Rail sell-off reaches halfway stage

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The Government's rail sell-off programme reached a landmark yesterday when another five rail passenger businesses transferred to the private sector.

The move means that more than half of BR's 25 passenger lines have now been privatised.

The Prism Rail company, a consortium of bus company managers, has taken over Cardiff Railways and South Wales & West, the bus company Stagecoach is to operate Island Line - which serves the Isle of Wight.

The other two franchises sold were Thames Trains and South Eastern, both important commuter routes in the South-east of England.