Greenwood proposes rail “guiding mind”

A new ‘guiding mind’ for the rail industry has once again been mooted by Labour, with the party’s more detailed proposals for the railways starting to become clearer in the run-up to May’s General Election.

“As we all know, the industry is still too fragmented,” said Lilian Greenwood in a speech released to RAIL that had earlier been delivered to a select group of senior rail industry delegates at a private event in London in early February.

“It can be seen in the cost of running a network that is up to 40% less efficient than some of its European comparators.
“It could also be seen during the Christmas chaos, when passengers paid the price for poor communication between Network Rail and train operators.
“There is a clear need for better co-ordination. And that’s why the next Labour government is committed to establishing a guiding mind for the railways, to contract routes and co-ordinate services and skills in the industry.”

The policy has made its way to an amendment signed off by the party’s National Policy Forum, which agreed that the next Labour government will promise in its manifesto to “create a new guiding mind for the railways”.

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 768, published on February 18. 

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  • Chris Hayward - 16/02/2015 11:57

    As someone who had to deal with Labour's SRA I can tell you quite clearly we do not need yet another level of bureaucracy that will, like the SRA, be designed solely to insulate Ministers from criticism. Some of the stories would make your hair curl! Like a certain consortium having £250,000 wasted because the SRA 'changed their mind'. If we want to see the consequences of how Labour constructs things look no further than the 'private' Network Rail and how all their debt ended up on the Treasury books. Labour really want to nationalise the railways but don't have the guts to go and do it so construct complex, expensive organisations to achieve the same control without the responsibility.

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  • Smith - 17/02/2015 17:55

    Does Greenwood have a first name, or a gender?

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  • Crepello - 18/02/2015 10:15

    At last - in contrast to Chris Hayward's remarks - (Chris - what was the then govt supposed to do about Railtrack in your view? The scale of the corporate disaster is probably the most significant failure in UK business history - that it was a private company almost wholly dependent on govt subsidy means it never had the scrutiny it should have done). Some sort of organisation 'in charge' of the current debacle, that is not part of the civil service - is a must.

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    • Chris Hayward - 20/02/2015 01:27

      I will avoid the Railtrack debate thanks. My point is that we do not need yet another layer of bureaucracy. We had it before and it was a waste of money. And forgive me for mentioning it but the SRA, which was then led by Sir Alastair Morton who was pretty experienced at reshaping massive organisations with a funding problem ie The Channel Tunnel, and Sir Tom Winsor the then Regulator were both sidelined and threatened by the then Labour Government over its actions against Railtrack. And the fact remains that the resulting Network Rail was a typical Labour construct very much like those PFIs: Complicated, controlled, expensive, arms length from Ministers and not quite what it seemed as a Private Company. And we now have this monstrosity sitting on our National debt. It was Nationalisation but without the political honesty. But then what did we expect from New Labour? And we can be assured this 'Not-New Labour' mob will not do exactly the same again? They do have form.

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