14 October 2019 – the overnight press release

Labour’s renationalisition plans set to cost billions

Responding to the analysis by the CBI that the cost of Labour’s renationalisation plans is estimated to be £196 billion, Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna said:

The Tories are pursuing an ideological hard Brexit, depriving the Exchequer of much needed revenue, whilst Labour plans to do the same with a Labour Brexit in addition to spending billions of pounds with no idea how they will pay for it.

The only sensible alternative to these two broken parties is to stop Brexit and use the resulting Remain bonus to invest in people and public services – the Liberal Democrat choice.

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48 Comments

  • Mr Umunna needs to tread carefully if he is to avoid the risk of sounding like little Sir Echo of the Tory Party…..

    For example, opinion polls consistently show major public support for re-nationalising the Railways. For example, 64% of the 1,500 adults polled in June 2018 said they would support renationalising the railways. 19% said they would oppose it, and 17% said they didn’t know.

    The same applies to the Royal Mail – not one of Vince Cables great successes. On a recent journey through the West Highlands and Skye it was very noticeable how many of the rural Royal Mail collection boxes had been closed and locked down in this once Liberal Democrat seat. Of course the prospective member for the Cities of London & Westminster might not be too bothered about that

  • Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 8:41am

    “The Tories are pursuing an ideological hard Brexit, depriving the Exchequer of much needed revenue, whilst Labour plans to do the same with a Labour Brexit in addition to spending billions of pounds (£196 Bn for nationalisation) with no idea how they will pay for it.”

    More nonsensical economics I’m afraid. I’m sure Mr Umunna knows this too, so why is he saying it?

    The Exchequer’s “revenue” all stems from money that the Government created and spent into the economy in the first place. Where else can it come from? Possibly someone, somewhere, is counterfeiting £20 so well as to be undetectable but that’s just about it. Unlike you and I, the Govt’s income is heavily dependent on its spending. The limit to spending is the possible inflationary effect it might have on the economy. The level of revenue is neither here nor there. Even if revenue is high the Govt should still cut back its spending if the economy is overheating.

    The simple thing to remember is that privatisations don’t raise any extra ‘spending money’ and nationalisations don’t cost anything. Providing the price is fair which I agree is a big assumption. They are essentially just asset swaps of stock and bonds for shares. Think about what happened in the postwar years. The Attlee govt nationalised about 20% of the total economy when the country was supposedly bankrupt (another myth incidentally) from the war effort. It did it because it could without costing anything.

    There are arguments either way for both nationalisation and privatisation. But the ‘cost’ isn’t one of them.

  • Richard Easter 14th Oct '19 - 9:18am

    The railways would cost little to return to public ownership – simply wait for franchises to expire or activate break clauses. Given the overwhelming bulk of franchises are handed out to an assortment of foreign governments, with First Group being the only British private company involved (and even now they are teaming up with the Chinese and Italian governments in their latest franchises), it shows the privatisation model to be utterly flawed. Handing vast tracts of public services to foreign governments is not a viable model and no doubt many of the 19% who oppose nationalisation would back it, if they realised that foreign governments – not private companies are the holders.

  • Richard Easter 14th Oct '19 - 9:27am

    Also Chukka maintains that the money should be spent on public services. Would that mean more money to private providers with dubioys records – G4S / Capita / Serco or indeed the foreign governments who run rail franchises and own most of our utilities and infrastructure?

  • AND the Railways were great under nationalisation, my memory, and I worked there for 3 years, was of most people moaning about them, they could not even fund the tilting train development after the initial problems. Seems to me if they are nationalised people start moaning, better if privatised, if privatised, better nationalised. Perhaps we should just leave alone and accept what we have got and get on with it.

  • Richard Underhill. 14th Oct '19 - 10:38am

    Peter Martin: Should we contest the tory ideology with another ideology?
    Do you remember that Mrs Thatcher wanted to abolish economists?
    The resignation of “my brilliant Chancellor” was a major factor in her downfall.
    Or in the USA one voter said “with these policies you will have the support of every thinking American” and the candidate replied “I need a majority”.
    A longer analysis is in Jo Grimond’s memoirs. He travelled with the campaign.

  • Richard Easter 14th Oct '19 - 10:47am

    It is easy to dwell on the APT – but The Intercity 125 and Intercity 225 were however a massive success for British Rail (and still going strong 40 years on in the case of the 125). The 125 was also the fastest diesel in the world – and Intercity was at the time profitable and was one of Britain’s best performing companies at the time – despite being state owned. The replacements since privatisation have been dire – whether it has been the awful Cross Country voyagers, or the equally abysmal IET trains on GWR and LNER – where comfort has been sacrificed for very hard straight backed seating, and buffets sacrificed for virtually useless trolley service catering.

    Had the railways not been privatised, we would have seen the Intercity 250 on the West Coast Mainline in 1995.

    The APT suffered from bad press and a lack of nerve. The tilting mechanism compensated too much, and the press pack had to be up at 5am to travel on the service, having reportedly become heavily intoxicated the night before on complimentary drink from British Rail – hence the sickness being less to do with optical illusions, and more to do with alcohol!

    As someone who actually used British Rail – I can honestly say that certainly the intercity high speed rolling stock, comfort and value for money was far far superior to what is offered now. A few mainline stations may have looked grimmer and there was less “gentrification”, but otherwise it was in many ways much better. And as for the food, I remember enjoying a lamb cutlet on a 125, far better than the awful Cross Country voyager trolley (assuming it can get through).

  • Richard Underhill. 14th Oct '19 - 10:53am

    theakes The Great Train Robbery happened then. They invested in three metal coaches which were all under repair in different places. Somebody in the system knew. The robbers only wanted cash. Other High Value Packages were still vulnerable. More information will be disclosed in a couple of decades.
    Is it wise to put all your eggs in one basket?

  • How many people use trains regularly or sufficiently to have an informed opinion about them other than from the hostile propaganda put out by the media which depends on adverts for motor vehicles. I suspect that 19% would be a generous estimate and 64% would be a gross over estimate.

    The Government has announced that they plan to end the franchise system so you can all sit back and relax in your cars. What people dislike about trains is that they are expensive and they were expensive under BR. There needs to be a radical review of costs but that is unlikely to happen because the unions would not allow it and it would provoke endless strikes as happened with the perfectly reasonable attempt to give control of the doors to the driver and allow the guard to check tickets and assist passengers. I remember a time when the passengers opened and closed the doors themselves !

    Although trains could help to reduce road congestion if they did it would merely encourage more motorists to fill the space created. What most people really want is a road system that enables them to use their cars in comfort from door to door and they resent the billions spent on trains instead of roads. I do not have a car and use buses and trains regularly. I worked for many years in public transport and have heard all the stories. Nothing is perfect but trains are more reliable than road transport but at a very high cost inevitably.

  • Richard Easter 14th Oct '19 - 11:34am

    The dispute about “doors” was far more complex and involved who is legally responsible (and liable) for train dispatch and managing crowds on platforms.

    The majority of incidents involving train dispatch investigated by the RAIB have involved trains where the driver is responsible (and legally liable) for dispatch. Drivers have no way of crowd controlling platforms locked away in cabs using CCTV. Guards and station staff stood on the platform do. And we live in a much more health and safety culture than when DOO came in originally – if some late runner fell down because they ran for the door and got chopped in half, it was their own fault. Now we prosecute and in some cases jail the staff instead. The court cases involving James Street, Hamilton Square and Hayes and Harlington said in no uncertain terms that no matter how idiotic the public behave, the person responsible for train dispatch is legally liable for their welfare and can be jailed. It’s understandable why drivers do not want to take on the guard’s legal liabilities as well as their own.

    The dispute seems very reasonable when you look at it in those terms.

  • Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 11:59am

    @ Richard Underhill,

    “Should we contest the tory ideology with another ideology?”

    Of course not. But you do need to understand how the economy works. The first, and most important, lesson to learn is where money comes from and that it doesn’t come from the taxpayer! Unless they are into the counterfeiting business perhaps.

    Of course, if anyone has a better suggestion, we should all be interested to know.

  • Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 12:05pm

    @ expats,

    “Mr, Umunna was in favour of taking public control of Railways, etc. …Again, unless my memory is playing tricks, he spoke passionately against the privatisation……”

    That was when he’d chosen a different horse to get him to where he wanted to go.

    He’d probably make a good lawyer. You’re given a brief and you argue the case.

  • The railways have been state controlled since 1948 except for a very short period from 1995 until 2001 when the Labour Government renationalised them. Some of the delays in improving services have been caused because state owned Network Rail ( why don’t they just call it British Rail which I used to love) was late in completing the electrification work required to enable the new electric trains to operate. I do not think there are any plans to remove them from state control.
    I am not sure that one guard can control crowds of people on platforms. Where this is likely to happen station staff should be provided and normally is.

