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What's to be done about the Britain's trains?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Truronian, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    The tenth consecutive above inflation rise in fares is about to be announced. Season tickets costs are expected to rise by 11%. Some journeys from Scotland to England are now cheaper by plane than by train.

    I don't drive, and so when it comes to long distance travel I am somewhat reliant on our nations rail network. This is becoming increasingly difficult due to the insane prices of some services and the bizarre pricing structures (£95 to get to Edinburgh single, £96 return???). Our rail fares are amongst the highest in Europe (I think they might actually be the highest). For most car owners it is far more cost effective to drive.

    What can be done? Nationalising the rail networks is my liberal gut-reaction but I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough on what the train networks were like or their current workings to know whether that would lead to reduced prices and improved service. Train companies seem to be fairly profitable, so if you can get an efficient nationalised system in place they would seem to be a obvious middleman who can be cut out; as I say, that's my gut reaction.

    Anyone know more about this have any different solutions? Anyone think it's not a problem?
     
  2. rugbyLEAGUEfan

    rugbyLEAGUEfan Deity

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    I was very surprised how many people in Britain and Europe to a lesser degree still use them. Planes FTW. I can fly 1000km for $100.
     
  3. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Apparently Quackers doesn't think it's a problem.
    Insert Ryanair joke here
     
  4. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    Planes pump out a large amount of greenhouse gases, so I avoid using them whenever I can.
     
  5. rugbyLEAGUEfan

    rugbyLEAGUEfan Deity

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    My view is that it's the plane doing the pumping out of greenhouse gasses and I just happen to be in it.

    Anyway, sorry for the derailing...
     
  6. bathsheba666

    bathsheba666 Fast 'n Bulbous

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    Can you not remember ?

    The railways had to be privatised because the free market is always more efficient than the public sector, and competition always wins out.

    Because competition always wins out, the railways were broken up into a series of individual monopolies in different areas of the country. See, competition wins !! If it's too expensive to travel to Blackpool, go to Brighton instead.

    The rail companies executives are not complaining, so that's what's important. The travelling public should be content in their role of acting as consumers, and be entranced by the financial engineering. Leasing rolling stock is extremely profitable ! so fewer whinges please.

    That's more than Railtrack ever convincingly managed.
     
  7. Arwon

    Arwon

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    The European rail system is actually mostly good and useful in a continent with a far more dense population and a lot more cities.

    Flying, meanwhile, is unpleasant, uncomfortable and dehumanising. Being packed into a pressurised metal tube, breathing stale recycled air, strapped in like an infant or cattle awaiting feeding time is unpleasant at the best of times, but European budget carriers are terrible. Like, Tiger terrible. Plus there's security nowadays which just adds to the unpleasantness.

    And to have this irritating experience and arrive at your destination drowsy and slightly seedy feeling, at both ends you have to travel to an airport which is frequently well out of your way and requires a taxi or public transport to get anywhere, making the quickness and cheapness of flights a bit of a false economy at times.

    Whereas in trains, there's an air of civility and connectedness to the landscape, you can get up and walk around, plus you usually roll up near the city centre. And you're far less likely to get delayed due to weather or whatever.
     
  8. rugbyLEAGUEfan

    rugbyLEAGUEfan Deity

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    None of which makes up for air hostesses, complimentary smoked almonds and pushing the seat back and hearing the sigh of annoyance from the person behind you.

    (seriously though, you make a sound case. I never considered the distances involved when traveling in Europe and in fact I chose to go from London to Amsterdam via train for the reasons you listed)
     
  9. Katrina-

    Katrina- Chieftain

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    Mussolini would make them run on time.
     
  10. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I just use chartered buses. Not as comfortable as rail, but if you book well in advance and are willing to accept awkward times, you can them pretty cheap. Helps that I never need to travel any sort of distance at short notice, of course. (edit: Which I realise is not actually an answer to the question in any way, but, well, there you go.)

    Fuunny thing, trains in Fascist Italy were notoriously unreliable.
     
  11. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    I don't drive either and I complain about train ticket prices whenever I have to go somewhere by train. In the Czech Republic, travelling by train is only cheap if you travel a lot and therefore buy various kinds of season tickets (especially if you're a student, then it gets reasonably competitive). For those who travel by train only occasionally, it's more expensive than buses. For example, I travelled from Brno to Bratislava recently. On the way there I went by train and it costed me €10.5. I went back to Brno by bus, and it was just €8. It's ridiculous, since Bratislava is so close.

    In this country, the original state railway company (České dráhy, ČD) was split into ČD Cargo, which makes profits, and the passenger branch, which is running at a permanent loss, despite the ever increasing price of tickets. I don't think privatizing it even more would help - it would probably lead to a massive decrease in railway coverage as most unprofitable lines would be terminated, and a further increase in prices. There are a few private companies here (RegioJet etc.) which are trying to make profit on regional lines, offering modern, comfortable trains and (dumping) prices, but I wonder how long they'll last.

    So, what I mean to say, if you figure out how to make trains competitive vis-a-vis cars and buses, let me know. I guess it would involve making people use them more, in order to spread the costs.
     
  12. dutchfire

    dutchfire Deity

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    How do the trains compare to the London Underground? I believe that is pretty reliable, but a bit expensive. Maybe it would be good to adopt their `best practices`?
     
  13. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Blackpilled Idealist

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    I was always under the impression that railways are a natural monopoly due to the high infrastructure and upkeep demands, and that privatising them is an exercise in insanity.
    How many train companies are there in the UK ? Is there any meaningful competition ?
     
  14. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    AFAIK the government awards contracts to private firms who will operate trains in a local areas. They effectively grant local monopolies to the best (as they see it) companies. These monopolies are controlled by having the government set the maximum rate increase permitted each year. For the last ten years this increase has been above inflation.
     
  15. Leoreth

    Leoreth 心の怪盗団 Moderator

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    Is air travel subsidized in the UK? Germany subsidizes plane fuel for example, for some insane reason. I think if you want to support travel by train, you have to make the less desirable (i.e. wasteful and environment unfriendly) ways of travel more expensive.

     
  16. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    Call for cheaper 'ticket splitting' fares to be made more public

    :crazyeye:
     
  17. Quackers

    Quackers The Frog

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    Well my other comment was on the quality of the service. I wasn't taking into account price. I'll have to read more about it before I can make a reasonable contribution.
     
  18. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

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    I use the trains quite often now, and I find them very good. Yes, long-distance tickets are expensive, but they're reliable (despite what people say, I very rarely have a delay of more than a few minutes with them nowadays), and the service is very comfortable - and we must remember that it costs an awful lot to run the things, and the price increases are in part explained by fewer people using them in favour of cars - which is a shame, and perhaps self-reinforcing as well.
     
  19. really

    really Deity

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    Greater tolling of roads or carbon taxes could drive traffic onto the railways?

    I checked the cost of my old commute - a day return is £11.40 - it used to be just £8.60 a few years ago in 2008.
     
  20. Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde Both Fair And Balanced

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    I suspect a decent part of it has to do with the declining infrastructure. When I was last in England in the late 90s, the "high speed train" had to crawl to the Chunnel doing no more than 40-60 mph over some sections where it was then miraculously transformed into a 200 mph one. The difference between the rails in England and the rest of Europe was like night and day.

    Any form of public transportation typically requires at least some subsidizing by the government.
     

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