The biggest chance to rethink our railways since privatisation

15 January 2019

The government has appointed Keith Williams as the chair of the biggest review of our railways since privatisation began. This is your chance to have your say over the future of our railway.

You haven't been asked your opinion on privatisation since 1994! Here's your chance:

Comment below to sign this letter and tell Keith why you want to see public ownership of the railways.


Dear Keith Williams, 

Our railways are clearly not currently fit for purpose.

Train travel has never been so popular. But the service passengers receive is deteriorating. We've seen repeated delays and cancellations across the network. Trains are overcrowded. Rail fares continue to spiral up and up. Train companies have failed to invest in new infrastructure. Our railways are broken. 

We believe that public ownership would help solve these problems - so we're really happy to hear that you've promised to keep public ownership on the table in your review.

By taking private companies out of the rail network, we can:

  • Remove shareholder profits from the system and reduce costs.
  • Use these savings to fund reduced fares, and a rail service run for people, not profit.

By putting the public at the heart of our railways, we can:

  • Ensure they get the investment they desperately need.
  • Use this investment to improve services, reduce delays, and upgrade the rolling stock.

76% of the public agree, and we want to see our railways in public hands.


The public.

Comment below - Why do you want public ownership of your railways?

Do you believe in public services for people not profit?

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Chris Clarkson replied on Permalink

Why do the government believe having overseas railway companies as shareholders is a good idea? It effectively means that we are subsidising overseas railways!

Graham Woodward replied on Permalink

Privatization has been an abysmal failure since its inception under the Thatcher government and was inspired by the likes of sir Alan Walters of the Adam Smith Institute who thought that the US model would suit this country and more to the point enrich an elite few by stealing assets off of the tax payer. Since then and even after then successive governments including so called New labour have carried on the process of stealing from the tax payer and thus all of us, and not being content with that added the iniquitous PFI to it. Essential Utilities and transport should never have been privatized in the first place and we have all payed dearly through the nose for shoddy service and sky high prices ever since. I get annoyed when i am told that re-nationalization of our railways and essential utilities would cost to much to do as their was less money around back in 1948 when the railways were brought in to public ownership overnight. I think that the public should get electricity, gas, water, railways, telephones, and Royal mail back by using and sequestrating the the majority shares that are held in them by big corporations that stole them from the tax payer in the first instance.

Anonymous replied on Permalink

Since privatization we have this disparate system of routes run by various companies which makes for a complicated procedure for identifying the ticket you need to book. To get a reasonably priced ticket you have to be able to book well in advance and be sure of being able to travel that day and time - no flexibility.

Generally, tickets are overpriced unless you get a cheap deal. Commuters particularly stung. Most, I think, would prefer one system with one pricing programme, even if it missed out the 'bargains'.

Always impressed with smooth running trains on the continent. Our rolling stock is having to play catch up, facilities are often poor and trains are crowded and unreliable often.

The south west line which runs through Dawlish is a disgrace - totally unreliable in the winter months. Investment is badly needed instead of tinkering with short term solutions which are not fail safe even in the short term. The whole economy of the area is hostage to a ridiculously unreliable route.

Ben Pearce replied on Permalink

Prices have gone up and up and service down and down. Privatisation simply doesnt work on rail as no two trains can run on the same line so there is in effect no choice for the consumer. Therefore its a fallacy and run by profit-making failiures

Will Adams replied on Permalink

The railways were privatised to increase competition, but on most routes competition is impossible, and the railway are in hands of a few (mostly foreign-owned) monopoly companies, whose business is to make money by means of running a railway, where the railway is a product (like a tin of beans), not a service. The rot set in when 'passengers' became 'customers'! We need an integrated railway system run for the benefit of the passengers, where the making of money is a means, not an end.

Richard Lown replied on Permalink

The profits creamed off by the private sector should have gone for increased investment and enhanced staffing instead of into private pockets. It is time the Government recognised the interests of the madss of people above private greed.

Anthony Parker replied on Permalink

This country drastically needs a genuinely public transport system. For both economic and environmental reasons it is essential that the railway network ceases to be run for a profit and starts to be a offered as a proper, public service instead.

If 'private' industry is deemed capable of providing the system whilst taking a profit then it is equally possible for this service to be delivered by the public sector on a not for profit basis.

This is a unique opportunity to deliver part of our transport system back to where it belongs - in the hands of the public.

ALISON WATSON replied on Permalink

The disabled and less mobile are being continually failed on railway services as profits are put first, not people. We need a reliable, cost-effective service that suits all commuters and we need guards on all trains. Take this public service out of greedy, private hands.

Catherine Jane Smith replied on Permalink

We need a joined-up, affordable public transport network

Terry Weeks replied on Permalink

The best and most efficient public transport systems in the UK are operated for the public. Buses run by councils run for the public, not shareholders, are superior to privately run companies constantly cutting routes and increasing prices. TfL operates for Londoners not shareholders. Railways must be run for the public, not shareholders.

