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Austerity in ruins?

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Elz Bellz!
1240277.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:36 am Reply with quote

A little bird me told me that Suze has been talking about me behind my back again, so I thought I'd better come and see what she's said this time. Actually, the little bird was Suze so it probably wasn't too bad ... and now that I've read it, it wasn't.

She's said some nice things about me in fact. The best bit is, she means them. There are lots of nice things that I could say about Suze too, but you people don't need that.

Anyway, she can sleep easier in her bed. If we wanted lots of money to spend on drugs, hookers, and casinos in Las Vegas we'd ask his parents for that. That is to say, ummm, I mean, hold on a moment, I didn't say that out loud did I?

Dad and Suze, and also his Dad, are polite enough that they don't ask us those 'So when are you going to make babies' questions. His Mum has tried though, and we're never quite sure what to say. 'None of your blinking business' would seem a bit rude, while the true answer of 'When we decide it's the right time' doesn't really satisfy her.

How is a girl even supposed to answer when her mother-in-law wants to know how much sex she's having? Does the mother-in-law want to hear 'Your son and I are complete nymphos and we're At It seventeen times a day', or does she want to hear 'Your son is a proper British gentleman, and so we do it once a month. No funny business, strictly missionary with the light off.'?

Because again, 'We don't make written appointments, we do it when we feel like it. Why yes, I believe your son does quite like my breasts; I quite like his, oh hold on you don't really want to know that bit do you. Why yes, it's extremely satisfactory thanks, but we'll keep the details to ourselves if you don't mind' might not be well-received.

Is it just the law that mother-in-laws can sometimes be a pain in the arse?

Getting back OT, I agree with what PDR and Suze and Jenny have said. I do know a guy with a lot of money who is determined not to pass that money to his children even though he is well able to, and I don't understand his attitude.

 
PDR
1240282.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:05 am Reply with quote

Elz Bellz! wrote:
Why yes, I believe your son does quite like my breasts; I quite like his, oh hold on you don't really want to know that bit do you.


Oh but we do - photographs or it didn't happen...

:0)

PDR

 
Elz Bellz!
1240285.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:09 am Reply with quote

I didn't think this was that sort of forum!

My husband's member will not be appearing here. I wouldn't want you to start feeling inadequate ...

 
PDR
1240290.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:27 am Reply with quote

Elz Bellz! wrote:
I didn't think this was that sort of forum!


Sadly it isn't. But people can change.

Quote:

My husband's member will not be appearing here. I wouldn't want you to start feeling inadequate ...


I used to think size wasn't important, but then all my new wallpaper fell off.

[the Humphry Littleton Memorial Joke]

PDR

 
dr.bob
1240292.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:33 am Reply with quote

Elz Bellz! wrote:
How is a girl even supposed to answer when her mother-in-law wants to know how much sex she's having?


You could try going into exceptionally gory detail including positions, locations, invited other participants, etc. Naturally, you're allowed to make these details as fictitious as you like in order to make them extra scandalous. It might be a bit embarrassing at the time, but I imagine it'd be pretty effective at stemming the flow of any further questions :-D

 
dr.bob
1240293.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:48 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
But for rail it doesn't seem to work. The could be a case for public investment in tracks, but the state seems incapable of operating railways in a way that improves, changes and optimises cost-effectiveness.

Whenever the STate runs these things it cannot resist the temptation to use them as tools for political ends, so they become sources of employment before being sources of transportation!


Isn't the existence of Transport For London a strong argument against what you've just said? I'll admit, I'm no expert in the transport system in London, but TfL appears to me to be doing a pretty good job of running a complicated and over-stretched rail network whilst still keeping fares reasonably low and introducing new technologies such as contactless payments (something I dearly wish some of the privately run public transport networks in other cities would do). They're even expanding the network (Crossrail) and investing in new rolling stock.

Looking abroad, state-owned companies like Deutsche Bahn and Trenitalia seem to be pretty successful at running a rail network. Indeed, they're currently so successful that they're buying up rail franchises in this country.

As Jeremy Hardy said on the News Quiz recently, the current government seems to have no problem at all with our rail networks being state owned. It's simply that they don't want our state to own them, for some odd reason.

PDR wrote:
I think something in which a commercial operator dry-leased the track and was granted an exclusive franchise for operations on that track would probably work. The "network rail" as a seperate element from the train operator is the part which is the greatest problem IMHO.