    As regards the closure of letter boxes many are very little used. When I was working it was sometimes hard to get the letters into the box on my way home as it was so full but now the box is rarely used by anyone. We have emails and online banking and I rarely receive any mail except from charities asking for donations. I have stopped sending cheques because the recipients do not seem able to cash them.

  • William Fowler 14th Oct '19 - 1:30pm

    A Labour govn, owning the national grid and rail network would be in a very powerful position to price out the existing companies, much reducing their value and therefore being able to take them over for a pittance quite legally – already they are talking about taking into account dividends paid out in the past in determining their overall value. The big problem then becomes how to get a decent day’s work out of these new government employees who on past form will have no inclination towards any kind of efficiency. Labour will also want layers of bureaucracy to make sure everyone is behaving correctly.

    On the other hand, the Tories have let railway and energy companies rip people off something rotten and given Labour a nice attack point. The govn should have a role in forcing efficiency into the system by forcing prices down over time so the LibDems can come in on that slant.

  • Dennis Wake 14th Oct '19 - 2:10pm

    Peter Martin: Money represents the value of work done. It maybe be produced by the Government in the form of notes and coins but it is the taxpayer who does the work, which is just as well as very little would ever get done otherwise. I rather like the idea of you making possibly your first train journey for a long time and finding a government official there instead of a train. Heavenly !

  • Peter,
    We all get the government can print as much money as it likes. You are unable to answer the question which goes with that stragy
    “What value has that money if people lose faith in it”
    You seem blind to that question and keep parroting on ” Print more money”. If only life was that simple. If by the way you can come up with a credible answer other than ” No value at all when faith is lost” I suspect a Nobel prize for economics will be yours, for truly you have found the holy grail.

    As with all our Brexiteers sorry in your case Lexiteer I’m asking the following question
    When you refer to “Lexit”, please specify whether you mean
    1. 2016 Lexit (sunlit uplands/easiest deal),
    2. 2017 Lexit (not a single job lost),
    3.2018 Lexit (there may be some short-term pain)
    4.2019 Lexit (body bags, medicine/food shortages, bye bye NI)
    5. A long ago Lexit (for my little village for people like me)

  • Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 2:22pm

    @ Denis Wake,

    Money is a tax voucher. We do the work to get the vouchers to pay our taxes. This ties in well with your ” Money represents the value of work done.” statement

    The idea was well known to the colonalists in the early days of Empire. They’d impose a hut tax so that the native populations would have to work to get the vouchers to pay their taxes.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hut_tax

  • Colin Paine 14th Oct '19 - 5:10pm

    Good to see Chuka distancing us from Labour on this, let’s hope we do the same as regards their policy on renationalisng the energy industry.

  • Paul Barker 14th Oct '19 - 6:01pm

    The really big argument against Labour is that they are pulling the usual Right-Wing Populist trick of saying two contradictory things at the same time – the classic “Dog Whistle” scam.
    On the face of it The most Left-Wing Labour Government in History is planning to give £200,000,000,000 of Public money to the grateful Capitalist Class. In practise of course they intend to find ways round having to pay anything, if all fails they will break the Law. Who would stop them ? The EU ? The WTO ?

  • Arnold Kiel 14th Oct '19 - 6:29pm

    In my logic, any sovereign activity, i.e. any exercise of power over citizens should be publicly run: prisons, probation, social “services” awarding (e.g.means-testing), or decisions on offering health-treatment. No civilised society should outsource any of these to private agents. Citizens should be treated as such.

    Secondly, any public infrastructure with a structural deficit (e.g. public transportation) should be publicly run, because the funny-money profits on some artificially sliced delivery-element are no indication of success, but just the effect of an arbitrary combination of private profit and public subsidy, a game at which the private franchise holders are always better. Better to manage the cost/service-level trade-offs in one hand.

    Thirdly, only outsource true services (hence the ” ” above), i.e. functions for which competitive offers or substitutes exist. Otherwise private providers extract excessive rents, and the effort of controlling them requires the same skill set needed for running them outright.

    Applying these rules, LibDems could formulate a sensible public/private policy which asserts the indispensable role of the state without overstretching it financially.

  • Richard Underhill. 14th Oct '19 - 7:38pm

    Peter Martin 14th Oct ’19 – 11:59am
    The Independent had a cynical comic strip which is now in the Daily Telegraph.
    Do you agree that the Bank of England and its euro equivalent have been printing money on a large scale? (although printed notes have not appeared).