Rosemary Cole replied on Permalink

I completely agree with the comments about the East Coast line when it was in public ownership. The fare system is far too complicated and there should be a unified system that makes costs of rail travel the same throughout the country. I am also concerned about the safety of passengers on Northern Railways if the company succeeds in bringing in driver operated doors and can at times travel without a second member of staff on the train.

bryn golton replied on Permalink

Prior to the 2nd World War our private railway system was broken and failing. During the war the government had to take over the direction of the railways and nationalise them after the war. During that period of nationalisation they were developed to become fit for purpose. But they started to declined again when they were underfunded and deprived of development opportunities by governments more interested in privatising them as a matter of policy. They did and we are seeing the results. Failing private railways again. Across Europe publicly owned railways are a success and that has been the pattern in the UK. Public ownership is the natural ownership pattern for railways.

Wendy Humphreys replied on Permalink

Private ownership is demonstrably not working for anyone else but the shareholders, let's start running the railways for the benefit of the public and rail users.

David Kitson replied on Permalink

The only winners since privatisation are the companies who apply new liveries to the rolling stock each time the operator is changed. The child's paintbox appearance of the stock is a reflection of the disjointed nature of the railway system. Bring it back into public ownership!

Anonymous replied on Permalink

Money paid out as dividends reduces the amount available to invest in the system.

Mark Gilkes replied on Permalink

The argument that privatised railways offer better service and value while being able to pay shareholders is simply not proven, over nunerous attemps to make the argument. Let us put that shareholder dividend into lowering prices and spending on infrastructure and service.

Mike Scott replied on Permalink

Privatisation of the railway network was always an ideological decision and the way it was done made a bad decision worse. The railway system is a natural monopoly and it is essential that it's run in the interests of the public rather than shareholders. The long series of crises and disasters show only too clearly that the private sector can't be trusted and the whole network needs to be reintegrated under public ownership. The East Coast line shows this can be done effectively. This isn't ideology, it's common sense!

Quentin ISAAC replied on Permalink

The current system is a complete shambles with ridiculous problems trying to negotiate different companies and ticket prices. The government is subsidising private companies which then either make a profit from our contributions or decide they cannot do so and pull out of their contract. This should be a co-ordinated public service and the railways should be brought back into public ownership as rapidly as possible.

Paul Birrell replied on Permalink

The rail network has proved itself unsuitable for privatisation. There are necessary services which ensure remote parts of the country remain connected and this fact does not sit well alongside the profit motive. The government continues to sink money into the network alongside train service providers that are unreliable, unaccountable and hugely profitable, all at the expense of the passenger. Taking the railway back into public ownership would be a popular, vote-winning, move, it would put more money in the exchequer and would ensure that our country remains connected.

carolyn waters replied on Permalink

Essential services such as the railways (and water, electric and buses) should all be in public ownership and run for the benefit of all with profits ploughed into the upkeep of the systems and maintaining affordable pricing - not providing profits for private investors. It would seem obvious that an integrated system that covers the whole of Britain would be more efficient than the present fragmented service.

Andrew Collins replied on Permalink

It is ridiculous that a ticket from A to B is often restricted to certain train operators. How is the public supposed to know whether a ticket is valid on a particular train when all the ticket says is something like "only available on approved trains". Public ownership is the only way to get rid of this nonsense.

Dave Bannister replied on Permalink

I am sick and tired of private companies running out railways, many of them are state owned in their own countries. The focus seems to be on profit, even when a company fails it seems to still get a bailout from our government. The Privatisation excercise is a disaster and the sooner our railways are back in Public hands the better.

Brian Preece replied on Permalink

Privatisation of the railways has been a failure. The East Coast fiasco is only the most visible part along with the timetable chaos we have seen this year. elsewhere, fares are high, services are poor and money is siphoned off into greedy "investors". If British Railways had had the investment that the government has poured into the private railways, the service would be much better and fares would be lower - just look at the largely public rail services on the continent to see this

Molly Pickles replied on Permalink

I cannot name any servics/company that has been improved by privatisation.The introduction of the profit for private owners distorts the decision - making process and alters the priorities of the company. The purpose should be SERVICE to the community not increasing the wealth of private individuals or companies.

richard eccles replied on Permalink

It is a complete and utter lie and contemptible fraud that should make the ministers and the business people involved face criminal charges that a private company is funded by public money to make profits for individuals whilst these same individuals claim there is no money available to finance the public transport system properly and yet they pay themselves fat cat salaries and enormous dividends to shareholders and their buddy mates in related industries and the commuter and the public get the worst services in Europe.

Nicola Snell replied on Permalink

Trains need to be centrally operated, affordable and responsibly managed in the people's interest - with a simple, workable, useable system. Multiple ownership creates the opposite of this and the profit motive keeps pushing fare prices to ridiculous heights. British Rail was flawed, but served this purpose better than the present "pig's breakfast". Please re-nationalise!

