torsdag 29. desember 2016

Trains For the Future? Diesel Lines Will Exist, what shall we do?

For the first time in forty years, the UK sees a new mixed traffic Locomotive type enter service. They will run a lot of services which previously classes 47 and 37 worked, and find new types of operations which perhaps are higher tonnage or  faster or intermodal.

Good luck to the 68s, they seem to be the usual air conditioner noise type things, with a kind of continental super speed train front end coupled to the UK's rather messy array of cables and pipes.

What though could we expect to be working other diesel lines in future? Speed is the new black with even the conservative party supporting a lift of average speeds and the introductin of the *wasteful* HS2 london super commuter route. For years many services had been slower thatn they were in the early 1980s because of the removal of locomotive hauled services, and the introduction of more stops in the hunt of passengers and subsidies along the way. Finally on many routes the capacity became saturated by either physical means -no more diagrams possible, as in many London commuter services- or because passenger demand for those type of slow, and often expensive services had waned/

Loco  hauled is by no means a solution for all services, especially not lower speed, frequent stoppers. Much as though syphon bashers would like to sit in load five and hear a grumbling tractor grind its way to Rimmey, Shap, Mallaig or Kyle, many of these routes are better served by 156s which are arguably more reliable, and cheaper to operate, and in fact when you take motive power and rolling stock into account, have had a remarkably long career now and it is not coming to an end any time. 

However there are many routes where multiple units just do not have the power and of note, tractive effort to make for a service which is anywhere near as fast as loco or power car hauled trains. 156s are 20 minutes to half an hour slower on the Oban to Glasgow route than 37s , and that is comparing the unit being worked really hard to the 37 having a little jaunt with notch 8 rarely achieved over most of the 74 miles or so on the actual WHL..  Units are great and economic when there is a slow stopping service with either a single two or three car or as is the norm for many 156, 158 and laterly 182s and so on, a brace of the single MUs. Beyond that and loco hauled is more reliable and flexible because rolling stock can be added one at a time, and specialist stock like break vans with significant bike and parcel cages, or restaurtant cars and so on can be added. Indeed over the course of two decades, demands change so this flexiubility to dial in or out services versius just bums on seats gives TOCs or national operators a broad opportunity to match customer needs, capacity and routes to different stock set variuants. Stock can of course also be converted to electric multiple units too, when the wires or third rail stretch themselves along routes, or if older multiple units become unservicable. Rail economists from Loughborough and the formerly public Scotrail, are in agreement that a rake of six mark ones or twos, and  five  mark 3s, are more fuel economic than running multiple units.  Also there is then a trade off between tieing up your tractive power and the related miles per causalty and miles per service to your stock, so the trade off above 200 passengers or so is  usually in the point at which it is more sense to have loco hauled.

The issue with multipile units is that they carry less horse  power per passenger and this is as true of the latest generation of higher speed and titling 200 series units, the voyagers and so on, as with I suspect the new intercity high speed express class 800, which I very much doubt from the spec will actually achieve current IC 125 diagram speeds on their diesel routes. Both the 200 main types and the 158s and 170s had major issues during introduction and require a proactive maintenance schedule to keep their availability high. Higher speed engines slung down in the dusty, wet and snowy under carriage areas of rolling stock are subject to a lot of thermal cycling, dust, humidity and so on, so they come with unforseen teething issues in the real world or conjested rail routes and demands for frequent stops. Moreover this goes out over their life cycle, with some of the  earliest third generation stock already being phased out (not in fact that it did not last as long as what it replaced, it is probably just more delapedated than the loco hauled roilling stock when it was phased out)

Class 68s will undoubtedly be working on DRS operated passenger services where an express element is required, but only if enough of them can be released from the more profitable frieght diagrams, for which there is allegedly a current shortage of motive power. The question we have raised before, is just how much horse power do you really need to run some of these semi fast and 70mph route expresses, and how much do you need to work an average engineering permanent way train? The answer to that is already very well proven, type three is ample, and even the type two and a half class 31 was good enough for much of it, as long as ETH wasnt needed. With the demands for higher powered ETS as it is now, and the ability to work faster when needed, we could say that around 2200 hp would be the new area for a type 4 mixed traffic loco, which could be a jack of all trades up to 90mph at least. If the EU would only allow a relaxation, and Brexit may well do so, for locomotive emmissions, then there is now a plethora of compact power units of mid speed to higher speed which could fit very nicely in this power band, while also allowing for space for a secondary generator for ETS or alternatively, a hybrid battery power pack system.

