Adding 4 coaches is fine provided the platforms are long enough to accommodate them-which they are not. SWT is running as many trains in to Waterloo as possible every rush hour and yet we still can't keep up with demand. When demand for a product outstrips supply and supply cannot be increased the normal thing that happens next is that prices go up to try and manage demand, we could put prices up by 10% tomorrow and the trains would still be packed. Regardless of that, most tickets sold in the rush hour are travelcards of one form or another and we have no control over the price of travelcards-they are set by Transport For London.
80% of most train companies costs are fixed, in the form of leasing costs and track access costs. When the trains were privatised the Government made sure that the leasing companies and Railtrack had a long term large fixed income in order to make them worth buying into-the down side is that it costs around £300,00 to lease one old slam door train for a year which is ridiculously overpriced. Even if we leased 10 new sliding door trains (not that there are any we could lease) it would cost us around £20 million a year-we then have to pay Railtrack more money because those 10 trains will always be out on the mainline, in a station or in a siding, can we add these trains on the back of the current services to ease overcrowding? No, because the platforms are not long enough-Can we use them as new services in addition to the current timetable? No, because the is no spare capacity. So what do we get for our £20 million? absolutely nothing.
Ugrading the routes to take longer trains is one of the projects that the SRA is threatening to pull the plug on-it is up to Railtrack to fix/renew the infrastructure, when it is ready to be used we will pay increased track access fees to reflect the investment but Railtrack/The SRA has to get things started.
I don't know what's going on at Connex, I believe that the £58million is conditional on certain service targets being met over the remainder of their franchise. The fact that they have been given more money reflects the Rail Regulations that state that if a train company goes out of business it's services become the responsibility of the government-effectively a state run railway. I doubt that Blair fancied that idea, nor does the Labour Party want to see further disruption to the trains in an area that covers a number of marginal seats. It's all about politics.
I only work for SWT so I can only speak on their behalf (I don't know enough about the others to make informed comment), but I think you'll find there have been no accidents since privatisation where we were at fault-the only serious incident was two years ago and was the result of a bus driver queing in a traffic jam that straddled a level crossing. As far as punctuality is concerned I am not going to defend SWT as puncuality is the the thing we seem worst at-whether a unified state run railway would be better is hard to say, over two thirds of delays are attributable to infrastructure which is only a reflection of the preilous state of Railtrack. Having a state run railway isn't the way to bring about the investment that is needed to sort out the track etc. SWT certainly has delivered on investment, in addition to the £700 million order for new trains we spent £50 million on new trains 4 years ago that are now in service, Feltham station has been completely rebuilt, Brentford is currently being rebuilt-Waterloo, Southampton Airport and Bournemouth have all seen large amounts of investment for the benefit of our customers. If you want to talk about service we can talk about the 40% more trains we are running now than we were when we took over. It's not all bad news you know-there are some bad train companies like Arriva, Connex and Wales & West, but we are not all the cowboy companies some people think we are.
If you want to know the biggest enemy of the train companies, passengers and the government you need look no further than the RMT and ASLEF. People talk about 'Spanish practices' in the Fire service, the railways are much worse and it is a huge drain on resources (principally financial resources). The sooner the train companies stand up to the unions and fight them down, the sooner we will have a more efficient railway.
Competition? It'll never happen on a widespread basis. It was designed like that for a quick sale-it's a lot easier to sell a monopoly supplier than one with lots of competition. For example, Virgin has a clause in it's contract that excludes Midland Mainline from extending their Sheffield to London trains to start back at Manchester-even though there is a specified route in the London to Manchester fare structure which is cheaper than the normal route through Stoke/Stafford. Virgin also signed an exclusive deal with Railtrack that prevented it's competitor (Silverlink) from using the fast lines on the London-Birmingham route, this was part of financing deal for the West Coast upgrade, Railtrack gets money from Virgin, Railtrack provides Virgin with protection from competition-everyone's happy (except Silverlink of course).
That's enough from me-it's been a long day. A pleasant but cold day of photography at EDI and a nice cooked breakfast from BA on the way up! Shame we were an hour late coming back:-(
you can't buy time but you can sell your soul and the closest thing to heaven is to rock'n'roll