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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    What the government needs to is run it as if it where a business and actually try and turn a profit alas in my experience the public sector cannot attract the right kind of person to achieve this so it will he run my civil servants and politicians
    What? The Post Office used to deliver billions in profits as did the railways which went to the Treasury. Not even Thatcher thought that privatising the Post Office or the railways made sense. She privatised firms like BT which needed to innovate which required access to capital. She also wanted to open up telecoms to competition. Neither made sense with the railways or the Post Office.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8435
    Fretwired said:
    She privatised firms like BT which needed to innovate which required access to capital. She also wanted to open up telecoms to competition. Neither made sense with the railways or the Post Office.
    Didn't really make sense with telecomms either.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    Fretwired said:
    She privatised firms like BT which needed to innovate which required access to capital. She also wanted to open up telecoms to competition. Neither made sense with the railways or the Post Office.
    Didn't really make sense with telecomms either.
    Yes it did. Call charges have dropped and there's more competition. BT were able to raise billions of pounds to fund R&D and develop new products.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • KilgoreKilgore Frets: 814
    Nationalise the lot and bring in some of that top quality management from the private sector.


    Philip Green is available.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 8867
    The concept isn't that efficiency is because it's private people running it, it's that no-one in government knows how to run it, which means more shit hits the fan and costs more money. If the private contract is drafted (and crucially, administered) properly, the cost of any crap work falls on the private party, so they should pay penalties every time they do something shit. Unfortunately, the UK has got to the point where the prices being bid are so high (ie margins too slim) so there is actually no slack left in the private companies' budgets for when shit hits the fan.

    Then you take into account that the UK contracts aren't actually very good for the UK because HM Gov never employs the highest calibre of people (internal people as well as external advisers) because there's always an outcry every time someone mentions spending tax money on legal fees.  On the other hand,  the private sector *does* employ the best people because it's better value to spend millions on a team structuring a £1bn+ deal really fucking well because that team will save WAY more than it costs. The net result is shitty government contracts which are then administered badly as well, and everything goes to shit. 

    The nationalisation of the railways brought together a lot of private railways and made it profitable. Then Beeching came along and the profit chasing continued at the expense of the user (coupled with the push for cars and all that jazz). So the idea that private is better or public is better... neither: they're as good as the people they employ and the projects they pursue. 

    I'd disagree firmly with the idea that HM Gov never employs the best people. I'd say it's more that governmental politics means that they utilise the best people incredibly poorly, the best people get frustrated and then move off to the private sector. The middling people, they put up with the bullshit, take what they can and invariably end up in the private sector after mopping up as much public gravy as possible. 

    Germany's railways don't seem too badly managed. 

    I think your rationale is reasonable and no doubt part of the picture as well. Ultimately once you have the wrong attitude in any institution it becomes self-fulfilling - you either can't attract good people (due to a mix of insufficient pay or crap jobs being available) or you attract them but there's too much bullshit and they leave. 

    The fact is good people can earn more doing better work in the private sector and that's a problem no-one ever wants to talk about. 
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  • HeartfeltdawnHeartfeltdawn Frets: 10684
    Fretwired said:
    What the government needs to is run it as if it where a business and actually try and turn a profit alas in my experience the public sector cannot attract the right kind of person to achieve this so it will he run my civil servants and politicians
    What? The Post Office used to deliver billions in profits as did the railways which went to the Treasury. Not even Thatcher thought that privatising the Post Office or the railways made sense. She privatised firms like BT which needed to innovate which required access to capital. She also wanted to open up telecoms to competition. Neither made sense with the railways or the Post Office.
    Of the large privatisations, the Post Office is possibly the most idiotic in terms of financial justification before the event and financial reality after the event. 
    I make Jeremy Paxman look like Fingermouse. 
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3352

    The problem with the privatisation is the interfaces it brings in, and the amount of money wasted on lawyers.

