Attention: Please take a moment to consider our terms and conditions before posting.

The latest trains fiasco, and why it will keep happening

As it happens last week I was able to read about the new UK timetable meltdown, while on a long distance train journey within the Czech Republic. It brought home to me the crux of the problem in the UK. Not so much that the railways are privatised but the way in which UK privatisation has been carried out.
No EU country has opted to copy the UK system of breaking the network up into pieces and offering franchises of those pieces. Instead they are expected to offer Open Access as part of Single Market compliance. Each country approaches this in a different way, and in the Czech case it has been typically complicated, but basically you have two private operators competing with the national 'legacy' operator (Ceske drahy - CD) on the two main routes out of Prague to Ostrava and Vienna.
At 2 days notice I booked a journey to Brno, the second city of Cesko (about the same distance as Nottingham or Taunton from London) to leave on the Friday afternoon (ultra peak) and return Saturday. I chose CD for the journey down on one of the swanky state of the art Railjets - in this case operated by Austrian railways, though CD have seven of their own. It cost me less than £16. On the way back I booked the savvy private operator Regiojet, which offered a discount for over 60s, and so that leg cost me just £7.50. Now here's the killer. Both of those journeys were in first class! So £23.50 return first class, one leg at the busiest time of the week, booked 48 hours ahead. WTF?
It's hard not to conclude that competition on the route has both driven down prices and encouraged innovation. Regiojet offer at seat service of highly competitive but decent snack food, and at seat entertainment portal. They are smart guys who bought the 1st class coaches Austrian railways no longer needed, and are able to claim "1st class comfort for 2nd class prices" . CD have responded by investing heavily in new trains, quality food, and draught Pilsner Urquell or Budvar in the bar.
The key thing is, it's competition on the route. So when I heard the argument this morning about what to do about Northern or GTR - take away their franchise - that brought it home to me. The franchise will be won by some new guys who will be operating a private monopoly. Why can we not grasp the fundamental flaw in that model?

Choo-choo
«1

Comments

  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.
  • You have to go some for Thameslink to make South Useless look like World Champions when it comes to running trains. Bravo
  • There is the possibility that there will be fare competition on the Southeastern / Crossrail lines in to London, but knowing how stupidly transport is run in this country I can see the government forcing Crossrail to jack up their fares to match Southeastern
  • Sponsored links:


  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.

    If you are arguing that the Czech network is very different to the UK one, that is unquestionably true. However the Czechs are just following the EU favoured model which is also being implemented by countries as diverse as Germany Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. Take your pick. Nobody in Europe thinks the UK model makes sense and some of the countries' transport people have said that quite explicitly.

    Specifically...apologists for the UK system claim that the train operators have a "low margin" business. It's interesting then that the Czech private operator I mentioned is able to make a profit on those very low prices. I was trying to work out the "multivariates" of the cost bases. Wages, obviously. But when it comes to the hardware, there is a European market they can tap into for their locos and coaches.

    In the UK, the train operators have a monopoly, a captive audience, sky high prices, and still end up (allegedly) making a loss.

    All of the information I can find stipulates that RegioJet operate at a loss but are propped up by Student Agency.
  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.

    If you are arguing that the Czech network is very different to the UK one, that is unquestionably true. However the Czechs are just following the EU favoured model which is also being implemented by countries as diverse as Germany Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. Take your pick. Nobody in Europe thinks the UK model makes sense and some of the countries' transport people have said that quite explicitly.

    Specifically...apologists for the UK system claim that the train operators have a "low margin" business. It's interesting then that the Czech private operator I mentioned is able to make a profit on those very low prices. I was trying to work out the "multivariates" of the cost bases. Wages, obviously. But when it comes to the hardware, there is a European market they can tap into for their locos and coaches.

    In the UK, the train operators have a monopoly, a captive audience, sky high prices, and still end up (allegedly) making a loss.

