The Guardian view on Chris Grayling’s rail plans: small-minded, ideological and partisan | Editorial

The Guardian view on Chris Grayling’s rail plans: small-minded, ideological and partisan | Editorial
The UK government is putting more money into transport infrastructure but its dogmatic approach again risks benefiting the south at the expense of the north

Transport was one of the winners in Philip Hammond’s painfully cautious autumn statement last month. Considering the size of Britain’s infrastructure spending backlog, and the cost of the rail, road and air projects now on the national wishlist, the chancellor’s additional £1.1bn transport spending, with £110m earmarked for the new east-west rail link between Oxford and Cambridge, was perhaps an unambitious amount. But it was a decent down payment, and it was a step towards an embrace of public investment to boost growth and support the regions. It was not radical Keynesianism; but it was not quite the old fiscal straitjacket either. It was a touch of pragmatism amid the ideological sterilities.

On Tuesday the transport secretary Chris Grayling began to fill in some details. The headline announcement is the gradual ending of the division between the privately owned train operating companies and the government-controlled Network Rail (NR), which is responsible for the tracks. Under Mr Grayling’s plans, new franchises would integrate more closely with NR. This already happens in Scotland and has been trialled in parts of the English network, not always with success. East West Rail will be a wholly separate organisation, responsible for designing, building and operating the route, run by the private sector, not involving NR.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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