Derailed 96

Regular readers know I love railways and am constantly on the move by train. They also know that I am constantly furious at the mess left by rail privatisation, with the most expensive rail fares in the world, plus massive taxpayer subsidies, leaving huge profits for private shareholders of operating companies on “can’t lose”, taxpayer underwritten deals.

I calculated that my “super off peak return” ticket from Ramsgate to Newark, bought yesterday for £83.70, costs over 20p a mile. I contemplated yesterday afternoon posting about what an incredibly large charge that is for train travel compared to other countries. I was going to invite people to give examples of per mile cost on other tickets in the UK and elsewhere.

I then reflected that few of my long-suffering readers find my railway postings as interesting as I do, and decided not to inflict it on you.

Then this morning I went to catch the 8.37 from Newark, which gets in to London at 10.02. I am on it now. But I was informed that, whereas on South Eastern services from Ramsgate an off-peak service is one which gets into London after 10.00, on East Coast services an off-peak service is one which departs from wherever you catch it after 10.00. So the same train is not an off-peak service at one point in its journey, but becomes off-peak later on.

The first “Off-peak” service from Newark does not get into London until 11.35.

I reluctantly therefore asked to upgrade my “off-peak” ticket so I could get the 8.37. I was told this would cost £94.20!! However, the lady added helpfully, I could just buy a single to London for £74.50 and then use my off-peak ticket from London to Ramsgate.

This I have done. So my return journey from Ramsgate to Newark is costing me just shy of £160. It would be a lot cheaper to drive – in a Chelsea tractor.

You may recall I posted some time ago that when making a journey from Truro to York, the Virgin train from Truro was severely late, causing me to miss my advance purchased train to York. While I had shown my tickets and explained at Kings Cross, I had been told that as Virgin were a separate company, it was nothing to do with East Coast, and I had to buy a new ticket for £180. I applied to Virgin for a refund, who said that as their train had only been 52 minutes late, they owed me nothing and my missing a train from another company was not their business.

That was crazy. Now again, having different operating companies using different definitions of what constitutes “off-peak” coming into London is yet another example of the way the crazed “competition” model, in reality a series of taxpayer-funded private monopolies, works to the massive disadvantage of the consumer.

The railways need to be renationalised, and the modernisation and expansion of the network should be at the centre of economic growth strategy. A full 200mph high speed line to Aberdeen, another to Cardiff and a third to Stranraer for Belfast should be undertaken immediately. Beeching lines should be restored, and new lines to new population centres be a major priority. If the money from quantitve easing was applied to this and to homebuilding, rather than being given to the banking bonus pool as at present, we might actually see some life in our economy.

96 thoughts on “Derailed

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  • Frazer

    @Mary…from what I saw of him in Vegas he should have no problen deploying his weapons ! (Guffaws)

  • Michael

    Given that I have been fairly critical on other posts, it’s probably only fair if I say “Aye” and “Hear hear” on this post here – couldn’t find anything I didn’t agree with in what you wrote.

    Now of course I don’t have the slightest hope that either the current govt or the current opposition will be ready to re-nationalise the railways (I come from a country with a state-run railway and cherish it), but hope dies last, eh? Once the current crop of politicians starts funding their train journeys out of their own pockets again, they might be able to think differently about the problem. But hey, then they’re not politicians anymore, so won’t be making any decisions…

  • larry Levin

    in india you can travel 2000 miles for about £16 first class , ac and your own bunk to sleep in.

    Train travel is not a service its a way for government to collect tax. same as that 3g auction for mobile phones. The government should do an auction and the auction should be where each train operating company out bids how much they pay for each person delayed for each minute they are delayed. this way the company willing to pay the most compensation for late or poor service will get the contract.

  • larry Levin

    The UK pays about £300 million each day on its debt, this is collected in the prices of goods for everyday things, food/travel/ etc. we pay for the privilege of having a private company issue our money supply

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Brilliant post, Craig. I agree completely. It’s simply ideologically-driven Thatcherite (there’s that word again!) social engineering – we all knew this in the mid-1990s when the railways were privatised and the vast majority of the public wated Labour to re-nationalise in 1997 when they cam to power. That successive Labour Govts were unwilling even to contemplate it was a sign – if one were needed – of their true allegiances, of the fact that thy had sold out. The refusal to extradite Pinochet around the same time was another. Of course, Blair and Brown et al had made no secret of their slavish allegances to Wall St.

