One of the worst examples of large scale spending of questionable effiicacy is the big UK railway budget.
I am going to take up again the whole issue of the unaccountability of Network Rail. An independent review has found that it could be much more efficiently run, with large cash savings. Its strange structure designed by the last government tries to hide the fact that it is in effect a nationalised monopoly.
Ministers need to examine how and why members of the company are appointed and reappointed or dropped. They need to find out whether these members – who are meant to work on the taxpayers behalf – ask the right questions and create the right atmosphere to encourage more efficient operation at Network Rail.
The members should ask why Network Rail has a reputation for holding up development projects adjacent to the railway, and why they often demand ransom payments for anyone wishing to bridge the railway or develop adjacent to it.
They should ask why Network Rail has taken on foreign currency and index linked debts, and how it plans to repay the massive £30bn debt built up so far.