Renationalise the Railways

by craig on January 3, 2012 11:25 am in Uncategorized

Railways are a natural monopoly. There is no genuine competition between providers. For many people, the privately owned railway service is the only practical way to get to work. We have the most expensive passenger fares in the world, and a negligible amount of freight sent by rail, despite absolutely astonishing subsides pair to the private railway companies – and mostly ejected straight out again as shareholders’ profits. I was hoping to give you a figure for the total subsidies private rail companies have received since the crazed system was set up, but I can’t find a reliable series of figures anywhere – can anyone help?

We also still have a rubbish service. Some nominal punctuality improvement has been made, largely by the ruse of making timetables themselves unambitious. A member of staff at Ramsgate station told me recently of an HS1 service which left Ramsgate 18 minutes late, but reached St Pancras on time. On 27 December I left Brussels 11 minutes late on a Eurostar and made Ashford one minute late. Giving a talk in Cardiff recently, the train from Paddington spent in total almost 20 minutes standing in stations to await shceduled departure. Many timetables, particularly around London, have in fact been worsened – the ordinary commuter service from Gravesend to Charing Cross for example is now scheduled to be eight minutes longer than it was when I used to get it every day in 1986. In other cases track, rolling stock and signalling improvements that make quicker journeys possible are ignored in the timetable, all to give that margin of leeway and avoid punctuality fines and refunds.

The last five railway journeys I have been on (excluding Eurostar) all had people standing or squatting in corridors.

We have a train service which is the most expensive in the world but is still arguably the least pleasant to use among developed nations, and is very slow when you compare similar journeys with our European counterparts. It is impossible credibly to argue that the crazed multiple contact privatisation model has worked.

Rail needs to be renationalised immediately.

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115 Comments

  1. “Some nominal punctuality improvement has been made, largely by the ruse of making timetables themselves unambitious.

    It will come as no surprise that the privately-run services from Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington now take an hour and three quarters; in the bad old days of British Rail (using the same InterCity 125 rolling stock) the journey time was one and a half hours.

    Progress indeed.

  2. Hear hear. In fact renationalize everything that has been privatised.

  3. daniel margrain

    3 Jan, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    Mary, even BT?

  4. Most definitely.

  5. I agree that the railways are one of the most obvious examples of a public utility that should probably be run by government. But I am old enough to remember the bad old days when British Railways was associated with uncaring, “I’m all right Jack” attitudes. The Thatcherites seem to have been dead wrong in thinking that the profit motive could be used to pep up the railways service and make it keen to please its passengers. True, profit does make people try harder; but their efforts are directed to lining their own pockets.

  6. When they sold of the railways anyone remember the company called railtrack? the investors got slaughtered but the insiders made fortunes

  7. A few choice anecdotes don’t make your case at all compelling. Britain’s railways not run efficiently. That was made clear in the McNulty report. Yes, some journey times on the southern region are slower than they were in the 20s.

    Contrast that with the huge surge in passenger numbers and the re-opening of new lines and stations particularly in Scotland. On that measure alone privatisation has been a great success. The system has its flaws and needs to be tuned. The railways cost too much to run and costs need to be dealt with.

    But as a nation we need to figure out whether we want to subsidise railways to the tune of abother 5 billion to bring down prices, or do we expect commuters and travellers to pay for the railways directly out of their own pockets?

  8. I only use my local rail service, which is excellent; punctual, modern, clean, and because of my age – free. Like Tom Welsh I can remember the bad old days, but over Christmas I watched “The Railway Children” and felt nostalgic for the dirty old age of steam, and recalled when as boys we used to go to Scrooby crossing to watch the “streaks” (A4s) come thundering past. Making longer journeys seems uneconomical. If you try to make a late booking the cost is astronomical. Then there are about twenty-five First Class carriages (virtually empty) that you have to walk past before you can get on one of the cramped six or seven carriages at the end of the platform. I use National Express, which is not as comfortable, but better than it used to be, for longer journeys.
    .
    Nationalisation is something I believe in (despite its drawbacks, despite the fact that it gets abused by those who work within the industry) because it provides more jobs, and I believe in Keynesian economics. Not using the railways these days I should not comment, but I can remember when everybody had the advantage of a free national health service (including free prescriptions and free dentistry) which while it is still good is top-heavy with management and light on those needed at the coalface, if the mixed metaphor is understandable.
    .
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/dec/27/cap-nhs-private-funds-coalition

  9. Does anyone think that the proceeds of a wonderful racket such as the railways will ever come back into the coffers of the nations? Short of a revolution and a few heads lopped off, not in a months of Sundays.
    ,
    The whole notion of privatisation was to live off the fat of the land, and not about a better service, the monopolies are doing just fine, and you don’t like it, go back and untick the box for the heroine; Maggie the movie Thatcher.
    ,

  10. I’m fortunate that – in my retirement – I’m not obliged to use our railways any longer. And I feel heartily sorry for the millions who are.
    .
    I’ve travelled by rail in the UK only 7 times in the last 5 years. Every single trip was hugely problematic, unsatisfactory and shockingly late. Seat booking proved a waste of time, as was expecting the slightest help from staff. Two of the trips were total nightmares that left me ill – but corporate shrugs all that were available in explanation. Complaining was a waste of time – excuses, excuses, excuses wrapped in machine-generated corporate platitudes. Just unlucky? I have a hard time believing so. It will take a hell of a lot ever to entice me onto a train again.
    .
    Frankly I don’t think it’s privatisation or nationalisation to blame one way or the other – my remembrance of British Rail is in fact worse than recent experience. I think there’s just something in the British character that both expects and accepts second-class public services – and in a nation of jobsworths we’re rarely disappointed. And of course it’s easy to be a ‘troublemaker’ when everyone else is shuffling their feet and downcasting their eyes. That there can be an answer to these problems can be demonstrated by a trip across Europe.
    .
    Totally OT – but the real answer to our transport problems was promised but never delivered. Can anyone here remember the ‘Eagle’ comic? According to which I should by now be winging my way to the shops in my atomic backpack personal helicopter. Mine hasn’t arrived. Do you think I should ask for my postal order back?

  11. Nationalisation of the railways would have been applauded during the first Blair government, but sadly, the astonishingly incompetent Prescott was minister in charge of transport at the time. If anyone deserves a good kicking for the state of the rail system today, it is that sex pest.

  12. I disagree that railways are a ‘natural monopoly’. They are a means of transport which should be free to compete with other means.

    The problem with that is the competition is not free – both rail, roads and busses are all subsidised and regulated to different degrees in different manners.

    The railways today aren’t even fully private – they are fully dependent upon the state for their function (the ‘privatisation’ was just a way to transfer wealth to the ruling classes from taxes).

    I also doubt that swapping out one centralised bureaucracy for another will improve matters much.

    How about ownership by those who work on the railways and those who use them (say season ticket holders?). That’s far more radical and a true socialist and freed market solution.

  13. Was there even one nationalisation that benefited the country as a whole?
    .
    Anyone who reads the ‘Signal Failures’ column in Private Eye would have to conclude the entire system is a shambles, having been mismanaged for decades. What’s done about it? Absolutely nothing, and nobody in government considers it much of an issue. The Tories originally privitised it with the purported aim of improving the service and saving the taxpayer money. As it is, the taxpayer pumps vast sums into a lousy service, just to guarantee the profits of stakeholders.
    .
    Pricing is unbelievable – every year we get double-digit rises. There’s the usual howls of anguish which are waved away (on account of how this money is needed for Big Improvements), then we get another significant rise on top of that the next time around.
    .
    As usual, we’ve got a service with the primary aim of making a profit and – contrary to the world of the True Believer – that aim does not magically coincide with the requirements of the end user. In fact it usually achieves the opposite result.

