Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Philip Hammond delivers a Curate's Egg?

Cautious congratulations to the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP for today's announcement on restructuring the industry.

In particular his decision to chair the new High Level Group tasked with examining:

"...the options for getting those responsible for track and train to work together to drive down the cost of the railway for the benefit of passengers and taxpayers, while improving the quality of services."

Two wins here.

Philip Hammond has put his personal reputation for delivery on the line. It will not be an easy task corralling and refocusing all the vested interests that benefit so much from today's bloated industry structure.

Secondly, and no less importantly, Mr Hammond has decided not to entrust leadership of the HLG to a civil servant.

Mandarins, by their nature, like to accrue power.

By taking political leadership of the HLG Mr Hammond appears to believe it will have a finite life.

Once it has delivered the industry's new structure it can cease to exist. Allowing the railway to manage its own affairs, within parameters, but without micromanagement.

So far, so good.

However, it is worth remembering that when the Tories were last in power they gifted the country the dysfunctional and costly railway we have today.

Whilst applauding the future direction outlined by the Secretary of State, Eye hopes he is able to learn from the mistakes of the past.