As passenger groups around the country prepare for '48 hours of action for public ownership', a new poll has shown there is widespread public support for the UK's railways to remain under public control
New polling by Survation for campaign group We Own It shows that only 17 per cent of respondents want to keep privatised railways, compared with 40 per cent who want to see the whole network in public hands and 23 per cent who want to see some franchises brought into the public sector.
The survey was conducted in response to comments made by Labour’s shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher that ‘[railway] privatisation was a mess, it was botched.’ Individuals taking part in the survey were presented with this remark and then asked what they would like to see happen to the UK’s railway network.
Most voters from all political parties supported some form of public ownership, with the strongest support for full public ownership coming from UKIP (47 per cent) and Labour (46 per cent).
Since privatisation, average rail fares have increased by up to 22 per cent.
Meanwhile, protests have been organised in 34 railway stations up and down the UK to highlight the cause, with the participation of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, the Campaign Against Climate Change, Bring Back British Rail, Action for Rail, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, and We Own It.
The second day of action, April Fools’ Day, will mark the 21st anniversary of the founding of Railtrack, the corporate body created to manage rail infrastructure under privatisation, which was liquidated in 2002.
Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It, said:
“The next government needs to break with the old privatisation model of the 1990s that has failed to deliver. Passengers are frustrated with sky high fares and crushed carriages, and many feel that a halfway house option just isn’t good enough.
Full public ownership would deliver real benefits to everyone, and after the success of the publicly run East Coast line, we know it can work.”
A study by the TUC-run Action for Rail, who are taking part in this week’s campaign, found that savings of £1.5 bn could be made over the next few years if the railways were brought back under public control.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter