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ref date:19 Oct 2000 (TRA)
Private rail industry killing us off

Margaret Thatcher dreamed of a fully privatised economy, no unions to protect any employees, the market driving what the public would receive in terms of service levels and prices and now we have it.

What do we have?

Privatised water - bills through the roof and pollution rife

Privatised telecoms - phone bills through the roof and a backward attitude towards internet usage

Privatised railways - high fares, fewer trains and deaths

We also have the Private finance initiative. Business HAS a role in society but it is NOT always the best way to go, that is now obvious.

Rail deaths Ms Louise Christian, the lawyer representing many relatives of the victims of the Southall and Paddington rail crashes, said: "We've been warning that not enough has been done (to improve railway track and rolling stock safety). How many times do we have to be vindicated before the Government starts taking notice?"

She continued "It's not about one man or about Railtrack but about the whole fragmented structure of the privatised rail industry and the unwillingness to invest to create a safe, modern railway. In other European countries, they have replaced track and rolling stock. Here, we're left with antiquated track and stock. The number of broken rails being reported every year is going up as the track ages. It raises the question of how long you can maintain a clapped-out infrastructure. What makes the situation worse is that Railtrack relies on contractors who aren't subject to the railway safety regime."