  14. What evidence is there that a nationalised railway would be any better? The reason people were so glad to see privatisation is that the nationalised railway was such a disaster. Train fares to commute to big cities get factored into the salaries that are paid, free season ticket loans etc. Why should those who work locally or at home subsidise those who commute?

  15. Enough said. Well embedded.
    .
    Sir Roy McNulty
    Author, Rail Value for Money Study
    .
    Biography
    .
    Sir Roy was appointed by the former Secretary of State in February 2010 as Chairman to lead a special Rail Value for Money Study. Sir Roy was previously Chairman of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the specialist aviation regulator, a post he held for eight years. Prior to this he was Chairman of National Air Traffic Services Limited (NATS) from May 1999 to July 2001.

    He is a former Chief Executive and latterly Chairman of Short Brothers plc, the Belfast-based aerospace company now part of Bombardier Inc. Previous posts include being President of the Society of British Aerospace Companies and Chairman of the former Department of Trade and Industry Aviation Committee.

    Sir Roy was appointed as Chairman of Advantage West Midlands in May 2009 and is also Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Olympic Delivery Authority, Chairman of the Ilex Urban Regeneration Company in Northern Ireland, and a non-executive Director of Norbrook Laboratories Limited.

  16. Rail needs to be renationalised immediately.

    Well spoken, it is Green party policy, all the opther lefties just dare to talk about it. They have also said that they would only reimburse private companies for what they have acually invested not what market value or such like some consultants seem to think of value.

    @tristan All forms of transport are subsidised, new planes are no eligible for VAt, and BAA has an assortment of tax perks with regards to their airport trading.

    Large national projects should only be done by a nationalised railservice, for routing and planning purposes, private operators cannot force these projects through.
    An exploded railservice was always going to limp behind, too many shareholders are feeding of the travelling community and the taxpayer, some a national operators who’s competition arrangements, (First) also involve competing against buses, are a double clawed approach to taxpayers money.

    Now foreign operators are getting franchises, because they will give the treasury more money, in return they will cut services to the bone and make do, not a single operator will invest billions on a 2year franchise (Abellio’s franchise of East Anglian railways)it is an insufficient period for real change, just a different sort of rip off to that of our own operators. The privatisation of brituish railways is an opportunists haven, for them to do as they like with very little pressure to perform. They say prices will not rise, but they do.

    And it is on the back of those who make a decision not to drive, who are in principle green, the more rail services get popular the more they charge, its a honeypot and pooh will be round in a minute.
    A nationalised railway could invest the money, once paid to shareholders, for investment in infrastructure, they would have to spent some 10 billions/annum over and above to modernise and extend the services.

  17. There are tons of statistics that can be quoted on the privatisation vs nationalisation debate and both sides can cherry-pick the ones that support their case.

    People cite overcrowding as a problem but it is really a case of the train companies being a victim of their own success that so many people want to use those services. A half empty train is lovely, but also much more expensive to run (and less green as well of course). In many areas, the only way to go back to half empty trains is to increase fares substantially, or build new lines. Nationalisation won’t do the trick (unless it brings back sufficient inefficiencies to push people into other modes of transport).

    Also I’m pretty sure that re-nationalisation would result in massive disruption to services, as the structures and incentives of every department of every train operating company will be re-structured / merged / abolished / etc. You would then have another decade or so for things to settle down under nationalisation, with the same arguments continuing about whether it is better than a privatised system. The bottom line is that a very convincing case is required to justify that level of disruption and re-organisation. That case simply does not exist at present.

    I say that the rail system works pretty well in the UK to cope with the sheer volume of passengers. I am most familiar with the Transpennine, Yorkshire and East Coast Mainline services. I have had very little to complain about. I have had a handful of “nightmare” journeys – the bulk of these were generally out of the control of the rail companies (severe weather, vandalism, theft of cable, suicides, etc.).

    Most anecdotal tales of “nightmare journeys” seem to come from people who are unfamiliar with the rail infrastructure and end up buying the wrong ticket / boarding the wrong train / picking the wrong route etc. Even the simple matter of getting a seat is much less of a headache if you are a regular user and know which carriage is your best bet. Regular users also know the tricks to get the best fares.

    As for slowness – you’re talking about shifting incentives for punctual services and slack in the timetabling. This could be tackled without re-nationalising – just reduce the compensation levels / penalties for late running services.

  18. “The problem with that is the competition is not free – both rail, roads and busses are all subsidised and regulated to different degrees in different manners.”

    Of course they are regulated they have to be in order to afford protection against spivs and idiots who would ruin the planet in twenty minutes if given the opportunity to ‘compete.’ The idea that an unregulated economy could exist let alone work is nonsense of the sort that ought to disqualify those uttering it from conversation.

    As to the “bad old days” I remember that despite years of neglect, under investment, ‘rationalisation’ according to market theories (Beeching) and constant attacks by private businesses committed to making money by road building, land speculation. long distance road haulage etc, the railways, working under terrible handicaps, actually did a good job, were safe, affordable and offered a service with which the modern parodies cannot be compared. (None of which should be allowed to interrupt the regurgitation of memories culled from old copies of the Daily Express and speeches made by neo-liberals from every political party.)

    The truth is that you renationalising is the only sensible option. Denationalisation in the UK was a crime committed under Britain’s Yelstin regime. The notion that denationalisation was welcomed by anyone with any sense of responsibility is false: the saloon bars, where hatred of immigrants is only exceeded by hatred of the working class, rejoiced out of spite; they would (and have) burn the house down to drive out the unions.

    “Why should those who work locally or at home subsidise those who commute?”
    And why should people who know how to read subsidise the education of illiterate children? Why should people who can look after themselves have to subsidise the protection of the property owners? Why should people who understand their rights have to pay for law courts? Why should people who have the sense to live in the country have to pay for anti-pollution measures in the cities?

    No need to worry really: give the capitalists another few months and there will be no jobs, outside the security sector, left.

  19. Tristan, you make some good points. But the trouble is that a railway is too big and inflexible a thing to allow true competition. In the 19th Century we had something like it: rival companies actually built parallel tracks and alternative stations for getting between the same two places. Of course, that is hugely wasteful – although it does allow proper competition.

    When the civil servants were asked to draw up a plan for privatising the railways, the writing was on the wall. Very few civil servants have ever run a successful business, or even worked for one, and the farrago they dreamed up was straight out of an opium-fuelled dream of Rabelais. One company to run the tracks and stations, with a bunch of other companies competing to run trains, with the franchises redistributed very few years – utter insanity!

    Mind you, the railways are just one of many, many public services that simply do not lend themselves to any meaningful kind of competition. Take gas, electricity, water, telephone land lines, cable and satellite TV… the list goes on and on. I buy the same electricity, but I can choose from dozens of companies to pay for it??? It’s like shopping at a supermarket, coming to the checkout with my loaded trolley, and finding dozens of different sets of checkouts all run by different companies and offering different prices for all the goods in my trolley!

  20. Press Johncott

    3 Jan, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    Othre countries have cheaper, smoother, cleaner, faster, more reliable trains, but their trains don’t give talks.

    Giving a talk in Cardiff recently, the train from Paddington…

  21. Thatcher did not privatise the trains. Enoch Powell, who prefigured much of Thatcherism, did not attempt to advocate it. They knew it wouldn’t work. Only poor old Major, realising he didn’t know how to rule but she did, thought even more Privatisation was the answer. But Craig, you don’t mention one of the other rip-offs. When the companies get things wrong, they lie (e.g. pretend the train got in earlier than it did) or write the rules to excuse themselves. If a passenger gets things wrong or tries to make up for the company messing up, they get stung for huge “penalty fares,” which exploit the victim a second time round. This practice could easily be regulated away, even within the present system, and it should be.

