No way to run railways
Last updated at 09:59, Monday, 22 November 2010
BRITAIN’S railway operators are braced to see how they will fare in the government’s spending cuts but one leading expert feels the industry will come out of better than many others.
Christian Wolmar spoke on Britain’s Railways in Transition Again at the autumn meeting of the Cumbrian Railways Association at the Burnside Hotel in Bowness.
As the country’s best-known transport correspondent he has had the opportunity to quiz and ruffle the feathers of many ministers charged with improving railway services.
He said: “The railways are a fantastic way to travel and we are absolutely at a most fascinating time.”
He was a fierce opponent of the 1990s Conservative-led railway privatisation which set up a company to run the railway infrastructure and a series of companies to run line operating franchises.
He said: “They wanted to open access and competition. That was the ideology behind it.”
In his opinion, all it created was a series of regional monopolies.
He said: “They knew it was flawed but they pushed it through.”
When Labour’s Tony Blair came to office political ideology played no part in government policy.
He said: “When Labour got into power there was never a suggestion that they were going to re-nationalise the railways.”
Praise-worthy aims, such as reducing the level of public subsidy and reducing government interference, all failed.
He said: “If I had to sum up the Labour years it was 13 years of muddle.”
Even the 2007 White Paper looking ahead 30 years was flawed – talking of fuel cell technology when the rest of the railway world was pushing for more electrification of lines.
And Mr Wolmar feels the planned north-south high speed line will be an expensive white elephant.
However, he feels the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review will find it difficult to shave much off railway spending as cash is already committed in a 2009 to 2014 plan.
He said: “The investment plan is pretty safe.
“Many more road schemes were cut than rail schemes.”
Branch lines, such as that to Windermere, would be looked at when the franchise came up for renewal at the end of 2012 but he felt it would survive.
Closing it would save a couple of hundred thousand a year but would be opposed.
He said: “You would get an enormous outcry.
“I think that the network is pretty safe.”
First published at 09:49, Monday, 22 November 2010
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
More Windermere news
- Barrow, South Lakes and Copeland voters share their views
- Lake District artist’s portrait of the Queen pressed onto new coins
- Top critic claims Lake District restaurant is lighting the way
- Three men in South Lakes court on firearm and assault charges
- Electricity to be cut off at South Lakes restaurant
- World’s top Buddhist teachers to lead special sessions
- Club wins grant to bring rowing to Windermere
- Police hunting Lake District super glue vandal (1 comment)
- Windermere woman, 19, recalls horror Africa waterfall plunge
- Renowned Lake District hotel sold
- Parking meter anger "behind Cumbria by-election swing"
- Ulverston swimmer triumphs at Windermere Chillswim
- Woman attacked in Windermere
- South Lakes worker stole lottery tickets worth £4,000 to feed habit
- Yes vote on Scottish independence ‘could have massive effect’ on Cumbria businesses (2 comments)
- More experts join hunt for clues into Lake District wedding inferno (3 comments)
- Lake District hotel sold to local businessman
- Windermere school bully bites victim’s nose at club
- Woman involved in Windermere crash had been drinking - court heard
- South Lakes MP and deputy prime minister lead tributes to ‘dedicated’ Cumbria councillor (1 comment)
- ‘Nothing we can do’ say Lakes chiefs in parking meter row
- Cumbria police investigating after £25,000 damage to trees (2 comments)
- Swimmers make a big splash at Windermere
- Alleged sex offender due in Barrow court
- Peter Rabbit grabs gold at Chelsea Flower Show (1 comment)
Evening Mail homepage
- Dalton Zoo spots an opportunity to re-home snow leopard (4 comments)
- School’s agonising exit
- Gluten-free challenge - day five
- Tour de force
- Cumbria duo jailed for handling stolen goods (1 comment)
- Battle pays off for coastal residents
- Milby on music
- Mass protest saves six tips
- Storey has happy ending
- Coaches rewarded for their dedication
F. Dickinson footwear
Homes and gardens 22