  • John

    Why would any of this government care about the railways. If they used the train there would be no need for their chauffeurs and foot staff. Also they might see what is really happening to the state of the uk and might want to do something about, but then that would upset the bankers and the establishment!

  • Passerby

    The notion of why privatisation is good? As yet has not dawned on some, let me explain;

    The increasing competition among the plutocrats and rich elite, as well as incorporation of most of the easy revenue streams into ownership of the said class, along with the paucity of opportunities for the unusual returns this class is so accustomed to, have been the bases of the moves for privatisation of the national assets across the globe.

    National assets by their very nature are monopolies, therefore for few plutocrats turning into oligopolistic practices, still can earn their desired unusual returns by increasing their scope of ownership of previously public owned monopolies and turn these enterprises into money making rackets.

    Thus the monopoly of any government is replaced by the oligopoly of the plutocrats, whom in turn playing with loaded dices, proceed to demand money from the tax funds of the government for making good the losses arising from the unprofitable “public service parts” of the contracts they have entered.

    Simply put these self appointed/absorbed/pooh-bah get their money from you as well as your taxes, whilst providing you with crap service because you have no other choice but to use their services. However because the plutocrats also own the media then there is a black out on the crap levels of service that is on offer by the same people who used to scream blue murder if a village train was delayed by ten minutes whilst the railways were in the public ownership.

    Thus private = good, and public = crap, equations equate. However the myth of more competition and all that malarkey are thrown in to detract from the fact that the plutocrats would rather own everything, and fill the public with all manner of cock and bull stories of efficiency and productivity, and competition. The fact is monopolies can only be efficient money making rackets with no recourse for the user/client/slave to get any kind of recompense.

  • Passerby

    Meanwhile back at the ranch: under the heading you cannot make this shit up;

    Occupy Protester Accused Of Bank Robbery For Holding ‘You’re Being Robbed’ Sign

    An Occupy Easton protester faces an attempted bank robbery charge following an arrest at an organized event at a bank – during which the “Occupier” was holding a sign that reportedly read “You’re being robbed.”

    However in the news we hear that Pussy Riot has been burning Putin’s photos! Talk about pots, pans, calling etc!

  • Julian

    @passerby: well said.

    I don’t have a car, and I prefer to travel by train – it’s civilised, I can get work done, read, or sometime chance upon interesting people to talk to in the opposite seat (though I don’t force myself on people who don’t want to) and you see interesting sights.

    But it is so expensive, disorganised and full of the craziest fare structure and of course you are in terror of getting on the “wrong” train (as Craig did) and being penalised by having an arm and a leg sawn off….I mean a penalty fare…

    Any sensible place would have a cheap, highly functional public transport system to get its workers around. I lived in Hong Kong for a while and the buses, trains, tubes and ferries were very good, and dead cheap, if crowded. 10 or 12 p fares (this was 1996).

    But we’re not a sensible place. our ruling class wants to be the first to de-develope their country into a third world banana republic, sans bananas – see Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson’s latest book Going South.

  • nevermind

    Harry is to make Helmand safer from behind a gun, not as a pilot. Probably did not pass the drug tests, cannabis stays in the system for a good month.
    But he’s a level headed young man, who would not hold that against anybody. Especially not those he’s trying to identify as potential targets on the ground….

  • Tony0pmoc

    You could always try hitchhiking, except of course, we tend not to do that much anymore in England and the USA since we have all been terrorised by 9/11 an 7/7 – yet camping still seems to be regarded as relatively risk free – even by single white females.

    On the subject of 9/11, I watched a fascinating presentation by Susan Lindauer including questions and answers last night on youtube. It lasted well over an hour.

    You may ask who is Susan Lindauer?

    Well, she is one of these Craig Murray / Julian Assange / Bradley Manning whistleblower types.

    She had the grace to personally reply to me about a question I asked her a year ago, about what evidence she personally had about was actually happening on the ground in Libya.

    But you probably don’t want to know about Susan Lindauer. She smiles too much when she’s telling the truth – but I can tell she is telling the truth as honestly as she can to the depth of her own personal knowledge.

    Amy Goodman wouldn’t interview her – despite her amazing story. Much too close to the truth, and we can’t have that.

    I can’t be bothered to spoonfeed those who don’t want to know, with links. If you can’t be bothered to type her name into Google, then you can’t be bothered to click on a link. It might change your view.

    She openly admits she was a major CIA “asset” (operative) and she got banged up in a military prison – with major attempts to have her declared insane – and disappeared “forever”

    She’s got more courage, than any man I have come across.