What would then be my ideal train set for working semi fasts of the future? Likely to be things like the welsh routes, the cross country routes in england, the SW, the NE and just about anywhere north of the soon to be 25Kv Edin/Glas Corridor.  Firstly the 68 will fill a near future need for non class 800 services to places like Lincoln, hull and Scarborogh in the East, West Wales and N Wales, the West Country and in Scotland Aberdeen and Inverness. This is on THROUGH services where an EMU is likely to be dragged north, the demise of class 90 within sight now regrettably as a passenger loco on the main trunk routes. I can see that if competition for diagrams on routes actually made more a market of the whole monopolistic qausi private TOC situatioin we have now, then some bright sparks like Virgin would want to offer very much faster intercity regional services which could out compete car and bus for journey time. In Scotland and on much of the transpennine XC routes, you could do this today by cutting out stops and running 50 year old locos and stock.

What we need apart from just more brute horse power per passenger, is actually trains that tilt and that is what virgin forsaw with the original concept of the 220. If they had only dared make the sets have an IC 125 style pwer car with a tilting mechanism then they could have had a real runner, or if they had dual moded them, or even triple moded them with third rail shoes, then this would have been a route beater which could compete on different XC express services.  Instead they opted for a somewhat underpowered set up, which had a lot of teething problems and the whole titling thing is at last note, switched off. The trains seem to be operating with more stops when they do get to diesel sections, while otherwise they whizz along at top speed under the wires. Class 800 will do gosh 140 mph, so it's back to the future, from 1989 when we had 140nph, non tilting services on the ECML and not even as fast as the  APT went on the WCML. I suspect that they will languish in terms of acceleration under diesel power, and always be making up for time once under the wires of the GWR or ECML. " Zings" as we called them, 125s, are being given a last lease of life while the 800s are introduced, the wires go up on Bristol and Cardiff, and also therer after on diesel only services in deep GWR cider country. This tends to suggest that 800 is known to be slower on diesel already, while it will of course be 12% faster where 25kv, long straights and track ATP allow. To improve other journey times outside those long ECML and GWR straights which allow for safe 140mph running, we will as BR knew back in the 1960s and virgin followed suit in the late 1990s, need to tilt.

Tilting locomotives are not actually that new, it is just that these rather heavier elements have been burried in the middle of experimental and pre production train sets, like the APT  E and P. The Aussies have a train which allegedly tilts, but it seems like this is just a minor comfort title achhieved on the air suspension, because it is barely noticeable in any of the footage of the trains which operate the long and twisting route up to Darwin. An HST power car of its day, in rather traditional build with an advanced power unit for the time (more HP per tonne than a deltic non turbo unit) so today we could expect to do it all a lot lighter. For example we can think that we achieve the same type of horse power in 8 cylinders from a VP based fantasy power unit, and many other offerings are out there in mid speed marine (often called high speed when in traction, above 1000 rpm,) An HST power car is amazingly light in fact at an RA5 rated 79 tonnes fuelled. You can imagine fitting a good deal of tilting equipment, a smaller engine and an emergency lithium battery bank for reservce power for tilting and air reseroir in the same weight. Also we have major advances in applying tractive effort and avoiding wheel slip. At horse power per tonne per passenger then we quite quickly come up in an economy for having a single power car per four passenger coaches when speeds well in excess of 100mph with good pick up times are required. A six car 170 formation for example has only around 1800 hp available for tractive effort. and carries more weight and probablky uses more fuel per passenger than a 125 working a slower service for its capaibility.

So my set is as follows. DMV,. TSO, TSO, TR and DBFST. The power car has a small V8 installed instead of the v 12 or v16s currently used , but with less emissions nonsence on its exhaust. This driver motor vehicl then also contains space for parcels and bicycles and a small extra gaurds cubicle for operation from there or in need of security. There are then a first coach with a formation of two more which share bogies, and then a double bogied dirver brake, battery first and second class trailer. This houses recirculative braking to charge its batteries which are in turn used to provide most of the ETS for journeys, being charged from ETS head power at terminii and depots prior to journeys.  I fancy usiung APT style hydrokinetic drum turbine brakes on the three middle cars, and having a battery pack in the first TSO to provide emergency tilt power and shunt / recovery power to the locomotive power car in event of power unit failure. The TR would be a Voyager style buffet car. The whole thing is a five car set but in effect when operated as pairs the sets would be shorter than a 10 car HST, more like a rake of 8 mrk threes witha single Cl 47 loco such that they fit most all platforms across the main line network. There would also be provision to dump the "DVTs" ie trailer driver push pull cars, and merge two setts with two common TSOs thus increasing seating capacity and areodynamics.

I envisage this being a dual mode set by design, such that one of the TSO is actually a MSO when using either 25kv or in a third rail variant. I can also imagine that every car could carry a battery pack allowing for fully hybrid operations such that short stretches like the run to Lincoln from the ECML, or around non overhead sections in London and other cities, could be achieved  without switching the Power unit on, or swithcin it off indeed to reduce emissions in cities which is becoming a big issue in terms of particulates and low level ntirous oxide in particular. With a power car and an electric motor vehicle in formation, hybrid power could also provide additional tractive effort on stopping serrvices or on notorious gradients like the Lickey bank, the Manchester Vic exit or the Glasgow QS tunnel.

As with the 220s the aim is not always to be running at top speed to reduce journey times, but to be decreasign the need to brake and pick uip by a given percent factor on curve sections such as the transpennine or Scottish routes. a 20% average improvement in speed through curves equates on some routes to a significantly better route time because of the electro mechanical qualities of motive power and also this uses less fuel due tp the large reduction in acceleration required coming out of curved sections, and avoiding field diversion cutting in when slowing down for a curved section.

Making trains which tilt rather than straightening lines is really the only practical solution to the demand for faster services, that and diverting freight services to slower  routes to greatly improve high speed capacity. However the conservatives like many very left wing governments have bought into HS2 and its vast expense, in order to feed the city of london with a new breed of super commuter and render Manchester, Brimingham and Derby suburbs to the great big smoke. It is not hoardes of investors and SMEs fighting for tommorrows new super App or mobile device they are really trying to achieve, but rather to facilitate access to credit for minor banks and supply the stock market and other finanical institutions with more bright people who would otherwise be priced out of living in London at what they want to pay them. HS2 is not a great opportunity to revitalise the North, it is an admission and surrender to the power of the financial industry node that London has become, and the need to have a bigger populace to feed it beyond its current leafy confines in the home counties. In terms of facilitating more branch offices and sub suppliers in the North, this is probably basing tommorrow's strategy on yesterday's business culture. Very shortly it will not matter about where you work, or being able to press the flesh more than once a month if at all, it will be what you can super duper do from broad band anywhere, Business will not be done over Claret and Stilton lunches in the Strand, or by miliatary style departments regimented by sergeant majors, it will be conducted on merit and in Cyberspace more and more.,  Also HS2 may be so expensive to travel on that the benefit of Brimingham becoming a suburb with cheaper house prices than Surbiton is eradicated with the sky high price of a season ticket.

Politically zand economically what we need is more regional intra connectivity, and inter non SE region connectivity,  Leeds Manchester, Liverpool Newcastle, Aberdeen Glasgow, Inverness Edinburgh, Plymouth Bristol. We need shorter journey times and to compete on getting people from their suburbian homes to other city centres and round about festooned industrial estates far quicker than the car will achieve in todays conjestion. People need to be able to give up their rubbish local job and be able to hop on a train and within 40 mins arrive at a new, better paid job in a city centre. Cars in cities like Leeds and Manchester are becoming increasinly obsolete for travel to the centres during rush hours from the commuter belts or between each city. We have the opportunity in the NW and Scotland to dump many of the stupid stopping services and run intercity non stop services which make it really easy to go centre to centre, while even beating car journey times when the destination is outside the city centre. For all the transpennine routes and the Scottish routes this is achievable with class 67 and 68 today, but could be made even faster with tilting services

