I have never been a proponent and supporter of privatizing passenger railroad systems. To me railroads are a "natural monopoly". No amount of political posturing on either side of the political spectrum is going to change the fact that there is hardly a railroad system in the world that does not depend on the public purse in one way or another.
There have been a number of different approaches to privatization starting in 1983 with SJ (Statens Jarnvargar) in Sweden. Most have met with less than resounding success. Some have been outright disastrous, the two most egrerious examples being Kiwi Rail in New Zealand and NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) in The Netherlands. And then of course there is the UK!
Here is the latest report in the privatization skirmish in the United Kingdom. A few things: to me the sums of money being talked about are just staggering. For that kind of money the UK should have one hell of a railway system. The other concern is the fact that the research for this report was financed by various UK unions.
Read all about it here: Rebuilding Rail Final Report, June 2012
And here for the opposing view, financed by the UK government, is the (in)famous McNulty Report: Realizing the Potential of GB Rail, 2011
Draw your own conclusions!