How to fix Britain's broken railways

By Tom Haines-Doran



  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6405-6
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £12.99
  • Published Date: October 2022
  • BIC Category: Political Theory, Politics, Trains and railways: general interest, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General, TRANSPORTATION / Public Transportation, TRANSPORTATION / Railroads / General, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Transport Planning & Policy, Trains & Railways: General Interest, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy
  • Series: Manchester Capitalism


Why don't trains run on time? Why are fares so expensive? Why are there so many strikes?

Few would disagree that Britain's railways are broken, and have been for a long time.

This insightful new book calls for a radical rethink of how we view the railways, and explains the problems we face and how to fix them. Haines-Doran argues that the railways should be seen as a social good and an indispensable feature of the national economy. With passengers and railway workers holding governments to account, we could then move past the incessant debates on whether our railways are an unavoidably loss-making business failure. An alternative vision is both possible and affordable, enabling the railways to play an instrumental role in decreasing social inequalities, strengthening the economy and supporting a transition to a sustainable future.


'Punchy, well written and forensic in its analysis. Exposes how attacks on rail workers' terms and conditions have been at the heart of privatisation - and how passengers and taxpayers have also been fleeced by shareholders and bosses.'
Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress

'A clear, precise and accessible glide through the disastrous history of British privatised rail and a passionate case for why we need the railways now more than ever, Derailed is an InterCity125 in a discourse dominated by Pacers and Pendolinos.'
Owen Hatherley, culture editor of Tribune and author of Modern Buildings in Britain

'Tom Haines-Doran provides an excellent summary of the wrongs of rail privatisation but that's the easy bit. The best sections of the book are those attempting to provide ideas for sorting out the mess and giving the railways the focus they need to survive at a time of concerns about climate change and inequality.'
Christian Wolmar, author of British Rail: A New History

Derailed is a brilliant, revelatory book. Deeply researched, lucidly written and humane, it explains the chronic failure of corner-cutting, under-funding and privatisation in Britain's railways - and more importantly, what we can do about it. I commend this book to anyone who has ever wondered why things don't work properly in this country, and wants to know how to fix it.'
Richard Seymour, author of The Twittering Machine


1 Why don't the trains run on time?
2 Why are fares so high?
3 Why are there so many strikes?
4 How can the railways be held to account?
5 Is there light at the end of the tunnel?



Tom Haines-Doran is a political economist specialising in transport systems, infrastructure and social movements. He currently works at the University of Leeds, leading research on transport decarbonisation. He previously worked as a researcher for the Urban Transport Group, authoring research documents for high-level decision makers in local and national government.

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