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The restructuring and privatisation of British Rail: Was it really that bad?

Pollitt, M.G. and Smith, A.S.J. (2002) The restructuring and privatisation of British Rail: Was it really that bad? Fiscal Studies, 23 (4). pp. 463-502. ISSN 0143-5671

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This paper uses a social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) framework to assess whether rail privatisation in Britain has produced savings in operating costs. The paper shows that major efficiencies have been achieved, consumers have benefited through lower prices, whilst the increased government subsidy has been largely recouped through privatisation proceeds. We also find that output quality is no lower (and is probably better) than under the counterfactual scenario of public ownership (pre-Hatfield). The achievement of further savings is key to delivering improved rail services in the future. This paper finds that a privatised structure, where shareholders demand a return on their investment, has led to significant improvements in operating efficiency - it remains to be seen whether the new regime, with a not-for-profit infrastructure owner, will deliver the same efficiency improvements.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2002 Blackwell Synergy. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Fiscal Studies. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > Institute for Transport Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Adrian May
Date Deposited: 04 May 2007
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 16:41
Published Version: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/fisc/23/4
Status: Published
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.2002.tb00069.x
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2468

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