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Everything posted by Wayo

  1. Modern diesel trains are very nearly as quick off the mark as electric trains. The trouble is that many of the current diesel trains are 20+ years old and from a different technological era. There is already a chronic shortage of carriages on many diesel routes. All this loose talk of an electrification 'strategy' means there may be no appetite for leasing companies to build new diesels. Electrification would take decades and cost £bns, during which time overcrowding would get worse and woeful out of date designs would have to soldier on. There is no strategy to pay for this electrification. Never mind CBA - there is no financial case for it. The annual cost savings are small compared to the huge financial investment at the outset. Because Network Rail is a company limited by guarentee, ministers can just stand up in the house and commit £m to new investment without having to put it through the books. Last year their debt rose £2.23bn to £27.28bn. backed of course by the taxpayer. The modern diesels used on this line can comfortably do 100mph, but between Liverpool and York they rarely get close to this speed because of the track. It is the track that needs the investment, not electrification. The average speed of an express train from Liverpool - York is currently around 45mph. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18350419
  2. The diesel trains on that route can already do 100mph. The reason they don't is because of the track not what is powering the train. Roughly 1 mile of electrification costs the same as 1 carriage. Even electrification of a fairly small section like this costs hundreds of £m, for a very small benefit in acceleration, lower maintenance costs and lower carbon emissions. Just like HS2 there is no financial case for this sort of thing and the costs will go onto the Network Rail credit card (backed up by the taxpayer).
  3. If the second phase offers similar benefts to the southern half and is cheaper, then it should be built first? However the economic model relies on very well paid suits travelling to London, paying huge fares to justify the line. HS2 began life as an excuse not to build Runway 3, until it quickly became clear what a joke that argument was. In the coalition agreement, it is still highlighted as a low carbon transport policy, another loose argument which soon went up in smoke as it became clear that HS2 is about new journeys and not shifting people from cars or planes in any great number. The West Coast line is nowhere near capacity. It is full of trains (during the daytime) but the trains have too much First Class and a huge kitchen. There is already a scheme to extend some of the trains by 2 cars to get from 294 standard to 444 seats. Changing one of the First Class cars to Standard would increase this to 520 seats. If some sort of Crossrail to Milton Keynes is needed, fine, but it is the commuter lines into all corners of London that are full to capacity, not the West Coast. If this isn't enough to carry long distance travellers over the coming years, then fares are probably too cheap. It is madness to spend £35bn+ on a predict and provide transport scheme which loses so much money. The annual interest on that value of gilts would be a fair proportion of all the money spent on rail tickets in the country. Even if the volume projections were true, to say the scheme has a 'business case' amounts to shameless abuse of English language!
  4. I am speculating a bit, but here goes. Suppose London has three borough, Wharfside, Cheapside and Naffside. In month 1 sales were [email protected] £400k , [email protected]£200k and [email protected] 250k. Suppose in month 2 the Wharfside was knocked for six by a Stamp Duty levy and the figures were [email protected]£390k , [email protected]£197k , 40 @ £240k. The price falls in each individual borough would be much less than the overall fall. Statistically it is perfectly possible. Consider that sales volumes are only 50k per month in the whole of England and Wales across all house types and it gives an indication just how suspectible these daft indexes are to low volume levels. London is about 8k per month and there are 33 boroughs meaning each of those numbers is based on perhaps 250 sales! It does say in the notes they use Repeat Sales Regression to try and match repeat sales to weed out differences in the type of property sold one month against another, but it doesn't seem to be working very well? These indicies are rightly held in some contempt and only give the vaguest flavour of market direction over a longer period of time. If you are really looking to buy, I guess something like mouseprice which actually says what 3bed terraces in Lakeside are selling / have sold for of late are probably of more use for working out if the price of the sort house you would want to buy is actually rising or falling.
  5. Yet they have still wasted most of their plot with silly voids and micro gardens. Why do some of them have random window box attic windows and some not? Three houses next to each other built completely different distances from the kerb. Even designing buildings of similar height next door to each other seems to have gone of fashion. Some houses have a double garage taking up almost the same footprint as the house, other great blocks seem to have no parking at all. Perhaps they are the social element?
