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All across the Great Western territory => Looking forward - 2019 to 2045 => Topic started by: PhilWakely on December 20, 2018, 12:16:48 pm



Title: Williams Rail Review
Post by: PhilWakely on December 20, 2018, 12:16:48 pm
I'm not sure whether this has already been mentioned on the forum............

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/williams-rail-review (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/williams-rail-review)

Mods: Feel free to delete this if it has already been mentioned elsewhere or edit these comments if not



Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on December 24, 2018, 08:13:38 am
I'm not sure whether this has already been mentioned on the forum............

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/williams-rail-review (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/williams-rail-review)


Don't you just love those consultations that take place over Christmas and the New Year - they give groups and organisations such an excellent opportunity (not!) to co-ordinate and think through joined up responses.

Quote
To inform the review’s initial ‘listening’ phase, where possible we ask that evidence is submitted by 18 January 2019. However the evidence portal will remain open until the end of May 2019 and all responses will be reviewed by the team. In the later phases of the review we will use the evidence portal to seek input on more specific questions.

You can contact the Rail Review team and feed in evidence at any time using the email rail.review@dft.gov.uk.

Quote
Consultation description

This call for evidence is to support the Rail Review, led by independent chair Keith Williams. The review was established to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of the government’s vision for the railway.

The review invites written contributions to inform its work on any or all of the review principles, as set out in its terms of reference:
*commercial models for the provision of rail services that prioritise the interests of passengers and taxpayers
* rail industry structures that promote clear accountability and effective joint-working for both passengers and the freight sector
* a system that is financially sustainable and able to address long-term cost pressures
* a railway that is able to offer good value fares for passengers, while keeping costs down for taxpayers
* improved industrial relations, to reduce disruption and improve reliability for passengers
* a rail sector with the agility to respond to future challenges and opportunities

"Franchising is broken - what should we do NOW?"   ;D ;D


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on January 15, 2019, 10:43:52 am
This thread is ... notable by its lack of activity ... on what is potentially a pretty big topic.  At yesterday's TWSW board meeting, we had a bit of. look at this consultation and will be looking to try to interpret it at the 20th March general meeting with. view to feedbacks well before the final close date.   On one hand there is a lot to consider, on the other hand so many constraints put on the term of reference that I really wonder if it will actually be able to consider them.  The chair of the consulting committee suggests he / it is independent, yet it looks so constrained that there question arises "can it be truly indepenendent?".   The question also arises as to whether the consultation / report will actually be welcomes / needed if there are significant governance changes in the next few months; I don't think we can answer that, but certainly a ready-written "independent" report for a government that's so busy doing other things it wants to just "go with a flow" could just pick up the report and implement key recommendations.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Dispatch Box on January 15, 2019, 12:04:57 pm
What do we want!! A reliable and punctual railway, When do we want it?, We want it now!!!!.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: eightonedee on January 15, 2019, 10:35:30 pm
The problem with these terms of reference is that they do not really recognise the reality of funding infrastructure or evaluating the benefits it brings. It also ignores rule 1 of life, captured in that old northern expression "thee can't get owt for nowt"

On a bullet point by bullet point basis-

1 -
Quote
*commercial models for the provision of rail services that prioritise the interests of passengers and taxpayers

Unless taxpayers who do not travel by train are happy for all requests made for rail investment to improve matters for passengers be met whatever the cost, you will not do so. You might be able to lever in a profit-making layer in the rail industry you can franchise out, but I would guess most rail infrastructure (like most other transport infrastructure, education, health, social services, armed forces, police, courts, waste disposal etc etc) cannot stand on its own feet, and taxpayers have to support it (and them), and we cannot readily measure how much benefit society as a whole benefits, but you sure notice as a consumer of such services when they are not there or do not work well.

2 -   
Quote
* rail industry structures that promote clear accountability and effective joint-working for both passengers and the freight sector

Immediately you break up the delivery vertically, and put financial penalties in for whichever layer is held responsible for anything that goes wrong, you encourage those responsible for each layer to try to blame the others so they pick up the bill.
Unless you have one organisation responsible for everything from construction, maintenance, rolling stock, signalling and information it will always be the other guy's fault, and if it is all one organisation, it will always be someone in another department's fault, not mine, if something goes wrong.

Someone has to make decisions on how everything works overall and be the arbiter when interest conflict.

How about something radical - the only financial penalties should be for a failure to investigate and report all problems over a certain threshold (e.g. trains more than 30 minutes late, line closed for more than 15 minutes)? However it will cost to set up the relevant organisation - and may not actually deliver any improvements?

3 and 4 -
Quote
* a system that is financially sustainable and able to address long-term cost pressures
* a railway that is able to offer good value fares for passengers, while keeping costs down for taxpayers

See point 1 above!

5 -
Quote
* improved industrial relations, to reduce disruption and improve reliability for passengers

Ball's in the court of RMT - see continuing depressing story of DOO. A review like this will not change ingrained attitudes

6 -
Quote
* a rail sector with the agility to respond to future challenges and opportunities

It takes investment - see point 1

Conclusion - sadly, looks like a talking shop.

What we need is

- an examination of what has gone wrong in major infrastructure projects that have gone well over budget and program so lessons can be learnt to minimise repetition (insofar as human nature allows - see insightful comments by others on the Crossrail thread) in the hope (vain?) that we might get better value, or at least have a better idea how much major investment will really cost and how long it will take to deliver,

- some way of ensuring that any system rewards good passenger service (especially mitigating problems, provision of accurate and consistent information, and innovation in passenger service) whether by franchisees, contractors or employees.

- cross party and cross societal appreciation that infrastructure costs, you cannot immediately see the benefit but without it we are all worse off.

Which is probably also pie in the sky.....






Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on January 17, 2019, 09:42:08 am
The problem with these terms of reference is that they do not really recognise the reality of funding infrastructure or evaluating the benefits it brings. It also ignores rule 1 of life, captured in that old northern expression "thee can't get owt for nowt"

[snip]

Conclusion - sadly, looks like a talking shop.

What we need is

[snip]

Which is probably also pie in the sky.....


Also sadly, I'm inclined to agree.  But perhaps we should try / take any opportunity to input, however much we consider the  terms of reference straight-jacketed.   

I am reminded back to 2005 when I started campaigning against what I felt was a poor decision ... "we did a consultation but only got 7 responses on this" said the people running it.   Had they got not 7 but 70 or even 700, it may not have made any difference - but at least that would have refuted the "no pubic interest" argument, and it would have certainly helped a lot of people think about what they wanted.

By the way - the decision in 2005 was based on 2 lines on page 70 of a 200 page document ... not well advertised, and no surprise at all than the response rate was low.   How better informed we are on most consultations these days, and how better we ourselves are organised to share their presence.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on February 26, 2019, 06:14:30 pm
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47378448

Quote
Britain's rail franchise system no longer delivers clear benefits and cannot continue as it is, says the man leading a review of the network.

