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further excellent work from Team Cameron and the Bleeding You Drys.
*starts cutting self*
The rail service in the UK is an absolute laughing stock. When you look at the prices and quality in the UK compared to the cheap, efficient and quick rail services in Europe, well…it’s a joke. I never, ever use the train because it’s a piss-take. It really shouldn’t be that way.
Northern Rail's 'service' is particularly grim - still running 30-year-old BR stock, dilapidated stations, clueless/obnoxious staff and constant delays (which are in no small part due to the fact they're running antiquated trains). Hopeless on every single level, really.
Seems perfectly fair and fully in line with the marked improvements we've seen this year to the already excellent service.
the last tory government thought it would be a splendid cost-cutting idea to remove a section of track between littleport and downham market. so i spend 5-10 minutes a day waiting at littleport for the late-running southbound train to hurry up.
You know, with a quote from the RMT about how it was the train companies robbing the public and NO attempt to imply unions were evil or money-grabbing.
This must be a govt. with the least support from their traditional press saviours ever. The amount of lefty hand-wringing stuff in the Telegraph has been incredible.
Anyway, I know very little about how rail funding works and how much money is needed to sustain the network but if train fares keep on rising at this level then, surely, you're going to get a situation where people can't actually afford to get the train in the not too distant future...
How does this all work then?
Under the last Government raises were cappef at inflation +1%. The current Government raised this to inflation +3%, with some alliwed a further 5% on top, and of course we have much higher inflation (5%) now.
The official line is that the money is needed for capital investment, except we have an absolutley fucked rail system that's largely a state-sanctioned monopoly. Infrastructure and subsidies are provided by the public, while the train operaring companies consistently make profits.
amusingly BBC news have just followed a report about this with a piece about wind power investment to reduce our need for foreign oil. If only there was some way cheap and reliable public transport could help with that!
I know that the British rail system gets a kicking but I am a regular train catcher and haven’t experienced any problems of note aside from one especially ropey New Year’s Day in the last 5 years. Unless you’re talking about something else I’m not noticing as a passenger... (Please note, I don’t get the trains at rush hour or anything so my testimony could be somewhat worthless).
But, yeah. I guess with an administration at the helm who need to slash public spending, I can’t imagine that train fares are high on their agenda of things to protect. Shame. It is quite troubling though because how far CAN rail fares go? Putting them up RPI+3% per year is unsustainable to my eyes...
Inability to cope with any extremes in weather, both heavily subsidised and expensive for passengers everywhere else it is one or the other
Admittedly I don't travel at rush hour, but are your uses of the words 'constant' and 'inability' that accurate?
I don't think our train system represents great value in terms of the standard of service you get for the money you pay, but I do think its dreadfulness is a touch overstated at times...
Atleast once a month a major delays and minor delays happen atleast once a week, a month ago I was delayed at waterloo for several hours twice in one week, the weather the snow will literally grind everything to a halt for days on end. leaves rain etc also often cited
...is that you'll get inconsistent service between providers. I mean I used to work with someone from Berkhamsted who have no problem getting to work 95% of the time; whilst my other colleague from Guildford used to have no end of trouble.
As a non-commuter on trains I guess I'm quite fortunate to not experience all of this...
I think the gap between what you pay and what you get is the key to the dreadfulness though, really. Because that gap is already too big, to make it even bigger is just a massive kick in the face. It's also going to drive more people to use their cars to get places which seems to completely miss the point of what public transport should be providing in this day and age.
The service does not seem to be of the quality expected for the price one pays for it.
So you might be lucky, but some routes are disrupted on a regular basis/overcrowded/etc. I think there's a first great western service that gets filled with 18% more than its official capacity. That's pretty bad.
all the actual train services are run by private companies, who get subsidies to run the services to a certain level (because otherwise they would only run peak/profitable trains).
furthermore, the fair-setting system is broken as well. my local station is served by trains from two companies, one who run local services that start here and go into London, and one who run intercity services that call here on the way too/from the midlands. but the way the pricing system works, the 'prime' operator (in this case, the local service operator) sets the prices from my station into London, and the other operator (the intercity one) has to follow them.
in effect this is helpful for me because it simplifies things for me, i can't get on the 'wrong' train by accident and i have more of a choice of service.
on the other hand, there's no competition, my local operator can set whatever prices it sees fit and the other company has no say in the matter, and we've got a situation where public money is used to provide infrastructure for heavily-subsidised private companies to make profits off. given all of that, you've got to ask - aside from some snazzy branding, just what are the private companies /actually/ providing here?
