Railways in Britain are booming. Passenger and freight traffic totals are rising every year, and major investment has been approved by the Government and large infrastructure schemes lie ahead. Yet the industry is now in another crisis as upgrading relies on borrowing which is becoming increasingly unsustainable in an age of austerity.
Sim Harris, a leading railway journalist, traces the history of the perennial problems of ownership, costs and control in Britain's railways from its very beginnings, detailing the increasing threat of competition from road transport, the decline in passenger traffic, the rise in freight haulage together with funding issues arising from constant oscillations between public and private ownership.
Passenger railways are rarely profitable and today, despite rising passenger numbers, a familiar controversy surrounds the amount of public money which should be provided for the industry. This is a topical and thought-provoking examination of all the issues faced by the modern rail industry, which will be interesting reading for professionals and enthusiasts alike.