Britain: railway privatization kills


British railway , cartoon

From London daily The Morning Star:

The price of profits

(Thursday 06 July 2006)

SLAPDASH killer construction company Balfour Beatty‘s lawyers argued in court that the £10 million fine imposed on it for its role in the Hatfield rail disaster should be reduced because its representatives pleaded guilty at trial.

The implication is that company directors put their hands up in order to save the suffering of the relatives and friends of the four people killed and 102 injured.

It was no such thing.

It was an attempt to remove the company’s name from the glare of publicity at a time when the very mention of Balfour Beatty aroused widespread feelings of revulsion.

It is a scandal that three Appeal Court judges have seen fit to reduce the fine on the basis of sophistry and disregard for human decency.

Even if Balfour Beatty had been fined £100 million, it would still have been an inadequate sentence.

Four people died because the pursuit of profit outweighed the need to make public safety paramount on our railways.

The fact that Railtrack‘s fine of £3.5 million was an even bigger insult than Balfour Beatty’s ought to have been an argument for tougher treatment against Railtrack rather than an excuse to shovel more cash into Balfour Beatty shareholders’ pockets.

The company was paid £368 million of public money over a seven-year contract to keep the track safe and it failed ignominiously.

It did not repair a cracked rail over a 21-month period since it was reported — and four people lost their lives as a direct result.

Potters Bar train crash: here.

Protesters will picket railway stations across Britain today to mark 20 years since the country’s railways were sold off: here.

Rail expert Christian Wolmar demanded renationalisation yesterday in a stinging attack on the profits creamed from Britain’s network by foreign state-owned operators: here.

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