Public success

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There is a theory behind privatisation that private ownership will produce better results. This is feasible if the item being privatised is a monopoly and broken up into separate, competing elements, leading to lower costs and better service for the public. However, the experience with the energy sector leaves that in great doubt.

The East Coast rail line is in a different category (your report, 18 January). When the monopoly British Rail was broken up, the East Coast line was only one element. While some parts were successful, the East Coast line was not. Two successive private owners failed and had to be bailed out and put into public ownership. This has been very successful and has been competing with all the privately-owned lines. It is so successful that I have heard of commuters from Glasgow choosing to come to Edinburgh because of the excellent service and the free wifi on board. This is not present in the main competitor Virgin West Coast line, which I have found to be otherwise excellent. In other words, public ownership can compete with private ownership.

The East Coast line is also contributing more than 
£600 million to the Exchequer. It is not explained why public ownership should not do all the things that rail minister Stephen Hammond claims can only be done by private ownership, and there will be no income for the country.

If this is the level of financial competence in the government, I wouldn’t trust it to manage my household expenses.

Dr Evan L Lloyd

Belgrave Road
Edinburgh

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