    I've had experience of it in the Tube PPP.  The lawyers made millions drawing up the contracts.  It's what happens afterwards though that adds to the cost.  Once they were signed, there were loads of people involved in all the interfaces.  There were probably the equivalent of 20 full time jobs just handling the blame for all the faults and delays, and who took the blame for them.  That's wasting huge amounts of money.  There were many other interfaces that became contractual as well, which caused all kinds of problems and costs.  You also lost the economies of buying in scale when it had been split up.

    The PPP was appallingly run, which made it even worse.  Metronet (a consortium including Balfour Beatty and WS Atkins) just gave the Track Renewals to Balfour Beatty, and the Station Upgrades to WS Atkins.  There was no competitive tendering.  Balfour Beatty and WS Atkins basically just named their price.  Even after Metronet collapsed, they had made ridiculous amounts of money out of the whole fiasco.  It was just icing on the cake that the government lawyers had written the contracts so badly that Transport for London ended up having to take on Metronet's debt (about £2 billion if I remember correctly).

    Even if a privatized railway is well run, with well written contracts, there will be extra bureaucracy and legal interfaces introduced that will cost money.  Add in the fact that the operator will need to skim off a profit, and it will offset any savings made by the supposedly better private sector management.

    There are a lot of things I don't agree with Corbyn on, but renationalising the railways is a good idea.  Hopefully the Tories will see sense and not put it out to tender again.  If some other franchises collapse it will probably help.

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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 276
    Although Thatcher hated the railways, they were very effectively modernised during her time in power. There were major electrification and signalling projects such as the East Coast Main Line. There was the wholesale replacement of clapped out loco-hauled trains by multiple units which made many threatened lines profitable again. There was sectorisation, which saw different business units such as Network SouthEast successfully created within BR. And most of this was accomplished on a shoestring, relatively speaking.

    Privatisation has proved amazingly wasteful and costly but it's too late to go back to BR now. The people and the expertise are long gone. And the very worst of the current railway companies is Network Rail, which is the only one that's been in public ownership for a long time.

    So those who advocate renationalising the railways, what sort of structure do you have in mind?
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3352
    They need to be run as not for profit companies and need to be left to get on with it.  Maybe agree a long term annual subsidy so they can plan effectively.  They need to be able to borrow against future income if necessary.

    One of the biggest problems with the pre-privatisation London Underground was the annualisation idiocy.  They weren't allowed to borrow money, so it led to absolute stupidity with budgets.  I had a colleague who was working on a project, but they ran out of money in the budget for that financial year, so rather than find £200,000 to finish it (because they weren't allowed to borrow), it got cancelled - even though it was something that needed doing.  The next year it got restarted again, but by the time it was all up and running it cost around £500,000 rather than the £200,000 that it would have cost with sensible governance.

    Going back to some kind of BR where everyone works for the same company is probably the best option.  Anything where it gets split up leads to everyone trying to blame each other and get lawyers involved.  If you are all on the same side you get the engineers on it and try to fix it.

    A lot of the expertise these days is with companies like Balfour Beatty.  As things are at the moment, you would have to buy in services, but I would try to build up in house capability over time.  It would take time, but long term it's probably the best approach.

    You can't consider the railways in isolation though.  When driverless cars come along, and people can drive into cities and not have to pay a fortune for parking, it will lead to less people on the railways.  It will also lead to massive congestion on the roads which will lead to road pricing.  Depending on the cost of the road pricing, that will drive people back on to the railways.  The logical thing to do would be to use the money raised by road pricing to subsidise the railways.  Rail is still a better way to move people long distances, and it doesn't create the particulate pollution that cars do.  The particulates won't all go away when diesel and petrol cars are killed of either as a good amount of it comes from tyre and brake dust.  There does need to be some joined up thinking on transport - and that includes a lot more cycling over shorter distances.  Around two thirds of journeys are under 5 miles.