Keith Williams will say in a speech later the industry is not responding to fast-changing consumer demands.
Rail franchising - contracting out passenger services - has drawn heavy criticism, with some contracts failing and customers complaints rising.

The rail industry said it accepts that the status quo cannot continue.

Mr Williams, appointed by the government last year to lead a "root-and-branch" review of the rail network, will give an update on progress in a speech on Tuesday evening.

But according to comments released ahead of the speech, he is due to say: "I have heard a great deal about the franchising model… driving growth in passengers and benefits to services. But with this growth, the needs of passengers have changed, whilst many of the basic elements of our rail system have not kept pace.

"Put bluntly, franchising cannot continue the way it is today. It is no longer delivering clear benefits for either taxpayers or farepayers."

[continues]


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: SandTEngineer on February 26, 2019, 08:41:32 pm
The full report can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781749/role-of-railway-evidence-paper-rail-review.pdf

Having had a quick read I must say I learnt a new word today......

Agglomeration
Agglomeration arises when transport links better enable
individuals and firms to derive productivity benefits from
locating in closer proximity to other individuals and firms.

 ::) :P


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: stuving on February 26, 2019, 10:45:20 pm
The full report can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781749/role-of-railway-evidence-paper-rail-review.pdf

To clarify what this document is - it's called an Evidence Paper:
Quote
Engaging the people, businesses and organisations using and running the railway is critical. At each stage of the Review, we will seek to understand the full range of perspectives and options in pursuit of the right answers.

To support this engagement we are publishing a series of evidence papers to inform the debate. This is the first of these papers. They draw on the extensive engagement with passengers, the rail industry, and wider stakeholders undertaken by the Review to date. They also draw on responses that we have received so far to our Call for Evidence launched in December 2018.2 (While we have yet to fully quality assure all the material received, we have included some extracts in the papers to provide the fullest possible range of insights.)

The papers provide factual summaries of a number of key issues in the rail industry. They are focussed on evidence, and do not seek to set out options or potential models. The Independent Chair of the Review will be setting out some of his early thinking on these areas in a series of speeches in parallel with publishing these evidence papers.

This first paper reviews the role of the railway in Great Britain, and its costs and benefits. Further papers will be published over the coming weeks. These will examine the experience of railway users (both passengers and freight); the organisation of the railways in Britain and other countries; and rail’s role in
the wider transport system, including in the context of potential future technological, economic and societal changes.

We are determined that each stage of the Review will be properly evidence-based. So, having published the papers we will use the Call for Evidence to invite formal feedback, alongside our ongoing engagement with stakeholders.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Western Pathfinder on February 26, 2019, 11:05:54 pm
The Bradshaw Address
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-bradshaw-address-by-keith-williams.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: eightonedee on February 27, 2019, 11:51:06 am
Thanks WP for posting that link. It is a rather more nuanced statement than has been generally reported, and I am pleased that he emphasises the needs and perceptions of passengers. Perhaps my initial response was a bit too cynical?

It is though disappointing to see language mangled as highlighted by S&TEngineer - Agglomeration does not mean that, it simply means lumping things together. I think the word they were looking for is "connectivity" - see Cristaller's Central Place theory that I learnt about over 45 years ago at school! If they used it, it would be rather clearer that the quality of communications networks serving a place or settlement are probably the biggest factor in its long term sustainable (sorry - another over- and misused word) enduring success.

 


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: ChrisB on February 27, 2019, 12:08:50 pm
It is though disappointing to see language mangled as highlighted by S&TEngineer - Agglomeration does not mean that, it simply means lumping things together.

Isn't that word 'aggregation' though?


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: eightonedee on February 27, 2019, 01:01:08 pm
Here's what the on-line Oxford Dictionary says

Quote
agglomeration
NOUN
A mass or collection of things; an assemblage.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: rogerpatenall on February 27, 2019, 03:53:56 pm
Here's what the on-line Oxford Dictionary says

Quote
agglomeration
NOUN
A mass or collection of things; an assemblage.

An oft used word in French usually to describe any urban area.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: stuving on March 13, 2019, 07:44:52 pm
Here's another hint offered by Keith Williams, this time addressing yesterday's board meeting of transport Focus. As picked up by City AM (http://www.cityam.com/274564/rail-review-head-keith-williams-hints-compensation-role):
Quote
The former British Airways chief executive tasked with a full-scale review of the railways has hinted that the industry regulator could be tasked with handling compensation claims.

Keith Williams, who was appointed by the government to carry out the review in the wake of last year's May timetable chaos, suggested the rail industry could learn from the airline industry in tasking the regulator with handling compensation claims.

Speaking at a board meeting of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, Williams said European legislation changed the way customers claimed compensation from airlines and became a benchmark for how claims were made.

"I actually do think it brought benefit in terms of the airline and in terms of ensuring that we put regularity and punctuality at the heart of what we did – if we couldn't do that, we'd be paying out compensation," he said.

Williams said the routes to claiming compensation were "not obvious" and that it needed to be "made clear". He said he has asked the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), to look at how it thought compensation should look in the industry.

"In the airlines industry, the Civil Aviation Authority has that role," he said. "Whether we need the same in rail is a question for the review."
...

I assume the headline was based on a misreading - Williams wasn't suggesting the ORR should handle claims, but that they should be responsible for how it is done.

Even then, I'm not sure what he's going on about, as I don't think the CAA has much of a role in dictating airlines' compensation systems, and not much more in telling them what they should be paying out for. Air travel claims are all fairly big, compared to rail fares, so a different system would in any case be appropriate.

If he's saying that someone (DfT or ORR or whoever) should write one set of rules, rather than allowing TOCs to make up their own passenger charters (including how the claims systems should work, i.e. how it looks to the customer) I suspect most members here would agree.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: SandTEngineer on March 19, 2019, 01:56:12 pm
I haven't read it yet and its a bit long to quote here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/keith-williams-at-accelerate-rail-2019


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 14, 2019, 08:58:33 am
Bump

This thread is ... notable by its lack of activity ... on what is potentially a pretty big topic. ...

I am prompted by certain people (who should know better and post themselves) to remind members looking forward to the future of rail in the UK to answer this review.

As a reminder (somewhat) of what we're looking at 'solving', {{here}} (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/14/virgin-west-coast-train-franchise-branson-dividends) is a link to today's Guardian which does far more to criticise the current franchised system that to suggest a constructive alternative;  it offers brick bats all around and lacks plaudits!