  22. By definition, privitisation was only ever going to make the wealthy even more so at the expense of those mugs who use the services and as been recently reported on for the railways, it is the working commuters who are paying through the nose for this redistribution. The UK has never been run for the benefit of the general populace, only for the wealthy and with the escalation seen over the past three decades, this has become more obvious. Only some kind of revolution is going to change this sad state of affairs, not a change of government or ownership from private to state.

  23. The simple truth that rail subsidies are now five times larger (in real terms) than they were at the time of privatisation is all anyone needs to know about what a disgusting shambles privatisation is.

    Nationalise now and while we’re at it let’s take the rest back as well.

  24. It does look like the aim of privatisation was to hand tax payers’ money to a select cartel of “business” people who couldn’t really cut it on the open market

  25. O/T I was pleased but surprised to see this. Justice at last for Stephen’s parents.
    .
    Gary Dobson and David Norris have been found guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, killed in a racially-motivated attack in Eltham, London in 1993.
    .
    The trial, which began on 14 November, saw a unaminous guilty verdict. Dobson and Norris killed Lawrence by “participating in a group attack” it was found.
    .
    A-Levels student Stephen Lawrence was killed on Well Hall Road, Eltham, London on 22 April 1993 in what has been revealed as a racial attack.
    .
    Gary Dobson and David Norris are set to be sentenced at 11:30am on Wednesday.

  26. I imagine a modern railway system should include little run-ahead carts checking and recording track quality and safety, allowing the following train to choose optimum speed and avoid accidents.

  27. Peter Bryce

    3 Jan, 2012 - 5:09 pm

    The railways are always an emotive subject (at least they are with me!) and I find myself holding two contrary opinions at the same time. I am old enough to remember the nationalised railways in the 70’s, which were cheap and more or less practical (as a student I travelled from London to various locations in Scotland regularly, and I dont recall any particular “student discount”)but the staff were simply appalling: I remember more than one obviously drunk. That was always the problem with any nationalised industry, another example would be the old Gas Board: customer service was an unheard of fantasy.The downside these days is that, although retired on a reasonable pension, I cant afford to use the railways as a regular means of transport, they have become so expensive.The last time I used a train was in 2010, I got an “off peak” return from Darlington to London: on the return trip I boarded a 3.30pm train only to be told that 3.30pm was “peak” and was charged an additional £75 for the priveledge.Now I always travel by coach at around thirty quid return, bugger the environment.Many of my generation have a romantic attachment to the notion of the nationalised rail service, and politically I think that all national resources should be nationally owned,but if you actually think and remember what it was like you wouldnt want to go back to such appaling service levels.Unfortunately the modern alternative is beyond the reach of a large proportion of the people. Maybe we should put you in charge Craig!

  28. It’s great to hear so many voices in favour of renationalising the railways along with the other natural monopolies. I’m also in favour of renationalising the lot. Although I think the place to start might be with the water companies, since how can any nonsense about consumer choice be applied in the case of water? And if we don’t even have public ownership of our water supply then what comes next… privatisation of the air? I’ll bet that someone somewhere is already working on a scheme for that one.

  29. Passenger trains are fun but apparently uneconomic. Abolish the subsidies and most services would be terminated, which proves that passenger rail is not a monopoly — there are alternatives.

    The vast majority of short-distance commutes are by road, and a cheaper long distance alternative to rail(much cheaper without rail subsidies) is air.

    In N. America there are a few seemingly pointless subsidized rail services (AmTrac) that must be horse-drawn judging by their incredibly long journey times. Otherwise the rails are devoted to freight, which turns a profit.

    Nationalized rail service was crap and could, no doubt, be crap again, but it would be a huge waste of public money. For those who cannot drive, the best bet is a taxi. Even with a subsidy, taxis would be a better public policy option for those who for some reason cannot travel by road or air, than nationalized and subsidized passenger rail.

    Anyhow, why do people have to keep moving around so much? Because most travel modes are subsidized and there are no taxes on the externalites (CO2, noise, and the general ugliness of travel infra-structure, which has destroyed much of peace and beauty of the English countryside).

    Instead of wasting money on 1950’s Labour Party nonsense, investment should be directed into the construction of high-tech, low-energy-use human habitats.

  30. “The reason people were so glad to see privatisation…” Julian.
    .
    Gosh, Julian, you must’ve been living in a completely different country from me. I don’t remember that at all. From what I recall, in the mid-1990s, privatisation of the railways was extremely unpopular and most people seemed to want it re-nationalised under the first Blair govt, as Richard suggests it ought to have been.
    .
    And my little own anecdotal experience is that the train journey from Glasgow to Edinburgh now is stupendously absurd – over-crowded (because of there not being enough carriages at busy times) and over-priced.
    .
    North America is enormous and relatively underpopulated. Britain’s roads are already thick with cars and the population from Leeds, south, is densely-packed. A better comparator surely would be Western Europe.

  31. boniface goncourt

    3 Jan, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    @sandman
    Most anecdotal tales of “nightmare journeys” seem to come from people who are unfamiliar with the rail infrastructure and end up buying the wrong ticket / boarding the wrong train / picking the wrong route etc. Even the simple matter
    of getting a seat is much less of a headache if you are a regular user and know which carriage is your best bet. Regular users also know the tricks to get the best fares.

    What an utterly boneheaded comment.

    So you want a rail service based on ‘tricks’? And ripoffs are…wait for it…the passenger’s own fault! ‘You don’t know our rule book? how very dare you! fine £75!’ You are of course aware that ticket collectors get a commission on every extra fare they extort from confused old ladies. Wizard free market fun.

    I remember British Rail. It was perfectly all right. I used to find the staff quite friendly. They knew their job, and where everything was. You could travel from Penzance to Perth, and the
    clerk knew all the route details. A clerk at Euston recently had never heard of Aberystwyth. Moreover, the BR fares were not a ripoff.

    I went round France a few years ago, by TGV. A dream trip. After every journey, you felt pleased at what good value it was. Say where you want to go, buy a ticket, done and dusted. Compare UK, where booking a rail ticket is like buying
    an air ticket to Patagonia. ‘London to Doncaster, eh?’ [whistles]. Hmm, you”ll be lucky. Let’s see…you could change at Scunthorpe at 5 AM on Shrove Tuesday…’

    Most people in Broken [by cowboy capitalism] Britain don’t realize what derision the shabbiness of the place inspires these days. Respect has been sacrifived to greed. The ripoff merchants don’t care what Britain looks like, as they live in sunny tax havens. Neoliberal Toryism means total lack of patriotism. Luckily, I don’t have to spend much time in UK, and when I do, a National Express coach gets me around in a friendly, reliable and cheap fashion.

  32. @Boniface
    “I went round France a few years ago, by TGV. A dream trip. ”
    .
    Yeah, very nice. Largely yet to be paid for by the next generation of French citizens who will have to pick up the tab for the present generation’s crazy excesses in public expenditure.
    .
    Here’s one account of the “real horror” of SNCF finances.
    .
    When are Europeans going to wake up to the fact that they’re broke and cannot continue running gigantic deficits in the face of competition from people paid less than a tenth of European wages? Europe needs to cut, not piss away public funds providing comfortable and convenient transportation for the upper middle class — mainly the nomenklatura and the upper-tiers of the corporate establishment — who would be the prime users of a revamped high-speed nationalized rail service.
    .
    And if anyone says that the provision of excellent rail service can be consistent with a reasonable return on capital, let them explain why it is then necessary to nationalize the railways and, in the event of nationalization, how the public could be protected from the burden of subsidies, including hidden subsidies such as support the French railway service.

