An end to rail franchising – but what next?

Rail franchising has been an expensive failure and I think most involved with the rail industry will acknowledge that due not least to the fragmentation it’s caused to what needs to be a national infrastructure.

Northern Rail Franchise Class 319 electric unit at Liverpool Lime Street Station

In effect rail has been re-nationalised as the 1980’s high profile privatisation project has hit the buffers, indeed it’s been bumping into those buffers for a long time now. Of course Railtrack was nationalised into Network Rail quite a while ago.

The Railway Gazette has an interesting article on its website – see link below:-

www.railwaygazette.com/uk/uk-government-announces-the-end-of-rail-franchising/57396.article

Being a railway enthusiast means that I’m probably not a reliable witness but I’ll have my say, biased though it may be, anyway. That British Railways was in many ways a bit of a mess is a given but the route the Conservatives took to address its shortcomings was to say the least drastic, although I also appreciate that they did it to big up their policy direction of the day and there will have been little thought for what they were setting in train (sorry) and how things would actually look further down the track (sorry again). Such is politics, short term voter approval is all that is required and beggar the consequences as the other lot will be in power when the train derails!

What we managed to lose during the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s was anything approaching an integrated transport system (remember that the infamous Bus Deregulation Act plays into this too) and now we are paying the price. Yes of course there have been some positives with rail travel increasing year on year until Covid 19 came along. However, we now need to reinvent the wheel and build an integrated transport system which rail (both train and tram) will need to be at the heart of.

That many European countries and beyond have successfully done this means it can be done and should be. We’ve ended up in a kind of halfway house between many counties who have progressed integrated transport very well and the likes of the US and Canada who have all but tried to kill off public transportation completely.

A Virgin Trains Frabchise Pendolino train at Liverpool Lime Street Station.

The big question now is where will our Conservative government drive transport policy now. Certainly they are big on roads and cars and are planning huge infrastructure investment in new highways despite roads being the very opposite of what is required to tackle climate change. The old ten bob note they recently held up to pay for the reversal of Beeching cuts in our railways was of course all political froth as that tiny budget will pay for nothing much at all.

Of course Conservative voters don’t use buses and trains much, if at all, although all those right wing former Labour voters who backed Johnson at the last GE do.

Can’t say I’m optimistic about the future of public transport under the present occupier of 10 Dither Street, London.

My thanks to Bob Robinson for the lead to this posting

Mid Wirral Railway Line – Will it ever become a Merseyrail Line?

Upton Station

www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/vivarail-d-trains-for-wales-borders.html

The Railway Gazette has the story on its web site – see link above

What made me wonder about this piece of news was more what it did not say than what it did.

Has it not been the long-term ambition of Merseytravel to bring the Mid Wirral Line into the Merseyrail fold? Yes it has and it has been talked about in Merseytravel for as long as I can remember. So does this announcement mean that aim has been dropped, forgotten, sidelined, shunted into the sidings? I hope not as it has always been a rather obvious addition to the Merseyrail network that needs getting on with rather than just being talked about.

Merseyrail – More about the new trains

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/battery-trial-planned-for-new-emu-fleet.html

The Railway Gazette has the details on is web site – see link above

An article for those of you more interested in the technical aspects of the new and soon to be delivered rolling stock for the Merseyrail network.

With thanks to Colin for the lead to this posting