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Let's talk nationalisation

(53 Posts)
MaizieD Sun 11-Jun-17 11:28:54

While the dust is settling from the GE it could be time to look perhaps a bit more calmly at some of the issues.
I suggest we start with rail nationalisation as CardiffJaguar has raised it as a bit of a derailer (sorry) on another thread. I quote their post.

CardiffJaguar Sun 11-Jun-17 08:21:51

Now I have started something it seems. Take nationalisation as one example of past mistakes. Looking at Southern Rail as it is today it is very reminiscent of the problems of BR during the time it was government owned and run. the decision to put rail out into privatisation was a desperate move by government to get rid of a problem they could not resolve. The privatisation was botched and rail is still costing the taxpayer yet public ownership failed. There are many lessons to be learnt about what not to do in the future.

Also, GG2 has responded so I'll quote that too


Cardiff, just one point (initially), although there are many. After 1945, the Labour government nationalised key industries, such as railways, steel and electricity. I wonder how many years it would have taken to take these industries forward after the war if it was left to "the market". Some industries require long-term investment to improve services over time. This long-term investment may not be profitable in the short-term, so without government intervention they may suffer from lack of long term - or what seems to be currently called 'slow' investment.

There was a long period - up to Thatcher - when there was a consensus between the parties that a mixed economy - some government run, some privately run - would work for this country. The far-right then decided to change things. This does not mean they were right.

Anyone, apart from me, want to take it from here?

MaizieD Sun 11-Jun-17 11:40:00

And, as a matter of interest I'll throw in this link to an independent report on Rail privatisation called 'The Great Train Robbery'

(You'll never guess what conclusions they came to wink)

For myself, I could remind CJ that when the East Coast main line was temporarily run by the state, when a franchisee dropped out, it was reported as enjoying high levels of passenger satisfaction (as a fairly frequent passenger myself I can vouch for them) and returned a profit to the Treasury.

I don't think that the UK rail system will ever be 100% perfect, but at the moment it seems to be more of a mess than when it was privatised. If it's a profitable mess I'd like to see those profits going to the state, not to shareholders.

Lazigirl Sun 11-Jun-17 18:32:21

The irony of it is Maisie that many of our rail companies are State owned. Problem is the States that own them and earn profit from them are Dutch, German and French.

paddyann Sun 11-Jun-17 18:36:48

it has long been SNP policy to take back control of the railways ...presently we dont have the power devolved to us to do it ,but it comes close to the top of the list,already they have allied ferry prices to the same distance on roads so people who live on the islands aren't punished for it..Humza Yusuf ,transport minister is very vigilant about his job...just as well when he gets msg's regularly when a train is late into Edinburgh !

Deedaa Sun 11-Jun-17 20:40:59

I can never follow the logic that says that privately run companies with shareholders to pay are some how going to be better value for the public. I think that even during the Southern Rail fiasco they were more worried about their shareholders than their paying customers.

MaizieD Sun 11-Jun-17 22:13:10

Anyone opposed to rail renationalisation? If you are, then why are you?

Howcome Sun 11-Jun-17 22:13:26

Privatisation, outsourcing whatever of that ilk.... I feel if someone else wants to run it from the private sector, there is a profit to be had ir they wouldn't do it. Better that profit is the states than the profit goes to the private companies. It also enables the govt to create lots of apprentiships etc. For little more than the cost of benefits, and so much more rewarding to the self esteem and useful to society and the company... I'm all for it - as has been said we subsidise it anyway so why not, we can't do worse!! I supported the mixed economy and still believe it's the best model.

Grampie Mon 12-Jun-17 09:36:15

It appears that the EU is opposed:

"By liberalising the European rail industry, the fourth rail package is continuing a longstanding EU objective. The EU appears to share the British ideological mindset of the 1990s that led to a fragmented rail network and privatisation. It is arguing for this under the mantra that competition will bring better and cheaper services for passengers.""


Rissybee Mon 12-Jun-17 09:51:27

I so agree with MaizieD. We subsidise the railways yet shareholders receive a dividend - so effectively we pay shareholders and put up with an inefficient yet v expensive service.

