Railways have always been at the heart of British politics, from their early beginnings in the 1830s through to the present day. And the sharpest debates have been on the issue of ownership and accountability. The book charts the railways under nationalisation (1948-1993) and outlines rail privatisation in both the UK and other European countries.
Paul Salveson gives credit to recent achievements but attacks the fragmentation, increased costs and higher fares that have become a feature of Britain’s privatised railways. Arguing against the return to a centralised ‘British Rail’, Salveson instead suggests a new model which goes with the flow of current plans to devolve rail responsibilities within the English regions. The author was the originator of the highly successful community rail movement, and he argues for more direct involvement of local communities in their railways.
He outlines recent examples of local social enterprises bringing thriving services back to semi-abandoned stations, and shows how Britain’s heritage railway sector has been a successful model for not-for-profit rail enterprise. Combining historical analysis with personal experience and political theory, Salveson’s research suggests an alternative ownership system for the rail networks and a possible future for Britain’s transport system. The book also includes a foreword by Maria Eagle, the shadow secretary of state for transport.
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