  • Dennis Wake 14th Oct '19 - 7:59pm

    Arnold Kiel: Apart from a few commuter rail services public transport is in competition with private transport – cars and trucks – and private transport has won because it suits most people. If public provision was better they might use it more. Competition is essential to achieve that

    Peter Martin: Tax voucher ? Come off it. People used to hunt and build their own huts then some started specialising – maybe making spears, huts or cooking pots in return for food from the hunters and farmers. In time the King issued coins with his head on them to make transactions easier when a huge variety of workers came into being but money is not a tax voucher because most people keep most of their money and we buy many things from private businesses and pay the Government to supply police, armed forces, roads, schools, hospitals, prisons etc.

  • Money is a method of exchange. It works while people have faith in the form money is in. Historically money can be gold, silver, cowery but eventually it became paper backed by government and now it is in the main 1 and 0’s. Now money only has value while you believe in it, in the past we have seen a loss of faith with paper money but even gold and silver currencies have failed. When people lose trust because the government is failing the currency fails. But, but if they mint gold and silver coins a currency can never fail, alas governments in difficulty just debased the coins and people lost faith in the coins.

    As in debasement of the coinage. Debasement means mixing more of a common metal with the precious metal (usually gold or silver) that gave the coins its worth, while maintaining the face value of the coin. The reasoning behind debasing the coinage was to be able to make more coins and therefore create more money. However, the side effect was inflation and people hoarding the older coins that contained more of the precious metals.

    https://tudorhistory.org/glossaries/d/debasement.html

    So while Peter and Co go on about we can always print money and the government in its area can insist we use it they can never answer the following questions

    1. How do you insist foreign enterties accept your currency if they have no faith in it
    2. How can you insist your population use it if they have no faith in it

    The answer is of cause you can’t and we have often seen sovereign nations effectively giving up trying to issue their currency as it is replaced by the dollar as the currency of choice. Zimbabwe is the prime example but there are others.

  • Sean Hyland 14th Oct '19 - 9:18pm

    Arnold Kiel – agree with the reasoning in your post. Hopefully policies could be built on these ideas.

  • Arnold Kiel 14th Oct '19 - 9:25pm

    Dennis Wake,

    travelling by car is not an option for the poor, but there is a public interest in them getting about (to work, school, hospitals, shops, etc.). Hence the case for subsidies and public ownership. Besides, road infrastructure and the environment (the cost of which is not adequately borne by motorists) demand more collective transport.

  • The sad tale of the Zimbabwean Dollar. You can print as many as you like goes the theory, but in reality

    The Zimbabwean dollar was introduced in 1980 to directly replace the Rhodesian dollar (which had been introduced in 1970) at par (1:1), at a similar value to the US dollar. Over time, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reduced the Zimbabwe dollar to one of the lowest valued currency units in the world. It was redenominated three times (in 2006, 2008 and 2009), with denominations up to a $100 trillion banknote issued.[4] The final redenomination produced the “fourth dollar” (ZWL), which was worth 1025 ZWD (first dollars).

    Use of the Zimbabwean dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009. It was demonetised in 2015, with outstanding accounts able to be reimbursed until 30 April 2016.[5][6] In place of the Zimbabwean dollar, currencies including the South African rand, Botswana pula, pound sterling, Indian rupee, euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Chinese yuan, and the United States dollar where used.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwean_dollar

    They have tried to resurrect a national currency but that isn’t going well

    Defiant traders in Harare are still charging their products and services in foreign currency.

    Despite the promulgation of a new law stipulating a $6 000 fine for anyone found pricing goods and services in foreign currency, some traders still take the law into their own hands.
    https://www.zimeye.net/2019/10/12/defiant-traders-charge-prices-in-forex/

    A simple truth but one beyond some ” If there is no faith in a currency, there is no value to the currency”. So print away and let faith in the currency fail.

  • @ Arnold Kiel An excellent set of theory and Liberal principles, Arnold, which anyone with any real knowledge of Liberal principles and a sense of what social liberalism is all about would agree with. Thank you.

  • David Evans 14th Oct '19 - 9:51pm

    Arnold, True – Motorists do not cover the full cost of their chosen mode of transport if you include the environmental costs. But then rail travellers and bus passengers do not cover the full cost of their chosen mode of transport if you include the environmental costs either.

    There is no case to support the demand for more collective transport if it is inefficient, just as there is no case to support the demand for more personal transport if it unjustly overpowers opportunity for all.

