ATOC report

10 July 2013

Mick Whelan has condemned a report from the Association of Train Operating Companies that claims, in the face of all the evidence, that franchising has helped transform the railway into a British success story.

The ATOC report, misleadingly titled Growth and Prosperity, which was published today, says ‘train operators are generating more than four times as much money for government to reinvest in rail services than 15 years ago’.

Mick said: ‘The privatisation of Britain’s publicly-owned railways is portrayed – by the privatised train operating companies – as a success. But even Margaret Thatcher admitted it was a privatisation too far.

‘Privatisation didn’t create competition; it didn’t drive down prices; it didn’t mean the end of public subsidies. It created lots of geographical monopolies; fares have risen sharply; and taxpayer subsidies are higher than they were. So privatisation has, on its own terms, failed.

‘Yes, there’s been investment – by the taxpayer – but none by the privateers, who spend all their money winning the franchise. The cash for the trains, and the infrastructure, has all come from the public purse.

‘And, yes, there are more people travelling on trains. But that’s not because of privatisation. It’s because of increases in petrol prices and a growing population.

‘In this country we know that privatisation – or flogging off our national assets, as I call it – doesn’t work.’

A recent academic report by the Centre for Research on Social-Cultural Change at Manchester University – called The Great Train Robbery – concluded that rail privatisation has failed to deliver on its promises.

The Centre examined the key objectives of privatisation – such as passenger comfort and numbers, cost effective transport, investment, innovation – as laid out by John Major’s Conservative government in 1994. And found that, on every measure, privatisation had come up short.

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