Cost Benefits

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Cost Benefits

Post by graymac on Sun May 20, 2012 9:43 pm

Quork says:

Well, that's a point, however; most TSI-norms and paneuropean projects, like ETCS, while they often bring some additional initial cost, in the middle- and long-term run are bringing enormous savings with them. Just think about the TSI-crash norms. This faciliates planning of new vehicles dramatically. Platform solutions are internationally more usable; the competition between train producers all over Europe increases, bringing lower costs for the train operators and a market becoming bigger and thus richer in prospects for all train building industry all over the european market. And personally I'd rather have my 50% of my wage invested in any infrastructure project, even low-priority, than endowed to JP Morgan.

Well, I'm possibly getting rather cynical in my old age, but I don't see a lot of connections between the projects and savings. Lots of spending, for sure. But who decides what value to put on some of these projects. How many are really necessary?A lot of money is wasted, often public money as rail is frequently and widely subsidised out of the public purse. With privatised train companies they will get any profits that are going, the passengers will never pay lower fares and the shortfall will be made up from the poor who can't avoid tax in the same way that the rich can.

A lot of it is techno-garbage anyway. When I was your age a "platform solution" was a mixture of soap and water in a bucket that the station master gave the lad, and told him to go and scrub the decks! Very Happy
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by graymac on Sun May 20, 2012 10:09 pm

so that anybody can decide to found their own, private railway company using the public network.

What a stupid way to run a railway. I don't approve of public resources being given away for the benefit of private capital. In fact I'm strongly anti-capitalist and look forward to the banking and monetary system crumbling before much longer. Certain noises have been heard about this crackpot idea. I expect it will take some time to implement, although Enda Kenny is as much use as a wet weekend in Waterford at standing up for our interests in bloody Brussels, so it probably will happen.
Still, if anyone wants a railway cheap, they could have a word with a Greek fellow . . . . .
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by Quork on Sun May 20, 2012 10:44 pm

Oh, that's a misunderstanding. With "platform solution" I meant something I can't find the correct english word for. Well; that would be the Bombardier TRAXX family, or the SIEMENS Velaro family, or the Stadler Flirt family, Stadler Kiss, SIEMENS EuroSprinter, Bombardier Talent, etc. etc. etc.

That is in other words; a train producer constructs a basic project, which is quickly adjustable for any country. Bombardier TRAXX is a good example, as it even enables both diesel and electrical solutions. The more different countries are, the more difficult it is to both create that basic project and the final product; or, the other way, the more railways have in common, the cheaper they can buy trains.

As to the privatisation of railways and savings etc.; Germany is very advanced when it comes to implementing the international guidelines, I can explain what the system looks like when it's finished.

- The infrastructure: The railway network is operated by one or several companies, which either are pure infrastructure companies, as some smaller private operators in Germany, or, as DB Netz, part of a bigger company. DB Netz is owned by DB Mobility Networks Logistics which is owned by the federal republic of Germany. The network operators are obliged to give undiscriminated access to their ressources to any interested railway company. They take station fares, kilometre fares, fares for other infrastructure. They publish all regulations needed to operate a railway company, plans of their infrastructure and fare tables.

- The train operation: It is no secret regional train operations are a deficitary system. This is why they aren't done by the companies on their own. The state, in Germany represented by the federal lands and the transport associations, put out a tender for railway operation. The tender specifies the timetables, the seat capacity and other parametres of interest. Any european train operator, which mostly are, in Germany, the SNCF with Keolis, the NS with Abellio, the FS with Netinera etc., and, of course, DB Regio, can take part in that tender. The cheapest offer which fulfills all requirements wins the bid.

This way, although it is the private operator in the first line, lastly every saving comes to the public. And believe me, it is every cent. The competition is grim. Train traffic has increased by immense factors. Especially branch lines, which the state railway could not operate and sent two or three trains a day on the line, closing it down after some months or years of such pseudo-operation, benefit. There are plenty of branch lines reactivated and today operated twice an hour! A trainkilometre produces only a small part of the costs to the public it did before. The exact figures depend on the region, but it's along the lines of, converted, 4€/km with the Bundesbahn in the 90's to 20, 30 cents/km with e.g. DB Regio today. And that's not even purified by inflation!


