Why the UK Runs Trains to Nowhere
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Why the UK Runs Trains to Nowhere

September 6, 2019

This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your website for 10% off at
squarespace.com/HAI. This train should not exist, and, if were
up to the train company, it wouldn’t, but it’s not. You see, in the UK, trains work off a franchising
system where the UK government awards contracts to different private companies to
operate rail services. For example Virgin Trains East
Coast operate the east coast route, ScotRail operates most trains in Scotland, TransPennine
express operates many trains to and from Manchester, and there are about two dozen other
operators, but this particular train that shouldn’t exist is operated by Chiltern
Railways. They
mostly operate trains to smaller towns between London and Birmingham and all of their trains
to London terminate at Marylebone station…
except for one—this one. This particular train
operates from the nearby London Paddington station—the terminus for Great Western and
Heathrow Express services. But Chiltern railways has to operate services
to London Paddington because this document says so—their franchise
agreement. This document is basically the
contract between the railway company and the UK government so to modify this document they
have to ask the government and, as we all know, sometimes governments aren’t very
efficient. So here’s your super simple guide to closing
a railway route in Britain. Step one: perform
a “transport appraisal.” This is basically an analysis of the effects
that the line closure will have on passengers, the environment, and the economy. The strait-forward three stage fourteen step
process of creating a transport appraisal is explained in this handy 35 page document
featuring this super user-friendly flowchart. Once you’ve completed that, just give it
to the UK Department of Transport who will analyze your
analysis. Step two: publish your proposal of
closure including the findings of your transport appraisal six months before the proposed closure
in one local newspaper circulating near the proposed closure and in two national newspapers
for two weeks continuously. Step three: open a twelve-week consultation
period including public hearings where anyone who disagrees with the
closure can protest. Once you’ve completed those
three easy steps, then you’ll hand everything over to the Office of Rail and Road who will
decide whether or not you can close the line. As you might have been able to tell from my
not-at-all-sarcastic explanation, it’s not easy
to close a franchised rail route, but nowhere in the agreement does it say how often Chiltern
Railways has to operate their route to Paddington—it just says they need to. So they operate it…
once per day. Now compared to the US where cities as big
as Houston, Texas only see three trains a week and have stations that look
like this, a daily service from Paddington probably
seems normal, but the station this service goes to, High Wycombe, sees 95 trains a day
from the normal London station—Marylebone. One train per day is nothing for a UK train
route, especially from London. Chiltern Railways, like many other train companies,
have decided it’s just easier and cheaper to operate an infrequent
service to fulfill their franchise agreement instead
of going through the rather expensive formal closure process. But some rail companies have pushed the boundaries
of what is considered “service” to an extreme. Northern’s franchise agreement requires
them to operate a train between Stockport and Stalybridge which they fulfill by running
one train, one-way, once per week. Between
Stockport and Stalybridge there are two stations which are therefore serviced by one train
per week. Closing stations is just as difficult as closing
lines so they won’t do it. Denton station
therefore recorded only 144 passengers in the past year while Reddish South saw just
94. Thirty
miles to the north, London Midland is required to operate services to Barlaston Railway Station,
but companies are allowed to temporarily operate rail replacement buses during maintenance. This company, however, has interpreted “temporary”
as 13 years as they’ve operated rail replacement busses to this station since 2004
to fulfill their obligation. The Chiltern Railways service from London
Paddington to High Wycombe is definitively unprofitable. On many days there are zero passengers. On the day this footage was filmed, there
was only one. This bureaucratic closure process is meant
to protect the public by preventing companies from closing unprofitable smaller
stations, but in reality most of what is does is make
these ghost trains. If you’ve just realized “ghost train”
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  • Reply Jacob Slater April 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    tbf stocky to staly once a week is fucking bollocks

  • Reply Deag Edwards April 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    they're called Parliamentary Trains, for reasons dating back to the 1840s

  • Reply Christian April 26, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    The taxpayer can cover the expense so who cares.

  • Reply Lewis Baker April 26, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Love listening to him mispronounce almost every location ๐Ÿ˜‚

  • Reply Will wager April 26, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    The agreement doesn't make ghost trains you have named 3 in the country, it protects smaller stations from large rail companies cutting them off. They charge obscene volumes of money for tickets so I hope they do have to run services that can be a pain

  • Reply Mr A April 27, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Why I love UK. Puts the people first.

