die belebende Bedenkung

How wasps got stung

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Prospects for dedicated train services to and from Coventry’s Ricoh Arena station — on the Coventry to Nuneaton line — for football and rugby supporters look bleak, following two trial runs.

[Ricoh Arena matchday trains in doubt after trial runs lose an estimated £30,000, BY SIMON GILBERT, Coventry Telegraph. 16 March 2016]

It is understood London Midland and Wasps suffered losses of around £30,000 after jointly spending a total of about £40,000 on special charter train services for the matches with Harlequins and Leicester Tigers.

The train for the Harlequins game in February is estimated to have lost about £18,000 as just 650 people paid £2.40 for return tickets on the six carriage charter train.

The matchday special for Wasps’ victory over Leicester on Saturday was better used with an estimated 2,000 people taking advantage of the service. But that was still nowhere near enough to cover the running costs – leaving the rugby club and the train operators roughly £15,000 in the red on that day.

Of course, such issues do not just apply to the Coventry — Nuneaton line. Peak-time crowding on rail services in the north of England mostly happens because the train operators would lose money if they ran trains with more carriages.

The root cause of Northern rail crowding is, almost always, the cost of leasing more stock. So the ‘capacity problem’ addressed by the so-called ‘HS3’ scheme, is a problem which doesn’t really exist.

Written by beleben

April 19, 2016 at 10:58 am

Posted in High speed rail

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. Rubbish. There are capacity shortages in the North because there are no more trains to be leased, and up until now the government has not been willing to allow an additional order as it thought electrification would be enough.

    Very few rail services do not require an ongoing subsidy. Those that do often only do so because of hidden subsidies. Does that mean they’re completely useless? Absolutely not, as the economic damage of not providing those services would far outweigh the subsidy needed to run them. Without currently loss-making rail services in the North of England, it would be impossible for there to be sustainable economic growth as cars and buses alone are not good enough to get people from a wide region into work, shop and play in the city centre.

    As services in the North get busier due to economic changes and the improvement of services, the subsidy required to run them will decrease. The ratio of operational cost to revenue-earning potential of an 8x20m EMU is much better than for the sort of short DMUs which are used on most Northern services.

    [Evidence-free rant unedited]


    April 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    • Evidence-free rant? Where are all the DMUs not able to be leased because of high lease charges?

      [Comment by Beleben:] In the south of England, apparently.
      More generally, the mechanism is: rail rolling stock is very expensive to build, and very expensive to lease. The cost of train seats used only in the peak falls well short of the revenue raised from passengers using those seats. Leasing companies are aware that train operators prefer to minimise the quantum of rolling stock they lease, and so the trains which would be required to reduce crowding don’t get built in the first place.


      April 20, 2016 at 12:58 am

      • The TPE 170s being sent to Chiltern was because Chiltern has a much longer franchise and so could get a contract with the ROSCO for the trains. First TPE, on the other hand, had only a few months left and so couldn’t guarantee usage, as the new TPE operator could decide to not use the 170s.

        In any case, it is the government which bears final responsibility for rolling stock decisions as we don’t have a properly privatised railway network. If the government wants new trains on a line, it often has to increase subsidy or accept a reduced premium in return from the TOC. When the DfT sets up a franchise competition, it will dictate requirements that the bidders have to meet and that will often mean acquiring new rolling stock and pricing it in to their bid. It is of no real consequence to the TOC that the extra leasing costs are not covered by ticket revenues so long as they receive enough subsidy in return.

        [Beleben:] Back at the ranch, the root cause of Northern rail crowding is, almost always, the cost of leasing more stock. So the ‘capacity problem’ addressed by the so-called ‘HS3’ scheme, is a problem which doesn’t really exist.


        April 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm

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