I am a regular reader of your publication, and I am prompted to write you to correct various issues raised by R. Leijola in issue 490 of January 2006. Firstly, the achievements of the privately managed Estonian Railway should be set out fairly. The operations are profitable and return a substantial dividend to the government and the taxpayer from the public shareholding. The company now carries double the freight, and the drain of subsidies to keep the freight railway are safely in the past.
Comments were also made about the U.K. Railways, the most profitable and growing railway in Europe. All the operating companies are in the private sector and have been for many years. The rolling stock is privately owned, and the infrastructure company operates as a trust responsible for raising its own funds. The 5 billion pound Sterling bond issue last week confirms.
Last year passenger traffic [in the U.K.] rose by 12 percent in revenue terms and more when measuring passenger numbers. Freight grew by 10.2 percent and investment in infrastructure was 5 billion pounds. Rolling stock investment was about 2 billion pounds and rail service measurement also improved substantially. Subsidies for the remaining loss making "social railways" have halved to a bearable amount.
The overall rail operation now carries many more people than that carried at the end of the last world war when there were huge population movements, at a time when the national road infrastructure was poor by today's standards.
The privatization has been a huge success, and everyone recognizes this. Other countries may have their own needs and ideas, and will aspire to improve, and good luck, but please do not try to say that the private model does not work!