Railway privatization

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by jnpy!$4g3cwk, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    Feb 11, 2010
    #1
    Interesting blog-article about railway privatization in The Atlantic (Cities):

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/09/why-britains-railway-privatization-failed/3378/

    (Uh-oh -- I better hurry up and take that last Eurail Pass trip before they mess it up completely.)

    I understand the problem -- the cost of subsidizing state-owned railroads. But, it turns out it isn't nearly as easy to privatize railroads as Libertarians tend to think.

    Railroads matter-- they are much more energy efficient than the alternatives for long-haul. But, they are also just as much a natural monopoly as the electrical grid, with railroad-specific problems that outsiders don't get.
     
  2. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #2
    That's going to fail miserably, for the same reason privatizing our parking meters did. I thought the British were smarter than us. Oh well.
     
  3. twietee macrumors 603

    twietee

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    #3
    "I've always thought that the break-up was worse" than the privatization, he said. "Every railway man I've ever talked to will privately admit that it's no way to run a railway."
    That's not a very convincing argument I've to say, his main one is that the system is more complex than a highway...

    I can only speak for Germany where there was a long agenda to finally privatize 100%. It lead to the 'catastrophic' and laughable status quo. Everything got trimmed down to gather enough money to be attractive for investors. This got so unbearable that privatization was finally out of question.

    In my opinion it's the best solution to separate net / infrastructure from the operators - exactly that should be done with the electrical grid as well.
    Now they close down some connections because of a theoratical lack of passangers/clients ('outerskirts') while small privately run operators actually proof that these routes can be run profitable...but they got bullied out mostly because we have a monopoly. The electrical grid is 'taken hostage' by I believe 3 big bullies making it almost impossible for competitors to succeed due fees for 'net' usage.

    Long story short: infrastructure shouldn't get privatized - meanwhile the operators should have a fair competition.
     
  4. edk99 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Failed miserably for who? The company that took it over seems to be doing pretty good.

     
  5. thewitt macrumors 68020

    thewitt

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    #5
    Railroads are not able to generate enough revenue to be privatized and still provide the "cheapest form of transportation" - which is of course a myth....

    The cost to ship people and goods on the rail systems in the US has never included the cost to maintain the infrastructure. If it did, they would price themselves right out of the market.

    I guess I should not say never, because dozens of private rail companies have tried and gone out of business since the 1800s in the US.
     
  6. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #6
  7. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #7
    You really need to ask that question. It failed miserably for the people who own the parking meters, the residents of Chicago.

    Do you support governments mortgaging their futures for short term cash?
     
  8. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #8
    All I can say is the privatized railroads on the UK are expensive and unreliable.
     
  9. edk99 macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    This kind of reminds me of Obamacare. No one read it till it was passed. Well you can blame Daley and the alderman that voted for it.n 75 year lease nice. That company is laughing all the way to the bank on that one. Good for them.
     
  10. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #10
    Trust me- we do. And they found out what happens when they do things their constituents don't want.
     
  11. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #11
    I would agree. Riding on Amtrak on CSX owned railroads, they are rough as crap. Now the rails in the Northeast corridor where the Acela rides on( and I believe Amtrak themselves own) are pretty smooth.
     
  12. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #12
    I love Amtrak- such a fun way to travel.
     
  13. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #13
    Depends. ;) I love taking the Acela Express between DC and NYC. It's the best way to go between those two cities. No security lines, etc unlike air travel. While it only takes about an hour to fly to NYC, it doesn't take into account security line, delays, dealing with KJFK or KLGA, etc. Take the additional time you have to take to get to the airport, it roughly takes the same time as doing the Acela. Where doing the Acela, I can get to the train station at 10:50 am for an 11 am Acela and still make it( I wouldn't want to get there that late, but I can). Can't say that for flying. ;)

    I take the auto train from MD to FL. Takes 17 hours(vs 12 if I was driving), but it saves wear and tear on me and my car. And the food is pretty decent as well. This is where the depends comes in. I'm lucky enough to be able to get a roomette, I have an iPad with Verizon LTE, laptop filled with NCIS episodes, etc to keep me busy and entertained. I wouldn't want to do it in coach. You already don't sleep well in the roomette. I wouldn't be able to sleep in coach. Plus, I don't want to be with 500 of my closest friends. ;) And, as mentioned the CSX rails are not in the best of shape.....
     
  14. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #14
    Same when I go to visit family in Ohio. I leave work, walk to the station and go. Flying is terrible and takes the same amount of time when you take all other things into consideration.
     
  15. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #15
    I think separating rolling stock and train operations from the railway infrastructure across Europe is a fabulous idea for the following reasons:

    1. I seem to be surrounded by people who've got second homes in France, I am sick to death of hearing about how they can just hop on a train for a few Euro's and then be transported just about anywhere at warp factor 9 in absolute comfort. It's just not fair.

