British rail system is shambles, and nationalisation has been proven to work. So what are we waiting for?
Once upon a time, about 9 years ago, my school commute in London cost me £13 weekly and I even had a few pounds left to buy pudding for lunch. Fast forward to present day and shockingly I’m still a student and I still commute, but now it costs me £100… weekly and I can’t even afford buy a hot drink whilst I wait for the delayed train in the cold November weather. British rail system is shambles, and nationalisation has been proven to work. So what are we waiting for?
Trains in the UK are used by thousands of people everyday but the trains and their systems are some of the most expensive and inefficient in Europe. This can be traced back to 1979 when the privatisation of public sector industries was a priority according to the Conservative government. The government claimed that the main benefit of privatisation is that some services will be better run if invested by the private sector, and the efficiency and competition of the private sectors will overall improve the industry (Bishop et al., 1994). I’m sure thousands of daily commuters that are late for work would beg to differ. Conservatives need to realise that not all industries benefit from privatisation. Industries where it makes sense for companies to compete against each other to provide the best possible service should be privatised. Industries where the profit motive will make things worse for everyone should not.
Statistics accumulated and calculated by YouGov shows that 60% of British people support re-nationalising of the railways so they are run in the public sector rather than by private companies. UKIP, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters all support the idea, by 70%, 78% and 60%. Conservatives however are divided 42-42% (YouGov, 2014).
YouGov also collected the reasons why people wanted to support the rail nationalisation. 62% of people say that railways should be accountable to taxpayers rather than shareholders, 47% think it this will cause prices to go down and 43% think it will thus be more cost effective overall. (YouGov, 2014)
According to the statics above, the highest level of support within political parties is the Labour party and they have re-nationalisation of the rail industry on the top their economic agenda for decades. They argue that a nationalised system would promote transparency and accountability, and would give the government more control over certain areas (Parker and Martin, 1996). The best example of nationalisation working for us is East Coast rail. The service was rescued by a government controlled company in 2008, after National Express fell into financial trouble and the franchise collapsed. Under public ownership, satisfaction rates climbed to 91%. So… what are we waiting for?
Bishop, M., Kay, J and Mayer, C. (1994). Privatisation and Economic Performance, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Dahlgreen, W. (2017). YouGov | Why the public want to nationalise the railways. [online] YouGov: What the world thinks. Available at: https://goo.gl/1PMBUh [Accessed 11 Oct. 2017].
David Harvey (2007) ‘The Neoliberal State’ A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press), pp. 21-26
Matthew Watson (2005) ‘Approaches to International Political Economy: Beyond States and Markets’ in Foundations of International Political Economy (Palgrave 200) pp. 36 – 41.
Parker, D. and Martin, S. (1996) “The Impact of UK Privatisation on Labour and Total
Factor Productivity”, Scottish Journal of Political Economy.