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 23, 2019, 10:10:39 am
Williams could be so important (if it come up with sense and is adopted) ... yet seems so removed from the day to day traveller and member here that it's generated little response.   Perhaps I can try to light a fire under the discussion again - here's a link to a RailFuture summary ...

https://www.railfuture.org.uk/Press+release+27th+February+2019


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Timmer on April 23, 2019, 11:03:22 am
Possibly cynicism that past reviews have come up with little new or have been ignored by Dft/Government.

Personally I hope whatever is recommended is taken up as it can't keep on going the way it is.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 23, 2019, 11:19:24 am
Possibly cynicism that past reviews have come up with little new or have been ignored by Dft/Government.

Indeed ... in something of a coincidence, this (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/day113.html) came up on my 'campaign' feed this morning - prepared a few days ahead.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 23, 2019, 11:22:18 am
I think the importance of Williams largely depends on how much life this current government has left in it. Given that Grayling will not countenance renationalisation, it is very unlikely that Williams will serve up any options that include renationalisation.

This means that if Corbyn and co get in any time soon, then any Williams recommendations will become irrelevant, and be quickly superseded by whatever review process the new lot put in place...

My personal view is that the top priority should be root and branch reform of Network Rail, as a fit for purpose NR could facilitate a number of positive options, either in a private or nationalised system. However, the way Network Rail currently operates acts as a dead weight on the entire industry, which is why change there first is so crucial in order to enable change elsewhere.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Timmer on April 23, 2019, 11:26:25 am
My personal view is that the top priority should be root and branch reform of Network Rail, as a fit for purpose NR could facilitate a number of positive options, either in a private or nationalised system. However, the way Network Rail currently operates acts as a dead weight on the entire industry, which is why change there first is so crucial in order to enable change elsewhere.
Do you think Andrew Haines is up to the job of achieving that Lee?


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 23, 2019, 02:39:43 pm
My personal view is that the top priority should be root and branch reform of Network Rail, as a fit for purpose NR could facilitate a number of positive options, either in a private or nationalised system. However, the way Network Rail currently operates acts as a dead weight on the entire industry, which is why change there first is so crucial in order to enable change elsewhere.
Do you think Andrew Haines is up to the job of achieving that Lee?

Yes and no.

I have watched with interest you debate Climate Change (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=21434.0) with other forum members, particularly with regard to the view of some that we've done the easy stuff so far, and now we need to do the hard stuff.

I think a similar situation exists with Andrew Haines and Network Rail. So far, he has overseen some small but newsworthy measures designed to build confidence with the public, such as scrapping toilet charges at busy stations. (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=21310.0) However, now he really needs to tackle the hard stuff.

First of all, I dont really have a problem with Haines himself. I felt he was a good CEO for FGW, and I welcomed his appointment at Network Rail. I have expressed some irritation at the slow speed he appears to be moving at times, but this is Network Rail, and there are far worse people you could have at the helm.

Similarly, I dont have a problem with those at the business end building, fixing and maintaining things - the "Electric train"'s of the world - the vast majority of whom do excellent work day in, day out and tend to be happy to explain what they do to the likes of us as well.

In my view, the real problem lies with those management types in the middle who take regular decisions that have a huge impact on rail users with seemingly very little scrutiny being applied, like a modern day rail version of The Untouchables. These people very rarely break cover and face the public, but when they do, the results can be very illuminating. I remember one FGW Stakeholder Conference around a decade ago, after a sustained campaigning effort to put the case for a station at Corsham had taken place, when some such NR middle management type started his presentation to a stunned crowd with the words "I am here to tell you that a station at Corsham will never open". Another, after receiving a carefully-crafted and well-written case outline for why Pilning should retain its footbridge, wrote a very short reply along the lines of "We are not interested in discussing Pilning, you people are just a nuisance and should stop harrassing us".

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. These people are very firmly of the view that they are always right, everyone else is wrong, and having decided so, then that is the end of the matter. "And who are you to question us anyway, you are just mere passengers, we are the professionals".

One of the consequences of this is that the failure of Network Rail to step up in this regard has given an excuse to other key rail industry players not to step up either - So a TOC can say "We cant provide a station at x because Network Rail..." and the DfT can say "We cant finish off electrification to y because Network Rail...", and on it goes.

It wasnt always like that. The early 1980s example of when passengers and supporters of newly-reopened Templecombe station who knew what was needed service and infrastructure-wise to build growth came up against a similar culture and attitude in BR middle management is a case in point - but the difference is that both sides worked to build trust successfully to build that growth and together enabled the station to go from strength to strength, as shown in this YouTube Video. (https://youtu.be/-EsXAxKh9SI)

One of the key reasons we are where we are is that successive governments have focussed on ineffective piecemeal reforms of the franchising system, and seemingly just hoped Network Rail was capable of reforming itself, when it clearly isnt in the areas that matter - ie in how to deliver what we, the passengers and customers, want and need. The time has now come for NR to be physically shown what needs to be done - and I have suggested elsewhere (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=21411.msg262864#msg262864) how respected passenger/community representatives such as grahame and RichardB, along with similar representatives from the Railfreight sector, who have a proven track record in suggesting solutions that work for everyone, and have demonstrated they have the required knowledge of how things work operationally, could be brought into the process to help reform how Network Rail works with passengers and customers in this respect.

Those NR middle managers who are happy to take on board and take forward those inputs should be encouraged to do so, and those who are unwilling to change should be politely told that their future lies elsewhere.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 23, 2019, 04:45:13 pm
Network Rail used to have a Community Rail liaison specialist who was well informed on Community and its interaction with Rail as well as on Network Rail stuff, but they re-organised and his role was split between existing Network Rail managers in the various areas.  In principle, having local Network Rail work with communities has sense - except the role got dropped onto those who took it over as a minor part of their roles, and one I suspect many of them had little experience or enthusiasm for.   You can read more recent writings of Jerry Swift ((here)) (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/time-review-legislative-framework-community-rail-jerry-swift/).


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 23, 2019, 09:51:19 pm
One of the other interesting things is that Williams looks at Network Rail re-arrangement ... at the same time that Network Rail says it's in the process of re-arrangement in fact starting in a coupe of months then running for 18 months

From the Network Rail Putting Passengers First (https://www.networkrail.co.uk/who-we-are/putting-passengers-first/) page

Quote
When will these changes happen?

Changes are planned in a series of phases.

The first phase, the formation of the new regions, is planned to take place in June 2019 following a period of consultation. Some time will be allowed to let these changes bed in before moving on to the next phase.

It's important that the changes be made when the timing is right and the network is ready, as this will deliver better outcomes for rail users. The aim is to complete the whole programme of change by the end of 2020.

I was taught to give things time to settle before you evaluate them and see about further adjustments.  And to change things one at a time.  This would, it seems, not be applicable for some reason in this case.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 24, 2019, 12:07:24 am
Promising to save the passengers by re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic is not historically the wisest way forward. The trick is to get everybody safely off the bloody boat.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 24, 2019, 09:03:21 am
Interesting article on Virgin's Williams submission - https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/virgin-trains-reserve-seat-tickets-long-distance-rail-crowding-compulsory-a8883396.html

Highlights include:

- "Turn up and go” principle to be scrapped in favour of an airline-style system with compulsory reservations and a strict limit on passenger numbers.