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  • exocetexocet Frets: 500
    I spent last weekend in Denmark. Stopped in Copenhagen for a night and then travelled by train to the most Southerly tip.
    I've been over there a few times because my sister has lived there for nearly 30 years. In that time, the Danish appetite for cycling has not diminished. The infrastructure for cycling is superb. Many of the main roads in Copenhagen are 6 lanes....plus a bus lane each way, plus a cycle lane each way. The cycleway is seperated from the roads by a raised kerb. 

    As to the trains....I was reminded how restricted we are by our Victorian infrastructure heritage....double decker trains that are also wider so the capacity per carriage is increased greatly. Surely at some stage we will have to consider changing the loading gauge used in this country....longer trains will only take us so far? On a good day, my morning train is already 12 carriages long and invariably, I'm at the back. 
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1316
    edited May 19
    Stuckfast said:
    Although Thatcher hated the railways, they were very effectively modernised during her time in power. There were major electrification and signalling projects such as the East Coast Main Line. There was the wholesale replacement of clapped out loco-hauled trains by multiple units which made many threatened lines profitable again. There was sectorisation, which saw different business units such as Network SouthEast successfully created within BR. And most of this was accomplished on a shoestring, relatively speaking.

    Privatisation has proved amazingly wasteful and costly but it's too late to go back to BR now. The people and the expertise are long gone. And the very worst of the current railway companies is Network Rail, which is the only one that's been in public ownership for a long time.

    So those who advocate renationalising the railways, what sort of structure do you have in mind?
    I would favour a free-standing not-for-profit company, in many ways similar to Network Rail, that is answerable to the government, but NOT directly run by the government.

    The idea of letting the civil service try to run the railways does not thrill me.....
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30902
    Exactly. There is no advantage, and usually many disadvantages, in having a state-owned operation run directly by the government and civil service. It should be run in the same way as a private business, but where the state is the sole shareholder. I'm fairly sure that's how the successful European state rail companies are run.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • olafgartenolafgarten Frets: 1323
    Grayling should first sort out Southwest Trains, which is the main route from his house to London. It is also one of the busiest commuter lines into London and is still delayed regularly due to Signal Failures.

    There is at least a 10 minute delay twice every week and when it gets bad the trains are sometimes delayed for almost 2 hours due to a signal failure earlier in the day.
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5096
    So let me get this straight...

    A free standing company. Except it has one shareholder, the government. Except that shareholder can't tell it what to do. Except when it can, like limit fares...

    A not for profit company. Except it can borrow money that can be paid back in future years from its income that will somehow be surplus to operational requirements in future except that surplus won't be an operating 'profit' no sirree...

    And its not going to be managed by civil servants but by the current directors who will somehow choose to work for a not for profit company where the all powerful union who enjoy beer and sandwiches with Jeremy will insist the directors income is capped way below what they could earn elsewhere.  And all the engineers of the private companies will happily move to this not for profit company rather than take jobs elsewhere that pay more money. And somehow we will get 'new employees' who will have the right attitude and replace the private company folks who do the work today...

    Be honest, this thread is not overly burdened with business acumen. May as well ask for a magic wand while you're at it.....
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 276
    ICBM said:
    Exactly. There is no advantage, and usually many disadvantages, in having a state-owned operation run directly by the government and civil service. It should be run in the same way as a private business, but where the state is the sole shareholder. I'm fairly sure that's how the successful European state rail companies are run.
    But this is exactly how Network Rail is currently run, and it's an absolute shower of shit. Not a great example or a model you want to roll out to the rest of the network.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    It can't be a not-for-profit company and generate large surpluses. A rail company could be run like the BBC with a government appointed board. Rail fair increases would have to be approved by the government/parliament as well as major investment decisions.  Other countries do it - the UK used to do it. Its not rocket science.


    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30902
    edited May 20
    Stuckfast said:

    But this is exactly how Network Rail is currently run, and it's an absolute shower of shit. Not a great example or a model you want to roll out to the rest of the network.
    It's not how Network Rail is run, because Network Rail's customers are the train franchise companies and not the users of the rail system. What we need is a properly integrated rail system without the spurious 'market' that's been imposed on it due to political dogma.

    That approach works perfectly well for European state-owned railways, for example Germany.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5096
    Fretwired said:
    It can't be a not-for-profit company and generate large surpluses. A rail company could be run like the BBC with a government appointed board. Rail fair increases would have to be approved by the government/parliament as well as major investment decisions.  Other countries do it - the UK used to do it. Its not rocket science.


    Except the BBC has far greater flexibility to manage its expenditure.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 276
    ICBM said:
    What we need is a properly integrated rail system without the spurious 'market' that's been imposed on it due to political dogma.

    That approach works perfectly well for European state-owned railways, for example Germany.
    That spurious market is required by European law. Infrastructure and train operations have to be separately managed and run, and the infrastructure company must allow anyone who wants to to run trains, at least in principle.

    In practice of course countries like France have managed to sabotage this directive quite effectively, and in Germany, the infrastructure and the operator are ultimately owned by the same parent organisation and in turn by the state.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    Chalky said:
    Fretwired said:
    It can't be a not-for-profit company and generate large surpluses. A rail company could be run like the BBC with a government appointed board. Rail fair increases would have to be approved by the government/parliament as well as major investment decisions.  Other countries do it - the UK used to do it. Its not rocket science.


    Except the BBC has far greater flexibility to manage its expenditure.
    The BBC cannot increase the licence fee without government approval. However it has total control over its expenditure.  The same could be true of the railways but major upgrades will require large capital investment which should also require government approval. The railways need major investment.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5096
    Fretwired said:
    Chalky said:
    Fretwired said:
    It can't be a not-for-profit company and generate large surpluses. A rail company could be run like the BBC with a government appointed board. Rail fair increases would have to be approved by the government/parliament as well as major investment decisions.  Other countries do it - the UK used to do it. Its not rocket science.


    Except the BBC has far greater flexibility to manage its expenditure.
    The BBC cannot increase the licence fee without government approval. However it has total control over its expenditure.  The same could be true of the railways but major upgrades will require large capital investment which should also require government approval. The railways need major investment.
    Er, I said expenditure not revenue.

    The same cannot be true of the railways unless you invest such phenomenal upfront sums that the delta on annual maintenance costs thereafter is exceedingly small and predictable for many years.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    Chalky said:
    Fretwired said:
    Chalky said:
    Fretwired said:
    It can't be a not-for-profit company and generate large surpluses. A rail company could be run like the BBC with a government appointed board. Rail fair increases would have to be approved by the government/parliament as well as major investment decisions.  Other countries do it - the UK used to do it. Its not rocket science.


    Except the BBC has far greater flexibility to manage its expenditure.
    The BBC cannot increase the licence fee without government approval. However it has total control over its expenditure.  The same could be true of the railways but major upgrades will require large capital investment which should also require government approval. The railways need major investment.
    Er, I said expenditure not revenue.

    The same cannot be true of the railways unless you invest such phenomenal upfront sums that the delta on annual maintenance costs thereafter is exceedingly small and predictable for many years.
    Er .. that's what I said.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3352
    Chalky said:
    So let me get this straight...

    A free standing company. Except it has one shareholder, the government. Except that shareholder can't tell it what to do. Except when it can, like limit fares...

    A not for profit company. Except it can borrow money that can be paid back in future years from its income that will somehow be surplus to operational requirements in future except that surplus won't be an operating 'profit' no sirree...

    And its not going to be managed by civil servants but by the current directors who will somehow choose to work for a not for profit company where the all powerful union who enjoy beer and sandwiches with Jeremy will insist the directors income is capped way below what they could earn elsewhere.  And all the engineers of the private companies will happily move to this not for profit company rather than take jobs elsewhere that pay more money. And somehow we will get 'new employees' who will have the right attitude and replace the private company folks who do the work today...

    Be honest, this thread is not overly burdened with business acumen. May as well ask for a magic wand while you're at it.....
    Privatising it worked so well!

    Railtrack collapsed

    Tube PPP collapsed

    East Coast Mainline has collapsed twice.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    crunchman said:
    Chalky said:
    So let me get this straight...

