The Windsor Link Railway has been featured in the Daily Telegraph.

More privatisation could be the best way to save the rail industry

Bradley Gerrard reports that an increase in competition makes more sense than nationalisation:

The Government said earlier this year it agreed that there needs to be “important reforms to create a fair, level playing field between open access and franchised operators”. This could signal more private competition on our railways. It is also likely the private sector will be needed if proposals to reopen routes closed under the Beeching cuts are to be realised.

With the Government planning on spending nearly £50bn between now and 2022-23, ministers are likely to be hard-pressed to find sufficient capital to open defunct lines.

David Starkie, senior associate at competition consultancy Case Associates, suggests housing developers could become more involved in funding rail infrastructure given a nearby rail link often supports property prices. Mr Wellings points out privately-run railways in Japan have been successful partly because property development has been used to help fund rail infrastructure.

There is potential for one such private railway scheme. The Windsor Link Railway proposal was submitted to Network Rail in August this year. It would involve working with international infrastructure and property developers to fund the connection of Windsor’s two railway lines. Trains would run from Slough to Waterloo via Windsor with the number of services from the town to the capital doubling in frequency.

The scheme also proposes a southern and western rail link from Windsor to Heathrow, which George Bathurst, managing director of the project, said would also reduce road congestion, improve air quality and save the taxpayer £2bn for other connections to Heathrow.

“Applying a similar investment model to the rest of the country could thus reduce or even reverse increases in fares,” Mr Bathurst claims.

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