Philip O'Donnell interviewed by Peter Willey

2018-03-20 in Buckinghamshire
Peter G. Willey

Oral history interview with Philip O'Donnell, conducted and recorded by Peter Willey at the interviewee's home in Buckinghamshire on 20 March 2018. Duration: 56 min. 26 sec. Career overview; highlights; cultural change from Civil Service to British Rail; radical vision for structure; rail privatisation compared with other privatisations; industry structure; Privatisation Unit; importance of track access rights in Department for Transport (DfT) and Treasury model; role of the Rail Regulator over charges and contracts; definition of track access rights; designing the contractual arrangements from scratch; role of DfT; industry re-organisation 1992; emergence of Railtrack management structure; flotation of Railtrack in 1996; role of the Rail Regulator; effect of cultural change on people; involvement in West Coast Mainline (WCML) upgrade; dedication of colleagues; shift from contraction to growth; reflections on privatisation

One of over 150 oral history recordings made as part of the Britain’s Railways All Change (BRAC) archive project. BRAC was set-up to cover gaps in documenting the railway privatisation process in the United Kingdom, between 1994 and 1997, when the government-owned British Rail was dismantled into over 100 privately-owned companies. The interviews capture the recollections of people involved in the planning and implementation of the privatisation process, the management of change and running the railway during privatisation.


Oral Histories
Britain's Railways All Change
Object Number:
oral history interview
Britain’s Railways All Change (BRAC) oral history archive, created in partnership with the Friends of the National Railway Museum, the Retired Railway Officers’ Society and the National Railway Museum.