The biggest chance to rethink our railways since privatisation

15 January 2019

The government has appointed Keith Williams as the chair of the biggest review of our railways since privatisation began. This is your chance to have your say over the future of our railway.

You haven't been asked your opinion on privatisation since 1994! Here's your chance:

Comment below to sign this letter and tell Keith why you want to see public ownership of the railways.


Dear Keith Williams, 

Our railways are clearly not currently fit for purpose.

Train travel has never been so popular. But the service passengers receive is deteriorating. We've seen repeated delays and cancellations across the network. Trains are overcrowded. Rail fares continue to spiral up and up. Train companies have failed to invest in new infrastructure. Our railways are broken. 

We believe that public ownership would help solve these problems - so we're really happy to hear that you've promised to keep public ownership on the table in your review.

By taking private companies out of the rail network, we can:

  • Remove shareholder profits from the system and reduce costs.
  • Use these savings to fund reduced fares, and a rail service run for people, not profit.

By putting the public at the heart of our railways, we can:

  • Ensure they get the investment they desperately need.
  • Use this investment to improve services, reduce delays, and upgrade the rolling stock.

76% of the public agree, and we want to see our railways in public hands.


The public.

Comment below - Why do you want public ownership of your railways?

Do you believe in public services for people not profit?

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Kathryn Mulloy replied on Permalink

The Government has allowed private rail companies to make a mess of the system and out price fares for the public. Anyone who has a choice, like myself, will use National Express coaches or similar services. How does this make sense if the Government truly wants to reduce our carbon emissions and control the air pollution which is harming, in particular, children's lungs.

Colin Adams replied on Permalink

I think that public services should be run in the interests of the public and not shareholders. The railway system is too complex, especially the fares, and too fragmented. We need a publicly owned joined up system.

Robert Howard replied on Permalink

As for supplying evidence, I can only call upon my knowledge and experience of a near 38 years’ service within the railway industry, starting in 1981 under British Rail & whilst certainly far from being the finished article, it was clear that when an issue affected the railway it was everyone’s issue, the industry would pull together to collectively solve the problem using the skills knowledge and experience that the staff had of an already creaking infrastructure, until being put through the tumultuous era of failed privatisation in 1994 through to 2007 where it appeared that the railways and the employees were sold down the river as profit driven firms were ‘gifted’ gold plated contracts & when an issue arose the blame game between numerous different operating companies exacerbated the situation, & throughout these years significant knowledge and awareness of the industry was lost as staff were made redundant, more importantly the industry did not replace these colleagues or even consider that trained staff would be needed to replace those lost to the ravages of privatisation.

When finally placed back into Network Rail through the process of several ‘TUPE’ experiments, at this point one could have thought that the upheaval was at an end, however through the ever constant process of re-organisation & tinkering (almost every 2 years) we see the resultant dis-benefits of the railway industry in 2019, from within the area of bands 1-4 permanent staff, where I sit, they are today more disadvantaged than both the employees they manage & also compared to the numerous contract staff that work within the industry, for 8 years below inflation pay rises & real terms wage cuts has led to the general morale of this particular area of permanent staff being lower than it has ever been, knowledge of the industry & more importantly how it needs to run is still widely with the sphere of the contracting world and until this is industry is integrated again as one, the fragmentation and chaotic scenes that the travelling public has experienced through timetabling fiascos and repeated over running engineering works will continue especially when no one person is truly is accountable, even the SOS states he is not in charge of the railways?

Further wholesale changes are not needed within the industry, detailed training programmes are though required for staff, so we can have an industry which one again employs and values that the staff within it, & are the best placed to maintain run & enhance the railway rather than continuing to import sub-contractors & consultants whose main aim is to extort the maximum remuneration for the services they supply.

For all its worth & with the money that has been spent in control periods since the mid 1990’s, bringing back British Rail where track & train are united would be a worthy aim

Crinan Alexander replied on Permalink

Conservative doctrine tells us that privatisation leads to 'healthy' competition between service providers resulting in lower fares and better services. I'd really like to know how this applies to the privatised railways.

Patrick Owen replied on Permalink

The railways are just one essential service that has been fragmented by successive conservative governments for private profit. The result, a dysfunctional service that exploits its users and demands increased tax payer subsidy. UK rail fares are the highest in Europe. The public want the railways to be brought back under public control and run in the interests of the travelling public, not private operators and their shareholders.

Gareth Davies replied on Permalink

Private companies' priorities are profits and shareholders, not customers and passengers. The railways are essential to British communities and must be run for public good, not for private profit.

Cliff replied on Permalink

There are few things that unite a nation like the railway , both literally and figuratively. Our railway is a divided and dysfunctional as our government. Money going out of the service to shareholders undermines the investment needed: we need state ownership, state investment and fair prices. And let's have a railway system we are proud of - unlike the shoddy government we have.

RW replied on Permalink

The cost of a railway journey is prohibitive. The country speaks of getting cars off the road, but whilst it is cheaper to drive a car than take a train that's not going to happen. I can't AFFORD to use the train to commute or, where a route exists, visit family. European railways serve their customers far better. Nationalise the railways and run them for the people not the shareholders.

