State already owns or subsidises lion's share of rail network
Saturday 25 October 2003
Much of the rail network is now state-owned or state-backed. The notion that the rail industry - which was sold off to the private sector in 1996 - is still in business hands is considered to be something of a fiction.
One of the first signs that the network was being slowly taken back in-house by the Government was when Stephen Byers, then the Secretary of state for Transport, forced Railtrack into liquidation. That followed a series of disasters, including the Paddington accident in 1999, in which 30 people died.
Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, insisted that Network Rail, the state-backed phoenix which rose from the ashes of Railtrack, would simply be business as usual.
But if Railtrack's successor encounters serious financial difficulties, taxpayers will foot the bill. To all intents and purposes it is a nationalised company, according to the Government's critics.
Questions have also been raised about the private sector status of the 25 train operating companies which deliver passenger services throughout Britain.
About half of these operators are receiving state subsidies considerable in advance of those initially envisaged and about a quarter of them are effectively run by the Government's Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). Senior managers at train operating companies argue that they can make few decisions without the authorisation of the SRA.
Since the problems encountered by Railtrack, few people are still arguing that the system is still fully privatised. Only the companies which lease rolling stock to the train operators are truly in the private sector. Critics believe that the rail network has tested privatisation to the limit and found it wanting.
Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT rail union, believes the Government's writ is about to be extended.
A team appointed by the SRA is about to take over the Connex franchise in south- eastern England following a decision that the operator was incapable of operating efficiently. Mr Crow believes that the SRA team in charge of Connex could well be forced to pioneer a new regime in which the state is running train services.
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...