What the papers say: Rail reform met with scepticism

There was consensus that transport secretary Alistair Darling’s white paper ‘The Future of Rail’ was both overdue and a welcome addition to the railway debate.

This despite it being ‘Shake-up No 5 in just 7 years’ for rail policy (the Daily Mirror, 16 July). The Times declared it a U-turn: ‘Labour has decided that its much-trumpeted Strategic Rail Authority experiment has not worked, has swallowed its pride, and four wasted years, and returned to a model that looks more like British Rail’ (16 July).

The review was described alternately as ‘the most radical since rail privatisation’ (Yorkshire Post, 16 July), and a ‘damp squib’ (The Independent, 16 July). The Times said it would leave rail passengers ‘distinctly underwhelmed’ (16 July).

Promises of increased efficiency, cost savings and accountability were better received, but the issue for many was that the reforms may not have ‘[gone] far enough... rail users do not want more structural fiddling’ (The Independent, 16 July).

The Times added that ‘ambition is in danger of being derailed’ (16 July).

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow. www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk

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