The entire fleet of protoype APTs cost a piddling 74 million pounds, and despite all the bad press, thousands of travellers enjoyed faster services on intercity 225 and therafter, pendolinos from direct application of the technologies proven in the prototype fleet of trains. Little known to may outside the rail industry, is that the 225s could be converted to tilting, and the Pendelinos were built by Fiat traction originally, who bought out many patents from BRE in the 1980s in order to speed up travel on the twisting routes in Italy. Class 800 is a good solution for replacing 225s and may be a passable 'reach' solution for Cardiff, Swansea and Hull, but the real sweet spot is to have tilting express diesel trains  in terms of benefit for money invested. We also need to be considering where emissions happen rather than how much per average mile travelled, and incentivise dual mode and battery hybrid technologies such rolling stock remains flexible and helps meet the demands for cleaner air in our urban areas, while also reducing our over all CO2 footprint if the climatologists not paid for by the oil and coal industry prove of course to be right,.

mandag 23. mai 2016

Tantalising Tractors ....More What If? Locos

A couple of thought occurred to me when the smooth metals and third rail of the SR came to mind. Not a stranger to the RK derived 10 inch by 12 power units by any means, with the two Bulleid prototypes being commissioned for the long flat lines of kent, sussex and surrey. Not least also the some near sixty years of class 73 operations and over 20 of the thumpers. The Bulleid-EE prototypes would for better or worse influence phase one of dieselisation with their 1Co-Co1 configuration. Also that type 3 power levels could be entrusted with even 110mph services !

The final stub ended prototype was delivered as a type 4, setting the mould for the order of 200 of their lumbering, whislting off spring at 133 tonnes. At this point in time then we see the SVT power unit with 125hp per cylinder, which in a v12 is the magical 1500hp type 3. Later it was a purely artificial and arbitary derating to push the bruwh type ii into that category btw. So what about a series 1 fleet of v12 SVTs with co-co and noses ?

It would have taken extraordinary foresight to envisage that the traffic for type 1s and 2s would dwindle in the coming decade, and die in the 1970s.  However the signs were there with the post war road revolution being more the csuse of the demise of economic viability of many branch lines and tiddley services, with Beechings being the messenger of ill wind, all be him partisan with a brother in law at the helm of none other than Tarmac Ltd. Four of the  five v16 prototypes were all type threes, which were entrusted with a range of express and  heavy services and paired  for prestigious trains like the Royal Scot - given the teething problems and short service interval of deltics maybe both EE and BR-ER would have been bettr served by this "American" practice anyway.

  The SR themselves would have both the need and foresight to order the sulzer based type 3 in order to meet their needs for ETH and offer superior speed and power to their underpowered straight six cousins. Type 3 would become a more suitable power for the types of freight business which became prevalent by the late 60s, and if you include the numbers from the 'almost a three' class 31, then the type three was more proliferate than type 4s rated under 2500hp. Type 3 is ideal for 250 - 400 tonne trains, which themselves today are no longer deemed economic as fayre paying traffic. 500- 1000 tonnes? , just double them up. Bar the sad decision on oil sloshing 'diesel hydraulics' and resulting drmise of the Hymeks, the other three classes outlived their inferior little sisters and nearly all of the type 4s, bar the ubiquitous down rated 'duff', and continue inuse as departmental and hire locos over the entire network.

If the usefulness of type 3 had been recognised in the early 1950 and the chance to run lighter weight locos with 4 less cylinders than their type 4 cousins seized, then surely this would have meant the following- a 1500 hp SVT LMR , ER and maybe ScR nosed, disc indicating, standard buffer beam co-co and larger orders of the sulzer-crompton across the same regions in addition to the SR. One would hope then that the same decision that belay the 40 and gave us a 1954 loco still being produced in 1965 would not befall the CSVT order , and rather coinversely that a c.1670hp intercooled sulzer would also happen!

Spectacular as D6700s could be in the hands of a driver keen for extra tea time on the WHL or up a welsh coal valley, they probably spent far more time singing away on notch 6 and 7 not 8 , thus putting out around 1400-1550 hp. SVT power through a 1956 deltic style commonwealth co co bogie although less spectacular, would be fully capable. At a light of fancy we could say that EE may keep up with the 8LDA of the 'shreddie' and rate the loco at 1550hp with an SR option for ETH.  An order of 100 in 1955 ?

