white males going to have to give up any ambitions of reaching the top ?

    The only racial insult allowed is stale, pale, male.

    Similar directed at any other racial group would lead to a police investigation and possibly a prosecution.

    We are fast reaching the point where the very best candidates are not going to be excluded from the very best jobs.

    (99% of males don’t reach board level either – despite putting more hours in.)

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Should read “We are fast reaching the point where the very best candidates are *going* to be excluded from the very best jobs.”

      My near vision is going. This is very frustrating and about the fifth time this week I have typed not just gobbledegook but the precise opposite of what I had intended.

      Sorry.

  42. mart
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    There is no free market in railways. A private company can’t build a new one, only a government can. A private company can’t just decide to run more trains on an existing one.

    In short, railways are public infrastructure, not a private business. They cannot be truly run as a private business, they will always “lose money” overall.

    Instead accept they are a cost to the public purse, but a cost worth paying.

    I consider this a conservative opinion, by the way.

    Love your blog. Always seem to disagree with you on railways, but on most other subjects I am in agreement with you.

    Kindest regards, and Happy New Year!

  43. Michael Purches
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    You say: “The track, stations and signals, the bulk of the assets, were renationalised by Labour early this century.” The vast railway assets were not in fact renationalised, but simply STOLEN. I held Railtrack shares, purchased in good faith under one government, which the next government simply declared void.

    • jerry
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      @Michael Purches; I take it that you have wiped the events of 17 October 2000 at Hatfield in Hertfordshire from your memory, I bet some wish they could….

      RailTrack was in effect bankrupt, your shares were thus worthless. You took a gambled, you lost, get over it!

      • Michael Purches
        Posted January 14, 2018 at 2:15 am | Permalink

        In what way is the vast real-estate that is the UK railway network “worthless”?

  44. jerry
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    For those who think that private railways on the current TOC model are a good idea, there is no good news this morning (Jan 10) from the NAO, something those in the affected areas have known for years.

  45. mancunius
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    As well as rail companies being subsidised directly by taxpayers who rarely or never use the railways (e.g. because they can’t afford to), there is the indirect subsidy by net taxpayers paying for the passengers.
    It’d be interesting to know the statistics on users. How many are travelling entirely for personal reasons (holiday, bereavement, visits to family & friends etc) and paying 100% of the cost entirely themselves, without reclaiming anything from anyone?
    On the other hand: how many passengers are either 1) self-employed, travelling on personal business, and will set the cost off against tax; or 2) are employed and being paid 100% expenses for their journey by their employer/commissioner?
    How many passengers have cost-free discounts and concessions?
    Of the group 2 passengers, how many of them are employed by the state, local government, or government-funded organizations (such as BBC, quangoes, education, unions, NHS)? For each of these latter groups, to different extents, is being subsidised by the net taxpayer, and by the non-user.
    There is also the further market distortion that many such journeys by group 2 may not be really necessary at all: they might perhaps be more time-savingly substituted by a Skype call or a couple of emails, but are undertaken as an excuse by the employee to get out of the office, and a pretext by the employer to preserve staff and overhead budgets.
    It would be interesting to drill into a sample day’s trainloads on GWR or Virgin, and see just who is finally paying for the tickets purchased. I suspect from observation that many long-distance routes (e.g. between London and the NW) are preponderantly used by group 2.

    • jerry
      Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      @mancunius; The same diatribe could be written about the use of the motor car…

      You used 286 words to say nothing!

      • mancunius
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:40 am | Permalink

        Ah, I seem to have touched a raw nerve there…:-)

        And no, car use isn’t comparable.

        • jerry
          Posted January 12, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          @mancunius; “And no, car use isn’t comparable.”

          Of course it is, just to pick one paragraph from your OP, but with a change of focus (having changed just to words), it still makes the same irrational but broadly relevant point;

          On the other hand: how many car divers are either 1) self-employed, travelling on personal business, and will set the cost off against tax; or 2) are employed and being paid 100% expenses for their journey by their employer/commissioner?

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