Bring railways back into public hands - Private Member's Bill

A new era of public ownership of the railways could save the Treasury more than £1bn a year (1) and deliver improved services and lower rail fares for passengers, said the UK’s Green MP today.

In a Private Member’s Bill to be presented in Parliament, Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) will urge that England’s fragmented railway system be gradually brought back into public hands as franchises expire or companies break the terms of their franchise agreement.

The call follows reports this week from the TSSA union that Network Rail bosses could earn more than £10m in bonuses over the next three years under a new scheme – as well as RMT figures showing that 65% of Britain's rail operators are owned by overseas companies, with 60% owned by European state rail arms.

Caroline Lucas MP said:

"Britain was once a world leader in transport thanks to our hugely successful railways, but today’s privatised system – characterised by poor services and some of the most expensive fares in Europe – is ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment.

"Since privatisation nearly 20 years ago, the cost of train travel has risen by 17% compared to a 7% drop in the cost of motoring, while in recent years the bill for the taxpayer of running the trains has shot up by 2 to 3 times.

"Train operating companies are dependent upon public subsidies to run services, so it is disgraceful that these same companies then turn over an estimated 90% of their operating profits to shareholders (The Great Train Robbery, TUC).

"This is a blatant transfer of public money to private interests at the expense of the taxpayer and rail passengers, who are forced to endure the consequences of a deeply complex and fragmented system while ticket prices soar.”

Lucas, whose Private Members Bill is being by supported by a number of Labour backbenchers and Plaid Cymru MPs, continued:

"If the government really wants to make savings and improve our transport network for everyone, it should recognise that privatisation has failed and gradually return the railways to public ownership.

"By taking back individual franchises when they expire or when a company fails to meet its franchise conditions, the state could save over £1 billion a year every year – an amount that can be spent on improving services and reducing rail fares.

"The government’s argument that our railways must be privately operated to be effective is blown open by the RMT figures showing that, in fact, that companies backed by other EU states are controlling many of our railways – depriving taxpayers and rail passengers in the UK of the savings created by state ownership."

ENDS

Notes

1)      Rebuilding Rail, Transport for Quality of Life

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Ann Stewart
28th February 2015 11:00
scottish rail belongs to SCOTLAND , wld love to se the whole of the rail system in the hands of Great Britain, why do we need other country's to have this once great service , when we need it for our own country especially Scotland where isn't kept up on the life styles or money's in London , scandalous ?
David Dalzell
28th February 2015 12:19
I grew up and went to school in Melton Constable in the 1970s, a village that showed the remnants of a great network of railway lines across Norfolk. In fact, people could travel and connect across the nation from my very own village just 4 miles away in Thursford. By that time there was only one main line coming out of Norwich, connecting round the coastline to Sheringham, and all the rest of North Norfolk was disconnected. It always felt like such a huge loss of public transportation, with the realisation of placing private cars onto roads to herald in a new world, it instead heralded a world with a greater dependance on oil and huge petrol costs to travel anywhere in Norfolk...even just to work. Now I live in Scotland, and have done for 19 years. I live in Newtongrange, and this September I have the chance of placing my bike on a train here (with the new exciting Borders Line due for completion), connecting to Edinburgh, travelling down to Norwich and connecting again to Sheringham - then cycling the few miles home to visit Mum. This is a thrilling and exciting prospect. That I can travel such a great distance, using the train and my bike. Keeping fit, and using sustainable transport across the nation. Soon I hope I would be able to say that I could do this using both my bike and sustainable public transport. I would hope that Norfolk too would begin to reconstruct its lost heritage and remove its dependence on private, bottle necked, grid locked transportation, and make the journeys more affordable, sustainable, social and enjoyable for everyone. I applaud your continued efforts, and please let me know how I might help. Kindest regards David
Matt Saunders
28th February 2015 16:20
I will be voting for The Green Party in May 2015, because I do NOT trust the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, and UKIP - and they are real Traitors towards the British Public, and are not fit for purpose, and are also NOT fit to rule this country, properly enough!!!! And this is why I will definitely be voting for The Green Party in May 2015, as there is no other alternative for me out there at the moment.