Julia Elson replied on Permalink

If rail companies can make a profit for shareholders then the majority of the population be better off if they reinvested that profit for the benefit of the system and the customers. The arguments for privatisation have been shown to be specious and short sighted - we were told that British Rail workers stood around doing nothing but as soon as they were made redundant there was no one to spot when a rail was about to break, when trees needed pruning back so their leaves wouldn't go onto the line etc etc

Frank Smith replied on Permalink

Get all transport under public control. This includes road and rail,both goods and public. Only then can we get total efficient use of transport energy and climate abuse.

Graham Sharples replied on Permalink

It is clear that privatised rail cannot deliver even an adequate service for its passengers. The need for profit, lack of coordination with a contempt for its customers convenience and comfort.

Its not more privatisation we need, that is a failed model, but a return to a public owned service operating across the whole of the rail network

Jamie Goodland replied on Permalink

Public ownership is not only the solution to the ills of the current system, but the necessary first step to democratic ownership of our rail industry.

Helen Field replied on Permalink

Run the railway for the people, not shareholders. And keep guards on trains too!

Jim Fisher replied on Permalink

Public transport of all kinds is a natural monopoly and so inappropriate for private ownership, quite apart from the other reasons that apply.

Public transport is an essential public service, not a business, and should be viewed as such. Its purpose includes taking as much passenger and freight traffic off our roads as possible to reduce pollution, global warming and congestion, and to make travel as easy as possible for those who, for whatever reason, do not have access to cars.

Public transport services, which includes railways, should not be designed to make profit but to provide services which are easy to use for everyone. That includes a much simplified ticketing system, such as having rechargeable tickets that authorise travel for a given number of miles, regardless of which train is used or where the destination might be.

Taking rail and buses back into public ownership need not be expensive - simply don't renew the franchises when they expire or fall vacant for any reason.

David Owen replied on Permalink

Privatisation has caused a disjointed system that benefits shareholders and disadvantages the public. The railways are a vital part of public infrastructure. They should be run to provide the maximum, efficient, affordable benefit for the whole of society, taking traffic off roads, freeing travellers to rest and work, instead of driving, and reducing carbon output. They are a public good that should be funded by the public, for the benefit of all. Passenger safety should always come before any attempts at cost cutting.

Sarah Silverton replied on Permalink

As I sit on the floor of yet another over-crowded train which has cost me £70 for the privilege, I am sick to death of the fat cats making yet more money off poor commuters. My main railway line used to be South West Trains,has been sold to the Chinese, now called South Western Railway and promptly messed up a perfectly good timetable. Why? And the thought of travelling on that odious Richard Branson’s Virgin train and paying £170 to get from London to Manchester makes me furious as he sits sunning himself on his tax haven island and I’m squashed into his ridiculously small seats in a dirty carriage.

Sarah Barratt replied on Permalink

I want the profits from the railway service to go back into the service, not into the pockets of shareholders.

Alan Harrison replied on Permalink

There is massive public support for taking the railways back into public ownership. DO IT -and without the payment of compensation to corporate crooks. Rail is a natural monopoly and best run in the public sector.

Ruth Anderson replied on Permalink

It is essential that the railways are run for the people not for the profit of private investors. Here in West Yorkshire I'm tired of being forced to travel on old trains, cast off by other rail companies down south, because these trains are unreliable and breakdown. Please give us a proper national public service.

Michael Cockburn replied on Permalink

Almost everything about the current rail system is broken; multiple failed franchises, no long-term thinking (because private companies on fixed-term franchises are only ever going to think short-term); track maintenance, stations and running of services need to be under unified management, not the dog’s dinner we currently have; too much money going to shareholders even where performance is poor...I could go on! Bring Back British Rail!

Mary Sheldon replied on Permalink

For over 60 years I have been a regular user of our railways & intend to continue travelling by train in the future. I am so sad that out trains are now run for profit: this is not what I want to happen to the fares I pay to travel the length & breadth of the UK. We badly need serious investment in our railway network. I personally would not mind paying the currently high fares if they were being used to invest in the railways. I DO NOT wish to pay out to travel by train for the benefit of shareholders of private companies.

Paul Hanson replied on Permalink

A publicly owned integrated railway is the way forward. Further fragmentation and privatisation is not the answer as this is both expensive and inefficient.

Nick Lindsey replied on Permalink

Railways should not be run for the profit of foreign governments or elite executives! They should serve you and I, the people of Britain and all extra governments should go back into improvement not the pockets of the super-wealthy

Daphne Kelly replied on Permalink

Profits, not people are the main concern of private companies, as they have and continue to demonstrate. Public ownership is the obvious solution to the appalling conditions which so many people currently have to endure on a daily basis. I too recall vastly superior conditions when the railways were publicly owned.

Haydn Cornish-J... replied on Permalink

Although the whole country needs more investments into rail infrastructure and a system that is run for people, not profit, more needs to be done to improve transport in the north. Northern Rail services are a joke. Focus on the north, not London.

