How to fix Britain’s broken railways

Tom Haines-Doran
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Britain’s railways are broken. They no longer serve the needs of passengers or the general public. Train services are unreliable, too often delayed, too expensive and complex to use, and marred by strikes. This book takes the reader on a journey to discover how years of under-funding and privatisation have deprived the public of a usable rail system. It is only through understanding how Britain’s rail system has been broken that we can know how to fix it. As it shows, fixing the railways means going beyond simple demands such as ‘renationalise the railways’ and asking instead ‘what do we want the railways to be for’? It is only by attempting to answer this question that we can rebuild the rail system into something that genuinely meets people’s needs. The answer is far from straightforward, but this book argues that, if they are to be useful, the railways must be part of the solution to the twin crises of the climate emergency and social inequality. This means significant increases in government investment, but the current state of the railways stems largely from successive governments’ unwillingness to properly fund them, mostly to protect the wealthy from tax increases. Given the uneven distribution of political power in Britain and the rigidity of public policy, those who want to see the railways fixed have no choice but to fight to take rail policy out of the hands of the political and financial elite who have led us into this mess.

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