However, privatisation has improved transport to a degree,
It has, but at what cost! See http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/01/04/the-lesson-of-the-railways-private-is-not-always-best/
...for the figures, which are eye-watering. Privatising the railways increased the cost of UK railways to the taxpayer from around £1.2 billion in the days of British Rail, to about £4.2 billion in 2009/01!
Duke also writes:
no wonder the French laugh at us.
..but it's not just the French who are laughing. It's also the Germans and the Dutch. Because over the 18 years since privatisation, a number of railway companies have quietly crept back in to public ownership. The biggest freight carrier, English Welsh and Scottish Rail, is now DB Schenker Rail, owned by Deutsche Bahn, which also owns Arriva. Our own dear Northern Rail is now owned by NS, the Dutch state railway company. Thus we UK taxpayers, through our high levels of subsidy to our rail system, are in effect also subsidising the lower fares on state-owned railways in mainland Europe. You couldn't make it up........
But then Duke, your man Adam Smith knew these things, when he argued that it was the role of the government to provide goods "of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual" such as roads, bridges, canals, and harbours. If railways had existed in 1776, no doubt they would also have been in that list.
Dave Dave Dave, you are only reading half of my post and you’re pushing against an open door. I made my view quite clear:
The State (be that local or National) should only get involved where the market fails to allocate resources in a manner that is good for society. To that end, yes it should provide education, defence, a legal framework, streetlighting etc but it shouldn’t be running a road haulage company, a travel agent or telly company – a free democratic nation doesn’t really need a state broadcasting propaganda machine, especially when it crowds out private investment.
And again reiterated my concerns about rail privatisation:
I'm not sure that I said the privatisation of rail was a good thing. I do see an argument for public provision of public transport. .
I am however, open minded about the issue and prepared to admit there have been successes. You friend’s little blog misses a major point. The point of having a rail network is not to minimise subsidy, it is to transport people (& freight) to minimise pollution & congestion costs and do so at as little a cost to the public purse as possible. Now, the value of the subsidy has gone up in absolute terms but the cost per passenger mile is an indicator that combines the aims of a public transport system and it’s cost, this indicator has fallen since privatisation because the TOCS have been successful in getting passenger numbers up.
Your blog quotes Roy McNulty’s paper on improving the value of our railways. The headline point is we are paying 30% more that in Europe. McNulty’s major argument is there is a major cause of inefficiency in the fact the TOCS do not operate the track. This is exactly my critique of privatisation in that the privatisation divorced the TOCS with the rail.
I do think privatisation was half-cocked, the rail companies should have had control of the rails it ran on, that was a mistake.
You will note (your blogger failed in this regard) McNulty does not argue for nationalisation but suggests we reunite the operators with the track. McNulty is clear, he blames the Labour government for meddling too much, government doesn’t allow autonomy for the TOCS, only now will government allow the TOCS to run less carriages off peak which I’d have thought was basic logic.
Another big worry for me is Privatisation has not fully destroyed the power of Fat Bob Crow & his idiotic union. OK, when one set of workers strike, it no longer takes out the whole service but the TOCS have not addressed this and perhaps as a nationalised industry we could have had a strong Thatcher style stand against this fool & his Lemmings.
In any case, the BBC has none of the characteristics that require state ownership & state funding. Your little blog man actually makes the case for privatisation of the BBC in that state broadcasters cost the state more money than private broadcasters.