Taxpayers AND passengers worse off under privatisation.
The Mirror 15 Aug 2012
The Mirror's: political editor Jason Beattie's analysis
Among the worst legislation over the past 50 years, it is hard to top John Major’s Railways Act which came into force on April 1, 1994.
Defying all logic, responsibility for the tracks was handed to Railtrack, which soon went bust, and the trains to the train operating companies.
The Government also flogged rolling stock leasing firms, costing an estimated £1.1billion.
The result has left Britain with the most expensive fares in Europe.
Before privatisation, railways received an average £1.14billion in subsidy. Last year it was £3.96billion.
During this period, the private firms have paid about £1billion in share dividends and the rolling stock operating firms up to £2.5billion.
Taxpayers pay millions each year because of £20billion debts racked up by Railtrack and Network Rail.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said renationalisation is the last thing the railways need.
But many wonder whether it is a better deal for passengers who have been taken for an expensive ride.
Passengers have been betrayed: Campaign for Better Transport chief Stephen Joseph's analysis
In the 1990s, the privatisation of British Rail was highly controversial and, in an attempt to appease critics, the Government agreed to regulate many train fares to protect passengers.
The aim was to ensure that where a train company was essentially in a monopoly, it couldn’t exploit its position by big hikes in fares.
And most fares were pegged at the rate of inflation – but in 2004, it became a system of extracting more money from passengers.
They rose at 1% above inflation year on year.
In 2010, George Osborne announced fares rising even higher at 3% above inflation for 2012-14, saying it would “make life better for passengers” as part of a wider investment.
But the policy of protecting passengers has been turned on its head – they are being squeezed more and more.
Commuters already have reason to complain – we have the most expensive fares in Europe – and a 10th year of above inflation rises only worsens the situation.