Alan Williams: September 2020


One of the many disadvantages of the fragmentation that came with privatisation with no benefit to the passenger was the need to reinvent a version of the Railway Clearing House.

The original RCH was set up in 1842 to sort out the allocation of passenger ticket revenues and freight charges whenever responsibility for operation passed from one pre-grouping and later big four railway company to another, or wherever more than one company provided services over the same tracks.

Its need vanished with nationalisation in 1948 but arose again with privatisation. This time, with both train operating companies (TOCs) and first Railtrack and then Network Rail being held to targets with financial penalties, there was a need for a central body to ‘adjudicate’ – in reality, apportion blame – for delays to one operator caused by another or the infrastructure provider.

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