...between certain places. I've certainly noticed that. London Midland have also upped their game in terms of frequency, quality and reliability of service...
That said, the fares conundrum is always going to be a negative part of a part-privatised rail system... some of the fares you get charged on trains, sometimes unfairly, are a fucking disgrace.
wasn't that big a deal. I think if you'd said to people:
You can have significantly faster trains but prices will rise way over inflation for the next two decades
You can just have a more reliable service
people would have chosen the second option.
I remember this coming up c. 2000 when the railways were having great trouble with reliability etc. Virgin were saying "LOOK AT THESE MEGAFAST TRAINS WE'RE BUILDING" and everyone was like "Look! We don't care, we just want trains to run on time!".
However, from where I'm standing, Virgin seem to provide a really fast AND reliable service. Never had any problems myself really and unless someone can prove me wrong statistically, I think they have covered both bases pretty well.
However, the problem is Virgin only operate on mega profitable lines really so, this isn't a model which is to be followed nationally...
I guess I just mean that these sort of upgrades aren't really worth holding up when we're talking about how good or bad the train services are.
improvements to the West Coast Main Line.
With so many different organisations doing different things on the network, how do we know what benefits are caused by which ones?! i.e. Is there any reading material about what improvements are down to who?
It’s a bit difficult to get your head around, as upgrades are very long-term things that can last nearly as long as a franchise.
The basic gist though, is that the line and signal upgrades have had the largest impact on reliability and punctuality, and the operators themselves haven’t. Their improvements have been on cost-efficiency ‘savings’ (by reducing staff costs, largely), and leasing better trains from the rolling stock companies (TOCs don’t actually own any of their trains). The better trains are not the cause of the improvements in reliability and punctuality (although they have improved comfort, or extended the level of tolerance of passengers). The most common reasons for delays on trains are not faults on the stock itself, but signal failures, points failures, theft or vandalism and weather disruption.
They changed it so thegovernment could cut subsidies, they pay subsidies because like most public services they arent actually profitable, they would be iftrain companies could get away with just rrunning peak time but they obviously cant so have to be subsidised or charge high fares to almost guarantee profit and entice the train companies to take it on. Im sure its gonna have a wider impact, my season ticket costs 3700 but to that youve got to add the tax ni student loan deductions you are paying on money you never see, I could take a 5-6 grand pay cut and take home the same money if I worked locally, its gonna force more people into london raise rent even further or price people out of commuting and access to jobs
They are things that are surely less susceptible to price rises. i.e. people HAVE to work and if they need to pay more to get there then, they're gonna have to.
Impact on general quality of life, however, if these price rises continue is going to be notable...
Youd have to earn alot to make commuting to worthwhile, eachtime it goes up it will pass more peoples threshold of willingness to pay so they will opt for something locally, this is bad for their prospects and bad for employers losing potentially good employees
...but people's threshold of willingness for this is REALLY high (or 'Price Elasticity of Demand' to use a more technical term). People don't make decisions about changing careers or whatever so easily. There are a range of things the average family can, and will, cut before they decide to bin their career off because commuting has become prohibitive.
I'm not saying that it will never happen, but it will happen with such an infrequency for it not to become a massive social problem.
epecially at the begining of most peoples careers and lower paid jobs, in 2009 my ticket was 3330 now its 3700 next year its 4000 the year after that it will be 4320ish, thats almost as much as a years rent here and a big increase for such a small amount of time, unless you earn alot you have to move to london or work locally and the more it goes up the more people will
My salary is 27730, pension student loan tax ni season ticket = take home 1255, if I earnt 21000 but worked locally id take home 1243, im already questioning whether its worth the money and 2.5 hours commuting a day and thats at this years rate the more it goes up the more id question it and im sure others do the same
by encouraging local employment. I fucking hate commuters.
Im sure guildford isnt suffering because people look to london, If someone likes somewhere enough to live and commute from there they would probably love to work there too if there were the jobs but there probably arent, especially if you want to do a certain thing cities are big enough to have the range of sectors towns will have a limited choice. For an efficient employment market you want to have the biggest catchment area so jobs and skills are matched appropriately
who should pay? Should it be all the taxpayers? Or the people who are using and benefiting from the rail system?
garnish the profits of the train operating companies
cut subsidies to train operating companies
put a levy on developers that build massive suburban housing developments where the only point of access into an employment centre is the local train station
there are many options that don't involve squeezing people on middle incomes even further.