Kathy Bird replied on Permalink

It is clear that privatisation of the railways hasn't been good for the general public. The train companies have put the interests of their shareholders at the forefront. We really need to now consider gradually bringing the railways back into public ownership as many other countries do so successfully.

Mary Pretorius replied on Permalink

Privatization puts money into the pockets of the shareholders and the large number of parasites who leech off the system of privatization. I want the money to stay in the public purse and be used by the public who depend on the service and not on the leeches who over time cause the service and the infrastructure to degrade whilst fares go up. I want the UK government to listen to the people (but I fear their ears are full of sound of their own voices, in the same way they have not listened to the Brexit voters). LISTEN.............GIVE US BACK OUR RAILWAYS, AND ALL THE OTHER SERVICES PRIVATIZED OVER THE YEARS.

Brian Harding replied on Permalink

The aims of private companies are the complete antithesis of what is needed for efficient public transport.

Maureen Marsh replied on Permalink

In my opinion, lip service is paid to environmental concerns at the same time as the cost of public transport means that fewer people can afford to use it. Where is the real commitment to our environment when profit is out before this very important problem?

Dr Hugh Pincott replied on Permalink

Look at the situation in Northern Ireland where railways are still publicly owned. Passenger numbers have risen at least as much (possibly more) compared with the rest of Britain. Fares have risen considerably less than inflation there, and investment has still continued to rise, benefitting passengers immensely.

John Hartley replied on Permalink

Public transport is a public asset and should be run for the benefit of the public, not for private shareholders to take profits.

Norma Sacchetti replied on Permalink

I have always believed in public ownership of the railways(and other important services for that matter). I remember the days of British Rail, and I cannot remember a time when the service was so badly run as it is now. Privatisation has put profit before service and led to fragmentation and increasing unnecessary higher costs(e.g the money spent on constantly putting railway services out to tender). The profits should be invested back into the railways not go to shareholders and overinflated Chief Executive salaries.

Edwin replied on Permalink

There are so many examples of how a fragmented, privatised rail system just doesn't work. Increased fares, resource inefficiency and poor service from companies who indefensibly continue to both receive public subsidy and simultaneously pay dividends to their shareholders.

Edwin replied on Permalink

There are so many examples of how a fragmented, privatised rail system just doesn't work. Increased fares, resource inefficiency and poor service from companies who indefensibly continue to both receive public subsidy and simultaneously pay dividends to their shareholders.

Suzanne Jones replied on Permalink

With climate change it is important to have an efficient railway system which serves a growing number of people. Public ownership of the railways means that all revenue will be put back into the service. Money will not disappear into shareholders pockets. As it is the private companies receive huge government subsidies and still manage to provide an appalling service.

Frank Smith replied on Permalink

Goods and public transport should be integrated using more rail to aid climate stability and efficiency under public ownership.

Alan replied on Permalink

I was against that bodged up rail privatisation right from the start, even the Economist magazine stated statistical proof that you can't run the railways for profit because of a net loss that always exist. That's why it has to be a not for profit national network as British Rail was.

Judith Howard replied on Permalink

1. The method of privatisation, slicing the "cake" horizontally, with different companies in charge of track, rolling stock leasing and train operation, was clumsy and added much administrative expense, and gave companies an excuse to avoid responsibility whenever things went wrong. Things worked better in the days of the "Big Four", who had full control in their "slices" from the ground up.

2. The subsidies paid today are, I believe, even more than in BR days. If BR had not been starved of cash, many of the complaints directed at them could have been corrected. It makes no sense for so-called "private" companies to rely on public subsidy. It was clear that adding an extra layer of costs, i.e. shareholders, would syphon off more of the profits.

3. The franchise system does not work. It encourages companies to bid higher than they can afford, with the result that they can't recoup the cost (as in the East Coast fiasco). It means that they charge as much as possible on popular routes, such as tourist areas like the West Country, to milk customers on those lines. Pricing is totally inconsistent - how can East Coast be allowed to charge twice the price for a day return from London to Leicester, as Chiltern Railway charges all the way to Birmingham, twice the distance?!

4. We WANT and NEED Guards on trains. The govt. should immediately stop forcing franchisees to dispense with them. The disabled in particular need their support, but so do other passengers, for many reasons, e.g. for help with luggage, travel information, protection from anti-social behaviour, and for closing the doors SAFELY - at my station, Clapham Junction, the platforms are curved and the driver can't see the full length of the platforms. There have been many reports of passengers hands being caught in doors, a lady's pet dog being dragged to its death, and wheelchair users being abandoned on platforms (many of which are no longer manned in off-peak hours). There should be a public survey and consultation - it's our money and we want our Guards!!

Carole Wheat replied on Permalink

As well as putting the railways back into public hands they should also do this for the water boards. I don't want huge profits going to shareholders when the profits can be filtered back into maintaining and improving the service. My daughter lives in London and the times she has been late for work because trains have been cancelled or just did not turn up are too many to mention.

Josh Vinall replied on Permalink

For the many and not the few. Branson and the rest of them are laughing at the public whilst tickets go up and services remain abysmal. Its not right and it should be allowed to continue. !

