This is going to work really well, isn’t it?

Under public ownership we can have more accountable railways that fit with devolved government for the 2020s. We can let regional authorities with wider responsibilities decide rail service schedules, fares and investment priorities.

Gloucestershire County Council should be deciding rail fares from Cheltenham to London? Or just to the border of the county?

And what makes anyone think that county councillors will know what fares to charge?

Karel Williams is a professor of accounting and political economy at Manchester Business School

21 comments on “This is going to work really well, isn’t it?

  1. “Under public ownership we can have more accountable railways”

    OK, so they know absolutely nothing of the railways between nationalisation and reprivatisation. Got it.

  2. Someone has just written a recent article about how nice the Scandies are because things like income tax and the fire brigade are controlled locally. Something about Bjorn’s Beet. Not sure what the root vegetable has to do with it but it was actually rather good. Convincing.

    In the same way I tend to support the idea that the best thing is for most things to be controlled locally. At least you get more inter-government competition that way. Sure, it might pose a problem for the North-East Unitary Authority or whatever to determine the train timetable to London, but that is not an impossible obstacle. They will just have to learn to get along with other people and negotiate in good faith. I think we need a radical decentralisation of Britain. With pretty much everything short of foreign policy (as much as I approve of Berwick-upon-Tweed’s policy towards the Soviet Union) and defence given to the historic counties.

    By all means, let Rutland control the railway. They could hardly do a worse job than Whitehall.

  3. We can let regional authorities with wider responsibilities decide . . .
    Ok. so it’s regional authorities. So the Scottish government gets to decide who gets the Scotrail franchise. Greater Manchester gets to decide who run its trams and local trains. Who awarded the Merseyrail contract ( I don’t think it was central govt )? Can the London Mayor’s office do something about the fares on his patch?
    More devolved powers – yes please, but a lot of transport already is. It’s planning rules, minimum wages, recreational drug laws, smoking, brothel licensing, hunting, and much else that all needs devolving.
    I see no reason why by virtue of population the people of Greater Manchester should have more say than the people of Lancashire whether they can go hare coursing.

  4. If the council-run railways are anything the council-run bin collections, we’ll get one train every two weeks, alternating between second class and third class.

  5. Tangential but off topic – The Guardian is full of fun articles today. I especially enjoyed Johann Hari talking about how useless anti-depressants were. Does it surprise anyone that the fat Gay fraud has been popping the little blue pills since he was in his mid-teens? Perhaps being butt f**ked by neo-Nazi boot boys is not the way to happiness – Who would have guessed?

    I also liked the woman who complained that she was ready to settle down and have children but the men she met on line were colourless, boring and unwilling to take control as she would prefer.

    I think we all too often get distracted by the general insanity of the Guardian to appreciate how funny it can be.

  6. For instance:

    The things you learn when you’re burgled for the second time by Eva Wiseman

    You just know that one of the things she learned won’t be the need to lock more criminals up for longer. No, it appears to be that you need to b!tch about the implied sexism of the police. Without a word of criticism for the actual criminal.

    Or this:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/06/vat-upfront-after-brexit-uk-imports

    Apparently the Guardian is upset because companies will be paying VAT. So paying tax is a bad thing? That’s Starbucks off the hook then.

  7. “Karel Williams is a professor of accounting and political economy at Manchester Business School”

    Christ! They’ve got their own Reader in Idiocy. Is it contagious, or something?

  8. SMFS,

    “By all means, let Rutland control the railway. They could hardly do a worse job than Whitehall.”

    But you can’t do that. The Rutland trains are also going to go into (I guess) Northants and Nottinghamshire. Which means they’ll prioritise improvements to the station at Oakham and make sure every train stops there.

    What we really need is Whitehall to stop “running” the trains. The privatisation of the railways is a bit of an illusion. There are private companies that run the trains. But they don’t own the trains or have much control over how they operate. The government constantly interferes in everything from capping fares to deciding that the railways should have e-tickets or who will make the carriages. All medium-long investment in railways is public, not private.

    The way to really run the railways is just to lease a region of track for say 10 years to the highest bidder based on the smallest possible list of rules (e.g. how they interoperate with other railways), get the fuck out of the way and then tax the profits.

  9. Talking of localism. I see the Home Office is starting a 4 week consultation on whether pubs can stay open late for the Royal Wedding.

    FFS, if anything should be decided at the lowest level of government its pub opening hours. If our Parish Council wants to tell the local pub he can stay open as long as he wants what the fuck has it got do do with the Home Office? We’re not at war now.

    (As it happens our village pub did stay open to suit its customers when we had a decent landlord, but my point still stands)

  10. Karel Williams is a professor of accounting and political economy at Manchester Business School

    Where do you wogs find these people?
    Why do you wogs keep giving them teaching jobs?

  11. Businesses make business decisions. Governments make political decisions.
    Governments running businesses make political decisions.
    Governments can’t run businesses.

  12. @Bloke on M4, January 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    ..What we really need is Whitehall to stop “running” the trains. The privatisation of the railways is a bit of an illusion…

    The way to really run the railways is just to lease a region of track for say 10 years to the highest bidder based on the smallest possible list of rules (e.g. how they interoperate with other railways), get the fuck out of the way and then tax the profits.

    I disagree. A better method is to sell slots as airports do. Then we could have competition, eg Edinburgh-London:
    0800 Virgin
    0815 Stagecoach
    0830 LNER
    0845 Caledonian
    etc

  13. Pcar,

    OK. But you still want to get the track management into private hands. You don’t want people like Railtrack still running the tracks. Because a lot of running a railway isn’t the train and driver, it’s the track and signalling. You need people running those being bled dry by the government, forcing them to fix stuff to keep the fares coming in.

  14. Wogs begin at Calais

    Or as the great Tom Sharpe wrote (close enough) “far from wogs starting at Calais they now seemed to stop at Dover”.

  15. What Bloke on M4 said – except it’s Network Rail whom we don’t want running the tracks: Railtrack were bad but Network Rail have been much worse in causing unnecessary cancellations and delays. Allegedly the large majority of cancellations and delays are due to the poor performance of the state-owned Network Rail and Virgin Rail have just thrown in the towel on East Coast Main Line solely because Network Rail have reneged on their promise to upgrade the line, a promise upon which Virgin and Stagecoach predicated their bid for the franchise.

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