Michael Holden, Former Chief Executive, Directly Operated Railways
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.