John Steggles replied on Permalink

When I was a kid, using the train was normal. It wasn't overpriced, it wasn't late or crowded, and at one point I used to take a bicycle with me every day - and back again. No problems.

Now apparently, although invented and developed into a network first in England, the British can not keep it operating on time, or at the right price.

Whatever went wrong need to be fixed - and now!

Clive Woodland replied on Permalink

I understand our railway journeys are some of the most expensive in the world. The Government is opposed to nationalisation but allows nationalised railways from other countries to have stake a in our system. Most of our railways are owned by foreign companies. Their only interest is in profit, not running a service for the public. The Portsmouth to Cardiff service runs most of the time with only two carriages, yet it goes through major cities like Bath and Bristol, routes that are important to locals and tourists. Not surprisingly, trains sometimes even pass through stations without allowing any passengers to get on because they are already too overcrowded. Passengers collapse because of the overcrowding and the ill-health and panic this can bring about.

Chloe Barker replied on Permalink

I want to see the railways taken back into public ownership, I use the North East Mainline service regularly and it has never been better run than when it was in public ownership and it was profitable - it gave money back to the treasury. We need to return the railways to the people to help reduce carbon emissions by making rail travel a better, more efficient and cheaper way to travel than driving.

david somerville replied on Permalink

Railways in the north of England have not had the money spent on them that is required for access and jobs across the Pennines - this is partly from the London bias and the mistaken policy of thinking that north-south links are the most important. So a nationalised rail system could spend more on east-west links than private companies would, including opening up disused lines and tunnels.

Judith Howard replied on Permalink

1.The fragmentary method of privatisation, slicing the "cake" horizontally instead of vertically (as in the days of the Big Four)has made it very expensive to run, with increased admin. costs, and made it easy for companies to avoid responsibility when things go wrong (just passing the buck). 2. Also, the companies should not receive public subsidies - in fact I believe these subsidies are actually higher than in BR days! If they are truly private companies, they should stand on their own two feet. 3. The franchise system does not work, as shown by the East Coast fiasco; companies are paying too much to gain the franchise, and then can't recoup it in fares. It leads to inconsistent pricing, where they grab as much as possible on popular tourist routes (e.g. the West Country) regardless of mileage. Some are just greedy - East Midlands charge twice the fare from London to Leicester than Chiltern Railways charge all the way to Birmingham, twice the distance! 4. Perhaps not entirely relevant, but the govt. should NOT persist in getting franchisees to dispense with Guards on trains. We the public WANT and NEED them. There should be a public consultation and survey.

Jane Gibbon replied on Permalink

Joined-up systems work best; a rail system is part of the national infrastructure so should be run for the good of the people not shareholders; our current franchise holders seem to think they're running airlines, which is totally counter to passenger (NOT 'customer') requirements; and freight is neglected - 'nuff said?

Anonymous replied on Permalink

Our railways are run by an assortment of private companies, many of which are offshoots of EEC state owned railways, but strangely not the Swiss, which is miles ahead of everyone else on running an efficient, comfortable railway with timetables that mean less waiting between trains, because everything runs to time and is coordinated. This should be our model for our state run railway. If the Swiss can do it with their variety of languages, hot weather in summer and really cold with much snow in winter, across mountains, through tunnels, then ours should be easy. But we have a hotchpotch of some private , some public and no-one with decent experience of joining it all up, because the good people all left and took their nice packages and free rail passes when privatisation happened. I live in York and know several of these top people who have gone on to consultancies or founded their own businesses, in one case making millions and in another, the man who had to deal with the Kings Cross disaster! What a waste of talent and experience, of a resource of people who understood rail travel. Even better, our rail travel should coordinate with the buses. In York, we have a city council who have decided to pedestrianise a huge area in front of the station. Do they ever have to run for trains carrying luggage. Why make that more difficult? Virgin wanted to place barriers in our ancient and iconic station. That makes life even more difficult for passengers, when we should be making it much easier and more efficient to use trains as first choice for longer journeys. My daughter had a season ticket and was using the train to work and back every day. But she has given it up and uses the car now. Why? Because she could not reserve a seat with a season ticket and had to stand all the way for an hour in a cramped corridor in the morning, every single morning - no way to start your day. She also saves some money, using the car, but that was not the issue, she would prefer to go by train and have a seat. I know others who have stopped using the train because they can't guarantee to get their bike on and needed that to cycle to work after the train. The only answer to the mess our railways are in is public ownership, public investment and raising tax on petrol to pay for it.

JeanneChristie replied on Permalink

Railways need to be efficient and cheap (i.e. state-run and subsidised where necessary) because we need to use public transport as much as possible for the sake of our environment. The UK loves its railways and the government is missing a major investment by not putting the railways back into public ownership. It's not rocket science to figure out that private companies will only ever be interested in profit. Our country is - or used to be - about more than profit. If we can trust our railways to work properly we will use them. It's disgraceful to see them so undervalued -rubbished - by privatisation when they could work for the convenience of individuals and make a vital contribution towards reducing the use of private cars.

