Managers attack rail privatisation

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The Independent Online
GOVERNMENT plans to privatise British Rail come under attack today in a report from business which criticises the Government for lacking a transport strategy and failing to invest sufficiently in the railways.

The British Institute of Management warns that Britain's transport system could grind to a halt unless the imbalance between road and rail spending is redressed.

The report, issued on the eve of the rail privatisation White Paper, echoes the Confederation of British Industry's call for a national transport forum.

A survey of more than 1,000 BIM members showed that 72 per cent believe investment in British Rail is too low while six in 10 would be prepared to pay a penny more in income tax to fund higher spending.

The survey also found lukewarm support for the privatisation of BR. 'Managers remain to be convinced that privatisation of the railways is the panacea promised by the Government,' the BIM says. Of those questioned, 43 per cent opposed it, 47 per cent were in favour and only 51 per cent believed it would improve services.

Roger Young, the BIM's director-general, said Britain was suffering from the failure of successive governments to produce a coherent national transport strategy.

'Continued emphasis on the primacy of private transport will eventually work against the interest of the majority of users - and of the efficiency of the UK.'

The report says that less than 4 per cent of Britain's total transport investment is directed to rail against 93 per cent for road transport. It also shows that in the past 30 years rail freight has fallen by 47 per cent while road freight has risen 178 per cent.

But according to the BIM nearly 90 per cent of managers want more freight carried by rail. More than a quarter also support new high-speed rail lines and better cross-country rail links but only 15 per cent favour new motorway building.

(Photograph omitted)

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