Shadow transport secretary promises publicly run railways under Labour

26 Sep 16

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald has accused the government of clinging to a failed privatisation model for running the rail network and pledged to take services into public ownership.

In a speech to the Labour party conference in Liverpool, McDonald highlighted the case of troubled rail franchise Southern, which has been running a reduced service for months.

McDonald said the service was “a nice little earner for [parent company] Go-Ahead Group” even as passengers suffered from overcrowding.

“And people losing their jobs, unable to arrive at work on time. Is the company stripped of the contract? No, it gets the total support of the government to hack away at services and jobs, and the benefit of £20m more taxpayers’ money for good measure,” he stated.

“They won’t be stripped of the contract no matter how bad services get because the government is more interested in defending train companies than defending passengers, taxpayers and staff ­– and they have the nerve to describe us as ideological.”

He said the East Coast mainline franchise, which was run in the sector from November 2009 to February 2015, showed a successful railway could be run in the public sector. These services were run in the public sector after previous operator National Express was unable to make the promised payments to the department.

In addition, McDonald stated that countries like the Netherlands, Germany and France also run rail services in the public sector.

“What we have now is a government clinging to a failed model for purely ideological reasons, and passengers and taxpayers are being made to pay an ever increasing price.

“We are clear about this. We’ll put an end to Britain’s rip-off railways, so as private contracts expire, the routes will return to public ownership so profits can be re-invested to improve services and hold fares down. Because passengers, not profit, should be at the heart of Britain’s railways.”

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