  33. You could not make it up. ZBC’s Jon Sopel is answering questions about Tony Blair on Celebrity Mastermind . Sopel’s chosen charity is Save the Children. Not those in Iraq perhaps.

  34. Agree with Mary, do the lot! They’ll not do one of them, though because they (career politicians) will then become accountable for performance. Not part of the gig anymore.

  35. There was an interesting article in the Independent recently about ‘Ghost trains’ being run purely to avoid the expense of closing redundant lines and services.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-hunt-for-britains-ghost-trains-6279103.html

  36. Interesting map, this:
    .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:High_Speed_Railroad_Map_Europe_2011.svg
    .
    Look, look! The UK’s got a little bit of red!!

  37. Scouse Billy

    3 Jan, 2012 - 7:41 pm

    Mary, that would be the same Save The Children that vaccinate immuno-deficient, malnourished children – unbelievably damaging, if not genocidal.

  38. Im fairly certain i can trust Save the Children’s actual Doctors and Nurses to determine when vaccination is a good idea -for the pityful little children they actually try to treat and help – in their REAL lives. In fact i’m a bit outraged that you can speak so ill of them Scouse Billy. And this is OT. Balls.

  39. Roderick Russell

    3 Jan, 2012 - 9:16 pm

    @ Suhayl Saadi. As you say one reason why there is less rail in North America is that “North America is enormous and relatively under populated.”
    *
    But in fact this is not quite the whole picture as, in the past 30 years, North American cities like Vancouver and Calgary have been building new light rail systems to serve commuters. Indeed I also heard that Canada’s long distance freight rail system has seldom been busier. It’s just that intercity passenger rail doesn’t make sense in North America since the distance between cities are too large for a rapid journey. Rail does make sense in the 21st century as an alternative to the highway system, and like the highways (that it competes with) it should be run by the public sector if, as in the UK, it has shown that that is the most cost effective business model.
    *
    Calgary, where I live, is a bastion of free market thought; yet I never heard anyone seriously suggest that its commuter rail system (called the LRT) should be other than run by the City. Chris’s comment “rail subsidies are now five times larger (in real terms) than they were at the time of privatization” just says it all.

  40. Don’t tell me, Scouse Billy – vaccinations are also a fiendish plot designed to rake money off us fools for no good reason, right? And – again – almost every last scientist is in on the hoax too (because they’re after the money).

  41. Every time I’ve been on a train in the UK (or France, or any other European country), the majority of people on it appeared to be not “upper middle class”, but working class.
    .
    Degenerating into a sort of jungle state where people get peasant status might sound somewhat romantic (though I cannot imagine why) and might accord with an ideology that has destroyed much that was good about this country, but it will not help the economies of Europe. Proper public transport links are essential.

  42. Scouse Billy

    3 Jan, 2012 - 11:53 pm

    Glenn and hip,
    .
    From 04.30, if you’re really young, you need to have all kindsa shots…
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3t8BC8XyTg

  43. Scouse Billy,
    What do you make of “you need to have tests”?

  44. I agree completely with 99% of that Craig.

    When you say “the ordinary commuter service from Gravesend to Charing Cross for example is now scheduled to be eight minutes longer than it was when I used to get it every day in 1986″ though – Is it possible this is because it stops at more statiosn than it used to in 1986?

    To give a better train service to everyone some trains have to be a bit slower to stop at more stations.

  45. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 1:23 am

    Fedup, it runs in his family – is it a coincidence that his family oil + Germab chemical industries merged to give us Pharma at the same time that his forbears were funding (taking control of) medical schools?
    .
    Imagine a UK politician saying:
    .
    “40% of medicare is spent in the last 6 months of life – so, is that a conversation worth having with your parents?”

  46. I know my little nephews get a contentious amount of shots -it is a very complex topic. But what makes you feel entitled to accuse Save the Children Medics of terrible error in their truely harrowing and brilliant jobs? -and just start raking up a muddy field in a totally unrelated thread – on a very serious Human Rights blog? I dont think you give much of a shit about Human Rights. You are virtual crusader of your own mighty judgement, with little interest in Craigs or anyone elses. You should be plonked from here.

  47. Hey Scouse Billy – I’ve got time for you, because you seem to be a decent fellow. I think you’ve got a good heart. But are you actually suggesting that inoculations are some kind of scam? Do you really think TB, polio, smallpox and so on have been almost eliminated as some coincidental factor with inoculation programmes?
    .
    Of course people make a buck out of every disaster, whether it concerns disease, health, the environment, or anything else. To observe some examples of crooks, shills and charlatans profiting off the matter, and then to conclude the underlying disaster is – in fact – bogus is ludicrous. You’re falling into the slippery pit of the Alex Jones crowd when you buy into such lines of reasoning. You appear prone to this.
    .
    The trick is to show you something you’d like to believe (eg, no such thing as man-made climate change/ inoculations are unnecessary and dangerous), and then show you corporate profiteers who are strongly against your thinking such subversive thoughts, and how the MSM is bought into the Big Lie. Then play up how the ‘courageous’ purveyors of truth (like yourself!) are up against The Machine.
    .
    It’s BS, Scouce Billy. Inoculations prevent miserable, preventable deaths in vast numbers. Personally, I’d like to campaign against miserable, preventable births – but that’s another story. Inoculations are real, they are necessary, and they work for the best in nearly all cases (like all aspects of genuine medical treatment). To say otherwise is recklessly propagating a dangerous falsehood.

  48. boniface goncourt

    4 Jan, 2012 - 2:51 am

    =For those who cannot drive, the best bet is a taxi.=

    That’s public transport sorted! Canspeccy you are the Buckminster Fuller de nos jours. But…gulp…what if….your taxi was driven… by a BLACK MAN???

  49. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 3:03 am

    For goodness sake, Glenn, – you know the actual history of vaccines and the laughable C.18th “science” behind them?
    .
    Look up Vaccine Nation for Dr Gary Null’s well researched documentary on the subject:
    .
    “Weaving together interviews with many of the nations most expert medical researchers, private physicians specializing in autism, parents of children victimized by immunization, congressmen, vaccination activists, legal authorities and more, Vaccine Nation will awaken viewers to one of the continual perils to the health and future of children.” – that’s right, real doctors, “experts” and not a peep from Alex Jones ;)
    .
    Meanwhile, here’s some mad conspiraloon site that asks:
    .
    Just how tainted has medicine become?
    .
    http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2802%2908198-9/fulltext

  50. Last I was in the UK, I found the rail staff very friendly and helpful but overworked on the front desks. There were such long queues to actually speak to somebody who knew something rather than deal with a slot-machine. Sign of the times though, I guess. And the tickets were quite confusing. A very helpful young guy on the desk at one small station started to explain why is was better for me to get a return ticket to a place I didn’t want to go rather than a single to the place I did want to go. Never mind, I said, just give me the ticket I want. Well, it’s going to cost you 100 pounds instead of 50, he replied. OK then, I said, let’s do it your way…
    .
    Anyway, that’s by the by. People should be sensible about transport rather than idealistic / nostalgic. Nationalized or privatized (and both have been tried), if trains can’t compete on efficiency with coaches then the coaches should be subsidised, the cash can be spent on something else, and trains can be left for inner-city commuter routes and freight. Did Sir what’s his name with the fancy CV come up with a clear plan explaining how trains could be made more efficient under public ownership? No? Then don’t waste loads more money trying!

  51. Do you think we're stupid?

    4 Jan, 2012 - 4:05 am

    Canspeccy
    .
    Here’s one account of the “real horror” of SNCF finances.
    .
    Your link is over ten years old, sweetie. Given away by the fact they talk about francs.

