Posts Tagged ‘Rail Crashes’

Labour Will Re-Nationalise Parts of the Rail Network

February 19, 2015

This is very good news. According to the I today, if Labour wins the election, they will ‘rip up’ the private rail franchises. Large parts of the rail network will then be returned to national ownership.

The privatisation of the railways has been a disaster ever since it was done by John Major’s administration back in the 1990s. Over a decade ago I can remember talking to an instructor from Amey Construction, who was responsible for training the engineers working on the railways. He was massively unimpressed with the network’s performance. According to him, the railway’s best performance in the post-War years came in the final years of its position as a nationalised industry. After privatisation, the quality of operation and service declined.

He was particularly angered by the way the various rail companies had effectively held up the investigation and settlement of the damages of several horrific rail crashes. When the railways were a nationalised company, British Rail automatically accepted responsibility, and then set about finding a cause and compensation the victims. After the network was privatised and split up into several different, rival companies, the various companies refused to accept their responsibility, passing the buck onto the others. As a result, proper investigation and compensation was delayed for years, to the needless distress of the victims and their families.

Ordinary customs have also not been well served by privatisation. The service has been repeatedly cut in the name of efficiency. It has suffered from massive underinvestment, with delays and breakdowns. Yet as service has declined, fare prices have increased, along with the amount the companies received in government subsidies. These are now far more than when the railways were owned and run by British Rail.

The situation was so poor at one point that even Lady Olga Maitland and parts of the press at one point were demanding that the railways be renationalised.

That didn’t last long. But the poor service and rampant profiteering by the rail companies have continued. If Labour go ahead with this, it will no doubt raise doctrinaire Tory ire, but it will lead to a far better service.