Map ©Doe’s Directory of Bus and Rail Timetables, Web Sites and Enquiry Offices.
(Click on map to go to Barry Doe’s website from which a high resolution version of this map can be downloaded as follows. First click on the link Rail Operators in the British Isles and download the corresponding pdf file. Then open the downloaded document and click on the link http://www.barrydoe.co.uk/railmap14.pdf which is under the Miscellaneous heading towards the bottom of the first page.)
Barry Doe produces a comprehensive series of fact sheets on the UK’s bus and railway services, all of which can be downloaded as pdf files from his website. I was particularly interested in seeing the map that he produced entitled, 2010 Great Britain National rail Passenger Operators, a thumbnail of which is reproduced at the head of this article. If anyone wonders why railway services are so expensive on this small island a glance at Barry’s map provides a big clue.
The fragmented railway system that Britain ended up with after John Major’s botched privatisation is surely an object lesson into how not to reorganise a nation’s railways. One would have thought that consultants would be travelling around the world advising governments and railway companies on all the lessons to be learnt from the mistakes that were made in the UK. Unfortunately, the consultants, lawyers and bankers were the one group that did benefit from the UK’s rail privatisation.
After surveying the field like vultures circling the skies looking for their next meal the papercrats descended on Poland where the politicians were stupid enough (or perhaps greedy enough?) to buy the UK privatisation model hook, line and sinker. Not content with separating railway operations from railway infrastructure, the Poles have gone one further and even split up the management of railway infrastructure into a number of separate companies.
PKP S.A. owns the land on which the railway is built. PKP Linie Kolejowe administers the track over which the trains run. PKP Informatyka runs the computers which provides the rest of Poland’s railway companies with IT. PKP Energytyka delivers the electricity which keeps the trains running, PKP Telekomunikacja provides the telephone and Internet links and dozens of independent contractors are responsible for keeping everything running.
Now there are proposals to fit locomotives with electricity meters! As the Jersey child abuse campaigner, Senator Stuart Syvret, regularly exclaims in exasperation, You couldn’t make it up!
(The first part of this article is also being cross posted on Tunnel Vision.)