PracticeConsultingOpinion – Railtrack: a lesson to learn.

Opinion - Railtrack: a lesson to learn.

So the government is to free Railtrack’s not-for-profit replacement from the requirement to deliver returns to investors. Instead, it will be controlled by ‘key stakeholders’, such as train operators and passenger groups.

But, says Stephen Byers, this is definitely not renationalisation. You may quibble, but that would just be arguing over semantics. Perhaps the main lesson is that it’s extremely hard to set up an artificial market where logic defies it.

It’s not as if Railtrack could have competitors. A vast and ageing network of metal bars criss-crossing our landscape is not desirable or easy to replicate. And, as Railtrack has found, it is a nightmare to fund and manage.

Those considering the part-privatisation of London Underground should look carefully at the Railtrack fiasco – for the sake of passengers and future shareholders – if any can still be found.

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