- Train slots to be auctioned off to different operators, with the taxpayer benefiting from the revenue generated, with a trial on the East Coast Main Line.

- Public-service operator could run long-distance slots which the market believes are not commercially viable.

- Change the stopping pattern of long-distance slots, so they do not serve short-distance commuter markets.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Robin Summerhill on April 24, 2019, 10:05:46 am
Interesting article on Virgin's Williams submission - https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/virgin-trains-reserve-seat-tickets-long-distance-rail-crowding-compulsory-a8883396.html

Highlights include:

- "Turn up and go” principle to be scrapped in favour of an airline-style system with compulsory reservations and a strict limit on passenger numbers.

- Train slots to be auctioned off to different operators, with the taxpayer benefiting from the revenue generated, with a trial on the East Coast Main Line.

- Public-service operator could run long-distance slots which the market believes are not commercially viable.

- Change the stopping pattern of long-distance slots, so they do not serve short-distance commuter markets.

The first thing I did after I read the Indy piece was to look for a date, just to make sure it didn't first appear 23 days ago ;)

Then I thought more deeply about it and consulted SWMBO. There might be a 56% opposition rate in a Twitter poll but there is a 100% opposition rate in this house...

Airlines, Eurostar and the like can get away with using this system because their services are generally self-contained. Virgin trains connect at many stations around the country with trains run by other TOCs. So, for example, when I was off on my travels with a 14 day all line rail rover last year, on a few occasions I caught a GWR train to Bristol, a XC train to Brum, then picked up a Virgin service to go north up the WCML. What would have happened if the GWR or XC service was late meaning I had missed my connection at New Street? "Sorry chum, your reservation was for the 1115, so you can't travel on our trains today" ???

Although an all line rover is a special case, those circumstances would be by no means unique. There will be people all over the country on this very day who will be using Virgin for only a part of their longer journey.

I could see such a move by any TOC leading to large reductions in revenue (and refunds, incidentally, because they would be refusing to provide a service the passenger had already paid for in good faith).

And over-arching all this, of course, is Virgin potentially losing its franchise next year anyway, so should we really be even bothering to discuss it?  Is it another case of "run a flag up the pole and see who salutes?" :)


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 24, 2019, 10:16:38 am
Interesting article on Virgin's Williams submission

Highlights include:

- "Turn up and go” principle to be scrapped in favour of an airline-style system with compulsory reservations and a strict limit on passenger numbers.

- Change the stopping pattern of long-distance slots, so they do not serve short-distance commuter markets.

Above distilled further ...

Personally, it would be a serious dis-service to me to have to reserve in advance. But then how unusual is my scenario of working a long distance from home for a few days, and being unsure until an hour or so before travelling home of the time I would finish / train I could catch?   Danger of being stranded in ... Carlisle, Motherwell, Holyhead, Fishguard, Edinburgh as the last train goes or "sorry sir, the only seat left is in First Class at £249.00 single".   Written based on a similar experience in France where it equally didn't work for me.

I am not averse to some crack, reservation only services provided that there's an alternative service - on long distance, perhaps my benchmark would be that it's OK to have a "reservation only" train provided that any passengers left behind / travelling on the day can leave later and get to the original planned destination less than an hour after they would have done if able to get on the 'Limited'.

Commuter / regional markets v long distance is an old chestnut.  Could works well on the "top link" routes - perhaps 5 or 10 of them,  provided that there is capacity on the line and trains can easily and reliably pass. But on so many routes it would kill the finances to double up long distance and commuter services, and / or cause service numbers in one or both groups to plummet.

All lines are different ...  London to Brighton is 54 miles; London to Norwich is 115 miles; London to Cardiff is 151 miles; London to Leeds is 191 miles; London to Plymouth is 215 miles; London to Glasgow is 411 miles; London to Aberdeen is 545 miles.    Three 'crack' expresses daily - Aberdeen to London - might take a significant parts of the market.  Three 'crack' expresses Brighton to London - well, it's "Bring back the Brighton Belle", but meets my spec in terms of fallback trains.

[Saw Robin Summerhill's post as I came to post this; adding it in parallel ... largely agree that it looks very much that the proposals might, if implemented, be rather good business for next generation Virgin Rail; IMHO they've done a rather good job in many ways, yet I'm just a bit worried that they're looking - as any business must - at their own future as they put these proposals forward]


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 24, 2019, 10:22:00 am
Definately news today, Robin - That's why I posted it.

Plenty of other links to choose from if you dont like the Indy too:

https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/rmt-warns-of-total-chaos-as-virgin-demands-a-free-for-all/

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17593663.stop-passengers-boarding-long-distance-trains-without-seat-reservations-virgin/

https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/traffic-and-travel/trains-to-become-like-planes-passengers-should-not-be-allowed-to-board-long-distance-trains-without-a-reservation-rail-company-suggests-1-9728791


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Robin Summerhill on April 24, 2019, 12:01:20 pm
Having mulled this over a bit more whilst waiting for a bus to come back from shopping, the myriad reasons why this wouldn't work are coming to mind.

(Just for clarification, I spent the last 20 years or so of my working life taking other people's strategies and visions and turning them into practical courses of action, so the practicalities of any given situation always interest me)

I agree with Graham's post directly after mine, and of course we have had this situation in the UK in the past for certain specific trains, anything from the Pullmans of old to WR seat regulation tickets in the 70s. But in both cases there were alternative trains (even if it was travelling at daft o'clock in the morning or at night to avoid seat regulation tickets). But things have moved on and we now have umpteen TOCs working quasi-independently in the same industry, very much like airlines.

However, if you fly and your plane is late and you miss your onward connection, your airline is legally obliged to find you an alternative flight, even if you did not book your connecting flight with them (I didn't realise that their obligations extended that far until it came within a whisker of happening to be in Johannesburg last year). Extending that principle to the UK rail network and using my example of a journey involving GWR, XC and Virgin:

The GWR train is late into Bristol so I miss my XC connection at 0830. Let's say it is now 0850 and XC's next train north is at 0900 (that was an actual scenario during my rail rover tour when a door fault on a 150 at Bath caused the 0630 PAD to BRI to sit in Sydney Gardens for 25 minutes and then make a special stop at OLF to pick up passengers in place of the failed DMU) so I have no time to speak to a GWR helpdesk at Bristol. The 0900 XC runs to time and I get to New Street just in time to see the tail lamp of my Virgin connection vanishing into the tunnel. So now I go to the GWR helpdesk at Brum. Oh, wait...