Christine Joachim replied on Permalink

Many members of my family have worked for the railways in the past. We are all ashamed of the shambles it has become, poor and overcrowded services, unacceptable delays and ridiculously high prices. None of us travel by train anymore. My last experience was frightening and I spent hours crushed outside the toilets surrounded by festival goers who also had no seats and nowhere to store their bags. The private sector has no interest in service only profits. The Government has no interest in service only bailing in out failing companies who have already asset stripped the very services they were appointed to run. Public ownership is the only way to sort out the chaos.

Neal Champion replied on Permalink

For commodity services such as which load of bread to buy, clearly competition is effective. But for significant services which enable the life blood of our nation, the attempt to try and create a 'competitive market' is highly undesirable. We need publicly owned national services that serve the public

Colin Butler MBE replied on Permalink

The railways were deliberately underfunded in the run up to privatisation but they still performed far better than they do now. Every journey I make on the railways now is a lottery.

Our railways are still state owned but not by the British state. Foreign investors do not have the interests of the travelling public at heart, why would they?

Privatisation was just about political dogma. Running our railway is far too important to millions of travellers for decisions to be left to the profit hunters of the private sector.

Matt Miles replied on Permalink

Ever since private companies took over the running of the British Rail Network, the interests of shareholders has taken precedence over passengers.

Public ownership is a must as we know it works. We must continue improving our railways systems as an efficient, comfortable alternative to our overcrowded, polluting roads. We need railways in every region to be fit for purpose.

Public ownership would see the income generated by the rail system return to the public purse: 100% of that would then be spent on securing improved public services for the people of the UK rather than large amounts of it being siphoned off into the hands of greedy institutional shareholders.

Public ownership would also make it possible to simplify the rail fare system, providing more savings and making it easier for more people to travel by rail.

Public ownership is good for the tax payer, good for passengers and good for the environment.

Mike Watkins replied on Permalink

As a 72-year-old man, who commuted into London for most of his working life, I've travelled on

British Rail and on the privatised services. Whilst the latter has added some superficial PR polish

to the services, the fundamental requirement of reliable travel at a sensible price and in reasonable

comfort has deteriorated substantially under the disjointed private rail services. Network Rail has

lost most of its skilled resources as a result of the out-sourcing of work to private companies. I

dread to think what visitors make of our the byzantine ticketing system, which serves only to confuse

and extract the maximum profit for the companies. Our Rail Services are being run in the interest of

big business and shareholders not the people.

Cyril Liddy replied on Permalink

Railways are a vital part of our national infrastructure, funded by our tax revenues, and should be accountable to Parliament - not to private investors or other state railways.

Claire-Marie Parr replied on Permalink

The rail service in the UK is a national disgrace. We are told to use public transport but if you want to get to work in time, it is impossible to depend on trains. They cancel services left right & centre. You do not services that you have paid for in first class because service is constantly cancelled. I do not know how the make any money because I claim so much back from them. Services in the North are in carriages that should be in museums. When you use trains in Europe including Russia it is the polar opposite. Clean, fast, regular & punctual modern service. My daughter had a case in Derby. Every train she took from Leeds & back over 14 days was delayed or cancelled. Instead of arriving home at 6-6.30 to her 9 month old baby, she was getting back at 7.30-8.30. In the end, I stayed in a hotel in Derby with the baby or she drove. This is the human cost. There are people trying to get home to sick relatives, elderly parents, to see their children before bedtime etc. It is totally unacceptable.

Guy Johnson replied on Permalink

We need a far more integrated railway system, run in the interest of passengers, not shareholders.

Louis Northey replied on Permalink

The shysters, spivs and speculators have taken over. The 'Big Four' outsourcing and "accountancy" firms -plus many others- would'nt have given British Rail a second glance. They do now, eyeing profit and solely profit. Civil engineering, one once 'in house' professional railway activity now has more contractors (each with their own bureacracy)'creaming'mouth-watering fees from an inept Government. We need change and that has to be back in public ownership.

Sybil Ashton replied on Permalink

We desperately need railways that work to obviate the need for car travel. Then the profits from fares can go back into the service rather than in shareholders’ pockets.

Marcus Relton replied on Permalink

In a developed, industrial/post-industrial society railways are a public good, of benefit to the wider economy and society. It is absurd that journeys are cheaper by road when this causes so much pollution and congestion. Rail has been priced out of reach for so many since privatisation in the mid-1990s. The rate of Government subsidy has risen, from memory, I think two or three times what it was for British Rail, as a nationalised industry. Since 2010 the rate of Government spending has fallen and so fares risen beyond the largely stagnant levels of most people's wages. Yet the service is unreliable. If there is a case for not having one, monolithic provider then separate units, or operators within the public sector can provide competition and innovation, without having to privatise. So why persist with this failed experiment? And this is without going into the need for affordable, integrated transport at mainline rail stations, particularly, in rural areas and working out how best to combine the advantages of car use for some journeys with the benefits of rail, to cut congestion and pollution.

