Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The West Coast franchise debacle will increase pressure for renationalisation of the rail system

The rail franchise debacle, which the Government (in a piece of news management that seems right out of the pre-internet era) admitted to at around midnight last night, has brought the whole issue of rail privatisation - and public-private procurement - back into the spotlight.

This poses a large problem for David Cameron for three reasons:

  • Firstly, it sheds light on the serious problems that government procurement contracts with the private sector can create, at the same time as the Government is rolling on with an NHS reform programme that will dramatically increase this kind of activity in the health service.
  • Secondly,it appears to be a huge example of incompetence less than 24 hours after Ed Miliband referred to the Cameron's administration as an 'incompetent, hopeless shower'. 
  • Finally, it provides another example to the public of the key problems that come with our fragmented and privatised rail system, merely months after more huge price increases for commuters were announced. 
The Government will now have to choose either to bring the franchise under direct public control, or to hand huge amounts of money to Virgin (on top of their compensation) for extending the contract. Although it's pretty likely this particularly neo-liberal administration is likely to go for the latter option on ideological grounds (despite its costs) it has to face the fact that the majority of people favour rail renationalisation - including self-declared Conservative voters

This is another interesting example of where Tory-leaning voters show support for public policy choices usually associated with the political left.

No comments:

Post a Comment