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Nationalisation makes rail services better, doesn’t it

ScotRail will cancel 50 per cent of its trains this Sunday, bringing a “hammer blow” to Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

Just 556 out of its normal 1,088 services are expected to run after drivers rejected a 4.2 per cent pay rise in the latest round of talks with the newly nationalised rail operator.

23 thoughts on “Nationalisation makes rail services better, doesn’t it”

  1. “Many drivers have been refusing to work overtime or on rest days during the pay dispute”.
    So they aren’t on strike, there are not enough staff to run the service, a different thing, no?

    And a shortage “due to the pandemic”? It seems to be endemic on Scotrail: 2019 – “The number of trains cancelled in Scotland because of staff shortages has more than doubled in six years amid claims that companies are operating the UK network on the cheap”.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/1-000-trains-cancelled-due-to-scotrail-staff-shortages-fdjd8gvcv

  2. Addolff,

    The problem is that “privatised” never really was. Railways were privatised in the same way that the Nazis let private businesses run: you can run all this stuff, but we’re going to micromanage what you produce, who you employ, how you do things. Right down to whether you have a buffet car or not, who you get your rolling stock from.

    One of those things is that you can’t just take a driver off the Bristol to Gloucester route and put them on the Swindon to London route without weeks of training. If you want them to drive a different sort of train on the same route, it’s the same. And that if you want new drivers, that’s months of training. I can understand needing a bit of familiarity training for a route, but weeks?

    All of this means that not only are you going to have shortages, but also, work to rule is going to hit you hard. Buses don’t have this problem because you just get your PSV and start driving (there is a problem at the moment because of Covid). Mrs Thatch properly privatised the buses.

  3. to be fair, this is about unions rather than ownership. That the issue is pay rises hits at the nub of the problems with the railways. The owners want to reduce the headcount and go with automation, but the unions want “jobs for the boys”. Perhaps P&O was a slightly different issue, but as I recall the government sided with the unions!

  4. @BoM4
    “I can understand needing a bit of familiarity training for a route, but weeks?”
    It’s the steering: much easier on a bus. So hard on a train it takes all that practice. 🙂

    Anyone else noticed a correlation between Remonares and anti-train-privatisation?
    I love to point them to EC Directive 19/44 and ask them to reconcile their views: watch the heads pop.

  5. Wonko, there is no way there will be any automation of trains, drivers wise, anytime soon. They could with guards, the driver operating the doors, but the guards will get upset and the government will cave in. Again. See Greater Anglia, South Western, Southern………
    TOC’s (and BR) have run their services based on staff numbers ‘below full establishment’ for ever, relying on rest day work and overtime to cover the gaps, It’s cheaper to pay the O/T than to employ more staff. Fails miserably when the staff decide they don’t want to play ball though.

    BonM4. My experience was that during the early years of privatisation and then the Labour years there wasn’t an excess of micro-management. It increased when the ‘Conservatives’ took over.

    Also, I used to tell trainee drivers “you have x amount of days (hours) to learn and sign the route from Y to Z. It will take you years to know the route“……

    “3000 bus routes reduced or scrapped between 2010 and 2018” (BBC). I’m not saying it is wrong but I doubt it could be termed an improvement.

  6. From a few weeks ago:

    While details of the transition have still to be announced, Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has invited MSPs and rail unions to take part in talks on the future of rail services.

    She said efforts would be made to make trains safer for women.

    She has succeeded brilliantly.

  7. Addolff,

    ““3000 bus routes reduced or scrapped between 2010 and 2018” (BBC). I’m not saying it is wrong but I doubt it could be termed an improvement.”

    That’s about an 8% reduction in services, at the same time that car ownership rose by about 7%. We had one of these “save our bus” campaigns in a large village near us. Instead of running to the edge of the village, they stopped in the centre. Because after that, it’s one or two people at best. Reducing services because no-one uses it is just sensible.

    Personally I use the bus a lot as I just don’t like driving, but I really can’t fault my service on Stagecoach. It’s cheap and as reliable as a car, way more reliable than the fuckers who run the rails who just don’t care.

  8. Perhaps Addolff could shine a little light here.

    The problem that I perceived with the Major privatisation was the franchise model. Train companies owned the staff, the routes and the stations but not the rolling stock or rails both of which were leased. Until the trains were upgraded about 15 years ago, we had some right dodgy 1960s equipment trundling around my way.
    In Germany the govt just decalared DB “private” as far as I am aware the shares are still not on the open market.

  9. @Bloke on M4

    ‘We had one of these “save our bus” campaigns in a large village near us. Instead of running to the edge of the village, they stopped in the centre. Because after that, it’s one or two people at best.’

    I don’t use buses, though not for any particular reason other than I don’t need to, but it’s always struck me as odd that you can’t flag a bus down. I suppose it would have a knock-on effect on timetabling but I would think that would be outweighed by the benefits to users, certainly in small towns and rural areas.

  10. You can flag buses down around here. In the villages there’s a designated stop, mostly with a shelter, but between the villages it’s hail’n’ride. Stand somewhere safe*, and clearly raise your arm to indicate to the approaching bus.

    *And sensible – don’t expect a bus to stop on a 1:3 hill.

  11. Interested,

    “I don’t use buses, though not for any particular reason other than I don’t need to, but it’s always struck me as odd that you can’t flag a bus down. I suppose it would have a knock-on effect on timetabling but I would think that would be outweighed by the benefits to users, certainly in small towns and rural areas.”

    I think historically it didn’t happen because people relied on buses for work/school, and to some extent, still do, but in rural areas this would probably work now, as lots of it is people going shopping where a time variance doesn’t matter so much.

    There’s some experiments going on with rural buses and apps to allow people to request buses and the system then tries to create routes based on demands.

  12. TtC.
    It’s 91/440, not 19/44, but only cos I just searched for it.
    From Wiki:
    The aims of the directive are to create a more efficient rail network by creating greater competition. To achieve this aim member states are required to ensure that organisations operating the infrastructure (track, signalling etc.), and those operating services (trains) are separate and run on a commercial basis.

    LOL

  13. @Jimmers
    Thanks for the correction. The perils of relying upon memory. 🙁
    Also, 91/44 has a resonance that I expect BoM4 will recognise, so that’s how I’ve confused them.

    Nevertheless, the privatisation was driven by EU rules and the opinion of anyone in this country was irrelevant. That’s how democracy works in the People’s Paradise.
    I faintly recall the Germans just declared Deutche Rail exempt, and ignored this Directive: does anyone know more details?

  14. “you can’t flag a bus down”: outrage! You could when I was a boy. And you could thumb a lift in a car or lorry pretty easily too.

  15. Interested, bus drivers used to let you on and off at places other than bus stops in London till someone got hurt. It’s now more than their job’s worth to open the doors in a ‘non designated space’.

    Otto, Rosco’s owned the rolling stock and leased it to the TOC’s (have a look at the ‘Stagecoach / Porterbrook story – one manager remortgaged his house for about £115,000 and walked away with £40 million. Yes, FORTY million…..), TOC’s ‘owned’ the train operating staff only and Railtrack owned the infrastructure including the stations (till that business model failed – apparently, giving shareholders dividends whilst at the same time pleading poverty and getting a handout from the government was a bridge too far).

  16. My understanding is that 91/440 didn’t require privatisation, but rather required that track infrastructure and rolling stock (among others?) be held within different entities, which could still be publicly held, and to trade commercially with one another (which I take to mean “on commercial terms” rather than “in private ownership”). The purpose was to facilitate competition, in particular for rolling stock travelling between countries, including through the then-under-construction channel tunnel, but not to require full private ownership.

    The Germans didn’t exempt DB from it. They split it into a series of separate entities that complied with it.

    BR could presumably therefore have been similarly restructured but stayed in wholly state ownership.

  17. @BoM4, Ottokring, Steve, TtC
    +1

    Major’s privisation was a schoolboy trainset farce

    Instead of giving exclusive monopoly routes to companies it should have been slots like airlines

    We ended up with the absurd situation where trains were not allowed to stop at some stations, and where trains could stop but passengers not allowed to board, only exit and vice versa.

    Then Blair & Brown re-nationalised Railtrack making things worse

    @TtC
    France and more haven’t privatised thus EU keeps extending deadline

    HS2 is also an EU mandate. So much for Brexit

    Re: Boris vote – it’s mostly EU Rejoiners fuelling it and using Partygate as excuse. Partygate: where civil servants and other staff partied in 5 floor >5,000sq.m No.10 plus rest of Downing Street, not PM & Ministers

  18. “HS2 is also an EU mandate. So much for Brexit”

    It’s not about Brexit, it’s about Boris and his love of grand projets. Look at his enthusiasm for the Olympics.

    A sensible PM would have observed that offices were working fine without travelling and paused. Rail revenue is at about 60% of pre-Covid. And that’s not going to bounce back, it’s going to get worse because the cost of internet traffic is falling while train drivers want a pay rise.

  19. Somewhere where privatisation seems to work is the East Coast Mainline. I travelled to York recentky from Kings X abd it was cheap, there were lots of trains to choose from and the service was excellent ( I dislike booking in advance for chuff chuffs but there were plenty of conveniently timed trans at a good price).

  20. Ottokring,

    Have you travelled since Covid? There’s lots of advance fares around because demand has fallen. I can get an advance to London at 8am this Friday for £60, but the full fare is £151.

  21. @Ottokring

    Yes, there’s a couple of alternatives on East Coast, but they have restrictions. Main operator is Nationlised as previous walked away as Network Rail never met contractual upgrades operator had based they’re “rent” payment on and Gov’t would not reduce rent as they wanted to re-nationlise

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