Douglas Carswell's Blog

03 JAN 2013

Crony corporatism and the railways

Another year, another series of inflation busting rises in rail fares. The cost of a season ticket in our part of Essex is going up much faster than salaries – meaning a real squeeze in incomes.

For many of my constituents on the Essex coast, rail fares are, in effect, a tax on employment. In order to have a job, they have to fork out a sizeable chunk of their take-home pay just to be able to get to and from the office.

There is something profoundly wrong with the way we run our railways. It is not that we have privatised the railways.  Train services are run by a mixture of Big Government and Big Business, instead. Crony corporatism, not free market capitalism.

We have created a world in which the regulator, not the customer, is king. Instead of entrepreneurs competing to offer customers rail journeys at a price they are willing to pay, corporations set prices as licensed by the state. Rail bosses constantly justify price hikes on the grounds that the regulator allows it, rather than because the customer is willing to pay.

Back in the Middle Ages, monarchs granted privileges and monopolies to various crony interests. It seems bizarre that we seem to use the same model to run the railways in 2013. The whole rotten corporatist edifice, presided over by the (inept) state-planners at the Department for Transport, needs to be dissolved.

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