Department of Transport
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Department of Transport
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note HoC Hansard 24 November 1994: Column 729: 3.31 pm. Statement also contained in DOT press notice 452 (1994).
The Secretary of State for Transport (Dr. Brian Mawhinney): With permission, Madam Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the future of Railtrack, which has been a Government-owned company responsible for rail infrastructure since April this year. The Government intend to privatise Railtrack within the lifetime of this Parliament. We shall do that using the powers provided by the Railways Act 1993. Although the precise details and timing will be announced later in the light of market conditions, I can confirm that Railtrack will be floated on the stock market and that everyone will have the opportunity to buy shares.
The Government believe that privatisation offers the best future for Railtrack, for passengers and freight and for train operators. It will allow greater use of private sector skills in managing the network, improving Railtrack stations, delivering efficient track maintenance and encouraging investment in the upgrading of railway lines. It will provide even greater scope for private capital to be injected into better facilities. Railtrack will be better able to deliver improvements in the service that it provides to operators and, therefore, to passengers.
Privatisation has been one of the great achievements of this Government since 1979. It has transformed former state-owned industries and brought real improvements for customers and employees alike. It has brought new management techniques and new sources of investment. It has spread ownership throughout society. Indeed, Britain's example has been copied around the world.
The Department of Transport has been at the forefront of that programme. The National Freight Company Ltd., Sealink, National Express Ltd., Associated British Ports, the British Airports Authority and British Airways are all thriving in the private sector. This announcement paves the way for the creation of another important private company.
The privatisation of Railtrack will be the most significant single step in the process of transferring the ownership and operation of Britain's railways to the private sector. The Government have set the target of franchising a majority of train services by April 1996. That target remains. The Franchising Director will shortly start the pre-qualification process for the first franchises. The Government will be selling the rolling stock leasing companies next year. Privatisation of British Rail's infrastructure services units, British Rail Maintenance Ltd. and other businesses is already in progress and the transfer of British Rail's domestic freight services to the private sector should be completed by the end of 1995. Privatisation will enable Railtrack to provide a better service, bringing substantial benefits to train operators, passengers and other rail users, and to investors. My announcement demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to privatisation. It demonstrates our continuing commitment to railway privatisation. It demonstrates our continuing commitment to improving rail services. Above all, it demonstrates our continuing commitment to passengers and to our national economy.
Railhub Archive ::: 1994-11-24 DoT-001