May 25, 2004

Expanding capacity, stretching credulity

Jackie D | Rail General

A deal brokered by Centro and Central Trains will see ten new diesel units added to one of the busiest lines in the West Midlands. A new "train every ten minutes" timetable is also planned for a September launch, when the first of these ten units are rolled out.

I used to live in the West Midlands, and frequently took the Stourbridge-Birmingham-Stratford line, so I noted this story with interest. (Of course, like most who flee the area, I plan never to return, so it's not as if this development will actually affect my life in any substantial way -- but still.) Apart from the typically chaotic and unreliable services in and out of Birmingham New Street, I couldn't say if the state of public transport in the West Midlands struck me as being any worse than services I've experienced in other parts of the country. But things certainly weren't remarkably better. Additional carriages and more frequent trains could only be welcome news to a beleaguered traveller.

That said, my eye stuck on a couple of claims in particular that Centro and Central Trains have made about public transport in the Midlands. One:

Centro say the trains will encourage up to 1,000 cars off the road.
If there are two little words that it drives me crazy to encounter in the context of statistics and news reporting, "up to" would have to fit the bill. I would love to see them replaced by "at the very most optimistic estimate".

Two:

Ged Burgess, from Central Trains, said: "The issue in the West Midlands is not rail performance, which is quite good now, but rail capacity. This is aiming to alleviate that."
So says the man from the franchise holder. I no longer live in the area, and am a novice when it comes to transport anyway, so maybe Transport Blog readers can tell me what sources I can look to in order to check Mr Burgess's assertion. It would have been nice if the reporter had done so for me and other readers, but these days, that's asking a lot.

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Comments

One of the major problems on the railways at present is that there is too much of a blame culture in respect of Network Rail and the TOC's. In my opinion, and this is not sour grapes, the railway has lost the majority of experienced operators, and opportunities are lost in respect of using possible available capacity. Train paths are sold, whilst 30 years ago, graphs indicated capacity and decisions were made for the good of the whole railway. There was no suggestion of penalty payments, and decisions in respect of which train to run first were made to ensure the least disruption to services. The signaller or chief inspector were responsible to the operating department, not contractual legislation. In the 1960/70's, it would never have been agreed to close a main line from Watford to Lichfield at a Bank Holiday to undertake engineering work. Germany and Switzerland do not do this, and they use modern track renewal equipment. A major culture change is required in this country to succeed.

Posted by Brian Hayes on May 29, 2004

"In the 1960/70's, it would never have been agreed to close a main line from Watford to Lichfield at a Bank Holiday to undertake engineering work."

What nonsense. You fail to come to terms with the fact BR never did any maintenance. The Uckfield line regularly got something called a maintenance holiday with speed restrictions on half the line down to 20 mph in some areas. In fact BR went further than Beeching ever dreamed it closed down the Lewes to Uckfield link. Never mind maintenance at bank holiday periods there wasn’t any lines under BR to maintain they ran them down then closed them down.

The government dreamt up the penalty payments. The government dreamt up this whole system of things. Can anyone tell me would any private company run a railway like this? The answer is NO. It’s funny how leftists fuddy duddies never go back further than 1948 when the pre nationalised companies which were privately owned and had shares on the LSE could run a railway a damn site better than the government has. The truth is the railway was in decline from WWII and the government made the biggest mistake of nationalising the railway. Because BR sunk into the red very quickly the government had to compensate shareholders for years. As it could not afford what wasn’t theirs in the first place.

A proper privatised railway with a lot less government interference would work a darn site better than now. The Japanese privatised their rail system but they didn’t make the stupid mistakes we did. But like the British government they think they know it all. When railway groups get smaller they refer it to the competition commission. Like the new one railway. It’s funny how Notwork Rail doesn’t get referred. It is a monopoly is it not. This government like all others are more corrupt than all the private companies put together.

“One of the major problems on the railways at present is that there is too much of a blame culture in respect of Network Rail and the TOC’s”

“A major culture change is required in this country to succeed.”

I agree with both of these statements. You are right a major culture change is needed. So lets begin with the scrapping of Notwork Rail and handing over infrastructure to train operator so they can ran integrated units. You cannot then blame and claim for a signal failure as both will be owned by the same company.

Posted by Amir on May 30, 2004

Also this weekend of distruptions is the biggest since 1966 when they electified the west coast.

Yes mate in 1966 they closed it down for up to two weeks. and your right it wasn't at a bank holiday it was on normal days as well. So your statement

"In the 1960/70's, it would never have been agreed to close a main line from Watford to Lichfield at a Bank Holiday to undertake engineering work.

Just doesn't hold any water.

Read it at the guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1228081,00.html

Posted by Amir on May 31, 2004

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