    2. Customers (you'll find you're no longer allowed to refer to yourself as a passenger) across Europe will be able to indulge in the now traditional British commuter tradition called 'Meet the Manager'. Once a month on the station concourse the company sets up a glossy little stand which is staffed by a couple of now extremely overpaid managers and generally a very confused girl who looks about 14 from the PR dept - all sporting jolly little name badges. Passengers then wait in a long but very orderly queue to meet them while thinking up really imaginative abuse and put downs about last months commuting disasters and fare rises. It's one of the most satisfying things about commuting here. There's normally a couple of transport police hanging around in case things get really out of hand.
     
  16. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #16
    Why is splitting the track and train operations bad?
     
  17. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #17
    I've yet to meet anyone who thinks the way we privatised the railways was a 'good thing'. The results speak for themselves - government subsidy has ballooned (the last figures I saw was that it has increased about 4x it was pre privatisation) , the industry has fragmented, costs have gone up (our maintenance costs are now around 40% higher than Europe), our fares are very high and overcrowding is common. It's true that railway usage has increased massively under privatisation but even thats open to interpretation - the last days of BR were served in a recession which drove numbers down and also something that's not often mentioned is that a single length of the country journey under BR might well now count as 3 journeys as you travel with differing companies to make the connections.

    The reasons for these failures are complex but I think it comes down to a simple principle - the infrastructure company and train operating company have differing motivations. The only way to reconcile these is to lock them both into complex and inflexible contracts with financial penalties and inducements. Both companies purpose then becomes the fulfilment of these contracts and lots of money can be made by gaming the system. Anything not outlined in these contracts is pushed to the side. It makes running a railway a job for lawyers.
     
  18. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

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    #18
    This was done early in the US during early industrial expansion. People wanted to deliver product as cheaply as possible and lay as much track as possible. Lesser quality steel was used, and in some cases rivets were used over welding for no practical reason other than time/cost. It lead to degraded conditions of track and equipment and resulted in quite a few rail catastrophes. Bridge collapses were also not unheard of due to faulty design/construction.

    In recent time, Germany has seen this issue with the Eschede train disaster. Laxed regulations and refusal to incorporate newer/more time consuming methods led to a disaster in which over 100 people died...which was easily preventable. And that is a private company that is owned by Germany itself...
     
  19. Jackintosh macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

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    #19
    Because the 2 are integral to success. We've seen what happened to Amtrak - excellent service and accomodations on horribly bad rail bed infrastructure (as someone else pointed out).
     
  20. samiwas macrumors 65816

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    #20
    They did the same thing with parking here in Atlanta, and it's a disaster. The company who took over has been found to do all sorts of shady things to "increase revenue". Good for them, bad for everyone else. Of course, edk's opinion is that as long as someone is making money at the expense of other, it's all good.
     
  21. jeremy h, Oct 3, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012

    jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #21
    What a way to run a railway...

    Just to pick up this discussion again. Big headline news here this morning ...

    The franchise was previously run by Virgin trains (yes, Richard Branson) - it lost it to another company who bid cheaper (First Group) a short while ago. There was a huge fuss and Richard Branson accused First Group of bidding too cheaply. (A previous franchise collapsed elsewhere when a company whose bid had been accepted had to walk away from their franchise, it was a disaster - Branson predicated the same thing would happen here). At the time it was generally thought understandably to be sour grapes. He did though stick his heels in and started to take the government to court, which we all thought was odd - he's normally a very smooth PR man.

    However this morning it transpires that the whole franchise tendering process is deeply flawed. The whole thing will have to be re-run and the tendering companies will have to be refunded their considerable costs then bid again.

    So, come 9 December the government will have to ask (sorry, get down on their knees and beg) Virgin trains to keep running the trains without a franchise (while everyone runs round like headless chickens trying to sort this mess out) and the taxpayer will have to cough up £40 million to the various companies involved for no result. (That would have bought a lot of brand new trains)

    Come next January - it'll be yet more huge fare rises all round chaps!
     
  22. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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    Sep 9, 2010
    #22
    This story is being followed here in the Netherlands because we are due to go to the next stage of Railway privatization. This could not have come at a better time for us.

    We have a saying here "Beter goed gejat dan slecht bedacht" which means "Better to copy someone else's work than to get it wrong?":D
     
  23. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #23
    There's so much that can be learnt from the way we've done it. The best thing anyone in Holland can do is read Christian Wolmars book Broken Rails or regularly visit his site.

    Lot's of people wonder about re-nationalisation but there now isn't the money.
     
  24. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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    #24
    The book looks a great read, thanks a lot for the site.:cool:
     

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