  6. These bloody apps are complete madness! Back in the olden days we used the internet to look at news and weather and an electronic calendar into which you could add tasks and birthdays. And people are not only renting these things but even paying an upfront cost for them! My great great grandparents even used to update their facebook status just by going onto the facebook website! Unless you are trying to run your business using the Iphone as a computer and a database, I struggle to see the point. Apple have certainly taken the homosapien species for a ride, but technology company stock should be valued at a far lower P/E ratio than something more stable and established. After all Apple is just a blend of technology and fashion, with the emphasis on the latter. When the next big thing comes along, if they are not right on top of it, they will be the next Nokia. Both these things are easily imitatable, hence all the legal scraps.
  7. Looking at their website, the Chief Executives Department covers several HQ functions for a very large council and is not the office expenses and salary of one person. It is only 4p per day for every resident of Cornwall.... As long as such arguments are used to justify waste, we will never, ever, get the budget deficit under control. They have over egged that pudding. As they freely admit they don't know how many people using tubes or buses are from the 8m who live in London or not. Clearly if you reduce the price of something to zero, people will use it more. Clearly these figures are nonsense for trying to somehow suggest reducing the price has made no difference to how much people use public transport! How many London resident pensioners paid to travel by tube before the Freedom Pass? The concessionary bus scheme costs in England alone costs over £1bn a year. But fear not it is only 4.5p a day to each of us! It does have some advantages such as encouraging operators to run efficient, popular services, rather than paying them to run buses whether anybody uses them or not. There is also a very good argument that people get less mobile as they get older and it is good for society to help get pensioners to the shops and stay active. However these entitlements have got completely out of control, and with an ageing population the costs will continue to spiral. There are also many other local schemes like free bus travel aimed for under 16s in London and others for the unemployed. I would back free passes for pensioners / people with disabilities allowed on buses only, and only within a persons local area, for example within a London borough or as far as the nearest large town, but no further. It could also be capped at say 12 single trips a week as most of them seem to be on smartcards nowadays. Paying goodness knows what for pensioners to go from Leeds to Scarborough for chips every day of the week is barking mad, as is giving free bus travel for wealthy pensioners who happen to be holidaying at the other end of the country and allowing every pensioner resident in London free access to the entire tube network.
  8. Where are you looking? They don't normally release the cheap tickets until about 3 months ahead. On the East Coast website you can get the Super Off Peak return for £59 but no Advance tickets yet. The Olympics doesn't even start until another two weeks after the 11th July! Who knows with all this teleworking during the games, a lot of people may realise come August that they don't need to go to London that often - Olympics or not.
  9. It may not make or break anything but it could easily be the difference between a contraction of -0.2% and growth of +0.1% which is the difference between a technical recession or not.
  10. The BoE and others have been looking at economic data for long enough to know if Bank Holidays have an effect or not. The pretty settled opinion of those that do so is that Bank Holidays have a negative effect on economic activity. Sure B&Bs might do well, people may also go shopping, but the real economy, where the real money is made, manufacturing and services basically shut down, things are not made, clients are not billed, factories close, business deals are not closed, contracts are not signed, business people don't travel or rack up their expense accounts and most people stay at home with the family. Cameron is such a rabid Royalist that two years running we have had an extra Bank Holiday for that family and £bn it has cost the rest of us. The Olympics may be more difficult to judge as there aren't several of them every year. On the one hand the government is spending money like water, on the other economic theory would caution about crowding out. For example the lack of hotel space in London means that London is effectively closed to regular tourists and many businesses / events too, many more will work from home and major music festivals have been cancelled. So we shall see...
  11. From 2001-2010 the population of England grew 5.6%, while the housing stock grew 7.0% http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/pdf/2039750.pdf http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/population-estimates-for-uk--england-and-wales--scotland-and-northern-ireland/mid-2010-population-estimates/index.html Looking at the Detailed RPI CPI tables My linkhttp://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Retail+Prices+Index Table 30b Jan01 - Jan11 RPI-X has risen 35.9% Table 38 Jan01 - Jan11 Rent has risen 28.7% As a footnote, non shop services have risen 67% and shop services by 50%!
  12. Correct! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/constructionandproperty/9098319/Bumper-profits-from-UK-house-builders.html Selling houses bought on cheap land bought in 2009.
  13. 10. A lot of housing stock is owned by the Buy to Let brigade. Tenants on 2 months notice aren't going to spend on upkeep, and nor do absentee landlords only bothered about the bottom line.
  14. Tax advantages of BTL encourage over investment. What is often referred to as V.I spin ditto. Government guarentees and artificially cheap credit ditto. Government restricts supply of housing and development land. Most houses in the U.K are built by the same half dozen companies, engaged in oligopolistic strategies, restricting building and the rate at which stock comes to market to protect margins. Prices go up, up and up, whilst supply flatlines or even falls, the exact opposite of the theory. Market Failure.