So I go to the Virgin helpdesk instead. They tell me that it's not their fault, Guv, and you need to speak to GWR because their late-running train caused the problem. But there are no GWR Customer Service staff this side of Cheltenham or Oxford. I suppose I could ring GWR, and after I'd sat on the phone for 10 minutes listening to a moronic recording telling me that all out operators are busy at the moment and how much we value your call, and have you looked at the FAQs on our website, and so on, I then have to explain my current predicament. In the meantime, umpteen Virgin trains are arriving and departing half empty because a signal failure at Shrewsbury and a points failure at Bescot have buggered up hundreds of other people's travel plans that day that also included a leg on a Virgin train...

OK I accept that that lot is an exaggeration for humorous effect, but there is an underlying principle there that would have Questions asked in The House if this hare-brained scheme ever got off the ground.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: stuving on April 25, 2019, 12:27:50 am
In case anyone might want to read Virgin's proposal (https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/about/media-room#/pressreleases/virgin-trains-unveils-radical-proposals-to-reform-rail-by-importing-airline-model-2863276) before commenting - and lack of it doesn't seem to have held anyone back so far - the (quite substantial)_ text is here (https://www.mynewsdesk.com/material/pressrelease/2863276/download?resource_type=resource_attached_pdf_document). I've been bemused (and amused) to see everyone jump in to comment on one small part of the proposal, when there are far more problematic elements to it.

My bemusement is partly at the consensus view that for long-distance trains to only carry passengers seated is a dangerously alien, unBriish, and unworkable idea. It looks to me more long one of the defining factors of the "proper long-distance trains" that Broadgage has been banging on about for ages.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 25, 2019, 03:32:57 am
To be fair, the Independent article focussed on 4 different aspects of the Virgin proposal (which I listed in my post) and grahame addressed 2 of those in his post, not just the reservation issue.

Also, grahame states that he is not averse to some crack, reservation only services provided that there's an alternative service, so I'm not sure that there is the clear consensus view against that you suggest. From what I can see, both grahame and Robin have their own interesting, informed and informative takes on the issue.

I agree we should read the whole proposal and widen the debate accordingly though, so thanks for posting it. It has certainly kept me up later than I intended tonight  ;D


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: jamestheredengine on April 25, 2019, 07:56:59 am
The plus side of making long-distance services all reserved is that it makes it easier to separate flows. For instance, an all-reserved South Wales/South West service would have the effect of removing Paddington-Reading passengers onto an unreserved mid-distance services, especially if Reading could be priced at the same price as, say, Swindon or Westbury on the reserved trains.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: bradshaw on April 25, 2019, 08:28:14 am
Having taken stuving’s advice and read the report there is much to digest. However, the argument using aircraft reservations has some limitation. The weight of an aircraft is a significant factor in the amount of lift the wings have to generate to achieve flight. It is safety critical, so you cannot afford to overload an aircraft.

There is also their discussion on separating long distance and commuter flows and the practically of so doing.

The suggestion of 20 year awards is one that has been put forward by many people and the success of Chiltern in developing their line points to that being a way forward.
They also discuss the future of Network Rail and further devolution. However there surely has to be a limit to its fragmentation in relation to major projects.

There are many other aspects that the paper goes into.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: stuving on April 25, 2019, 09:58:41 am
Oh dear, Lee, was I a bit provocative there? And yes, I did judge "consensus" just by the volume of screaming and shouting.

But to pick up on one of my gratuitous sarcasms, what do the unBritish do? My universal counterexample is of course France, where the split between long distance (TGV) and local trains (RER, or Transilien in Paris) is quite clear. That is, apart for the odd collection of services that don't fit (Intercités), answering inexactly to CrossCountry. Not only that, but TGV ticketing is airline-like with reservations included, and there is some element of competing SNCF brands (and preparations are being made for open access).

Local services are of course run by regions, some of which have been muttering rebelliously about private contractors for a while now. And yesterday Hauts-de-France announced (https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/news/europe/single-view/view/hauts-de-france-starts-regional-tendering.html) they intend to start the process, following PACA* who were first to make the threat and made their decision last month.

I don't think Virgin's suggestions for local service make much sense, and they almost say that themselves. I don't think they are really interested; their main motivation was to rescue the elements of a market-based structure that are still relevant (or at least have respectable economic credentials) and junk the bits that don't work in a capacity-limited railway. But the gaps in the proposal are as interesting as the contents.

*Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azure


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 25, 2019, 10:07:09 am
That was actually me trying to be balanced! - From patronising to a bulwark against provocation - Its back to Social Skills Workshop for me  ;D


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: CyclingSid on April 25, 2019, 02:43:56 pm
On the basis of not wanting the Reading passengers cluttering the South Wales/South West service, the same could apply to buses. The Newbury service from Reading is often packed with passengers who don't go beyond the boundary of Reading. Not sure all reserved buses would help the current ails of the bus industry.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Robin Summerhill on April 25, 2019, 08:44:32 pm
Having felt suitably admonished for not reading the report and wading in and only commenting on a newspaper article, I have spent much of today going through that report in detail. Suffice to say I have had more enjoyable days…

Nevertheless, now I’ve done it I can regale other forum members with my findings. As putting sections of the report into forum quotes is a little time-consuming (and personally my eyes have difficulty in reading forum quotes anyway – the font colour and quote background colour seem to cancel each other out), quotations from the report will be in italics below.

“Our submission is deliberately high-level and ideas-driven, rather than a detailed examination of the precise nature of operation. In this way we aim to spark debate and discussion, and to give the Review team food for thought”

They can say that again…  You don’t need to read very far into the report before it dawns that is, to use management speak, “Blue Sky Thinking.” Others may see it as an abject failure to see the wood for the trees, because many practical problems jump out as you wade on through it.

“The vast majority of long-distance rail travel is discretionary. Most customers are choosing to visit family or friends, using the train for a weekend break or holiday, or visiting business contacts. They have chosen to meet face-to-face, rather than use video-conferencing or the telephone, and they have chosen to travel by train rather than road or air. Whilst all of their reasons for travel are important, they are fundamentally discretionary in nature.”

Virgin will, presumably, have their own figures to back this up. Whether they have quantitative data about the reasons for the discretionary travel is less clear. As I see it, there are many distinct types of discretionary travel and to lump them all together is unwise. People using a train for a weekend break could probably specify their outbound and return trains before they travel. Those visiting business contacts (as in the case of Graham’s examples) may not. Those using the train to go to a hub airport like Heathrow may well be able to specify their outbound train, but would be unwise to specify the return one for fear of the plane being delayed or cancelled. Visiting friends and relatives might not be just a jolly to go to see Auntie Flo in Bognor for her 85th birthday; it might be going to see a terminally ill friend or relative and you might not be coming back until the inevitable happens. So there is discretionary travel and discretionary travel, and therefore something of a flaw in the reasoning.

