"Dear Guy We are all grateful I am sure that you have consistently put rail on your agenda. And you accurately realise that today it is only the train operation that is private and that the railway is once again effectively nationalised. However when you write "Ask any train professional and they all say the same. The state has a poor long term record of running railways. British Rail was a disaster." I cannot agree with that at all. Numerous studies showed BR to be at the top of the nationalised rail systems in Europe (for instance https://www.google.co.uk/
As I talk to managers I would suggest the support is 50/50. There are very many who think the present system is very wasteful and expensive and operationally chaotic. There are others who have worked out that the various layers provide endless ways to make money. They have adapted to the new order and done well and in many cases provided creative and effective solutions. Chiltern Railways is an example.
For my money, the real way to test the situation is indeed to leave East Coast in the public sector. Various people have said opportunity should be taken to benchmark a nationalised operator against private ones. I think that makes sense although as Hexhome says the real problem here is dogma. Non dogmatic and surely benchmarking has merit. Dogmatic says the East Coast HAS to be private for otherwise the whole project is dead in the water.