New railway plan will take two and half years to arrive and is found down the Sofa


          I was astonished by a letter I received this week from Theresa Villiers, railway Minister. It seemed to say welcome to the EUSR, as Bob would write. It invited me as an MP to make all sorts of representations at various periods over the next two and half years, as the heavily nationalised and subsidised  railway industry moves towards a detailed “Delivery Plan”. This new plan is scheduled for 31 March 2014. Perhaps they hope that the long delays in the schedule mean it will eventually arrive on time.

             They have published this week their draft “Initial Industry Plan” for railway “Control Period CP5”. Maybe you missed the previous versions for other control periods, but you do need to know about this one! They are, of course, after a load of your money. Even allowing for all the efficiency gains and “cuts” being demanded by Ministers, the industry comfortably expects  just under £3billion of annual subsidy in 2014-15, after years of higher levels of subsidy in the meantime.

               You will be pleased to know that this Initial Plan “will inform the development of the Government’s High Level Output Specification (HLOS) and Statement of Funds available (SoFa)(sic).”  This leads us seamlessly and easily into the “Periodic Review Process 2013”, another useful bureaucratic siding, which will make possible “the definition of possible CP5 enhancements”. I think that means they are looking to increase spending in due course.

           All this work will be overseen by the “Planning Oversight Group”. This is not given the mnemonic POG, though the ever active Office of Rail Regulator is affectionately known throughout as ORR. All these bodies crawling through the interstices of the plan will of course be governed by the money down the  sofa, as it will be the money that determines it.

          Not to put too much gloss on it, we are told that “our current expectation is that the HLOS (remember that? – see above) will set outputs to be achieved, rather than listing the improvements needed to deliver them”. Just to make sure that all bureaucratic bases have been covered two HLOSs (sic) will be drawn up . We will remain in the dark about which specific new projects have the green light.

           Readers will be delighted to know that after a further summer holiday all this work will lead directly to the Network Rail Strategic Business Plan.  Following more  consultations on the June 2013 “Draft determination”, we will get to our intermediate station, the Final determination, by 1 April 2014. There’s a bold timetable for you.

             On 31 March 2014, we will be the proud possessors of a Detailed delivery Plan.

            I am amazed that an intelligent Minister put her name to this nonsense. No wonder the railways lose a fortune, if that is the way they proceed to try to make a few decisions about their capital spending priorities and how they should control their costs.

               The IIP does contain some revealing  facts that have slipped in. Their climate bar chart shows they regard 6 winters since 2002-3 as abnormally cold. They tell us they put 3 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. They claim that their travellers put out 53 g of CO2 for  every mile travelled, compared to 148 g by bus travellers and 127 g by car travellers.  Their fuel costs are quite low because they of course get a special deal on  fuel duties. They do not count this as part of their subsidy.

              The plans show that if all goes well Network Rail will have a massive £30 billion of net debt by 2014-15.  If we are lucky it will  have added under £20 billion to the national debt for its subsidy payments 2010-2015.  As the Transport Secretary has himself pointed out, high speed inter city travel is mainly used by the better off, who will benefit from this largesse.

            When it comes to railway spending, different rules seem to apply. The railways will be important contributors to continuing large public sector deficits, as they speed to ever larger borrowings secured against the promise of future subsidies from taxpayers. We will look at how you could run a bigger and better railway with less subsidy in a future post.


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  1. lifelogic
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed it is interesting that they consider 6 of the last eight winters to have been abnormally cold. Should we still be concerned by CO2 given these 75% colder than normal figure?

    The figures on CO2 per passenger given by train companies are usually complete tosh. To be fair to a comparison with cars you have to look at the journey, door to door, and also allow for the energy used by the staff of the rail network, the car park, cafe and in the stations, lighting, heating and line maintenance. The car also often combines trips perhaps dropping off the children on route or calling in on Granny on the return to drop of some shopping – not easy by train.

    Also they now need to allow for the losses in electric production and transmission and the energy used in replacing the now, alas, so often stolen copper wires. Are they basing the figures on just the motive energy used and assuming a large proportion is nuclear or (wind) generated – I rather suspect so?

    They do however correctly show that buses are worse than cars on C02 (if you do still believe in the BBC Carbon exaggeration) 148 g by bus travelers and only 127 g for car.

    I suspect buses are actually even worth than this in reality accounting for the driver and staff and the longer journey length often taken.

    A rail journey as you say (mainly for the rich) usually involved a double (there and back) car drop of an pick up. Often a journey that might be 50 miles by car ends up as (28 by car/taxi drop offs and pick ups two direction if say 7 miles from the stations) and perhaps 70 by rail. Plus, an often nearly empty train, has to be moved on the return of peak direction.

    30 billion passenger miles “20 billion PA subsidy. 66p per passenger mile go value? If it claims to be so energy efficient why is it so expensive – an old diesel car, given the same fuel duty and tax rules as rail, could be run for well under 10p a mile all in running costs included and take 5/7 people – so under 2P per mile. Yet the trains want both huge fares and a 66P per mile subsidy!

    More video conferencing and phone calls & fewer trains is best I tend to think why subsidise people moving by train – perhaps subsidise people doing it on line instead if carbon is you real concern?

    Please JR ask some searching questions on their clearly duff or very selective CO2 figures.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      If the Government really want carbon efficient transport then subsidise (or at least do not hugely over tax efficient petrol & diesel cars) with 3 or more passengers and also video conferencing.

      That is clearly what the maths says.

      I am impressed that you have the determination and dedication to read all these letter and documents, written as they are, and to pull out the very few real bit of information hidden away within them.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Why should the Government subsidise video conferencing when it’s cheaper for the company as they don’t have to pay travel costs?

        Also how would the Government know when a car contains 3 or more people? Should buses with this many people also receive this subsidy?

      • wab
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        “That is clearly what the maths says.”

        We should not subsidise anything that you suggest, at least if we want to pretend to be worried about the environment. There is no difference between an explicit subsidy (e.g. the trains; or your suggestions) and an implicit subsidy (e.g. where the polluter does not pay for the pollution). They both mean that the customer (and business) has externalised the cost of the service onto the rest of society. (The so-called environmentalists somehow understand this is an issue when it comes to cars, but not when it comes to trains.)

        I agree with you that the train CO2 emissions are not calculated correctly, because they only include the direct emissions and not the vast indirect ones.

        We should have a uniform carbon tax applied to all emissions (so not just ones that come out of cars, for example, as currently happens in the UK; and not just ones that come from Europe but also China, etc.). And we should have no subsidies. Then the cost of both train travel and car travel (etc.) would be set to the appropriate level, and it would be up to people, not governments, which mode of transport was used in whatever circumstance.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          I, like most sensible (non politically influenced) scientists, do not really accept the C02 exaggeration and so do not think you can justify a carbon tax.

          I do not really want subsidise video links or cars but just a level playing field. Very high taxes on cars and car fuel and endless subsidy for trams and trains is insane – even if carbon terms and even if you accept the absurd carbon exaggerations.

          The BBC/Government line of Buses, Trains, Bikes good and cars trucks evil is tosh and always has been in carbon terms alone.

          • Molossus
            Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            A scientist? So how did you get the emissions so wrong when comparing a road coach to a train on grams per passenger km. Incidentally the emissions on trains DO take account of the indirect power requirements, how else could we produce the figures for electric trains? It includes emissions at the source of power generation and the losses along the transmission lines and we meter the actual power consumption of the train itself. Now with diesel trains we know how much fuel they consume directly. The 1970s built HST fitted with new engines in the early 2000s carries around 500 people at an average consumption of 6 litres per mile which of course for much of the route is between 110 and 125 miles per hour. Better than a coach? No.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            I did not get any figures wrong nor give any figures. The rail figures do not include the connections and therefore longer route, the rail track, stations, rail maintenance, staff and the rest.

            You have been misled by the green religion and the BBC tone on this I suspect.

            Look at a typical journey by car A to D and by rail A-B-C-D and take all above into account with typical occupancy.

            If train were so efficient it would not cost so much or need such subsidy.

          • Nicholas Cartwright
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            What are your scientific credentials?

          • Bazman
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

            Scientist, mathematician and engineer no less that thinks that if you ride a bike and take moderate exercise then you have to eat more food therefore produce more CO2 than driving a car?!
            Any scientist, engineers, medical expert or mathematician care to humiliate themselves by answering this question?

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 4, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

            Bazman – I rather doubt if any sensible scientists will not agree that you have to eat more to bike several miles a day (unless perhaps it is all down hill!). Where else can the energy come from but from the food eaten – bikes are not magic they still obey the laws of physics. The biker is the engine.

            So the sun’s energy grows food to eat or feed to animals, to cook, freeze, store, process, package, fly round the world, eat and then that energy pushes the pedals round.

            All these processes use a lot energy (electricty, gas, oil) to make the bike go.

            How do you think it works?

          • Bazman
            Posted October 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

            You assume in your foolish calculation that people eat the same amount of calories they expend. I bet you don’t. Ha!Ha!

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

            Bazman please either speak to a sensible physicist or read a good book on energy systems and conversions.

            If you cycle up a hill you use energy – it comes from the food you have eaten (where else?) which combines with oxygen you breath and you give off CO2. If you sit about instead you do not use up as much energy.

            Do you not breath more cycling up a hill and get hotter have you not noticed this?

          • Bazman
            Posted October 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

            What happens if you eat to many calories and fail to expend them to the detriment of your health as far to many people do with food being so cheap and abundant. Often to cheap and abundant? Where do the excess calories go? How many people would need to eat extra food? They in fact need to eat less food and do more exercise. Pretty much the whole of the population would benefit from this. The evidence of this to be observed in almost everyone!

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      No tax cuts before the next election, says Osborne according to the telegraph today.

      So no growth in tax revenue is very likely either and a high chance of Labour in 2015.

      Such an uplifting vision he outlines when he could have done so much good, just by getting out of businesses way, sorting out the bank lending and letting them create jobs.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        How is cutting taxes going to increase tax revenue? Do you really believe that the Laffer Curve states that reducing taxation always results in greater tax revenues?

        Also Osborne also plans to reduce the right of employees to sue for unfair dismissal. Yet another Tory sop for bad businesses. The Tories shouldn’t be surprised that unemployment keeps rising when they keep trying to make work as unpleasant as possible.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          Certainly lowering them from current levels would. As would getting rid of all the daft employment laws other than normal contractual agreements freely entered in to.

          • Bazman
            Posted October 2, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            What makes you think many contractual agreements are freely entered into? You assume that everyone who takes a job has a ‘choice’. As if they are choosing to become a surgeon or take to the stage. How much choice do you think cleaners and the like have? Are you really this simple and stupid?

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

            Of course they have a choice take the job or get another one or do not work. They are not slaves.

          • Bazman
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

            There you have it.Your race has nearly reached the bottom. The next step is to cut any benefits so they are ‘forced’ to work for whatever is on offer.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          How is cutting taxes going to increase tax revenue?

          By increasing the size of the economy, encouraging work, discouraging black market and encouraging the wealthy and more UK investment so that a smaller % take is more in total.

          How much work would anyone work if it was all taxed at 100%?

    • Bazman
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Global warming is not necessarily disproved by the conclusive proof of a cold day. To simplistic. The theory says that increased overall global temperature is rising and creating more sever weather conditions including harsh winters and more extreme temperature fluctuations. Weather you agree with this is up to you and open to debate.
      You are trying to sell your beliefs by simplifying complex questions. An old Tory trick. Or you are stupid.
      It is true that you have to follow the ‘carbon trail’ to use the lingo, but having cars as the only viable transport system is again to simplistic. One should even wonder that having a mobile peasant population is a good thing.
      Maybe the solution is in having a subsidised privatised jet and helicopter scheme and abandoning all this absurd infrastructure freeing up money for subsidising business to be where the workforce is? It would also make the south of France so much more accessible, attracting foreign billionaires, who it has to said in reality private jets are even very expensive to them.
      The government could also promote the use of motorcycles more. To dangerous? Elf and safety from you? I wonder why?

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        “Global warming is not necessarily disproved by the conclusive proof of a cold day”

        I did not say that is was did I.

        But real world satellite temperature measurement support the recent lack of warming for about 13 years or so. As opposed to the fiddled figures that we all know of.

        “but having cars as the only viable transport system” Yet again I did not suggest this.

        Can you address what I actually say – not what you imagine I am saying.

        • norman
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          A common ploy of arguing a weak position is to set up a strawman – invent a weak argument that isn’t being made, or twist something person A is saying to give it a new meaning, then argue against that rather than the case being made.

          It’s hardly worth the wear on the keyboard to reply.

          In another forum life I argue against holocaust deniers (who really are so stupid it has to be seen to be believed) and this is the type of line they constantly use.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

          Read this properly.
          The theory says that increased overall global temperature is rising and creating more sever weather conditions including harsh winters and more extreme temperature fluctuations. Whether you agree with this is up to you and open to debate.
          What do you not understand about this statement?
          You are against buses and trains as you claim they are inefficient. Walking is inefficient as it uses more food. Motorbikes are to dangerous. Which leaves flying and cars as the only ones you approve of. As a car is only one possible to do door to door. I assumed this is the only transport system you approve of. Private helicopters could be used this is true, but would involve more walking.

    • rose
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      I agree with you about the undesirability of buses. Hugely polluting, and I don’t mean CO2, but diesel fumes, and excessive noise and heat. Horrible to bicycle behind or be overtaken by, and annoying for you too I imagine to get stuck behind.

      Where do you stand on trams?

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Trams are very expensive electric buses that cannot go off certain set routes routes. Usually way to expensive relative to use just look at Edinburgh.

        • rose
          Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic, and Mr R too for that matter, what is your solution to this conundrum? Our city has no bus to its main hospital complex. No safe bike route either. I am told it is very difficult for motorists too, as they can’t park when they get there.

          The motorists are taking up four lanes of the road outside – 3 for driving on, and one for parking in. The pavement is too crowded with pedestrians for people to bicycle along, and the road is out of the question for bikes as the traffic has just come off the motorway and hasn’t adapted its speed. To add insult to all parties, there are a couple of token bike lanes painted on to the road for a few yards each, which peter out as soon as it gets really dangerous, in order to make room for the parking. The walk is a long, unpleasant, and very heavily polluted one.

          If the bureaucrats thought about it at all, they would presume every patient and visitor is coming by taxi or ambulance – for each routine visit, not just emergencies. (When a patient is in for a long time, the visitors need to go twice a day, there and back – four journeys. Outpatients need to get there too, often repeatedly. They may be very frail indeed.)

          We used to have trams going up there, and beyond the hospital complex is the bus station itself, so a logical street to run a bus or tram along. But there is nothing. It isn’t practical for everyone, however frail, to drive or walk. A bus or tram is really needed, and a bike route. Other cities have strings of buses stopping outside their main hospitals, and bike routes. Ours has only staff buses between the hospitals, and one coming from the railway station. Nothing for the public who live in the city. To add further insult, the hospital bureaucracy has a self-adverising transport department to advise on how to get to it. No matter how many times one draws their attention to the fact that there isn’t any safe way of getting there other than on foot, or by car, they always express surprise. Then, despite assuring one they will look into it, nothing is done.

          Lifelogic, I accept all your reasoning on the comparative costs of motoring for motorists, but not everyone can or should drive. There needs to be clean, efficient, quiet, public transport – as there is in other parts of the world – and it needs to go where people need to get to.

          • rose
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            PS you might suggest people take buses all round the city to the railway station, and then change, wait, and eventually come back again to the hospital, and take the same absurd diversion on the way back. This they might just have done when traffic was light, but with today’s jams it could take all day.

          • rose
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            PPS people blame the traffic jams, noise, and pollution on the lack of public transport. I doubt they would take good public transport once they found the traffic numbers easing. What they mean is every one else should go by public transport, but not they themselves. So what is the answer? The geology doesnt allow an underground, and the waterways which could help a bit don’t go everywhere.

            The real answer is of course that we should have allowed our population to decline naturally, as it was doing, to 30 million, and then to 25. It would still have been 5 times that of Denmark, and more than 6 times Norway’s. But it is too late to revert to common sense now.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink


            Public transport can make sense when a lot of people want to go from A to B at the same time. This rarely happens in the real world. People want to go from A to D via Tesco and grannies and return at perhaps 1.00am in the morning with grannies old table in the back – we need efficient clean cars, good roads and underpasses more parking, cheaper taxis, fewer road blocks and red lights and bikes lanes (except of road ones) and fewer bus lanes painted on the roads at great expenses. Car sharing perhaps.

            A bus is basically just a big car, average occupancy over the whole day often about 8 depot to depot, it takes long routes, (needs a driver who also has to get to work) and stops to block the road every few hundred yards.

          • rose
            Posted October 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

            So do you mean children and other non drivers should go everywhere by taxi? (Unless they can get a lift.)

            Councils in the country seem to use taxis to do the school run nowadays. (And charge it up to the council tax payers.)

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            Often cars are cheaper (and often produce less C02) than buses a car can take up to 7 or even 8 and take a direct route, cause less congestion and buses average occupancy depot to depot is often the same about 8.

            Clearly if you have 50 people who want to go from London to Manchester at the same time a coach/bus would be better bet – than 7 people carriers. But that is usually not the position in normal travel needs. They all have to compromise to go, at the same time, to the same place and not call off anywhere on route or carry much with them.

          • rose
            Posted October 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

            Dear Lifelogic, you still haven’t solved the problem of how patients and their visitors who don’t drive are to get to our city hospital! Or where the motorists are to park when they get there.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

            They need to take a taxi or a bus or get a lift. And they need to build more parking spaces no point in people getting dropped because of no parking or driving round looking for a place.