“Virgin Trains’ West Coast franchise does, of course, have some customers who use us to commute to work, but they are a small minority; fewer than 10% of our journeys are currently made by season ticket holders”

Once again presumably Virgin has the data to back this up but I would still like to see some more detail. For example, it is currently only Virgin West Coast that provides a service between Wigan, Warrington and Crewe, or between Crewe, Warrington and Preston. If there is commuter traffic between those locations (and I’ be surprised if there wasn’t), Virgin provide the only current rail service.

“There are also significant problems with congestion and ticket complexity. Train companies are often obliged, by regulation, to accept ‘walk-up’ fares which means they have no control over the number of people getting on a particular train (unless it is physically unsafe). These walk-up fares are regulated by the Department for Transport (DfT) at a set price that cannot be varied by train; inevitably they are too cheap for some services and too expensive for others. This results in the all-too-frequent sight of customers forced to stand on a long-distance journey. Yet, on the same day, rigid timetables force companies to shuttle around extremely heavy and mostly empty trains, pushing up costs and ticket prices

Removing little-used trains would also improve overall network performance or could free up paths for more freight trains with corresponding benefits to our road network.”


There appears to be a large element of skewed thinking in these paragraphs. We are talking “walk-up” fares here, which essentially means anytime or off peak tickets. Then later on we are told that “inevitably they are too cheap for some services and too expensive for others.” I would like to see the evidence that they base this statement on - especially the "too cheap" bit. Then we are told that this results in customers being forced to stand on a long distance journey – or sit in a vestibule on the floor like Jeremy Corbyn perhaps… I have certainly been on trains that appear to be rammed to the gunwales only to hear the Train Manager plead with passengers to move down the train where there are plenty of empty seats. Sometimes the passengers themselves won’t even bother to look for a seat. Then there is the suggestion that the TOCs are running virtual ECS around the network to only fulfil their contractual obligations, but chooses perhaps not to mention that a single train cannot be taken in isolation because it is part of a longer diagram and, for example, a half-empty train going up to the Capital mid-afternoon will certainly not be half empty on its return working.

Finally on this particular quotation, the remark about TOCs having no control over the number of passengers on a train unless it is physically unsafe needs amplification. Bus companies have the same situation and so do ferries. They seem to suggest that the problem is one for the railway alone. I know that I personally would far prefer standing on a train than on a moving bus.

“Customers are often bewildered by the range of ticketing and fare options available and have little confidence that they have purchased the right ticket for their journey. There are too many options, with too many variables and unclear language.

The second, vital, step to import the airline model into the long-distance sector is to have reservation-only trains. This already exists on some international services such as Eurostar. Customers would book a ticket and a seat for a particular train. The price would be based on demand so as the train filled up, the price would go up. But there would only be one price for that train at a given point in time

Customers would be free to choose a popular train at a higher price, or a less popular train at a lower price. There would be no peak or off-peak, which would also eliminate much of the need for complex ‘split-ticketing’ arrangements by customers seeking to minimise their bills.
It would eliminate ticket complexity at a stroke.

Just like airlines, customers could buy a flexible ticket which would allow them to change trains and make a reservation for a different service if there was space. Anyone with a season ticket would need to book a seat, and customers with ‘open’, fully-flexible tickets would also have to book a seat rather than simply turning up at the last minute for any train.
These flexible ticket holders could of course change their reservation to another train (assuming seats were available) but could only hold one reservation at a time for a given day and journey”


Hmm… So prices would be higher for “popular” trains than for “unpopular” ones, and customers could buy a flexible ticket (presumably for a higher price as that is how the airlines do it), Fantastic idea – we could call them Anytime, off peak, super off peak and advance tickets – I wonder why no-one has ever thought of it before…?

“…everyone understands what’s involved in flying. It’s almost impossible for customers to get on the wrong plane, and everyone accepts that they are booked on a particular flight with a particular seat – and if they miss it, they either don’t travel or have to rebook at their own cost.”

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this ain't necessarily so. In the aviation industry if a flight operator is responsible for a delay which makes a passenger miss their flight, they are responsible to rebook that customer. This is especially pertinent in the railway industry given that many people will use trains operated by multiple operators over one journey.

“…if a long-distance operator served a commuter market as part of its route, these commuters would still be required to reserve seats if they wanted to use this long-distance service rather than local commuter services”

I’d like a seat reservation for my 9-minute journey from Wigan to Warrington please…

I could go on but this post has now exceeded 1300 words so, if you are still reading, thank you!”  ;D


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: eightonedee on April 25, 2019, 10:06:46 pm
Thanks Robin - I'll put my hatchet back in the drawer....


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on April 29, 2019, 11:40:05 am
A piece on the future of franchising - an opinion piece from Jim Armitage in The Standard (https://www.standard.co.uk/business/jim-armitage-must-do-better-after-end-of-the-line-for-rail-franchise-farce-a4129036.html).

Quote
Britain’s train franchising system is about to be shunted into the scrapyard, and not before time.

Under the dysfunctional Department of Transport, mandarins are making such extreme demands on companies running rail franchises that British firms have been all but pushed out of the market. Only foreign state-owned companies can afford the risk.

National Express quit UK rail in 2017, and Stagecoach has just ....

[snip]

One executive today said “anything is better than the status quo”.

Maybe, but surely we can reach higher than that.

An excellent read ... I was tempted to quote the whole thing in fact ... which may well help / open further discussion


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: PhilWakely on April 30, 2019, 08:16:23 am
From the BBC 30th April 2019 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48096549)
Quote
Rail firms want independent body to oversee network

(https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/12339/production/_106635547_gettyimages-1025512990.jpg)

An independent body should oversee the rail network, according to Britain's railway companies.

In submissions made to a government-appointed review into rail, the firms also said long-distance routes should be serviced by more than one company.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) added that control of commuter routes could be handed over to local authorities.

It suggested commuter routes could be organised in a similar way to Transport for London in the capital.

Local government oversees timetables and organisation in London, with private operators subcontracted to provide the services.

"We are suggesting replacing the current franchise system as it stands at the moment," RDG regional director Robert Nisbet told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"These proposals would result in a much more joined-up railway and greater accountability to passengers.

"We believe that would be best done by a system of dynamic contracts around the country.

"There would be an overarching apolitical body that would be in charge of this system, dealing with the trade-offs, but also policing it and issuing rules that bind and fines that bite.

"We are putting forward what we think is a compelling vision for both the public and private sectors working together in partnership, underpinned by an easier fare system which would deliver the best fare for any passenger whenever they took their journey."

The Strategic Rail Authority, which was established in 2000, used to carry out this role, but it was abolished in 2004.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "In the major northern cities, and across the Northern Powerhouse, this devolution would make it possible to integrate transport better.