  • Reply jade slaughter April 27, 2019 at 5:51 am

    So the policy is exactly doing what it is meant to do

  • Reply Jon White April 27, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    "Inefficiency and bureaucracy" as the video suggests, or actually a process to ensure public services are protected for the benefit of citizens and democratic oversight of the public transport system?

  • Reply The Frantic Traveler April 27, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Interesting and hilarious

  • Reply Alex April 27, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Good, public money bought and built this infrastructure so it should prevent private companies taking the piss, thatโ€™s why 3rd world countries like the USA have fallen into disrepair.

  • Reply Crescent Rose April 28, 2019 at 3:18 am

    โ€œIt just worksโ€ is notably a bad advertisement.

  • Reply James Palmer April 28, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    It's "stay lee bridge "

  • Reply Lucas 53 April 28, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    The pronunciation of marylebone

  • Reply Shantarah April 28, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    The train service in ireland is a public one and itโ€™s soooooo bad

  • Reply SumIT Krips April 29, 2019 at 8:55 am

    I mean knowhere

  • Reply Sana Zulfiqar April 30, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    It has gone now

  • Reply Rob N April 30, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    I did work experience on Chiltern Railways back in 2003 as my Dad used to work for them. I did the ticket checking with the guard (for the 4 passengers on the train) and got to go in the cab with the driver which was awesome as I've always loved trains. Then we got to Paddington, grabbed a quick coffee and then back off the Wycombe. That was a great week, I got to do a bit of everything, train dispatching, announcements at Marylebone, working the ticket office, handing out fines at the barriers. Great week that.

  • Reply tfc 343 May 1, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    berming – ham lol

  • Reply Blonde Creature May 2, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Totally misleading title.

  • Reply Charlie Fleming May 3, 2019 at 1:01 am

    It is supposed to be expensive and difficult to close a station in the UK. The "Beeching Axe" closed huge pieces of the railway on a study done over just a few months! So lines that looked unprofitable for six months were hugely popular for the other six. Many lines have reopened or in the process of being reopend or campaigned to be reopened.

    The short sighted way that many lines were closed and land sold off has caused so many problems today with traffic on roads and congestion and over-crowding on the railways.

  • Reply simgorm May 3, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I got so far and gave up with the annoying American voice over and mispronunciation, America has terrible train services for passengers.

  • Reply Josh Bate May 4, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Ghost train – Great band name! Already exist. Am listening to their music – actually quite good ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply Two_Heads_Talking May 4, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Different ghost trains have different reasons why they run.
    It might be legislation requires that a train be run, and that legislation is written into the franchise agreement, while others require a service to be run otherwise the line will be closed automatically due to lack of use.

    Its not just about the train, it goes all the way back to the legislation that created the lines and services that use them

  • Reply Rylen Cason May 6, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Most public city busses in America are ghost busses.

  • Reply avcomth May 6, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    In Japan there was a ghost train line on Hokkaido that ran to a certain station that only had one patron, a highschool student. The station was closed when that student graduated albeit the train itself was a near ghost train to begin with.

  • Reply Crispin May 8, 2019 at 12:19 am

    I love Wendover productions, but itโ€™s so triggering to hear the place names being mispronounced smh

  • Reply Thomas Wilkinson May 8, 2019 at 11:09 pm

    Good old London midland

  • Reply Lord Coe May 10, 2019 at 12:51 am

    f*ck northern rail

  • Reply Jack Atkins May 10, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Very misleading title

  • Reply Reza karim May 11, 2019 at 1:44 am


  • Reply Tube Craft May 15, 2019 at 6:29 am

    These trans are also called Parliamentary Trains because they are not profitable, parliament requires them to be operated.

  • Reply Train Maniacs May 24, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Ha 2 of the franchises you mentioned donโ€™t exist anymore and you know a lot about Britain for an American plus I travel on that train once a week

  • Reply Shpade Owt May 26, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    They go to your imagination.

  • Reply B_Adamson May 29, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Birming ham

  • Reply echristopherson78 June 3, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Is this a Wes Anderson movie?

  • Reply Ludovicius Magnus June 7, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    so that english can flee Dunkirk? fleeing-rosbeef meme ^^

  • Reply Tungst June 8, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    The conclusion is a bit simple.
    I grew up in a village that kept its station and train service just because of this bureaucracy.
    A line not being profitable does not mean its a "ghost line". A lot of people from my village used the train to commute. So it wasn't earning money most of the day which made it unprofitable. Not a ghost line by far.

