23 March 2011
TV Review: Richard Wilson on Britain’s railways
Patrick Crozier

I haven’t yet watched Richard Wilson’s programme on British railways that was on Channel 4 the other day but I’ll stick my neck out and guess that it makes the following claims:

Fares are really expensive
Trains are frequently delayed
Subsidy is high
Trains are frequently overcrowded
This is all the fault of privatisation

I’m going to stick my neck out again and guess that it won’t be saying any of the following:

Railways are highly regulated
Rail fares are highly regulated
The wheel-rail split is the source of many of the industry’s problems and is mandated by the EU
That trains are much cleaner, brighter less vandalised and more reliable than they used to be
That many fares (restrictive as they may be) are extremely cheap
Overcrowding is a classic example of price controls causing shortages
That railways are expensive
That most of the subsidy goes to little-used rural lines
That railways are capital intensive, that it takes a long time for investments to become profitable and that franchises are typically short-term thus removing any incentive for rail operators to invest for the long-run.

Or, to put it another way, a lot of the things that get blamed on freedom are, in fact, the result of state violence.

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  1. Fares are really expensive
    Trains are frequently delayed
    Subsidy is high
    Trains are frequently overcrowded

    As someone who travelled frequently in the British Rail era, this was the case back then, which privatisation was supposed to resolve.

    This is all the fault of privatisation

    In fact, they were never “private"-ized, in the classic pre-BR era sense, merely moved to privately run government franchises. That’s why they are still crap.

    Posted by Ian F4 on  28 March 2011 at 03:12 am

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