Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership

Labour support a new report, backed by major trade unions, which calls for the renationalisation of Britain's railways to tackle rising fares and poor service.

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Labour’s ongoing policy review will consider proposals, contained in a union-backed report published today, to return Britain’s railways to public ownership. Rebuilding Rail, produced by the think tank Transport for Quality of Life, outlines a comprehensive plan for renationalisation nearly twenty years after the Major government began to sell off elements of British Rail in 1993.

Sponsored by Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite, the report reflects a “widespread concern” that “we are not getting good value from the substantial sums of public money that are invested in the railways every year” – a cost reckoned to have doubled, possibly tripled, since privatisation.

“Britain has Europe’s highest commuter fares for both day returns and season tickets”, the authors note. “Ticket purchase is excessively complex. When things go wrong, there is a lack of clear accountability.”

Privatisation “has resulted in lost opportunities to expand rail freight”, while “the UK’s once successful rail manufacturing industry has been almost destroyed.”

The report argues for the acquisition of current rail franchises as they come up for renewal, the priority acquisition of the mainline routes with a view to creating a strong ‘flagship brand’ a la British Rail’s InterCity services, a train operations role for a nationalised and reformed Network Rail, a centrally-planned procurement programme for rolling stock and a greatly expanded role for railfreight.

To these ends, it identifies:

“…the need for a ‘guiding mind’ to ensure that services, infrastructure and rolling stock are managed and developed in an integrated and consistent way…This ‘guiding mind’ body, which we term ‘GB Rail’, would provide a single railway entity for a national Government to deal with. Because it would have an overview of the whole railway, it would be able to achieve efficiencies that are not currently possible.”

Furthermore, the authors of today’s report go into some detail in outlining steps that Labour ought to take immediately to allow for an effective nationalisation process once the party is again in government:

“A Labour Party that was committed to reform of the railways could take some important steps now, in preparation for action as a future government.

These include stating that no new franchises will be signed under a Labour government; stating that an incoming Labour government would review all existing franchises to assess whether tax-payers and fare-payers would receive better value-for-money from an immediate buy-out of certain franchises; and arguing now for break-points in all longer franchises let under the current government, to allow for review including termination.”


See also:

Rethinking rail: Greening should look to Europe and away from privatisation 20 March 2012

Are sky-high train fares fair? Let the government know what you think 8 March 2012

All signals are go for HS2 10 January 2012

The railways: Yet another broken market in the UK 19 August 2011

How the government could keep train fares down 16 August 2011


There appears to be a genuine convergence between Labour’s own thinking and the report’s proposals. According to the Guardian, the party “is also developing plans to hand far greater control over local and regional services to a string of new transport authorities in the regions that would have wide-ranging freedom to run services according to local needs” – another issue dealt with at length by Rebuilding Rail.

Labour’s transport spokesperson, Maria Eagle, has already welcomed the report as putting forward a “coherent case for reform”. The possibility of a return to public ownership was mooted last year by Ed Milibandin a speech to the TUC, he opined that Labour needed “to look at all the options for a way forward for rail services – mutual options, public options and private options.”

The privatisation of the railways has meant two decades of fiscal cataclysm, grotesquely inflated fares and repeated failures to deliver an adequate service. If Labour are serious about adopting Rebuilding Rail’s proposals as policy, it’ll be a serious bid for millions of commuter votes nationwide.

 


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28 Responses to “Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership”

  1. Anonymous

    Ah the route to more subsidy.

    Pity the poor buggers in Cornwall. Min wage and 3 grand in taxes going to pay for the fat cat MPs to have fast trains, but no service.

    We can’t have MPs paying the full cost can we.

  2. Blarg1987

    Ok, lets look at this from a neutral perspective, renationalisation will mean either cheaper fares for cimmuters = more spending money, more investment in the rail service form savings = economic growth or a combination of the two. The rail companies are subsidies in real terms to the cost of £4 billion a year compared to pre privatisation times of £1 billion, this is adjusted for infflation. So maybe we may get better valuee for money as consumers and tax payers then we do at the moment, is that not a good thing?

  3. Ben Phillips

    Please tell me you don’t live in…

  4. Paul and Janie Mac

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership – http://t.co/JaSdwaqA

  5. Tom Denney

    "@labourtransport: Rebuilding Rail – new blog from Left Foot Forward http://t.co/fD9id7DR" #rail

  6. mark biram

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership http://t.co/6JyHJves

  7. Christopher Queen

    Left Foot Forward – Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership http://t.co/DUBxZUKF

  8. Kevin McKay

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership, writes @BenPhillips1989: http://t.co/XhjZheDL

  9. Alistair Strong

    #Labourparty embracing a new direction for the #rail industry – what do YOU think? http://t.co/xMdeJQHa

  10. Michael Corley

    “@leftfootfwd: Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership, writes @BenPhillips1989: http://t.co/zF81sDOO"

  11. Bob Glass

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership – http://t.co/JaSdwaqA

  12. Mr. Sensible

    LordBlagger, this is not about MPs; this is about making public transport more affordable for more people.

    Something clearly needs doing…

  13. Hilda Palmer

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership http://t.co/2zWnHzXS by @BenPhillips1989

  14. S

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership – http://t.co/JaSdwaqA

  15. Anonymous

    EVERYTHING is about his non-payment to LordBlagger

  16. Anonymous

    Nope, but you can refuse to pay as usual. Follow the money, you’re clearly invested here.

  17. Anonymous

    But it won’t go into his share portfolio, so it’s evil, see.

    Never mind that the Government does a better, cheaper job with the bits it owns anyway, at the moment, no, corporate welfare HAS to line his pockets.

  18. Shifting Grounds

    Ben Phillips / Labour 'considers returning the railways to public ownership' http://t.co/F4QcQEYp @benphillips1989

  19. TeresaMary

    Ben Phillips / Labour 'considers returning the railways to public ownership' http://t.co/F4QcQEYp @benphillips1989

  20. Innerwisdom

    Ben Phillips / Labour 'considers returning the railways to public ownership' http://t.co/F4QcQEYp @benphillips1989

  21. Iceman_cometh

    Ben Phillips / Labour 'considers returning the railways to public ownership' http://t.co/F4QcQEYp @benphillips1989

  22. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership http://t.co/7Ispyi0N

  23. cameronsfollys

    [2 expensive! It'll NEVER happen!] 2 decades on, #JokersInPack Labour consider returng the railways to public ownership http://t.co/09XPyiog

  24. David Hickey

    Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership http://t.co/2zWnHzXS by @BenPhillips1989

  25. soewatch

    UK Labour Party considers returning railways to public ownership: think tank report on the issues http://t.co/ciLgBEz5

  26. Network Rail fat cats to trouser £1.7m in bonuses - as fares skyrocket 11% | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • Two decades on, Labour consider returning the railways to public ownership 2 Jul […]

  27. Joe

    Even in the chance that the policy review endorses the proposal, a party worthy of the name ‘Labour’ should have adopted this policy decades ago. Comrades – I suggest you read the Green Party manifesto.

  28. AlanW_PoliticsUK

    Renationalisation of rail. Good idea? http://t.co/cd43nJYC

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