    The issue for collective provision whether state provided or privately provided is whether it is effective in achieving those desirable fundamental values – liberty, equality and community.

  • David Evans,

    you have summed up the case for public ownership convincingly: liberty, equality and community. No private enterprise is interested in any of them.

  • Arnold Kiel
    ” liberty, equality and community. No private enterprise is interested in any of them”.
    The Scott Bader Commonwealth for one.

  • Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 10:17pm

    Dennis Wake,

    Is money simply a tax voucher? Think about it. If the Govt were to print slips of paper with the words “This is a £10 tax voucher” then, of course, they would be functionally equivalent to £10 notes. The vouchers wouldn’t have to be used to pay taxes of course. They’d acquire their value because they could be.

    The government actually did something similar during WW1 with the so-called Bradbury pound. They were issued by the Treasury with the promise that the Govt would accept them as payment in taxes. Now the BoE is nationalised there is no real need to repeat the exercise, although you will see some calls for it to be brought back if you search on the net.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nations-treasury-can-issue-its-own-interest-free-money-raymond-aitken

  • Peter Martin 14th Oct '19 - 10:33pm

    @ Richard Underhill,

    “Do you agree that the Bank of England and its euro equivalent have been printing money on a large scale? (although printed notes have not appeared).”

    The euro equivalent is the European Central Bank. Firstly we have to recognise that all money, euros and pounds, is either printed or created in a computer. That’s just a simple statement of fact. I presume you’re talking about QE?

    All QE does is lower interest rates. I’m not sure why the ECB wants to do that. They are low enough already in the eurozone. But how does it work? Say I own a bond which is worth £80 on the open market. If I wait a few years it will be worth £100. I can calculate just what the effective interest rate is.

    No say the BoE offers me £90 for that bond. I say thank you very much. All other owners of the same bond now know that their bonds are worth £90 too. The bond’s effective interest rate is now lower than it was. The BoE has written an IOU for £90 and they now own a bond which is worth £90. So they are all square and have succeeded in reducing interest rates in the market.

  • Richard Easter 14th Oct '19 - 11:44pm

    As Peter Hitchens said – hardly anyone would consider privatising the navy a good idea, so the idea that some things are best provided by the state is hardly controversial. The Lib Dems believe in a mixed economy – which is indeed the proper centre ground. Some things are best provided by the state as a public service, some things best provided by the private sector under the free market, and some things best provided by charities, churches and community organisations.

    It seems to me that Corbyn’s renationalisations are not only sensible, but the mainstream in most countries. A good example being the US – which has nationalised rail and mail, and that bastion of communism – Texas has municipal electricity.

    If Corbyn was on about nationalising supermarkets, curry houses, car production, software firms or hotels, then perhaps the claims of “hard left” might be valid. And I suspect his own party would simply not vote any of that through anyway. And as utterly stupid as renationalising that lot would be, it is no more stupid than privatising assorted police functions to the excrable G4S using private military contractors, private prisons, and handing vast swathes of our infrastructure over to Qatar or China. All things we have done.

  • Richard Easter, Arnold Kiel – I agree with the renationalization of various public services including prison, security and public transport. But the Libdem can differentiate from Corbyn by proposing a gradualist, step-by-step plan to do so, instead of pulling a large-scale renationalization program at once. I think we should start with private prisons, which are both stupid and dangerous.

    But, what are your opinions on other utilities like electricity?

  • David Evans 15th Oct '19 - 7:41am

    Ian Martin – Thank you for reminding us.

    Indeed the Scott Bader Commonwealth provides an excellent example of Corporate Social Responsibility, but it rather ceased to be a private enterprise in the normal sense when its then owners made it a trusteeship owned by a charity back in the 1950s. Since then it has been much more Third Sector than Private Sector.

    All in all, an example of where things can go that should be an inspiration to us all, but not really a beacon of mainstream capitalism in the 21st Century.

  • David Evans 15th Oct '19 - 8:31am

    Of course the key question is not when, which and how do you nationalise, but how do you stop a right wing party, interested in nothing more than power for itself and adopting a populist ‘loads of money now’ agenda, giving the nationalised industries away to buy itself votes and keep itself in power later on.

    That will tell us if we have learned the lessons of the past, or whether we are simply prepared to make them again and pretend things will work out differently next time.