Andrew Roscamp replied on Permalink

I truly believe, and proven when the East Coast mainline was run publically and turned a profit, that the railways can generate profits and if so these should be used toward maintaining and improving the railways, lowering prices and NOT going into shareholders pockets in in the amounts they have been. Public investment and reward I believe will transform a PUBLIC service.

Alexi Dimond replied on Permalink

Privatisation has been a catastrophic failure for commuters, tourists, people wishing to visit family, disabled people,safety and the environment. Prices rise dramatically year on year while the service and state of the trains and railways continues to decline. It can be cheaper to fly to Glasgow from London via Berlin than take the train; however the cost to the environment of enforced air and car travel is immeasurable. Public transport must be run by and for the public NOW!

Ruth Styles replied on Permalink

Privatisation has failed, it always was going to fail. Public services need investment and planning, neither interest private companies, who sole aim is pursuit if profit. Renationalise the railways now!

roy smith replied on Permalink

Privatisation of the railways has been an expensive shambles and it is time we had a national rail strategy including light rail under public ownership

S Taylor replied on Permalink

The evidence of poor service speaks for itself. Profits have been consistantly put before service. Customers are being gouged by monopolies who won't invest and aren't held accountable in any meaningful way.

Richard Moore replied on Permalink

As with other privatisations the privatised railway is fragmented and confusing. Ministers point to increased investment but this has come largely from the public purse not the private rail companies. There is no real competition here either. Rail companies make over optimistic bids to win the contracts and are then bailed out (East Coast x 2) when they find that they can't make a profit. This Government doesn't like nationalised industries and yet our rail system is run by a number of them, Deutsche Bahn, SNCF and the Chinese state rail company. We Own It! Let's have it back.

Michael Rand replied on Permalink

All public services Railways, Water, Gas & Electricity should be owned by the people we are continually being CONNED by the present government.

Tim Cooper replied on Permalink

The idea that our third-rate, privately-owned railways are a means for enriching shareholders, out of the misery of those who travel on them is truly appalling. We need a publicly-owned, affordable, world-class rail system, with profits ploughed back into it, and which benefits those who pay to travel on it, not the parasitic class which sees it as an investment opportunity.

Michael Wright replied on Permalink

I believe the railways should be brought back into public ownership as a matter of urgency, and properly funded, maintained and run for the public good from then on.

Nick Miller replied on Permalink

Politicians are always quick to paint a bleak picture of how British Rail functioned. But any imperfections there were at that time pale into insignificance against the incompetence, the shambles, the con that the current system allows. The government has failed in every sector of privatisation whether probation, prisons, buses, water, and goodness knows how many more. Private rail companies are allowed to get away with practices and treatment of the public that would land other organisations to shutdown or jail. Yet they are permitted by an ideology driven government to continue to suck out money from the public to fund fat cat bosses, offshore investors, to steal money that should remain in the system for the public good. The best way to solve this is for renationalisation of the rail (and all the other sold off services...)

Dr David Dorling replied on Permalink

Privatisation is efficient in many areas, but is a nonsense when it comes to railways because I have no choice in which provider to use. Lacking choice, the obvious option for me is a provider whose sole purpose is to support the public interest, not to provide profits for shareholders. The railways need to return to public ownership.

Jill Malenoir replied on Permalink

I am elderly and also disabled. I am terrified to travel by train nowadays. in case I get left on a train and shunted off into a siding for hours! I live in the South, where all the hooha over guards on the train has been going on.The Railways were never the Government's to sell, nor were any of the other industries and Companies which have been sold off since the 1980s.

Julia Courtney replied on Permalink

I worked for the old BR freight division in the year before privatisation, and the year afterwards. The old network worked quite well, was divided into geographical regions and everyone knew who was responsible for what. The supporting staff were very committed to the railways and we all foresaw what has since come to pass; Hatfield and Potters Bar and Paddington and others, and now a lot of delays and cancellations which has led to people losing their jobs and their partners.

My workplace was relocated last year and now I am having to use the railways for commuting again. I am 58 and I find the peak crowds, especially at interchange points, very intimidating. It's a two-leg journey and one part of it is notorious for delays and "suddenly taking out stops to meet our punctuality targets at the terminus". This means skipping the stop for the major general hospital where I work! Doctors, nurses and other staff are delayed because of this. And once a train is cancelled or made into a limited-stop service, the following one (they go at 7-minute intervals in inner London, so much used!) is seriously overcrowded and yesterday my colleague was forced to stand with a man's crotch up against her because there was literally no room to move. This level of crowding is unacceptable and dangerous.

Wendé Anne Maunder replied on Permalink

Private ownership of our railways has been an unmitigated disaster. I travel frequently on trains and it is blatantly, increasingly clear that private ownership has failed to provide a decent service for passengers and is not fit for purpose. There are never sufficient seating and travellers are packed like sardines along the aisles and entrance access. Before privatisation it was a pleasure, the carriages were always clean and more seats were provided.

