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Old October 5th, 2012, 12:08 AM   #1441
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>In the end, their profits come from the subsidies

Go tell that to Virgin, won't you?

But in all seriousness, so far, the two wholly-private operators, Grand Central and Hull Trains (Correct me if I'm wrong) appear to be making a substantial profit with no government subsidies.

I honestly believe it's the crooked franchising system which prevents money being made, hence a wholly-private RENFE could do quite well for itself.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 02:03 AM   #1442
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Originally Posted by Sopomon View Post

>In the end, their profits come from the subsidies

Go tell that to Virgin, won't you?

But in all seriousness, so far, the two wholly-private operators, Grand Central and Hull Trains (Correct me if I'm wrong) appear to be making a substantial profit with no government subsidies.

I honestly believe it's the crooked franchising system which prevents money being made, hence a wholly-private RENFE could do quite well for itself.
The difference with Open Access operators is that they can cherry pick the shedules and routes they want to operate. Making money on premium service, few times per day inter-city route really isn't that difficult, especially when the track access charges you pay don't nearly cover the money the maintenance and investment in the infrastructure they use.

It's very different to running a full franchise on commuter routes. If you fully privatised RENFE with no subsidies, the Cercanias network would be largely dead, as would almost all media distancia services. Places like Almeria, Jean, Teruel, Lorca and what not would probably fall off the map altogether.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 06:32 AM   #1443
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The negative side of an almost-profitable Renfe is that there is a lot of underused infrastrucutes just because it's not profitable to operate them
That´s not the whole picture.
It is certainly true in some cases, but in others it is a clear and blatant case of mismanagement, not only by the current Renfe-Operadora, but also by the old Renfe (former Spanish BR), and the current Adif (the Spanish National Rail).

It is ridiculous that the works on the gauge conversion of the Costa Blanca line were halted in the 70s, now forming the Silla to Cullera and Gandia line, when in the 80s the sector from Gandia to Denia appeared as "under construction" (they never did put two bricks together). But certainly that line should have been extended to Denia, then to Benidorm, and then to Alicante, and now it would be one of the most used Renfe lines.

Same as the Torrevieja branch, closed in 1985 because it was in a horrible state, and leaving Torrevieja as one of the two cities in Spain with a population larger than 100,000 inhabitants and no train (the other being Marbella which is in a similar case).

There´s the case of the commuter C5 line in Seville: how many decades the Sanlucar la Mayor station has seen trains passing by without stopping there because of... no reason at all? Like three decades! Seriously, can any rational human being consider that town not worthy of seeing trains stop in it for more than thirty years? Well, now this is fixed (though not completely, because the Seville to Huelva trains still don´t call at Sanlucar la Mayor, which is absolutely ridiculous since that station could provide a decent interchange to the Cercanias C5 commuter line that now forces the passenger coming from Huelva and going to say, Salteras, to go to Seville and then backwards to Salteras again... not to say "forced to take a bus").

I could go on forever in such cases... they get to my nerves because this is clearly mismanagement, and they lose loads of money in such ridiculous situations that are so easy to solve.

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I think that the management of Renfe in some areas is terrible because they only know how to operate intensive routes... The use of ferrobuses in some areas could improve a lot (or recover) the service whithout affecting that much to the accounts.
You got another point here: Renfe has been using for the last thirty years, thains that were not adapted to the lines. Small lines with three-car DMUs while only one car would be needed, big commuter lines with the same three-car DMUs packed when a six-car DMU would be needed (not to say EMU, but that would involve electrification, which seems to be forbidden outside of the HSLs), and so on.

Last edited by 437.001; October 5th, 2012 at 06:38 AM.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #1444
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I can think in tons of examples like that... for example in my town (in the Toledan part of La Sagra region) there is a station which is open and functional (because there is a branch that starts there) but the last train which accepted passengers stopped there like 15 years ago (and the population doubled since then)... maybe this station had insufficient passengers for those "huge trains"... but the fact is that most of them still stop there because it's a one-way railway... WHY NOT OPEN THE DOORS?! If the station really has that low ussage, the station master or the personal in the train can sell the tickets... in this case the stop is justified even if nobody boards the train and it would cost 0€.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 09:09 PM   #1445
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Selling tickets on-board is outdated. Electronic ticket machines should be able to do the job. Or Internet/SMS/app-based ticketing.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 09:28 PM   #1446
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I can think in tons of examples like that... for example in my town (in the Toledan part of La Sagra region) there is a station which is open and functional (because there is a branch that starts there) but the last train which accepted passengers stopped there like 15 years ago (and the population doubled since then)... maybe this station had insufficient passengers for those "huge trains"... but the fact is that most of them still stop there because it's a one-way railway... WHY NOT OPEN THE DOORS?! If the station really has that low ussage, the station master or the personal in the train can sell the tickets... in this case the stop is justified even if nobody boards the train and it would cost 0€.
Is it Yuncler or Villaluenga?
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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:38 PM   #1447
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Selling tickets on-board is outdated. Electronic ticket machines should be able to do the job. Or Internet/SMS/app-based ticketing.
Yes and no... Internet/SMS/App-based is not that confortable for this kind of trips... and there is always a person in the train checking that everybody has its ticket and charging fines... and in some cases it sells tickets (that's very common in some stations that receive a lot of passengers and not everybody can get the ticket before the train arrives).

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Is it Yuncler or Villaluenga?
I was too descriptive

Congratulations for your extensive knoweledge in geography.

In fact I'm not sure if this still happens as there is less traffic each year but it has happened for years.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 11:03 PM   #1448
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Selling tickets on-board is outdated. Electronic ticket machines should be able to do the job. Or Internet/SMS/app-based ticketing.
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Originally Posted by OriK View Post
Yes and no... Internet/SMS/App-based is not that confortable for this kind of trips... and there is always a person in the train checking that everybody has its ticket and charging fines... and in some cases it sells tickets (that's very common in some stations that receive a lot of passengers and not everybody can get the ticket before the train arrives).

As far as I know:

- Internet tickets are available for all trains. Now, it doesn't matter if regional or long distance train, all of them ar available on the web page.

- There are some little stations where only regional trains ticket can be bought... even if stopping long distance trains. You can ask for a regional train ticket on board, but not for a long distance without fine (because they require reserve seat and you are entering without knowing seats availability). In those cases only buying in other station (for instance a return ticket) or on internet is possible.

- Every ticket, doesn't matter if on desks or internet, have a ticket-password. In case of internet, a free SMS can be sent to you with it and the wagon and seat number.
But renfe remember always that SMS is not the ticket. You must print your ticket with the bar-code.

- Since last summer, it is possible to download the ticket on you mobile phone and show it. If the screen can be scanned, no need to print it. You will have the ticket data on SMS too... but it is required to have the bar-code available.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 05:03 PM   #1449
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Originally Posted by Sopomon View Post
But in all seriousness, so far, the two wholly-private operators, Grand Central and Hull Trains (Correct me if I'm wrong) appear to be making a substantial profit with no government subsidies.
Unfortunately Open Access operators have not proved a success story - WSMR failed badly, and in its latest annual accounts Grand Central apparently suffered a loss of £9.5 million from a turnover of £16.7, bringing their overall losses since they started operations in December 2007 to £40 million. Hull Trains is profitable, or has been anyway, but i dont think the money they've made could be described as 'substantial'.

Chris

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Old October 6th, 2012, 07:44 PM   #1450
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It is ridiculous that the works on the gauge conversion of the Costa Blanca line were halted in the 70s, now forming the Silla to Cullera and Gandia line, when in the 80s the sector from Gandia to Denia appeared as "under construction" (they never did put two bricks together). But certainly that line should have been extended to Denia, then to Benidorm, and then to Alicante, and now it would be one of the most used Renfe lines.
Though I agree with the logic of merging the Valencia-Gandia and Alicante-Denia lines into a new Alicante-Valencia coastal line, I don't think it would have been possible anyway due to the creation of FGV and thus conflicting ownership structures. FGV wanted to "metrofy" it's lines rather than run them as regional railways.

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Same as the Torrevieja branch, closed in 1985 because it was in a horrible state, and leaving Torrevieja as one of the two cities in Spain with a population larger than 100,000 inhabitants and no train (the other being Marbella which is in a similar case).
I hear you on that one. I lived in Torrevieja before moving to the UK, and back then most of the track bed was still there (don't know of it is now?), even the rails in places. Meanwhile the road to Alicante was getting ever more busy . The railway should never have been cut, but again from what I understand it was a case of the government pressuring RENFE to axe regional routes and cut costs. There was a road building boom at the time, and neither the central government nor Valencia really gave a crap about rail until the damage had already been done.

