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rockershovel

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  1. .....I’d hope that the workforce WERE earning more than under BR, given that BR was wound up twenty-five years ago. Certainly a friend of my wife’s, on the ticket counter in Peterborough, doesn’t share that view. Working at Werrington has been instructive. I have regular contact with the ALO, COSS etc and I don’t believe that any ex-BR personnel are present, apart from a few semi-retired contract personnel. I don’t believe that there is any real collective memory of BR still present, most are gone and the rest are so overlaid with memories of subsequent events that no useful picture survives. I’d also offer the comment that IR35 is going to cause a serious shock to the numerous agency personnel in the coming year....
  2. Exactly. It’s my firm belief that the basic concept, that private management can inherently produce a profit from any rail service, is fundamentally flawed. I’m also certain that rail privatisation was carried out by the John Major administration for ideological reasons and no clear overall strategic vision for the actual process of operating a mass public transport network, ever existed. I firmly believe (and indeed, Stationmaster appears to circumnavigate this above) that fragmentation and casualisation of the workforce has been a primary goal of privatisation, throughout. In context, that “efficiencies and savings” are primarily achieved by wage erosion, loss of training and opportunity, and loss of job security. This poses particular problems for any government facing election, because the electorate generally, don’t support this; why would they? There is also the matter of “socialisation of risk, privatisation of profit”, an interesting phrase which appeared in the public debate post 2008. Again, this has little to commend it to those voters, who persist in their stubborn belief that the function of government, is to govern the country in the common interest. All attempts to resolve this conundrum subsequently have foundered on these rocks.
  3. What is meant by “The basic idea is that a group of rail services, with a certain degree of specification regarding which trains are required to be run but with some freedoms remaining on which to make commercial decisions which might enhance the profitability the franchisee will achieve.”? “A group of rail services..” WHAT? Operate as a coherent whole, to overall strategic direction? Operate as the franchisee thinks fit? Operate at commercial rates? Operate at specified rates? Must be maintained by the operator, fit to be passed to their successor? During the recent “Matter of Britain and Europe”, a term was bandied about - “magical thinking”. It appears to mean “an unrealistic belief that desired outcomes, often not clearly defined, will appear for no readily identifiable reason” and this also appears to apply in considerable degree, to rail privatisation. I’ve never understood quite WHAT the John Major administration envisaged as emerging from their mad dash to privatise before the electorate expelled them, as was clearly inevitable by then.
  4. Another problem is the false question “which would you rather have - a rail service or a new hospital?” Taken in isolation, outside the context of overall public spending, it is deeply flawed. I would bet folding money, any day of the week, that the electorate would happily vote for the discontinuation of numerous outgoings which would pay for both, and more besides.
  5. There is a fundamental problem with any sort of subdivision of any large organisation - there are elements which are simply not profitable, can never be profitable, but are felt to be necessary in the wider scheme of things. Even the USA finds Amtrak to be a necessary evil, in the interests of having any public transport at all. ECML is a classic example. This route has been financially problematical for many years, but it would be inconceivable NOT to have a direct route from London to Edinburgh. Royal Mail is another example; it simply cannot be compared to courier services, because it is legally obliged to provide services which couriers simply disregard as not profitable.
  6. Re Stationmaster, above, I’d be interested to know what the “philosophical basis of the franchising system” actually IS, in his view? As far as I could ever see, it amounted to “privatisation at all costs” to “the usual suspects” plus a series of new companies (Jarvis being a classic example) involving clear conflicts of interest
  7. I’m not sure about “don’t behave as expected”, the ruthless and irresponsible behaviour, combined with the practice of “cheapness at any price” and abrogation of responsibility, were immediately recognisable to anyone who had worked through the “management contracting” years of the 1980s and early 1990s. The employment practices were often straight out of “McAlpine’s Fusiliers” and the ultimately catastrophic financial over-reach was pure 1980s. Contractors MAY make good servants but they ALWAYS make bad masters. The same goes for attempting to let contracts which you don’t understand in sufficient detail. This has been shown repeatedly in the chronic cost over-runs and failures of delivery which have plagued government IT projects, especially those let to Indian and Asian contractors (because letting contracts to agents based outside your legal jurisdiction, operating under very different cultural assumptions and speaking a language you don’t speak, is NEVER a good idea). It’s pure bad management practice and NEVER succeeds. Combine lack of core competencies, with the lack of probity and sense of duty (particularly, the failure to exclude conflicts of interest and ideology) which has been increasingly obvious in governments of all descriptions for a long time, and the present outcome is entirely predictable, and has long been so.
  8. Well, there are only a finite number of options. Either the government wishes to run things directly (which it clearly doesn’t); or it wishes to underwrite private sector profits at public expense, in all circumstances (which it would probably still prefer to do, but which has become unelectable); or it tries to micro-manage without providing clear strategic direction (which has been the case, and has become unsustainable); or it provides overall strategic direction through a policy of holding controlling interests in more-or-less cost-plus contractors (which is, on the evidence, the least worst option - although the capital investment, employment and training policies of those contractors has become problematical, electorally).
  9. I do like the power supply cart, I must do something like that! For some reason the full description you quote, doesn’t appear in the link? I have a Williams brass USRA Pacific with no sounds fitted, runs fine on either 12v DC or 20v AC. So does my Williams diecast Hudson.
  10. They are indeed, LED lights. The loco illustrated has combined power, ie it will run on AC or DC, so the train current passes through the rectifier. For the K4 I’ll have two separate circuits - the existing one for lights and markers, and a separate tapping for DC traction current. That way I retain reversing function, at the expense of AC running
  11. That’s heavy stuff, even by OGRR standards... the crux of my problem is, that MTH tried to run too many features, from a power supply with an insufficient number of insufficiently differentiated commands, resulting in a loss of functionality and reliability, and a tendency to become locked into loops. DCC, powered by modern electronics, provides the command system necessary to run so many features.
  12. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing. It runs nicely when it runs, and it’s primarily a loco for club outings like NAROGG where losing the sound effects, isn’t important. The loco I illustrated appears to have a rectifier fitted to power the headlight and firebox glow, but in the process has ended up losing its reverse in consequence. If I do this to the K4 as a temporary measure, I’ll separate the power supply so it will reverse from track current on DC
  13. I’ve just acquired an early 90s, 3-rail MTH O Gauge K4 locomotive which, like most such devices is designed to run on 20v AC, rectifying this to 12v DC for the can type motor. It has some rather curious electronics which are best described as “pre-DCC pseudo-DCC” and as seems common, they have long since ceased to work reliably, if they ever did work that is; this one doesn’t seem to have seen much use. Another loco in the same box, looks like this inside; the previous owner has apparently lost patience and stripped the electronics, replacing them with a rectifier (the loco runs nicely on AC or DC, but won’t reverse direction). I’d like to convert the electronics on the K4 to run on AC or DC, although just DC would be acceptable, especially if it would reverse on DC. So, I need a rectifier, and I’m open to suggestions. I don't understand electronics and have less than no inclination to educate myself on the subject. This isn’t a DCC conversion project, nor am I interested in endless debate on the subject; any such posts will be deleted. I am looking for a rectifier, consistent with my “black box” level of understanding. Any suggestions?
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