YP Letters: How rail sell-off handed power to bureaucrats

Should the trans-Pennine railway be electrified between Leeds and Manchester?
Should the trans-Pennine railway be electrified between Leeds and Manchester?
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From: Roger Backhouse, Orchard Road, Upper Poppleton, York.

HUGH Rogers warns of civil servants running railways and trade unions gaining more power if we go back to the days of British Rail. Unfortunately that’s already happened under the privatised system (The Yorkshire Post, June 30). Before privatisation, British Rail was run by its own board of experienced railway managers.

Privatisation disastrously split track management from train ownership and operations. Just as bad, it strengthened the role of the Department for Transport, which lacks technical expertise.

The DfT has an institutional dislike of electrification. Due to technical ignorance they promoted bi-mode trains, slower and more expensive than either wholly electric or diesel equivalents.

I recall British Rail pushing through many productivity improvements including driver-only operation on lines out of Liverpool Street. While privatisation was supposed to end union power, it actually strengthened it.

While I sympathise with Labour’s plans for renationalisation, finding the right managerial structure will not be easy. That party has not yet found the right answer. Under no circumstances must it let civil servants have the power that they currently possess.