It was pointed out that a 10% privatisation of the road network would net the public purse £80bn or almost all of their deficit reduction plan
what do you think of that idea?
but I feel quite sorry for the rail minister. I know she didn't want to have to do this. She's getting a lot of unjustified personal ire on twitter.
As a fare payer, I wish it wasn't happening, but if the govt is committed to reducing the deficit, this is the sort of thing that has to be done.
It's a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the inner workings of politics, and in that film there's a scene where the King of USA wants to save a public service so reallocates the money from other funding sources.
I’m sure that clever economists have undertaken studies to establish the level at which the subsidy of an individual sector actually becomes an investment in the economy as a whole, but I can’t be arsed to search for them.
a government formed on cutting the deficit will do shit like this.
Still shit though.
as one of her constituents, I'm happy to say that I think she's crap at her job in general.
note to self: relocate to central london.
130 a WEEK :(
not only are they doing 'rail upgrade work' so that it currently takes about 2 and a half hours to get there, but they've upped their off-peak fares by 25%. Literally breaking my balls.
Prices go up - people still use - prices go up - people stop using - prices stay the same - people keep not using - prices go down - people start using again
although I wouldn't expect the dip in oil prices to stay like that for long. driving is SO fucking expensive nowadays. I've been tempted to take my car down to London now that we live somewhere with parking, but I'm honestly minded just to sell it. Put it towards my rail fares, huh?
but it's going to have serious consequences if they continue to hide the real costs of driving whilst using punitive measures on commuters to pay for public transportation, and allow the perpetuation of auto-dependent living. SIGH!
THATS GOT TO COME FROM SOMEWHERE
Except that it’s totally bollocks when it comes to something like this, as it assumes that transport options exist in isolation from the rest of the functioning economy, and that road users actually pay the full price of the use of their vehicles.
Revenues from road tax and fuel duty might outstrip the costs of road maintenance and investment, but they don’t outweigh the cost to the economy of losses due to congestion, health problems caused by air quality and the inefficiencies that occur from a heuristic system and users.
but if people want to live away from their places of work, and are willing to pay the money to get there and back, they'll keep ramping it up (rightly or wrongly).
Solidarity jokey-response-in-serious-thread brother!
I also had no idea how facetious was spelt, but I heard it this morning, and I want to use it more.
I understand people in London have less choice and theres always external factors to every situation but most people at least can sort something out
and jobs tend not to be exactly permanent these days y'know
without looking like Im rolling over
Some people might have friends and family that aren't in the same town, but a visit needs to be costed like a holiday. Pretty sad i reckon.
as you're not FORCED to visit on peak times and so on - points valid though
but it is actually the belief of the current government. They want the sector to exist as a self-sufficient homeostatic closed system, with no state support. This might sound sensible in isolation, but it completely fails to grasp how critical the rail network is (or could be, with the right investment), to the British economy as a whole.
They also feel the same way about private rented housing too – except that those that will be affected are not middle-class commuters, but the very poorest in our society.
the idea that privatised train operators provide any genuine kind of "competition" (and therefore also the benefits of competition) is mad. It's not like you get to choose who you travel with most of the time. And even when you do, you pay the same fare anyway, given how rail fares work in this country.
Like buses, refuse collection etc., it is the government (national or local), who are buying the service, not the end user.
What this means is that you get someone like National Express bidding ridiculously low for the East Coast mainline route, then realising that they’re running at a loss, demanding extra money from the government, being forced to relinquish the franchise all having isolated the line from the rest of their franchises so that they were not liable for the losses.
is the tendering process governed by best value criteria? If so, pretty mental that Arriva continues to be a franchisee.