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I could go on forever in such cases... they get to my nerves because this is clearly mismanagement, and they lose loads of money in such ridiculous situations that are so easy to solve.
Privatisation doesn't help though, even in cases where the incompotence is at RENFE and not government level. In Birmingham, on the Stourbridge-Solihull commuter line there was 6tph service, which stopped at every station from Snow Hill to Stourbridge *except* for a single station - Old Hill - where 4 of the 6 trains shot straight through for no reason whatsoever. This was also the nearest and most convienient (bus wise) station for Halesowen, a large suburb with no rail link. The free market fairy sure wasn't making sure that the decision makers were sitting the right way round on their toilet seats when they thought that one out.

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You got another point here: Renfe has been using for the last thirty years, thains that were not adapted to the lines. Small lines with three-car DMUs while only one car would be needed, big commuter lines with the same three-car DMUs packed when a six-car DMU would be needed (not to say EMU, but that would involve electrification, which seems to be forbidden outside of the HSLs), and so on.
Again, more of this is due to government restrictions than RENFE itself, as far as I can tell. The government has HSR fever and the regional and cercanias networks are being starved to pay for it. I expect having more regional involvement in Cercanias in future may help in some cases. In this case I do think ENFE hasn't made the case strongly enough to central government for regional (and to a lesser degree, commuter) rail. There needs to be more active engagement by RENFE with regional government, and teaming up to make the case to Madrid for cercanias and media distancia services.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 11:19 PM   #1451
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Originally Posted by Neb81



We shouldn't be surprised by this, though. Private operators are neither charities nor not-for-profit public institutions. They exist solely to make as much profit as they possibly can for their share-holders. They have absolutely no other concern. Why then, do we expect them to be willing to provide a service for lower cost than an institution that is doing it on a cost-only basis?
The experience in many countries Is that private companies often can deliver a service at a lower cost than public companies, and even make a profit on it. Tendering out railway operation has been quite successful in Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands and Switzerland.
You reasoning has two flaws.
1) You assume that a public company has no capital costs. It does. where it gets the capital for nothing from the government this should be considered a subsidy.
2) When private companies have to compete for a contract they have an incentive to be efficient and keep costs low. State run companies don't have these incentives.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 11:56 PM   #1452
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Though I agree with the logic of merging the Valencia-Gandia and Alicante-Denia lines into a new Alicante-Valencia coastal line, I don't think it would have been possible anyway due to the creation of FGV and thus conflicting ownership structures. FGV wanted to "metrofy" it's lines rather than run them as regional railways.
Latest news is that FGV doesn´t know much what to do of the Benidorm-Denia part of the line. And there was this project (sold politically as 'HSL' though it wasn´t, it was classic railway), to expand the line from Gandia to Alicante. But then the crisis came to stay.

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I hear you on that one. I lived in Torrevieja before moving to the UK, and back then most of the track bed was still there (don't know of it is now?),
Now it´s mostly a motorway, though in some parts the track bed still exists.

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even the rails in places. Meanwhile the road to Alicante was getting ever more busy . The railway should never have been cut, but again from what I understand it was a case of the government pressuring RENFE to axe regional routes and cut costs. There was a road building boom at the time, and neither the central government nor Valencia really gave a crap about rail until the damage had already been done.
This closure was a disgrace.
They closed lines that could see many many passengers today, they also closed lines which were essential to the maintenance of any rail network with common sense, yet they kept (and keep) some lines that could be closed for this and that reason.
Now Torrevieja has no trains.

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Privatisation doesn't help though, even in cases where the incompotence is at RENFE and not government level. In Birmingham, on the Stourbridge-Solihull commuter line there was 6tph service, which stopped at every station from Snow Hill to Stourbridge *except* for a single station - Old Hill - where 4 of the 6 trains shot straight through for no reason whatsoever. This was also the nearest and most convienient (bus wise) station for Halesowen, a large suburb with no rail link. The free market fairy sure wasn't making sure that the decision makers were sitting the right way round on their toilet seats when they thought that one out.
Sometimes I reckon that we are not alone in the world, there´s more idiocy on the planet than expected...

