Re: British Rail post privatization-The "invisible" hand strikes again?
Author: Max Wyss
Date: 01-09-2019 - 13:04
The program is actually not that bad. However, it does leave a few points out, which should have been said.
• The reason why the fares, particularly for commuter services, are so high is that the (Tory) government is capping the subsidy to a (industrywide) ridiculously low level (less than 25%). That means that the rest has to come from the farebox. In other European countries, this subsidy is easily twice of the british number.
• The fares are regulated, meaning set by the government. The operators are free to set unregulated fares, but those are mainly available with the long distance services.
• On the cost side, the union's insistence of overstaffing (for alleged "safety" reasons), and their frequent and longish strikes drive up costs.
• Since the begin of the privatization, the number of passengers doubled.
• With the braking up of British Rail, a lot of expertise disappeared, and a lot got replaced with regulations/rules etc.
• The privatization broke the regular flow of orders for the rolling stock industry, leading to problems in the industry, and hard to solve peaks a few years later.
• Profits of the operating companies are very low; in average, their margin is in the 2 to 3 percent range.
• also not mentioned, but obvious, because the program was produced in 2017… the government seriously messed up with the new timetables in 2018, well knowing that the operators were not able to provide the services because needed rolling stock was not available, therefore staff not trained, infrastructure not ready, and so on. Instead of postponing the timetable change for a few months, it had to be pushed through with all consequences.
Stated correctly is that a nationalization would not fix many problems in short term, partially because some parts are already nationalized, partially because it takes time and money to catch up with deferred maintenance etc.