It’s now 20 years since rail privatisation under the Major Government in 1993.
The claim was that fares would rise no faster under private ownership than under British Rail.
The then Transport Secretary, John MacGregor, told Parliament in February 1993: “I see no reason why fares should increase faster under the new system than they do under the present nationalised industry structure, in many cases, they will be more flexible and will be reduced.”
So what has been the reality?
Since the last British Rail fares were published in June 1995, RPI inflation has risen by 66 per cent.
A single ticket from London to Manchester increased by 208 per cent,from £50 in 1995 to £154 today; over three times the rate of inflation.
Although the season ticket for that journey has risen by only 65 per cent, just less than inflation.
Locally, a London to Brighton season ticket has increased by 75 per cent and a single by 95 per cent, whilst the level of subsidy from Government to the rail operators increased by some 80 per cent from £2.17bn in 1992-93 to £3.9bn in 2011-12.
On that basis, both rail traveller and the tax payer are paying more for privatisation.
It would be churlish not to recognise the under-investment by BR and the subsequent introduction of new trains and station upgrades.
But did that require Privatisation to achieve; particularly on the back of above-inflation increases in fares and public subsidy?
Commuters standing on peak-hour trains through Sussex may reflect if the now fragmented private rail network really is giving value for money.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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