We will never know precisely how UK rail operations would have performed had they remained in public ownership under the control of British Rail. However, analysis of the available data does point to something of a renaissance in UK rail in the period since 1997/8. In 2012, ridership, punctuality and passenger satisfaction were all at record levels with direct Government support to train operators falling. Whilst precise levels of causation cannot be determined, the weight of evidence suggests that the incentives created by franchising, both at the bidding stage and once contracts have been awarded, has had a material role in driving these results.
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