A third way for Britain’s railways

None of the 1980s and 90s state privatisations have been as contentious as the break-up of British Rail (BR). Despite a number of improvements and record passenger numbers there is still wide- spread discontentment and increasing calls for renationalisation. Privatisation has not delivered the one central benefit any break up of a state controlled monolith is supposed to bring – competition. 20 years on, the network is still made up of highly specified, privately provided yet state controlled monopolies mostly delivering the bare basics. This paper advocates a complete re-think of how UK passenger rail services are structured and provides a better solution to both the current unpopular franchise model and the nationalisation alternative proposed by Labour.

The key points:

• Identify and deliver a system of bespoke financial and operating models to the varying rail markets currently operating rather than the current crude ‘one size fits all’ version

• Create competition on key long distance rail routes to deliver lower fares, reduced running costs, improved customer service, and a greater focus on technology and innovation to ensure a better deal for the passenger & taxpayer

• Encourage new entrants into the rail market with a focus on customer service and better yield management to encourage greater rail use and modal shift from road and air to rail. This paper outlines a new and innovative approach to running passenger rail services; one which best reflects the social and economic benefits rail brings and how it can be enhanced.

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