Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A billion pound boost keeps rail on right lines...

Today’s announcement that 1,000 extra train carriages are to be rolled out from 2009 to 2014 is good news all round. I hope many will be built right here in the East Midlands by Derby-based train makers Bombardier.

With rail passengers in Britain at their highest for 60 years, there’s a real strain on parts of the network, particularly commuter routes like Peterborough-Kings Cross.

The announcement by Labour’s Transport Minister Douglas Alexander is in stark contrast to the total moritorium imposed on train orders year-on-year by the last Conservative Government.

Today's news is worth in the order of £1 billion and means extra funding of £100 million a year in the rail network from central government.

The Tories privatised (botched) rail, but today's Labour Government seems to invest more than ever before in modernising the network...

21 comments:

Michael Oakeshott said...

1 billion pounds. Big deal. By my maths, motorists give that to the Government every nine days. The railways are a joke. The only reason people use them is because they have been molested off the road. If you are actually going to base this Government's record on transport policy Phil, then Cameron(a fool by any definition) should start thinking about what type of wallpaper he wants for number ten any time soon.

Brynley said...

Nothing to boast about, I'm afraid.

The Saver is under threat for all the wrong reasons.

I bought one on Tueday: Sleaford-Southampton return.

Not much change from £70. Far too expensive for what it is, a restricted ticket.

As for bloody Douglas Alexander and the crap Cambridge busway now being built on the great St. Ives-Cambridge line...

Still, cheer up. Stagecoach are raking in the subsidy and distributing it to shareholders.

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

I support the idea of longer trains but the problem is nothing is going to happen for seven more years, at a time when overcrowding is already endemic, and we've been promised this all before in the Ten Year Plan, five years ago.

fairdealphil said...

i use the railways when practical becaause i can chose to either work or relax on the journey - driving being totally dead time.

won't be taking any lessons from tories on transport after their total bodge on rail privatisation...

however, i do agree with colleagues on ticket pricing.

getting the right ticket is a nightmare - i went to durham a couple of weeks ago for £35 return.

A week later i went to darlington one stop shorter on the same line - similar times, same day of the week - double the cost!

i've read some of the media about the saver ticket being under threat but have yet to see any evidence.

fairdealphil said...

michael:

£1 billion - big deal, you say!

So which other 'private' industry gets a £1 billion handout from public funds?

Michael Oakeshott said...

The railways are only nominally private since the change. Wasting a billion pounds on their failure is hardly a reason to boast. Seriously, if you wish Labour's record in Government to be judged on transport, you are done for.

Brynley said...

"The railways are only nominally private"

Correct.

The problem with this argument is that the taxpayers subsidy ends in the pockets of Stagecoach shareholders, rather than being spent on capacity enhancement.

So "nominally" turns out to matter.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Indeed. But if the Government wants to have a say in their running, then the subsidy is the only option. If it wants to set performance standards, guarantee loss making services, and generally interfere in what should be a private business, then it deserves to be fleeced for the subsidy. And the British people deserve it because they elected the incompetent fools.

Best keep the subsidy and let the private sector get on and provide the service demanded by the market(whatever that might be).

Brynley said...

That's right, you're not sure what the market is in this case.

The customers are the travelling public.

Their demands require prioritisation of long term capital investment in new and expanded rail service, which nobody seriously suggests can be a private sector function (although there are juicy contracts for firms arising from it)

But right now the subsidy is going into private firms like Stagecoach who are managing daily operations, pocket the subsidy and distribute it as income to shareholders.

Michael Oakeshott said...

You seem to be making a lot of peoples' minds up for them Brynley. The customers(for that is what they should be) should be allowed to spend their own money, and make their own decisions. The market will then make provision accordingly. If there is no demand(and there isn't for a lot of the less popular services), then these services shall be abolished. And we will all benefit in the savings made.

At no point in any of this does the state(inefficient meddlers) have any role.

Brynley said...

But the problem is insufficient supply. The excess demand is capped off by punitive fares and by overcrowding.

The idea that this is not the remit of government; that's a dogma that you hold.

But nobody else does.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Nobody? I think not Brynley, wishful thinking on your part.

Basic economics old boy. If fares were allowed to reach their natural rate(whatever that might be) then supply would simply meet this demand. If people aren't prepared to pay a rate that is reasonable(many backward people aren't prepared to pay, under the mistaken belief that they are entitled to free and endless rail travel courtesy of the state), then they will have to find another way to travel(build more roads, there is certainly demand for that). The market is simply a mechanism. And it works. Meddle in it at your peril.

As for the state. When has the state EVER supplied ANY service to a satisfactory standard for a reasonable cost? What Midas was to gold, the state is to excrement.

Brynley said...

Michael, old chap, can't help feeling you've caught the wrong blog.

The idea that simple market signals will procure strategic investment in land-based transport infrastructure is held by no reputable source, wishfully thinking or otherwise.

You are on your own on this one.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Though perhaps, Brynley, the way in which you define reputable is the crucial point of the previous statement. The day of Government ownership are over. Did you miss the last 30 years?

Brynley said...

Excuse me, who owns Network Rail?

A recent aquisition.

Where have you been recently?

Michael Oakeshott said...

I am quite aware who owns it. You misunderstand. I mean the days of anyone sensible person believing Government ownership is in any way effective, are over. I have no doubt you, Brynley, believe in Government ownership. But if you read the two sentences carefully, they don't contradict each other one bit.

Brynley said...

No need for dogma. Tesco is better privately owned. Network Rail better publically owned.

Hard to argue with that.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Hard to argue about Tescos. It posts massive profits for its shareholders, and keeps millions of customers a week happy. If people don't like Tescos, they simply stop paying them.

Network Rail posts no profits for its real owner(the British people), unless you count the billion their shareholders get bunged for their complicity in this racket. Its customers are treated with incompetence and contempt. If they don't like paying for this charade, the only choice the British people have is to emigrate.

A fine comparison indeed.

fairdealphil said...

Glad i didn't buy shares in the Channel Tunnel...

Brynley said...

Yes, there we have it, Michael.

If I don't like the way I'm treated at Tesco, there's always Sainsbury's.

If I don't like the long term underinvestment in public transport infrastructure, I can always emigrate, like you.

I think the voters might see a tiny flaw in your line of reasoning though.

Michael Oakeshott said...

I think some of them might understand it better than you.