Friday, 28 January 2011

Why has it closed?

An allegory

The Wrexham and Shropshire Railway runs its last train this evening.

This railway has had the highest score for passenger-satisfaction of any railway* in the UK. So why is it closing?
  • First, it is an 'open access' carrier, that is, unlike all the other mainline passenger services in the UK, it receives no government subsidy.
  • Secondly, throughout its short time on this Earth, it appears to have met the uncompromising obstruction of those other, bigger and longer-established railway companies with which its services abutted and overlapped. all of which are state-subsidised – and all less satisfactory to their users.
The outcome was that, having started with great plans, it was unable to maintain even its initial range of services. It did, however, create and hold on to a high-quality of service, recreating some of the civility and standards of the past within the constraints forced upon it by finance and the limits put upon what it could do by relatively more powerful competitors.

A contradiction?

One is left with an interesting question.

Of course the lack of state subsidy must have been a factor in the W&S's demise. But was the high level of customer-satisfaction in some way related to the fact that the state was not involved?

What do you think of that, my friend?


Gone before, but not forgotten... but you never know:

An appetite has been created and the struggle continues. 

Meanwhile, good luck to the remaining two open-access survivors, First Hull Trains and the Grand Central Railway Company.

And no, I did not go down to the station to see the last service run. It's below freezing, and I'm no gricer!

Previous item on this topic
* To use the proper terminology, the W&S has been a TOC (train operating company) not a railway as such because it does not own the track that it runs on. To dispense with jargon, for most people we are talking about 'railways', the term used here.



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