    I am amazed she has hardly been discussed on this blog at all.

    Maybe got Amy Goodman’s problem???

    redspotted hanky is pretty good – they even allow you to change advanced very cheap bookings for £10 which I assumed were non-refundable. Personally I preferred steam trains.


  • Anon

    ‘Next 50 Days Most Fateful Since Yom Kippur War’ – Hanegbi

    Former Head of Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, hints at timetable for Iran attack.

    We now stand, in my opinion, before the 50 most fateful days in Israel’s history, since perhaps the Yom Kippur War, in which there were also several dozen fateful days.”

    So said the former Head of Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, at a closed meeting of Likud activists in Yafo. A recording of his speech reached daily newspaper Makon Rishon’s reporter, Ze’ev Kam.

    “The prime minister will have to make decisions that will bear a price tag. Allowing Iranian nuclear weapons has a price tag. The practical result will be a nuclear arms race in the entire Middle East,” he explained.

  • Jay

    Can we dig some canals joinimg norfolk and the central system.

    Sorry craig the rail os bad we have had oir tracks in cambridge guided over for buses.

  • Abe Rene

    I couldn’t agree more. Let “RENATIONALISATION OF THE RAILWAY” be stated loudly and clearly in your manifesto next time you stand for parliament!

  • Tony0pmoc

    I realise that this is not a popular view around here, but I feel sorry for the Israeli soldiers, and the Israeli people. They have been brainwashed even more than we have. They are just humans like us – except their government has made them even more paranoid…

    In England a young kid joins the army – because he wants to. In Israel it is compulsory (and Turkey – and much of the World).

    I have met several English kids in their mid 20’s – who have been to war and done that – some who have come back without a scratch (and are a mental wreck – who cry all ove me in the middle of a Pimps and Tarts Party) – and others who do their best to try and hide the fact that they no longer have any legs…

    But the Israeli Guy – we met on the island of Naxos – he too didn’t have a scratch, but he couldn’t communicate normally at all for nearly two weeks. His wife who was lovely, could only apologise for him…

    Now, I don’t actually think Israel is primarily responsible for 9/11, though I am almost certain they were involved.

    When you are planning this kind of thing, you realise that it could all go wrong, and if/when the SHTF – you can always pull The USS Liberty out of the hat. “They did it” “Here is the Evidence”

    I must admit it is pretty strong, but I don’t believe it.

    I reckon it was an American job.

    Of course I could be wrong, but no one thinks us lot did it, nor even the French, Russians or Chinese..

    And if you still believe the Official Story, then you believe in the impossible and should have done physics and maths instead.


  • N_

    As well as the undeniable facts that the rail service has greatly deteriorated and prices have risen enormously, two other things say it all:

    1) the leasing companies were flogged WITHIN MONTHS for a multiple of what the City boys (who themselves got enormous fees) advised the government to sell them for

    2) before Railtrack went bust, FIVE TIMES as much state money was being spent on the railways than when they were publicly owned

    Rail privatisation was, and is, nothing but an ENORMOUS SCAM. Nobody other than a nutcase would oppose renationalisation.

    The subject is illustrative of what a bunch of fawning lickspittles the British media and British politicians are. This is an obvious case of long-term, continuing, in-your-face corruption. Who calls it what it is?

  • wendy

    “I find this official news very alarming. I think we are close to war with Iran. Canadians are pulling their embassy out of Iran. To save their lives in case of Israeli bombardments of Tehran?”
    i think the date is usa election or thereafter .. remember cast lead timing and the incoming president can pretend it had nothing to do with him.
    all the military hardware, personnel are just about in place .. uk has sent special forces .. this is going to be shock and awe with mini nukes or near nuke weapons .
    aim is catastrophic regime decapitation .. within first 12-24 hours,

  • Tony0pmoc

    I am almost certain there is not going to be any war with Iran. One of the reasons is that the Iranians are on the same side as us. You should work with Iranians and meet them down your local pub. Sure, they are here rather than Iran, but thats cos they prefer our weather – and they like talking to us.

    Most Iranians I have met, have been polite, gracious and so intelligent, that I am in awe of them – and much of the awe is due to the peace that I recognise within their soul.

    I rather like American Rock Guitarists who live in England Too…

    Much for the same reasons

    So who exactly is trying to wind us up for war…

    Not the US Military Industrial Complex by any chance???


