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Author Topic: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes  (Read 2955 times)

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Offline Junna

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Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« on: August 08, 2014, 01:23:06 AM »
I am sorry but you clearly are not aware of the history behind the Edinburgh (a place in Scotland, which is part of the United Kingdom) tram system. For 14 km of tram track, the cost has well exceeded £1 billion (now is closer to £2 billion). Construction of the tram system took 5 years (starting in 2007), including having to re-lay all the track because they engineered it so poorly that a reasonably cold winter (still warmer than in Switzerland or Germany, both of which have no problems with tram systems) resulted in it cracking the road surface and rendering the track unusable. During the 5 years of construction they shut off major roads and commercial districts resulting in the closure of several dozen businesses and a loss of business well into the billions. It then took an extra two years before testing began in 2013 and eventually 1 line opened up in may this year. From planning to the first tram running was 11-12 years. During this time most of the tram line was cut so it is only a fraction of its original intended size (no idea if the rest is even being built now).

I'm well aware of the issues around the Edinburgh tramway, and don't came at me with your condescending attitude like I don't bloody know what and where Edinburgh is. The sort of reasons behind those problems are not simulated, as Simutrans is not a simulation of a national economy and the political scene, so I don't think it's always a good reason to base costs on real ones. Simutrans does not simulate construction/engineering incompetence, political manoeuvring, corruption, regulations, and various unrelated overhead costs with too many fluctuating variables, so I don't think this is a good idea. Infact, the entirety of the UK railway system is reliant on state subsidised as it is and it is not commercially viable with very few exceptions (which in the absence of the whole network would be useless anyway), so it's very unsound to base it all on real costs.

The only systems in the world that are commercially viable are those that have exceptionally high traffic (like MTR in Hong Kong) or systems with an overall very high freight-loading due to poor road ways in the area, general high-loading (or severe cuts to maintenance and operational costs by way of skipping around safety regulation in lieu of U.S. "shortline" railways) or regulation in place favouring railway transport. So, if we wanted to simulate the whole debacle we'd make it impossible to turn a profit directly and make the Public player have to subsidise all operations through a system of franchising as well as having to pay for the infrastructure with the player not having to pay the actual costs... But that wouldn't be a very good game, would it? A game where you inevitable lose? Maybe we could make bribes part of the game then. Bribe the regulatory authority, get subsidies, suck like Virgin and rake in the state money.

Offline DrSuperGood

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Re: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2014, 02:00:01 PM »
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and don't came at me with your condescending attitude like I don't bloody know what and where Edinburgh is
This is quite rude. I was mentioning it because the world is a large place and chances are you would not know where it is since it is just some regional capital inside a small country. As it is a lot of people (at least a billion?) do not even know where the United Kingdom is in the world.

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Infact, the entirety of the UK railway system is reliant on state subsidised as it is and it is not commercially viable with very few exceptions (which in the absence of the whole network would be useless anyway), so it's very unsound to base it all on real costs.
Yet they still pay their directors a ton of money... There is also the question how they cannot be making a profit with the amount that passengers are charged (of which Network Rail gets most according to some sources). Also why do their signals keep failing so much? If they managed the power infrastructure like they did train lines we would have significant periods of no electricity, probably on a daily basis. Well sooner than expected as that is set to happen anyway this winter or next year as there is no longer enough base load generation in the UK.

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So, if we wanted to simulate the whole debacle we'd make it impossible to turn a profit directly and make the Public player have to subsidise all operations through a system of franchising as well as having to pay for the infrastructure with the player not having to pay the actual costs...
As it is, it is very difficult to turn a profit with trains, at least until the cheaper steal track, better engines and coaches arrive. The player Volvo (hope that is the correct name) who manages the dark blue company in the online server knows this too well where it is only his interest and aging freight shipping lines keeping him from falling into the red. The maintenance on tunnels and elevated way infrastructure might be also a factor, do they really cost so much more maintenance in real life than standard track?

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But that wouldn't be a very good game, would it? A game where you inevitable lose?
The fact railways exist must mean they are deemed economically viable. This can be modelled with the proposed changes to the public service provider where it gets revenue from other sources such as tax and things. Even if it loses money on the lines shipping goods (the traffic does not cover their cost) the economic benefit might (industries working generate tax, passengers moving increase overall tax representing better economy and things). All you would be collecting then is an operating fee.

