A letter from Bring Back British Rail campaigner Oliver Lewis is published in this week’s The Economist. Read the full text below.
The train takes the strain
The Labour Party does not go far enough in its plans to renationalise Britain’s railways (“Gravy trains”, October 3rd). As you noted, attaining rail re-nationalisation by allowing franchises to lapse will take more than a decade. Instead a new bill, a Railways Act 2020, should be passed by Parliament to terminate the franchises. The bill might consider re-establishing British Rail’s passenger businesses, which were fragmented into 25 separate entities by privatisation.
Among them was Intercity, which operated high-speed trains, and Network South East, London’s commuter service. Policymakers have been reluctant to acknowledge the cost to the taxpayer and the British economy of rail privatisation. That amnesia ignores the remarkable performance of these two businesses: in 1993-94, both made an operating profit and did not require a penny of public subsidy.