Commenting on the franchise of the East Coast mainline rail route, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, Ben Southwood, said:
Returning the East Coast to the private sector is the right decision. Franchising might not be the ideal solution but it has been consistent with 20 years of improvement in rail.
We may regret that the system is not perfect, which could require a market to pick the right organisational form, but we know what the solution isn't, when looking at what happened when the state took a leading role in rail, 1918-1995.
With the exception of the National Express overbid of 2007-2009, private companies have run the East Coast mainline well—GNER saw rising satisfaction throughout its 1996-2007 tenure.
In any case the line is uniquely easy to run profitably: it has few commuter passengers and is mainly used for occasional long journeys.
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The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.