The Guardian view on rail privatisation: going off the tracks

Editorial from The Guardian: There are few more annoying issues for the great British public than their railways. While some cities and towns have seen stations spruced up, the public suffer from often late, expensive and frequently overcrowded train services. While the cack-handed rollout of infrastructure improvements has led to cancellations and delays on the network, commuters saw ticket prices rise at twice the rate of their wages between 2010 and 2016. Tuesday’s news that rail passengers will be hit by the largest fare hikes in five years next month will do nothing but confirm the view that the public are being taken for a ride. The situation, it seems, is one where private companies reap the benefits, while passengers bear the costs.

There is a good case to return more train operating companies to state hands. Three in four voters, disillusioned by high prices and poor service, back renationalising the railways. Many train lines in Britain are run by state-backed European rail firms. So why not in Britain?

[Read full editorial on Guardian website…]

UK Government slammed after handing Scotland’s railways a massive ‘real-terms cut’

From The National: Scottish ministers have demanded a “fair funding deal” for Scotland’s railways after the UK Government announced a “real terms cut” in investment over future years.

The Treasury said the Scottish Government will receive more than £3.6 billion over five years from 2019/20, an increase of £600 million on the previous period. But the Scottish Government said this is a “real terms cut” that will lead to a £600 million shortfall as it needs £4.2 billion over that period.

But the Scottish Government said that changes due to be introduced by the UK Government in 2019 will lead to a shortfall that will have a “massive impact” on the country’s railways.

[Read full article on The National website…]

Tory Government sparks fury by scrapping rail electrification plans

From The Guardian: Plans to make the railway network faster, greener and cleaner by electrifying lines have been scrapped by the government after massive budget overruns, prompting fury at “years of broken promises”.

The plans to modernise the line from Cardiff to Swansea, the Midland mainline and tracks in the Lake District were dropped on Thursday after Network Rail spent huge sums on engineering works, with costs in the Great Western region alone going as much as £1.9bn over budget.

Network Rail’s electrification works around the country, most notably on the Great Western mainline from London to Swansea, which started in 2014, were described as a vital upgrade that would bring cleaner, faster and more reliable services for passengers.

Read more

“The Tory rail privatisation rip-off”

From Another Angry Voice: “When the Tories were introducing their ideologically driven and hopelessly botched plan to privatise the UK rail network the Tory Transport Secretary John MacGregor claimed that passengers would benefit from reduced fares.

“Anyone who understood the basics of monopolies (captive markets) knew that MacGregor’s promises were fantastical nonsense. Once a monopoly service is handed to a private profit-seeking entity, prices are certain to rise because there’s no price competition in a captive market.

“Two decades after rail privatisation the average train fare has increased by 117% (24% adjusted for inflation). On some journeys fares have increased by well over 200%.

“Aside from the direct hit to passengers’ wallets, there’s also the fact that the private rail operators are being showered with £billions in direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies.

“Annual direct subsidies to the private rail franchises far exceed the entire cost of running the entire UK rail network back when it was run as a not-for-profit public service.”

[Read full blog article on Another Angry Voice…]

Britain’s only publicly owned railway delivered record performance for passengers before Tory sell-off

From Daily Mirror: Britain’s only publicly owned railway was delivering all-time record levels of punctuality before it was flogged off by the Tory Government last year. Passenger satisfaction was also at an “all-time record” for any long-distance line, and the railway also made more than £1 billion for the Treasury before the line was privatised in May 2015.

[Read full article on Daily Mirror website…]