Sue Carole replied on Permalink

Before privatisation problems on the railways were the exception. Now, in my experience, they are the rule and trouble-free journeys are a rarity. Rail passengers, and staff, are treated abominably.

Richard Antony ... replied on Permalink

I am convinced that the only way the United Kingdom can get a truly efficient railway service that aims to serve the public good and help to increase the productivity of this country is to have a fully integrated railway system. This is NEVER going to be possible with a fragmented, privatised system of railway operators and rail track providers.

I have travelled extensively through Europe and in particular the Austrian, Swiss and Spanish railway systems are so efficient that they make ours look like one operated by a bankrupt third world country.

The priority is a single operator for our trains that can at last make sure that, barring accidents, the trains will leave the stations, leave the stations on time and arrive at their destinations on time.

The next stage must be the electrification of the majority of the railway system. At present a huge number of the U.K.'s principle cities do not have a singe electrified line running through them. Discuss this with a Swiss national and you will see them look at you open mouthed with shock and pity.

Not only is this extremely inefficient, but it creates pollution blackspots in those cities where diesel trains pass through and stand with their engines running for many minutes.

There is no possible alternative to overcome these dreadful failings other than a form of state ownership. There are many examples of this throughout Europe and we should learn from them HOW THIS CAN BE DONE.

Susan Francis replied on Permalink

It's not just about wasting money on shareholders and overpaid executives; it's also about coordination. In Switzerland, I've read, private companies talk to each other such that you can get a ticket from A to B via rail, ferry and cable-car and all the timetables join up in sensible ways. No private company in Britain has ever done that: they prefer to try to steal each other's passengers, so you have to guess which train or bus will turn up first and might have to wait longer to use the return half of a ticket, and they seem to go out of their way to make people miss connections.

Paul Jinks replied on Permalink

Rail travel in the UK is slow, unreliable, overcrowded and expensive. Market forces do not apply in a monopoly system and make what should be a public service into a corporate cash cow. The carve up of the rail system makes prevent it becoming a strategic asset to make people's lives simpler, easier and environmentally sustainable.

Malcolm Gribble replied on Permalink

Of course privatisation doesn't work. Can't imagine why anyone thought it would

Gaenor Burchett-Vass replied on Permalink

The price of rail travel in this country is frankly extortionate. Even if I book in advance with a railcard, the fares are still too high for my pocket.

Alastair Fleck replied on Permalink

The drive to privatise essential public services is a fraud foisted upon the people by neoliberals of all political persuasions. It should be resisted.

Jenny Lennon-Wood replied on Permalink

Privatisation has fragmented the railway service so that journey planning is ludicrously complicated, fares are outrageously expensive and seem incomprehensibly random. Worst of all, funding and tax-payer subsidy is poured into the pockets of shareholders while passengers suffer delays, cancellations and over-crowding.

F Thistlethwaite replied on Permalink

Public ownership is not a panacea, it will need to be worked at, but with good management, the 'profits' can be re-invested in the system, the network, along with the bus network, can be integrated and more consideration can be given to what rail users (and importantly, potential rail users) actually want from the railways. For instance the ability to take a bicycle on to any train with out prebooking and without limits on numbers. The current situation, with relatively short (in business terms) franchises, expensive franchising procedures, private profiteering and companies pulling out of contracts at will is just silly.

Tim Cribb replied on Permalink

The railways are a public utility which people have no option but to use, like roads, and should therefore not be run for profit. They are also intrinsically a system, which has to be run as such; to fragment a system is a contradiction in terms and counter-productive.

B. Jones replied on Permalink

As with other privatised utilities, the prime aim of railway companies is to make profits regularly for their investors and shareholders.

Publicly owned enterprises do not have this constraint and can decide whether to prioritise service delivery, investment or

creation of surplus funds as circumstances dictate.

As detailed in much Labour and Green thinking on new public enterprises these would not have to follow the old nationalised industry

organisational model and could represent multiple stakeholder interests.

Ian Davidson replied on Permalink

Apart from a greedy private sector, British tax payers are also subsidising foreign state owned railway companies.

Bill Walton replied on Permalink

Good quality, inexpensive rail travel is an essential PUBLIC SERVICE to help people get around while reducing the impact of global warming. It needs to be an integrated service (ticketing, track/trains) with surpluses reinvested rather than paid to shareholders. The government can borrow more cheaply for investment than private companies too. Part of the service must be support for people with disabilities and cyclists to make good use of services, with guards on trains to provide assistance. There needs to be a national strategy which does not overwhelmingly concentrate investment in the London area.

Karan Smith replied on Permalink

So tired of companies who put profit for shareholders & fat cat directors way ahead of reinvestment to improve the trains for their customers, without whom there wouldn't be any profit. Public ownership would bring back the circular system needed for reinvestment & improvements for rail customers, with ticket prices that don't rip us off!