    All of the information I can find stipulates that RegioJet operate at a loss but are propped up by Student Agency.
    Inevitably your info lacks a bit of depth, but for a change I am not having a dig:-) I am impressed that you have taken a look. Radim Jancura, the owner, started in long distance buses under the Student Agency brand, the buses are now re-branded as RegioJet. He also operated a travel agency (cheap air tickets) under the SA brand, but is pulling out of that. He also operates taxis in Prague where he has taken a real bath. The Regiojet rail service is expanding, he now competes directly on the Prague - Vienna international route, and has his eyes on Germany.

    The other long distance private operator, Leo Express, is more wobbly financially, but it too operates buses as well as trains so it can be hard to decode operating profits for the train service.

    The bigger issue with this model of privatisation is the same as in the UK. Who pays to modernise the infrastructure? i.e. pay for high speed lines? That journey to Brno is not high speed even if it is comfortable, and way better than driving on the always hellish D1 motorway. But Vienna remains a 4 hour journey. To get the business market and take out Austrian Airlines, they need to get it down to about 3hrs 15. That requires a massive build. Only the State can do it.

  • Only route I can think of which used to have competition was the Brighton to London line when southern and thameslink were different operators. It used to be possible to pick up some very cheap fares on this route, for a journey which was also very quick. Compare this to say London to Canterbury with one operator and the costs were at least double.
  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.

    If you are arguing that the Czech network is very different to the UK one, that is unquestionably true. However the Czechs are just following the EU favoured model which is also being implemented by countries as diverse as Germany Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. Take your pick. Nobody in Europe thinks the UK model makes sense and some of the countries' transport people have said that quite explicitly.

    Specifically...apologists for the UK system claim that the train operators have a "low margin" business. It's interesting then that the Czech private operator I mentioned is able to make a profit on those very low prices. I was trying to work out the "multivariates" of the cost bases. Wages, obviously. But when it comes to the hardware, there is a European market they can tap into for their locos and coaches.

    In the UK, the train operators have a monopoly, a captive audience, sky high prices, and still end up (allegedly) making a loss.

    All of the information I can find stipulates that RegioJet operate at a loss but are propped up by Student Agency.
    Inevitably your info lacks a bit of depth, but for a change I am not having a dig:-) I am impressed that you have taken a look. Radim Jancura, the owner, started in long distance buses under the Student Agency brand, the buses are now re-branded as RegioJet. He also operated a travel agency (cheap air tickets) under the SA brand, but is pulling out of that. He also operates taxis in Prague where he has taken a real bath. The Regiojet rail service is expanding, he now competes directly on the Prague - Vienna international route, and has his eyes on Germany.

    The other long distance private operator, Leo Express, is more wobbly financially, but it too operates buses as well as trains so it can be hard to decode operating profits for the train service.

    The bigger issue with this model of privatisation is the same as in the UK. Who pays to modernise the infrastructure? i.e. pay for high speed lines? That journey to Brno is not high speed even if it is comfortable, and way better than driving on the always hellish D1 motorway. But Vienna remains a 4 hour journey. To get the business market and take out Austrian Airlines, they need to get it down to about 3hrs 15. That requires a massive build. Only the State can do it.

    I've done a bit of reading on Jancura.

    Did RegioJet venture in to Slovakia (being lazy)? I understand that there were a lot of concerned Slovak voices as RegioJet looked to undercut the national provider by about 40%, with the hope of enticing enough passengers on to their services that the fare cuts wouldn't show too much of a loss.

    Also, I still maintain that RegioJet (rail) operates at a loss. Well, that's what their latest financials show (unless I'm being a doughnut....entirely possible).
  • edited June 5

    The more fragments the government can break something into, the more of their rich mates can be involved in sucking money out of the service.

    Why don't people get how true this is? Many MPs are on the boards or have shares in these companies!!!!

    When I worked in London, I got these trains - actually the trains were a big reason why I packed it in to go self employed! The thought of doing another 10-15 years of that crap made me want to cry. If everything went ok it was 3 hours of my life, standing, squeezing onto trains/tubes, people coughing in your face! Of course more often than not things didn't go well to varying degrees. Having used the trains for over 30 years to get to work, things have got a lot worse.
  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.

    If you are arguing that the Czech network is very different to the UK one, that is unquestionably true. However the Czechs are just following the EU favoured model which is also being implemented by countries as diverse as Germany Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. Take your pick. Nobody in Europe thinks the UK model makes sense and some of the countries' transport people have said that quite explicitly.

