Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Railing against transport policy

Ladies and gentlemen, GNER's Standard Advance Return from Edinburgh to London is now £220. Yes, you read that right: that is two hundred and twenty pounds. You could fly to Spain for a tenth of that.

Is it any wonder when GNER are paying the government £1 billion over the next 10 years?
At present, GNER pays £22m a year to the Treasury to run the line but this is expected to rise to as much as £100m a year.

But surely, you are thinking a little cynically, they will make that back out of the no doubt huge subsidies that they get from the government?
While most train firms receive money from the government to subsidise services, GNER pays cash to run the contract.


Is anybody in government actually even attempting any "joined-up thinking"? Or any thinking at all?

Furthermore, why the fucking hell are GNER paying the government when almost every single other operator effectively gets paid by the government? Why is it acceptable for the government to drive up the cost of a train ticket on this one route? And will the government get any of the inevitable flack for these, equally inevitable, ticket rises?

And how, in the name of all that is unholy, do the government think that they are going to get people out of the highly polluting cars and planes when they keep pulling this kind of stunt? Are they insane?

Meanwhile, the West Coast mainline is operated by Virgin who have just benefitted from a massive hidden subsidy in the recent line upgrade.
The top speed of the Pendolino was 110mph until the West Coast Main Line upgrade was completed.

The upgrade involved re-laying about 1,000 miles of track along the route in the last three years.

The first stage in the route improvement programme involved an upgrade of the section between London and Manchester, enabling trains to travel at up to 125mph.

The upgrade cost £7.9 billion. And, having spent that vast sum of money, the trains can now travel 15 miles per hour faster than they could before.

So, for every 1 mile per hour increase in speed, the taxpayer has shelled out £5.3 million quid. Anyone think that that is good value for money?

As Private Eye readers will know, this massive subsidy for Virgin Rail was approved by the now-defunct (because it was shit) Strategic Rail Authority whose chairman and, rather oddly, chief executive, was a gentleman yclept Richard Bowker.
Three years after a secondment with Virgin Rail in 1997, he was appointed co-chairman of the group

The post was part of his responsibilities as Commercial Director for the transport sector of the Virgin Group of Companies.

His responsibilities involved work on the introduction of new rolling stock and the upgrade of the West Coast main line.

Well now, that is a coincidence, eh? Just saying, is all...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know commenting on a year-old post is a bit lame, but the Virgin/WCML contract had nothing to do with the SRA - it was a deal between Virgin Rail and Railtrack, back when Richard Bowker was still working at Virgin. When Railtrack failed to deliver the upgrade and utterly fell apart, Network Rail inherited Railtrack's contractural committments.

(also, you'd be lucky to fly to Spain and back for less than £lots at the times when the SOR is valid - you're comparing middle-of-the-night holiday flights to airports in the middle of nowhere with morning peak business tickets. BA are quoting £675.90 return for a day trip from Edinburgh to Madrid during business hours next Monday).

John B

NHS Fail Wail

I think that we can all agree that the UK's response to coronavirus has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many people asserted that our de...