British Rail Privatisation White Paper: Reaction: Investment is 'vital' to attract franchise bids
Wednesday 15 July 1992
Several Tory MPs voiced scepticism in the Commons about the protection for rural lines, small stations, safety and the continuation of the national timetable.
There were also doubts that franchisees would be attracted. Tim Renton, the former Tory chief whip, warned that unless public investment was increased, the infrastructure would not be good enough to attract private investment.
The Freight Transport Association described the White Paper as a 'damp squib'. Jack Welsh, its distribution and international services director, said: 'What is not clear is how the privatised rail freight system will be attractive to private interest when it is evidently a high-cost operation that continues to lose traffic.'
But potential operators welcomed the White Paper. A spokesman for Richard Branson's company, Virgin, which wants to run non-stop trains between London and Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, said passengers would be lured from airlines. He said: 'It's not cherry-picking, because we would bring people back to travelling by train on a service that British Rail says is not possible.'
Stephen Joseph, the director of the campaign group Transport 2000, said: 'The White Paper leaves many questions unanswered. What happens if a franchisee goes bust? How does franchising fit in with open access? Will charges for track access reflect wider social and environmental benefits from getting cars and lorries off the roads?
'The White Paper lays out a bureaucratic jungle in which private operators will need to reach agreements with four or five separate authorities, as well as a train- leasing company and other operators, before they can even start running trains.'
Jimmy Knapp, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the rail issue would become 'the poll tax' of this Parliament.
Murray Hughes, editor of Railway Gazette International, said: 'The Government approach is dogma-driven. It is in very stark contrast to what is happening in the rest of Europe. This will not solve one of the most fundamental questions that the railway is facing - is the railway there to provide a service or is it there to make money for the shareholders of private companies?'
The British Institute of Management was 'ambivalent' about the White Paper. Some members feared privatisation would lead to further fragmentation of the country's transport infrastructure. Roger Young, its director-general, said: 'Without a national transport strategy, the transport system will simply grind to a halt.'
The Confederation of British Industry, however, welcomed the move towards privatisation, particularly in the rail freight market, but said it was important that improvements to the network were not abandoned. Howard Davies, its director-general, said: 'It is absolutely essential that privatisation is not used as an alibi for cutbacks on much-needed investment in the rail system.'
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...