A 1956-60 operational 'sub syphon' could have found use on the steam vacs of SR's then numerous boat trains and the Mule route to Exeter. But its home land would no doubt have become that of the re-engines brush type ii, which may never have been built in numbers due to this competitor, and its big sister D200 fleet. Perhaps they would have been despatched also to work the Highland line out of Haymarket aloing side their contingent of the v16 sisters. I  think that the v12 would have precipitated larger orders for the 1750 hp CSVT with perhaps a 2000hp variant as early as 1960. Also with the advent of 25kv towards  the north and Scotland, perhaps the body would have had a 16 SVT plonked in it, no boiler needed for freights or ETH power on the un wired WCML?

Early EE drawings of their actual type 3, the D6700s, show a smallish presumably four cylinder ETH generator along the side of the boiler area, thus being dual heat, although it doesnt look like anything bigger than a small lorry engine of that time , maybe 180 hp.

That brings us to the other fantasy type 3 of say a 1958 delivery to BR. What if they decided to plonk a single deltic 18 into this type of Co-Co body shell ? With a smaller generator for ETH?  Maybe even a non turbo t9 which could supply train boost amps power as well as enough for the 33 and 66 ETH ratings. Why not ? Apart from the CoBo, the baby Deltics were the most ludicrous of all the initial phase 1 diesels, with a tuebo power unit yet untried in rail application and a heavy body work defying the purpose of such a light motor. Napier and EE never actually promised more than 2000 hrs between overhauls, which means a strip down of the whole engine, so really the power units should never have seen the light of day in a humble work horse type 1 whose life would be spent in perpetual short thermal cycles best suited to lower speed marine derived units. More likely then, given the madness of the days, that there be offered a single T-18 deltic at 2200hp as a light weight alternative to the peak classes and the pedestrian D200s.

Thew concept of a 'multi use' body shell and bogie layout should not have been lost at this time. The LMS's prototype diesels were very heavy but had a lot of uneccessary weight in them like over engineered bulkeheads, buffer beams and bogie frames taken in design pretty directly from steam engine proportions. Hence the extra jockey wheels of thew bulleid design being specified. By the early fifties EE were producing lighter weight designs for export, culminating with the super light for so much power in Deltic. A standard design of body could have been used as a co-co of RA5 to Ra7 for different end purposes with different power units, most other equipment being standard onto , as became more or less, standard bogie design.

Common sense at BRB-BTC as well as production capacity at EE, Brush  and BRCW were lacking in the 1950s unfortunetly however. Ironially enough, the phase II type 4s would prove to be in many ways to be inferior to their simpler and usually more reliable 1Co-Co1 predecessors. In fact though, bar the Hynek, the 33, 37 and re-engined 31 were all actually phase 1 orders, being placed before the review which would render everything twin window, slab end for the next  quarter century until the advent of "skips". The diesel electric type 3s of course out lasted all the other phase I locos. Hindsight is a fine thing, but surely double as many 3s would have been only a positive develoment.

mandag 1. februar 2016

Railway Economics and the Failure of the UK Privatisation

There is a campaign group in the UK called 'Bring Back British Rail' - does what it says on the box, so to speak.... Of course many deride this as nostalgia and even a bunch of old communists, but the group is far from being cranks. The UK rail industry has basically failed to improve passenger value via privatisation, due in many observer's opinion to the slighly cowardly decisions made by the John Major government. There was no real element of competition on the majority of routes, while the rail regulator became a toothless paper tiger. Companies exert massively above inflation fair increases, especially for season tickets which are the milk cow for the TOCs in the South East.

