Privatisation Has Dumped UK Railways At The Bottom Of The League

New research shows that privatisation has dumped UK railways at the bottom of the league with worse to come under McNulty rail review

A NEW REPORT commissioned by rail union RMT from the think tank Just Economics reveals that two decades of private profiteering, alongside years of underinvestment in infra-structure while fares have gone through the roof, has dumped the UK’s railways at the bottom of the league compared to other parts of Europe.

The research, a counter-blast to the McNulty rail review and the expected Government Command Paper on his report, shows that on four out of six key indicators - fares, electrification, high speed and passengers to seats - the UK comes bottom or second to bottom. In other parts of Europe publicly-owned railways, now threatened with the UK privatisation model under EU directives, are thirty to forty per cent cheaper to operate.

The report also shows that the UK’s under-performing railways carry a considerable social and economic cost both for passengers and for the public purse. The new calculations show that a more affordable, more comfortable and faster railway would generate a staggering £324 billion in social value (£9.2 billion a year) between now and 2050. This is the equivalent of £7 of value per average journey in that period.

Just Economics estimate that the social, economic and environmental benefits of achieving a modal shift from road to rail – in terms of reduced congestion, accidents and emissions – could potentially reach £154.8 billion by 2050.

And now McNulty proposes more of the same fragmented and costly privatisation disaster and a meeting in Brussels last week, hosted by Labour Euro MEP Brian Simpson and the train companies, aimed to roll the British privatisation model out across Europe.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“This latest research shows that the failures of privatisation are costing the UK hundreds of billions of pounds in social value. Instead of addressing that issue and looking at the cheaper and socially beneficial alternative of a publicly owned railway, McNulty proposes more cuts and even longer gold-plated franchises for the private train operators. Now McNulty and the TOC’s want to roll that model out across Europe smashing up rail services from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.”

Report author, Eilis Lawlor from Just Economics added:

“Our research puts figures on what anyone who has been to France or Spain already knows; the UK’s railways are poor value for money. Instead of profitability being the primary measure of success, the wider benefits of the railway need greater consideration. Government should act decisively and make an objective and transparent assessment of the best way to organise Britain’s railways so as to maximise social, environmental and economic value.”

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