Alastair Darling, the Secretary of State for Transport is championing a bold new move to split all the rail infrastructure currently under the control of Network Rail "straight down the middle" in talks between the state-owned business and train operating companies later today.
Published at 4.30 this morning, the plans divide railway infrastructure equally between operators, who will own the left rail and Network Rail, which will be renamed RightRail. Alternate sleepers will be owned by a new company, the Antique Rail Sleeper Emporium Co. Ltd. Rolling stock will be leased to operators by RightRail, who will buy magical delay-less trains from British Aerospace at twice the original price. Station and travelling buffets will be operated by a firm of Independent Coroners, to streamline the full restaurant experience.
Under Alastair Darling's plans, stations will be leased out to a holding company which is 51% owned by the Treasury with minority shares issued to a rail regulator drawn randomly from a hat at midnight on the 23rd Sunday of the year.
The final controlling stake in the UK's railways - a small signal box in West Lothian - will be up for grabs by the first company to handbrake turn an Intercity 125 on a scenic viaduct in the Pennines and race back to London to claim the prize. Whoever holds the signal box will be allowed to play their Joker, mortgage Fenchurch Street and control all the track in the UK for the grand finale - a demolition derby in which trains hurtle at one another on plastic tracks, held together by strawberry string and blu-tacked to a bed of Pringles.
Speaking at the launch of his plans, Alastair Darling said the proposals represented "a fantastic simplification of the current system, which is old and therefore bad".
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