This is devastating. British rail fares, the highest per passenger mile of any country in Europe, are set to become higher still. This is a poll tax on wheels, to many, an unavoidable impost that must be paid at the same rate by rich and poor alike, even though rail transport is an indispensable public service.
Err, no, not really.
If everyone in the country is taxed so that fares can be subsidised by the Treasury then that’s more like a poll tax. Because no one has any choice about whether they pay for the railways or not. If passengers pay for the trains then not everyone has to pay do they? Those who so organise their lives so that they don’t take trains aren’t paying for the trains, are they?
Conceptually, it was absurd to divide the network from the train companies that run on it; any rail system works as an integrated whole.
That’s the European Union that insists upon that. Nowt to do with domestic politics at all: and also something that wouldn’t be changed if there was nationalisation.
It was equally a conceptual disaster to imagine that because each train licence is of necessity a monopoly – you can’t have two services from London to say Manchester competing against each other – the monopoly had to be temporary with renewable licences auctioned at 10-year intervals.
Odd that. There’s at least two different companies competing on one route I know, London to Bath.
What’s more, it was crazed to believe a public good required minimal or no public grants.
Trains are a public good now? If they were they’d never have been built, would they? For the point of a public good is that it is non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Neither of which apply to a railway. They might well be public services but that’s a very different marmite de poisson.
Lastly, it was asinine not to understand that private capital demands financial returns well above the cost of capital available to the low-risk state. As a result, there have to be never-ending and ongoing efficiency gains beyond the initial round of layoffs and wage cuts to deliver those extra returns.
Err, yes, that’s the point.
That cannot be done even by the hand of God. The only recourse is poorer service provision,
Trains are worse now then they were? When you also, in the same piece, say this?
After all, investment is booming, passenger numbers rising and safety is better. It’s not all bad.
Privatisation has made the service worse?
Directly Operated Railways is the 100% publicly owned company that took over the east coast mainline when the incompetent private operator walked away from its obligations in 2009. Five years of public ownership and it is now the best run and most efficient operator, making a net surplus of £16m for the taxpayer. Its reward? To be sold back to a private operator next February
Yes, note that verb there: sold. That means cash coming into the state, doesn’t it?
Networks of key public services such as rail are natural monopolies;
Eh? We have competing ways to get to Scotland, to Birmingham, from Bath to London. What sodding monopoly?
It’s time to build and expand the public institutions we have and insist that any private holder of a franchise designed to deliver a public good is constituted as a public benefit company with a charter that sets outs obligations to match the privileges, including paying UK tax.
We can discuss that when you learn the meaning of “public good” Willy.