Off the Rails was in Paris at the beginning of October, speaking about the experience of 20 years of railway privatisation in Britain to French railworkers who are facing the start of a serious drive on the part of their state to privatise the railway because of pressure from the EU’s fourth rail package reforms.
We applauded the fact that French railworkers have already taken 2 weeks of strike action in June against the plans, contrasting it with the failure of British railworkers to strike against privatisation back in 1994 at its inception.
The French government has since ratified the plans and the meeting was mainly to discuss that previous and future action.In our contribution we hoped that they could use the experience of industrial action and political campaigning against our privatised rail operators to boost their public campaign against the plans.
Experience now shows decisively that privatising the infrastructure definitely does not work.
Network Rail, effectively a state owned company since 2001 was restored without any fanfare to the public sector in all but name in September 2014 bringing with it £34 billion pounds of debt mainly accrued during its time as Railtrack the privatised infrastructure company.