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Rail privatisation - a short history

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 01 July 2009

As the government prepares to take over the loss making east coast rail line, Channel 4 News looks back at the history of the rails.


The Conservative government introduces the railways act, which breaks British Rail into over 100 separate companies, with at heart a separation between the use of railway facilities and train operators.

Four killed when a GNER InterCity 225 train details near Hatfield station, in Hertfordshire.

Strategic Rail Authority set up to provide private strategic direction for railways.

Seven people killed when the WAGN 1245 service from London to Kings Lynn crashed at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, because of faulty track. Private contractor Jarvis and Network Rail jointly accepted liability on behalf of the rail industry for claims brought which were "legally justified".

Network Rail replaces Railtrack as the body with responsibility for maintaining the railway infrastructure.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announces the Strategic Rail Authority is to be abolished.

Manslaughter charges dropped against Network Rail bosses in the wake of the Hatfield disaster.

Engineering company Balfour Beatty is fined a record £10mn and Network Rail, Railtrack's successor, is fined £3.5mn in relation to the Hatfield crash.

Strategic Rail Authority disbanded.

A woman is killed and 22 other people are injured in a train crash in Cumbria, after an inspector cut short a trackside check metres before a broken set of points which later derailed the Virgin train. Network Rail admits a number of errors.

Government announces it intends to take over the east coast rail service run by National Express.

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