I was thinking of proposing this for standard for paksets like Pak128 where maintenance costs are used to trim profit. There road transport is virtually not viable as reasonable speed roads have huge maintenance costs so you need to literally have them used to maximum capacity for them to turn a profit. As a result people mostly resort to "cheating" by simply dumping the road infrastructure on the public service provider, and some times paying a nominal fee for use or just let it run at a loss and make up the money with trains or planes elsewhere.  By making all roads publicly owned and paying for how much you use them this would make road transport in such pak sets a lot more viable. It also keeps roads publicly owned so avoids the navigational hazard of privately owned roads (the number of bridges I had to place over them...). This could be extended to all infrastructure and potentially solve a lot of the rail mess that builds up over the map (under used parallel lines) but sadly many people do not know how to build railways properly so it would likely result in a lot of problems in multiplayer.

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2014, 10:11:09 PM »
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Also why do their signals keep failing so much?
A big reason is because of cable theft. One time last year the same gang targeted the same section of track three days in a row. Each time Network Rail replaced the cables they were stolen again.

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There is also the question how they cannot be making a profit with the amount that passengers are charged
In other European countries passengers might only pay one quarter of the running and maintenance costs of the railway. In the UK the government wants that to be over half but still some services will never be commercially viable and will require subsidies.

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For 14 km of tram track, the cost has well exceeded £1 billion (now is closer to £2 billion).
Not quite - costs are approaching £1 billion maybe. That's still significantly more than the £600 million that the entire network was supposed to cost of course.

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including having to re-lay all the track because they engineered it so poorly that a reasonably cold winter (still warmer than in Switzerland or Germany, both of which have no problems with tram systems) resulted in it cracking the road surface and rendering the track unusable
Well, relaying at couple of hundred metres of track maybe - certainly not all 14km as much hadn't been laid at that point.

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During the 5 years of construction they shut off major roads and commercial districts
Certain roads were closed for small lengths of time - maybe a few months at most. None for a whole 5 years!

Offline Junna

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Re: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2014, 05:51:17 PM »
This is quite rude. I was mentioning it because the world is a large place and chances are you would not know where it is since it is just some regional capital inside a small country. As it is a lot of people (at least a billion?) do not even know where the United Kingdom is in the world.

I found your insinuation very rude.

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As it is, it is very difficult to turn a profit with trains, at least until the cheaper steal track, better engines and coaches arrive. The player Volvo (hope that is the correct name) who manages the dark blue company in the online server knows this too well where it is only his interest and aging freight shipping lines keeping him from falling into the red. The maintenance on tunnels and elevated way infrastructure might be also a factor, do they really cost so much more maintenance in real life than standard track?

The costs of the elevated tracks were increased to deter players from building ludicrous viaducts that spanned entire cities, as I recall, this was quite an annoying issue in older multiplayer games (it looked hideous - viaducts right over the city offices). Of course, they are not much more expensive if at all compared to conventional track laying aside from the much higher initial investment cost.

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The fact railways exist must mean they are deemed economically viable. This can be modelled with the proposed changes to the public service provider where it gets revenue from other sources such as tax and things. Even if it loses money on the lines shipping goods (the traffic does not cover their cost) the economic benefit might (industries working generate tax, passengers moving increase overall tax representing better economy and things). All you would be collecting then is an operating fee.

This is because the government has been propping up the railway sector precisely due to these concerns of the economic totality. It left to its own internal "rational market" devices, with the current set-up, there would be little or no passenger railway services in the UK or most of Europe, and a dramatic reduction in the goods services as well. The government of course realises that the increased wear and tear on the roads as well as increased congestion and long-term pollution trends makes this a poor decision, and thus steps in. But these things are contingent on political and economic concepts which are not simulated in Simutrans, and would be cumbersome to simulate both in terms of consuming processing power while contributing nothing to the gameplay. The parts that are viable often depend on sections that are not, etc. Generally railway investments overall are not cost-effective and today happen only with state support of some kind. Only very long-haul goods are generally feasible on the whole. Considered from a perspective of economic reductionism and "self-sufficiency", all railways in Sweden would be closed to passenger services, for example.

The point I try to make is that simulating reality is in some cases not desirable, because the reality is a convergence of occurrences and chances which are not certain, and we should, where possible, steer away from excessively limiting the potentialities of game-play by forcing the games time-line into the restrictive river-bed of real political-economic history. Of course, things are based on real vehicles, and so on, so this happens already; but this should not be taken to the ridiculous extent of assuming that the game has to develop along the exact lines of the real world.

