- Mr Thomas Haines-Doran
- Email address:
- Thesis title:
- The Political Economy of Rail Privatisation in Britain
- Year of Study:
The privatisation of British Railways in 1993 was conceived as a way of reducing state subsidy. However, critical scholars, largely residing within the field of accounting, have repeatedly proven that the private management of railways always leads to an increased subsidy. Indeed, state subsidy increased from £2bn to £5.3bn between 1993 and 2013/14 (in 2013/14 prices), making it a ‘failure’ when judged by the criterion set by its proponents. It therefore remains a puzzle why successive governments continue to pursue the privatisation project, despite its waste of government money. The difference in subsidy required to run the railways could be used to reduce the fiscal deficit, or reduce fares or increase capacity.
My research will utilise David Harvey’s concept of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ (ABD) to theorise the rationale behind the continuation of private involvement in railways. Harvey conceptualises ABD in order to understand the nature of neoliberalisation, which he views as a class project to restore capital accumulation and the power of economic elites since the 1970s. In practice, the second of these objectives has dominated through ABD, which involves upwards redistributions of wealth by such means as the privatisation of public services and financialisation. The ‘failure’ of privatisation can be reconceived as a ‘success’ – insofar as it ‘successfully’ redistributes money from poor to rich through state subsidisation.
- British International Studies Association - International Political Economy Group conference 2015
- Historical Materialism 2015