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miyakoji

rail reform in the UK

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miyakoji

Interesting BBC article, "Labour should reform the railways, prospective MPs say"

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27273672 (cool yard, someone should model it. Anyone know where this is?)

 

I don't know much about it, but it's always surprised me that various operational aspects are in different hands, such as track and signaling versus rolling stock. Who does that actual scheduling? I think Yoshiyuki Kasai (current chairman of JR Central, and involved in the planning of privatization of JNR during its last days) wrote in his book that they discussed dividing different functions amongst various organizations, but decided against it.

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kvp

The UK rail system is run as the highway system. The tracks are government maintained from public money, while rail operators work like bus companies and keep most of their profits. Each service has a licence that is loaned to an operator for a fixed sum.

 

The japanese model works like the railways in Japan and the UK before nationalisation with private companies providing service on their own tracks and some companies operate over other companies tracks (like JR freight and some JRE-Tokyo metro direct services).

 

The pre privatisation, post sectorisation UK system worked pretty much like the japanese system now, with south, west and north regions and 2 trackless companies (ic and freight). The difference between the two models were the management strategies and the balance between profit and public service. The japanese JR companies have much larger freedom and more profit oriented than the old UK sectors.

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Claude_Dreyfus

cool yard, someone should model it. Anyone know where this is?

 

That is the northern approach to Clapham Junction in South London, the busiest station (by train number) in the UK and one of the busiest in Europe. It is a widely-used joke in the UK that if you won the lottery, you would build a model of Clapham Junction...

 

In terms of the article, it is nothing more than a group of political wannabies trying to make a name for themselves. The likelihood of the renationalisation of Britain's railways is zero...even their own party has ruled that prospect out. It is part of a wider row between the political parties to distance themselves from one another. Nationalisation is 'old Socialism'...something which today's Labour party seems to dislike more than the Conservative party.

 

The set-up here is complicated, and this very rudimentary overview...

 

The track, some stations and other infrastructure is owned by Network Rail. The stations tend to be bigger and used by more than one operator (Clapham Junction for example). You the have the Operating companies, who 'own' some stations, employ the staff (drivers, conductors etc.), who operate services based on franchises(which last 5-10 years approximately, but some longer terms exist). The trains are owned by leasing companies (not the operators, although Stagecoach did own a leasing company as well as some franchises, including South West Trains...the operating company of the class 455 EMU seen in the article picture (told you it was complex!)), and are rented to the companies.

 

Freight operations are also complicated. We have the 'National' operator, formerly EWS, now DBS (a subsidiary DB), as well as Freightliner, who now operate more than container trains. There are five or six other significant operators for freight, who tend to own their own locomotives (although the newer locos are also leased).

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Densha

We have the 'National' operator, formerly EWS, now DBS (a subsidiary DB)...

Okay... I never knew EWS was the former freight devision of British Rail. DB bought the former national freight company in the Netherlands - NS Cargo - years ago as well. They also own about 75% of the local passenger rail franchises in the Netherlands.

DB really is conquering the world, I even saw a picture of a DBS garbage truck in Japan!!

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Claude_Dreyfus

Not quite. Upon privatisation, BR Railfreight was split into three 'companies' (Mainline, Transrail and Loadhaul), as well as Freightliner. The first three were sold to Wisconsin Central - who formed EWS - whilst Freightliner was subject to a management buy-out. EWS also managed to get hold of Royal Mail traffic. EWS was bought-out buy DB.

 

EWS came with lots of promises, but although freight levels in the UK have increased, they were not an unqualified success; they lost royal mail and parcels traffic, their 'enterprise' trip freight services fizzled out and their one-size-fits-all class 66 tried to be their multipurpose engine, but doesn't really excel at anything.

 

Something which does needle the British press, is that following privatisation, the haulage of the Royal train passed, via the Parcels/Mail contract, to them. DBS locomotives now handle Her Majesty's transport needs... 

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Densha

DBS locomotives now handle Her Majesty's transport needs...

While in the Netherlands the royal train is still pulled by NS locos, the trains in front of the royal train (to check for any anomalies) are by DBS as well.

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bikkuri bahn
You the have the Operating companies, who 'own' some stations, employ the staff (drivers, conductors etc.), who operate services based on franchises(which last 5-10 years approximately, but some longer terms exist).

 

Question: if a franchise on a particular route or network is lost, what happens to the employees?- are they let go, reassigned, or hired by the new franchise operator?

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Claude_Dreyfus

The staff are normally unaffected...any changes normally only impacting on those higher up the food chain. Most staff need to be retained and more often than not, the trains themselves are kept on the route. Franchise companies can order new stock, but have very little say on what happens to the older stuff - the Government Department for Transport (nicknamed DafT, on account of some of their decision making) call the shots with stock allocation.

Franchise changing resulting in job losses would be frowned upon and unlikely to be accepted by the Government. That said, they are merging a couple soon, one of which is DOO (Driver Only Operation), so there may be some staff changes there...

Edited by Claude_Dreyfus
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bikkuri bahn

I see- so new uniforms, new badges, and a new manual to read.

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Claude_Dreyfus

Essentially, yes. Some staff have had a number of employers, but have done exactly the same job for years!

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kvp

This system is just a very complicated way to get the taxpayers to pay for the infrastructure, then get as many companies into the chain as possible, so most of the ticket money could be removed from the system before it is used for anything useful, like maintenance or new rolling stock. The result is a very expensive, very complicated and not really good rail system. (Integra signum was invented in 1933 and siemens indusi in 1934 and nowdays how many UK lines still don't have ATS installed?)

 

Personally i think the new trends toward single company track/stock/license ownership is better. For example many intra city commuter lines are now operated by the french government (along with most of the electrid grid), while the germans try to get a running licence too with their own rolling stock and possibly own station facilities. This could mean a 100% foreign state owned system, but at least with a common owner for every part of each rail line from track to trains. This is the japanese model and imho switching to this would increase the quality of the rail service.

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Claude_Dreyfus

This system is just a very complicated way to get the taxpayers to pay for the infrastructure, then get as many companies into the chain as possible, so most of the ticket money could be removed from the system before it is used for anything useful, like maintenance or new rolling stock. The result is a very expensive, very complicated and not really good rail system. (Integra signum was invented in 1933 and siemens indusi in 1934 and nowdays how many UK lines still don't have ATS installed?)

 

Personally i think the new trends toward single company track/stock/license ownership is better. For example many intra city commuter lines are now operated by the french government (along with most of the electrid grid), while the germans try to get a running licence too with their own rolling stock and possibly own station facilities. This could mean a 100% foreign state owned system, but at least with a common owner for every part of each rail line from track to trains. This is the japanese model and imho switching to this would increase the quality of the rail service.

 

I don't 100% agree with the UK system being not a very good system...it is in fact a very wide-ranging network, which operates a huge number of trains and carries vast number of passengers each day. It also manages to maintain a standard of service across the whole network. There is rarely an apples vs. apples comparison between the quality of UK railways and elsewhere. A good example is France, where chronic underfunding (with cash being diverted to the TGV and other higher speed lines) has given many rural lines an appallingly poor service. 

 

The franchising and general set-up is complicated, but the old BR had more than its fair share of issues. At least most of us have new trains - across the network, with lots of new designs and deliveries in the pipeline. Regular users do complain - I commute into London Bridge station everyday - but it is generally better now than it was 10-15 years ago.

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