"This is already being worked towards, with more touch-in-and-out travel within - and in between - our towns and cities in the North.

"This would be used by more of us as passengers if the government supports the fare system being reformed more quickly."

Currently, most UK rail services are operated by fixed-term franchises, which involve the Department for Transport (DfT) setting out a specification covering areas such as service levels, upgrades and performance.

Train companies then submit bids to run the franchise and the DfT selects one of the applicants.

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said the RDG was proposing a "deregulated free-for-all" that would lead to fare rises for customers.

The RDG's vision is likely to be seen as an attempt to stave off nationalisation, as proposed by Labour.

But the government has said privatisation has helped "transform" the industry.

The UK's rail network has been beset by problems, with the East Coast Mainline brought back under government control in May - for the third time in a decade.
(https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/16994/production/_106646529_trainpa.jpg)
Image copyright PA

Last year, hundreds of trains were cancelled amid a huge timetable reorganisation on services including Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern.

This month, Virgin and Stagecoach were barred from three rail franchise bids. The DfT disallowed the bids because they did not meet pensions rules.

Virgin was bidding to renew the West Coast franchise in partnership with Stagecoach and France's SNCF.

Stagecoach had also applied for the East Midlands and South Eastern franchises, both of which have been rejected.

Keith Williams, former chief executive of British Airways, is due to deliver a report on the future of the industry this autumn.

*** edited as the article was changed just as I posted! ***


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Lee on April 30, 2019, 08:43:16 am
So effectively, is the RDG submission to the Williams Review is a hybrid of this (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=21246.0) and this? (https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/about/media-room#/pressreleases/virgin-trains-unveils-radical-proposals-to-reform-rail-by-importing-airline-model-2863276)


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: SandTEngineer on April 30, 2019, 11:51:10 am
Light Blue Touch paper.....
https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/media-centre/press-releases/2019/469773861-2019-04-30.html

Quote
Rail companies 'call time on short-term fixes' with plan for 'generational system upgrade'

Written on 30 April 2019.

Following months of consultation with passengers, businesses and communities, the Rail Delivery Group has submitted proposals to the Williams Review that would create a generational step-change in accountability and customer focus.

Proposals would replace the current franchising system with TfL-style networks on some mass-commuter routes, more choice and competition for passengers on some long-distance routes, and services running on other routes with tough outcome-based targets and incentives to meet customer needs.

Accountability would be strengthened by putting a new independent national organising body in charge of the whole industry, acting as the glue that binds it together.
New system would be underpinned by the industry’s proposals to deliver an easier to use, better value fares system.

Plan to be taken round the country to consult about how the benefits of the proposals could be maximised.
Britain’s rail companies are proposing a radical alternative to the current franchising system that would better join up the railway, improve accountability for passengers and result in easier, better value fares for all.

The proposals to the government’s rail review, independently chaired by Keith Williams, are informed by conversations with passengers, businesses and communities across the country and set out the building blocks of a future system. They would see a new independent organising body put in charge of the industry, acting as the glue that binds it together so that everyone is working to meet the same customer-centric goals. Sitting outside day-to-day politics, the organising body would drive up accountability and standards, helping to end the blame game when things sometimes do go wrong and giving penalties where rail companies fall short.

With this new organising body in charge, the current one size fits all franchise system would be replaced with different types of services designed to suit the needs of different groups of passengers.

On some mass-commuter routes there would be democratically accountable, TfL-style single-branded concessions, where an integrated transport body is given more devolved control and rail companies are better integrated to deliver services for passengers.

On long-distance routes, where appropriate, multiple operators would compete for passengers’ business, making services far more responsive to their needs. Whether its quicker more comfortable journeys or faster Wi-Fi, demand would shape the market - with passengers able to vote with their feet if they wanted change.
On other routes, where passengers have less choice about how they travel there would be tough targets and incentives for train companies to deliver the outcomes their customers want, instead of today’s tightly specified inputs-based contracts. This would give operators the freedom to innovate to improve, while only being rewarded for good performance.

The new system would be underpinned by an easier to use, better value range of fares, delivered by updating decades old regulations. This could see pay-as-you-go with a price cap introduced on commuter services across the country, giving flexible workers a better deal. It would also enable greater local control over fares in devolved areas and better integration of rail fares with those for other modes of transport.

For long distance routes, updating fares regulations around peak and off-peak travel would mean ticket prices could be set more flexibly, incentivising more people to travel while spreading demand more evenly across the day - potentially reducing overcrowding by up to a third on the busiest services.

With a fully reformed fares system, for the first time passengers would able to benefit from a guarantee that they would pay the best fares for their journey, every time, with no need to split ticket.

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail companies, said:
“These proposals call time on short term fixes and set out the once-in-a-generation system upgrade the railway needs if it is to help the country prosper over the next 25 years.

“We want to move forward with a rail system that is more focused on customers, more responsive to local communities and more accountable, letting rail companies deliver what people want in each area of the country and rebuilding trust between the industry and passengers.”

Over the summer, rail companies will continue consulting with passenger groups, business groups and local and regional bodies on how the benefits of the proposals could be maximised.

The proposals would also reinforce rail freight’s central role in delivering for Britain’s economy, highlighting the need to maintain a joined-up, national approach to coordinating the railway in order to ensure the access needed to keep supermarket shelves stacked, the lights on and the economy moving in the global marketplace.

To deliver these ambitious proposals and enable rail to meet the challenges of the next 25 years, a motivated, engaged and happy workforce is key, and the proposals highlight the need to invest in the rewards, skills and resources they need to secure long-term, rewarding careers for this generation and the next.

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General said:
"Business wants an efficient and reliable rail system that delivers for the economy and that means reinvigorating the public private partnership that runs the railway.

“These proposals from the rail companies mark a necessary break from the status quo. They seek to drive innovation through private sector competition while improving accountability to passengers.

“It’s good to see an industry recognising the need for change and making serious proposals that could be part of the solution."


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: ellendune on April 30, 2019, 10:50:08 pm
The RDG's proposals look like a recipe for chaos to me. 

Where is this strong independent regulator to come from? All that will happen is a new figurehead is appointed and the same DfT civil servants will get moved across. And they are supposed to take whole load of different bids to run individual services and make so coherent pubic service out of it.  This is fantasy and high level - even by present day standards.

So the railways companies get a chance to run riot and make lots of money - just not pay it out in bonuses. 



Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: stuving on May 02, 2019, 01:48:09 pm
From Railnews (https://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2019/05/02-branson-says-franchise-competitions-should.html):
Quote
Branson says franchise competitions should be cancelled

VIRGIN founder Sir Richard Branson has called for all outstanding Department for Transport franchise competitions to be scrapped until the recommendations of the Williams Rail Review have been published in the autumn. He has also claimed that four current franchises are ’struggling’...