David Preston replied on Permalink

This country is small enough to have one body responsible for rail travel & that body should be publicly owned. The efforts of the government to create profits for the City dwellers are a serious mistake as it increases costs to the travelling public way beyond what is right & sends the "profits" overseas. The nightmare that is crossrail & HS2 will bankrupt the nation almost as quickly as the saving of the Banking system which has crushed the average man, woman & child ever since while the elite grow richer thanks to bad government. Private enterprise should not profit from the publics services its wrong and should never be allowed by law again.

Margo Sheridan replied on Permalink

I am lucky as a retired person as I have a 30% off rail card and don't have to travel at peak times, so my experience of UK railways is not too bad. But when I think of the best railways I have travelled on - Holland, Austria, France, Japan for example -they are all publicly owned and they are all miles ahead of the UK in every way, good quality rolling stock, punctuality, cleanliness, better pricing, efficient ticketing system etc. In Germany,where deregulation is spreading, I was surprised to find that not a single train I travelled on ran on time. I have drawn my own conclusion...

Robert Howard replied on Permalink

I can only call upon my knowledge and experience of a near 38 years’ service within the railway industry, starting in 1981 under British Rail & whilst certainly far from being the finished article, it was clear that when an issue affected the railway it was everyone’s issue, the industry would pull together to collectively solve the problem using the skills knowledge and experience that the staff had of an already creaking infrastructure, until being put through the tumultuous era of failed privatisation in 1994 through to 2007 where it appeared that the railways and the employees were sold down the river as profit driven firms were ‘gifted’ gold plated contracts & when an issue arose the blame game between numerous different operating companies exacerbated the situation, & throughout these years significant knowledge and awareness of the industry was lost as staff were made redundant, more importantly the industry did not replace these colleagues or even consider that trained staff would be needed to replace those lost to the ravages of privatisation.

When finally placed back into Network Rail through the process of several ‘TUPE’ experiments, at this point one could have thought that the upheaval was at an end, however through the ever constant process of re-organisation & tinkering (almost every 2 years) we see the resultant dis-benefits of the railway industry in 2019, from within the area of bands 1-4 permanent staff, where I sit, they are today more disadvantaged than both the employees they manage & also compared to the numerous contract staff that work within the industry, for 8 years below inflation pay rises & real terms wage cuts has led to the general morale of this particular area of permanent staff being lower than it has ever been, knowledge of the industry & more importantly how it needs to run is still widely with the sphere of the contracting world and until this is industry is integrated again as one, the fragmentation and chaotic scenes that the travelling public has experienced through timetabling fiascos and repeated over running engineering works will continue especially when no one person is truly is accountable, even the SOS states he is not in charge of the railways?

Further wholesale changes are not needed within the industry, detailed training programmes are though required for staff, so we can have an industry which one again employs and values that the staff within it, & are the best placed to maintain run & enhance the railway rather than continuing to import sub-contractors & consultants whose main aim is to extort the maximum remuneration for the services they supply.

For all its worth & with the money that has been spent in control periods since the mid 1990’s, bringing back British Rail where track & train are united would be a worthy aim

Paul Bunting replied on Permalink

Govia-Thameslink do not run Southern Railways properly. I have had delays, cancellations, stopping short of the destination, and excuses like "congestion" which is plainly the fault of the Railway. We never had this sort of trouble when British Rail ran the Railways. On Great Western Railway, we were told to charge trains at Paddington because of a fault on the advertised train and although the substitute train started half an hour later did I get any compensation? NO! Sack then private owners and bring the railways back into public ownership. At West Worthing Station there were plants growing out of the Chimney Stacks and grass growing in the gutters. Have the private owner no shame? Sack them all.

Hilary Clarke replied on Permalink

Money is wasted on bidding for franchises, rebranding when franchises change, advertising rival services and providing an assortment of on-line booking services. This could be better used on the core service and on keeping fares affordable.

paul Walsh replied on Permalink

Need I say more than 'Southern'?

Paul Bunting replied on Permalink

High fares, delays and cancellations are my experience of our privatised railways. I travelled by railway much more in the 1960s and the railways were on time and fares were lower.

Jean Ball replied on Permalink

The fallacy that the private sector is more efficient has been proven hollow. Excellent management is essential, but public transport needs to be run for the public, not for private and shareholder profit. Every penny possible needs re-invested into the public transport network so that it can deliver for our economy, our communities, and our environment.

Mr MA Moran replied on Permalink

The railways in this country are a disgrace, as are the way the rail companies keep demanding more public subsidies to top up their dividends. Enough is enough; the trains are unusable for most people, let's make them a economical travelling choice, rationalise the ticket prices, and get a few more cars off the roads!

Clement Chung replied on Permalink

Privatisation has created a disjointed delivery of rail services, with a confusing array of ticketing options. The return on investment seems to be for shareholders only, even though the public purse heavily subsidises the franchises operating the services.

