How do we solve a problem like the British railway system?

10 May 2018

With over 55,000,000 different railway fares and only 2,500 train stations in the UK, it’s no wonder that 2 in 3 of us aren’t sure if we’ve paid the right fare when travelling.
It’s clear that the privatised railway system isn’t working.  In announcing yet another ‘shake up’ of the rail system, even the Rail Delivery Group are acknowledging that something is going seriously wrong.
This year we experienced the biggest increase in rail fares over the last five years, with an average ticket price rise of 3.4%.
The 2017 European Railway Performance Index saw Great Britain come behind Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Austria, Sweden and France in the performance of its railway systems, with the ERPI noting that despite its excellent safety rating, ‘its quality of service is poor because of high fares and the relatively low punctuality of regional trains.'
There is only one answer here that will deliver a railway system that works, and that’s public ownership. We need a rail system that is able to provide the services we need - like trains that run on time and tickets that are reasonably priced.
It’s been 23 years since the railways were put in the hands of private companies and they still can’t get it right.
So, how do we solve a problem like the British railway system? We need to own it.

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Jane replied on

1. The East Cost Line demonstrates the problems with the privatising of the railways.

2. The appallingly bad maintenance of tracksides is evidence of the way in which the railways are run for profit not of public benefit (the embankment near me has had the same rubbish on it since it was privatised and nothing seems to get it cleaned up)

GUY PENMAN replied on

I Commute and suffer everyday at the hands of GWR.

The are a catastrophically badly run train company.

The trains have been very late each day for the last fortnight.

FGW do not give a damn about their customers.

i am pig sick of them.


should be sacked.


John Archibald replied on

There’s a mountain of reasons why privatisation can’t work and why the privateers admitted in 1865 that this was an option. But having worked for BR, SAR and the NRZ as an Traction and Rolling Stock Engineer and having witnessed rail travel here the late 50’s when it was cheaper and faster than bus car or truck. And in times of ticket sales exceeding seating capacity, the station pilot would simply shunt on two or more coaches to accommodate this demand on the 8:30 (to wherever) and a standby locomotive would double head the train away at 8:30 – and all this was done with no computers or other digital coms! Had BR been given a free reign and the politicians supported our State Run Railway, we would have gold plated rails and executive class travel for all on TGV style trains and propped up the NHS to boot with the revenues BR had! It’s a similar situation in Germany and France btw, although the general public in these countries are now being taken for a ride! But sadly for us the die was cast in 1955 with the modernisation policy the corrupt Tory Government devised. Its aim was simple: disseminate rail and increase road use! Why? Because oil was coming on tap and society was being emancipated form totalitarian rule to perceived democracy freedom and a better life. So much so that in the blink of an eye our railway system was halved and given to Souter, Branson et al for free by their buddy Tory B.

Thus Public Ownership and operational control is not only pragmatic, it’s the only option we have to restore common sense for the benefit of the many and lead the way for others to follow!

John Archibald Bristol

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