primal

Quite astonishing.

It is clear that the privatisation of British Rail was - in terms of costs, customer satisfaction and safety - a success; and that the return of the railways to public control has been a disaster.

So who said this?


The Daily Telegraph. In its leader column.

Words fail me.

This is, of course, in connection with the ongoing court case over whether Railtrack shareholders deserve more of the taxpayer's money than they've already had. Answers on a postcard, please . . .

  • Current Mood: Disgusted (of Tunbridge Wells, natch)
  • Current Music: Ramones - Somebody put something in my drink
The Torygraph's continuing ability to utterly delude itself over rail privatization is beyond belief.
And saying of the current shambles (while better than railtrack... well, really... words fail me) "effectively to renationalise" is a gross misuse of both nationalised and effective.
Unbelievable. Perhaps their editor or suitable journalists should be on the next rail crash.
Oh, I guess I was wrong to think that removing all funding from our railways and reducing their cover by something like 75% crippled our transport system irreparably, then.
Arguably it was a very good move, too. Most of these lines were terminally underused and nobody had the interest in investing enough at the time to keep most of them running sensibly. At least this way the core lines were kept going.
The editor should be asked the following two questions:

Sir, are you the front end of an arse?

Sir, are you the back end of an arse?

Assuming his answers are in the negative we can safely conclude that he is no end of an arse. Although the evidence you have already provided makes this clear.
Methinks the author should declare an interest before spouting such crap.
You have to view the Telegraph and the Mail as being written by a strange re-enactment society that produce newspapers from an implausible and inconsistent parallel world. They would be more convincing if the parallel world were more self-consistent and if it were possible to deduce the critical point at which their world diverged from ours, which I have never managed to do.
Well... we've gone from a grossly innefficient, underfunded publicly run system to a publicly run track system with privately run trains which in some areas is has led to an improvement in service and others a decrease...
Its 6 of one and half a dozen of another from where I'm sitting.
The transfer from Railtrack to Network Rail has had negligable consequences though, so they are talking bollocks with that...

I see no argument against private running of the railway, so long as it is sensibly regulated to ensure safety and standard of service, and we do get a better service than I remember from BR on some lines (not on all though...). The infrastructure is probably best held by a publicly owned company which runs it with little interference from the government, but which is concerned with maintining the track etc. rather than profit for shareholders...
The problem with the privatisation done as it was seems to be that it was just to get money in the short term not to improve the service although the years of neglect didn't help, and still don't... (same with the tube, water infrastructure and probably others)

As for the railtrack fiasco, a company should not need government subsidy to survive. There is a case to answer about the amount of regulation however and about Byers lying to Parliament, which should be an offense which requires him to leave the Commons... (as it stands he may not have to do anything, or perhaps apologise to the house)
It was underfunded, but from what I'm told it made very good use of the limited resources it had. The rail companies now aren't all bad, by any means - many of the complaints stem from the fact that demand has boomed incredibly. There are more rail journeys made now than any time since the fifties. The model, though, was flawed in that the the sort of longterm debt that's required for large infrastructure projects isn't something that stock-owned corporations handle well.

The safety organisation was screwed up, too - the various organisations should have been living in each other's pockets to ensure that things got done, whereas not only were they apparently only in vague touch, even when it was known what was wrong it was frequently unclear whose responsibility it was.

As for Byers . . . well, his career is looking ruined, but to be fair it isn't clear that he knowingly misled anyone, and it wasn't over an important point. To be honest, what he said (that there had been no contingency planning for putting Railtrack into administration) didn't make him or the government look better than if he'd said the opposite.