Tom Haines-Doran
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The Introduction introduces the setting for the book – a delayed train from London Euston – and the characters the author meets on the way. Meeting the other passengers reminds the author of the key questions that Britain’s broken railways poses to passengers, which this book seeks to answer. Before delving into the answers, the book provides a whistle-stop run-through of the railways’ history, which helps set up the exposition of recent developments in the main body of the book. This considers the railways’ evolution from private steam-operated services competing with each other (principally) for freight traffic, to the consolidation of the system as rapid expansion and competition proved economically unviable, to temporary nationalisation under war governments and, later, the creation of British Rail, as the railways became a secondary, state-subsidised transport system, subservient to investment in, and use of, roads by motor traffic. The Introduction ends with the privatisation of British Railways in the mid-1990s. Throughout, it is demonstrated that all post-war governments have had a problematic relationship with railway subsidy, and the unrealistic desire to make railways operate on commercial lines has mired rail policymaking to this day, leading to a rolling and ever-increasing crisis of provision.

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How to fix Britain’s broken railways


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