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Again, more of this is due to government restrictions than RENFE itself, as far as I can tell. The government has HSR fever and the regional and cercanias networks are being starved to pay for it. I expect having more regional involvement in Cercanias in future may help in some cases. In this case I do think ENFE hasn't made the case strongly enough to central government for regional (and to a lesser degree, commuter) rail. There needs to be more active engagement by RENFE with regional government, and teaming up to make the case to Madrid for cercanias and media distancia services.
Not really, even before the construction of the first Spanish HSL it was something that was already happening.
You go to France, and for small lines you have an 'autorail', one car.
For commuter lines you get like eight-car EMUs or so.

In Spain, for small lines you get a three-car DMU/EMU, same as for commuter busy lines: a three-car DMU/EMU.

Though I admit there´s a difference in population, Spain is less populated and has in most cases lower population density.

Last edited by 437.001; October 7th, 2012 at 12:04 AM.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 01:08 AM   #1453
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The experience in many countries Is that private companies often can deliver a service at a lower cost than public companies, and even make a profit on it. Tendering out railway operation has been quite successful in Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands and Switzerland.
Germany: DB is state owned and accounts for the overwhelming majority of services. As such it is able to drag up the standards of the private operators.

Netherlands: NS and HiSpeed are both state owned and account for the large majority of traffic.

Sweden: SJ and Green rail-freight are both state owned and run the vast majority of services.

Switzerland: Swiss Federal is state-owned and again handles the overwhelming majority of the standard gauge system. The RhB is also state-owned (technically, 94.5% state owned).

In all the network you highlight, the private companies play minor roles that do not significantly contribute to the operational culture of the network, but are essentially just bottom feeders picking up minor contracts, mostly on secondary routes. The examples you supplied also show the error in your assumption that a state-owned operator automatically implied a monopoly - since none of the above are monopolies, but nonetheless are the preferred operator for the vast majority of services in all of these examples - suggesting that rather than being more efficient or offering better service, the private providers are competitive only in a minority of cases, mostly on minor routes where there is less operational complexity, and quality of service is not such a pressing issue.

Also, please explain how and by what mechanism are private companies are meant to be cheaper? I have heard this about privatisation before but no one has ever provided a concrete example of this efficiency, or how it is generated in some way that can only be achieved by a private sector organisation and cannot possibly come about in any other manner. There is nothing mystical about share-holders and so I genuinely do not see any reason why they are credited some innate ability that the managers of a not-for-profit institution cannot posses.

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You reasoning has two flaws.
1) You assume that a public company has no capital costs. It does. where it gets the capital for nothing from the government this should be considered a subsidy.
I don't assume that. I am simply working on the basis that a state owned operator does not have to generate a net profit, which private operators do, and which the state is paying for above and beyond total costs. Furthermore you seem to imply that the government doesn't give capital "gifts" (separat from subsidies) to private rail operators - but they clearly do. Purchasing rolling stock or funding electrification which track access won't even nearly cover - these are all capital investments gifted to private companies, either directly or indirectly.

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2) When private companies have to compete for a contract they have an incentive to be efficient and keep costs low. State run companies don't have these incentives.
Then how come Virgin burn through £20m+ subsidy to run WCML intercity routes, when BR managed to turn a profit on them?

Last edited by Neb81; October 7th, 2012 at 01:08 AM. Reason: formatting
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Old October 7th, 2012, 02:45 AM   #1454
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Latest news is that FGV doesn´t know much what to do of the Benidorm-Denia part of the line. And there was this project (sold politically as 'HSL' though it wasn´t, it was classic railway), to expand the line from Gandia to Alicante. But then the crisis came to stay.
I wondered what was going to become of the northern stretch when the tram was started. Linking it to Gandia and having a re-gauge still seems sensible (a Benidorm-Denia-Gandia-Valencia regional service would do very well indeed, I suspect), but it'd need FGV and ADIF to reach some deal - and for FGV to forget about metrofication of the route north of Benidorm.

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Now it´s mostly a motorway, though in some parts the track bed still exists.
Yay for sustainable transport

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Never underestimate humankind, they will always find a way to limbo underneath that bar, no matter how low you set it

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You go to France, and for small lines you have an 'autorail', one car. For commuter lines you get like eight-car EMUs or so.