  52. I’d like to see the Railways nationalised also. And like Mary, I’d like to see all the other crown jewels that were sold off for the long terms benefit of the rich with only a short ‘high’ for the ordinary man of the street.
    .
    My UK home is quite rural but we are lucky to have a train line taking us directly into Manchester (which numerous other local communities benefit from too). It is a lifeline, although a bit pricey. But still, relative to a car, it’s much much better. I dread the thought that it may be axed one day like what happened to the steel producing towns in NE England which also used to have train lines going into the provincial capitol.
    .
    It would be expensive to upgrade the UK rail network, but it’s sorely needed. Double/triple decker trains, Increased safety features, Increased services, better ticketing etc. But I really can’t imagine any of that happening OUTSIDE the state sector. Capitalism seems to furnishes booms (in all sectors) to be unavoidable followed by crashes, the severity of the latter growing disproportionately larger than the former as the cycles unfurl.
    .
    The UK is becoming even more grotty, embroiled in a state of decay where the entropic smile of the masters broadens with the passage of time.
    .
    I see no escape.

  53. For those interested, there was a long thread on Medialens the other day on the pros and cons of vaccines.
    .
    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1325098997.html

  54. Often not mentioned on this subject is the selling off of billions of pounds worth of infrastructure, buildings and property when the rail network was privatised. None of the vast profit from this asset stripping excercise ended up in the pockets of the former owner of the railways – the tax payer.
    .
    The business model of the network and rail services are geared towards a risk-free enteprise for the owners and continued vast subsidy from the public just as it was before privatisation. The tax payer is bank rolling the business but gets nothing back.
    .
    The same more or less applies to nearly all privatised former national assets and businesses.
    .
    New Labour in this regard was as Thatcherite, perhaps even more so, as the conservatives were when the privatisation frenzy began. Even hardened tory voting passengers are aware that they have been fleeced. The same applies to BT.

  55. Anything which is (a) a basic necessity and (b) inescapably a monopoly should be nationalised. This leads to a fairly long list of candidates for renationalisation. Given the record of the privatised railways and utilities in ripping off the consumer, nationalisation without compensation would be fair.
    .
    @glenn/billy
    In general vaccination is trending to be business-led, with the drug companies in the USA lobbying to have certain immunisation programs made compulsory. Billions of taxpayers’ money was wasted on stocking up flu vaccines, assisted by alarmist media reporting. Many drugs are tested only by labs funded by the drug companies and there is evidence of studies which were unsupportive being suppressed. So while I can’t comment on the rights or wrongs of the Save the Children programme, it is at least clear that there can be no presumption in favour of vaccination.
    .
    http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/

  56. Are we playing the same game than the BBc for the last three days. ot a word about the Euro, economics and/or the dire situation in the ME, not a peep. Wall to wall coverage of neocon politics and of every nook and cranny of the Stephen Lawrence case, with those police men, not strolling around HMQ’s backgarden looking for the murder of an as yet unidentified woman, trying to make out strenuously that racialism has been receding since the McPherson report and Jack Straws recinding of double jeopardy laws. A criminal white working class family was protected by the police for near three weeks before they even started looking, Stephens mother was right when she said’ this could have all be sorted 16 years ago.
    Then we have a PM waxing lyrically about our amazing Olympic bid in his new year address, that it will be hard this year, although not for the like’s of him or Osborne’s catnip racket, and jalla gibber jalla.

    We are being subjected to a massive news management exercise and I expect us soon to prepare, in each and every aspect, for the royal jubilee and the Olympics, a pesky war in the ME should not detract from all this brilliance.

    Had my fill of it and shall not debate institutional racismn as it still exists and/or the chances of candidates/puppets lead by the nose to confuse US voters, nowt to do with this country unless Iowa lies between Norfolk and Lincolnshire and I have not spotted it.

  57. Let’s start with the banks, Vronsky.

  58. Craig, in this month’s ASLEF journal there is an article titled “Planning Ahead – Rail Choices For The Future”. Unfortunately, it does not yet appear to be available on their website. The article claims that since privatisation, at least £11 billion has been misspent on debt write-offs, dividend payments,fragmentation costs including profit margins of complex tiers of contractors and sub-contractors, and higher interest payments designed to keep Network Rail’s debts off the government’s balance sheet. These are only the readily quantafiable costs. The real costs are much higher but difficult to quantify: e.g. excess payment on rolling stock company debt, poor cost control,excessive bonus payments and salaries for senior managers, costs of bidding for franchises, awarding them then rebranding when a new company takes over, bail-outs of failing operators, unplanned costs arising from over-complexity and unpaid tax.
    The fact is that privatisation has been a boon to wealthy investors, banks and lawyers. Union bashers and haters of the working class might like to know that productivity of staff has increased considerably under privatisation to the benefit of shareholders but noone else. The company I work for contracts hundreds of lawyers every year to claw back costs from Network Rail in relation to delay attribution and NR does the same; completely absurd. Another example of waste happened several years ago. Anyone in the Southeast will remember Connex. They were owned by a French water firm. When they received a huge bail-out from the government this money was used to prop up Universal Studios in the USA which was owned by the same company.
    I am sick to death of the mainstream media continually blaming railway staff for the failings of the network. I personally, like most of my colleagues could not give a damn who we work for; a change of franchise means a change of uniform, the job remains the same except we occasionally get managers from outside the industry who think they can cut costs in the way they do at supermarkets without realizing that the railway is more complex and safety orientated than most from outside the industry care to imagine.

  59. ScouseBilly, are you claiming that no vaccines work? If you don’t have your dog inoculated against distemper, there’s a high chance it’ll die from it; I’ve known three examples, and never one in an inoculated dog. Purely anecdotal, I know.

  60. Clanger, thanks for an insider’s view.
    .
    Expanding and improving the rail system; isn’t that what used to be called “investing in infrastructure”? Isn’t a good rail system supposed to have tangible benefits for an economy? I never see any figures for that; all that ever seems to be mentioned is how much it costs, and that seems to be much too high. Well, all that money is going somewhere, and certain parties are very happy to receive it. Methinks the private sector sometimes complains too much!

  61. Happy New Year to Craig and his band, and better things for 2012. Now take a look at the US primaries, if you can bear to….
    .
    Someone was asking for evidence that the railways performed better under nationalisation. He’s probably too young to remember this, but, perhaps incredibly, we had a single system with a single integrated national timetable (no fights between competing companies for a line owned by someone else, no delays to Company X as a result of Company Y’s (Virgin) incompetence). You bought your ticket at the station, for a set price, and got on the train. Simple concept, eh? There was enough legroom, and a measure of privacy was often available. The fares were certainly much more affordable, in real terms, and sending freight by rail was not then an impossible dream. Want more?

  62. Yes, I got on better with British Rail before privatisation. Deregulating the buses has been a disaster, too.

  63. Clanger, You are correct. I probably only do about a dozen rail journeys a year, but I am affected by the failings more than once in such a few journeys. The standards are good as far as the equipment and railstaff are concerned. The problems I’ve suffered were all caused by political interference in the cancelling of trains that did intermediate stops and even running some trains without stopping anywhere in between so that they could say they arrived on time at the destination. This was usually after an earlier delay caused by a points failure or staff not showing up.

    They would sooner leave some of their customers standing in the cold for almost two hours as they cancel and do fast run throughs so that they get the maximun brownie points from the stupid regulations. I know it’s not easy, but I’m sure they could join two trains into one and stop at all stations to get the people where they want to be before they attempt to get the timetable back “on track”.

