Management buy-outs are the main source of interest in the privatisation process, but forcing managers to make an early choice long before the feasibility of their bids is assessed may deter them. Senior managers with power over decision-making on major investments are being told that they will have to relinquish those powers 'in the near future'. This is to prevent them making radical improvements to lines which they may then take over.
The managers will be able to carry on with their other duties for some time, but will have to relinquish their posts during the final stages of the franchises being established.
In the case of the seven franchises announced on Tuesday, BR suggests that will be towards the end of this year. Managers had expressed interest in three of the seven on offer to the private sector - ScotRail, the south-west division of Network SouthEast and all of InterCity (rather than the three lines on offer).
If management buy-outs become an unattractive option to existing BR staff, the Government may find that no suitable bidders will come forward. Potential private operators are still refusing to commit themselves after analysing the details released by the Government during Tuesday's Second Reading of the Bill.