    Specifically...apologists for the UK system claim that the train operators have a "low margin" business. It's interesting then that the Czech private operator I mentioned is able to make a profit on those very low prices. I was trying to work out the "multivariates" of the cost bases. Wages, obviously. But when it comes to the hardware, there is a European market they can tap into for their locos and coaches.

    In the UK, the train operators have a monopoly, a captive audience, sky high prices, and still end up (allegedly) making a loss.

    All of the information I can find stipulates that RegioJet operate at a loss but are propped up by Student Agency.
    Inevitably your info lacks a bit of depth, but for a change I am not having a dig:-) I am impressed that you have taken a look. Radim Jancura, the owner, started in long distance buses under the Student Agency brand, the buses are now re-branded as RegioJet. He also operated a travel agency (cheap air tickets) under the SA brand, but is pulling out of that. He also operates taxis in Prague where he has taken a real bath. The Regiojet rail service is expanding, he now competes directly on the Prague - Vienna international route, and has his eyes on Germany.

    The other long distance private operator, Leo Express, is more wobbly financially, but it too operates buses as well as trains so it can be hard to decode operating profits for the train service.

    The bigger issue with this model of privatisation is the same as in the UK. Who pays to modernise the infrastructure? i.e. pay for high speed lines? That journey to Brno is not high speed even if it is comfortable, and way better than driving on the always hellish D1 motorway. But Vienna remains a 4 hour journey. To get the business market and take out Austrian Airlines, they need to get it down to about 3hrs 15. That requires a massive build. Only the State can do it.

    I've done a bit of reading on Jancura.

    Did RegioJet venture in to Slovakia (being lazy)? I understand that there were a lot of concerned Slovak voices as RegioJet looked to undercut the national provider by about 40%, with the hope of enticing enough passengers on to their services that the fare cuts wouldn't show too much of a loss.

    Also, I still maintain that RegioJet (rail) operates at a loss. Well, that's what their latest financials show (unless I'm being a doughnut....entirely possible).
    Yes he has been running into Slovakia for a while and continues to expand there. It's interesting that whereas some Slovaks accused him of price-dumping, he regularly and stridently accuses Czech Railways (CD) of price dumping to try and force him off his Czech routes. Again that sort of headline dispute hides a more important issue. Neither he nor LE keep back up trains. So what happens when one fails? They go crying to CD asking CD to rescue its passengers.

    He may well be posting an operating loss right now, (what source did you use?) but as I've mentioned, this is the biz he is focusing on, not the travel agency or the taxis. We can presume that he will expect to raise prices once he has a secure position but no one denies that he has made the previous State monopoly owner seriously get their shit together. This is because he offers passengers a direct choice every day, on an increasing number of routes. The UK franchise system does not do that.

    Anyway, what has The Lion Rants multivariate analysis of rail privatisation concluded ? :-)

  • edited June 5
    I didn't assume it was broken up to be cheaper or provide competition between rival companies,on the same line. It was done to provide a private operation for a fixed price and the a private operator would be more efficient, which is obviously not happening. Also private enterprise would provide the capital for new trains etc, not public money.
    I'm against privatization of the railways but in saying that it was very poor under British Rail.
  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.

    If you are arguing that the Czech network is very different to the UK one, that is unquestionably true. However the Czechs are just following the EU favoured model which is also being implemented by countries as diverse as Germany Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. Take your pick. Nobody in Europe thinks the UK model makes sense and some of the countries' transport people have said that quite explicitly.

    Specifically...apologists for the UK system claim that the train operators have a "low margin" business. It's interesting then that the Czech private operator I mentioned is able to make a profit on those very low prices. I was trying to work out the "multivariates" of the cost bases. Wages, obviously. But when it comes to the hardware, there is a European market they can tap into for their locos and coaches.

    In the UK, the train operators have a monopoly, a captive audience, sky high prices, and still end up (allegedly) making a loss.