Mike Jennett replied on Permalink

I live between 2 Stations one is served by Southern Rail and the service has been atrocious. The other is run by London Overground and some Southern Rail trains use it and cause endless problems and large fare increases but the TFl trains are well run and have few problems and fares have been frozen for another year. So all railway should be run on a not for profit basis. So the passengers become the focus of the service and not the Shareholders.

Annie Nixson replied on Permalink

We need a reliable rail network and value for money. The privatized system isn't working and the railways should be nationalized.

Christine Fishwick replied on Permalink

Cheaper rail fares will reduce the ever increasing traffic on our motorways, reducing the fumes in our atmosphere, the over use of petrol and resources, save lives from accidents as it is a safer way to travel, all pluses to preserve our planet!!

B McKenna replied on Permalink

The railways are part of the infrastructure for the country and as such plays a big part in people's lives. Many people travel to work by rail and are paying ridiculous amounts to get there. There comes a point when it isn't worth their while to continue paying a substantial amount of their wages and suffering immense stress just to get to work, they are better off getting lower paid employment nearer home. This will impact on skills being wasted in this country. All this to fill shareholders pockets and profit greed. The motive cannot ever be profits, it must be to serve the public who need this service and have no choice in the matter.

Arthur Mitchell replied on Permalink

I just believe public transport should belong to the people. That can only mean public ownership, safeguarded and professionally managed by Government. There is no public interest in the minds of profiteers and it is particularly galling when the deficiencies of these pirates are covered up by public money provided by none other than Government. Now that is undoubtedly all-round, competent management at its best - "and so say all of us" as we wait and wait and wait on platforms all over the country for the "next" train which is more likely to be a ghost train than one "on time"!! If "The 3:10 To Yuma" had been made in Britain, Christian Bale would have died of old age instead of a bullet.

Teresa Fallon replied on Permalink

The problems we face-overcrowded roads contributing to climate change and air pollution-are national ones.The solution has to be on a national scale, too-a single rail network in public ownership, reliable and inexpensive because it has received a decent level of investment.The railways are too important to be left in the hands of private companies, who have demonstrably failed to provide a good service.

Rozelle replied on Permalink

Invest in a publicly owned and operated system. Don't expect to make a quick buck, and use any profits - which may well take time to materialise - to continue to improve the system.

Susan Edwards replied on Permalink

Privatisation of the railways has been a disaster and only privatisation ideology is keeping this option on the table. Public money is being pumped into the system to prop up the private companies operating the various franchises. Meanwhile the service gets worse and more overcrowded; the ticketing system becomes more complicated, ludicrous and overpriced and the reliability also deteriorates. Please view this from the perspective of producing a coordinated public transport system that will improve people's lives, employment punctuality and be better for the environment. This can most easily, economically and morally be achieved through a nationalised railway system.

John Telford replied on Permalink

Railways should be a national service. National means proper management of the integrated whole. Efficient management should be possible for publicly owed companies as well as privately owned companies or plcs (provided party political dogma doesn't constrain this). Profits back to the public purse means greater investment rather than private enrichment. Simplistic? I think, essentially, it is just simple.

Caroline Heath replied on Permalink

We need our railways to operate effectively and efficiently and have profits re-invested back to improve services and not have profit as the main aim. Privatisatio has proved that services suffer because of a need to make money and keep costs down. Commuters must be sick of the poor service they have to endure daily. The ongoing strikes of the guards are an example of the operators wanting to cut costs, but surely what they propose cannot be conducive to passenger safety.

We need our railways more than ever now, especially to get people out of their cars and off the roads. We need a better transport network of which trains ar a vital part of our infrastructure. We need to address this because of climate change concerns and being fobbed off by inferior services is not going to get people to use the trains more.

Rhoda Morrow replied on Permalink

The current privatisation of our railways does not benefit the people who use the system at all. If privatisation worked it is supposed to lead to competition and those a range of options being available to a consumer. This means prices come down or stabalise. As only one company can manage a line there is not any real reason to hold this as a reason to continue it. There is no market therefore there is no point in it.

As a principle I do not believe privatising benefits the people who use a service as they are most often things that should not be seen as a service, they are usually necessities. People in many communities rely on their public transport, they could not work otherwise. If is unfair to hold these people to ransom because they have no other option. I want my taxes to be invested in a better, fairer, affordable system.

Ian Rock replied on Permalink

The railways are fragmented to the extent that no one takes overall responsibilty, and there are enormous inefficiencies with contrcatual agreements between the various parties. Contrast this with state owned railways (like the old BR) which have a far leaner management structure and hence lower costs.

The UK's part privatised franchised system is now the most expensive in Europe with some of the worst performance figures on train times, quality, punctuality etc. Quite an achievement given that UK Govt now pays around 3 times the money that the old nationalised BR system was allocated! In the late 1980s BR was voted the second most efficient rail system in Europe (after Sweden)and one of the cheapest for commuters. It also designed and manufactured world-leading rolling stock - all now lost.

Andrew Dimoglou replied on Permalink

subsidies from tax payers, payments to shareholders...blatant rip off.Rubbish service and ridiculous high fares.Return the railways to public ownership ASAP.

