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The People’s railway

Jeremy Corbyn’s call for fairness
Douglas Beattie, Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Unite has welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed people’s railway describing it as “an end to business as usual for failed companies in a failed system.”


The new Labour leader has indicated he wants to renationalise Britain’s railways by regaining control of franchises as they expire.


Having set up a taskforce to consider the idea Corbyn is expected to fully outline the policy shift at his party’s annual conference in Brighton next week.


Overwhelming support


Over the weekend he said there was “overwhelming support for the British people for a people’s railway, better and more efficient services and fairer fares.”


Unions and campaign groups point out the move would save the public and taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.


Tony Murphy, Unite national officer for railway members, said: “Privatisation promised a better, cheaper service but it has done nothing but rip off the rail user with huge hikes in ticket prices and massive increases in public subsides.


“The cost of running the railways has almost doubled in real terms – to nearly £5.5bn a year in direct subsidies alone – since privatisation in 1995, something you won’t hear stressed by the government”, he added.


In the run up to the general  election in May Ed Miliband stopped short of endorsing full re-nationalisation, opting instead for publically owned companies bidding for franchises beside private companies.


Murphy said that Miliband’s successor was right to confront the issue head on.


Failed system


“We are in complete agreement with Jeremy in proposing an end to business as usual for failed companies in a failed system”, he said.


He added “passengers in the UK face the highest fares on some of the oldest rolling stock in Europe and are totally fed up with it.


“We can do so much better than rail companies who consistently take from the public purse and wouldn’t even turn a profit if it wasn’t for the excessive government subsidies.


“On top of that no-one who regularly uses our railways will need to be told that ours are more overcrowded and slower than their publically owned counterparts in mainland Europe.


National scandal 


“The state of our railways amounts to a national scandal which the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge because they can’t see beyond their own narrow ideology.”


“We are still using slam door trains that entered service before privatisation. There has not the investment into new trains that was promised, leading to a market that has killed off all but one surviving British train manufacturer in the country that invented passenger rail services.”


The incremental policy would see around a third of lines in public hands after the first term of a future Labour government, with an ongoing nationalisation programme thereafter.


The policy announcement is not expected to prove difficult to get through Labour conference, which has in the past voted in favour of motions on the subject.



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