    All of the information I can find stipulates that RegioJet operate at a loss but are propped up by Student Agency.
    Inevitably your info lacks a bit of depth, but for a change I am not having a dig:-) I am impressed that you have taken a look. Radim Jancura, the owner, started in long distance buses under the Student Agency brand, the buses are now re-branded as RegioJet. He also operated a travel agency (cheap air tickets) under the SA brand, but is pulling out of that. He also operates taxis in Prague where he has taken a real bath. The Regiojet rail service is expanding, he now competes directly on the Prague - Vienna international route, and has his eyes on Germany.

    The other long distance private operator, Leo Express, is more wobbly financially, but it too operates buses as well as trains so it can be hard to decode operating profits for the train service.

    The bigger issue with this model of privatisation is the same as in the UK. Who pays to modernise the infrastructure? i.e. pay for high speed lines? That journey to Brno is not high speed even if it is comfortable, and way better than driving on the always hellish D1 motorway. But Vienna remains a 4 hour journey. To get the business market and take out Austrian Airlines, they need to get it down to about 3hrs 15. That requires a massive build. Only the State can do it.

    I've done a bit of reading on Jancura.

    Did RegioJet venture in to Slovakia (being lazy)? I understand that there were a lot of concerned Slovak voices as RegioJet looked to undercut the national provider by about 40%, with the hope of enticing enough passengers on to their services that the fare cuts wouldn't show too much of a loss.

    Also, I still maintain that RegioJet (rail) operates at a loss. Well, that's what their latest financials show (unless I'm being a doughnut....entirely possible).
    Yes he has been running into Slovakia for a while and continues to expand there. It's interesting that whereas some Slovaks accused him of price-dumping, he regularly and stridently accuses Czech Railways (CD) of price dumping to try and force him off his Czech routes. Again that sort of headline dispute hides a more important issue. Neither he nor LE keep back up trains. So what happens when one fails? They go crying to CD asking CD to rescue its passengers.

    He may well be posting an operating loss right now, (what source did you use?) but as I've mentioned, this is the biz he is focusing on, not the travel agency or the taxis. We can presume that he will expect to raise prices once he has a secure position but no one denies that he has made the previous State monopoly owner seriously get their shit together. This is because he offers passengers a direct choice every day, on an increasing number of routes. The UK franchise system does not do that.

    Anyway, what has The Lion Rants multivariate analysis of rail privatisation concluded ? :-)

    Not a lot to honest. Will try and set aside some time after I've read the Love Island thread :wink:

    Would need to sit down and map out the variables that contribute to the differentials in running a private train company in vastly different nations.
  • Why introduce a new timetable with more trains when you know you don’t have the drivers?
  • Sponsored links:


  • IT_Andy said:

    I didn't assume it was broken up to be cheaper or provide competition between rival companies,on the same line. It was done to provide a private operation for a fixed price and the a private operator would be more efficient, which is obviously not happening. Also private enterprise would provide the capital for new trains etc, not public money.
    I'm against privatization of the railways but in saying that it was very poor under British Rail.

    Yes it was poor under British Rail but that was solely due to bad management and under investment. It didnt need to be like that and it doesnt have to be under any future operational system. There are plenty of models out there in Europe to copy all of which put our rail system to shame. We have a large population with large urban areas all over the country. We are the sixth biggest economy in the world and our rail system is holding the economy back. Until we in the UK get our head around the fact that public services including transportation are vital to the success of the nation we will continue to be an embarrassment on the world stage.

    Again, totally agree. Rail was broken up to make money for certain people rather than for the passengers. Shareholders are far more important to these companies than their passengers and that says it all really! Yes British Rail was not the best, but it can be run better and it is stupid breaking everything up so everybody blames everybody else.
  • Do it like they do in Europe, two train operators per line, one state owned, one private. Everyone’s happy.
  • It's comparing apples with grapefruits. The networks aren't comparable for a multitude of reasons. It would take a multivariate analysis to conclude why they operate differently.

    If you are arguing that the Czech network is very different to the UK one, that is unquestionably true. However the Czechs are just following the EU favoured model which is also being implemented by countries as diverse as Germany Italy, Sweden, Netherlands. Take your pick. Nobody in Europe thinks the UK model makes sense and some of the countries' transport people have said that quite explicitly.

