It was encouraging news on a recent Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme when Chris Grayling (the same who, as Justice Secretary wanted to charge defendants found guilty for the cost of their court cases, itself a policy so harmfully stupid that even Michael Gove abolished it) suggested that we are going to be able to open up some railway lines lost in the Beeching cuts.

So far, so nostalgic.

It turns out, however, that there is no money. (Where have we heard that before?)

So no new lines will be entertained unless they are self financing and that number is so infinitesimally small that I am aware of only one – and that was proposed a decade ago and is still not yet (re)built.

Fake news, I fear.

Quite how Grayling gets away with this when Scotland has managed to (re)build numerous lines with very successful patronage at considerably more than the consultants’ (there are always – well remunerated – consultants) estimated figures.

Then comes the really faked news. We are going to run a private public partnership on the East Coast rail line. What he did not say is that the franchise is going to be shortened. Why? Stagecoach and Virgin cannot pay the premiums they forecast when they took over from the state run East Coast which was privatised in haste by Osborne (he couldn’t live with a profitable, successfully nationalised franchise – of course).

So Stagecoach/Virgin cannot deliver on the forecasts they gave to win the franchise but they are being let off the hook by a ‘partnership’. One might otherwise have thought the line should be renationalised – but no, we are allowing private enterprise to walk away from their commitments with impunity. Why on earth do we bother with franchising? It costs a fortune for both government and franchisee with no advantage for the franchisor at all.

And that’s us.

Meanwhile in DUP country, Northern Ireland Railways are nationalised.

And yet Labour is supposed to be so radical in suggesting the same!

In the interim Grayling has stopped electrification of rail to Swansea (amongst others) but Hammond wants electrification of cars. This is a completely inconsistent policy. Electric trains are easy to keep a carbon lid on – with regenerative braking and a well understood traditional infrastructure. Electric cars, although they may be good news for Cornish lithium are probably rather less good news for cobalt mining.

This policy of random inconsistency is rather similar to the alleged government industrial policy.

That makes it fake all round.


  1. Ivan Horrocks -

    I understood that the announcement about reopening Beeching lines was meant as a distraction anyone examining the other announcement on the failed East Coast franchise, Peter (the third in its history I believe). So good on you for exposing them both for the sham they are.

    And talking of shams, taking both Tory governments together (I recall one was supposed to be a coalition) and in a field of absolute donkeys, Grayling comes out head and shoulders above any other minister for idiocy. Truly a man who knows no more than his warped ideology allows him to grasp and without the capacity to even comprehend how stupid his policies are. A true sham and an insult to every government office he’s held.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      indeed. The East Coast mainline is the closet thing we have at present to a high sped rail link in the North. The 300 mile stretch from Newcastle to London takes only 2h36m on the fastest train. I take it occasionally but the wife uses it about once per week. The staff doesn’t seen to change just the logos and service. It was much better when it was in public ownership.

      I agree also that Grayling is singularly inept even by the appalling standards of the current government, a neoliberal fanatic.

  2. Peter May -

    Agree entirely re Grayling. Whatever he turns his hand to is a disaster..

  3. Mo Stewart -

    They roll Grayling out to support the latest worst case scenario policies to give them some merit.

    He’s one of the least offensive Tory Ministers in interview.

    He was very successful when at the DWP, when convincing the public that the new assessments were to ‘help’ disabled people into work, whilst disregarding all those who died from relentless DWP coercion and tyranny. He helped to change the welfare state from guaranteed
    support for those in need to the removal of support and relentless tyranny. He’s very successful at what he does.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks Mo
      a good insight into their mindset. My natural inclination and I hope most who visit the sight is how to do things better. How to change the system so that I can help as many people as possible. I find it difficult to comprehend why people vote for the Tories; the top 1% yes but why people lower down the scale do so is difficult for me to comprehend, though Peter had a post on this a while ago.

  4. Graham -

    Does anyone know why we put up with this privatisation of the profits and socialisation of the risks? The FT today has an item on Thames Water – another ugly story. We need some kind of enquiry into privatisation, who profited and who paid for it. James Meeks book, “Private Island: Why Britain now belongs to someone else” exposes the whole sordid tale.

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