As a podgy non-athlete uninterested in sports, I understand Stephen Jackson’s resentment at a tiny, finite amount of taxpayers’ money celebrating our victorious Olympians (can we blame Brexit?).
However, I don’t share his demand that taxpayers pour infinite sums into a bottomless pit renationalising the railways (19/8/16) especially as he doesn’t explain what difference it would make.
Labour routinely shuns renationalisation: Harold Wilson’s 1964 government did not repeal the Beeching cuts accepted in 1963, Tony Blair did not repeal privatisation of the railway companies in 1996, Labour briefly re-nationalised the East Coast line... and handed it back when they could have continued under EU competition rules (I won’t mention Prescott’s Integrated Transport Policy).
By all means nationalise the railway track/infrastructure in the national interest; indeed Labour established Network Rail as a private, not-for-profit business run on commercial lines, recovering costs through operators (and thus passengers - not tax-payers). But British Rail’s only profitable operations remain high-speed Inter-city trains benefiting elite passengers (hence the Beeching cuts and today’s demands for a local HS3) at the expense of under-funded, costly, infrequent local services.
Re-nationalisation will not stop industrial unrest.
Has Stephen forgotten the 1960s-1980s when unions in nationalised industries took turns to cripple the nation, destroying ordinary working people’s livelihoods? Nor will it address the unresolvable issue of colossal numbers of commuters choosing to travel to the same destination at the same time self-congesting the system; the physical limits on the length of platforms, trains and the number which can safely run and discharge at newly enlarged London terminii? Nor does it resolve the cost of rolling stock lying idle between peak periods.
So why should millions of us tax-payers on low local wages, who don’t use trains, subsidise the life-style of frustrated rail commuters on high London-weighted salaries whose ‘crippling’ £4,500 season tickets equate to a bargain £19 work-day peak return? Should tax-payers also subsidise those who have no option but to drive, or suffer overcrowded stuffy buses, to get to work?
So, Stephen, what difference would tax-payer funded renationalisation make given it is already tightly regulated under Labour’s 2005 Railways Act?
Barry M Jones
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