Michael Holden, For­mer Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Di­rectly Op­er­ated Rail­ways

Rail (UK) - - Fea­ture Na­tion­al­i­sa­tion -

Dr Tay­lor has done us all a ser­vice by mov­ing the po­lit­i­cal de­bate away from sim­plis­tic sound­bites on things such as for­eign own­er­ship and high fares, and into the realm of re­search and anal­y­sis.

I liked his use of the um­brella con­cept of frag­men­ta­tion to wrap up a series of un­de­sir­able con­se­quences aris­ing from the struc­ture of to­day’s rail­way: from in­cre­men­tal costs at or­gan­i­sa­tional in­ter­faces, through sub-op­ti­mal re­source al­lo­ca­tion, to a fail­ure to put pas­sen­gers’ needs first across ar­bi­trary TOC bound­aries.

Dr Tay­lor uses the in­creased costs aris­ing from fric­tion at the in­ter­faces, and the pas­sen­ger dis­sat­is­fac­tion with ser­vice across the cur­rent ar­bi­trary or­gan­i­sa­tional bound­aries, to make his case for re­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion in a sin­gle ver­ti­cally in­te­grated busi­ness within pub­lic own­er­ship.

I think this would be a huge mis­take on two counts: a sin­gle be­he­moth run­ning the GB rail net­work and re­spon­si­ble di­rectly to Gov­ern­ment would take us straight back to the Bri­tish Rail era. I have been there, and no mat­ter how many prob­lems we have with our rail­way struc­ture now, that is not the an­swer.

■ More on this from Michael Holden can be read in RailRe­view Q4-2017.

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