Labour rail nationalisation plans ‘lacking in detail’


In the Media

Len Shackleton quoted in PoliticsHome

In the Media

Len Shackleton quoted in Guido Fawkes & The i

Commenting on the Labour Party’s proposals for renationalisation of the railways, Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“The Labour proposals are lacking in detail, and seem to involve contradictions.

“There is the usual arbitrary state planning ‘targets’ with no understanding of how markets work. There is the the ritual denunciation of profits and the belief that ‘communities’ (or rather political bosses) have a role to play; but their role always seems to be to demand more money, resist closures, and open more lines, irrespective of any commercial discipline.

“Bureaucracy is to be scrapped, but we’re inventing a new passenger ‘watchdog’. We want more investment, but we’re going to run down existing contracts, suggesting that even routine maintenance will be neglected. We want more freight on the rails, but rather than encourage this successful private sector activity, we impose a top-down requirement to boost freight — how? Freight is finding it difficult to grow faster because there are only limited train paths — the West Coast in particular is at capacity — and because many cross-country routes are not electrified, sometimes single-track and subject to speed limits. Open access, a real success story, is similarly restricted.

“The huge omission from these ‘plans’ is how to handle an oversized, often overpaid and relentlessly militant workforce and boost productivity — the only way to keep some sort of control on costs.”


Notes to Editors

Contact: [email protected] / 07763 365520

Len recently criticised reported proposals for renationalisation of the railways on the IEA Blog: Some practical questions for proponents of ‘Railway Corbynism’.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.