Labour compromise on franchises will please no one

July 4th, 2014 Guardian 2 comments
Reports today suggest Labour is set to announce that it will allow parts of the rail network to come back into public ownership. But it seems Labour, which has dismissed the story as "pure speculation", will only allow a recreated British Rail to bid for franchises rather than taking them all over as they run out.   The leadership's fear of a more radical solution has been apparent for some time and ...

Rail 737: Franchising hold up leads to investment paralysis

December 12th, 2013 Rail Magazine 2 comments
It’s all gone quiet on the franchise front. Gradually the various franchise extensions are being let, invariably to the present holders. So we have had Govia’s SouthEastern contract extended for six months, with then a further temporary franchise to be let, First getting another 23 months on Great Western and so on. All in all a dozen franchises will get an extension or what is called a direct award. All these ...

East Coast set to remain in the public sector (sort of)

October 2nd, 2013 Christian Says 5 comments
There are some stories in the modern railway that you could not make up because they would be too far-fetched. The story of  the PPP on the London Underground was one, but now we have another great one. Eurostar is bidding  jointly for the East Coast franchise with Keolis, which normaly partners Go-Ahead. Now of course this is the franchise that is being rushed through for privatisation because currently it is ...

Rail 729: ORR tries to make sense of the impossible

August 17th, 2013 Rail Magazine 1 comment
You can’t fault the Office of Rail Regulation for trying. Trying, that is, to make sense of an industry structure which every experienced railway managers knows is inherently dysfunctional and full of perverse incentives. And trying, too, to turn the railways into a normal conventional business like selling soap or Coca Cola with competition at its heart when, in fact, that is a hopeless task. The latest effort from the ORR ...

Rail 727: ATOC defends franchising system

August 7th, 2013 Rail Magazine 2 comments
In the last issue, I set out the arguments outlined in a TUC-sponsored report that was highly critical of the way that the railways are structured. Fortuitously, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has also put out a detailed document analysing the current state of the rail industry and, not surprisingly, has come to the opposite conclusion to the TUC’s report. The ATOC report is an attempt to justify the ...

Rail 724: so what would a Labour government do?

July 16th, 2013 Rail Magazine 6 comments
It is time to start thinking about what a Labour government – or a Labour dominated administration - might do in terms of rail, and particular, franchising, policy if elected in 2015. It is of course by no means certain that Labour will be the biggest party, but Mystic Wolmar puts the chances at around 70 per cent which means that it is definitely worth examining what might happen. The issue ...

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