    A free standing company. Except it has one shareholder, the government. Except that shareholder can't tell it what to do. Except when it can, like limit fares...

    A not for profit company. Except it can borrow money that can be paid back in future years from its income that will somehow be surplus to operational requirements in future except that surplus won't be an operating 'profit' no sirree...

    And its not going to be managed by civil servants but by the current directors who will somehow choose to work for a not for profit company where the all powerful union who enjoy beer and sandwiches with Jeremy will insist the directors income is capped way below what they could earn elsewhere.  And all the engineers of the private companies will happily move to this not for profit company rather than take jobs elsewhere that pay more money. And somehow we will get 'new employees' who will have the right attitude and replace the private company folks who do the work today...

    Be honest, this thread is not overly burdened with business acumen. May as well ask for a magic wand while you're at it.....
    Privatising it worked so well!

    Railtrack collapsed

    Tube PPP collapsed

    East Coast Mainline has collapsed twice.
    Wis..
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • HeartfeltdawnHeartfeltdawn Frets: 10684

    Still, at least this new timetable is working well. 

    Ah. 


    I make Jeremy Paxman look like Fingermouse. 
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  • exocetexocet Frets: 500

    Still, at least this new timetable is working well. 

    Ah. 


    Yes I experienced the new timetable this morning.

    No doubt it took a lot of coordination in the months leading up to the implementation but I get the feeling that when all is said and done, the success or failure is down to whether the drivers manage to remember the new time table / write down the new departure times on a scrap of paper....it was chaos!
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8435
    Fretwired said:
    Fretwired said:
    She privatised firms like BT which needed to innovate which required access to capital. She also wanted to open up telecoms to competition. Neither made sense with the railways or the Post Office.
    Didn't really make sense with telecomms either.
    Yes it did. Call charges have dropped and there's more competition. BT were able to raise billions of pounds to fund R&D and develop new products.
    Call charge dropped and more competition, eh? Fly-by-night company buys bandwidth of BT at yea much and then sells it several times over to its customers for cheaper than the BT price, but the sum of its sales is a lot greater than the BT prices. Works until everybody wants to use the same bandwidth all at once and that's where it all falls down.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • HeartfeltdawnHeartfeltdawn Frets: 10684
    Call charge dropped and more competition, eh? Fly-by-night company buys bandwidth of BT at yea much and then sells it several times over to its customers for cheaper than the BT price, but the sum of its sales is a lot greater than the BT prices. Works until everybody wants to use the same bandwidth all at once and that's where it all falls down.
    ...and without all of this, BT wouldn't be getting into things like its pay sports television service. 
    I make Jeremy Paxman look like Fingermouse. 
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15343
    edited May 21
    Fretwired said:
    Fretwired said:
    She privatised firms like BT which needed to innovate which required access to capital. She also wanted to open up telecoms to competition. Neither made sense with the railways or the Post Office.
    Didn't really make sense with telecomms either.
    Yes it did. Call charges have dropped and there's more competition. BT were able to raise billions of pounds to fund R&D and develop new products.
    Call charge dropped and more competition, eh? Fly-by-night company buys bandwidth of BT at yea much and then sells it several times over to its customers for cheaper than the BT price, but the sum of its sales is a lot greater than the BT prices. Works until everybody wants to use the same bandwidth all at once and that's where it all falls down.
    There wasn't any internet when BT was privatised. Waiting time for a phone was 6 months and call charges were high. The service improved greatly.

    If you want to moan about internet speed then blame Thatcher. BT worked out that copper wasn't the way to go and designed a world beating fibre network. They tested it and started to roll it out. Thatcher stopped them and banned BT from fibre networks and gave the work to US companies. The argument was competition. The US firms set up UK companies that went bust ... this should have been investigated as there was something seriously fishy.

    Thatcher put the UK back 50 years. We could have led the world.


    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30902
    The dogma of ‘competition’ has a lot to answer for...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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