50 years from Beeching – rail subsidies remain too high


Press Release

IEA reaction to the Chancellor's 2013 Budget

Press Release

Swathes of complex capital regulation have made banking riskier

Current high level of taxpayer support for railways is unacceptable

Commenting on the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Beeching Report, Dr Richard Wellings, Head of Transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs said:

“Despite the cuts made by Dr Beeching, the railways remain a massive burden on the taxpayer. Subsidies now run at £6 billion a year, almost three times the level (in real terms) when Beeching published his famous report. Just as in 1963, large parts of the rail network make very heavy losses. On some rural services, fare revenues only cover a tenth of running costs.

“The current high level of taxpayer support for the railways is completely unacceptable and imposes significant damage on the wider economy. However, another round of centrally-planned Beeching-style cuts is not the best way to bring subsidies down. Instead, rail firms should be given the freedom to decide which services and routes are commercially viable, in the context of a gradual phasing out of financial support from the government.”

Notes to editors

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