I am always reminded of the McNulty report when this is mentioned. This report is a decade old now and was published in the New Labour years. Above too is the graph showing overall railway subsidies for the past few years. More recently the Government has seen them declined £1.9 billion for this year.
Both are instructive. McNulty concluded that the 30% increase in the cost of rail travel and expenses was due in a large part to excessive staff wages increases caused by unionisation. Of course, this is ignored by all those on the Left.
The graph then shows that now rail subsidies are in line with the long-term average after years of above average subsidy. During the years of above average subsidy passenger rail travel in the UK increased by 50% as the Government (Labour and Tory) cut roadbuilding and spent the money on the railways.
So really, railways are a victim of their own success. The massive Leftie surge to put them in public ownership will probably not make any difference to long term costs. If rail travel is to increase, then subsidies are needed as the costs are too high for private companies to wear when they are subject to price controls. The state will find the same issues when it tries to fund expansion; HS2, Crossrail etc are very, very expensive and the contractors available to deliver it are few and far between, meaning prices will always be high.
I don't really care whether the railways are vertically or horizontally integrated or owned by the State (today they are effectively sub-contractors of the DfT, so hardly private anyway); but going on about railway re-nationalisation as if it is going to make any difference is just silly. Nothing major will change from the current set up.