Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tory hypocrisy on rail safety...

Since the botched rail privatisation was entirely the responsibility of the last Conservative Government, remarks on safety issues by a Tory frontbencher after this weekend's rail tragedy smack of breathtaking hypocrisy.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne brazenly told Sky News:
There is a mismatch between the management of the rail network, the track itself and the rail companies like Virgin.

One of the things the Conservative Party is looking at, and we are not directly relating this to this accident at all, I am making a broader observation.

We are looking at whether in the future there should be a much closer link between the people who own the track and the people who run the trains.
Does the man who wants to run our economy really think people are daft enough to have forgotten - or forgiven - the Tories for fragmenting our railways and deliberately separating the safety of the track from the train companies - against all expert advice?

5 comments:

Michael Oakeshott said...

All very well Phil, but bearing little relation to the facts. The private railways were actually safer than British Rail. And the railway is no longer in private hands(de-facto). So quite why a Tory nobody is getting the blame for a woman dying on a railway system run by a (de-facto) nationalised industry, under a Labour Government, is anyone's guess. Methinks you protest too much.

Brynley said...

Oh dear, this time both Phil and Michael are wrong.

The idea that the Tories are in some way to blame for the current underinvestment in Lincolnshire's railways is really too much to accept. Both Labour and Tories in government have been keen players of the franchise farce, whatever doubts they may have expressed when out of power.

Michael's comments about safety in the distant past are just rhetorical ignorant nonsense, but let's ask some questions relevant to today.

1. When is Lincoln getting main line trains?

2. When is the Peterborough-Spalding- Sleaford-Lincoln service going to cover the working day and early evening?

These are questions for Labour's transport minister not for some powerless subsidy-farming franchisee (although I'm sure all of us would be delighted to hear from Central Trains on the subject in the unlikely event that they employ anybody with an interest in transport strategy).

fairdealphil said...

michael:

If our railways are safer now as you suggest than under British Rail, why are the Tories apparently wanting to restore the link between track safety and the train operators...which they destroyed?

Under British Rail, safety not profits always came first.

Of course, the best news since fragmentation has been taking Network Rail back into "public" ownership, but track is still maintained - or not - by private operators whose first duty is to their shareholders, not to the safety of rail users.


brynley:

Agree with your points (no pun intended) re: Lincs.

But after the Tories cocked up rail, don't you find lectures from Tories on train safety difficult to swallow?

Michael Oakeshott said...

I have no idea why the Tories are doing that. For the umpteenth time, I am not here to defend the present day Conservative Party. I did not make their policies, and I don't support all that many of them. And I am not going to speculate on what they are "apparently" going intending to do in the hypothetical event of a Tory Government. If you think this is the main issue to arise from this incident Phil, then you really are out of touch with reality.

Regardless of what came first under British Rail, the results spoke for themselves. Fewer passengers. Less safe. Less value for the taxpayer. The service was appalling, and no amount of ideological misty eyed reminising will delude the public.

The Tories were in power ten years ago. The only thing tiring is Labour harping on about history. You almost expect Blair to answer his Iraq critics by saying that far more British troops died in a previous war fought by Winston's Chruchill's Tory Government. It insults peoples' patience and intelligence.

Anonymous said...

How long has your party been in power Phil.

The phrase make the promise, break the promise and blame anyone else comes to mind.