The railway is in my blood.
Born in a railway house, in Railway Terrace, the son of a railwayman, in a pits-and-railways town known as “the Crewe of the coalfields” I couldn’t be much else.
So I’ve followed the saga of collapsing privatisation of the industry with more than usual interest.
It was bound to happen eventually. The modern railway is a social and business service, not a happy hunting ground for greedy hedge-fund profiteers.
But it took a pandemic to end the Thatcherite nightmare of pretend capitalism on the tracks. With all but emergency travel forbidden, the privatised Train Operating Companies had no passengers and had to be bailed out to the tune of £5billion.
Those emergency subsidies have expired, and the franchising farce set up by John Major in the mid-1990s was scrapped, after billions had been taken out in dividends and train-leasing payola.
In what some see as a halfway house to nationalisation, the Government will foot the bill for running the system until at least March 2022. After that date, the Tories talk of paying private companies to run services under management contracts.
If this looks like a pig’s ear, it’s because you can see the twirly tail of ideology wagging the porker. Privatisation is a religion with the Tories. Admitting that it’s a failure is like denying God.
But with so many U-turns since BoJo came to power, it wouldn’t be the greatest shame since Munich to concede that the railway would be better back in the hands of the British people.
We just have to find a fig-leaf word to cover their embarrassment. Let’s not Bob Crow over it. Communisation? Degrayling? Un-majoring?
As a child of the 1950s, I think British Railways, with the classic lion emblem, might do the trick.