Bristol Evening Post: Public Case for Railways
In its coverage of RMT's RAIL AGAINST PRIVATISATION launch meeting in Bristol City Council Chamber (Monday 11 April, 2005), Bristol Evening Post used its Editorial on Wednesday, 13 April, to launch a scathing attack on the failure of the policy of rail privatisation. The paper commented: "Bob Crow is absolutely right when he says the case for re-nationalisation is overwhelming. If we are to spend billions of pounds of public money on a transport system then we should make sure it is in public ownership." You can read the Post's full comment below.
PUBLIC CASE FOR RAILWAYS
Date : 13.04.05
Even the most ardent supporter of railway privatisation cannot argue that it has been a success. From the start it was flawed. What privatisation did was to take a single, cohesive network and then break it into a myriad of ill-fitting pieces.
It was a con to suggest that this would ever lead to competition.
To do that would have required different companies running trains to and from the same destinations. But in practice, that happened only spasmodically.
Rail privatisation was one of the last embittered acts of a discredited Tory government and it came at the end of literally decades of under-investment in our railways.
Ironically, we spend much more now supporting private companies to run our railways than we ever did running British Rail.
Surely no one can regard that as anything but utterly absurd.
Bob Crow is absolutely right when he says the case for re-nationalisation is overwhelming. If we are to spend billions of pounds of public money on a transport system then we should make sure it is in public ownership.
If it wasn't for the massive subsidies poured into private rail companies, they could not provide the services they do and remain viable.
We have already seen the railway infrastructure of tracks and signalling effectively taken back into public ownership.
Why? Because as a private operation it simply didn't work.
Of course it would be enormously expensive to buy-back the railways.
But cost has been used to justify abandoning virtually every railway development for the past 50 years.
It is why the Great Western Railway has never been electrified, why we still rely on diesel trains here and why we scrapped our own tilting train and then had to buy one developed by the Italians.
We desperately need a government willing to champion railways, to act with the long-term in mind and to accept that what we have is impractical and unsustainable.