As with just about all goverment contracts, there is an element of best-value criteria weighting.
the whole infrastructure of the rail system is old and shit. and thus you can only have a certain number of trains per hour from any given station, unless you spend shit loads in order to improve things... sadly this means that you can't have easytrain or ryanrail like you can with planes. so basically there's no competition at all.
what's shit is that on some routes you can get dead cheap advance tickets. i went to oxford recently and it cost me £5.30 return, going for the weekend. however, if i want to visit winchester, which is also 1hr from london, i would pay £20. and that's still not massively expensive compared to some routes.
it sounds like i hate cheap tickets whereas i'm actually angry about some routes simply not offering these tickets
who can't drive so is heavily reliant on trains, this is pretty annoying. Most of the services I use are fairly punctual, but they're nearly always overcrowded and the quality never improves. Plus they're expensive enough already. Cross Country basically never have good advance fairs available on the routes I use either, so I'm always paying full price.
Like others have said, this government gives every impression of wanting to punish public transport users whilst making it easier for people to take their cars into city centres. Which is surely the opposite of what we ought to be doing, for many reasons.
On a side note, anyone else hear Theresa Villiers talking about this on Today this morning? It was embarrassing - she could barely string two words together without hesitating, wouldn't answer the questions, didn't seem to know the facts or even be able to set out the party line effectively.
I find this offensive.
when oil is even more megabucks than it is now and there's not been half the investment the railway network will need to cope with the effects of that.
in order to make trains an entirely viable commuting alternative for the majority of drivers you'd need to re-plan Britain. I drive 12 miles to work. i could get a train, but would have a 1 mile walk at the beginning. a 20min-40min wait for transfer, then a 2 mile walk at the end. appart from the fact i could booze at the stroke of home time, there's nothing in that for me, even with a hike to the max on petrol prices.
but the price of oil goes beyond just the price of petrol, most of the parts in a car will be made in some way that involves petrochemicals, as will the road surface, the vehicles that make the road surface, etc.
and it doesn't address the issue that auto-dependent living is inherently inefficient and unsustainable in the long run. britain probably does need to be re-planned.
why can't they just turn all first class carriages into standard class? It would reduce the ridiculous overcrowding, and does anyone desperately NEED first class services anyway? You get a socket and wifi in standard class, and you can buy yourself some tea and a newspaper.
East Coast Trains did it this month when I went to Edinburgh, charging £25 for first class so it filled up and eased congestion on the rest of the train. I often travel to Swindon/Bristol/Cardiff on a Friday night, and have to stand in a vestibule while there are at least 3 first class carriages virtually empty.
Am I missing something major here?
You're assuming train companies are 1. intelligent and 2. in the business of caring about passengers and 3. not greedy bastards
I think first class is completely indefensible, its basically people paying more so others have to stand
but if they don't sell them outside peak hours, surely it would make sense to have a nice full train at cheaper prices than people driving because they don't want to pay £200 or be in some kind of cattle lorry? I feel like that would make more money at weekends especially.
On my trains getting a seat is only hard at peak times though
it's so unfair having to spend a 4 hour train journey crammed into the hallway, having to move out of the way every time the train reaches a station, when there's loads of empty space!
or they could just make first class only a tiny bit more expensive than standard. or both. i like the idea of free wine and stuff
but at weekends you only get free tea and a sandwich, which isn't really worth £10.
and that's almost doubling the fare, so to me, is a lot.
i might pay that if i was going somewhere really really far away but otherwise, nah, not worth it.
when it costs more for me to take a train to London than it does to take a plane
Looked into travel from Glasgow to London last week, going down in ~six- weeks time, on a Thursday pm, and then back on the Monday pm.
Prices for two people (iirc):
?Plane - ~£250
?Train (sleeper seat) - ~£200
?Train (sleeper cabin) - £Mental (I missed the 45min window of opportunity to get one of the three resonably priced discounted tickets).
?Coach (overnight Nat Exp) - £70
?Coach (overnight Megabus) - £68
?Car (petrol) - ~£100
Went for National Express, but only cos my old small car's not the most fun for schlepping long distances in so it's a smidge further than I fancy (sharing) driving on a Thursday evening after work.
But really, something's preeeetty wrong there.
*Greyhound, not Megabus. Don't think there was a viable Megabus option for the times in question.
with an announcement that in the future, franchises would be tendered on a similar basis to the London Overground one. It's certainly not perfect, but provides for a good level of service without the government having to do an about-turn (which'll never happen) and renationalise the railways.
it costs me 500.00 a year.
Haves and have nots? Tick.
Trains these days, huh? Tick.
OMG DAILY MAIL LINK WITH NO ISTOSTY CAN'T BELIEVE I'M POSTING THIS I FEEL SO ALIVE? Tick.