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UK railway privatisation: Where did it all go so wrong?

05 Mar 2021 / Corporate research

UK railway privatisation, which was launched in the mid-1990s, has finally turned full circle: the Department of Transport has recently confirmed that its controversial railway franchise system will be scrapped.

Nigel Hawkins, the Infrastructure analyst at Hardman & Co, examines the 25-year history of railway privatisation and chronicles its ups and its downs. The successes of railway privatisation, such as new rolling stock, are addressed, along with the many shortcomings, which included minimal vertical integration.

With the winding up of the franchise system, the UK railway sector is effectively reverting to its former status as a nationalised industry, a shift started with the renationalisation of the collapsed Railtrack – later re-badged as Network Rail – in 2001.

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