Graham Lingley replied on Permalink

Public utilities (things we have no choice but to use), should be in public ownership.

Lizzie Grocott-James replied on Permalink

This country needs a publicly run rail system that's fit for purpose - unlike the system we have now. A rail system that's run for profit and not for public service will inevitably mean that many people get a poor service. At present huge swathes of the country have appallingly unreliable rail services with rolling stock that isn't safe and should have been decommissioned decades ago. Meanwhile a new high-speed line is being built (when several alternative routes already exist) and this project is way over budget. A publicly run rail system is what this country needs - run for the people who need it - not just for the people who will be able to make the most money for rail companies.

Mary McAnally replied on Permalink

Privatisation of the railways has not worked for the benefit of the people the railways are supposed to serve. Need I say more!

Gareth Gee replied on Permalink

Is making a profit from the railways really the best way to organise them? 20+ years of experience says 'No, it isn't'. The recent experience of the East Coast main line service shows the way forward: a public sector organisation, at 'arm's length' from the Government, has consistently performed better than any private operator on that franchise, in all the categories that matter: punctuality, customer satisfaction, and (crucially) employee satisfaction, too. We should take each of the franchises back into public ownership as they come up for renewal. This would cost nothing. The services should then be run by Direct Rail Services or a similar public body, for the good of the people, not for shareholders' pockets.

Andy Lees replied on Permalink

Take the shareholders out of the equation. Reverse this network fragmentation and short term thinking and make a publicly owned rail network part of an integrated national transport system

J H Masterson replied on Permalink

It seems that profits and dividends are more important than passengers. Passengers have had a dreadful year of cancellations and delays and now higher fares. Please let's run the railways in the public interest.

J H Masterson replied on Permalink

It seems that profits and dividends are more important than passengers. Passengers have had a dreadful year of cancellations and delays and now higher fares. Please let's run the railways in the public interest.

Patricia Thompson replied on Permalink

Privatised railways in the UK have failed, totally inefficient, costly, fare prices up every year. The trains are often cancelled or late and not enough information why it happens. I remember British Rail were cheap and reliable and as under public ownership were not paying outrageous sums of money to shareholders.

Rosemary Walsom replied on Permalink

Evidence based decisions will mean that railways are brought back into public ownership.

The evidence is clear...privatised rail costs us the taxpayers and citizens of UK money which has not gone into improving rail services but in keeping some failing companies afloat.

Where there have been examples of the state taking over to bail out privatised sections of the rail network it has been more successful on criteria used to evaluate rail performance.

Hence my belief that if this review is to be based upon evidence the railways will be brought back into public ownership and control.

David Banks replied on Permalink

Privatisation seems designed to keep people off the Railways We either cannot afford to travel, trains are always cancelled, or there are permanent Saturday strikes.

Steve Ehrlicher replied on Permalink

A not-for-profit arrangement for the railways would allow for a compromise between public ownership (as opposed to private ownership) and a business-like approach to running the railways. They should be subsumed into this new organisation as the franchises come up for renewal. It is quite clear that the railway mantra of 'the fares are going up so that we can invest in a much-improved service',trotted out every year in December or January, is so much hot air. Complaints about the service only increase, year on year, as a percentage of passengers.

As was shown by the reclaimation of the East Coast line into public control, surplus income was achieved and the line ran at no cost to the country.

Ideology is no way to run a country - take the party out of politics and get real debate and real action for the population as a whole.

Sarah Pethybridge replied on Permalink

Please can we have public ownership of railways restored to us the public who owned them in the first place ! Then we can at least work towards a better service with profits being ploughed back in where needed not leached away by dividends to shareholders and fat pay for fat cat directors.

Julia Wands replied on Permalink

Railways are a public service and need to be publicly owned. Railways need substantial investment and only public ownership provides the longterm perspective necessary for this.

It does not make sense to spend, as we currently do, more on subsidising private companies to run them that it would to support a publicly-owned railway.I am happy to support a reliable, affordable public transport system from my taxes, but I object very much to my taxes going into shareholders' pockets as dividend!

Simon Bradley replied on Permalink

The experience of the East Coast Main Line shows that there's no barrier to the successful, economical and efficient operation of franchised passenger services by public companies. The record of many private franchises has by contrast been disappointing, or worse. So the best way forward is to allow failing franchises to pass into public hands, following the example of Network Rail itself.

Christopher Shevlin replied on Permalink

Our railways are insane. Ticket prices are absurdly high and also apparently randomly determined. It's always cheaper for me to rent a car than to take a train between UK cities. I wouldn't mind rail being privatised if it worked, but since it doesn't, the fact that it's also unnecessarily enriching all these separate sets of managers and shareholders is insulting. And the system for buying a ticket is fragmented and frustrating. The whole situation is a national embarrassment. When I go elsewhere in Europe, the state-owned services work well and have manageable, rational prices. And when European friends come here, I can never explain why our railways are so expensive and bad, except by saying that we're a nation of idiots.

