Can't we rise to challenge of getting railways right?
IS IT so hard to get the railways right?
Britain pioneered rail transport in the 19th century – nowadays the headlines are about overcrowding, high ticket prices, delays, and mistakes over franchises.
The latest franchise shenanigans have seen the process to choose a firm to run services on the West Coast Main Line collapse in disarray.
The finger has been pointed at blundering officials in the Department for Transport.
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Derby's Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, was asked to look into what went wrong.
He has concluded the franchising system has generally been a success for the railways, but that mandarins at the Department for Transport need to strengthen "franchising capability".
Some would ask if the system is so good, why do so many rail travellers have grim tales of unpleasant journeys?
The railways are still using their 19th century infrastructure, experts point out. It would be too expensive and difficult to update this, Network Rail has concluded.
The answer is seen by ministers as High Speed Rail, which will plough huge swathes of development through England's green and pleasant land.
Hasn't the country still got the expertise to modernise our railways without starting from expensive scratch?
It would be a challenge – but rail challenges were once met with gusto and determination in Britain...