Railways - beyond privatisation

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Issue: 
Spring 2013
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John Major’s 1993 railway privatisation was driven purely by ideology; the railways at that time were by and large well-run and efficient, while privatisation has seen a rise both in subsidies from the tax-payer and costs to the traveller, as well as failures of safety and maintenance, while money is siphoned off instead of invested. A centre left strategy for the railways could change all this - through a new strategic body, making the constituent part of the current system more accountable, and the gradual taking back of control of franchises as they come up for renewal. This should be combined with a renewed emphasis on community railways and an attempt to wrest control of rolling stock away from the banks, who currently own the lion’s share of this most profitable part of the privatised system. An incoming Labour government would be in a good position to transform the railways gradually – without significant costs and with increased community involvement and popular support.

Soundings 53 Where next?