Helen Coyne replied on Permalink

Since private companies took over the running of the British Rail Network, the interests of shareholders has taken precedence over passengers. Network Rail are not able to maintain the infrastructure. East Coast is my most used line and whenever its been taken back into public ownership its been more efficient, and profitable. We must continue improving our railways as an efficient, comfortable alternative to our overcrowded roads with their pollution. Governments should be enabling rail use to increase and car use to decrease and generally be looking at ecological benefits as well

Mark Smith replied on Permalink

I have worked in the railway industry for 30+ years, experiencing both the private sector and public sector variously on a number of occasions. I am committed to my job and the railway and I firmly believe in a successful railway as an essential, fundamental necessity of a first world state. I am not weighed down by ideological baggage on either side of the argument, I simply speak from experience. The cost control mechanisms in the privatised railway are gossamer thin to non existent and wholly lacking in rigorous auditing, and in my experience there is a who cares, fly by night, bodge it and scarper attitude amongst contractors which leads to over spending and over running. Hard working tax payers money is going down the drain, and along with it the notion of an integrated railway service for the nation. And integration is the key word: A successful first world railway service can surely only be run by one over arching body, which in reality can only the state, for the state, with seasoned railway professionals enacting the day to day strategy and implementation of such.

Helen McComb replied on Permalink

I am ashamed of the shambles of our railways. Overseas visitors wishing to travel independently cannot believe the time and effort involved in finding the best price even for simple journeys, and the high price of even the lowest. My sister-in-law has lupus. Because she had not understood her booking and the train was so overcrowded, she travelled for over 50 miles on a midweek journey without a seat. How has this come to be normal in our very wealthy country?

E Hall replied on Permalink

Privatisation being more efficient is a myth. If market forces were applied, these so-called private operators would go under. Instead they are bailed out using public funds that are much needed elsewhere to prevent public services from being under-resourced. We need to reclaim our railways and have the efficient service that the travelling public deserve.

Margaret Anderson replied on Permalink

The railways should be handed back into public ownership. As it is now it is the shareholders who are creaming of vast amounts of taxpayers monies. The fares are rising so rapidly to fund the trains , so the passengers are hit continually. The service is dire! Throwing money at the problem is not helping... they want more @ more. Stop the lunacy now, put it back where it belongs , public ownership!

Andrew Fisher replied on Permalink

I am in my 60s and I have been a regular train traveller all my life but I have never seen our railways in such chaos. Since privatisation the railways are being run entirely for the benefit of the Train Operating Companies and the passenger is just expected to pay up and be grateful. Every year we are told that the fares must increase while the service gets worse. We are constantly being told that improvements are coming but they never seem to arrive.It seems to me that privatisation has failed completely and the only way in which we can improve the railways for the passengers they are meant to serve is to renationalise. Our railways are a national asset and something that we should be proud of. They should, first and foremost, provide a service to the public and not just provide profits for shareholders.

Anji King replied on Permalink

The railways are a public service, and should be owned/run as such. It just doesn't make sense for them to be privately owned/run for profit. The service and the passengers suffer. There is no room for competition. Bring back British Rail!

John Astill replied on Permalink

We had a family trip to Chester (out of season) we left the cars at home (3) and went by train (thinking green), we hadn’t done this since British Rail. We spent the last day in Liverpool and left from Lime Street (best chance of a seat) I have spinal problems but was well medicated. I didn’t think for a moment I would spend over 3 hours standing up, the last hour I was held up by my wife and son in law as the standing room thinned slightly being fewer people to hold me upright and I was in so much pain I wasn’t aware come journey’s end and my wife and son-in-law had to help me off the train. I would strongly recommend anyone who has the slightest spinal or leg disability to stay well clear of today's rail system, British Rail would have won hands down.

Ian Hay replied on Permalink

I regularly travel on train services run by SWR, GWR and LNER.

The staff didn't change on the East Coast mainline service on the 2 occasions when it's been publicly run (first as East Coast when NXEC defaulted on the franchise they "won" after GNER's contract was terminated, now as LNER after VTEC's contract was terminated), but the journey has always been more pleasant experience when it was.

I've also found it very telling that when there are delays I've never heard a Delay Repay announcement from the train crew on privately run services but they always make one on publicly run services.

A Passenger replied on Permalink

The railways have seen a rise in passenger numbers because the population has grown -not because they are in private hands yet the rail franchises have written into them a desire by C Grayling to reduce the guards?? on longer trains carrying more people. Really! The East Coast Line shows that public rail does work and a monopoly shouldn't be a cash cow for owners.. its unethical apart from being illogical.

Jason Noble replied on Permalink

The privatisation model has failed spectacularly! Where are the benefits to the passengers that we were promised privatisation would bring? It has been more than 25 years since the Railways Act 1993 and therefore this failed privatisation experiment has reached the end of the line. It is time to bring the railways back into public ownership.

Michael J Spurden replied on Permalink

Before rail privatisation I enjoyed rail travel and was able to afford it. In the 1980s and early 1990s my Wife and I would a have days out by rail, sometimes several times a week. Now, due to universal overcrowding, rail travel is no longer enjoyable nor is it affordable, even with a Disabled Person's Railcard. Privatisation has not never will.