Online prissi

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Re: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2014, 09:43:35 PM »
I think the British private train comapnies are raking in more public money than needed and wasting money on operation too. They all are monopoly on their connection: No competition at all! They are quite small (most of them), meaning higher maintenance and more spare units.

Even bare number reflection this: Subsidizes grew real 135% (including inflation) from 1996 to 2005 without gain. Instead most other countries in Europe could reduce their subsidizes considerately.

There are many companies who do not get subsidizes for anything but regional transport. Switzerland, for instance only subsidizes regional transport. (And the swiss rail network length only half of the british per person.) But a full ticket for unlimited travel over switzerland is owned by 400.000 (or 5% of the total population and hence is roughly 3000 GBP).

Furthermore, in Switzerland I have never heard lame excuses like "This train is 70 minutes late because we lost part of the overhead wires." (Hourly connection in York, train reeks of molten platics), "Sorry the train is delayed because we lost our driver" (snowstorm at gatwick, most likely frozen switches), "We are expection unexpected problems with the signals" (Cabridge to London at the exit from Hitchin to the empty Cambridge track) ... Instead once I heard in Basel: "Sorry your DB intercity from Franfurt to Zurich is 6 minutes late. A replacement service is waiting on track 5."

Or compare it to Japan: Almost no subsidizes (apart from construction costs for high speed lines). Prices similar to the UK though. The Shinkansen pays for almost any other operation. (Therefore Kyushu railway and Shikoku railway did not do so well.) Expensive to travel though, but in relation to the income not far from Britain.

Even Germany did not subsidize mainly intercity operation, and still the tickets are about 1/10th to 1/3rd of the brtish ones. Even Eurostar is cheaper to travel to Lille than from Waterloo station to Basingstoke ...

Offline Junna

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Re: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2014, 12:45:01 AM »
I think the British private train comapnies are raking in more public money than needed and wasting money on operation too. They all are monopoly on their connection: No competition at all! They are quite small (most of them), meaning higher maintenance and more spare units.

The franchising model was really quite inept and the worst imaginable sort of privatisation (not that I would ever be in favour of such an endeavour, but if you're going to do it... the whole open-access network plan that the EU implemented after Swedish precedent is generally not very good either and complicates maintenance and makes for poor streamlining of information to passengers, effective ticketing and so on - this is less noticeable in Germany as DB still does maintenance [now that DB owns almost every railway or logistics company in Europe...])

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There are many companies who do not get subsidizes for anything but regional transport. Switzerland, for instance only subsidizes regional transport. (And the swiss rail network length only half of the british per person.) But a full ticket for unlimited travel over switzerland is owned by 400.000 (or 5% of the total population and hence is roughly 3000 GBP).

This was generally the preferance in Sweden as well. Originally, it was not considered a problem that the railways were not profitable (Swedish state railways always had a rather narrow profit margin owing to operations of 'socially necessary' or 'military importance' routes), though efforts were made to minimise the losses as well as save the ailing private railways through a policy of nationalisation of all private railways that went bankrupt from the 1910's until the eventual "Unification of the railway network", i.e. the complete nationalisation, decreed in 1939 and completed by 1946-7.

Many of the private railways were of local character, unprofitable, and very slow (many of them built for 27km/h max speed operation for cost reasons, and only marginally improvement was considered economic at all). The 1953-1962 "Traffic Study" and the subsequent 1963 Transport Law decreed that "each means of transport should bear its own costs", as well as providing a simplified way of closing lightly used lines; the Swedish Beeching Axe, as it were. From 1950 until 1990 the network contracted significantly (mostly through the closure of former private railway routes).

In preparation for the closures, the network was divided into the "railways of regional character" and "mainlines", where the former would potentially be eligible for subsidy and the latter would be commercially operate (though frankly even their viability was limited).

The state railways, under pressure to become economically self-sufficient, shedded unprofitable routes to counties and city governments where operations where then franchised.

This striving also lead to the eventual separation of the maintenance department into a separate body for infrastructure, leaving the state railways as a operating department only. This occurred in 1988 under the 1988 Transport Act, which in turn was the main inspiration for the loathsome EU Directive 91/440 of 1996, which postulated the splitting of all European state railways and established the "Open Access model".
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Furthermore, in Switzerland I have never heard lame excuses like "This train is 70 minutes late because we lost part of the overhead wires." (Hourly connection in York, train reeks of molten platics), "Sorry the train is delayed because we lost our driver" (snowstorm at gatwick, most likely frozen switches), "We are expection unexpected problems with the signals" (Cabridge to London at the exit from Hitchin to the empty Cambridge track) ... Instead once I heard in Basel: "Sorry your DB intercity from Franfurt to Zurich is 6 minutes late. A replacement service is waiting on track 5."