But surely this still carries the fundamental problem of privatised rail in that the company has a monopoly and has no competition element to drive down prices. Private sector monopolies have not proven a good deal for the consumer in the past.

 
Elz Bellz!
1240294.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:07 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
You could try going into exceptionally gory detail including positions, locations, invited other participants, etc. Naturally, you're allowed to make these details as fictitious as you like in order to make them extra scandalous. It might be a bit embarrassing at the time, but I imagine it'd be pretty effective at stemming the flow of any further questions :-D


You owe me the cost of removing hot chocolate from a phone screen! Although yes, it would work. My mother-in-law would turn puce if we tried that on her.


I'm going to text Dad (AndyE, as you know him) about the more serious remarks in your following post. He will know the details that I don't, but TFL gets a wapping great subsidy that nowhere else in the UK gets. The cost of the bus network in London in particular is causing concern to the people who hold the purse strings, and now that the Mayor is no longer a Conservative there are some in government who are keen to close that purse.

I'll ask him if he can stroll along and explain that properly.

 
barbados
1240296.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:26 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
PDR wrote:
But for rail it doesn't seem to work. The could be a case for public investment in tracks, but the state seems incapable of operating railways in a way that improves, changes and optimises cost-effectiveness.

Whenever the STate runs these things it cannot resist the temptation to use them as tools for political ends, so they become sources of employment before being sources of transportation!


Isn't the existence of Transport For London a strong argument against what you've just said? I'll admit, I'm no expert in the transport system in London, but TfL appears to me to be doing a pretty good job of running a complicated and over-stretched rail network whilst still keeping fares reasonably low and introducing new technologies such as contactless payments (something I dearly wish some of the privately run public transport networks in other cities would do). They're even expanding the network (Crossrail) and investing in new rolling stock.


Not sure they are doing what you think they are.
All TFL do is the same as the Department of Transport do through Network Rail, just on a smaller scale.
Granted there are added features, but that is not much more than joined up thinking for all transport providers that enable smooth transition across the city. All of the trains, tubes, and buses that run under the TfL banner are privately run and work on a contract basis much as the reail franchises do across the rest of the country.

 
dr.bob
1240297.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:34 am Reply with quote

Elz Bellz! wrote:
I'll ask him if he can stroll along and explain that properly.


Many thanks, and apologies for your phone screen ;-)

barbados wrote:
All of the trains, tubes, and buses that run under the TfL banner are privately run and work on a contract basis much as the reail franchises do across the rest of the country.


One obvious difference is that rail franchises across the rest of the country get to set their own fares. This doesn't seem to be the case in London, where rail and bus fares seem to be set at a standard level, presumably by TfL.

 
barbados
1240300.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:55 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:


barbados wrote:
All of the trains, tubes, and buses that run under the TfL banner are privately run and work on a contract basis much as the reail franchises do across the rest of the country.


One obvious difference is that rail franchises across the rest of the country get to set their own fares. This doesn't seem to be the case in London, where rail and bus fares seem to be set at a standard level, presumably by TfL.


But most fares are set by the government. (in as much as they set the initial fare, and set the increase)
There are fares that the business owner can set, but wth the exception of first class and anytime long distance returns (which have an alternative regulated fare available) those are cheaper than the "regulated" equivalent.

TfL also, use the same criterea as other providers when assessing the level of service. (if it isn't profitable then it isn't run)

 
cornixt
1240305.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:28 am Reply with quote

Elz Bellz! wrote:
Dad and Suze, and also his Dad, are polite enough that they don't ask us those 'So when are you going to make babies' questions. His Mum has tried though, and we're never quite sure what to say. 'None of your blinking business' would seem a bit rude, while the true answer of 'When we decide it's the right time' doesn't really satisfy her.

"We're trying for a baby" always leads me to directly translate into "We're having lots of unprotected sex".

I made the mistake of asking a co-worker if they were going to have any more kids (not a when, more of a "your tiny flat isn't big enough for another") and got a TMI description of their current sex habits. I won't be asking that again of anyone.

 
PDR
1240316.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:40 am Reply with quote

Shortly after we married my mother asked us "are you trying for a baby?"

My response was "Not here, no. But maybe when we get home".

She never asked again.

PDR

 
AndyE
1240326.  Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:59 pm Reply with quote

First Elz and then suze have instructed me here to talk about TfL, but I'll start by saying that Elz assures me that her phone was fine after being treated with a damp tissue.

