What does this even mean?

The evidence of a downturn in commuting appears very clear. Whilst one-off rail journeys continue to rise, which is welcome given they are better environmental alternative to cars, commuter traffic is falling. And this is equally welcome: there is no joy in commuting. IT is liberating many of us (me included for much of the year) from the need to be physically present at work.

This, however, has important ramifications. Almost all businesses assume ever-rising demand for their product, and rail franchises have almost universally been granted on the basis that this is the case for rail travel. If it is not true then many of those franchises will fail.

That does not mean we no longer need railways. Or that the railway industry has failed: it will not have done so. All that will be proven is that private rail operators have limited commercial aptitude, and the model within which they work has little commercial merit.

The alternative is, of course, state ownership. Labour has to do very little, I suspect, to promote this now. Over the next few years rail franchise operators will be queueing up to hand back the keys to their trains.

The internet therefore state ownership of railways? Whut?

12 comments on “What does this even mean?

  1. As I read it, commuter traffic will decline, hence rail franchises will loose money, so let the taxpayer pay.

  2. Loose, moose.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    As so often, Rand was right: the history of progress is the history of increasing privacy. People travel by car for a reason.

    I took a train the other day, because I had to use the journey time for working. It was a hateful, horrid experience. £200-odd to travel to the North and back. Yuesh.

  3. “Almost all businesses assume ever-rising demand for their product”

    WTF?

    I’ll ask down at our local newsagents or fish & chip shop about that.

    The bloke is a twat of ever-rising twatishness.

  4. Btw I was only translating.
    Will commuter traffic decline- he says so but I wouldn’t take his word for it.
    The franchise owners haven’t accounted for this- I’ll bet they’ve done their homework far more thoroughly than Richie, it being their money and all, so I expect their forecasts to be better than his.
    Taking over a failing business is not a good idea, unless asset stripping is the plan. Definitely not something the taxpayer wants not to do.

  5. If rail travel was so environmentally friendly it wouldn’t need to be subsidized.

    i.e. price is a proxy for energy and other resources.

    It’s expensive because it’s environmentally damaging, but thats okay because environmentalism is about power, planning and control not the environment.

  6. “One off rail journeys”

    WTF is he talking about?

    People are taking one way journeys and then –like Gollum–never coming back?

    Where are they going? Scenic suicide spots?

    Surely a case for reducing rail travel then. By the time folk have walked to their doom the exercise will make them feel better enough to re-consider.

  7. @Mr Ecks
    The implication is folk buy a rail ticket to go somewhere & find the experience so awful & expensive they find an alternative method of returning.

  8. “Things that are going to go bust must be taken over and run at a loss by the government funded out of taxes”

    He’s living proof that soi-disant “progressives” are the most small-c conservative people of all – ‘we have always had a railway/library/SureStart centre/pub – therefore we must always have one, regardless of economic benefit’

  9. Unless there is a collapse in house prices or a recession with mass lay offs, commuting is only going to continue to rise.
    London property is too expensive for anyone who isn’t earning a good six figure salary. People are moving further and further out to find affordable housing and commuting back in. There are only so many jobs that can be 100% home based.

  10. IT is liberating many of us (me included for much of the year) from the need to be physically present at work.

    It also seems to have liberated Spud from the need to be mentally present.

  11. Train firms may benefit, or at least suffer limited harm, from people working 2 days a week at home and commuting the rest, or alternatively who are going part-time (another trend). As people who have done that are quick to complain, it turns out not to save you 40% of transport costs because you either still end up paying exactly the same for the same season ticket (despite you no longer taking up space on the train some days) or it now being more economical to switch to buying individual tickets, hence missing out on the full-time commuter’s per-day savings from a season ticket.

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