            I also like Turkish Dolmus shared taxis/mini buses they often seem to work very well and very flexible and need no subsidy.

          • rose
            Posted October 6, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

            But you, our council, and our bus company have all ruled out the bus!

            So, in effect, have the other motorists – who then can’t park.

            A Dolmus – now you are talking. It just keeps going and doesn’t need to park.

            On the same principle I would also like little jump-on-and-off electric minibuses running frequently round the city centre as well, on pre-determined routes at ten minute intervals. The hospitals and bus and railway stations would be among the stops. At present the first two have to be walked to, through all the traffic and pollution. Buses only bring people in from the suburbs and then dump then at very far apart stops, and it is therefore verydifficult to change buses. There is no central loop at all. So who would come in on them if they could come by car? The M32 was at a standstill yesterday evening, and the motorists were all over an hour late for their engagements. Not a very clever way to run a major city.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 7, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            Of course if you wanted to run a Dolmus you would doubless find a huge raft of regulations and licences to prevent or deter you from doing it.

          • rose
            Posted October 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

            You wouldn’t be allowed to carry children for a start. The taxi co-ops would have something to say about it too. But I’ve always wanted them – for getting back from places like hospitals, theatres, and stations. It wouldn’t work so well for setting out from home, though I’ve no doubt an enterprising driver could overcome that practical difficulty with his telephone.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      If more businesses used home sourcing far fewer people would need to go to work. Though this wouldn’t work for anyone who works in the services industry or manufacture.

    • Single Acts
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      “148 g by bus travelers and only 127 g for car”

      If these figures are correct, please tell Huhne to stop taxing my car so much, (that would be the car I own, admit to driving and take penalty points honestly and openly).

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        The figure are actually even worse for buses even than this – for reasons I have given in the past.

        Buses are also very congesting to the road system – they are big and keep stopping every few hundred yards, take indirect routes and are often nearly empty.

    • Mark
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      You have fallen into the trap of discussing the least relevant element. We should perhaps start with the average cost including fares and subsidies per mile of travel, and compare it with other modes. A proper understanding of the economics of peak travel is needed next, with some serious questioning as to why employers are not required to pay for this added cost of commuting.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Get your facts straight. Last Annual Subsidy was £3,8 billion and going down, not the £20bn you are claiming. If you read the blog John Redwood is saying we will be lucky if the subsidy doesn’t reach £5bn per year! I agree with him, the DfT are adding vast costs to what could be run far more efficiently.
      If you claim to be a scientist you will also know that to get just one small part of an equation wrong puts all the other figures out of sync. So your entire argument is now based on untrue figures. So the subsidy is nowhere near 66p per mile. Must try harder,

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Sorry you are right (I has used a figure for four years not one) but even at 14P per mile and the huge train fare about 19P Per person per mile. Or take a car for 5/7 people (if taxes as a train no fuel duty/VAT) would be about 10p PM.

        So 33p or under 2p by car.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          Still a huge difference.

  2. Andrew
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Sounds like Villiers has been touched by The Pox – i.e. she has had the management consultants in.

    I was touched once, in the auguste public sector provider I was working for at the time. Net result from 300 grand worth of their time (two weeks of two shiny people) – we changed one piece of paper from White to Pink so it could be more located by the workers. And they gave us many pointless graphs, all based on useless, inaccurate data.

    The managers LOVED the report. It allowed them to hire another manager in order to produce these ‘output curbes’ on an annual basis.

    One of the reasons why the UK is in such trouble now, is the curse of the British middle manager.

    • A different Simon
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Did you mean “Output Curbes” or was it “Output Curves” or even more jargonistic “Output Cubes” ?

      Totally agree with you .

      Incidentally it looks like the consultants gave your management what they were looking for ;
      – vindication of their plan (rubber stamping) and justification for extending the bureaucratic side of it
      – arse covering incase it all went wrong (“consultants said it was OK”) thus decreasing the need for it to succeed

      My theory is that unless a company buys consultancy , accountancy and legal services from the same suppliers the Govt uses for these services then they will never get a place on the Govt’s preferred suppliers list themselves .

      • Andrew
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, should be curves, not curbes.

  3. rose
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    So are you suggesting we should only have cars and buses?

    Reply: No, certainly not. I am suggesting we have a more efficient railway, that doesn’t take two and half years to decide its budgets.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Rail by its very nature is usually inefficient apart from a few select intercity routes of the right length circa 100-300 miles and the odd commuting line.

      Below this car is usually best and more flexible above this flights are better.

      • Molossus
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Wrong. The advantage to rail against air has been proven out to about 500 miles now on the Continent. High speed rail has stolen much of the market given the productive time spent on the train and the City Centre to City Centre timings. DB are not exactly known for their lack of business acumen and are to launch rail services from London to Frankfurt and Cologne in competition with Eurostar. Besides, airlines receive huge subsidies paying very little for their fuel compared to railways which do pay some tax where airlines pay none. Now if we were to tax their fuel instead of this notional departure tax, we’d then see which form of transport was the ‘rich mans plaything’.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

          Rail pays very little tax on fuel and the flight departure tax exceeds this in comparison.

    • Major Loophole
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      “that doesn’t take two and half years to decide its budgets.”

      But what would her Whitehall advisors (and their consultants) do instead if they didn’t have two and a half years in which to do it?

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    OK. This is exactly the same sort of rubbish that is going on in the DfE about Free Schools. Delay, obstruction, silly words in Newspeak and lots and lots of Acronyms.
    I thought it was just me. then I read an article in the Daily Mail about someone who, quite reasonably, wanted to adopt a child. The DfE behaved in exactly the same inefficient and callous way.

    The Victorians reformed a corrupt and hopeless civil service by introducing examinations, freedom from parliamentary (and therefore party) control, and a culture of freedom from corruption.

    We are not the Victorians.

    Why not? Why can’t we do it too? I really want to know.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      To be fair to the civil service they are being pulled in all sorts of silly directions: by the legal systems of the UK, Scotland, EU and the “democratic” systems of the same, rules that require them to go through (often sham) public consultancies, daft carbon laws and the green religion, an absurd planning system, gender, equality and discrimination nonsense and a daft political direction from the government.

      In short no one is in charge – everyone is liaising and coordinating between the countless departments and “stakeholders” (all with their personal interests divergent – often at 180 degrees from the public’s) so nothing sensible is ever done.

      • Bazman
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 12:24 am | Permalink

        The key word is ‘sensible’. Which is often not.

    • Public Servant
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Are you really suggesting that the civil service is corrupt and politically biased? The suggestions are ludicrous. Listen to what any Conservative minister will tell you about how the civil service facilitated the smooth transfer of power from Labour to the coalition. The British civil service is admired around the world. Be careful what you wish for. You just may receive it.

      • backofanenvelope
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Having worked in Whitehall for 7 years I know what the problem is. The Civil Servants are infected with a virus that causes lethargy.

      • alan jutson
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Public Servant

        Our Civl Service used to be the envy of the world, (100 years ago) now it is overpaid, inefficient, and produces the sort of drivel that has just been outlined.

        The performance in many other Country’s is no better, so from a comparison point of view you probably are still reasonable when compared to them, but please face facts, the civil sevice produces tons and tons and tons of documentation which is simply not needed and is probably never ever looked at or referred to.

        Do I think the Civel Service is corrupt and biased, not I do not, other than for the placemen who are put in strategic positions by politicians for their own means to manipulate the system, but I do believe it is self serving and divorced from the real world, where the control of costs are all important in survival.

        Politicians of all Party’s are to blame, by attempting to control every minute aspect of our lives in an attempt to micro manage everything.

        Please get real, we simply cannot afford the system as it is at present, the increase in those employed “by the system” over the last decade we are told was approaching 1,000,000 extra staff, please explain what they are doing and why this is needed, because I do not see any part of the service getting better, in fact it has got worse.

      • Greg
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        “Are you really suggesting that the civil service is corrupt and politically biased?”

        Yes, Sir Humphrey, and not only that but treasonous in it’s views about the EU and Britain becoming a vassal state.
        Oh and don’t forget incompetent as well.

      • APL
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Public Servant: “The British civil service is admired around the world. Be careful what you wish for. You just may receive it.”

        Oooh! Is that like the NHS is admired around the world? Which of course begs the question why have nearly every other country built something more effective and more efficient?

        • uanime5
          Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          Given that the healthcare systems in most other countries cost twice the cost of the NHS as a percentage of tax revenues our system still seems to be the most efficient.

          • Andrew
            Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            Having worked in many of them it remains mediocre. Like all public sector organisations it is weighed down by inefficiencies of scale, unions, the inability to fire anyone, diversity madness, flybynight dilettante know-nothings in Whitehall and cabinet, jobs for life, poor management, underinvestment in training, prioritisation of the quiet life over excellence, promotion of the smooth talker over the proven producer and so on.

            Really, I’ve worked in six healthcare economies other than the UK, and ours was the joint worst (america only ranked as low as the uk because of the disparities in care – everything else was better).

            Health should be privately administered in an environment of compulsory insurance with subsidised full cover for the poor. Only then will uk healthcare return from the third tier of care back to the second tier. I don’t think it is possible to get back to the first within my lifetime (and I am not an old man).

          • rose
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

            Andrew, you don’t include the abuse of a free at the point of use system by both patients and staff. If there were a small token charge at the oint of use, much of the bad behaviour on both sides would disappear. As long as both parties delude themselves that something is being got for nothing, standards of behaviour all round will be low. It is only human nature. Of course there are the individuals who rise above the soviet conditions and always display the highest standards of good manners and professionalism, and one marvels at it.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        I am not at all sure, actually, that I am right. Obviously, I am not a Civil Servant. All I can do is speak as I find.
        The problem, as ever, is that in a time of very rapid change (computers, Tony Blair, international government debt, the rise of Asia, air travel, dumbing down of the GCSE and A levels etc etc) things do not stay as they once were.
        That means they need looking at on a very regular basis and I suspect – you are right, I do not know – that this just is not happening at the moment.
        What was certainly true in 1930 need not be true today.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        The civil service is not as good as it used (by some margin in my experience) but is probably rather less corrupt and better than those of most countries. It certainly is politically biased just like the BBC – just look into a government office and watch the newspapers being read. Rather a lot a Guardians and Independents. A friend of mine felt she had to read her Telegraph crossword inside anther wrapper to avoid comment.

        To be fair they are often being asked to do the impossible and with one hand tied behind their backs. They cannot hire and fire freely, they have all the equality nonsense, OTT health and safety, and (often tax payer paid) union officials to contend with, all the sham public consulting to do and all the conflicting laws, lawyers all over the place, EU, National and regional guidance and laws to contend with. Also politicians who change direction every few weeks.

        Who would want to do the job, it must be very dispiriting – but you do get overpaid and a very good pension at the expense of very much poorer taxpayers.

      • Damien
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        “The British civil service is admired around the world”. Yes that is true if you are referring to other British civil servants posted around the world.

        This self congratulatory term is in fact the first words uttered at any civil service event and now I see we have the “Civil service media awards Media Pack 2011”. The media pack helpfully describes the disgraceful waste of public money on marketing for the benefit of civil servants themselves.

        The awards run to sixteen categories (each costed at £ 25,000) and describe the time commitment of top level civil servants in selecting the contestants and arranging the awards. They even boast that they involved 30 permanent secretaries last year. A further amount of £100,000 is the cost for participating departments.

        I would respectfully suggest that if you asked a member of the public should our civil service be engaged in such a waste of time and money they would probably say that they would prefer not but that the news comes as no surprise!

        The link to the ‘ civil service awards media pack is available at

      • zorro
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely Public Servant, I mean how dare anyone question public servants in a democracy…..

        How long have you been a civil servant?


      • Molossus
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Yes I am alleging that. It is simply beyond belief and engineering logic that a senior civil servant is promoting a stupid abortion of a train in preference to a home built or largely home built lighter and more efficient alternative unless he’s on a nice little earner from the Japanese company building these things once he leaves the Civil Service. The lies, the spin, the threats made all point to a man that is on to a very good thing and is determined to silence any awkward questions. It is impossible for a heavier train to use less energy to move at the same speed of a lighter train on the same route, and yet he claims it is and lets Villiers say so in the house. If only more MPs had scientific or engineering credentials!!

    • Public Servant
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      If you read it in the Daily Mail it must be true then. This was the paper that only wanted to publicise Labour and Lib Dem expenses in order to protect the owners of the moats and duck houses from embarassment.

    • rose
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      The old civil service created by the Victorians – which also ran the Empire on a very light rein – relied upon taking in pupils from good schools: the reformed public schools, and the grammar schools. The exams were stiff. Now they have to take in quotas of uneducated people who think they “are worth it”, just as the universities do. The result is confused thinking, loss of focus, and a lot of jargon to cover up the lack of intelligence. It has spread into the business world, the professions, and the services too, so everyone thinks it is normal, and anyone with a trained mind and plain English is considered guilty of “uancceptable” or “inappropriate” behaviour and attitudes. It is like a cancer, and the cure would be uncertain, even if anyone had the willpower to carry it through.

      Until people wake up to the reality that, as the Prince of Wales said, we need elites, because without elites you don’t get anything done, we will continue to decline. It would be extremely painful for the middle classes to go back to competition on merit in education, and so they won’t vote for it, as no-one wants their child to fail. Whatever the urgency, the conservatives won’t bring back grammar schools, because too many of their supporters wouldn’t get their children in. They must have worked this out years ago.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        We already have elites, sadly they are composed of the richest rather than the most able. Worse still the rich and middle class won’t allow anything to change for the reasons you gave.

        • alan jutson
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink


          I think Rose was referring to elite as being in ability, not wealth.

          Wealth of course helps in the search for education provision, choice of health treatment and of course justice, and it was ever thus.

          It also gives you many more choices in life, where you live, what you live in, what car you drive and where you go on holiday etc.

          You will never stop any of that unless you ban private schools, private health care, and make all solicitors work for the state under the same terms.

          We have a choice really, level everything down to the lowest factor, with everyone earning the same, but the tax take goes down, so their are less government services or try and get the standard up by encouragement.

          The more you try to improve yourself, the better your choices.

          • alan jutson
            Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            oops, their should be there.

          • rose
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            Yes, Alan, natural ability, and serious education and training too, to the highest standard. One needs both. Communist countries paradoxically didn’t seem to object to this in the way that Uanime5 does. For example, supposedly impoverished Romania still sends physicists to Oxford who are way ahead of our own brightest and best. Bad council schools have had a doubly bad effect: they have driven down standards in the private schools too, not just through lack of competition that used to be provided by the grammar schools, but also because of the destructive feelings of guilt they engender in private schools. As for proper technical training as the Germans and Japanese know it, it is almost non-existent here.

  5. JimF
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    It is easy to see that the railway system in this Country is an embarrassing mess. Here, the other side of Oxford on the Hereford to Worcester line we never know whether a particular train will be cancelled or replaced by a bus. Regular timetables are replaced by “special” timetables when work is being done on the line, and these are abandoned at will. A string of ticket offices are slated for closure i.e. pay the people pretty well the same to sit at home.
    Can’t we hire the guy who runs SNCF or Swiss Rail to run this?

    • Acorn
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Jim. You may have followed the oral evidence to the Transport Select Committee. They have posted five sessions so far on the web-site. They have interviewed everyone and his dog. The whole caboodle is a glaring example of the bureaucratic mess we get ourselves into with these big projects; exactly as JR points out above.

      You say, Can’t we hire the guy who runs SNCF or Swiss Rail to run this? Well they did. Pierre Messulam, Rail Strategy and Regulation Director, SNCF, gave evidence; Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive, Eurostar also. If you read the transcript, it shows that these two guys do actually know how to run a railway. Keep in mind that the EU wide model for rail transport is basically the French / SNCF model. (Question 74 onward)

      • uanime5
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        Interesting article. According to it the main ways to get more people to use the railways rather than airports is to decrease journey times, have 95% punctuality, and have enough capacity. Also for a high speed line to be economically viable it needs to be for medium/long distances, carry a high volume of passengers, and have few stops.

        Thus if the Government wants to implement high speed rail lines they should replace the long distance routes that carry the highest volumes of people.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      You’ll probably find that we DID hire the guy who runs SNCF. And paid for a lot of their railway too.

    • timbo
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      A lot of money has just been spent on redoubling part of the Cotswold line – you will now find that this spell of disruption is over and you have a much better service! So gratitude, not moaning, please. As for ticket office staff being paid to stay home – what planet are you on?

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Since Swiss Railways run fewer trains overall than run in Kent in one week, then no. French railways, great between big cities, not so good across country. The UK , despite Beeching’s efforts still has a denser and more frequent network than France. The German’s are the true “superpower” of rail operators, and they are already making their presence felt in the UK , witness the line between Marylebone and Birmingham. Your comment about the Cotswold line is interesting since I commute from Charlbury. Yes there were problems after the engineering works to re-double the line following BR’s disastrous singling of it back in the 1970s, but apart from that I have rarely had delays or cancellations and actually enjoy the journey to and from work managing to get a lot done on the train instead of sitting on the M40 unproductively. The fares being about £3,000 less a year than using the car.
      Now if John Redwood really wishes to challenge the spending levels of the Government run railway then I can give him a real challenge which could save many billions over the next 30-40 years. The HST replacement preferred bidder is Hitachi who promise to create a couple of hundred jobs by importing trains that a few semi skilled people will bolt bits onto. It is being specified by unskilled civil servants and bought with PFI money. These are not electric trains, but diesel trains with an electric capability and will weigh far more and be less energy efficient than the 1970s trains they are to replace. On average they will cost £20,000 more, per month, per individual vehicle to operate and finance than a pure electric alternative that uses a normal locomotive to haul where the extent of the electrified lines finish. UK built pure electric alternatives exist and can be procured with far less impact on the public purse than this monstrosity. The problem is the expert engineers are denied access to the Ministers indeed Ms. Villiers pronouncements in the Commons not only display very little understanding of both costs and the laws of physics, but also show how the advisers responsible, one Stuart Baker and his team of civil servants, have so little understanding of how railways operate in the real world. Remember the DfT launched an independent enquiry as to why railways were so expensive and the answer came back to bite them, the cause was the DfT’s own civil service team. This will lead to far more, not less subsidy as it is a Government “pet” project and as usual they will keep throwing money at it instead of letting the real experts run the project and procure trains that are both technically better and cheaper. In every mode of transport vehicles are getting lighter and more energy efficient using less fuel per passenger/km. Not in this case, the exact opposite is happening, yet there already exist suitable designs, and they can be built or mostly sourced in the UK and not Japan.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        Give me a British built 150 DMU or a British built HST with old style seats in it any day.

        I liked the Eurostars too but they were an arse about face concept incorporating multi-voltage modes which buggered up UK signalling on the West Coast.

        The North of London connections and sleeper service were abandoned after much effort and investment and the £10k I got paid in redundancy.

  6. Public Servant
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I have recently returned from a week in Germany. As a commuter oh how I long for such a beautiful and well integrated transport system as that provided by the state owned Deutsche Bundesbahn. Like many others here I am paying in excess of £4000 per year for dirty, overcrowded and late trains. There must be a better system than this. We should try and learn something from our European neighbours.

    • rose
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Enoch used to say, does every generation have to learn again the lesson that there are more important things than having the trains run on time? In other words, authoritarian regimes excel at public transport, while free countries just muddle along.

      Switzerland and Japan are the most notable exceptions. Switzerland has superb public transport because of her weather and terrain, and Japan because of her huge population. Both have, as well, a tidy Germanic attitude to organising life around the group, rather than the individual.

      Somehow I don’t see our getting our act together when our population is 120,000,000, because besides not being at all Germanic, we won’t be homogeneous either, and therefore won’t be able to agree on how to live together in a civilized way on a very crowded island. Unknown millions of impoverished people will probably be driving around on pot-holed tracks, in horrible old patched up bangers, using coal-based fuel or worse, while the enlightened countries of the East will have progressed to yet more civilized arrangements than those they already have.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Public Servant

      Agree with you on this one, the Swiss railways are excellent as well, they run on time to the second.

      The privatisation of our railways has been an expensive disaster, beause it has not been privatised, you go one way or the other, you properly fund a State owned railway system and agree to run with a subsidy or not, or you go the totally private route with no subsidy at all, and let market forces decide on usage.

      John, this is why I object to any privatisation scheme which still uses government susbidy in order to survive, we have taxpayer cash being used, but the government has no real control over services or the cost of such, and please do not suggest the ombudsman is of any use for control.

      In my view essential services should always be under State control, full stop.

      Water and power are other examples.

      The excuse that they always made a loss is down to the will, and quality of the management employed.

      Reply: Network Rail is a public sector owned company run at one remove by the government

      • rose
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

        And the dead hand of the EU fouled up the original privatisation by insisting on splitting it all up. Without that, initial interference, which has never been owned up to by our lot, Brown wouldn’t have been able to bring in Network Rail.

    • APL
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Public Servant: “We should try and learn something from our European neighbours.”

      Indeed we can, but we don’t have to delegate our government to them.

      By the way, the Germans lost the last war and the kindly US rebuilt their infrastructure with the Marshal plan.

      Perhaps the thing to learn is to lose a war to a relatively benign opponent.

      A question to Mr Redwood, I understand the Marshall plan was used on the Continent to rebuild the infrastructure of the portion of Europe that came under the influence of the Allies at the end of the war.

      Was Britain given Marshall aid? If so did we choose to spend it on the Welfare state when our competitors were rebuilding their industrial base with modern equipment?

      Or did we not get Marshall aid?

      ReplyNo, we did not spend Marshall Aid on welfare. We had to udnertake our own recovery

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      We are – it is called “Directives”.

  7. Bazman
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I am going to London on Sunday to see the Disney princesses parade with my five year old daughter. Train or car for this fifty mile journey? Hmmm? As it is my day off I would like to chauffeur driven and maybe have a small beer with my whelks and eels. To London my man! And don’t spare the horses!

  8. alan jutson
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I thought this was another Dr Spendlove letter at first !

    What an absolute farce, so this is why government needs such high taxes, just to fund this sort of crap.

    Its a disgrace.

    Please, please, please let me loose on these people, on a payments by results contract..

    • Bazman
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 12:30 am | Permalink

      True Conservatism cannot ever be argued with.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Not rationally anyway.

  9. lojolondon
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    John, please can you introduce Villiers to Huhne, he keeps saying it is getting warmer, and he is spending billions, far, far more than the waste on the trains.

  10. Caterpillar
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Well at first I was saddened by the analysis paralysis that seems so prevalent in UK Govt, then I was saddened to think of how much this planning must be loved by those who sell PRINCE (or other) project management training, but then I became concerened when it was pointed out that Ms Villiers had signed this off … what was the one like that she didn’t sign?

    I noticed on

    (I presume reputable, but don’t know) that a slow-freight line seemed to be about a fifth of the build cost of a fast passenger line (~ $2m per km c.f. ~ $10m per km, I didn’t look for costs per throughput). Have such differences been taken into consideration in the over the-top-planning-strategy. Or is that what we have to wait for?

  11. forthurst
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Sadly the railways have never recovered from the privatisation performed by John Major (0-2 ‘O’ levels).

    This outbreak of Acronymitis is clearly worrying, though; is it yet a notifiable disease? Bearing in mind the effects on the patient and the dire prognosis, it should be taken very seriously. Has there been any attempt to trace the primary vectors of this affliction? Management consultants for example do move around a lot and are known to leave large holes in budgets, but are they also causing simple issues to be hidden in a warren of esoteric obscuranticism in order to hide the fact that they are less use than professional people who understand the subject matter?

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Sadly or perhaps not – the railways have never really recovered form the invention of the rather more convenient, door to door, much cheaper, more flexible and far lower carbon emitting car, van and truck.

      • Bazman
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Are you suggesting their is no alternative method of transport? If you are not then which one do you approve of?
        Do you understand the question?
        Which, if any, method other than a car or truck would be a viable method of transport?
        I am not suggesting there is no alternative method of transport or you believe this to be the case. I am asking if you believe another method could be viable and what if you choose to answer this question this method could be?
        Failure to specifically answer or not reply this question will result in laughter.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          All methods of transport and advantages and disadvantages they should compete on a level fiscal and no subsidy basis.

          • Bazman
            Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            If you had a train service without subsidy there would be no train service. The entire road system of Britain being a toll system is what you propose. Get real.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

            Not true they make sense on certain commuter routes and some inter city journeys.

            If you think they would all go – without any subsidy you are making my point that they do not make much economic sense most of the time.

      • forthurst
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        It is very difficult to determine whether the railways have a role which can be economically justified unless they have not been organised to operate in a totally crackpot manner.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      I had my doubts about Edwina Curry but I have to admit that she looks quite attractive on Strictly Come Dancing. I can now understand how such allure may have distracted from the excitement of the rail privatisation scheme.

  12. Neil Craig
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Our railways are motre expensive than continental ones because, for them, as with virtually all public construction projects, the project costs are many times more than elsewhere in the world. The Millenium Dome cost £46 million to build but £670 million to build. Crossrail is on the order of £16 bn and consists mainly of 26 miles of tunnel – the Norwegians have cu 770 km of tunnels at £m per km. The new Forth Bridge is to cost £2, 300 m though the inflation adjusted cost of the last one is £320 million. And so on.

    The only possible explanations anyone has produced for this is massive bureaucratic parasitism, massive theft or some mixture, though I would be intetrested to hear any alternative.

    This report certainly shows that massive bureaicratic parasitism is a factor in in ensuring that well over 80% of money is lost.

  13. Matt
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Spot on interview on BBC today Mr R

    Your suggestion regarding banks would I think help induce recovery.

    I could write a book on bank lending over the last two years, but take the most recent example.

    My client, engaged in a good exporting business, had a letter from his bank reducing his overdraft facility from £200k to £100K unilaterally.

    There were no issues in the accounts that would concern the bank; ebit was only marginally reduced, working capital requirements unchanged.

    Now there are some peaks in the cash flow when the former OD limit is required delays in letters of credit being the main one.

    The bank didn’t ask how the company would get by, or negotiate the old facility, or insert additional warranties – it was just done. When pressed they said that the incremental £100k should be an equity rather than a banking issue. This point had never been raised in the previous years.

    Now my client will get round this, but it has made him and his board looking over their shoulders at the bank – not an atmosphere to induce expansion of business.

    To have three new banks, fuelled up by way of a market capitalisation looking for business seems ideal.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Standard practice with the banks at the moment. Which bank was it – one part owned by the state perhaps?

      • Bill
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Yes one part owned by the state

  14. Duyfken
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    That’s a nice roasting you have given about deplorable circumstances. I hope Ms Villiers is one of your devoted readers and realises now what a farrago she has put her name to.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Ms Villiers is a victim of her own lack of knowledge and seriously bad advice and if it were not so serious it would be laughable. It is a common knowledge that DfT advisors seem to have a competition to see how gullible she really is when making outlandish statements to the house about finance and matters relating to the railways, including one about energy costs that would defy the laws of physics. She doesn’t set out to mislead Parliament, but she has.

  15. Disaffected
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    As I have said before, Government ministers do not appear to be numerate or able to run a household budget. Today we learn that the Uk contribution was increased by 52% or £299 per household, unlike France and Italy the Uk did not have any greater return for the additional contribution that Blair agreed to make in 2005. By then he already knew he was leaving office. We also have a Tory MP who rightly says the policies of this Government are inconsistent and incoherent and sometimes contradictory. I think I would put it more strongly than that. There is not a unified plan that all dove tails into a solution for the economic situation the country is in. Political ideology ahead of national interest- disgraceful when we are all being asked to work longer and pay more tax. When oh when are they going to learn to cut wasteful spending before asking for more!!!!!

  16. oldtimer
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    This is confirmation, if confirmation is needed, that we have chumps in charge.

    This morning I hired a man with a van to do some furniture removing for me. In the course of the journey we somehow got on to the subject of the cost of rail travel. I commented that it cost my wife and myself £30 between us for a travel card to London. The annual cost of the privilege to qualify for concessionary fares, to which we are entitled, was now about £30 each, which would save c£5 each per ticket per journey made. Our decision was easy – we decided to travel to London as little as possible from now on.

    He said that, because of the high and rising cost of rail travel, he was currently looking at the economics of setting up an on-demand minibus service into London. He said the paperwork, down loaded in pdf format, was horrendous. The state required cost of setting up the service was going to be c£700; that was before buying his minibus, printing flyers and prospecting for business. This service, if he gets it going, will be a third leg to add to his marquee and man with van services. He is a typical example of a self employed man trying to make ends meet. Government and local government regulation does not make life easy for people like him. At the other end of the scale is the garbage you shared with us this morning. No wonder we are in trouble as a country.

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Yes, indeed. Special pleading for rich users of the railways, almost as horrible as special pleading for failed rich bankers. Once we have flushed this stupid idea down the toilet, we should do the same to RBS.

    I am currently working on alternative projects for an Inland Container Depot, to be serviced by rail for environmental (decongestion) reasons, for Colombo Port in Sri Lanka. For every one good project there are several hopeless ones. I have told the people in Sri Lanka Railways (over and over again) that it is not a cost plus project but a price minus project – i.e. the competing road haulage industry defines the price that you can charge for the transport to site, and you have to keep your costs down to be financially viable. Can I get through to them? No, I can not.

    It is the special pleading that annoys the H out of most people, is it not? Banks and railways should be businesses, not parasitic basket cases, n’est ce pas?

  18. cronshd
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    John – 2 points:

    1. Is it about time that we ensure we benchmark such expenditure against the best/most efficient countries/railway operations?

    2. Is this another case of a minister out of their depth – and without any underpinning guiding principles (eg. reducing bureaucracy and lowering expenditure) – it just results in more of the same.

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s quite ridiculous the way some people jump to the conclusion that the EU must have a hand in this.

    OK, so the EU is involved with some policy areas, but only the 30-odd listed here:

    And, OK, one of them is “Transport”:

    And, OK, that does say:

    “… it makes sense for the European single market to have a single transport infrastructure. This is why the EU has opened national transport markets across the Union to competition, particularly in the road and air sectors and, to a lesser extent, for rail.”


    “The EU also promotes major transport infrastructure projects, the so-called Trans-European Networks (TENs). Among priority projects are …

    several north-south and east-west rail upgrades.”

    But that doesn’t prove that either HS1 or the proposed HS2 are actually parts of one of the EU’s TENs, where’s the hard evidence to support that wild claim?

    And it does say:

    “Shifting goods and passengers from roads to less polluting forms of transport is at the heart of any sustainable transport policy.”


    “The purpose is to shift passengers and goods from road to rail, and to replace some short-haul passenger flights by rail journeys.”

    but that doesn’t mean that UK government policies are in any way influenced by what the EU says.

    On the contrary, it could easily be something else which is “nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”, in the famous phrase of a certain Buckinghamshire councillor when he was Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly.

    In any case, even if the EU is contributing to the formation of transport policy in the UK, it’s far too late to start objecting to that now, a decade after the Commission issued its first ten-year action plan, two decades after Council Directive 91/440/EEC of 29 July 1991 “on the development of the Community’s railways” – that’s like “the Community’s postal services” – and nearly four decades now since Parliament agreed that we would gradually stop running our own country and let a consortium of foreigners do that for us.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink


      I am constantly amazed by your knowledge of the EU, its policies and its proceedures posted on here.

      Perhaps you should hire yourself out as a consultant to the government and point out all of these things, whilst they are still in the draft (daft) stages so we can reject them before they become real policy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Almost always I’m only looking at what’s freely available to be read through the miracle of the internet, which is time-consuming and tedious and in the end won’t tell me much that ministers and their officials don’t already know; the difference is that the government deliberately chooses not to relay that information to the general population in any honest and clear way, preferring to keep much of the truth out of the eye of the public and instead feed it with garbled and misleading media stories.

        • alan jutson
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink


          Thank you for making it clearer in your regular postings.

  20. David John Wilson
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    It needs to be ensured that all rail developments are designed in a way that integrates with local requirements and are multipurpose rather than aimed to meet a single objective.
    For example why is crossrail designed to terminate at Maidenhead rather than Reading where it would interface with a number of other services which terminate there? The links constructed to Heathrow all suffer from a similar lack of forsight.
    Similarly the number of bus services which service Reading station have gradually been eroded over the past ten years.
    Why does each major development reduce rather than improve the connectivity between buses and rail? I predict that the new station at Wokingham will move it away from most of the bus services which currently pass the station.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      It is ending in Reading, under daft Treasury rules the Reading rebuilding and Crossrail were put in different budgets to get the funding through. The depot which will service Crossrail trains and other 10 car electrics at Reading is already being built and the foundations can be seen to the North of the mainline just West of Reading Station.

  21. Bernard Otway
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    To Public Servant. YES the civil service is politicised,it is the result of the Broederbond Left
    achieving the inexorable Coup de Tat of taking over the whole of the non private sector,that was started 50 years ago,in fact to me it is in the shape of a classic PONZI scheme,needing ever more recruits at the bottom endlessly looking upwards for orders and direction [if you dare call it that] the top justifies the bottom and the bottom justifies the top,it is almost like matter and anti matter split the two and you get a huge explosion.As John says WHY WHY WHY take two and a half years to do a budget,an example where I am concerned, I started a chain of fashion accessory shops in South Africa in 1987 with one shop within the same two and a half year period ie by 1990 my wife and I had personally opened 42 shops AND did all the PHYSICAL work too ie shop fitting etc ,some 1500 kilometres from home base,each branch had to be investigated justified and budgeted before even signing with landlords,most had to have carried in our VW transporter ready built shopfittings to assemble on site from our home base in Durban,one shop I really wanted was in a brand new shopping centre in Nelspruit 860 kms away from Durban,to make sure I got the best located shop I left Durban at 6 am to Nelspruit met with the landlords agent on site agreed terms ,signed the lease and went back immediately to Durban, got back at 2.30 am next day,total mileage 1720 kilometres TRY doing that in the Public service,there would have been endless meetings and focus groups by which time the landlord would have found another fashion accessory shop tenant having been made aware of that potential,and we would have lost one of our best ever performing shops[first days takings were R2500 which astounded us,in fact this shop on it’s own would have been enough to live on ].
    Apropos this railway issue I now call Mrs Villiers and her boss Phillip Hammond the ministers of SILLY RAILWAYS imagining him with John Cleese’s bowler hat prancing down the westminster corridors. And Lifelogic is right I only go by car and if I can’t I don’t
    in fact while I am driving I comment to my wife whenever I see empty double deckers
    at many different times of the day “there goes another CARBON FOOTPRINT’ and we both laugh.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      It’s caller personal freedom, and since railway usage has soared enormously it goes to show many of us prefer NOT to use expensive cars when we can. Hammond was wrong, railways are not just a rich mans toy. I save money by not driving, and don’t forget, there are many who cannot drive through not being able to afford to, disability, age or other infirmity.

  22. frank salmon
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Well done John and keep pressing the government. You say ‘We will look at how you could run a bigger and better railway with less subsidy in a future post.’
    Surely you mean a smaller and better railway….

  23. Elephant_Never_Forge
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The HLOS that the IIP goes towards doccumenting would appear to be part of the defined outputs, alternatives, value for money and better uses of the resources being used that HM Trasury’s own “Green Book” requires before any Government funded Transport intervention is considered

    It’s something that does’t yet appear to have been produced in any similar form for justification of HS2

  24. Richard1
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    It is incredible that an minister as able and clear-sighted (on most other things) as Philip Hammond can preside over this rubbish, and the nonsensical waste that is HS2. It will be very difficult for the Govt to establish real credibility in making the UK competitive again while this sort of thing continues.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      HS2 should be being built now, the capacity to meet demand is desperately needed, especially with growth in inter-modal freight on the old lines. Already traffic is being turned away because the railway is too congested. There is no viable alternative that frees up enough paths. One could build a new line for freight usage but being much slower they do not free up the same amount of paths on the old line to meet the amount of growth. If one builds a high speed line about a dozen paths an hour are opened up on the old line and as it goes beyond Birmingham even more are. The evidence given by the SNCF TGV chief to Parliament is a good guide to what can be achieved. The oft quoted alternative of widening current routes is vastly more expensive and would result in tens of thousands of properties having to be bought as it passes through high value farmland and towns. HS2 being routed to avoid much of this. Much cheaper to pay a bit of compensation where there is a GENUINE (not imaginary) effect.
      The alternative is do nothing, and that will please all those users of the M40, M1, A14 and the like, and people who sell foreign made lorries of course.

      • rose
        Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        I don’t know if this is relevant, but the intercity train between London and Bristol was rather like being on the underground yesterday morming, so overcrowded was it. And it was a Sunday moring!

  25. Electro-Kevin
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t dispute the inefficiencies within the rail system nor that they should be dealt with. Privatisation was meant to have avoided this but I recall BR being more productive and flexible than the present system.

    A government has every right – nay duty – to question subsidies on behalf of the taxpayer and fair paying passenger.

    We live in a country where people cannot afford to live close to their work places and where retirees have moved away from their families in order to release equity to make up for failed pensions or avoid the high costs and unpleasantness of city living. Turn-up-and-go ticket prices are way too high but off peak, pre-booked tickets can be far cheaper. The highly esteemed Lifelogic extols the benefits of the car over train but fuel duty and other ‘nudges’ (ostensibly to save the environment) offset them and people are returning to rail travel in droves. That’s without mentioning the appalling congestion on roads in and around our cities.

    ‘Empty’ trains may travel in straight lines but for scheduling purposes they are ‘in circuit’. At different stages of that circuit they will be full and other times empty. There is, however, a case to be argued for fewer trains but with more coaches – so long as they reach passenger locations at peak times.

    Factor in crew positionning and that the trains need to reach depots at regular frequency for fuelling, servicing, washing, toilet discharge and the ‘inefficiencies’ of near empty movements begin to make a bit more sense – there is such unavoidable waste in all public transport, including airlines.

    Most of my trains are so crowded that the ticket collectors can’t get through. However I fully expect our depot to be facing redundancies at some point within the next two years. This is a shame as – in my extensive experience – our crews are not only the most dedicated but, by some margin, the cheapest and are everything that the privateers had hoped to achieve.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      You’d at least expect me to be able to spell ‘fare’ wouldn’t you ?

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

        Btw. It was me that hid the report down in the sofa. Well the sofa was in close proximity. Having had sight of the McNulty report I was hiding behind it at the time.


  26. Comstock
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    “We will look at how you could run a bigger and better railway with less subsidy in a future post.”

    I look forward to this with some interest…….

  27. Mark
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Sir Humphrey had a more melodious turn of phrase than today’s civil servants. As Jim Hacker would have said, “Can I have that in English?”

    They’re obviously trying to pull a fast one on the slow train. Pardon me boy, but better not let the A train lot get bamboozled by it – they’ll be doing 500 million before the day is done.

  28. zorro
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Two and a half years to create a Delivery Plan….doubtless the actual delivery will take another 20 years! If the same methodology had been in action during WW11, we’d still be waiting to run D-Day whilst awaiting seemingly endless consultation, an Equality Impact Assessment, a FULL Risk Assessment, and a Gateway Review.

    The PRINCE methodology is alive and well. The only trouble is that though project managers may be expert at filling in all the forms, they tend, from my experience, to know little or at least not enough about the job at hand.

    I’m afraid that this seems like another example of straining the gnat (pointless bureaucracy) but swallowing the camel (missing the huge risks to delivery) in public service.


    • David John Wilson
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Rigid adherance to PRINCE usually results in overstaffing the management of projects by about 50%, and a delay to timescales of at least 20%. It is typical of the cibil service rigidly applying a methodology which was originally designed to provide a framework.
      Once this is coupled with the civil service habit of not approving documents until the last day by which approval is required instead of the private industry practice of approval as soon as it arrives on ones desk where eve possible you have identified a major reason why government projects rake so long.
      I moved from a private company where we used PRINCE as a skeleton methodology to a government agency where it was strictly enforced. The difference was that a project stage which I could previously complete in about a week took months in the agency.

    • Elephant_Never_Forge
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      You’ll see that this is for the plan for delivery between 2014 and 2019 and then the whole process starts again for the next 5 years

  29. Andrew
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    JR -I shall be interested to read your views re the future of the Railways.

    However I thought they were de-nationalised by the Major Government and that the operating bodies are still private companies ?

    So may be indeed we should reach a position that finally “bottoms out” what the optimal structure should be !

    The Minister probably puts her name to what you correctly point out seems to be an almost endless litany of well financed discussion and consultation because where public administration is concerned this is , in the words of T.S Eliot , — “The Way we Live Now”.

    The “New Politics ” (of all major parties ) demands that there is consultation (indeed a Duty to Consult) about , well, most most things that lie in the public domain …..from this to quite small matters that for example lie within a bit of a local Council Ward.”….

    Reply: Network Rail is a public sector owned operation, and the TOCs are heavily controlled by government contracts

  30. John Roberts
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    The comment is very critical about Network Rail and the process that it goes through to get to a point whereby it can determine its investment plans and have them agreed and funded. However, the regulatory framework within which the railway operates is set down by the government, not the railway industry, and dare I say it is one of the many layers of bureaucratic processes that privatisation introduced into the railway industry.

    Yes, I’m sure Network Rail could become more efficient. But it is also saddled by regulations that are much more onerous than in many continental countries. Try to build a new station or new platform and you have to build a massive bridge with enormous ramps to permit step free access – on the continent then, provided the linespeed is relatively slow, there would be a crossing on the track for the few people unable to use the staircases. Result – millions of pounds added to the bill at a stroke. Another example, locally, attempts to reopen the railway to Portishead are hampered by the cost of a new road bridge, as new level crossings are not allowed on the network. Yet the crossing is a couple of hundred meters from the end of the line, so any sensible risk assessment would permit a crossing because trains will be running at 30mph or less. Just two examples – there are many more.

    So by all means let’s compare our industry with Europe, and start to remove some of the nonsense that prevents our rail industry from investimg effectively.

    And its not true that only the rich use railways. Try telling that to the increasing thousands who commute into Bristol and many other cities – the biggest problem the railways has is overcrowding and the inability of the government to permit investment in a timely manner – its currently over 900 days since the last contract for new trains was signed. They are also the safest they have ever been, with only one passenger life lost in an accident in the last 7 years.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Agreed on all that.

      There have been significant improvements in safety. The industry has far stricter discipline than it ever has before. Every action is monitored and everyone is accountable.

      We are also scared to death of lawyers. A good thing in one way. Very expensive and time consuming in another.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Very good, the DfT is excellent at stopping private sector initiative. You will be happy to know that there is a line in the Bristol area that has seen a 269% increase in ridership (Severn Beach) and that FGW wanted to hire some longer trains to run on it to replace two coach trains in the peaks. Not only were these three coach trains better, they were cheaper to operate. DfT said no business case! What the hell do they know about business? Those three coach trains are going to be stored out of use rather than relieve the massive overcrowding that occurs on this route. They have not changed their attitude since the last government changed the franchise in 2006. All that overcrowding in the Bristol area then was caused by the DfT suddenly removing trains from use and transferring 16 coaches to another operator.
      Earlier to meet booming demand on other routes and not being allowed to lease new trains, FGW actually managed to buy some HSTs that were going to be scrapped, spent millions rebuilding them and getting them into service. The DfT went berserk! The then Labour Govt. was furious at private sector initiative being used to meet demand and their attitude still pervades in the corridors of power. Knowledge is power, and the less knowledge the public has the more power the DfT civil servants have. The true private railway is not here yet. The current mess is caused by too much, not too little state control.

  31. English Pensioner
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    This sort of thing is why I am unable to take this government seriously.
    The Tories have got involved in the same sort of paperwork exercise as previous government, no doubt encouraged by their Civil Servants who keep themselves fully employed with this type of rubbish.
    How comes it that the government can re-write the planning regulations an a couple of weeks but to prepare a plan for the railways takes years?
    Can it be that the builders (and Tory donors) hope to get something out of the planning changes, whilst the railways are only likely to get less, so that every delay is to their advantage? Does HS2 get a mention?

