British railways – reform or renationalise?


This policy briefing from the UK think tank Centre for Policy Studies evaluates the cases for renationalisation or for reform within the current framework, largely in the context of the English system.

British railways have made great progress since privatisation in terms of satisfaction and efficiency. However, progress has stalled in recent years and satisfaction has fallen back a little due to impunctuality, overcrowding, and annual price rises in excess of consumer price inflation. Additionally, there have been some high-profile industry failures: franchises declaring bankruptcy having overbid for contracts, large-scale delays and cancellations on some networks, and of course the timetable disruption of last summer.  Thus, while privatisation continues to deliver a better service than in most nationalised European systems, there is still room for progress.

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