The Privatisation of British Rail
How Not to Run a Railway
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This authorative volume assesses the origins and impact of the privatisation of the British railway industry. Conducted through a series of peer reviewed academic papers from leading international journals over the period 1996-2019, it explores why the British government pursued this policy, and analyses the impact on the major sectors of the railway: the infrastructure; passenger services; freight services; and the rolling stock companies.
The privatization of the British railway industry was a unique political and economic event. An integrated industry was broken-up into numerous component parts and sold off to private sector interests. The result was a highly fragmented industry that was structurally unsound and operationally dysfunctional. This scholarly analysis presents an enlightening portrait of an industry that is less efficient, more costly, and still more dependent on state subsidy today than its nationalised predecessor and a rigorous evaluation of how and why the industry has become so dysfunctional and costly supported by detailed financial analysis and industry examples.
Going far beyond the usual superficial analysis of the topic, this peer reviewed volume will be of great interest to researchers and advanced students of accounting, economics, business history, transport studies, as well as industry and specialised business interests in transport and privatization.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction - ‘A Privatisation too Far’.
Chapter 2: ‘Engines of Extravagance’: The privatised British railway rolling stock industry.
Chapter 3: ‘Taken for a Ride’: The privatisation of the British railway rolling stock industry.
Chapter 4: ‘Carry on up the East Coast’— A case study in railway franchising.
Chapter: 5: ‘A Very Costly Industry’: The cost of Britain’s privatised railway.
Chapter 6: Accounting for UK rail freight track charges: privatisation, politics and the pursuit of private sector vested interests.
Chapter 7: The ‘success story’ of rail privatisation in Britain: Public policy and the rail freight industry.
Chapter 8: ‘Not our problem’: UK Government’s fiscal obligations towards the privatised railway network.
Chapter 9: Accounting for Producer Needs: The case of Britain’s rail infrastructure.
Sean McCartney is Emeritus Professor of Accounting and Business History at Queen Mary, University of London. His research interests are mainly historical and have focused on two areas: (i) aspects of British industrial performance between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the First World War, particular the railway and canal sectors. His most recent paper (in Business History) is on the ‘Railway Mania’ of 1845-7; (ii) the performance of the rail industry in Britain since privatisation in the mid-1990s, in collaboration with John Stittle. The resulting papers form the basis of this book.
John Stittle was formerly a Senior Lecturer in Accounting at the University of Essex. He has authored a number of successful books on topics such as corporate reporting for non-accountants, financial reporting, and on improving the quality of annual corporate reports. In addition, he has written widely on financial and business issues in both academic and professional journals. In particular, he has written extensively on the privatised railway industry, which form his main research interest. He is currently accounting columnist for Governance and Compliance, the journal of the Chartered Governance Institute.