This goes on at length, and includes this paragraph:
Quote
It is something of an open secret in the industry that four other current franchises are now also struggling. And that’s before the £750 million risk of split-ticketing and potential £7.5 billion of pensions risk are applied across the industry. There is also the risk of new open access operators taking significant revenue from franchises. The inescapable conclusion is the government is setting franchisees up to fail.

So what's this "£750 million risk of split-ticketing" then?


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on May 02, 2019, 03:42:38 pm
So what's this "£750 million risk of split-ticketing" then?

Someone's back to putting the cart before the horse again.    It's absurd that separate tickets on the 07:53 from A to B and then on the 09:30 B to C (a continuation of the same train) work out cheaper than buying a ticket all the way from A to C via (and calling at) B on the same train.

Fares should not be distorted as they are ... once the distortions are sorted out, split ticketing becomes the just-occasionally useful facility it was supposed to be in the first place - a convenient way of commuting from B (home) to A (office) in the morning, but then returning via B to C (rail user group meeting) in the evening without having to get off and rebook at B.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: stuving on May 02, 2019, 04:04:24 pm
So what's this "£750 million risk of split-ticketing" then?

Someone's back to putting the cart before the horse again.    It's absurd that separate tickets on the 07:53 from A to B and then on the 09:30 B to C (a continuation of the same train) work out cheaper than buying a ticket all the way from A to C via (and calling at) B on the same train.

Fares should not be distorted as they are ... once the distortions are sorted out, split ticketing becomes the just-occasionally useful facility it was supposed to be in the first place - a convenient way of commuting from B (home) to A (office) in the morning, but then returning via B to C (rail user group meeting) in the evening without having to get off and rebook at B.

Yes, but Branson is talking about some new development that will cost the (presumably) TOCs £750M extra in lost revenue. Is that his view of the RDG fares proposal? If not, what is it?


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: Robin Summerhill on May 02, 2019, 05:02:37 pm
So what's this "£750 million risk of split-ticketing" then?

Someone's back to putting the cart before the horse again.    It's absurd that separate tickets on the 07:53 from A to B and then on the 09:30 B to C (a continuation of the same train) work out cheaper than buying a ticket all the way from A to C via (and calling at) B on the same train.

Fares should not be distorted as they are ... once the distortions are sorted out, split ticketing becomes the just-occasionally useful facility it was supposed to be in the first place - a convenient way of commuting from B (home) to A (office) in the morning, but then returning via B to C (rail user group meeting) in the evening without having to get off and rebook at B.

Two things should be borne in mind; 1 the savvy traveller will always find the best deal and 2 there have been idiosyncrasies in ticket prices since I was a lad (if not since railways were invented). Let me give you a f’rinstance:

Back in my “trainspotting years” in the 60s, and in the days when ticket prices were still set by the mile, I had privilege rate travel because my father worked on the railway, whilst a friend who often came with me did not.

If, say, we wanted to go from Bristol to Manchester, I could by a child privilege return. He couldn’t buy a day return because in those days day returns were generally only available between selected locations, usually for local journeys, to popular seaside resorts or to London. And, as now, were only a few pence more than an ordinary single between those two points. As a day return wasn’t available for his full journey, he would have had to buy a full price child ordinary return from Bristol to Manchester which, at effectively 11/2d per mile, didn’t come cheap if all you had for income was pocket money and a Sunday paper round.

The system we used could not be done today because station dwell times were much longer back then.

He would buy a day return to Hereford and, on arrival, would scoot off to the booking office to buy a day return to Shrewsbury. The process was then repeated at Shrewsbury for a day return to Manchester.

Mid week returns were also available for a couple of years in the 60s. These allowed outbound travel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, allowing return travel TWThO in the following week. Initially designed to attract the holiday market, it wasn’t only the pair of us who spotted that they allowed cheap long distance travel if you went two weeks’ running, as when you got to the other end you simply bought another mid-week return to go back the same week, then use the return portions of both tickets in the following week. Useful in the school holidays for Carlisle or Scotland runs, they were… :)

The moral of the story is that discounted fares then, as now, were designed to encourage discretionary leisure travel. Anything that the railways to potentially depress that demand may well result in a fall in passenger numbers.

So do away with split ticketing if you think that’s the best thing to do, but be careful how you do it.

I would finally draw an analogy with the accountancy profession. Every time the Chancellor or HMRC identify a “tax loophole” and closes it, any accountants worth their salt will find new ones. And in my view that is exactly what is likely to happen with railway fares after any review.

As the old saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for”






Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on May 08, 2019, 11:16:44 am
From Rail News (https://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2019/05/08-rdg-fighting-like-rats-in.html)

Quote
THE Rail Delivery Group is reported to be divided over what the Williams Review should do to restructure the industry, with one union leader claiming that its members are ‘like rats fighting in a sack’.

Article goes on to describe some of the differences.

I have an uneasy feeling that the desired outcome ...
* for passengers is an excellent public transport network
* for train operator companies is a good business prospect
* for the Government is good news which costs them as little as possible
... may head in the same direction but are not totally compatible.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: jamestheredengine on May 08, 2019, 03:33:35 pm
It's absurd that separate tickets on the 07:53 from A to B and then on the 09:30 B to C (a continuation of the same train) work out cheaper than buying a ticket all the way from A to C via (and calling at) B on the same train.

Mathematically the way to achieve this is a flat peak surcharge irrespective of distance.


Title: Re: Williams Rail Review
Post by: grahame on June 02, 2019, 05:49:18 am

This goes on at length, and includes this paragraph:
Quote
It is something of an open secret in the industry that four other current franchises are now also struggling. And that’s before the £750 million risk of split-ticketing and potential £7.5 billion of pensions risk are applied across the industry. There is also the risk of new open access operators taking significant revenue from franchises. The inescapable conclusion is the government is setting franchisees up to fail.

So what's this "£750 million risk of split-ticketing" then?

Somewhat ironic that Virgin have now launched their split ticketing app, with the weight of their marketing behind it, isn't it, then?  Perhaps we're in for something more like a public railway operated by private concessions with the risk taken by the public, and back to some sort of profit and loss limiter such as we saw under 'cap and collar'.  But then is the DfT the right body to manage such a system?  Echos of "SRA" which - however, was neither strategic nor with any authority and was rapidly taken back in-house. Might be difficult for those who currently make any decisions to let others make them if that's what Williams comes up with, and we could end up back in a world where the frustrations of getting a DfT decision at present are dwarfed by the problems of getting development approved by a rail specifying body which also needs to have all its decisions still ratified by the DfT.

At least we're currently seeing replacement of older trains with new ones and major infrastructure works on GWR, even if some of us feel that some of the changes are so biased towards the trunk and main limbs that they're being made at the expense of the smaller branches.

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