  64. I was looking up Transport for London Clark in connection with the sorry state of the Hammersmith flyover closed for the duration because of saltw water corrosion of the suspension cables within the structure.
    .
    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/boardandchiefofficers/1432.aspx
    .
    You see the usual cross connections such as the Olympics, banking inc Goldman Sachs, the privatised rail industry and unbelievably Steven Norris of bankrupt Jarvis plc and failed track maintenance fame at Potters Bar is also on board. Talk about jobs for the boys and girls.
    .
    RIP
    Austen Kark, 75 (his wife, writer Nina Bawden, was badly injured)
    Emma Knights, 29
    Chia-hsin Lin, 29
    Alexander Ogonwusi, 42
    Agnes Quinlivan, 80
    Jonael Schickler, 25
    Chia-Ching Wu, 30

  65. The pattern is becoming even clearer; investors are draining every drop of life out of the British Economy in support of their gambling habits. When they lose at the table, like the addicts they are they look to the wage slaves to provide their capital. All this with the help and support of their Tory puppets. Rather than gathering in the billions of unpaid tax by large corpororations they would rather impose draconian conditions on the self employed struggling to feed their families. reminiscent of Tsarist Russia?

  66. The TFL Commissioner and the MD both came from FirstGroup. The MD Leon Daniels has overall responsibility for London’s surface transport and issued a very wordy press release on the flyover problems the other day. Its closure is causing massive congestion.
    .
    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/1434.aspx
    .
    FirstGroup ‘run’ many of the country’s privatised trains and buses and are shedding their First Great Western contract. Old I. K. Brunel must be spinning in his grave.
    .
    North American interests too I see.{http://www.firstgroup.com/corporate/our_company/}

  67. I rarely use trains, but I was consulted about the new line from London to Birmingham which will pass under a bridge at the end of the road in Saltley where the maintenance depot is going to go.
    A typical UK consultative exercise in which the landowning classes on Green Belt areas or SSI will be compensated with billions, but us city dwellers just get a different train passing down an existing line.
    Why do they not re-shape the east end of Birmingham with a new local commuting line to shuttle travellers into various locations in Birmingham? Our city would benefit from commuter housing near the terminal, where there is at present nothing more than gas works and a power station and an empty LDV wasteland.
    Not only do our politicians have no imagination but they completely ignore the rest of us whose imaginations are fertile and creative. This is a British disease of managerial arrogance against fellow humans further down the political food chain.
    Thomas Telford would not only have sorted the nimbies with tunnels for their pony paddocks but made something to look forward to arriving at the other end.
    Obviously I have a vested interest in my area being beautified.
    Muslim travellers could step out of the train and refresh themselves in the new 2000 person mosque being built behind my back garden instead of going to the toilet on the train.
    There are no prayer facilities in central Birmingham near New Street Station.
    Go to Istanbul or Manchester and see what they are doing for the city traveller. We are totally inhibited by the vested interests of a small minority of traders who can only see their city as a shopping centre, forgetting that Birmingham was once a centre of Creativity and Design.

  68. In other words, why do they worry about the mushrooms in the pony paddocks and not about the mushrooms whose heads they shovel manure on in Birmingham?

  69. It’s just a big gravy merry-go-round. The current boss of First Group, Tim O’Toole used to run the underground. In under less than a year he rewarded his efforts with a £1,000,000 bonus. I’ve never understood why we feel the need to get North Americans in to run public transport when our continental European neighbours seem to have it sussed out.

  70. Mary, a friend of mine, Roger Brown, was killed in 1999 in the Ladbroke Grove crash. He was on his way home from Reading University, where he designed the sort of cybernetic systems that could have prevented that disaster:
    .
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/470365.stm

  71. “Both crashes [Ladbroke Grove and Southall] would have been prevented by an operational ATP (Automatic Train Protection) system, but wider fitting of this had been rejected on cost grounds”.
    .
    Totals for both crashes together:
    38 dead
    659 injured
    .
    Still, that’s less than a week’s carnage from the roads.

  72. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    Mary, thank you – that’s a very good link re. vaccines.
    .
    Clark, your example on dogs may be correct – I have no knowledge regarding distemper vaccines.
    .
    Anecdotally, my brother informed me that a greyhound owner he knows who had been desperate – his dog had cancer and the vet had given up on him, had tried Dr Simoncini’s NaHCO3 treatment.
    The tumour has almost gone and the greyhound is again full of energy. The point being, medical science doesn’t have all the answers and has been skewed toward pharmaceutical “solutions”.

  73. What do senior New Labour M.P.s do with their time out of office?
    Think about the redevelopment of their run-down constituencies where only the jobcentres are flat out processing redundant people? Liam Byrne is the most useless piece of gravy=training trash of the last government. As I told him to his face before they lost the last election. All he is doing is managing the massive portfolio of shares and investments he acquired in his time managing Downing Street and camouflaging illegal wars against the Muslims.
    That’s what the new service to London should be called, the Gravy Train. No hotels, no flats, no metro-buses, no jobs, no hope for Birmingham. It’s just convenient for Londoners to be able to come here and scuttle back in the shortest possible time.

  74. Uzbek in the UK

    4 Jan, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    ‘Rail needs to be renationalised immediately.’
    .
    Whereas I agree with you, how would you think nationalisation will improve current rail mess? Why would civil servants improve timetable or run more trains so that passengers experience more comfortable joinery?

  75. Nationalisation would improve the rail system by cutting out the huge costs that I outlined in a previous comment. I can’t see how re-nationalising would be feasable however. Who is going to reimburse the crooks who currently run the railways? If their franchises were allowed to run out without renewal, the TOCs would neglect the service (even more than they do now), and the govt. would have an unholy mess to tidy up. Even in public hands, like any monopoly, you can’t expect great efficiency as like any other monopoly, the rail industry is riddled with the cancer of freemasonry.

  76. “Medical science doesn’t have all the answers and has been skewed toward pharmaceutical “solutions””.
    .
    I entirely agree. It has also been warped away from prevention where regulation would impact profits, even in different sectors.
    .
    I like the idea of vaccination. It sounds like it should work, it works with the immune system, it’s lasting, and properly implemented it should be cheap and save on remedial treatment later. None of that means that the practice isn’t abused.
    .
    I’m not convinced that dogs need all those regular booster shots, though I’ve had them given as it isn’t a matter I can effectively investigate.

  77. What an excellent idea! May it be part of your manifesto next time you sytand for MP. Demonstrators need to chant “Bring Back British Rail!”

  78. Uzbo
    New Labour nationalised employment itself. They did not need new services or factories to be created in order to justify creating jobs and paying people. They relied on pure Keynsian theory, that they could recycle the wasted money through VAT and other taxes.

    It’s a bit like my design problem with an air-source heat pump for heating a mosque’s hot water. You heat the mosque with a gas boiler, then you extract heat from the air with electricity for the heat pump, so you have to heat the air a second time.
    If you don’t actually create a job or create an environment where the seedlings of a job can grow, you end up paying twice.
    The fatuous New Labour government made so many petty rules for businesses in the construction industry that they cannot survive the frost of a recession. The rules were set up to create quangos and jobs for the boys on the backs of people doing real things.
    Government should issue a technical guideline, legislate it and then spend money policing it. Not, issue a technical advice, get the businesses to pay for it, and not police it. The problem of our country is this something-for-nothing idea that government can be delegated to private management, paid for by the beneficiaries.
    Government does not police its own legislation any more and the managers eat up all the cash. There is nothing wrong with the people who sort out the tracks, the trains, the timetables. there is something very wrong with the process of government when management is seen as source of employment and hence a source of tax, rather than a system of governing.
    Keynsian economic theory is the problem. Civil servants don’t have a useful function in managing rail companies, but under Keynsian theory, they can be employed to fill troughs for the tax pigs to scoff.

  79. PS.
    1. There’s a good cheap slow train (“London Midland”)from London to the Midlands, which I’ve used a couple of times, costing a fraction of the regular cost – so what if the coaches aren’t luxurious and it takes an extra 45 minutes?
    2. Are trains in the UK really more expensive than in Japan or Denmark? I’ve heard that these are very expensive cities.

