James Moore: Living proof that state-run railways can be a success
Outlook Is it possible to find a privatisation less loved than the sell-off of the railways? Shabby, British Rail may have been, but at least it was possible to get around the country with a single ticket.
The dogs dinner of a sell-off that split it into operating companies and track provider has produced a succession of disasters, both financial and horribly physical.
At a more mundane level travellers now suffer a bewildering array of tariffs and a culture in which service sometimes seems to have become a dirty word within the train operating companies despite their enjoying state support in the form of subsidies.
And yet yesterday came evidence that it can actually work. Directly Operated Railways, which runs the East Coast line, last year handed more than £200m back to the Government. Its subsidy is lower than other lines, and revenues from various sources (ticketing, catering etc) are on a satisfyingly upward curve.
The huge irony is that all this has been achieved not by a private operator but under the auspices of the state, giving lie to the questionable notion that things are always done better by the private sector. You'd think that a rational Government might want to take credit for this. But, no. The line, which is only in Government hands after National Express controversially handed it back, is slated for another sell-off even though the benefit this would provide to the Chancellor's bare coffers – much less the experience of passengers – is questionable.
Sadly, when there's a battle to be had between ideology and common sense, ideology wins every time with the current political class.
As ever passenger' interests will be at the back of the queue when the sell-off parameters are set although it might be wise to at least hold a review into why the operation of this part of the railway has been so financially successful so at least the taxpayer's is protected.
- 1 Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta clashes with President Obama on LGBT equality: ‘Gay rights is really a non-issue’
- 2 Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
- 3 Mers outbreak: Manchester Royal Infirmary A&E closes over suspected cases
- 4 Jon Snow alive? New Game of Thrones toy line suggests he's not among the dead
- 5 Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of insurance and financial...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing financial ser...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...