    Specifically...apologists for the UK system claim that the train operators have a "low margin" business. It's interesting then that the Czech private operator I mentioned is able to make a profit on those very low prices. I was trying to work out the "multivariates" of the cost bases. Wages, obviously. But when it comes to the hardware, there is a European market they can tap into for their locos and coaches.

    In the UK, the train operators have a monopoly, a captive audience, sky high prices, and still end up (allegedly) making a loss.

    All of the information I can find stipulates that RegioJet operate at a loss but are propped up by Student Agency.
    Inevitably your info lacks a bit of depth, but for a change I am not having a dig:-) I am impressed that you have taken a look. Radim Jancura, the owner, started in long distance buses under the Student Agency brand, the buses are now re-branded as RegioJet. He also operated a travel agency (cheap air tickets) under the SA brand, but is pulling out of that. He also operates taxis in Prague where he has taken a real bath. The Regiojet rail service is expanding, he now competes directly on the Prague - Vienna international route, and has his eyes on Germany.

    The other long distance private operator, Leo Express, is more wobbly financially, but it too operates buses as well as trains so it can be hard to decode operating profits for the train service.

    The bigger issue with this model of privatisation is the same as in the UK. Who pays to modernise the infrastructure? i.e. pay for high speed lines? That journey to Brno is not high speed even if it is comfortable, and way better than driving on the always hellish D1 motorway. But Vienna remains a 4 hour journey. To get the business market and take out Austrian Airlines, they need to get it down to about 3hrs 15. That requires a massive build. Only the State can do it.

    I've done a bit of reading on Jancura.

    Did RegioJet venture in to Slovakia (being lazy)? I understand that there were a lot of concerned Slovak voices as RegioJet looked to undercut the national provider by about 40%, with the hope of enticing enough passengers on to their services that the fare cuts wouldn't show too much of a loss.

    Also, I still maintain that RegioJet (rail) operates at a loss. Well, that's what their latest financials show (unless I'm being a doughnut....entirely possible).
    Yes he has been running into Slovakia for a while and continues to expand there. It's interesting that whereas some Slovaks accused him of price-dumping, he regularly and stridently accuses Czech Railways (CD) of price dumping to try and force him off his Czech routes. Again that sort of headline dispute hides a more important issue. Neither he nor LE keep back up trains. So what happens when one fails? They go crying to CD asking CD to rescue its passengers.

    He may well be posting an operating loss right now, (what source did you use?) but as I've mentioned, this is the biz he is focusing on, not the travel agency or the taxis. We can presume that he will expect to raise prices once he has a secure position but no one denies that he has made the previous State monopoly owner seriously get their shit together. This is because he offers passengers a direct choice every day, on an increasing number of routes. The UK franchise system does not do that.

    Anyway, what has The Lion Rants multivariate analysis of rail privatisation concluded ? :-)

    Not a lot to honest. Will try and set aside some time after I've read the Love Island thread :wink:

    Would need to sit down and map out the variables that contribute to the differentials in running a private train company in vastly different nations.
    Just to stress, no way am I holding up the Czech model specifically as the way to go. It is more the overall Single Market principle of Open Access that I am pushing here.

    Labour wants to re-nationalise the railways but provide no detail on how. Seems to me that Open Access is a decent model but I have not heard any Corbynistas talking it up.
  • Maybe there are other decent models too
  • Quite like Hornby...
  • You are English. Problems with trains is English . That is all
  • I can't quickly Google the numbers, but it's significant - the number of people who commute to London each day on the Overground. Hundreds of thousands surely. How does that compare to Czech republic? There's some serious rail traffic into London, it must be at capacity. Love to get a seat guaranteed, but can't see how
  • The uk carry 1,731 million rail customers per year, (with an additional 1.34 billion passengers on the tube) the Czech republic 179 million ... according to this list

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_rail_usage
  • edited June 6

    and draught Pilsner Urquell or Budvar in the bar.

    if southeastern sorted this i’d happily buy a season ticket and spend a couple of hours per day on a train and I don’t even have to commute.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Roland Out!