Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/225/9203
Railtrack - New Labour's U-Turn
"RAILTRACK IS finished", said transport secretary Stephen Byers, announcing a huge government climbdown.
By Christine Thomas
Just two months ago, New Labour were saying they couldn't possibly take back control of Railtrack because it would be "too expensive" and contravene the Human Rights Act. Now they've called in the administrators and are taking the company out of private hands! .
At last New Labour have had to admit what everyone else already knew; privatisation on the railways has been a total disaster.
Since privatisation Railtrack has received billions in public money. Fat-cat shareholders have been raking in the profits - yet still they've come back begging for more.
"Profit before safety' seems to have been Railtrack's slogan. Seven people died in the Southall train crash, 31 at Paddington and four at Hatfield. Cost-cutting and mismanagement linked to privatisation were implicated in all three disasters.
New Labour have backed off on Railtrack because it's the most hated of all privatisations. They don't want it threatening the rest of their privatisation agenda, which they're determined to push ahead with to please their big business friends.
It's no accident that they've climbed down now, while all eyes are on the war in Afghanistan.
They don't want workers in other privatised industries to demand that they should be nationalised too!
But as rail worker Bill Johnson explained to The Socialist: "How can New Labour possibly justify the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in London Underground when it's been forced to admit that the private sector can't run Railtrack?"
"It's the same contractors employed by Railtrack - Balfour Beatty, Jarvis etc. - that are leading members of the consortium , taking over the tube."
"We need to organise now to defeat privatisation. The anti-privatisation conference, called by union broad left activists for 24 November, will be an important step in that direction".
In The Socialist 12 October 2001: