13 April 2007
Privatisation does not cause fragmentation
Patrick Crozier

There was a story in the Times about Network Rail in Scotland.  Apparently they are cooking up a plan to re-integrate the railway.  Which is good as far as it goes because fragmentation is a bad thing.

It got picked up by the Evening Standard who in turn asked little ‘ol me to respond.  This is what I wrote:

I see in your report (Rail chiefs in talks over renationalising train services, Jason Beattie, News, 12 April) one interviewee talked of:  “...the damaging fragmentation caused by privatisation.”

Well, he’s right about the fragmentation.  Splitting wheel from rail has been shown time and again to lead to delays, spiralling costs and organisation chaos.

But privatisation?  Are the great private railways of Japan fragmented? No.  Are the great private freight railways of America fragmented? Again, no.  Did our great private operators who invented, built and developed our railways over the course of 100 years, open up their permanent ways for all-comers?  Like hell did they.

Sorry, I’m wrong.  Actually there was a case.  The Stockton and Darlington, the world’s first passenger railway experimented with it for about three months in 1825.  They learnt their lesson very quickly.

So, if private enterprise doesn’t cause fragmentation, what does?  Government, of course.  By law.  European law, as it happens.  So, how Network Rail and their Scottish politician chums think they can re-integrate the railway is anyone’s guess.

Are they planning to leave the EU?

Feedback

  1. Fair enough, but often we learn that European law is capable of bearing more than one interpretation and that the twats who rule us have picked the dimmest.  Any chance of that here?

    Posted by dearieme on  13 April 2007 at 06:46 pm

  2. Pertinent points about fragmentation and the EEC: however, if the Treasury hadn’t been so enthusiastic about it we might have behaved like Germany; there disintergration has not reached the level that pleases the EEC. Consequently the DB is a far more cohesively planned and financed system. And it shows...inevitably. The really threatening uk question for the Treasury thesedays, though, is just how they get the cost of the railway down to the 1997 equivalent, ie: -300% or so in real terms. Could politicians forestall them?

    Posted by Chris(topher) BURTON on  28 April 2007 at 05:54 am

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