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| Post 511520 posted on 15-2-2018 at 18:54
Who Keeps Britain’s Trains Running? Europe
This article is from today's New York Times; it appears in its Op-Ed Section, AKA the editorial area in other papers. A URL link for articles in the
Times is very problematic since it will possibly involve logging in for which only subscribers will have. Given that this article involves Great
Britain [and the number of posters on this site that reside there], and its author's view of nationalism, & socialism, I have elected to simply
do a verbatim c & p even though it's quite lengthy:
By Frank Viviano Feb. 15, 2018 [Frank Viviano is a writer for National Geographic Magazine]
Title: Who Keeps Britain’s Trains Running? Europe
LONDON — The privatization of public services “was one of the central means of reversing the corrosive and corrupting effects of socialism,”
Margaret Thatcher wrote in her memoirs. “Just as nationalisation was at the heart of the collectivist programme by which Labour governments sought
to remodel British society, so privatisation is at the centre of any programme of reclaiming territory for freedom.”
Those sentiments fueled a sell-off that put nearly every state-owned service or property in Britain on the auction block in the final decade of the
20th century, eventually including the country’s expansive public transportation infrastructure. Enshrined by parliamentary acts under Mrs. Thatcher
and implemented by her two immediate successors, John Major, a Conservative, and Tony Blair of New Labour, the gospel of privatization was embraced by
leaders around the world, notably including Mrs. Thatcher’s closest overseas ally, President Ronald Reagan.
In the realm of transportation, that gospel was soon betrayed by its own chief disciples. Put simply, there were few private-sector buyers with the
expertise and deep pockets necessary to maintain control of a transit system that serves approximately seven billion passengers per year. With minimal
transparency, operational ownership of the network of train and bus lines that crisscross the 607-square-mile sprawl of Greater London, linking it to
the far-flung corners of Britain, was peddled in bits and pieces by the British state or acquired in corporate takeovers.
But the new bosses were not private, business-savvy British firms. By 2000, the masters of British public transit — thanks to a scheme that was
intended to replace state waste and sloth with soundly capitalist business principles — were foreign governments, most of them members of the
In short, the privatization devolved into a de facto re-nationalization — but under the direction of foreign states — that somehow went largely
unnoticed. It now poses a startling and unprecedented dilemma thanks to Brexit, which will soon divorce Britain from the state bureaucracies beyond
the English Channel that literally keep its economy in motion.
The largest single stakeholder and operator in British transit is the Federal Republic of Germany, the country that Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit
Conservative politician who is now foreign minister, accused of using the European Union to carry out Hitler’s plan for Europe.
Germany is followed closely in the ranks of British transit bosses by France, proprietor of the London United bus system, among many other holdings.
Its iconic red double-deckers openly announce themselves as the property of the RATP Group (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), the state-owned
Paris transport company, and are emblazoned with its logo of a zigzagging River Seine flowing through an abstract representation of the French
No country on earth comes close to Britain’s peculiar status as a modern nation and economy knitted together by transportation networks that are
overwhelmingly in the hands of foreign states. Of Britain’s 23 major train operators, 18 are now foreign-run — 16 of them by European Union
governments and two by China. A majority of the 1.7 billion passenger rail journeys undertaken in Britain each year are now on foreign-managed trains,
in addition to most of its 4.5 billion bus trips.
Deutsche Bahn, technically organized as a private corporation but with a single stockholder — the German government — owns the Arriva bus network
in metropolitan London and nationwide, along with six train lines. French state firms, through various joint ventures and subsidiaries, preside over
another six. The Dutch state railway is the owner of Abellio, which runs three lines, along with an enormous number of Transport for London bus
services. Italy’s Trenitalia is the proprietor of another rail line.
Eurostar, Britain’s rail link to continental Europe, which annually speeds around 10 million people between London and Paris, is a joint venture
controlled by France and Belgium, the country that hosts the headquarters of the European Union.
Other owners of British transit lines include the former colonial possessions of Singapore and Hong Kong, which is today effectively a subsidiary of
China. In the name of asserting capitalist freedom over state collectivism, a 30 percent stake in the South Western Railway — a critical carrier
across heavily populated southern England — has been sold to a one-party Communist state (albeit with extensive experience in capitalist
enterprise). Beijing will also operate the new Crossrail Line, which will start its central London services in December, and eventually run from the
eastern commuter county of Essex to the western English heartland of Buckingham and Berkshire.
Most of these transit operations are reliably profitable, contradicting the privatization gospel’s fundamental tenet that state enterprises are
incorrigible wastrels. In 2015-16, the overall rail system’s bottom line was nearly £300 million ($420 million) in the black.
By March 29, 2019, if the current departure schedule is met, either with a formal agreement or with no agreement at all, Britain will no longer be in
the European Union. But its transportation system will be.
It may not have mattered that the German, French, Dutch, Italian and Spanish governments owned the companies franchised to run Britain’s transit
system when London was an integral player in the European Union. Fellow European Union member states were treated as welcome investors —
beneficiaries of eased regulatory controls that were intended to stimulate growth in the British private sector — when British private firms were
unable to match their bids. But it will be more difficult, if not impossible, to rationalize that curious arrangement after Brexit.
The central promise of those who wanted Britain to leave the European Union was to return full economic, political and legal sovereignty: a dubious
premise in a post-European Union Britain whose employees and managers, public and private alike, are delivered to their jobs by RATP and Deutsche
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| Post 511522 posted on 15-2-2018 at 21:16
We were sold the pup of privatising the railways to make them more efficient. We now have the most expensive rail fares in Europe accordng to some.
There's a fair amount of double speak going on but imo we should renationalise.
Location: Riverton, South Australia
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Gone crazy, Back soo
| Post 511527 posted on 16-2-2018 at 00:34
You aren't the only mob to fall into the "privatisation" mantra. We, too, have the same problems. On the surface, things are supposed to be more
efficient, however, that is only to maximise profits, not benefit the consumer. It's what was, what is, and what always will be in the "market