  80. Just hear hear, hear hear!

  81. Murder most fowl

    4 Jan, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    Sooty – I’m going to Goodwin.

    During the last war, many people became convinced thought that the Nazis were going to kill lots of civilians, including Jews.

    What could be done?

    By most people nothing. It might be God’s will, or mankind’s, but, without power and resources … Most of us are in that position today in the face of illness

    A few, with the power, would do their job – it might be well paid – and save those they can. Wallenberg did this in 1945; many doctors and scientists do this now for the ill.

    A few – bad people – make every penny they can from those in trouble in order to save them. Much of Big Pharma is like that to-day; concentrating on drugs that are profitable (If only I could cure hair-loss; it’s much more profitable than curing malaria). For what it’s worth, vaccines are not that profitable; much more is made from Viagra.

    Finally, there are the evil ones, who take as much money and valuables from the desperate as those who are merely bad, but who know that they will not save anyone. The evil deceive the desperate by claiming a magic potion or invisibility cloak or underground railroad will save them, but know that none of this works and the condemned will die anyway. Today, these are the homoeopaths, the anti-vaxers, the supporters of the Burzynski clinic (ITV and the Observer). I am not sure if it makes any difference if the evil honestly believe that what they say is true; consider the evangelist that assures you (donation please) that if you only believe, then your amputated leg will grow again (and why are there no artificial legs at Lourdes among the crutches?)

    And which are you, conspeccy?

    Murder most Fowl

  82. “how would you think nationalisation will improve current rail mess?”
    .
    Firstly by rationalising timetables, ticketing and pricing, replacing the current shambles.

  83. Uzbek in the UK

    4 Jan, 2012 - 1:48 pm

    @ Clanger
    .
    I read your earlier comment. It is quite informative but I still do not see how and why nationalised rail will provide better services. If you ever come across anything that is run by the government you might understand my concerns. I am not saying that rail divided between dozens of greedy private companies is better BUT I see no better nationalised rail either. Fares might become slightly cheaper but then knowing how government likes taking money out of our pockets and giving them to Goldman Sachs alike I would not bit on cheaper fares.
    .
    All misspendings you listed you can find them in a budget of almost any Whitehall ministry. Public money are even easier to misspend than private.
    .
    I agree that railways are currently run by crooks with huge bonuses while thousands are being laid off but what better management could come from Labour/Tory crooks?

  84. Uzbek in the UK

    4 Jan, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    @ Anno
    .
    Whereas I agree with most of what you said I see nowhere in Keynesian theory that defends bubble based economy. In my understanding the real problem with New Labours is that they have been keen supporters of then popular deregulations (something I think Keynes did not favour). On the other hand one could also argue that they have created the biggest state apparatus in the UK history (probably to employ as many pencil pushers as possible) as like you correctly said there were less and less jobs in real economy.

  85. @ glenn_uk @4 Jan, 2012 – 2:24 am

    Totally agree, SB talks BS! Buys into all the lunatic fringe arguments.

  86. O/T If you wondered what had happened to Yates of the Yard….
    .
    ‘Two former police chiefs from the US and Britain have brought discernible Western “expertise” to the Bahraini force only weeks following their appointments – a surge in repression and state terrorism.
    .

    Former Miami police chief John Timoney and his British counterpart, John Yates, formerly commander at London’s Scotland Yard, were assigned last month by Bahrain’s royal rulers to “oversee reform” of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s security forces. Officially, the appointment of the American and Briton was to bring Western professional policing to the Bahraini force and specifically to upgrade the human rights record of Bahrain’s ministry of interior and National Security Agency.’
    .
    /..
    Bahrain: Crushing Pro-Democracy Protests. American and British Police Chiefs Step Up State Repression
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28452

  87. I am very sorry Clark. You can imagine how terrible the injuries were when so many were only identified by their dental records.
    .
    As for comparing the death and injury toll to that on the roads, surely the point is that deaths on railways are completely avoidable and preventable. Thousands and thousands of half ton lumps of metal being driven by individuals at high speed, and soon to be higher, are statistically bound to have collisions.

  88. I thiink he’s trying to de-rail the argment

  89. Uzbek
    Thanks. I don’t what they call it. It is not a responsible way of managing the country. It’s like leaving the wheel of a train you are supposed to be driving and going for a smoke out the back.
    You have to police what you make laws for, not let managers do whatever they like.
    In Divorce Law in the late 1970s they decided to not put blame in divorce. The result is that children were often allocated to the parent who has behaving unreasonably by committing adultery. The removal of simple safeguards, if it was done for the sake of saving money, has in fact with respect allowed the whole train of society to crash.

  90. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 3:25 pm

    Clark, I used to believe in vaccination too before I took a look into it.
    .
    Dr Suzanne Humphries, a practicing nephrologist (kidney physician) says the vaccine industry isn’t giving people both sides of the story, and parents need to get informed before subjecting their children to vaccines that can potentially cause serious harm or even death:
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efto1LpWkKw
    .
    Demeter, your argumentum ad ignorantiam is your prerogative.
    However, there is a very relevant comment under the Sen. Rockefeller video I linked to (3 Dec 11.53pm):
    .
    “the average adult may not deserve to survive or get respect from the elite. the bulk of the population live in a state of denial and escapism and have already been dumbed down. so dumb that even when presented with the truth and the agenda of the controllers they crawl back into their fantasy world.”
    tropicbum62 1 month ago
    .
    P.S. I have no children and will never take a vaccination, so I gain no benefit by sharing my views on vaccines but I do recommend that people inform themselves and apply critical thinking.

  91. Sorry SB I forget your a polymath; not only a statistician and climatologist but also an immunologist too. Immunology works, however capitalists will obviously try and capitalise on it and I think thats where you get confused.

  92. So you think Sen Rockefeller’s statement is proof that vaccines don’t work. Not entirely from ignorance as I studied biological science a component of which was immunology

  93. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    Demeter, are you saying that vaccination is the same as immunisation?
    .
    If so, can you provide any evidence?
    .
    For anyone interested, ARE MOST DISEASES CAUSED BY THE MEDICAL SYSTEM? By Walter Last:
    .
    http://www.health-science-spirit.com/medicaldisease.html

  94. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 4:10 pm

    “So you think Sen Rockefeller’s statement is proof that vaccines don’t work.”
    .
    Did I say that? Please explain how you arrived at this conclusion.
    .
    I would suggest that vaccines “work” very well for the Rockefellers but not for the patients.

  95. Not the railways ever will be renationalised. Not while sharks like this get rehabilitated –
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/30/new-year-honours-list-2012_n_1176227.html.

    He’s just bought Total’s retail arm, btw.

  96. Evidence? It’s basic nomenclature, semantics. A vaccination is the method of administering an immunisation, a vaccine would be the preparation.

    Health Science ‘Spirit’!
    I had a feeling it would end up somewhere like that. It reminds me of the absurd notion that using condoms doesn’t prevent the spread of HIV, because all of the anti-immunisation quackery sits right along side it.

    Anyway nationalise the rail system, gets my vote!

  97. http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/road-rail-comparisons.htm convert the permanent way to take buses.
    The UK railways have been mis-managed for ages. When changing from steam to diesel, BR tried a number of different diesel engine designs. Fair enough. But 46 of them?

  98. BrianSJ, how many different applications did BR look into – shunting yard locos of various power, main line freight, main line passenger, dual diesel / overhead electric, etc? If they needed fifteen types of loco, they tried about three for each job.

