Dick Fearn, Independent Chairman, Western Route Supervisory Board
High-quality rail services for passengers and freight customers are, in my view, best achieved on systems where rail infrastructure provision and train operation is well co-ordinated and where train services are well-connected.
However, having worked for over four decades in the rail industry in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, in both public and private sector companies, I do not subscribe to the view that public ownership is necessary for delivery of the high-quality services that passengers and freight customers require.
It is an undeniable fact that over the last 20 years since the introduction of passenger rail franchising in Britain, innovative franchise bid plans and commitments have brought about substantial increases in train service frequency throughout the network, not only on main line inter-city and intensive suburban commuter routes, but also on many provincial inter-urban and rural lines.
This has, in turn, driven unprecedented rail passenger volume growth in Britain that is the envy of many state-owned railways throughout Europe.