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Renationalising the railways


There has been considerable amount of speculation and discussion regarding the possibility of renationising the railway operating companies with the familiar complaints about fare costs and level of service. This is very much a pet issue for the new labour leadership and the appearance at various protests may have helped engage the disgruntled but probably hasn’t truly given the impression of an issue being addressed seriously.

Whether anyone believes that the network should or shouldn’t have been privatised is frankly neither here nor there. We are where we are and the questions have to be aimed at what benefit nationlisation will bring. The answers are certainly not what the starry eyed would have us believe

Rail operating companies make a net profit of 3%. That is the obviously the very maximum saving that could be made on fares in the event of nationlisation. 30p on a £10 ticket. To effect more saving would require subsidy which in turn would have to be raised from the tax payer. This is simple stuff

But even that insignificant saving is certainly the very best we could possibly hope for. Nationalised industries have an appalling record of cost control simply because there is no genuine financial incentive for them to do so. It is very easy to imagine that 3% saving being immediately wiped out by loosened cost control.

And to achieve this? This would not come free. The governement would have to spend billions to renationalise. Billions of the tax payers money

Would services improve?  As a very regular  rail user I can only take as I find but services in all the lines I use are massively improved from twenty years ago. Punctuality is very good on the crowded swt routes I use to the extent that I rarely check to see if the train is expected on time

Railways have been and should continue to be improved but none of this comes at zero costs. The campaigners should be looking at hard facts and numbers rather than promoting an ideal which is simply nothing more than a pipe dream








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