Dale Haslam's train blog: Nationalisation would elimate confusion

Dale Haslam

Dale Haslam

First published in Politics The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A GROUP of prospective Labour MPs want leader Ed Miliband to renationalise the railway, should he become Prime Minister.

Some might quip that those who back the plan are naive socialists, absent from the real world, but I can see the benefits.

The issue reminds me of a sour experience I had in 2011 after my friend and I had flown back to Bristol.

We had advanced tickets restricting us to travelling on a particular train from Bristol Temple Meads to Manchester.

Problems began when the entry barrier at the station failed, causing us to miss the train.

“Don’t worry,” said the ticket office worker. “Get on the next train and tell the conductor what has happened. It’ll be fine.”

It was not fine.

The conductor was unsympathetic and made us get off at Cheltenham Spa, where things went from bad to worse.

Rather than help us, platform staff threatened to have us arrested for trespass on the railway, so we had to make our way out of the station, suitcases and all, with the prospect of having to pay £75 each to get home.

(We later found out it happened to be a special ‘ticket fraud action’ day and staff were taking a hardline approach to impress their visiting boss). Fortunately, on the way out, I was able to explain the situation to a ticket office worker, who called Bristol to check our story and resolved the problem swiftly.

Due to procedure, we both had to fill in fine forms but the penalties were cancelled later.

But why did we have to go through all that stress in the first place?

It was because six firms were involved: one running Bristol Temple Mead’s ticket office, another running the station barrier and another running the train with the unreasonable conductor.

A fourth company’s staff manned platforms at Cheltenham, a fifth company’s worker helped us out and a sixth company issued us with the fine notice.

Had all the staff been employed by the same firm, the chances of such a stressful encounter would have been almost nil.

Such stories are food for thought in the nationalisation debate.

Comments (3)

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11:31am Mon 12 May 14

Ernagy2 says...

Dale, your experience would have been the same whether it had been Nationalised or not. The same troubles / problems / challenges, whatever you want to call them happened when the trains were nationalised. The difference now is the Unions can be controlled to some extent. If the trains were nationalised, tickets prices would jump massively as drivers and conductors would be out on strike every minutes to get a pay award.

I use to get the trains in the 70's they ran empty as they were too expensive.

It maybe that the infrastructure is 19th century, but unfortunately the country, nationalisation or not, will remain that way for sometime as we have only just recovered from a recession (though most people feel we're still in it)

The present structure is the best way forward - it works for planes, it should work for trains.
Dale, your experience would have been the same whether it had been Nationalised or not. The same troubles / problems / challenges, whatever you want to call them happened when the trains were nationalised. The difference now is the Unions can be controlled to some extent. If the trains were nationalised, tickets prices would jump massively as drivers and conductors would be out on strike every minutes to get a pay award. I use to get the trains in the 70's they ran empty as they were too expensive. It maybe that the infrastructure is 19th century, but unfortunately the country, nationalisation or not, will remain that way for sometime as we have only just recovered from a recession (though most people feel we're still in it) The present structure is the best way forward - it works for planes, it should work for trains. Ernagy2
  • Score: 7

3:40pm Mon 12 May 14

FreedomOfSpeech1945 says...

Another moan about trains....
Another moan about trains.... FreedomOfSpeech1945
  • Score: -9

5:12pm Mon 12 May 14

The Righteous One says...

To be far there ought to be some sort of nationalisation even if its to regulate the fare prices.

In The Netherlands (using as an example as Abellio is the UK arm of Nederlandse Spoorwegen and they are 50% owners of Northern Rail) they have multiple train operating companies - NS, Arriva, ICD, ICE, Thalys, DB, NMBS, Euronight, Syntus, Veolia and Connexxion. The national services the fares are the same (per km) no matter where you start or finish ad they have peak time tickets, off peak tickets, weekend tickets, weekly tickets, monthly tickets and annual tickets - none of all the other tickets which we have which depend on route, county concessions, subsidies, time of day and promotional prices etc etc etc. The only trains which operate the same system as airline prices are those which travel to other countries, but then they are also regulated.

Over there they have the Train Operating Companies, Pro-rail - which look after the tracks, stations and the general infrastructure, and a national cleaning company.

Also why do we need to have an outward ticket and a return ticket - wouldn't one "return" ticket suffice - thus saving money, paper, printer ink, etc etc etc?

There is so much that can be done to our rail network and companies which would save money but it can't be done until partial-nationalisat
ion or it becomes far more regulated!
To be far there ought to be some sort of nationalisation even if its to regulate the fare prices. In The Netherlands (using as an example as Abellio is the UK arm of Nederlandse Spoorwegen and they are 50% owners of Northern Rail) they have multiple train operating companies - NS, Arriva, ICD, ICE, Thalys, DB, NMBS, Euronight, Syntus, Veolia and Connexxion. The national services the fares are the same (per km) no matter where you start or finish ad they have peak time tickets, off peak tickets, weekend tickets, weekly tickets, monthly tickets and annual tickets - none of all the other tickets which we have which depend on route, county concessions, subsidies, time of day and promotional prices etc etc etc. The only trains which operate the same system as airline prices are those which travel to other countries, but then they are also regulated. Over there they have the Train Operating Companies, Pro-rail - which look after the tracks, stations and the general infrastructure, and a national cleaning company. Also why do we need to have an outward ticket and a return ticket - wouldn't one "return" ticket suffice - thus saving money, paper, printer ink, etc etc etc? There is so much that can be done to our rail network and companies which would save money but it can't be done until partial-nationalisat ion or it becomes far more regulated! The Righteous One
  • Score: 5

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