In Spain, for small lines you get a three-car DMU/EMU, same as for commuter busy lines: a three-car DMU/EMU.

Though I admit there´s a difference in population, Spain is less populated and has in most cases lower population density.
Well, I can understand operators being wary railbus/autorail designs, since their record is mixed. The UK dived into them and we got the "Pacer" class and are still suffering for it, though they have been used here for services on which the concept was never really suitable for. For some very quiet routes it could work (i.e. Xatvia-Alcoi), freeing up some DMUs for use elsewhere.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 01:42 PM   #1455
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Does anybody have any news on the Majorca Railway upgrades and electrification?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 03:18 PM   #1456
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Then how come Virgin burn through £20m+ subsidy to run WCML intercity routes, when BR managed to turn a profit on them?

Not sure where you get the facts from, but it's been well reported that in recent years, Virgin's been paying money back to the government, in light of the successes it's been having on that route.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 06:00 PM   #1457
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Does anybody have any news on the Majorca Railway upgrades and electrification?
The line Palma-Inca has been electrified a few months ago.
The sections between Inca to Enllaç, Enllaç to Sa Pobla, and Enllaç to Manacor remain diesel.
The extension from Manacor to Arta as a tram-train has been postponed.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 09:07 PM   #1458
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Originally Posted by Neb81

Germany: DB is state owned and accounts for the overwhelming majority of services. As such it is able to drag up the standards of the private operators.

Netherlands: NS and HiSpeed are both state owned and account for the large majority of traffic.

Sweden: SJ and Green rail-freight are both state owned and run the vast majority of services.

Switzerland: Swiss Federal is state-owned and again handles the overwhelming majority of the standard gauge system. The RhB is also state-owned (technically, 94.5% state owned).

In all the network you highlight, the private companies play minor roles that do not significantly contribute to the operational culture of the network, but are essentially just bottom feeders picking up minor contracts, mostly on secondary routes. The examples you supplied also show the error in your assumption that a state-owned operator automatically implied a monopoly - since none of the above are monopolies, but nonetheless are the preferred operator for the vast majority of services in all of these examples - suggesting that rather than being more efficient or offering better service, the private providers are competitive only in a minority of cases, mostly on minor routes where there is less operational complexity, and quality of service is not such a pressing issue.
Sorry, but you are missing my point. In the Netherlands and Germany the arrival of private companies winning tenders from the incumbent has forced the DB and NS to become more efficient, in order not to lose more contracts. The same is happening in Switzerland, where for example SBB lost the entire Bernese S-bahn to the BLS. So basically most of what you write above is false.
So the private companies were able to produce a product at a lower cost to the customer (a region tendering out transport services) the incumbent. This can only happen when companies actually compete.

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Also, please explain how and by what mechanism are private companies are meant to be cheaper? I have heard this about privatisation before but no one has ever provided a concrete example of this efficiency, or how it is generated in some way that can only be achieved by a private sector organisation and cannot possibly come about in any other manner. There is nothing mystical about share-holders and so I genuinely do not see any reason why they are credited some innate ability that the managers of a not-for-profit institution cannot posses.
This is not about ability, it is about incentives. There is nothing magic about that. A private company must become better continuously in order to survive, a state company doesn't need to do that. Every organization will resist change. So if an organization can avoid change it will avoid change. If you want change (and improvement is change) you need to make sure that you give a very strong incentive to change, and the threat of going bankrupt does wonders here.

A concrete example: in the Netherlands the NS resisted introducing one man operation on low traffic lines. It is only after they lost a few tenders to companies that were prepared to use one man operation that they finally considered it themselves.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 09:26 PM   #1459
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The same is happening in Switzerland, where for example SBB lost the entire Bernese S-bahn to the BLS.
In December 2004 (Rail 2000) BLS gave its IC routes to SBB, receiving as compensation Bern's S-Bahn network.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 12:50 AM   #1460
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The line Palma-Inca has been electrified a few months ago.
The sections between Inca to Enllaç, Enllaç to Sa Pobla, and Enllaç to Manacor remain diesel.
The extension from Manacor to Arta as a tram-train has been postponed.
Are they going to upgrade the Soller line and Extend the Metro to the Airport?
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