James Moore: Rail's borrowing is shunted into the sidings

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Outlook Back in 2001, MPs argued that Railtrack had managed Britain's rail infrastructure with such breathtaking incompetence that it should have been re-nationalised.

After some distinctly fishy goings-on in government in the days and weeks leading up to the company's eventual demise, ministers settled on an alternative option and Network Rail was born.

There were a number of reasons for this. For a start, it meant someone other than the transport secretary would carry the can in the event of accidents or simply commuters continuing frustrations with shoddy service and late running trains.

Of equal importance, an awful lot of rail debt would be kept off Britain's books. Said debt has now risen to £28bn and is starting to look like a train crash. Tish tosh, says the finance director, it just makes us like any other utility. Quite how that's supposed to be of any comfort is open to question.