Prue Stothard replied on Permalink

I agree with all comments advising a return to public ownership of the railways. Publicly owned British Rail ran trains on time, had one pricing system, co-ordinated repairs of stock and track, were comfortable, had dining facilities on board, were safer, co-ordinated cross country trains and reinvested surpluses back into the company. What's not to like???

Michele Kondakor replied on Permalink

The current system is broken. It does not work having different rules in different places. Trains are part of our public transport network and should be run for the public NOT for companies to make huge profits.

Bob Long replied on Permalink

Public utilities and services should be owned by the public, and not some rich individual or foreign company creaming off dividends and profits and failing to reinvest said profits into the services/utilities being provided.

Private ownership has led to the ridiculously high fares and appalling services now being provided by bus and rail companies!

Geoff Dakin replied on Permalink

It has been said that 'ownership is sharing'. And, in this case, that means public ownership of our railways and not ownership by private companies and their shareholders. I look forward to the day when we can say, "We own it!"

Dave Earl replied on Permalink

I worked in the Rail Industry for 35 years. There were lots of issues under BR ownership, not least political meddling & underfunding, which needed addressing.

When Privatisation reared its head I was in favour. I saw it as a chance to have a top down shake up & make it work better & more efficiently. Also get rid of deadwood which was impeding growth

However, I did not envisage a system so fragmented as it now is, but still in the hands of meddling politicians following their own party dogma.

Awarding contracts to various dubious private contractors by the same meddling politicians has left us with an unsafe, unreliable, unwieldy & unworkable shambles.

Caroline Wilson replied on Permalink

It seems totally obvious to me that a privatised system has to take money out of the business to pay its shareholders, and a publicly owned system can plough all profits back into the business, thus IMPROVING it. Why is it that the East Coast Line has done best when under public ownership?

Anonymous replied on Permalink

When the East Coast line has been taken back into public ownership it has made a profit for the people, not for the rail company. Fares on the West Coast line from and to London are unaffordable for the average person. After paying these high fares the overcrowding is diabolical often having to stand for the whole journey. Just a few examples as to why the railways should be in public ownership.

Paul Lawlor replied on Permalink

The current state of the railways is shameful, in it's current form it is not fit for purpose,shareholders profits put before the needs of the travelling public, worsening services on the each of the franchises ie Southern, SWR, Arriva North and ridiculous fare increases- the blame for this debacle lies squarely at the door of Chris Grayling whose incompetence defies belief.

The sooner these rail companies are stripped of their franchises and the whole network renationalised the better.

kath gray replied on Permalink

Private ownership of the railway system was only ever about making money, unrestrained greed has led to taking the michael. Enough.

Linda Cornall replied on Permalink

How does anyone expect to have a joined-up railway service when so many different owners are pursuing their different agendas? I remember nationalised railways and they certainly worked better than the current system, even without modern technology to help.

Tim Barlow replied on Permalink

I just want cheaper fares!

Professor Elisa... replied on Permalink

When I first started work in Newcastle in the 1960's, trains were sufficiently reliable and reasonably priced so that I was able to commute on a daily basis from Durham to Newcastle, never arriving late at work. Now that I live in the Cotswolds, it is impossible to plan any commitments in London because the Great Western trains are consistently late, unheated or insufficiently heated; carriages are not clearly structured, the loos are frequently dirty; the automatic announcement systems are often erroneous (eg when the train from Paddington is approaching Swindon on a journey that is supposed to carry on to Cheltenham, an automsatic announcement is erroneously made that the trsain will not proceed beyond Swindon). Moreover, the very short time span between when trains are first notified and the departure is often far too short safely to board the train.

Nick Jowett replied on Permalink

I'm not aginst the private sector being involved in providing some services, but the rail privatisation, like that of the probation service, has had many bad effects, and both need to be put back into public provision with public service at their heart.

Jim Piper replied on Permalink

I have used the railways for more than 60 years. British Railways (aka British Rail) was not perfect, but it got lots of people from A to B with a minimum of fuss and for an affordable fare. The theory underlying privatisation was that private companies would inevitably run the railways more efficiently than they could possibly be run if publicly owned. There was zero evidence to support this theory in advance of privatisation, and ample evidence since then that the theory is false. That private companies are more efficient now has similar status, in my eyes at least, to the theory that the earth is flat. It's supported solely by ideology, not by any evidence. In the 21st century. What a sad comment on our society, values and rulers...

Like other posters here, over the past couple of decades I too have experienced East Coast in both private and public hands. The service was probably better when publicly owned (I don't have actual data on this, so am keeping an open mind). And it only succeeded in making a "profit" (I would prefer to call it a surplus) while publicly owned.

So all in all, I would like to see the railways comprehensively renationalised, as soon as posssible.

