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Britain's Railways: The Reality
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Britain's Railways: The Reality

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The author disproves claims that British Rail "was in decline, over-staffed, less safe, had no modernisation for 40 years and bequeathed decrepit assets to its successors. He reveals that British Rail had lower subsidies and the fares trailed inflation for almost the entire nationalisation era contrary to popular belief. BR was latterly allowed some freedom to recover lost ground, but were in far behind inflation, that at privatisation, £11.6 billion had been lost due to Government control and interference! Research proves that deficits were due to political, and managerial incompetence. A Tory Cabinet agreed that it send not cover costs from revenue, but passed Acts requiring the avoidance of loss! Inevitable losses were "compensated" by loans! No industry, however skilled its managers could have avoided insolvency in such a situation. Having belatedly agreed to fund lost making rural lines that the Minister had prevented BR from closing, he directed that BR should progressively reduce the subsidy. The goal posts have moved the subsidy is allowed to rise to attract traffic from made.

Due to wartime Government policies, British Rail inherited fares and charges at 1941 levels, suppliers costs at 1948 levels and a rag-bag of assets. Unlike road transport, railway's were denied materials to modernise for ten years after the war, were refused authority to use their own money to that end, and were directed not to restore railways to their pre-war standard. There were three phases of modernisation the last being 1980-1994.

Pre-war freight decline continued because Government would not concede to BR, the freedom enjoyed by hauliers, as it may lead to "out-and-out competition Complacent industries lost a world lead in every field, so the railways built to serve them, were left with surplus assets. The Channel Tunnel- which pre-war railway's and British Rail wished to build was opposed by Government, and the road and shipping lobbies for 60 years.

Delays in delivery by suppliers, and breakdowns of new rolling stock and equipment that had to be withdrawn from service for modifications led to delays and cancellations of trains for which British Rail was blamed!

The secret 1960 Stedeford Committee of businessmen criticised Government for railway deficits, when it was expected that their entire criticism would be of BR. Little surprise, its Report was hidden for 30 years, regrettably, ignored by the media, on its release in 1991. This Committee said fares were the low, closures too slow and that railways ought to be run by railwaymen. Of ten Chairmen from 1948 to 1994, only two were railwaymen - the fifth and the eighth. Their tenure was marked by improvements in finances and services.

The author asks. "With which perfect UK industry war BR compared and concludes the answer is none. No other industry including transport published a single figure with which BR could be compared. Those who came into railways with trumpets blaring, inconvenienced the public by ill conceived cuts in manpower and train size. They began with subsidies which were double those paid to BR. They have found that the scope for significant economy was illusory. They offered low fares leading as was predictable to more passengers, bot required more trains, and more subsidy! More trains- as any British Rail manager knew-on existing track would increase delays and cancellations. Under BR, Inter City and South East services, which ran services on 18 of the 25 routes into which BK was split, had no subsidy, all but one of the 25 new operators received subsidies Privatisation was promoted by pious hopes and the alleged success of other privatisations. If past success was guide, UK industry would have benefitted BR. Instead, the private sector will get credit for regaining traffic lost by Government policies. Their timing coincided with the end of recession, when railways - like other industries - recover lost business.

Softback, 17x23cm, 212 pages,

Condition: Good/Very Good

ISBN: 9780953522507

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Updated: 2 April 2024