That does happen a lot in Sweden. Copper theft and whatnot. They started trying to mark the copper in an attempt to spur its black-market scrap value but that's being slowly implemented, so in the meanwhile you seem to have a traffic stop for days every few weeks on the Western Mainline. The points freeze all the time, ("too costly to install point heaters..."), signal failures - constant, solar curves on the rails in the summer. In early May, as I travelled to Gothenburg, there was a suicide at Skövde railway station - we were left standing at a small station for over 3 hours due to total traffic suspension and little information. On the return trip an up goods had derailed on a passing loop on the approach to Skövde, fouling one of the mainline tracks - delayed 28 minutes.

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Or compare it to Japan: Almost no subsidizes (apart from construction costs for high speed lines). Prices similar to the UK though. The Shinkansen pays for almost any other operation. (Therefore Kyushu railway and Shikoku railway did not do so well.) Expensive to travel though, but in relation to the income not far from Britain.

Then again - railway closures are continuing apace in Japan. Japan is almost like it is in an extended Beeching cuts. Kokutetsu resisted the early closures generally, but in the 1980's the unprofitable lines began being cut in the preludes to the privatisation. Some were sold to the "Third sector companies" (almost all owned by cities and local community groups along the routes), but the majority of the third sector companies are doomed to close in the forseeable future. The majority of the Japanese private railways are not profitable on the railway operation side, but make up for it with the profits of real-estate and similar sources of income related to the railway business instead. This is not feasible for many of the third sector companies because they are established rather recently and do not own much land, and the semi-permanent economic recession and the dire demographic future make them unlikely to ever be able to use this as an advantage.

Hokkaido has seen over 1,000 line kilometres cut (May 2014 closure of of the remains of the line from Esashi being the most recent). Outside of urban centres, services are quite worse than they are in the UK or Germany. Kyushu Passenger Railway company, JR Freight, Hokkaido, Shikoku remain state-owned due to the fact that they are not profitable (though Kokutetsu was, in 1984, after some debts were annulled and transferred away and after some nasty cuts, profitable as a whole). Probably what remains of the Shin'etsu Mainline will be closed after a few years as a third sector operation once the Joetsu Shinkansen opens.

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Even Germany did not subsidize mainly intercity operation, and still the tickets are about 1/10th to 1/3rd of the brtish ones. Even Eurostar is cheaper to travel to Lille than from Waterloo station to Basingstoke ...

Sweden introduced these unbearable "flexible market prices" for tickets some year ago. Now, if you buy tickets far in advance, you have to pay ridiculous fares (and I mean really absurd - Stockholm to Gothenburg for about 200 euro per person), and if you wait until the last time, you can get it quite reasonably priced (roughly, maybe 30 euro, sometimes less if you are lucky). It certainly isn't very passenger-friendly, and long-distance seasonal passes are all outrageously expensive...

Switzerland does quite well when it comes to the goods operations as well. The terrain helps in that regard, I suppose. I don't know about the current situation of goods operations in Germany, but in Sweden the amount of goods carried on rail has continued to decline dramatically even in recent years of environmental concerns about road haulage (recently both the state railways former goods operator, now spun off as a separate franchise, Green Cargo and the largest of the open-access companies announced they were going to lay off almost half of their employés).

Online prissi

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Re: Edinburgh tram network and subsidizes
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2014, 10:31:54 PM »
About Japanese rail closures: Due to depopulation and aging (there are villages where the average age is not above 65 years!) those lines are doomed because there is almost no demand. However, during my 15 years close encounter with Japan the only line closures I experienced where in connection with introduction of parallel Shinkansen lines and when a Taifun removed most of the infrastructure (three longer bridges) of a shorter branch line.

And for ticketing: In Germany and many on many of the Englich (and probably also British) operators, advance tickets are cheaper. (Not in Switzerland or Japan!)

About good services: First DB AG owns Schenker, which is Europes biggest truck operator (or was it at least). However, it also owns rail goods operation in the UK and many other countries (Germany, Nederlands, Denmark, Poland, Swizterland, Spain, Italy) It is thus also the largest rail freight operator in Europe. Still compared to the US freight rail is not a strong, since waterways, shorter distances and shorter trains with heavy used tracks forcing night time operation as some of the most important hurdles.