    Give Peas a Chance


  • KingOfWelshNoir

    Every time you travel by train these days another piece of your humanity gets chipped away. You don’t realise just how degrading an experience it is until you do as I did this week and go travelling with a bike. On the modern railway you are a maggot if you have a bike. But I also travelled on the West Somerset Steam Railway from Taunton to Minehead. What a revelation! They had a real guard’s van and a guard who viewed cyclists with respect. He was only too happy to help. I was able to spend the journey totally relaxed in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to run for my bike at my destination in case the train departed too quickly. I knew the guard would remember my stop. I was a passenger, not a customer, everyone called me sir and was civil and affable. There were no ‘station stops’ just stations, no Infuriating announcements about keeping your personal belongings with you at all times. And when I got off I was aware of having had a pleasant journey and I was in a good mood.

    Until, that is, the guard on the First Great Western train to Bristol wouldn’t let me on with my bike because he had four bikes already and it was more than his job was worth etc.

  • Fedup

    aim is catastrophic regime decapitation .. within first 12-24 hours

    What a load of bollocks? The fact that NAM meeting has knocked the wind out of the belligerents’ and sanctioneers’. Hence the infantile tantrums of a bunch of professional whiners.

    Canadians do as their overlords in London say; Their withdrawal is likely to be an extended one because in the next five days Iran is shutting down its embassy in Ottawa too. The ziofuckwit sympathiser Stephen Harper will lick any boot and bend over at command for any ziofuckwit, to consider his embassy staff leaving Tehran as a sign is just the theatrics he likes to play. Although on the more sombre note what has Harper done to investigate a string of Iranians murdered in Canada?

    So far as the guy pontificating goes, he should have overdosed on Horlicks.

    However let us not forget isreali aggressors and belligerents who are continually threatening peaceful Iran that is only doing what is best for her population: developing her industrial and agricultural scope.

  • Jay



    Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert. 

    Congress said, “Someone may steal from it at night.


So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.

    Then Congress said, “How does the watchman do his job without instruction?


So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies. 

    Then Congress said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?


So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One was to do the studies and one was to write the reports. 

    Then Congress said, “How are these people going to get paid?


So they created two positions: a time keeper and a payroll officer then hired two people. 

    Then Congress said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?


So they created an administrative section and hired three people, an Administrative Officer, Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary.

    Then Congress said, “We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $918,000 over budget, we must cut back.


So they laid-off the night watchman.

    NOW slowly, let it sink in.

    Quietly, we go like sheep to slaughter. Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY during the Carter administration?




 Didn’t think so!

    Bottom line is, we’ve spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency, the reason for which very few people that read this can remember! I Ready??

    It was very simple… and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.

    The Department of Energy was instituted on 8/04/1977, TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.

    Hey, pretty efficient, huh?



    34 years ago 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports.

    Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports. 

    Ah, yes — good old Federal Bureaucracy. 


  • Clydebuilt

    The railway network in this poorly run country is just capable and no more of getting the workforce to their place of work.
    In Germany France most trains are a pleasure to use.

    European countries are run for their citizens, Britain is run for Industry not it’s inhabitants.

  • Brendan

    Depends on what we think privatisation was for. As several posters have pointed out, privatisation was never to do with better services, and all to do with ideology, with a bit of unions\left bashing thrown in. Don’t think this is especially controversial. Not long ago, Red Ed was making noises about renationalisation of rail, which was interesting at least. However, after witnessing the ‘talk left’ strategy of successive Labour leaders – not to mention, on the other side of the pond, the increasingly odious Obama – I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Slightly off-topic, but on the subject of the odiousness of leaders, and the cowardice of politicians – a refrain that could be relevant to all Murray’s posts – may I take the opportunity to recommend a book called ‘Political Ponerology’. Doubtless some posters know this book well, those who don’t I certainly think it’s worth a read. Craig too, if he has any time. An interesting book about the pathology of leaders, and their baleful influence on society. I bet you a groat you will catch yourself wondering about the curious mind of Tony Blair as you read the book.

  • CS

    “The railways need to be renationalised”
    Bollocks. British Railways was totally bloody useless and lost a bundle. Renationalized, the railways would be bloody useless again and would again loose a bundle.
    Spending billions to amuse a few cranks and Commies is the sort of stupid thing British Governments have been doing since WW2: Ferranti computers, the Bristol Brabazon, Concorde, Blue Streak, nationalized coal, road and rail transport, gas, electricity — they were all crap and they all lost a bundle and made Britain significantly poorer than she would otherwise have been.
    Passenger rail is obsolete, except for those who can afford to pay an extraordinarily high price. Get used to it.

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