Top ten government salaries in privatised rail industry

“The 10 highest-paid public servants in the country have been revealed – and every single one works in Britain’s widely-privatised rail industry.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne earns the most at up to £750,000 per year – almost five times more than Theresa May’s £150,000.

The head of HS2 Ltd, Mark Thurston, is in second place, earning as much as £605,000 while he maps out a multi-billion pound high-speed line.

Not one of the top 10 is a woman.

Cabinet Office figures show a total of 442 officials at government departments and quangos earn at least the same as Mrs May – up 14% in just one year.

This includes 70 who work for Network Rail, which is an “arms-length” public body, and 51 staff at HS2 Ltd, which is a firm funded by a government grant. Train firms are not on the list as they are private companies. …”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/meet-britains-10-highest-paid-11702402

Seaton’s only direct bus to RDE to cease on 21 January 2018

Seaton used to have 6 direct buses a day to Exeter, then it went down to 4 and there are now only 2 and no e on Sundays. The X52 service will end on 21 January 2018. The inly alternative thereafter will be the 9A via Sidmouth, necessitating a change in Exeter to get to the RDE.

Seaton, with its closed community hospital, new Jurassic Visitor Centre and Premier Inn truly will be the end of the Exeter/East Devon health and transport Universe!!!

If you live in Seaton, perhaps consider moving to Cranbrook which has better road and rail transport (though it does have other major drawbacks!).

Monday-Friday:
People with hospital appointments, jobs or education in Exeter will only be able to catch buses at 6.33, 7.05 or 7.50 am. First buses for bus pass holders to Exeter will be 10 am arriving 11.30. For those returning from Exeter, the last bus will be 19.05 arriving Seaton 20.14.

Saturdays:
6.50, 7.50 and 9am. Last bus from Exeter 19.05

Sundays:
First bus to Exeter 9am
Last bus to Seaton: 18.05

“One in five wouldn’t be able to get to work using just public transport”

25% of working people cannot get to their place of work by public transport, so it’s one in four in this area.

“The Government is desperate for us to ditch our cars and replace them with zero-emissions electric models or use public transport in a bid to reduce air pollution in the country.

However, a new study has highlighted that more than 10 million Britons would be unable to get to work if they could only rely on buses, trains and other modes of public transport.

Direct Line Car Insurance said a fifth of workers either don’t have a public transport link into their nearest town centre or would have to use three or more modes of shared transport to get to work. … ”

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-5159395/Fifth-Britons-work-using-public-transport.html

Two more utility franchises cost taxpayers dear – very, very dear


VIRGIN EAST COAST

The East Coast rail franchise will be terminated three years early, avoiding the embarrassment of another private firm handing back the keys to the government but potentially forfeiting hundreds of millions in premiums due to the Treasury.

Under a rail strategy announced by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, a new partnership model will replace the franchise contract of Virgin Trains East Coast (Vtec).

The train operator, a joint venture led by Stagecoach with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, had pledged to pay £3.3bn to run the service until 2023 when it was reprivatised in 2015 after six years in public hands.

Instead, Vtec is likely to pay a fraction of that sum, with the bulk of payments due in the final years of the franchise.

The firm signalled that it also expects its payments for the next three years to be cut. In the first full year of operation, it paid £204m. Shares in Stagecoach jumped 12% on the news.

Andy MacDonald, the shadow transport secretary, told the Commons that the strategy announcement was “a total smokescreen”. He said: “The real issue is that the East Coast franchise has failed again and the taxpayer will bail it out.”

Pointing to the share price rise, he said: “Markets don’t lie. The secretary of state has let Stagecoach off the hook for hundreds of millions of pounds. He’s tough on everyone except the private sector.”

GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY

More questions were raised by a separate decision to give First Group another contract to run Great Western Railway (GWR) up to 2024 after it was controversially allowed to continue running the service, despite dodging £800m due to the government in an original contract.

The franchise, which runs commuter services into London Paddington and long-distance trains to Wales and the south-west, is likely to be broken up, under plans published by the DfT. The biggest commuter franchise, Govia, which operates the Thameslink, Great Northern and troubled Southern services, will also be broken up.

DfT will extend First’s current GWR franchise contract by another year, to April 2020, and then give a direct award for two more years, with an option to double the tenure.

First has run the trains during the botched upgrade of the route by Network Rail, which has seen costs overrun to almost treble the original budget and stretches of the electrification project abandoned to save money.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/29/east-coast-rail-franchise-terminated-three-years-early-virgin-trains

Wrong Minister at wrong station, even though he stayed at a hotel directly opposite the right station in Exeter!

“They (the Government) sent the Roads Minister to talk to us about grand new plans for our rail network.

The press call was for 9am on Platform 6 at Exeter St David’s station.

Jesse Norman took the train to Exeter on Tuesday. He stayed in the Premier Inn, and strolled across to the station where he was due to meet Devon County Council leader John Hart and the media.

There was only one problem: Mr Norman went to Exeter Central, instead of to Exeter St David’s.

In the end he jumped into a cab to the right station, shaving a few minutes off an already tight interview schedule. …”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/shambles-government-sends-wrong-minister-852341

“Tories accused of trying to quietly re-privatise Britain’s rail infrastructure” (including south west)

The plan is for Great Western Railways to be split into two:

“The plans would create a new West of England rail franchise to provide long-distance services between London, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall together with local and regional services across the south-west.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-future-of-the-great-western-franchise

“Transport secretary Chris Grayling says the government wants to break up the troubled [Great Western] Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise when the current contract comes to an end, and look into reopening lines closed during the notorious Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

But the proposals also include publicly-owned Network Rail sharing its responsibility for running the tracks with private train operators.

Britain’s rail network – the tracks, bridges and infrastructure – was taken into public ownership after a bungled experiment with privatisation left it close to collapse.

Railtrack, the privatised franchise, went bankrupt after being hit with the cost of repairs and compensation from the Hatfield rail crash in 2000. …

… Mr Grayling denied that the plans amounted to the splitting up and privatising of Network Rail.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, we’re not privatising Network Rail. Network Rail will remain in public ownership, but Network Rail is going to be devolved into a series of route businesses, it’s not going to be one big central blob, it’s going to be a series of locally-focused, or route-focused, operations around the country.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tories-accused-trying-quietly-re-11606147