Talk:Privatisation of British Rail

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Splitting up article[edit]

As the article is growing past 72kB, it might be good to think about splitting it up into two (or more) different sections

Wikipedia: Article size says if an article is > 60 kB, it probably should be divided (although the scope of a topic can sometimes justify the added reading material).

It doesn't divide particularly easily but IMO the best division would be section 5 (Impact) onwards into a new article. Thoughts? Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 09:39, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

I agree, it defies sub-division, but I confess I can't see the logic in splitting from 5 onwards. What would you even call that article? I think it would be better if the whole thing was given a thorough rewrite, which I think would see a reduction in size just through removing duplication and irrelevance. Certainly it needs to be settled what should be in it, hence my merge proposal below. Back in July I had a good look at the history, and it's obvious its present state is just the result of people gradually bolting on various stuff, and there's never really been a decent version from day 1, nor a clear plan or direction to work toward that, except organized chaos I suppose. I tried to make the more obvious fixes, but I gave up after a while, as it's just too much, and someone just reversed half of it by re-creating the renat. article, which is also an incoherent mess, creating horrendous duplication. I find it odd how neglected these articles are, given how interested editors here seem to be with documenting other UK railway information. It's not like this is an unimportant subject, it practically informs everything that happens on the modern UK network today. Kristian Jenn (talk) 19:38, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

Merge Renationalisation of British Rail to this article[edit]

Back in July, I made various (largely cosmetic) improvements to this article, in some attempt to make it better for readers (I know a lot about UK rail but it was a difficult read even for me). One major change was to merge Renationalisation of British Rail here - since at that time, the article was not much better presented than this one, and I really couldn't see any reason for its existence. Accordingly, I moved all pertinent info in that article to the relevant section here. Unbeknownst to me, the change to the renat. article was immediately reversed, on the apparent basis that it needs prior approval. The unfortunate consequence of course is that now both articles contain largely the same information, which has by now presumably diverged in various ways.

I submit that there is no real need for a separate renat. article, and that it is not, as claimed, "a political proposal", at least not the same one. The subject gets brought up repeatedly obviously, by both politicians and pressure groups, in various forms, but unless/until these turn into something that will actually happen, I can't see any use in documenting those things separate from the very page which would put those proposals into context - this one.

Alternatively, if people really want a renat. article to exist (and are not arguing for that just out of sheer advocacy - I note with some alarm that Bring Back British Rail even has its own article now, despite not exactly being a prominent campaign, to put it mildly), I would like to see some serious thought put into what both articles are actually for. For example, should this article have a cut off point? And what's the difference between a proposal for reform and a proposal for renationalisation? Because quite obviously, altering the post-privatisation structures is not equivalent to renationalisation. There's a lot of post-privatisation material here that doesn't fit in either a renat. article or a strictly (1994-1997) privatisation article either, but is simply more general discourse on the history and operation of 20th Century UK railways. Kristian Jenn (talk) 19:11, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

With no comments in days, and with the editor who said discussion was required simply deleting my objection without comment [1], and with another editor suggesting at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject UK Railways that these articles are low traffic/low-interest topics and editors most likely have other things that interest them to spend their time on, I'm simply going to close this 'discussion' as pointless, and redo the merge. Kristian Jenn (talk) 15:02, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that's fine with me, simplifies things Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 10:21, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

Moving political positions[edit]

Please contribute to Talk:Impact of the privatisation of British Rail for a discussion of whether the "political positions" section should be moved to Impact of the privatisation of British Rail. Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 17:40, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

Actual reasons for privatisation?[edit]

The background section goes into some history but doesn't give actual reasons as to why British Rail has to be privatised.

This would be a very interesting aspect to cover as there's talk of privatisation of the SNCB/NMBS, the National Railway Company of Belgium due to it having accumulated near €5 billion euros of debt.

"The debt could bring about a privatisation of the SNCB" (Google translation)

--JamesPoulson (talk) 16:36, 6 January 2016 (UTC)

It's an interesting question, I don't think you will find it easy to obtain neutral sources though. Considering the debate that goes on about it, there are relatively few books about it - Christian Wolmar's and Terry Gourvish's books would be a starting point. Probably a combination of wanting to reduce the burden on the government through subsidy, improve the public's view of the service by getting companies who are generally better at branding in and competition for passengers going and (what I would cynically say was the biggest factor) having someone to blame other than the government when things went wrong. Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 19:04, 6 January 2016 (UTC)
FWIW, I added a line about what the 1992 Tory manifesto specifically said re. motive. I see no issue with neutrality, it's trivially easy to give all sides of the story and let people decide for themselves who was right - e.g. the Tories said it was to improve the service, Labour said it was to crush the unions, the unions said it was to steal public money, the private companies said it was to improve the service and make them rich in the process, etc, etc. I've heard it said that Wolmar is anti-privatisation, but if people can source that, this qualifier can be included in the article. If they can't, well, nobody can argue that he's not a notable commentator, so his view should rightly be included here anyway, even if it is quite scathing. You only get into neutrality problems if you start to include the opinion of people who have no business being recorded here as influential, or if you include notable people's opinions in a cherry picked way (i.e. if we were to include Wolmar saying it was a terrible idea, without giving any detail about any positives he might have also highlighted). Kristian Jenn (talk) 18:05, 31 January 2016 (UTC)


Kristian Jenn, you removed the hatnote: "This article is about the historical process of the privatisation of British Rail. For a discussion of whether the privatisation had a positive or negative impact, see Impact of the privatisation of British Rail."

From WP:Hatnote, hatnotes should be used to help readers find a page they may have been looking for. As the effect of privatisation is a very hot political topic, I think many people will be looking to find out what its effects were and the political discussion surrounding them, probably much more so than would want to find information on the historical process of privatisation, which is fairly technical. Absolutelypuremilk (talk) 17:51, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

As I said, it was my belief these notes are only supposed to be used in cases of complete confusion - i.e. someone looking for a completely different topic, and not cases where they are likely to find what they are looking for by simply reading the page they arrived at. If we were to second guess all the things people might be wanting to know when they arrive here, the note could be very long indeed and contain numerous links, by which time they could have just scanned the article, no? And looking at WP:Hatnote, linking to related articles is given as one of the examples of how not to use them (WP:RELATED). Kristian Jenn (talk) 17:57, 31 January 2016 (UTC)