Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Won't be getting there at all....

Mental Meanderings had a very stressful rail journey today and this followed an equally stressful journey last week. She believes the solution to old dilapidated rolling stock and a poor service is privatisation. The photo above of the Ladbroke Grove railway incident is a result of privatisation. You split the railway line into being run by one company and sell the service to a myriad of others. No-one knows what the other one is doing. And bang.

On the general provision side in a privatised situation the service providers bid for services or not depending on whether they can make money on them. Thus customers lose out when the services serving poorer areas get dropped or are given shit trains. Apex and pex fares are brought in which lead to people paying huge fares for wishing to travel at peak times and being discouraged using trains and back into cars. The problems with Public transport in this country are as a result of massive underfunding and in fact no funding during the 1970's and 1980's. Lines were shut down and maintenance was not kept up. Money will not be spent now even when we have it to spend because privatisation must be agreed to with regards to the busses. We have loads of bus lanes and no buses to put on them and the government won't budge and neither will the unions.

Privatisation has been proven to have failed in the UK both in service provision and safety terms and the Irish government are set on following suit The blame for the poor service in Ireland rests squarely with voters who continue to elect Fianna Fail/Fine Gael led governments who can't make a decision as it might lose them votes or make ones to ensure they get votes. 2 billion euro is being given to SSIA holders in the next 18 months - talk about a slush fund - 2 billion euro buys a lot of train. Add the mismanagement of EU infrastructure funds and money given to road builders over the years and not to rail infrastructure and you find more explanations for this mismanagement and extremely poor service.

UK Railway industry commentator Christian Wolmar sums up the failures of rail privatisation far more knowledgeably than I ever could.

The sale of the railways has created a fragmented, expensive
and poorly-run system which shows none of the supposed advantages of private management such as better customer care and focus. The main reason for the failure is that rail privatisation was based on the fallacious idea that a loss-making industry, requiring subsidy of £1-2 billion per year depending on
the state of the economy, could be broken up into 100 profitable parts.

Moreover, the model chosen was based on the idea that there should be competition between different rail operators, an unrealistic concept for railways given the obvious physical limits to capacity, not least the fact that overtaking is a rather different proposition than on a motorway. Ironically, the idea of on-rail competition was shelved even before the sales process got
underway, creating the ridiculous situation whereby the railways were being sold for a purpose that was already recognised as unachievable.

Martin Cullen and his colleagues should not be allowed to get away with not taking the blame for the poor services, management and under investment. However very few people complain, a free cup of tea and years of low expectations seems to have lulled the traveling public into complacency or into PD voters who will have us all taking trains which cost far more than €56.50 to take and are no more guaranteed to get us there on time or to where we want to go. Indeed as Chris Donald wrote in yesterdays Observer one could end up paying £468 for six cups of coffee and a biscuit so that he could plug in his laptop. At least Mental Meandering discovered she could plug in hers for her standard fare! (and blogged to her hearts content too ;-) )

There is no doubt that more people are choosing to fly if they can afford it or someone else is paying. And with the results of the UK privatisation it is much cheaper than the inflated unconsumer friendly fare structures brought in by the profit seekers and their shareholders.

I better hit the publish button before the railway working gf finds out and gives out to me – she would probably agree with it all but does not get involved in rail service issues – just wants people to get where they are going alive. I am far more concerned with the fact that there may not be a train service left at all in this country if ex PD member Cullen and his cronies get their way.


At 10:35, Blogger F said...

First of all pirvatisation does not necessarily lead to crashes and deaths - not if a proper inter-rail-company infrastructure is put in place with an overall safety office to oversee it. Saying privatisation=death is scaremongering...

Privatisation isn't the sacred cow, but in a situation where we are constantly being told that Irish Rail is getting better and better etc... to have three out of four rail journeys delayed in one week is preposterous and makes you wonder whether, if this is what Irish Rail thinks is good service, some alternative can't be found

I think I've found mine in Ryanair and many many others have found theirs in their cars: people choose to drive or rent cars rather than rely on Irish Rail to get them somewhere on time. That's a pretty sad state of affairs

At 18:56, Anonymous Loco Driver said...

The independent official reports on Ladbroke Grove and other incidents internationally highlight the problems caused by rail privatisation in accountability, standards, and
The stats do show that rail travel is the safest form of travel in the world but the selling off of national assets is serverely flawed 1980's thatcherite politics


Its not just privatisation in UK that has compromised safety. Profit before safety causes catastrophes in Japan, Austrailia, America and Europe. Why are those governments who privatised now reclaiming control of the railway networks and other infrastructure?

At 20:31, Blogger Suzy said...

Those who are the most ardent proponents of the 'privatisation is safe for rail' mantra include the railway companies seeking profit and failing safety inspections. As loco driver says If privatisation is so safe why did Labour create the SRA to take back the rail network in the UK.
F, I note you don't respond to the notion of public transport as welfare which would be lost if rail was privatised. Will rail travel be the domain of the wealthy if prices go up and maybe thats ok then for those in a hurry who don't want to share their space with people who can't drive or fly.
I don't dispute that people have a right to expect a quality service, however when the state is consistently found to be failing in its subvention of said service and privatised alternatives exclude those on low incomes or living in less populated and otherwise unattractive areas, I think the automatic jump towards calling for privatisation is deeply flawed and dangerous for society as a whole.
The Ryanair analogy (based on competition argument I think) only works in terms of being an alternative airline competitor. Rail is not the same form of transport - it serves many more locations and potential populations than air every will, it is far more accessible and provides frequent travel choices. (It is also much better for the environment!)
The chosen few who can pay the charges and false fares advertised by Ryanair for Dublin to Cork etc. will have to pay significantly more in terms of accessing airports etc. While I can understand they are voting with their feet they are the same people who don't actively complain about the failures of the services to the providers or the Government in electoral or other formats.


Post a Comment

<< Home