So in other words, that's in no way giving away public money to the capital. It is saving vast amounts of money, or better, spending the same money and getting far more. Maybe I didn't point it out enough before; you can't use the public network for free. "Free of discrimination" means anybody has the same right; not "free of charge". The charges are quite high; the capital finances the public network. I think three years ago, DB Netz first time received more money from the users than they needed for maintenance and further construction.
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by Quork on Sun May 20, 2012 11:13 pm

Oh I forgot one more thing; the ticket costs are defined by the public authorities as well. The transport association (which in southern Germany is mostly far smaller than the land and bigger than the administrative districts while in northern Germany often roughly equal to the federal lands) defines tariff structure and costs; and these tickets are valid not only in the trains, but in all public transport, including trams, busses, route taxis etc.

A special case is the intercity traffic; that one is just private. DB Fernverkehr makes its own tariff, but it also works without subsidies. There are one or two short lines where an InterCity was prolongued a short bit with public subsidies; and there, the transport association tariff tickets are valid. But that's a very special case.
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by graymac on Sun May 20, 2012 11:17 pm

Expressions like "platform solution", "downsizing", "negative equity" and so on, are symptoms of men in suits sticking their noses in things they would be better leaving alone. Such language, or "jargon" as it is known, is intended to either make matters incomprehensible or to try and make something appear important and impressive, when it isn't.
It is what many of my generation instantly recognise as good, old fahioned Bullshit dressed in yuppy clothing.
Having been through the Thatcher years in England, on the receiving end of plenty of that kind of narrative, and having enjoyed the austerity as the conservative asset strippers decimated the public sector for private gain, I ain't buying it.

Accountants, bankers and money men are part of the problem, not part of the solution - in most ways in fact they ARE the problem.
Now, Irish rail fares are still very reasonable, but over the water in UK they aren't. Your assertion that "every saving comes to the public" might hold water in Frankfurt, but it's looking like a leaky bucket (with or without 'platform solution') in Gloucester, the last time the daughter wanted a train ticket.
I'm aware that Deutsches Bundesbahn is highly efficient and well run, much better than many railways. That doesn't mean the same model is the best for every situation. There's no comparison between Ireland and Germany, population, industry size of rail network . . . . . .There are many cases where things run best if they're left un-interfered with. I will only buy it if I get a two-hourly service from Westport to Dublin with no fare increase and no extra public subsidy, and re-open the close line between Westport and Galway. Now that would be convincing
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by Quork on Sun May 20, 2012 11:41 pm

"Platform solution" has nothing to do with finance. It is a pure engineering matter. It started off with Bundesbahn's "Einheitsloks", the first concept of different locomotives sharing as many parts as possible. I see in your post you wither didn't read or didn't understand my explanation of the term above; shall I explain it with an example? I know it's a dry matter and I wouldn't wonder if it is not well understandable if one isn't that engineering person I am.

The privatisation in the UK went really bad. Most mistakes which can be done were done. But this was learnt of, and that's where those international regulations come from. Exactly to prevent those kinds of things. The biggest mistake possible is privatising the infrastructure. Infrastructure cannot exist without subsidies, be it rail, street or air traffic. It is a deficitary matter and apart from single lines it cannot be well run by a private company which wants profit. Also, there was no such competition as in Germany. The state stays in control and the companies have to subordinate to the state's rules, or they don't get a contract. That's something different than 'real' privatisation all those suite-wearing liberals dream about in their wet dreams.

Deutsche Bundesbahn was NOT efficient. It was not much better than Dr. Beeching in fact, closing down many branch lines and losing many passengers to the cars! But Deutsche Bundesbahn does not exist any more. Deutsche Bahn is a state-owned company, but it isn't the sole train operator. We operate only those trains, where we had the cheapest offer. Depending on the year sometimes we win up to 75% of contracts, sometimes as few as 30%. Competition, as long as it is controlled by the state, gives savings to the public authorities. Of course, in theory a state-owned monopole can be efficient as well. But that's pure theory, in practics this is never achieved. As I wrote before; DB Regio wins awards with needing often less than 10% of what the Bundesbahn needed before the railway reform (that was 1994).

The key is to have state-controlled competition (even if liberals sense the "horror of [socialist] planned economy" in it). Free competition leads to idiotic situations like in the UK with three companies, all with their own tariff, operating the same line. But if Ianrod Eireann would get competition from another company, and only one of them would be allowed to operate the route - you'd get quite probably get your two-hourly service from Westport to Dublin. Not without subsidies, transport is deficitary except on few lines. But with less subsidies than a IE without competition has now. Free competition won't achieve that. You'd have fifty trains on a profitable line and Westport-Galway would stay closed. It is this ordering system which allows for sensible regulation. The state provokes competition, makes savings with this - and it is your choice, via the elections and other means of participation, what the money is used for; more trains on the same line, reopening Westport-Galway, etc.
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by graymac on Mon May 21, 2012 12:16 am

Yer not wrong about UK rail privatisation being a pig's ear of a job.
I'll tell ye what I'm more worried about than some tinpot company director tootling up and down the track in his little privatised red engine. It's the fact that the railway here is a sitting duck for some smart hoor in Dublin who's lookin' for big spending cuts. And it would make Dr Beeching's Brit haircut look like a light trim in comparison.
We have a great little railway here, trouble is it ain't got enough friends!
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by Quork on Mon May 21, 2012 12:43 am

Well, I think we both quite agree on the banks being the way greater saving possibility. Three milliards of dollars "lost" by a bank in a few months... You could regauge the whole irish network and trains to standard gauge for this and reactivate some routes en plus!
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by Drag0nflamez on Mon May 21, 2012 6:30 pm

Free competition leads to idiotic situations like in the UK with three companies, all with their own tariff, operating the same line
The British bus network. Must have read that somewhere. Horrible.

At least our rail network works.. most of the time.. except in winter when the 'wrong kind of snow' always seems to hit the new trains...

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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by graymac on Mon May 21, 2012 7:16 pm

The British bus network.

AKA Bloody Stagecoach. Actually the National Bus Co wasn't so bad. They were better employers than those private money grabbing tight-fisted cowboy b***ds!!
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by Quork on Mon May 21, 2012 7:29 pm

Well, the quality of an employer is of course another aspect of privatisation and competition, a point where things can go very bad and partially did in Germany. However, that's a problem that was addressed and in the meantime virtually completely solved by the labour unions. We have a union rate for the whole railway sector, thanks to which the wages are roughly the same level in all companies. This of course has to be addressed (also by the state by defining social parametres in their bid invitations) when competition starts. There are enough other ways a company can save money and thus get cheaper than the competition, it doesn't need to compromise neither security nor social aspects. As to the social aspects; another helping thing is the demographic change. We have more and more elderly people demanding more and more mobility, in a society generally demanding more and more mobility, and at the same time we have less and less young people who are suited for and interested in the job. The current lack of train drivers in the whole sector is somewhere around 1000-4000. General railway personnel of course adaequatly more, including retirement compensation we look for about 8 or 9 thousand people - at Deutsche Bahn alone, for this year alone. It's quite obvious what effect this has, must have on the wages Wink
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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by alex_farlie on Mon May 21, 2012 7:57 pm

Quork wrote:Well, the quality of an employer is of course another aspect of privatisation and competition, a point where things can go very bad and partially did in Germany. However, that's a problem that was addressed and in the meantime virtually completely solved by the labour unions. We have a union rate for the whole railway sector, thanks to which the wages are roughly the same level in all companies. This of course has to be addressed (also by the state by defining social parametres in their bid invitations) when competition starts. There are enough other ways a company can save money and thus get cheaper than the competition, it doesn't need to compromise neither security nor social aspects. As to the social aspects; another helping thing is the demographic change. We have more and more elderly people demanding more and more mobility, in a society generally demanding more and more mobility, and at the same time we have less and less young people who are suited for and interested in the job. The current lack of train drivers in the whole sector is somewhere around 1000-4000. General railway personnel of course adaequatly more, including retirement compensation we look for about 8 or 9 thousand people - at Deutsche Bahn alone, for this year alone. It's quite obvious what effect this has, must have on the wages Wink

I've heard it said that trade unions in Germany have a lot more genuine negotiating power than UK ones like to think they have.

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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by alex_farlie on Mon May 21, 2012 7:58 pm

graymac wrote:
The British bus network.

AKA Bloody Stagecoach. Actually the National Bus Co wasn't so bad. They were better employers than those private money grabbing tight-fisted cowboy b***ds!!

Was it Stagecoach or some other company that was known to use 'dirty tricks' to gain market share in area?

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Re: Cost Benefits

Post by graymac on Mon May 21, 2012 9:42 pm

Yes
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