Transport Policy (35) pp 275-285
This study addresses a key lacuna by exploring the role of electoral politics in shaping public policy on rail transport in (quasi-)federal systems of governance. Attention centres on issue-salience and policy framing in party manifestos in state-wide and regional elections. The findings reveal a significant rise in issue-salience in parties׳ Westminster election programmes; with right- and left-of-centre parties increasingly advocating mixed economy approaches to rail transport as part of the wider rise of ‘valence politics’. The analysis also reveals how devolution may lead to the territorialisation of rail transport policy. In contrast to parties׳ Westminster programmes, regional manifesto discourse evidences a general rejection of neo-liberalism and stronger support for state control and/or not-for-profit rail operators. Overall, the findings underline the formative nexus between political representation and public policy – and show how, in the wake of state decentralisation, policy framing is contingent on ‘regional’ socio-economic factors and party politics, including state-building by civic nationalist parties.