DETR slammed for giveaway Railfreight price

11 Nov 99
The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions comes under fire this week from an influential committee of MPs for failing to make the most of the sale of Railfreight.

12 November 1999

The Commons' Public Accounts Committee report into the sale of the loss-making arm of British Rail says the taxpayer could have fared better if the Department had adopted 'a more creative approach'. Railfreight Distribution had made a loss of £64.5m in the year to March 1996.

Instead of British Rail receiving proceeds from the sale, to English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Holdings (EW&S) in November 1997, it agreed to make net payments with a present value of £242m over eight years to 2005 to offset anticipated losses.

'The department could have done more to encourage growth in rail freight in advance of the sale,' said David Davis, the committee chairman.

'They could have [made] land available for the construction of corporate freight sidings and they could have encouraged greater take-up of the freight facilities grant. It is disappointing that these opportunities were missed in the run-up to privatisation.'


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