Disastrous Railway Privatisation

John and Carl discuss the history of the British railway system, from the first steam engine to the upcoming Great British Railways transition, and analyse why taking a train has become such an ordeal.

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  1. They used to have private busses in Turkey.
    In Antalya every bus was private. The result was that every bus was a mini-bus, and there was no timetable, and busses used to race each other and cut each other up at the bus stops. A favourite tactic was to pull in in front of a bus at a bus stop, to stop them pulling out.

    The result was chaos. I never knew where a bus was going, there was no timetable, and the mechanical maintenance of the busses was non-existent. Some busses would race to the next bus stop to get passengers. Some would dawdle and ask every pedestrian if they wanted a ride. It was nuts.

    That ended in 2013, and was replaced by a tram system, and council busses. But not without a fight. The private bus owners dug up the tracks for the tram system.


  2. They told us privatisation leads to competition: exactly how much competition does a railway line offer? You're not running trains for multiple companies along one route, there is no competition: its a series of monopolies.

  3. The N.Z. government privatized the rail system here and all the owners did was run the system into the ground while syphoning as much money out if it as they could. The Government then overpaid massively to buy it back and had to spend massively to repair and upgrade it.

  4. The problem with privatizing railways, is that there aren't usually that many sets of rails. At most you get 3 running parallel, not counting big hubs.

    The railway tracks themselves have to stay as government property, while the companies that use those tracks can be privatized to hell and back.

  5. I commuted to London in the British Rail days and we had to go on flexi time because no one could guarantee what time they got to work, trains just stopped in sidings for hours, or broke down, you could arrive at the station and " no trains running" was on the board . Standing all the way was normal. The stations and track were filthy and London Bridge station had no toilets that were clean enough to be useable.

  6. To be honest back in 2000-2009 we had 9seater vans (not big busses) running on their own in Vilnius- and it worked. It was abbolished by Mayor who nated to promote Vilnius public transoortation and was blaming the lack of funds on private drivers. Se miss those 🙂
    But I dont see how that can be applied to train system – trains are not "small time" capitalism.

  7. This was a perfect example of Privatization for the sake of Ideological (and probably corrupt, monetary incentives) reasons. It´s almost as bad as current globalism when it happens in this manner. Privatization can do a lot of good, but that should be done in order to improve things, not ruin them and make a black hole in which to sink billions of taxpayer money.

  8. One thing I didn't hear mentioned was that the Tories virtually gave the privatised companies away at way below market value. The reason for this was that Labour were promising to re-nationalise them when they got into power, making the flotations unattractive to investors.
    Needless to say, once in power, Mr Prescot forgot the promised nationalisation and the investors who had bought the spin off companies made a killing, as the big investment houses fought to buy up the privatised firms. The only good news is that many of the original investors were management buy outs, meaning that a lot of rail workers did very nicely out of their shares. A cleaner at a depot where I worked bought a Jaguar with her few hundred shares, which increased twenty fold.

  9. It's also worth saying that Christian Wolmar is a classic leftist loon who is a desperate self publicist. He once did a piece on national radio about how he likes to wipe his backside. After the Southall train crash he cycled round the London media studies speculating wildly about the cause, despite a complete absence of facts. He's a former Labour candidate for Mayor of London. Needless to say he didn't campaign on his backside wiping preferences. ( A sponge on a stick, in case you are interested)

  10. The 'Siu Ba' or small busses in Hong Kong are privately owned. They generally terminate in a Bus/metro depot at one end and a small village, town at the other. They have no timetable but are frequent.

    They generally don't set off untill they're full.

    You can pay the drivers extra do drop you off the route but this needs the consent of the other passengers.

    Seats 15?

    Sui ba

  11. Lots of private bus owners driving around in their own private busses is how it USED to work back in the early days, and the situation was so full of scams, unreliability, deception and fraud, that the arrival of organized bus lanes was siezed on by the public so viermantly, that the private bus owners were ran out of buisness as route goers.

  12. This was the time when – under the 'CON-servatives' again – the 'IDEOLOGUES' were allowed free rein to abolish and 'privatise' everything they could get their greedy little hands on; and which made the UK a great place to live. The 'CON-servative' Party still is "the nasty Party": but not in the athetic 'muh feelings' way envisaged by Theresa May. They are nasty because they increased GAMBLING in our society (a vice!) and sold off "the family silver" to the highest bidders (those who had sufficient wealth to buy shares in vast quantities). What should be owned by 'The Nation', was sold off by this "nasty – GLOBALIST – unpatriotic Party" for its own flawed, ideological, reasons.

  13. The problem is a national rail network isn't compatible with free market principles, of course the Left will latch onto as a flaw in private ownership. It isn't, there is no competition on a single line. Nationalisation is inherently flawed and will result in waste a bloated administration, poor service and high ticket prices but it may be the only option for a service like this.

  14. It sounds like privatisation scheme in Poland during early 90's economic transformation. Many Commies (they know better how markets works than Solidarity) increased their fortune. If you look in top 100 richest people in Poland many of them made their first huge cash during "privatisation".

  15. Many truck drivers are owner operators – they own their trucks and contract out their time to clients. It's not the easiest business and tax changes the government have made over the years have probably made it harder, many drivers these days might be better off as employees. You could have owner operators of buses but it would probably be a losing proposition because probably 1 or 2 operators in a town would have you by the balls. Growing up in my home town there were a few cow boy operations running limited bus services on some or their own routes or on travel west midlands routes but most of them gave it up. They were operating old buses and couldn't keep them road worthy and turn a profit and pay the fuel bill. Fuel costs in the late 90's for diesel weren't bad but now they are silly. These days given how expensive and failure prone emissions systems on modern diesel vehicles are it would be even harder to keep an old fleet running – you would need a depot, maintenance facilities and a crew of good mechanics, back up vehicles.

  16. Privately owned buses is extremely common in developing countries. Its a complement to larger bus networks. In places like hong Kong they form a key component in the mass transit system: whilst the big operators take most of the routes, the smaller operators hire private bus owners to ply special routes or faster routes that dont stop at all bus stops.

    Its extremely important in rural areas where bus or train coverage is sparse or sometimes non existent, and minibus drivers often fill the gap with small 10 to 16 seaters

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