Jack Glanville replied on Permalink

Privatisation has clearly failed the people of this country (Unless of course you happen to be a shareholder of the franchisees). What free market ideologues do not understand or wish to understand is that there are services that Must be publicly owned as they are essential to the well-being of the people and the effective running of these services. This includes the Railways, The Utilities, Telecommunications, Health and Social Care, Education to name only the main ones. Many of these services were nationalised by the Attlee government following WW2. From 1945 until 1979 despite the fact that the Conservative party was in government for much of this period, they never challenged the principle of nationalisation of these essential PUBLIC services. The claims from the right wing free marketeers that private is cost efficient and effective than public have clearly been shown to be false. The constant flow of news stories of catastrophic failures and corruption in these privatised public services proves this. Some of the best railways systems in the world are publicly owned and managed. The UK must re-nationalise the Railways as a first step to returning public services to public ownership.

John Smith-Warren replied on Permalink

I joined the (local) Railway as a Guard after leaving my job as an Insurance Claims Assessor in 1998 with the intention of retiring after two years service at age 50. In the end I stayed for over 17 years as I enjoyed the job so much.

I never worked under British Rail and all my experience was in the highly fragmented private rail industry.

The one thing that became increasingly obvious was that the only way a Railway can work - especially for its passengers - properly is under one controlling management.

The Railway is rather like a very large clockwork machine in which each part interacts with the part adjacent to it and is affected by them.

It is important that the pieces work together and support each other as any failure of one part has a negative effect on its neighbours to such an extent that each company has a department whose total purpose is to claim (or decline) monies due because of running issues of any other (or their own) companies.

This, more than any other, is the reason a fragmented railway does not and cannot work.

As a Guard I experienced situations in which different companies were not prepared to work with each other just because they might have to pay a fine for running a delayed service even if it meant passengers on their service being unable to make the connection necessary at the station.

The result of this is another large department within the companies in place to pay compensation and handle passenger complaints caused purely by the inability of the different companies having absolutely no interest in working together.

This has another consequence that has a negative effect on the cost of train travel - as each separate company has no interest in working with another company due to the financial penalties imposed on it.

Each company has to have its own:

1. Customer Service/ Complaints Department

2. Delay Attribution Department

3. Service Control/Delivery Department

4. Staff Rostering Department

5. Staff Management Teams/ Department

6. Train Maintenance Depot and Staff

7. Senior Management Teams and Directors.

This list is not exhaustive but serves to show the (expensive) duplication of roles and departments...

As an example of the above, Northern Spirit operated the local and (local) express train services in the North of England but a decision was made to form a new company, First Transpennine Express (TPX) to operate the express trains which overnight introduced conflict to the trains.

Before TPX was formed, if a Driver or Guard was required for an express service (due to illness of a member of staff) Northern Spirit was able to provide an experienced replacement from a local service to enable the service to run. One of the newer, less experienced members of staff was then used to work on the local service from the small pool of “spare” traincrew they hold to cover contingencies. As all safety critical traincrew have to fully learn a route before they can work a service over it there should always be a small pool of relatively inexperienced staff available that can be taken off Route Learning to be used.

When TPX was formed there were many requests to Northern Spirit to provide traincrew but these requests were refused and the express services cancelled.

The reason?

NS had no interest in TPX services and TPX were not prepared to pay for a NS Driver or Guard but instead preferred to pay the fine levied for the cancellation.

This example of non cooperation between the different companies is now embedded in the privatised Railway - but mainly and especially at senior management level and above. In fact, there were and still are regular examples of new staff at the mainline train operators being advised to not interact with the staff at local operators.

As many of these main line operators recruit from local train operators I believe this is yet another example of the non cooperation between different operators across the Network and another reason why the whole Rail Industry needs to be run under one overarching company.

And the best placed “company” to operate the Railway is the government.

It is irrelevant what this is called but there is no reason why it should regain the mantle, British Rail as this best describes its operations.

Jacqie Levin replied on Permalink

Privatisation of the railways has now been shown again not to work. It didn't work originally and that was why it was privatised. There cannot be a 'market' in railways. How can there be competition. We need rail to be part of joined up thinking in this country to get people, cars and lorries off the roads in order to mitigate the impact of climate change. We cannot wait. Make rail efficient and affordable not profitable.

Martin Davis replied on Permalink

Back in the 1990's a German friend said to me that the German government had been looking very closely at our rail privatisation "to see how not to do it"...and some think that Germans have no sense of humour....How true this still is. Allowing state owned companies to raise capital on the 'money markets' is one thing..the utter absurdity of pseudo competition and separation of control of trains and track quite another.

Jamie Johnson replied on Permalink

I think that an effective train service which meets the needs of society as a whole can only be achieved when it is operated on a nationally managed and fully accountable "not-for-profit" basis...

Margaret Green replied on Permalink

None of the privatised public services deliver good value for money. Railways do not deliver competition, merely bad services and poor value for our taxes. Nationalsie the railways (and all other public services).


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