  • Reply Paolo Pabalinas June 9, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Midnight Meat Train

  • Reply Jason Ford June 10, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    Dude the UK should like, nationalize the railways… that'd be nice

  • Reply Rocking Rules June 12, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Our train station (30 miles away from London)has 260 trains a day

  • Reply MacIn173 June 12, 2019 at 10:57 am

    "they meant to prevent closing unprofitable routes, but only thing they do is creating these ghost trains" – that's just a survivor bias.

  • Reply RealiableCandy4 June 12, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    I'm going to ride all the ghost trains now.

    I'm going to do stupid things and no one will know about it

  • Reply Michael Dubery June 19, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Yeah boiiiiii chiltern railways ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Rex Hunt June 20, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Who cares there the trains run in the UK as long as I get where I want to go to see my very hot girlfriend…

  • Reply Tirolumido June 21, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I didn't understand who owns the UK rail network. In Italy there has been privatization, but it only concerns the trains while the tracks are always state owned. The private individual can decide to circulate his trains wherever he wants by paying a price per kilometer. Is this also the case in the UK?

  • Reply Mikeology June 22, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    As a Houstonian, why you gotta call us out like that?

  • Reply Smug Dragon June 24, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Conclusion: The UK has a lot of ghost transportation

  • Reply Bongo2k June 27, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    nice stock footage bro

  • Reply Ni Oxx June 27, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    Lovely big government bureaucracy.

  • Reply Jack Shiels June 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Btw virgin trains east coast is now LNER and the chiltern railways route changes every so often

  • Reply Rich Lawson June 30, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    As someone on the Chiltern Line who loves Wycombe I'm onto that.

  • Reply Gerwulf July 3, 2019 at 6:25 am

    Big Government

  • Reply Bilbo Baggins July 3, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    "all aboard the ghost train!" – rick and morty

  • Reply mounkeyboy99 July 4, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Ghost train is already a great band

  • Reply HeyIt'sTaz! :D July 4, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    So the main station of Houston, Texas only has around 3 trains per week meanwhile a lonely, irrelevant station in the UK called Redcar British Steel still has around 4 trains in one day.

  • Reply Christopher Boyd July 5, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I used to work right next to Reddish South and I travelled by train. Had to go to Reddish North and walk 20 mins, very annoying!

  • Reply Tom H. July 6, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Maybe the practice was started during WW2 to confuse German pilots.

  • Reply D B July 6, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Do ghost trains carry ghost loads?

  • Reply David Jatt July 6, 2019 at 9:04 am

    2 million people found this interesting apparently.

  • Reply Ad Lockhorst July 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Thousands of people a year move to London, so ๐Ÿ˜œ there have to be empty trains going out of London.

  • Reply Nappa Bond July 6, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Wait so Paddington gets his own train? Damn that little bear really is a national treasure.

  • Reply idiot widowmaker July 6, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    So because of two examples of wasteful trains the process is bad? This channel is the most obviously American channel ever, and that's coming from an American. But I guess having a tiny amount of too much public transportation is worse than having none.

  • Reply Yasin Biyikli July 7, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    so in these trains people film porn and don't get caught

  • Reply Alan J July 9, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    The Scotrail franchise isn't awarded by the UK government.

  • Reply FRANK July 10, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Because this is British

  • Reply Michael Smith July 11, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Cheap bastards!!!

  • Reply James Davison July 11, 2019 at 5:38 pm


  • Reply Gref Steel July 12, 2019 at 1:03 am

    You see where too much bureaucracy leads to? Nowhere.

  • Reply Gabriel Cunha July 12, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Like they say in Brazil "๐ŸŒถ no cรบ do outro รฉ refresco"

  • Reply Jason Houle July 14, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    That's not the Great Western way.

  • Reply Chris Conlon July 16, 2019 at 2:17 am

    The word is route, as in root – not rowt. The word pronounced as that is rout.

  • Reply Steve Thompson July 16, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    I think every member of Congress as a fgreshmen should have to watch this video.

  • Reply Martin Bitter July 18, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Considering Network SouthEast also operated that one service from Paddington in peak hours suggest this video is non factual.

