To Grant Shapps, transport secretary:
Astronomically rising ticket prices, overcrowded carriages and train delays. Anyone who regularly travels on trains is likely to be more than familiar with the problems facing Britain’s railways.
And yet, these issues are exactly what the Tory government in the 1990s claimed that the privatisation of British Rail would solve. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
We now know that the privatisation led to huge increases in ticket prices – UK commuters now pay five times more for season tickets compared to commuters in Italy or France.
It’s also more expensive for taxpayers – state subsidies are now double what they were before privatisation began.
And far from leading to a more responsive service, rail privatisation has seen customer satisfaction plummet, with train delays and service failure a regular occurrence with many train operators.
But surely someone benefits from privatised railways? Yes, the directors and shareholders – Richard Branson’s Virgin Group alone has made £300m from rail franchises.
It’s time to admit that the privatisation was a mistake, so we can bring the railways back on track under public control.