She also assures me, a little gigglily, that her marriage has been consummated. Leaving aside just the slightest suspicion that it might even have been consummated before it was contracted, that sort of thing is their business.

So to the matter at hand, viz TfL. Government funding contributes about one third of the cost of running Britain's railway network, and fares pay for the rest. For every pound you spend on a train ticket, about 97p goes towards the costs of running the railway, and 32p or so from government goes alongside it. The remaining 3p of your fare is profit for the train operating company.

But in London the numbers are different. Only 47% of the cost of running the London Underground and the TfL bus network comes from fares. The rest comes from the London Congestion Charge, a share of business rates in the GLA area, and from the government.

The biggest lump of money which goes directly from the government to TfL is called the 'DfT General Grant', and last year it was 447 million. (The money to pay for those parts of the national rail system which are run by TfL under the name London Overground is separate and additional to this, and so is Crossrail.)

Now, the Conservative government was keen to eliminate the DfT General Grant; the former Conservative Mayor of London not so much. So Mr Johnson agreed with the government that it would be abolished as from 2018-19. When he made that agreement in 2015 he knew that he personally would no longer be Mayor by then. He had just returned to being an MP and had made plain that he would not seek another term as Mayor, and he probably had a fairly good idea that his replacement would come from the Labour Party. Quite a clever way of doing a thing that the other side will be blamed for, one might think.

The elimination of the DfT General Grant will reduce TfL's income by about 5%. The decisions haven't been made yet, but it is anticipated that the brunt of that will be borne by buses. There is much discussion in some circles as to which bus routes might disappear; that is speculation at the moment, but it seems very likely that some will.

All the same, some public money will continue to go into bus services into London. In the rest of the UK (except Northern Ireland, but for different reasons), funding bus services is a discretionary duty of the county council or equivalent and some choose to spend not one penny on buses. What's more, London has the cheapest bus fares in the UK by a considerable margin.

So while you absolutely can hold London up as the shining example of a public transport system in Britain, you do need to remember why it is able to be so. Were the playing field strictly level - which it won't be even after the elimination of the DfT General Grant - things might look rather different.

 
dr.bob
1240383.  Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:17 am Reply with quote

AndyE wrote:
First Elz and then suze have instructed me here to talk about TfL, but I'll start by saying that Elz assures me that her phone was fine after being treated with a damp tissue.


That's good news. It also sounds like a statement that could double up as a useful response the next time her mother-in-law asks her how much sex she's having ;-)

AndyE wrote:
So to the matter at hand, viz TfL. Government funding contributes about one third of the cost of running Britain's railway network, and fares pay for the rest.
<snip>
But in London the numbers are different. Only 47% of the cost of running the London Underground and the TfL bus network comes from fares. The rest comes from the London Congestion Charge, a share of business rates in the GLA area, and from the government.


Interesting figures, thanks for those. One question springs to mind which I suspect you might have some figures for. Passengers have for many years been bemoaning the fact that overall rail fares have been increasing well above inflation. This makes me wonder whether fares have always paid for two-thirds of the running costs of rail, or whether this is the result of many years of price rises.

It also makes me wonder what percentage of TfL's running costs would come from fares if their prices had increased in line with other rail networks.

AndyE wrote:
The money to pay for those parts of the national rail system which are run by TfL under the name London Overground is separate and additional to this, and so is Crossrail.


I find it surprising that Crossrail has a separate funding system. Is this a temporary situation while it's being commissioned, or is the plan that this will continue to be run as a slightly separate system? Or does nobody know at this stage?

AndyE wrote:
When he made that agreement in 2015 he knew that he personally would no longer be Mayor by then. He had just returned to being an MP and had made plain that he would not seek another term as Mayor, and he probably had a fairly good idea that his replacement would come from the Labour Party. Quite a clever way of doing a thing that the other side will be blamed for, one might think.


Sneaky fucker!

AndyE wrote:
All the same, some public money will continue to go into bus services into London. In the rest of the UK (except Northern Ireland, but for different reasons), funding bus services is a discretionary duty of the county council or equivalent and some choose to spend not one penny on buses. What's more, London has the cheapest bus fares in the UK by a considerable margin.


This is an interesting point for me since, as you probably know, I live in Edinburgh. Here the majority of buses are run by Lothian Buses, which is wholly owned by Transport for Edinburgh, a government run organisation. I assumed that public money was fed into this organisation, but a quick google has left me unable to find evidence of this.

