Perhaps it is time to nationalise our failing railways

We mustn’t abandon the railways to market forces, many on the left asserted when British Rail was broken up and privatised in the 1990s. They needn’t have worried. A quarter of a century on and we have yet to see a market force take to the tracks. Wasn’t the whole purpose of privatisation supposed to be to transfer financial risk from the taxpayer to private finance?  Instead, as soon as the Covid crisis struck, while other industries were offered loans, furlough payments and business rate relief but were otherwise left to fend for themselves, the rail industry was propped up as if nothing was wrong. The government simply suspended the

Don’t abandon privatisation because of Northern Rail

Jeremy Corbyn likes to say that he ‘won the argument’ at the last general election, where he argued – amongst other things – for the re-nationalisation of the railways. It was a popular policy. Today, as if on cue, the government announced that Northern Rail is being taken into public ownership, stripping Arriva Rail North of the franchise. So what’s going on? Should we now regard rail privatisation as a failure? For a start, we don’t have privatised rail. We have a hybrid system created under John Major, with private firms running (but not owning) the trains, and a notorious state-run Network Rail owning the track – its failures are