Tim Bolton-Maggs replied on Permalink

The "privatisation" of the railways has produced a dysfunctional system which does not serve rail travellers well. Years of underfunding in the 20th Century kept the nationalised network from achieving its true potential and we are still suffering from this, despite the "benefits" that "privatisation" was supposed to provide. As a regular rail traveller for more than five decades, I have witnessed the decline in our service – which is very clear when compared with its counterparts in mainland Europe.

The present system is, in fact, not privatisation at all because taxpayers' money is being poured into inefficient companies which cream off a significant portion to line the pockets of their shareholders.

Also, there is no true competition because only one company is allowed to run a particular service - for example the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh & London or the much-maligned route between Norwich and London. The rail companies have no incentive to maintain good services that reflect the high prices they charge for their tickets.

The outsourcing of engineering (both maintenance and building) has been a disaster – the collapse of Carillon has caused all sorts of headaches because projects like the provision of new platforms at Edinburgh Waverley have been held up for almost a year and the introduction of new rolling stock is way behind schedule.

The government's controls on the system are out-of-touch and counter-productive: things were much better when regional managers were able to adapt services to local conditions, running more (or larger) trains when they knew there would be a high demand. The "efficiency" of the present system is only seen on the annual balance-sheets and actually makes the experience of travelling by rail very unpleasant at times.

To maintain the efficiency of an integrated transport system, the rail network and all its services need to be brought back into public ownership so the entire country can benefit from improved services and better value for money.

RAJESH SEMRETE ... replied on Permalink

The RICH Tories OWN all the Companies they have Privatised, They OWN The Majority of the shares and they are the ones who keep increasing prices of everything and they lie to the people of the UK... The RICH Tories OWN all the Companies they privatised like Electric, Gas, Water, BT, Royal Mail, British Rail.... and They Keep increasing prices and the services offered are DIABOLICAL... Working Class Tories of the UK are TOO STUPID & THICK to realise just what the RICH TORIES are doing to everyone.....SAVE THE NHS BEFORE THESE RICH TORIES privatise our NHS completely.....

Roderic Parker replied on Permalink

It was sensible for private companies to build the railways in the nineteenth century - there was no national vision and no national way of supporting the enterprise. But that was then and we are now in now - needing a unified system managed for the national community and owned by the national community. There is no place for the likes of George Hudson, the 'Railway King', in the 21st century.

Ruth replied on Permalink

Ever rising railfares and no better service; rather late or cancelled trains are considered the norm. And this under privatisation - companies allegedly competing to produce the best in rail travel. Could it be that the neoliberal approach to public services doesn't work?

Alexandra Veres replied on Permalink

Stop subscribing to the evil ideology that only the rich (Branson, Gloag, et al) deserve to make money, and start representing the many by nationalising our railways. Only a fool could fail to understand that a service whose raison d'être is to benefit the user MUST be better than one whose bottom line is profit! We pay for it, we deserve it.

David Treadwell replied on Permalink

Unfortunately, from the very nature of the current attitude of private companies, they do not always have the interest

in and for the general public, and indeed many of them have other national interests, even controlled by foreign governments.

Also, there is poor regulation and poor governance, and with the UK civil service experiencing a reduction in their level of expertise and knowledge, by the continued policy of outsourcing and privatisation.

An example was Railtrack, having disregarded the engineering experience, in favour of the City, the result was being unable to fulfil their responsibilities and they eventually collapsed.

Indeed, many of our government policies have been seen to be ideological and damaging to the national interests.

Mungo Campbell replied on Permalink

I believe that our railways ought to constitute an integrated element of our country's economic infrastructure and be run as a public service funded by taxation and any resultant revenue. I strongly support full nationalisation as a political objective.

Kerry Hunt replied on Permalink

I am fed up being crammed onto Trains not fit for purpose, on a railway no longer fit for purpose - all in the name of profit over passengers.

Roland Jeremy I... replied on Permalink

The railways must be run for the benefit of the public, not to line shareholders' pockets

JOHN BOSTOCK replied on Permalink

It seems to be that the government do not want to listen to 70% of the public when it comes to national ownership, even if it is the best for all but the shareholders of private companies.

Hilary Eddy replied on Permalink

For too long we have had governments who seem to believe that any taxpayers' money that is not immediately transferred to some private company or other is a wasted opportunity. Businessmen like Branson appear to believe that it is their divine right to have a constant stream of wealth emanating from the public purse. It seems singularly obvious that any service that is required to generat a generous reward for shareholders (or foreign nationalised bodies) is likely to cost more than a body that does not have to. It is also pretty obvious that cash going to shareholders cannot be re-invested in the service being provided.

Nationalised industries were not perfect, but they were amenable to pressure from voters and politicians. I used to enjoy travelling by train, but am now determined to fly from Cornwall to the Midlands on my next family visit. I simply don't see why I should pay an exorbitant fare only to be faced by hold-ups, cancellations, slow trains, non-functioning toilets, and the nightmare of going through multiple ticket checks as I try to change trains at the shopping mall previously known as Birmingham New Street.


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