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  • Williams Review - 1st deadline: January 18, 2019
  • Williams review - final inputs: May 31, 2019
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Author Topic: Williams Rail Review  (Read 7952 times)
SandTEngineer
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« Reply #15 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
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« Reply #16 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}} 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!
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« Reply #17 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
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« Reply #18 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.
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« Reply #19 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 came up on my 'campaign' feed this morning - prepared a few days ahead.
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Lee
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« Reply #20 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.
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« Reply #21 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?
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Lee
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« Reply #22 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 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. 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.

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 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.
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« Reply #23 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)).
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« Reply #24 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 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.
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Lee
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« Reply #25 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.
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« Reply #26 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.
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« Reply #27 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 Wink

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" Huh

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?" Smiley
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« Reply #28 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]
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« Reply #29 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
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