  15. Climate Change Committee? Network Rail have about 20,000 miles of track. Electrification costs about £1m per track mile. About a third is already done, so that leaves a bill of... £13.5bn? What will happen is that no leasing company from this day forward will touch diesel with a barge pole and the current diesel fleet will be run down until it falls apart. Meanwhile electrification will not keep up with the climate change fantasists, commuters will stand and other investment will be pared back. Electrification works in a mass transit context, with frequent stops, where there are long or heavy trains or where you need very high speeds. But most of the rail system isn't like that and most of what is - is the third that is already electrified or soon will be. In most places the payback in fuel savings is dwarfed by the capital spending. When you had steam trains it was a very different equation... Diesel works perfectly well and perfectly reliably for the 95% odd of the freight transport moved in this country. Modern diesel trains have high performance, reliable engines that are basically slightly adapted truck engines and are becoming more efficient all the time. If the oil does run begin to run out, a fuel solution will found in road transport, or we will have much bigger problems to worry about - like finding the time to grow our own food.
  16. Precisely - the £2bn a year that will be spent building it will cause a huge drain on investment everywhere else in the country. Labour had the idea of HS2, and the Tories latched onto it because it offered them a mitigation for their opposition to Heathrow runway 3. Now we have a Transport Sec who bitterly opposed the runway near to her leafy Putney constituency (classic NIMBY) no idea how aviation growth will be accommodated in the SE without said runway, and HS2 - which is about as expensive as Boris Island, and will have a modest effect on the relatively tiny London - Lowland Scotland air market. But even after HS2 it will still take 3hr30 to reach Edinburgh. As the current fast journey is 4hr with one stop, introducing tilting trains from Kings Cross would achieve a similar result far quicker and cheaper. As the anti brigade have pointed using first hand resarch, out the fast trains from Euston are nowhere near full at the moment, except when the prices drop immediately after the rush hour. This is despite the very cheap book ahead tickets, future lengthening to 11 carriages and the excessive number First Class carriages. There are three companies operating to Birmingham, but because they are also after Rugby and Milton Kenyes types, even the 'fast' trains stop quite often, so typical journey times are around 1hr25, when 1hr10 is perfectly achievable. The majority of the time benefit comes in the middle for example Manchester - Birmingham currently 1hr30 or Leeds - Birmingham currently 2hr. However the cost of this misadventure is astronomical - a typical politician's ego trip. The French only build high speed lines to the outskirts of major cities - LGV Est towards Strasbourg cost Euro7bn for 190 miles or around £30m per mile - similar to a UK motorway. Even 4% of £32bn is £1.3bn per year to find - a fair proportion of all the money spent on rail fares in the whole country. The projections of growth are a flight of fantasy, and if they are produced by Network Rail there is more than a hint of bias! The detail has been argued to death during the past few months. However our own Channel Tunnel, High Speed Line through Kent and now the Dutch High Speed line to Antwerp have all failed badly. Much better to deal with the places where there is overcrowding now and where planned improvements for commuters amount to little more than running to stand still. Britain should IMHO be looking at double deck commuter trains for major conurbations, but the cost of replacing all those Victorian bridges would leave no money for the PM's legacy project. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/9000166/High-speed-rail-A-250m-lesson-for-Britains-rail-enthusiasts.html
  17. Yes, I would be a lot more comfortable if they reduced their headcount by 5-10%. 20k these days is not a huge wage, and cutting all salaries above 20k would mean those close to 20k would drop a long way below those who just missed the cut. Salami slicing implies that everything the council does is equaly valuable, whereas in reality they should be cutting completely what the private sector would call non-core activities. They should also take a good look at the Police pay reforms - it is possible to cut pay / benefits and total pay for most but recognise that some roles like night shift response teams are very highly valued and should actually be better paid.
