Rail privatisation has been a disaster for taxpayers | Letters

A renationalised railway would require less government subsidies and provide better value for money for the taxpayer and better services, writes Iain Kitt

Paul Plummer’s assertion that rail privatisation turned a loss-making industry into one that now makes a net contribution to the exchequer (Letters, 15 June) cannot go unchallenged. Yes, the companies that run the trains make an operating surplus but only because the government provides massive financial support to Network Rail, to the tune of £4.4bn in 2016-17 (source Office of Rail and Road). This enables Network Rail to charge the train operators artificially low amounts for using the tracks. If they were charged the true costs then virtually all the train operators would be bankrupt. Privatisation has been a financial disaster leading to hugely increased subsidies from the government. Much of this just flows directly into the pockets of shareholders or is absorbed by the transaction costs consequent upon the byzantine system imposed by privatisation. If the railways were to be renationalised they would still require a subsidy, as does every railway system in Europe, but it would almost certainly be less and we would get better value for money and better services.
Iain Kitt
Newcastle upon Tyne

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