2 January 2018
Today rail fares go up again by 3.4%! Passengers are squeezed by ridiculous prices while shareholders make a profit. It's not fair.
Our privatised railway is fragmented and inefficient, and 76% of us believe it should be run in public ownership. This latest fare hike is the final straw.
We need to bring the railway into public ownership. Here's our 5 step plan for doing just that.
1) Scrap Clause 25 of the 1993 Railways Act
Legislation currently bans any UK government bodies from running rail franchises, except as ‘operator of last resort’. This needs to be changed so that public bodies are allowed to take over rail franchises when they expire.
2) Reinstate Directly Operated Railways (DOR)
Directly Operated Railways (DOR) was the public body which ran the East Coast line as 'operator of last resort' between 2009 and 2015 when the private company failed. Under public ownership, East Coast was the most efficient franchise in the UK. Despite this, in 2015 the government disbanded DOR and outsourced its functions to a partnership of private companies including Ernst+Young. It needs to be reinstated as a public operator.
3) Bring rail franchises in house as they expire
Once the legal and practical sides have been dealt with, the public sector will be able to take over contracts as franchises come to their natural end. This approach will take longer than buying back rail franchises immediately but it won’t cost the government a penny.
4) Buy trains directly from manufacturers
At the moment rail companies spend 11% of their income from passengers on leasing trains from a small group of rolling stock companies (ROSCOs). If trains were bought straight from the manufacturers, cutting out the profit-hungry middle men, we’d save about £200 million a year.
5) Create an integrated, publicly owned national rail network
Once all the franchises and trains have been integrated into one railway network, we will save around £1.2 billion a year. This money could be reinvested into better services or cutting fares by 18%.