Northern Class 195, Manchester Airport

Rail Franchising, 1994 – 2020: An Honest Obituary

System exacerbated fragmented nature of National Rail network

Rail Franchising, a part of British railway policy since 1994, was laid to rest at the age of twenty-six. Its original aim was to raise standards across the rail network and improve on services launched by the outgoing British Railways Board. Today, it was announced by Transport Minister Grant Shapps that all franchised operations will be replaced by Emergency Recovery Management Agreements for six to eighteen month periods.

Continue reading “Rail Franchising, 1994 – 2020: An Honest Obituary”
Northern Class 195, Manchester Airport

Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For

Or: is the Grayling Curse to blame for Northern’s woes?

The rail franchising system is dead. Long live the rail franchising system. In the last year, we have seen a recasting of the rail franchising system in favour of management contracts. Since 1994, rail franchises in Great Britain have mirrored former British Rail profit centres, which in turn have roots in BR’s sectorisation programme by Sir Robert (Basil) Reid.

Continue reading “Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For”

Fares Unfair 2017: Priced Out of the Powerhouse?

East of the M60 draws comparisons between last year’s rail fares and this year’s price rises

Class 185 DMU, Manchester Piccadilly station
Greater Manchester’s rail scene has come on in the last seven years since this picture was taken. East of the M60 dreads to think how much an off-peak fare to Stalybridge has gone up since 2010.

First the spin: that rail fares have risen by an average of 2.2%. In reality, many casual train travellers do not believe this for one second. Especially if they make a local journey; at least with some long distance trips, you have the option of Advance Purchase tickets.
Continue reading “Fares Unfair 2017: Priced Out of the Powerhouse?”

Academies for All: The LEA DOA for Political Gain

How academies for all plan is a shoo-in for privatisation

Belligerent ghouls run English schools
Spineless ideologues with tiny minds…*

Since the start of the 20th Century, most of England’s schools have been accountable to the public. Methods of governance have included school boards, governors, and local education authorities. Private Schools and Public Schools [like Eton College] have continued to coexist. Continue reading “Academies for All: The LEA DOA for Political Gain”

Mossley Open Market: A Case Against Privatised Public Space

Why Mossley market ground must remain in public hands

Last Whit Friday, the people of Mossley and a few others from surrounding areas (myself included) saw the town’s procession of witness in glorious sunshine. Almost 35 years ago, the same venue played host to Mossley AFC’s F.A. Trophy side. The then Mayor of Tameside, Stalybridge North Labour councillor Charles Meredith, gave the F.A. Trophy finalists a civic reception. Continue reading “Mossley Open Market: A Case Against Privatised Public Space”

Could It Be G4Mess? Illicit Dog Fouling Soon To Be Privatised

Tameside MBC set to outsource dog fouling fines collection

From next year, one borough east of the M60 motorway is set to dish its dirt to a private contractor. Literally. Continue reading “Could It Be G4Mess? Illicit Dog Fouling Soon To Be Privatised”

East of the M60’s Budget Statement: The Same Old Scene

Recession broods on, the downturn’s not over

  • Beer tax escalator scrapped with 1p cut in duty;
  • Frackers free to turn Blackpool into The Earthquake Capital of Europe;
  • Public sector’s 1% pay cap to continue till 2016;
  • Corporation Tax rate to reach same rate as present VAT rate by 2015;
  • Sweet Francis Adams for everyone else.

In the run-up to the 2010 General Election, a spoof poster campaign by Labour’s activists resulted in one poster being inspired by the Life on Mars spin-off Ashes to Ashes. It showed a picture of David Cameron posing as Gene Hunt atop an Audi Quattro. The poster cajoled voters into preventing a return to the 1980s. A decade which saw high inflation, great inequality, marginalisation of Northern England and the Celtic Nations, and of course, deindustrialisation. Continue reading “East of the M60’s Budget Statement: The Same Old Scene”

Tameside, In the Eye of the Tory Storm: April 2013 and Beyond

A Cuts Scene Investigation Special: Prospects for our borough

In 2009, our borough was in the midst of recovering from the global economic downturn along with numerous others in the United Kingdom. Even so, there was some optimism in the air. Despite voting ‘no’ to the congestion charge, Ashton-under-Lyne – thanks to a different funding package – got her trams. Though internet shopping began to make inroads, the Arcades Shopping Centre was slated for future extension. Public services were well funded. People still had money, and confidence, though energy prices started to climb. The new IKEA Store also helped things. Continue reading “Tameside, In the Eye of the Tory Storm: April 2013 and Beyond”

Fares Unfair (for Families in) 2013: Comparisons for Two Adults and Three Children

Comparisons between rail, tram and bus fares, and private car costs for a family of five persons

M5000 interior, Failsworth
Somewhere between Hollinwood and Failsworth, the 4.2% rise will fund extra trams – and possibly TfGM’s £42million legal bill against Thales, as well as the forever delayed East Manchester Line.

To get the best out of this article, I recommend you read my previous one in conjunction with this installment. Continue reading “Fares Unfair (for Families in) 2013: Comparisons for Two Adults and Three Children”

Fares Unfair 2013: Rail, Tram and Bus Fares and Private Car Costs Compared

For everybody reading this post on East of the M60, a Happy New Year. If you’ve renewed your rail or tram season ticket, it may be worth getting your mortgage sorted out (but not until you’ve read this).

Twin Squeaks on Platform 1, Preston railway station
Meanwhile in Preston, an extra 4-5% on last year’s fares still get you one of these Leyland National derived railbuses. Sad but true.

Along with the usual stories from the Public Records Office, the announcement of rail fare rises has become an annual event on this septic isle. As usual, mid-market newspapers complain about the effects of a 5 – 10% increase on season tickets. Each year, they forget that bus fares rise by a similar amount or more outside London and Northern Ireland. Continue reading “Fares Unfair 2013: Rail, Tram and Bus Fares and Private Car Costs Compared”