Britain’s rail franchise model unfit for purpose

 

News article: Britain’s rail franchise model unfit for purpose

Parliamentary committee report claims current model is failing train passengers with high fares and poor performance

  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Does this mean the Melbourne model should be reviewed ?

Britain’s rail franchise model unfit for purpose

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Does this mean the Melbourne model should be reviewed ?

Britain’s rail franchise model unfit for purpose
freightgate
Yes, regardless of what the Poms do or think.
  Madjikthise Assistant Commissioner

What's happening over there is what MTM are trying to do here. Break up the system into multiple franchises.
Also, what the hell are they talking about with creating competition? They make it sound like people can choose which train franchise to use like you can choose which dish soap to buy.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

In England there is some competition in places. But it's not what I would call real competition - often one company will run (say) the express service to London, while the other operator will run the stopping all stations, or via a longer, slower route. That's not the case here, unless you count V/Line and Metro competing for passengers to Sunbury or Pakenham, perhaps...
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
One thing that we can be sure of:

If the Poms have made a balls of it we will grasp that system with both hands.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Also, what the hell are they talking about with creating completion? They make it sound like people can choose which train franchisee to use like you can choose which dish soap to buy.
Madjikthise
The competition in the British system is at the time of the franchise bidding.

There are some routes where there are multiple operators' trains to choose from (e.g. London-Birmingham, London-Scotland, Manchester-Scotland, Leeds-Newcastle) but this is very much a secondary benefit as the fares are regulated and mostly inter-available.

I'm more a fan of the 'concession' model used by Transport for London (as opposed to the 'franchise' model used by the UK's Department for Transport) of having the relevant government authority own the assets and take the risk on revenue, but to have the contract for operations put out to competitive tender. Train Operating Companies in the UK typically run about a 3-4% profit which is money 'lost' from the system, but still probably cheaper than the amount of wastage if it was taken in house and run by public servants.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
I think what we have here isn't really franchising.  It is called that and dressed up like that, but in reality it is just outsourcing, just like governments would outsource any other services.

So if we view things in that light, how does the discussion change?
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I think what we have here isn't really franchising.  It is called that and dressed up like that, but in reality it is just outsourcing, just like governments would outsource any other services.
james.au
Correct, the UK's DfT would not call the MTM contract a franchise, but a management contract. TfL would call it a concession.

The two TfL concessions (London Overground operated by Arriva Rail London, and Crossrail operated by MTR Corporation Crossrail Ltd) are quite good, despite their parent corporations also owning other train operators which are quite sh1te (Arriva owns Northern, and MTR owns MTM). It just goes to show that the main influence is from the body issuing the contract, not the company winning the contract.

So if we view things in that light, how does the discussion change?
james.au
It says that the Victorian government needs to do a better job next time the metropolitan system goes out to tender, and a better job supervising the next operator once they are in place.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I think what we have here isn't really franchising.  It is called that and dressed up like that, but in reality it is just outsourcing, just like governments would outsource any other services.
Correct, the UK's DfT would not call the MTM contract a franchise, but a management contract. TfL would call it a concession.

The two TfL concessions (London Overground operated by Arriva Rail London, and Crossrail operated by MTR Corporation Crossrail Ltd) are quite good, despite their parent corporations also owning other train operators which are quite sh1te (Arriva owns Northern, and MTR owns MTM). It just goes to show that the main influence is from the body issuing the contract, not the company winning the contract.

So if we view things in that light, how does the discussion change?
It says that the Victorian government needs to do a better job next time the metropolitan system goes out to tender, and a better job supervising the next operator once they are in place.
justapassenger
Tend to agree, remember Kennent said that the private operators could make PT cash flow neutral so I'm sure if you are set up to fail from the start you get the results. It may take a few contract renewals to get to something that is better suited to Melbourne and yields realistic results.

Overall I don't object to the what they have done in Melbourne, but I don't think its delivered huge benefits to the taxpayer as Kennet's govt did most of the hard work before they offloaded it but I suspect it has helped implement alot of change. Meanwhile the govt owned V/line running parallel to the private operators isn't really demonstrating govt ownership is delivering better results.
  Big J Assistant Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
Overall I don't object to the what they have done in Melbourne, but I don't think its delivered huge benefits to the taxpayer as Kennet's govt did most of the hard work before they offloaded it but I suspect it has helped implement alot of change. Meanwhile the govt owned V/line running parallel to the private operators isn't really demonstrating govt ownership is delivering better results.
RTT_Rules
I tend to agree it is not a public verses private operation is the issue, but rather the strategic direction set by the government for public transport (with how much they are willing to spend) AND the management (therefore the implementation) AND the culture of the workforce.

Sadly in my home state with the debacle of QR (publicly owned and operated) is an example, with its failure to identify the risk of the driver shortage, then once identifying, failing to report it and then fail to correct it. It is breath taking. No doubt it is a failure by the successive government(s) in the way performance managed and funded by them, has ended up with the current culture of the workforce.

This can happen with private operations and it appears the same thing is happening in Melbourne, but the solution isn't to re-nationalise the public transport system. Maybe the question is, has the state government (along with the commonwealth) set clear performance requirements AND stumped up with the cash for that performance measure. They are usually very good setting policy for the ideal, then only provide the funds to just to get by.

Remember pre-privatisation that Met was not perfect either and in that era the population and the community expectations for the service now are vastly different from the 1970s and 1980s.

Even if this comes back to public ownership (I am agnostic on this), it is not the solution without the government committing to real investment into the system. We have to remember the reason they spun it off in the first place, is that public transport must be subsidised by the greater community, they want to reduce that cross subsidy. Personally I do think the benefits outweigh the subsidy, but that is another argument.

It is very convenient for government to blame a private operator if it is contracted out, so you might find irrespective of political leanings, the state might be hesitant to take the full accountability back on and retain the ability to publicly blame another organisation.

Look at how the commonwealth vs state goes with the public health system. It will NEVER be fixed, as both levels of government benefit in having the ability to blame another level of government convenient, despite what they say publicly (as it is pure rhetoric).

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