  18. They could start by reforming the current legislation which allows the scrap metal industry to operate on a 'cash in hand - no questions asked' basis. No wonder it is a criminal paradise. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8760335/Scrap-metal-dealers-face-curbs-as-cable-thefts-increase.html
  19. Dead wrong! Send them an up to date meter reading, or they will estimate a very low one for you, then when you correct it, the whole of the difference is charged at the newer prevailing rate. It happened to me on a water bill - I couldn't believe their systems are so primitive but it is true. http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/news_story.asp?id=195798& EDF are proud to be an official sponsor of the 2012 Olympics, so they need your money! http://www.edfenergy.com/about-us/sponsorship/london-2012.shtml
  20. There are very few first line surface warships now - about 20, with overseas committments in the West Indies, Falklands, Gulf, Libya and combatting African piracy to name a few. But there does also seem to be a problem with them being scattered particularly around Portsmouth and Plymouth a lot of the time. In fairness there are always warships in harbour on our shores, just not this designated ship actually out patrolling or at very short notice to do so. The modern ships are far more capable than those in sent to the Falklands in 1982, especially against air threats, but getting rid of carrier based jets and NIMROD surveillance planes just smacks of grasping for quick savings by ditching things that have been proven to be valuable assets time and again. Despite the end of the Cold War the Russians and others are regularly probing our air / sea defences for weaknesses. And if they can find and neutralise the sub carrying the nuclear deterrent, well it isn't much of a deterrent. http://www.rusi.org/analysis/commentary/ref:C4D4C20CB26473/ http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3193616/Russian-nuclear-submarine-plays-cat-and-mouse-off-British-coast.html http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/7969017/Russian-subs-stalk-Trident-in-echo-of-Cold-War.html
  21. I do not know where on earth they get their data, but this would be shocking if it were true. Even the takeaway brigade are providing hot food at home. I would be interested to know what they are serving cold. I saw a programme some time ago that offered children 'diagnosed' with ADHD a sensible diet. Not surprisingly once their diet of high sugar foods and caffeine laden carbonated drinks was changed, their behaviour and schoolwork dramatically improved. Of course rice stored at room temperature all day and probably all night as well is a significant food poisoning risk. I trust they were prevented from eating it? Anybody who has ever run a household budget will know that takeaway food is the biggest waste of money going. Basic nutritious foodstuffs like bananas, baked beans and tomatoes are available all year round at practically negligible cost. Even fresh meat from the chilled section and stir in sauces are far cheaper than takeaways, never mind frozen or tinned. We keep hearing that tackling disfunctional families is top of the government agenda, yet there is precious little evidence of much being done about it. Perhaps if the kids are taught to cook at school, they can run a breakfast club teaching their parents how to do it? I don't doubt for a moment there are kids with scurvy in the United Kingdom in 2011, though I don't know how many. Until this sort of nonsense is sorted out and the parents responsible are dragged out by the scruff of the neck from in front of their set top boxes, these so called 'wrap around' social services will remain a grim necessity.
  22. Only mortgage interest payments are included in the RPI measure, not the cost of the house or the size of the loan which generates the interest. RPI-X strips out mortgage interest. CPI does not include it either. The other main difference between RPI and CPI is that CPI assumes that consumers buy less of things that get more expensive, dampening the effect of rising prices. There is continued talk of including house prices in CPI but would not be a small undetaking. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/35ca2dce-e78b-11df-b5b4-00144feab49a.html#axzz1cxTe5II9
  23. £88k, central Swindon, not a bad area either, far from being a chav estate. 3 receptions, and a kitchen, but also a downstairs bathroom. http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-17706018.html The nicer Old Town is £97.5k. Reduced by £10k. Bargain. http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-28534816.html OK The cheapest Semi - http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-26615977.html
  24. Trying to enforce these daft rules on holiday home occupancy and second homes is like pushing water up a stream. Getting rid of the discounts is very sensible, as well as higher tax bands on larger properties. Eric Pickles also needs to look at why places like Westminster get so much money they only charge nominal rates of Council Tax, and set about cutting their funding. Then the local residents e.g HMQ would need to make a greater contribution. There have been various figures bandied around suggesting her bolt hole in Victoria has a similar council tax liability to a 4 bed semi in the shires.
  25. 80% doesn't ring true to me - think how many commuters and private sector execs use it as well as those bargain basement leisure travellers? Most of the money from First Class tickets goes straight back to government anyway - the train companies are franchises let in a competitive process. Think of the book "The Undercover Economist" explaining why coffee shops make no money on very high margins for flavoured hot water... A flexible return from London to Edinburgh is less than £300 in steerage and less than £400 in first class. Perhaps they should put a levy on taxi fares instead, or at least legislate to force them to provide computerised receipts. Returning to the original subject, I can't see people giving up on their cars, at least for very long. More efficient vehicles mean that per mile the cost is barely rising in the long term. Parking charges are probably doing more to make public transport look attractive. Over a cycleable distance to work the bus and private fuel costs will be so low it can't be worth doing unless part of some New Year fitness regime? A mile of toil against 15p in a private car? I think not!
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