by Christian Wolmar

THE CONCLUDING chapter is titled ’how ideology and incompetence wrecked Britain’s railways’, setting the tone for this description of how British Rail was privatised and the unintended consequences which followed.

The first half of the book is an updated version of the author’s Broken Rails, originally published in 2001. He describes the history of successive governments’ relationships with the railways, ranging from the nineteenth century laissez-faire approach which produced a haphazard national network, to the later problems of hands-on political interference and misdirected management and investment.

Using a range of published sources and interviews, he describes how the Conservative administration developed its privatisation model in the 1990s, and the way in which potential problems were not foreseen or simply ignored.

After accounts of the accidents at Southall, Ladbroke Grove and Hatfield, Wolmar describes the demise of infrastructure owner Railtrack, and the effects of the May 2002 Potters Bar accident on maintenance contracting. He considers reasons why costs have increased dramatically, looking at the franchising process, rolling stock and maintenance.

ISBN 1-85410-998-7

ú10·99 from Aurum Press, 25 Bedford Avenue, London WC1B 3AT, UK

Tel: +44 20 7637 3225