  • Peter,
    Give it up until you can answer the question
    ” What value has a currency if people have no faith in it”
    your tin foil theories will impress no one. You can’t answer the fundamental point of money if it has no value is it actually money. But, but you cry ” We can print more and more of it” but if it isn’t backed by faith in it and therefore has no value what would be the point. I’m afraid such is you addiction to tin foil thinking that when faced with reality ( Zimbabwean dollar example) you just run away, bravely you run away from reality. Tis sad but true.

  • As to nationalising at least you would be gaining an assets, if you could actually get the assets to make a profit over the long term you would reduce the debt.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Oct '19 - 8:57am

    @ expats,
    He has been on ‘a journey’.

    @ Richard Easter,

    I really think that the Liberal Democrat party needs to stop pretending to have any left of centre , social democrat values. Those days are long gone.

  • Peter Martin 15th Oct '19 - 9:07am

    @ Frankie,

    Please go away and annoy someone else. I have answered your question many times.

  • As someone who worked in a nationalised and the privatised utility, CEGB-NG, I can say despite much misgivings at the time, I was glad we weren’t working for the government in recent decades. Colleagues in the public sector of the electricity industry certainly got a worse deal.
    I do however strongly support the government taking back running of Job Centres and all Benefits Agency work, they make train operators look good!

  • The private sector train operators vary. Some are very good. When Stagecoach lost the South West Trains franchise there was much regret locally as they did a good job. The only person I heard criticise them had been fined for fare evasion which. I think BR used to prosecute fare evaders.
    Instead of subsidising public transport it would be better to subsidise the incomes of the poor as transport and other subsidies mostly seem to benefit the rich who do not need them.
    I am not in favour of privatising police, prisons, courts, probation services etc. What about private security services though ?

    What would be the point of the Liberal Democrats if they just copied Labour policies ?

  • Dennis Wake – “What would be the point of the Liberal Democrats if they just copied Labour policies ?” – as I said above, we can take a gradualist approach towards renationalization of certain services – like prison, police, probation…maybe even public transport, and start the implementation process with prison renationalization, with others gradually following. Such a gradualist option allows us to actually study and compare different options (renationalization/partial renationalization/remain in private hand). Gradual reforms are still reforms, which are still different from the Tories as well as the previous Coalition, whose policies are mainly rolling back public services. Meanwhile, Labour attempts to pull a large-scale renationalization at once. I mean, I am calling for an Obama/Trudeau-style approach, which IS substantially different from Coalition hack-and-slash austerity.

  • Thomas: I agree that what you suggest is worth considering but I do not think a Liberal Democrat Party which seems merely to want to split the difference between a Socialist Labour Party and a reactionary Conservative party is likely to enthuse the voters who are looking for something new and original, not the stale failed policies of the past. I went to a meeting yesterday when any suggestions for radical reform to deal with the crisis facing the organisation were ignored or brushed aside in favour of hopelessly carrying on with the same policies. I can see no future for them either.

    Richard Easter: The American railroads are privately owned and the shares quoted on the NYSE. They are freight operators and profitable since the deregulation of the Staggers Act 1980 removed the outdated restrictions which handed their business to road hauliers. Only the Amtrak passenger services, which the freight operators are required to allow on their tracks, are in state hands and even the Socialist railway writer Christian Wolmar says they are very inefficiently run and grossly overstaffed hence the refusal of Congress to give them more money to expand their operations. The US mail is also in crisis. I heard a Royal Mail union leader say he would rather see it smashed to bits ( his words) than allow the reforms requested by the management to be implemented on the grounds that the workers created the Royal Mail, although of course they did not, despite their magnificent contribution. I can see why Mr Corbyn wants it renationalised to get the union’s support but few people use its letter service now and there are several private parcel firms. I am told some foreign mail services have stopped carrying letters.

  • 16 October BBC BREAKING NEWS Northern Rail could be renationalised.

    What do Mr Umunna and his fellow privatisers have to say about this ?

  • nvelope2003 16th Oct '19 - 4:34pm

    The Government have already said they are considering abolishing the franchise system but if you read the article in full it is clear that the problems stem from the failure of the Government owned Network Rail to complete the planned electrification which would enable older diesel trains to be replaced by new electric trains. Nothing to do with railways is simple. Maybe that is why those who have them prefer to drive their cars despite all the traffic jams and you do not get soaked with rain walking to the station and have to put up with noisy passengers.

    With regard to the replacement of buffet cars by trolleys I think most people prefer this as you do not have to leave your seat and find another one in the buffet – not always possible – then have to go back to your seat holding a hot cup of tea and find someone has taken your seat.

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