Carolpaint Mon 12-Jun-17 10:15:32

May I add to the list of other countries that now own the rail franchises, China is now in the mix.
The ideology that private does things better, it all depends which view point you are looking at it, if I was exceedingly rich: utilities, prisons, passport office, police, hospitals I would like to privatise and would talk about efficiency savings. Which equals as much as is possible reducing the employees pay to minimum wage,
sell off assets, minimal training, take all the money out of the pension pots. Then I would continue the self congratulatory life style of my fellow city boys. We need to praise our nationalised assets, encourage people feel secure again. Stop the ideology of viewing these as 'lame ducks'. Get pride back, train our own.

Lilyflower Mon 12-Jun-17 10:45:08

State owned industries end up being corrupt, nepotistic, union bound, starved of proper funding and inefficient.

If you want to travel on a late, dirty train being administered by a surly jobsworth nationalise the railways.

A friend who lives in New Zealand part of the year tells us about the health system there. The 'free' service is hopeless. You can wait hours to be seen if you can't afford to pay. If you pay you are seen immediately and get good treatment.

trisher Mon 12-Jun-17 10:58:46

Lilyflower have you traveled by rail lately? I would rephrase your statement

If you want to travel on a late, dirty train, standing in overcrowded conditions, where you don't see any staff, travel on any train at peak times. And think about how much of your very expensive ticket is lining the pocket of some investor somewhere, propped up by government subsidies.

radicalnan Mon 12-Jun-17 11:14:33

We all have every high expectations of everything now but we don't / can't pay for them. Think how first class and luxurious trains now are compared to the old first class ones we had, or how high tech and amazing the NHS is to what we had when it first came out and well into the 70's.....we just keep getting more demanding and less grateful as standards rise.

We can reserve seats from home now, stipulate which way we want to face, with table or without and how much noise we prefer in carriage. Just like the NHS appts can be made from home and timed to suit yourself mostly and nowhere nearthe wait times of the olden days, when clinic times were 10am or 2pm.

Champagne services required on lemonade money.

I want them to perfect the driverless cars, trains don't go everywhere.......but I shan't be happy with the costs of those either when they happen.

As the bulk of people earn the minimum wage how can they partake of sophisticated services which cost a fortune to operate????

CardiffJaguar Mon 12-Jun-17 11:48:08

It would have been helpful if MaizieD had included my response to GGMK2:
Your comments have to be taken together with the conditions of the time. After WW2 the whole of UK industry was on its knees. The war effort had particularly hit both steel and railways. There was no private capital that could have rescued them. The circumstances were exceptional. However the results were not good. Neither of them managed to become successful and were a continuing drag on taxation.

Personally I would have loved the Swiss to take over and run our railways, but I doubt they would have taken on such an enormous job. As for steel need I say anything?

Lewlew Mon 12-Jun-17 12:02:03

Even if the rail contracts were bought back incrementally, eg only as the leases came up, the government would still almost bankrupt itself in meeting demand for new rolling stock, track upgrades, electrification etc.

Kim19 Mon 12-Jun-17 12:04:12

I have a deal of sympathy for Lilyflower's thinking. I remember the days of rail nationalisation. Greatest recollection was of porters littering the platforms yet doing little and 2 persons (usually men) for each job. Not for me, methinks.

trisher Mon 12-Jun-17 12:11:29

Lewlew we already pay for tracks etc
.Of this £4.0bn taxpayer subsidy...
• £0.1bn went to train operating companies
• £3.9bn went to Network Rail
Network Rail receives 63% of its income in the form of a grant from government

daphnedill Mon 12-Jun-17 12:31:37

I don't understand the logic of private always being best. With good management in place, there's no reason why a nationalised rail service can't be just as efficient.

Rail infrastructure does not provide conditions for a "market" because competitive forces just don't work. A rail company can't increase supply on demand and shouldn't stop services just because they're unprofitable. Otherwise, we'd end up with just a handful of services between major cities.

