Chapter 2: A Critique of Rail Regulation – Dieter Helm, Chairman’s Comments – Tom Winsor
Very few privatizations have been free of teething problems, and all new regulatory bodies have faced criticisms, made mistakes, and had to improvise and adapt with experience. Perfect models and perfect processes are matters of academic debate; practical experience is bound to be less satisfactory. Rail privatization and regulation, however, stands out from the pack: it has been much more controversial, and its critics have been much more vocal. Whereas the core objectives of the privatizations of the water, electricity, gas, telecoms and airport sectors were widely shared (and now accepted by all the main political parties), those for rail were not. The Conservatives’ vision of a subsidy-free rail industry, gradually opened to competition, was quite different from the heady aspirations of Mr Prescott’s integrated transport strategy. The differences were carried over to regulation, where the approaches of Tom Winsor and Alistair Morton are very different from those of John Swift and Chris Bolt.
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