fredag 31 augusti 2012

Fury over rail fare rises

I have little sympathy over the fury about rail fare rises. A major cost here is rolling stock. Had it not been for the mad panic over safety in the period after the Clapham rail accident, the mark 1 slam door stock would still be in service. This would have considerably reduced the costs of the whole operation. It was good for about 45 years from 1975 ie in the normal way of things the last of it would have been withdrawn in 2020. As it was, the last of the stock was taken out of service in 2005, which means that 15 years of service life was lost - nearly one-third of the total.

There were a variety of enhancements that could have been made to this stock at minimum cost to bring them up to modern standards, plus the option of re-bodying but retaining the most expensive and valuable components ie bogies and other running gear and the electrical equipment which was simple and robust and could have been made to last indefinitely. The new stock, being heavier, also consumes more electricity which has to be paid for.

One of the reasons why the less expensive option was not chosen was because the oligolopoly of train manufacturers was anxious to sell their very expensive new products and convinced the politicians who make these decisions that trains are like cars and have a fifteen year replacement cycle.

Things are going to get much worse. As has been pointed out before, the real cost of railway rolling stock went up by a factor of about 6 between 1955 and 1995 and has risen again with the advent of trains like the Pendolino, the Crossrail replacement and the Hitachi Inter City Express which has just been ordered. The latter costs about £2.9 million per vehicle compared with £6000 per vehicle in 1955. Allowing for a factor of 40 for inflation, that makes the new trains ten times as expensive in real terms. They are not ten times more comfortable, or ten times faster or ten times safer. Passengers travelling in 1950s trains normally remark how spacious and comfortable they are in comparison with the new ones.

3 kommentarer:

Central User sa...

Chiltern Railways seem to have cornered the market in re-used Mk III carriages to general acclaim. I wonder how many more carriages are languishing in fields and capable of being brought back to a useful life?

The adaptions for the CR Silver Trains were probably very expensive, though the increased flexibility (and reduced dwell times) offered by havng electrically operated doors probably makes the expense worthwhile.

Ask passengers at, say, Princes Risborough whether they would prefer a seven car rake of Mark III carriages or a two car Class 172 DMU 10 minutes later. No contest.

Graham sa...

Did the £6,000 per Mark 1 include the cost of the traction, as all the new trains listed do include traction costs?

Not all new trains are £2.9 million per coach, as the new SWT trains cost about half this figure and I would expect Crossrail rolling stock to be of a comparable cost.

The costs involved to extend the life of a few trains (as overall the number of mark 1's made in 1975 would have been quite low compared with the total number built) could well not have been cost efficient when new stock would have had to have been introduced anyway; as with only 3 years of life left for trains built in 1963 they would have not been suitable for a major refit to extend their working life.

It should also be noted that the last mark 1's were withdrawn in 2010 (although the vast majority of them where withdrawn in 2005) and these were limited to running at 40mph for safety reason.

I agree that the work that Chiltern are doing to their mark 3's is good and I would suggest that whoever wins the GW franchise would do well to copy them for the mark 3 they are retaining (as not all their trains will be replaced by IEP's).

Physiocrat sa...

The £6000 for mark 1 stock did not include traction. At that time a large steam loco was costing around £35,000, so divide that by ten and the total package comes out at around £9,000. You can do the same exercise today - a Eurolok such as the TRAXX is around £3 million, so that works out at about £300,000 divided between ten hauled vehicles. But a hauled vehicle now is still likely to cost under a million.

As regards the mark 1 stock, the most cost effective solution would have been to continue with the rebodying principle with re-use of the mark 1 electrical equipment, which is still driving fleets such as the 455 and 442 units. Eventually they might have been re-bogied and fitted with more up-to-date equipment, except that the B5 bogies gave a better ride and were easier on the track than the bogies under Electrostars and, even more so, the track-bashing Siemens units.

Surely mark 1 is not limited to 40mph for safety reasons but because it was running on the Lymington branch. It runs at higher speeds on hauled specials.

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