Network Rail is another issue.

grandtanteJE65 Mon 12-Jun-17 14:10:41

We are all old enough to remember the hash British Railways made of it, and it did not get any better when they changed their name to British Rail. The de-nationalised services do not seem to be doing any better, so I think it's as broad as it's long!
Living outside the UK in a country that has both state-run and private rail services, I can tell you that both seem intent on raising prices and reducing service on the grounds that the service only pays if the trains are full, which they seldom are. As they are often delayed, it isn't really surprising that people still prefer to drive themselves than use public transport.
Until and unless governments really mean it when they say that we should use public transport rather than driving ourselves so as not to increase pollution, I don't think things will get any better. It isn't a cheerful prospect as the day is looming when one should no longer drive a car - reactions slowing, sight getting worse etc.

trisher Mon 12-Jun-17 14:17:01

Travelled on trains throughout my life, there really hasn't been that much difference between BR and privatised trains. Some arrive on time, some don't, some are clean, some aren't. It has always been thus. The one thing that has got worse is the overcrowding, I don't ever remember seeing so many people sitting on luggage racks, loos and the floor.

Coco51 Mon 12-Jun-17 14:26:52

While our East Coast mainline was in private hands it was returning an average of 2 billion to the treasury per year - as opposed to the 1.7 billion the taxpayer gave as a subsidy to Virgin trains and never seeing any profit paid back.

Most of the 'private' transport contracts are in the hands of government owned companies of France, Germany Holland etc. so the British public are paying through the nose to subsidise transport for people in other countries.

Our wonderful Tory Government would sell the nose on your face if they could make money to give to their wealthy friends. WHY would you sell a company that is making profits for the treasury and pay someone else subsidies to run it?

MaizieD Mon 12-Jun-17 14:26:53

We can reserve seats from home now, stipulate which way we want to face, with table or without and how much noise we prefer in carriage.

Thanks mainly to the magic of computers. And I could do all of that on East Coast mainline when it was being state run.

I could also reserve seats pre privatisation. I did it frequently when travelling from Yorkshire to Scotland with two small children.

I've travelled on trains from steam to modern High Speed over my lifetime. Like grandtanteJE65 I haven't noticed any appreciable difference in the quality of the service, apart from changes to rolling stock which would have happened anyway.

MaizieD Mon 12-Jun-17 14:36:45

Thanks for that link, Grampie

As the UK has always been a major player in the EU I wonder how much it was involved in pushing for this?

This comment makes me wonder: role model or prime mover?

The EU package may not strictly require privatisation but it is definitely designed to create an environment conducive to this. Curiously, the EU holds up Britain as a role model, despite the fact that many in the UK take a more critical view of the privatisation in hindsight. I would therefore suggest there is a valid case for Mick Cash to say that the package promotes dismantling state rail services and paves the way for privatising operations.

Coco51 Mon 12-Jun-17 14:46:53

Maybe Lilyflower the reason people wait for hours for public healthcare is because the private companies have picked off all the profitable parts of the health service, leaving no money for those who cannot afford to go private - just what is happening to our NHS.
As to private railways, you would be lucky to FIND an employee on the network, let alone a surly jobsworth. The transport system is a private disgrace - it offers poor service with passengers herded together like cattle, and extortionate ticket prices. 'Service' and 'Profit' are rarely good bedfellows, and transport is one of the services that taxpayers have a right to expect will allow good links to all parts of the country - private, or rather foreign state owned, companies do not want the unprofitable routes and so these disappear leaving thousands of people without any service at all. I live in East Anglia and have little choice but to drive everywhere. The nearest train station is in Norwich and then unless I want to go to London or Cambridge I have two or three changes of train - none of which are co-ordinated for easy onward travel, because they are owned by different companies. If I wanted to take a coach to Birmingham I'd have to go to London first to come all the way back. And as for private local services - we have no buses at all from our village on Sunday or Bank Holidays. And I live only a few miles from Norwich airport, so by no means am I in a remote location.

MaizieD Mon 12-Jun-17 14:57:07

When I lived in the People's Republic of South Yorkshire, just before Thatcher came to power, we had the most amazingly good and cheap bus service; you could get anywhere on the busses* and they were usually extremely well used.You really didn't need a car to travel in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. Privatising, and increasing bus fares, emptied them. I never quite saw the logic of raising fares...

*Is 'busses' really spelled like that? My spellchecker says it is but it looks horribly wrong to me wink