Monday, 3 August 2009
Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
You'd think that after all this time running a heavily subsidised, not for profit, (but definitely for bonus), how the hell can we get the costs down, oops here comes another investment bow-wave from the past, let's have an old-fashioned maintenance holiday type-quango, that Iain Coucher would know better than to spout this sort of nonsense in public:
'I take issue with the people who say railways are inherently not profitable and unsuitable for private enterprise,' says Coucher. 'The railway was privatised after decades of decline and low passenger numbers. Since privatisation, passenger numbers have sky-rocketed, as have satisfaction, punctuality and all the other indicators'.
This year Network Rail's government grant, that's SUBSIDY Mr Coucher, will be £3.4bn out of your total income of £5.3bn.
In other words, you are 'taking issue with people who say railways are inherently not profitable and unsuitable for private enterprise' on the basis that your bit of railway alone is costing the taxpayer over three times what the integrated railway cost 20 years ago.
Does Iain really believe that?
Scary if he does!
UPDATE: This from the Velopodist...
Eye's man at 222 Marylebone Road makes some reasonable points in his criticism of Iain Coucher. But he forgets how Network Rail's finances no longer say much useful about the overall finances of the railway.
Tom Winsor allowed the DfT to start making direct grants to Network Rail at the start of CP3 because it came out better in public accounting terms.
Track access charges consequently didn't go up as much as they should have for franchised operators to reflect the true cost of providing the infrastructure.
But lots of franchises started paying fat premia to the DfT which fund some of the DfT's payments to Network Rail.
So not all the subsidy is subsidy - if TOCs paid the full track access charge and the DfT subsidised their payment of those they couldn't cover, its finances would like a lot more sustainable.
Eye suspects that were TOCs to pay "full track access charges" they would also demand the opportunity to maintain their own infrastructure so that NR costs could be properly benchmarked.
Perhaps Graham Eccles would then get his integrated railway back...
Will the real Chris Green please stand up?
The August edition of Rail Professional (sic) publishes a list of 'Those from outside industry who have done most for the railways in the last 10 years'.
In second place we have a certain Chris Green.
Presumably this is a completely different Chris Green to the life long railwayman C.E.W. Green who joined British Rail as a graduate trainee, headed up Scotrail, created Network South East (London's integrated overground railway), ran Intercity when the West Coast main line was reliable before moving on to lead Virgin Trains and become a non-Executive Director of Network Rail?
So who then can this Chris Green from outside the industry be?
Unless RailPro's readership is made up of teeny-boppers for whom anything pre-1994 is ancient history!
O tempora o mores