  99. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 4:53 pm

    That’s right, dismiss the article based on its name or rather your prejudicial association of said name – a sample on vaccines:
    .
    “Vaccinations are the proud showpiece of drug medicine in eliminating the dreaded childhood infections of previous centuries. However, long-term statistics and diagrams tell a different story. Starting between 1850 and 1900 scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough, and measles had declined by about 90% by the time general vaccination was introduced for each disease. While statistics vary between different countries, this is generally true for England, the United States and Australia. Whooping cough had declined in England by about 98.5% before a vaccine became generally available, and measles had declined by over 99%. Tuberculosis had declined by 87% when antibiotics first became available and by 93% before the introduction of the BCG vaccine. The death rate from rheumatic fever had declined by 86% when penicillin was introduced (34). All of this has obviously more to do with better plumbing than with vaccinations.”
    .
    “There are also statistics showing that death rates from targeted diseases rose with the introduction of vaccines. Other side-effects ascribed to modern vaccines are cot or crib death (SIDS), a strong rise in autism and ADHD, and shaken baby syndrome (spot bleeding in the brain) which apparently landed innocent parents in jail. Experts strongly deny that there is a connection between vaccines and autism, but it is strange nevertheless that the rates of autism have suddenly exploded after greatly increased numbers of vaccinations in recent decades, and there is no obvious alternative reason. Also autism is absent in Amish children who are generally not vaccinated. Vaccinated children are reported to have about 150% more neurological disorders such as ADHD and autism compared to unvaccinated children (35).”
    .
    “Another curios aspect of vaccine safety statistics was highlighted by Dr Archie Kalokerinos. Working in the remote Australian outback with Aboriginals he found that every second child died as a result of vaccinations. Because deaths commonly occurred about 3 weeks later, they were not recorded as vaccine-related; officially reactions were limited to occur only for up to 2 weeks after vaccination. However, eventually Dr Kalokerinos solved the problem by giving babies high doses of vitamin C before vaccinations, and no more vaccination deaths occurred. Also SIDS disappeared. Naturally he encountered ridicule and hostility from his medical colleges, and babies are still dying needlessly (36).”
    .
    And, yes, renationalise railways and other key infrastructure: energy, water, transportation.

  100. Scouse Billy,
    As the curmudgeon puts it; if the efficacy of the street drugs were to be on par with the efficacy of the pharmaceuticals, one could not find many pushers walking around and pushing, instead these would be lying around and pushing up daisies.
    ,
    The paradox of healing but leaving enough room for a few more repeat prescriptions has always confounded the profiteers.

  101. Scouse Billy

    4 Jan, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    Passerby, very well put.
    .
    Are you familiar with Dr DeMeo’s phenomenal, whistle-blowing speech given to the Association of American Geographers, San Francisco 1994?
    .
    “This is the third time I’ve been asked to say something about this most pressing issue in the modern sciences, the suppression of new ideas and discoveries by unethical and repressive methods. The public exposure of such activities are generally unwelcomed in the modern scientific arena, as there is a widespread illusion that suppression and censorship, with devastating personal attacks against individual scientists, does not exist in the world of modern science. We can accept the historical cases, such as the trial of Galileo by the Catholic Church, but that is safely distanced by several hundred years. All the offending characters are buried in their graves. Not so the modern examples, some of which are every bit as shocking as what happened to Galileo, or worse. While genuine scholarship demands an open and dignified reception of even the most odd and challenging of ideas from one’s fellow scholars, all too often the attitude of “academic superiority” predominates, setting the stage for power-politics of all sorts. Academic science is then transformed into Grand Theatre, from whence “behind the curtain” the most vile and aggressive actions can be played out against dissenting heretics. “Academic freedom” then becomes an empty slogan, a facade which serves only to cover-up serious abuses. It is my unfortunate conclusion, supported by the examples to follow, that power politics is now dominant in the natural sciences, and especially so in medicine.”
    ,
    Read all at:
    .
    http://www.orgonelab.org/suppression.htm

  102. hip (was crab)

    4 Jan, 2012 - 6:13 pm

    Dont forget the personal issue flooding anti-maths’ opening gambit for his latest OT crapshower. He posts some reasonable peoples words for his new topic later, (after rockerfeller voodoo tube etc.) but imposes his slagfest with the unignorable :”that would be the same Save The Children that vaccinate immuno-deficient, malnourished children – unbelievably damaging, if not genocidal.”
    .
    Seriously, delete all this crap. Its not censorship to delete persistent off-topic virtual prophets flooding in the middle of a fine thread. It is site maintentance.

  103. You basically asking me to prove that vaccines don’t cause autism etc but where is your proof that they do. Your info i see is taken from the excellant peer reviewed journal known as health science and spirit. My lecturer at uni who was working on the HPV / cervical cancer vaccine must have been lying to all of the students so as to inculcate us all into the grand scientific immunisation conspiracy.

  104. Yes Demeter, he probably was.

  105. oops did it again, too crabby. sorreee

  106. GlaxoSmithKline, the global pharmaceutical giant, has been fined 400,000 Argentinian pesos after the deaths of 14 babies during clinical trials in Argentina. That’s about £59,500, from a company worth around £73.8 billion, the 5th largest company on FTSE.
    .
    Two doctors were also fined 300,000 ARS each, for their involvement in the trials which were carried out between 2007 – 2008. GSK were trialling a vaccine against pneumococcal bacteria, and recruited around 150,000 babies under the age of one for the trial.
    .
    GSK were charged with experimenting on humans and falsifying parental consent for babies to be involved with the trial. Witnesses claimed doctors involved with the clinical trial bullied illiterate parents into signing to 28-page consent forms, and leading parents to believe their child would not receive any other vaccines if permission to take part in the clinical trial was refused.
    .
    /…
    http://zoebaillie.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/glaxo-builds-bonny-babies-unless-youre-argentinian-of-course/

  107. “orgonelab”, Billy? You a scientologist? You think the orgone box can prevent polio? Well, well. That shouldn’t be too hard to disprove. Join the world of clinical trials….

  108. Scouse Billy

    5 Jan, 2012 - 11:25 am

    Komodo, no I am not but that’s not the point.
    .
    There is a very interesting documentary, Cancer – The Forbidden Cures by Massimo Mazzucco that shows how Pharma along with the regulators and the medical schools has acted to prevent cheap, non-patentable medicine.
    .
    http://vimeo.com/25279346
    .
    Well worth watching.

  109. Scouse Billy,
    Have you ever read up on the cancer treatment in Iran? (Iran was subject to massive chemical attacks of Saddam, and to this date there are huge numbers of the victims of these attacks and they suffer from wide variety of illnesses including cancers, let us hope they can help the victims of the Fallujah bombings/nuking by the US too).
    ,
    Evidently they are working on naturally occurring antigens for eradication of cancerous cells, and so far they have managed to combat a whole host of cancers.

  110. What happened to the discussion about the railways? What have the railays got to do with vaccination?

  111. Sorry Suhayl, Billy decided his was a more pressing topic again and i helped it along with outraged outbursts. Save the Children medics harming the children, supposedly, oh we’re all doomed again.

  112. Ah well, Hip (once Crab, once Sandcrab…) and a rollicking ‘Peter Pull and Puff’ journey was had by all! Hope you’re well, Hip.

  113. crab (not hip now)

    5 Jan, 2012 - 11:38 pm

    Thanks Suhayl, i’m on the up overall.
    .
    ScouseBilly, fair play to you, ill try to engage your positions calmly someday.
    .
    Would you like to have a car? -along with almost everyone else? or not have a car along with almost everyone else? I want us to mostly *not* have cars, it is easy to see them as a great scourge already. Even silent electric ones need to be fitted with an electronic yell to say “CAREFUL IM MOVING!”. Nice trains and stations and clear streets for me please.

  114. Train fare prices.
    .
    6 January 2012
    Searching for the most expensive train journey
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16390608

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