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Synopsis

Britain's rail privatisation was one of the greatest political failures of recent history. A well-functioning industry was torn apart to satisfy political dogma and privatised in a way that not only compromised safety and wrecked performance but also resulted in financial melt-down.

In this acclaimed book, an update to his earlier work Broken Rails, Christian Wolmar reveals the causes of the collapse of the railway system, following the Hatfield accident, barely five years after John Major's ill-thought-out privatisation. On the Wrong Line goes on to expose the failure of New Labour to get to grips with the legacy it inherited from the Tories and raises wider issues about the competence of the Blair government.

This book, with a new preface for the eBook edition, serves as a valuable reminder of the risks of privatising a single, state-owned service and splitting it into many competing entities, each linked by contracts rather than a shared service ethos.

Unfortunately, this lesson does not appear to have been learned by the Coalition Government, which seems dedicated to destroying first the National Health Service the way the Tories wrecked the railways and then doing the same to education.

Finally, in an appendix, this new edition contains a never-before-published three page statement written by Sir John Major on the privatisation of the railways; a subject he never mentions once in his autobiography.

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