Many old timers and Tory true blue believers hark back to the time of the Big Four railway companies in the pre war era, when the glory of private investment, management and market pricing ruled with a whisp of steam and the smell of grease and burning coals. GWR, SE, LNER and LMS. To a small extent some of these routes and passenger lines were reborn into private monopolies of course. Only now they are not monopolies. Back then in the late nineteenth to mid twentieth century, the railway was a virtual monopoly in several different markets for getting from A to B efficiently. Private cars were expensive relative to average incomes, and not very reliable per hundred mile travelled, with short distances for services relative to today. Roads suffered from being based often on the old radial routes which connected towns and villages to the metropolises with many junctions at each node. Pre motorway commuting must have been a nightmare, despite there being relatively few cars on the road. What the big four had was a monopoly on fast, affordable transport for both passenger and freight in their respective regions or corridors ( freight being not really considered here in particular as the market to some extent is more competitive)

Looking back at the big four is using both rose tinted spectacles and also a good deal of naive, wishful thinking on how such a set up could exist today. The Uk in particular is littered not only with relics of the Beechings related cuts, but also old private lines which went bankrupt. By the late 19th century, Railways in the UK had become the internet of their day. This is a more literal relation than you may at first think, because railways facilitated much of the transport in the economy and rapid movement of mail and money. Like the internet, the sector became a bubble which burst and dozens of small railways went bust and either succumbed to being part of the big 4 under the 1921 railways act,  or simply dissoleved into being mere farm tracks.

One other legacy of the huge confidence of investors in the late 19th century followed by a more look warm scenario into the 20th century was that a huge deal of the track bed and even track itself, the very infrastructure, was Victorian and remained so during WWII. Longevity or durability is not unique to the railway, but a rather spartan attitude was taken to rail replacement. As late as the 1960s when the 3300 hp deltic fleet were introduced to operate at 100mph, there were still several sections of the East Coast Main Line which were basically victorian and demanded a 30 mph speed limit.

Post war on the one side the railway was of course bombed and so on, but also much of it was neglected and in a dire state. Given the repair bill and the debts acrued during the requistion of the railways in the 1940s, nationalisation was the only real means of progress to avoid a total financial and service collapse.

Nationalisation involved changing things....not very dramatically at first. The Great Western Region and Southern Region carried on under much the same management structures as before. Scotland became a natural region as did the old LNER mainstay of the east coast, while the west midlands and north west followed after a mix of London Midland and Scottish and LNER, with Midland region taking the north home counties and middle bits towards derby, Nottigham and Brum.

  Regionality removed large amounts of competition but at the same time there were some routes of course which were still rivals. Some Southern Region routes competed with GWR routes into London for commuters, and indeed the SR  Exeter route at one point was quite competitive in journey times to the Bristol route. The main competition was of course between the three main north - south arteries of ECML, WCML and Midland Line, with the later being somewhat sidelined with the restrictive size of St Pancreas compared to the new Euston and Kings Cross stations.

Through the sixties and seventies, the two main routes to Scotland competed for the cash income of those travelling to and from terra caledonia. The aforementioned Deltic services to Scotland and the NE, were actually a planned stop gap before the envisaged electrification of the line, while of course the WCML was electrified with overhead 25 kv lines progressively through to completion to Glasgow Central in 1974.

The post war infrastructural renewal aside, these routes in particular were expected to pay their way forward and contribute profitably in both freight and passenger income to the Railway. It could be said that both routes had their hayday in the late 1970s when intercity 125 sets on the ECML were operational and the fastest expresses on WCMl made london in under fiver hours from Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. The Railway was most concerned about competition not from at that time flights but from of course motorways.  To extend the utility of the major WCML route, with its larger coverage or interconnectivity of major connurbations when compared to the ECML, the corporation for want of a better term, decided to adapt trains to the curves and came up with the revolutionary APT which has influenced and been largely copied by tilting train designers the world over, and influenced much of the advanced speed of 140mph run for some years on the ECML.

The class 370 prototype fleet, a kind of beta test of its day, were only reallly let down by three factors, two of them to do with private suppliers letting them down 1) The dynamic braking fluid was not available in time for the winter launch , so there were problems with viscosity and freezing  2) the very basic design of final friction brakes, dating to Rocket type designs, was built with components out of tolerance and just badly made by a private work shop  3) the rate of tilt was shown to induce motion sickness in passengers, somethign which could have been designed out and of course has been for the "pendolinos". 