    • Elephant_Never_Forge
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      As I posted elswhere previously
      The HLOS that the IIP goes towards doccumenting would appear to be part of the defined outputs, alternatives, value for money and better uses of the resources being used that HM Trasury’s own “Green Book” requires before any Government funded Transport intervention is considered

      And No there isn’t a similar production anywhere I can see for HS2

  32. Alan Wheatley
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    My guess is Teresa Villers put her name to the document having drawn the short straw, her boss, Philip Hammond, having already had more flak on transport than is comfortable for a Secretary of State.

    Hammond is the man who thinks that those who do not think as he does on HS2 can have their arguments dismissed by labelling them as “NIMBYs” (according to a member of the Transport Select Committee). Hammond is the man who comes up with something that is likely to appeal to many people, increasing the speed limit to 80mph, only to shoot himself in the foot by making the case that more deaths are worth the benefits of reduced journey times, when the telling argument is to say that this increase brings cars into line with other motorway users as cars are currently the only vehicles to be limited to the same speed on a motorway as on a dual carriageway.

    So this latest example of non-management is but the latest in a rolling disaster story.

    • Elephant_Never_Forge
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Having an 80 MPH speed limit is OK till traffic can’t get off at a motorway junction at the speed it arrives at and a queue forms blocking Lane 1 so instead of three lanes there are only TWO

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        You highlight a valid issue, but it is the same issue with a 70mph limit. I would say a car at 80 can better react to a sudden hazard than a coach at 70.

        The hazard of queues in Lane 1 can be minimised by warning signs. Shame the excellent signs usually show the wrong information.

  33. Bill
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Agree with John on this one. I can recall the days in the 1970s when the rail unions used to bring the country to a halt as ‘angry’ workers were whipped up by their union bosses. Do you recall how we had to have a second person in the cab with the driver. This made sense in the days of steam trains but the unions insisted the practice continue after electrification. I had thought that by breaking the network into chunks (South Eastern, Central, etc) we were preventing the blackmail exerted by trade unionists with a national reach: at least some parts of the network would continue operating if others ground to a halt. Now I see that the quangocrats are more or less another version of the unions. Both are driven by self-interest and a desire to raid the public purse.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Now what you have is a very middle class type of train driver. Many are well educated.

      Aslef membership is moderate. It doesn’t need to exercise national reach and doesn’t really want to as far as I can see.

      The second person in the cab was for when linespeeds had been raised but the signalling sighting distances had not been adapted.

      The Automatic Warning System in those days (pre Southall) was not mandatory. A driver could be expected to work trains without audible indication that there were cautionary signals being displayed.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        PS, I worked as a ‘second man’ I was on low pay (my duties included coupling and shunting) and it was considered to be part of my apprenticeship.

  34. Martin
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Strange as it may seem coal power stations are good news for trains as much power station coal is moved by rail. Perhaps you should let the minister know that the Redwood power strategy will mean more coal trains.

  35. Tim Almond
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    They claim that their travellers put out 53 g of CO2 for every mile travelled, compared to 148 g by bus travellers and 127 g by car travellers.

    I think their figures may be wrong. According to the rather excellent Transport Direct (, DEFRA’s figures are:-

    Bus: 134g/km
    Train: 53g/km
    Coach: 300g/km

    As DEFRA separate bus and coach, I presume that bus is a number for urban bus travel (low speed, lots of acceleration and deceleration), while coach represents the National Express/Megabus travel that is a more realistic comparison to rail travel.

    I hope this helps you.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      Intercity coach is indeed better than train but these figure do not take into account the staff needed for public transport, the rails needed for trains, the longer journeys and connections needed. Cars are usually better than public transport for most journeys and certainly if they are fairly full.

      That is why they do not need subsidy and are still so popular and much cheaper.

      • Molossus
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Motorways cost on average £7-9m per mile just to maintain and improvements on the M4 near Bristol will average £90m per mile to initiate.
        Cars may not need subsidy, but the lorries and coaches receive hidden subsidies because of the wear and tear they cause. We are subsidising every single foreign lorry seen on the UK road network and companies like National Express receive indirect subsidies for their coach network. Trains worse then coach? Hardly. Time is money.

        • rose
          Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          I would like to see the wear and tear costs of lorries audited. Including the severe damage they do to pavements in our cities – often part of our Georgian heritage. The wear and tear on our sleep and nerves cannot be audited, but the cost is considerable.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

          Do not forget that the roads are nearly always also needed to complete a rail journey door to door anyway as well as the rails they need roads for connections.

          Car only need the roads.

      • Molossus
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        No, emissions on road coaches per passenger/km assuming 70% seat occupancy on both is far worse than the train. Even the most efficient of road coaches cannot match the fuel efficiency of the oldest diesel trains used on local services, let alone Inter City diesel or electric trains.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          Even some BBC published and government figures seem to agree coach is a lot lower carbon than rail and a full car is better. The figures rarely take into account the longer journey connections staff and line carbon costs and movement to and from depots and other empty movements either.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      What about a moped? Some manufactures claim 200mpg? Maybe not this good, but my experience of mopeds is that 100mg is easily obtainable. Fat birds and mopeds. Great fun riding them until your mates find out. You can use that one at the Tory conference John. Go down a storm.

  36. Tim Almond
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    oops… added a zero that shouldn’t have been there. Coach travel is 30g/km.

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Since local diesel trains use the same engines as coaches and move on average three times the number of people for around 1/3rd of the fuel consumption, how do the trains put out more emissions per passenger /km for moving more people using less fuel?

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

        As my reply above.

  37. REPay
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Twenty minutes off the journey to Brum…civil servants and public money tonnes of our money – shall we treble the estimate now? Leave aside the damage to the countryside and voting intentions…

    None of this sounds like a government set on tackling waste. I wonder who has been lobbying…

    • Molossus
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      It’s not the twenty minutes to Brum, it’s the enormous amount of capacity it frees elsewhere to enable more local passenger and freight trains to run, then there is the second stage further North which will benefit far more areas of the UK. The problem is the lies and other tactics used to misinform by the NIMBY’s and those who would prefer more motorway to be built have been swallowed by the popular media. Fortunately the majority of parliament have access to the full picture and are able to make decisions based on rationality and not false sensationalism.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Will HS2 be run publicly or privately ?

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        It is also the reduction in existing services needed to make way for HS2.

        It is also the fact that the economic case assumes 18 trains per hour when the practical maximum is 14, according to evidence to the Transport Select Committee from continental HS rail operators.

        It is also that the case for London-Birmingham relies on eventual extension to the North, and if you believe that will ever be built then you believe it will be powered by flying pigs.

        It is also the dismissal of the step-wise increase in capacity that can be achieved by improvements to the existing network without the hugh risk of HS2.

        It is also the economic case presented through rose tinted, government funded spin.

        As to the NIMBYs, more strength to their elbow I say. When the Minister has to rely on dismissing his opponents’ case by seeking to categories them in derogatory terms you know he does not have a winning argument to support his plans.

  38. James Sutherland
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    My plan, which takes considerably less than 2.5 years:

    Regulated fare increases will be capped at RPI.
    Subsidies will be cut by 10% per year until they reach zero.

    The rail companies will finally have to start cutting costs instead of inflating them, and put their effort into actually earning revenue from customers instead of milking the government. More ticket barriers and ticket vending machines, fewer on-train, on-platform and office staff – and no doubt enormous back-office savings too.

    At 66p per passenger-mile, they shouldn’t need to charge a single penny in fares to cover actual efficient running costs, let alone demand further above-inflation increases. As long as they’re allowed to get away with this, though, they have no incentive to fix the fiscal leak.

  39. Winston Smith
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Having met Theresa Villiers on numerous occasions, I am not surprised she would put her name to such a document.

  40. Anne Palmer
    Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    The HS2 is indeed part of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy, in other words no matter what it costs, this High Speed Rail will go all the way up to bonny Scotland because, looking at it another way-it gives the EU sovereignty of our Rail Network-doesn’t it? It is telling our once sovereign Government what we must have in the way of a railway-all the way throughout the UK or what ENGLAND will become if the EU gets its way, through EU Regions. It will not even bring in work for the British people, because guess which Country the “workers” will come from? But guess where the MONEY for this project will come from? Off the elderly, the poor, the children, the sick, the Schools that should have been built, the Hospitals, our Defence of our own Country, Our Police, Our Forces (get the picture!) etc because all the money the essential needs of these vulnerable people will be CUT by our own Government to pay for this.

    But this is only part of the TEN-T poliicy. for we give sovereignty over our sky for the EU’s Single European Sky, and Sovereignty over our Ports and Seas (12 mile limit) for the EU’s Motorway in the Sea. And that is only half of it!

  • About John Redwood

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

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