The Catacombs of Paris
So all summer, I’ve been travelling to open days all over Britain. In fact by October, I’ll have traveled around 2000 miles, from London to Newcastle, Exeter, Sheffield, Oxford, Bristol and Belfast. And having done that, and had my wallet lightened significantly, I can say with confidence that I utterly despise our privatised railway system in its entirety. Trains smell bad. Staff are rude. Fares are incomprehensible and unfair. And everything is late.
Firstly, I have an ideological argument for the nationalisation of the railways. I believe that the markets do not strictly improve a service, and further to that, I believe that some services simply should be owned by the state, and managed for the benefit of their users, rather than a private company. This isn’t to say that British Rail was every perfect, but it certainly isn’t as bad as the system we have now.
The primary arguments for selling British Rail was that it was too expensive to maintain and that competition would drive down prices and drive up quality. None of that has been shown to be true.
The amount of money being ploughed into the privatised railways today is five times the amount that British Rail cost. And unlike British Rail, that money is simply disappearing into the dividends of wealthy shareholders. You see, private firms have no obligation to their customers, but they do have a legal obligation to provide the biggest dividend possible, so we shouldn’t be too surprised. So firstly, it would therefore seem to be cheaper for the state if we were to re-nationalise the railways.
And secondly, fares haven’t gone down, they have gone up. And they are continuing to go up, with some operators levying a 13% rise on fares. At a time when wages are rising by far less than that, and in real terms many wages are falling, this is utterly ludicrously unfair - making travel the preserve of the rich! And secondly, the service hasn’t improved; trains are still late, trains are still foul smelling, and the food sucks more than ever.
Did I mention that only 23% of people support the continuation of privatisation?
The worst thing about the railways? Cameron is using all the same arguments regarding NHS reform. Remind me why we want to do this to the NHS as well?