The six train sets were a proof of concept which had one foot a bit too firmly in prototype land. In any case, Thatcher was keen on selling off British Airways, righly so, and saw that a three hour London to Glasgow rail route would likely outcompete the shuttle with the then hour or so out on the tube or cab ride to Heathrow.APT was shelved, but continued to be an experimental train through to at least 1984. Just over a decade later and Richard Branson was running trains based very much on the design and on the ground breaking operational and safety work the sets provided to the international industry.

The APT aside, British Rail managed several huge achievements. Firstly there was the rebuilding post war and the planning in the 1950s for a modern railway network, the beechings inspired rationalisation in the motor car age, the removal of all steam power by the late 1960s, the achievement of sustainable 100mph operation on WCML and ECML, the rationalisation of the ill concieved purchase of over 40 diesel locomotive types down to less than half tha, the electrifiication of the WCML and the Glasgow metropolitan area, the introduction of the intercity 125 to ECML, WR and later MR, the electrification of  the ECML, sectorisation and increased tractive power for freight, the introduction of efficient third generation diesel and electric multiple units..... The private railway has one main achievement and that is ironically, the introduction of tilting trains to regular passenger services.

Back to economics. We have a history of the British Railways in about four main chunks to date...... which begins with fanfare and a rush to invest in this new means of communication in the Victorian era, followed by the economic realities of what we call today "income model" and actual returns on that investment via capital gains and dividends....then the shake up with WWI when the railway was comandeered for troop and supply chain to armaments and the subsequent 1921 railway "Big Four" act....then WWII and 1947 when the Big Railway was born.....then the ill fated privatisation by the John  Major government.

Ill fated? Oh most definetly on just about every measure of utility to the paying passenger. Also on the frieght side, the private companies received several hundred new locomotives just bought by the public purse, at a knock down rate by accepting also to buy the older locos....which were already by in large rationalised and refurbished from their 1960s over engineered , sturdy design.

The main measures you can look up are grouped as follows, the figures are disputed a bit in terms of what inflation means in the railways and so on, and what constitutes operational subsidy, but this is the score>

1) Passenger Fair Increases Above RPI
2) Seating Capacity over the late 90s to 2008 in particular
3) Punctuality is decreasing now across many TOCs
4) Rolling stock has been replaced at a slow pace as the life cycle of the third generation multiple units, carriages and freight locos comes to an end
5) Public subsidy to the operational railway has increased above inflation
6) Railtrack had to be renationalised and is also a subsidised hole for tax payers money

The unfortunate fact has been clear since before 1900. Railways are very capitally intensive, and it is incredibly difficuylt to get ROI if you dont have a monopoly over not just rail route, but time effective transport in a corridor. This is just not the case for the vast majority of rail routes. How would the 'glorious big 4' have faired with the competition from motorways and later cheap flights ? Train operating companies have had to fall back on three streams of income - the poor commuter, the routes which are faster than flying and driving, and those who cant or wont fly. Beyond this in terms of making a profit, the TOCs need to hunt subsidy, The former of these three
passenger group is a literally captive audience around the Capital. Much of Londons middle class suburbia grew up around the new SE electric railway routes, and people lived within walking distance of a station. Now with conjestion into the capital, these poor blighters are the cash cow of the TOCs. They have them by the short and curlies because if they leave their season ticket year, they risk more conjestion by their own numbers.

There could have been alternative competition based privatisation models, which John Major dared not take up, but we come back to the fact that railways are capitally intensive in terms of rolling stock and track renewal, which are two demands the safety authority must lay down, while there is a finite and often limited capacity at rush hour when most money is to be made in getting people from both near and wide into the metropolii. Competition on routes like deregulating busses, has a market pain barrier which it must go through when less efficient operators fall to the side. There is also a huge degree of either redundancy or just using the same common sub supplier in terms of stabling rolling stock outside peak demand, maintaining rolling stock, and operating staff transport etc, Eventually on a route there would probably be one dominant operator, a single source of all repairs and stabling and a smaller second operator. There would be then a virtual monopoly on many routes where capacity in terms of the lines, terminus platforms and stabling & maintenance does not favour anything near the conditions for a free market.

The concept should not be completely dead, though, even when infrastructure is largely public owned. It is just very hard to make both competition work and to allow for return on investment and dividends without rail route monopolies.