Margaret Thatcher has not travelled by train since becoming Prime Minister. She makes no secret of her hostility to publicly owned transport. The railways are the prime target in a campaign of privatization. Whole areas of the country already lack any access to passenger trains.
Philip Bagwell here presents a cool demolition of Thatcher's case against public transport. By first establishing on clear economic and environmental grounds that a state system is more efficient and equitable, he goes on to outline the consequences of privatization and compares British Rail's Corporate Plan with the alternative strategy sponsored by the rail unions.
The history of struggles for decent wages and improved conditions is described, and the effects of the divisions among the unions assessed. Issues such as flexible rostering, which has been the subject of intense debate, are explained against the background of a fall in rail-workers' standards of living.
The Serpell Report, blueprint for the first phase of Thatcher's campaign, is criticised in the light of its failure to meet basic transport needs. And detailed comparisons with Continental railway systems show how BR has been handicapped by successive governments.
This will be an essential book for all users and workers concerned with the future of railways in Britain.