  • Reply Gammon Honkler July 18, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    What the hell is a rawt ?

  • Reply czdaniel1 July 19, 2019 at 3:39 am

    Announcing Ghost Train the SquareSpace Transition!!

  • Reply MickyAvStickyHands July 20, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    I get to work in 30 minutes. Not to mention groceries, kids, leisure, on and on… all to within a city with peace and quite that isn't designed with people living ontop of each other with outrageous rent/mortgage. Cars are awesome. And soon they'll be electric and they'll drive you. Keep your ghost trains.

  • Reply Hissing Sid July 24, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    It's not Chilternrailways, it's Chiltern Railways, dickhead.

  • Reply Wyatt Sylvester July 26, 2019 at 5:17 am

    Hog warts duhh

  • Reply Jo Bowler July 28, 2019 at 8:37 am

    im a english person and to today all these rare things you mentioned have changed:Northern and London Midland have changed Franchises,LNWR no longer run buses to Barlaston(and the other stop nearby) from stafford to stoke,but from stone to stoke,so norton bridge gets no replacement buses(You have to get the 13 bus from stafford station) The Paddington to High Wycombe train goes to west ealing instead now,not paddington.Northern is also run by Arriva and they run a hourly train from stockport to stalybridge now.

  • Reply ฮ›Cฮฃ July 28, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    30 miles to the north?

  • Reply Richard Mckim July 28, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    I don't know – I think a ghost train is kinda cool. But then I think the GOP sucks.

  • Reply 988655y yvff August 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    He pronounced Stalybridge right the first time, then misspronounces it the second time seconds later.

  • Reply Colin Sutherland August 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    RIP Virgin Trains East Coast

  • Reply nick klaus August 10, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Tell about it, train services that exist but shouldn't. There's a weekend 5:15 service from my nearest city that doesn't exist except on the timetable, the amount of times I've sat freezing my arse off in leeds station after clubbing

  • Reply Dale Batchelor August 11, 2019 at 7:57 am

    marylebone and paddington stations are a 5 minute walk apart too, which makes it even more absurd

  • Reply Jack Shiels August 13, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    0:23 just to let u know, VETC is now LNER

  • Reply Sasho August 14, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Who else really feels like a nice day trip to High Wycombe now?

  • Reply tabitha walker August 15, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    smaller towns between london and birmingHAM

  • Reply Saoirse del Tufo August 20, 2019 at 12:27 am

    The pronunciation of Birmingham and Marylebone (in quick succession) was painful

  • Reply Lewis Melrose August 20, 2019 at 5:31 am

    The real reason these trains exist is because in the 1960s so many lines closed . The government realised they couldnt let it happen again

  • Reply Ashesh Ateendra August 27, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    I hope that attached wagons were included in the contract or they would run just the engines.

  • Reply DerpPikachu August 29, 2019 at 1:55 am

    Just operate a train once a month or a year

  • Reply R. Charles Allsopp August 31, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Out of thousands of stations, I am not joking Barlaston was as busy as anything as it served my school in the 1980s. I suspect it's because they just want high speed trains Stafford to Stoke, with no stopping. Not due to lack of "want".

  • Reply I Am A Duck August 31, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Running those trains for no reason whatsoever is just wasteful and very bad for the environment. Just spend the damn money and get them closed.

  • Reply Go Zombies September 1, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    For a while Virgin have been operating the west and LNER on the east.

    That person who was on that train by their self must have had a peaceful ride

  • Reply zedeighty September 2, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Really we should be expanding these services and encouraging people to use them, not quietly abandoning them as we are. Cause, you know, the climate emergency.

  • Reply David Gregory September 2, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Stalybridge is pronounced "stale-ee-bridge"… the first syllable being stale, as in stale bread. Just saying.

  • Reply Robert Littleton September 2, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Actually it serves another purpose, if there are engineering works to Marylebone, Paddington can act as a replacement station for Chiltern railways. However the ghost trains are used to keep up drivers competencies on these routes so that they can run these services in times of engineering work.

  • Reply uncriticalsimon September 3, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    I think a large part of why they run this train isn't that it's hard to close, but that it ensures that the drivers know the way to Paddington. Which might be important if the normal route to Marylebone were closed for any reason (either emergency or engineering work).

  • Reply lonelyPorterCH September 5, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    I hope, there is a universal ticket for all these railway corporations…

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