TfE, as it's imaginatively titled, claims to be a profitable which regularly pays share dividends to its share-holders. Since all the share holders are local governments, this money is then fed back into public works. Compared to pretty much every city I've lived in outside of London, Edinburgh's public transport system is amazing and works exceptionally well. Buses are frequent, relatively cheap (especially if you buy a travelcard) with new features such as on-board wi-fi, bus tracking to tell you when the next service will arrive, and new hybrid vehicles to reduce emissions.

The fact that this system is run by a publicly owned company, while other cities I've lived in have wholly privatised networks, may be slightly colouring my argument about publicly run transport systems.

AndyE wrote:
So while you absolutely can hold London up as the shining example of a public transport system in Britain, you do need to remember why it is able to be so.


It's clear that better funding produces a better service. That's why I'm wary of people using our privatised trains as a comparison between public and private ownership when it could just as easily be a comparison between chronic under-funding and much higher levels of funding.

 
AndyE
1240394.  Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:19 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
It also sounds like a statement that could double up as a useful response the next time her mother-in-law asks her how much sex she's having ;-)


Ha! Fathers and their adult daughters never quite want to accept that the other has sex, so Elz and I keep up a comic pretence that the other 'isn't getting any'. Purely for amusement value, but maybe my son-in-law's mother should try it. Moving swiftly back to transport ...

dr.bob wrote:
Interesting figures, thanks for those. One question springs to mind which I suspect you might have some figures for. Passengers have for many years been bemoaning the fact that overall rail fares have been increasing well above inflation. This makes me wonder whether fares have always paid for two-thirds of the running costs of rail, or whether this is the result of many years of price rises.


That's an interesting question, and the answer to it is possibly not what you were expecting.

In the British Rail era, the expectation was always that fares paid about half of the running costs and the government the other about half. The precise figures changed from time to time depending on the state of the economy and the colour of the government, but never by much.

When John Major's government first suggested privatization, the claim was that the amount of government support would ultimately fall to zero. I doubt if anyone seriously believed that, least of all Sir John himself, but he did get it down to 15% in 1995-96. That year was a special case though. Some accounting trickery pushed nearly three years' worth of exceptional privatization revenue - some might call it asset stripping - into the one year, but it looked good in advance of the main part of the privatization of services in 1997.

But after 1997, the government's share of the cost increased steadily. That was partly because the Labour government thought (slightly) differently to its predecessor, but mainly because of the spate of infrastructure problems which led to major accidents and the collapse of Railtrack. By 2005 it was over 50%, and according to some sources the highest it had ever been.

First the Brown government and then the Coalition government decided that this wouldn't do, and adopted a policy of fare increases in excess of inflation to get to the one third that we are at now. For the moment, there are no plans to reduce the government share substantially below one third.

(Main source for this is a Commons briefing paper called Rail Fares and Ticketing, Feb 2017)

dr.bob wrote:
It also makes me wonder what percentage of TfL's running costs would come from fares if their prices had increased in line with other rail networks.


To work that out properly you'd need to know the elasticity of TfL fares, and we don't really. But if London Underground fares had been regulated in precisely the same way as National Rail fares, and if Oystercard didn't exist, then the Underground would probably require less government support than the National Rail system does. To over-simplify, busy trains in a densely populated area are cheaper to run per passenger mile than lightly used trains in the country.

Buses are a different story. If London buses were subject to the same funding regime as buses in the rest of England, the network would be hugely smaller than it is. At one point in the 90s it was Conservative policy that London's buses should be deregulated as in the rest of the country, but it became clear that this plan would be electorally damaging and it was dropped. Incidentally, the opposition to the plan was led by a backbench Labour MP who was not at that time well known to the general public outside London. His name was Jeremy Corbyn.

dr.bob wrote:
I find it surprising that Crossrail has a separate funding system. Is this a temporary situation while it's being commissioned, or is the plan that this will continue to be run as a slightly separate system? Or does nobody know at this stage?


It's going to be run as part of London Overground, not as part of the London Underground. So it will form part of the National Rail network despite being run by TfL, but (to over-simplify again) the government rather than TfL is paying for it to be built and so it's kept separate at the moment. Once it's actually in operation, we don't know yet whether its accounts will be kept separate from London Overground's.

This post is already far too long, so I shall come back separately on Edinburgh.

 

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