Let's run our railway for people not profit
You don't get a choice about which train you take. As you're waiting on the railway platform, there's only one route and you can't choose which train company to use. So the idea that you're a 'customer' really doesn't help you as your fares increase, carriages get more crowded and the train companies rake in the profits at your expense.
So what happened?
British Rail was broken up and privatised between 1994 and 1997, and since then rail services in the UK have been provided by private companies. There are 16 rail franchises in the UK, where the government gives train companies funding to run services for a certain period.
Since privatisation, the average price of a train journey has increased by 23.5% in real terms. If our railway was run in public ownership, we'd save £1.2 billion a year, enough to fund an 18% cut in rail fares. That's because we wouldn't be wasting money on shareholder profits, fragmentation and a higher cost of borrowing.
Many of our train companies are publicly owned, but by other European countries, who make millions of pounds a year in dividends from their British operations. For example, Arriva is owned by German national rail company Deutsche Bahn and Abellio is owned by the Dutch.
Packed together like sardines
Are you sick of squeezing onto overcrowded trains? The private sector has avoided investing in our railway. The average age of trains is higher than it was in 1996, and any investments are usually underwritten by the government - for example, with the West Coast Mainline electrification.
Passengers not convinced by privatisation
Millions of us use trains every day - last year a record 1.3 billion train trips were made. Yet 76% of the public want the railways to be in public ownership while only three in ten people trust the rail industry. Most of us believe the railways should be accountable to taxpayers rather than shareholders.
"It was so good to see you speaking up for the railway passenger and stating the case for railways to be brought into public ownership. We must never give up hope for a brighter future." Wendé Maunder, We Own It supporter
More sell offs?
Transport Minister Chris Grayling has started to realise we need 'one joined-up team of people' running our railway. Sadly, he's avoiding the obvious solution: public ownership. Instead, he wants to start handing control of train tracks to rail companies. This is a dangerous proposal. Last time a private company looked after our rail infrastructure (Railtrack) there were fatal accidents, which is why publicly owned Network Rail took over.
The government also wants Network Rail to sell off assets like train stations. Our report shows that sell offs would mean we lose £10 billion in ten years. It makes more sense to run our railway as an integrated network, not break it up into little pieces.
Let's bring East Coast into public ownership
We know public ownership is possible because we've done it before. Recently.
In 2009, the East Coast line was taken into public ownership (after National Express walked out on the contract) and it was a huge success. The service achieved a 94% customer satisfaction rate, required much less public subsidy, paid back £1 billion to the Treasury and was the most efficient franchise in the UK.
The government reprivatised the East Coast line in 2015, handing it to Virgin Trains. East Coast (VTEC), part owned by Virgin (10%) and Stagecoach (90%). Only now VTEC has asked to walk out on their contract three years early, avoiding nearly £2bn of franchise payments. This is effectively a bailout, and it sets a dangerous precedent for other franchise holders to follow, potentially costing billions from the public purse in the long term.
Sign our petition to transport secretary Chris Grayling, asking him to stop the bailout and bring East Coast into public ownership where it belongs.
How do we do this?
We need to take back the rail franchises as they come to an end, one by one. This won't cost a penny and is the easiest way to take back our railway. But before we do that, either the law needs to change to allow the UK government to run a railway in the first place, or we need to reinstate the publicly owned operator of last resort, DOR (Directly Operated Rail).
Find out more in our video below: How we can take back our railways in 5 steps.
Share if you want a railway that works for people not profit
Chris Grayling, don't bail out East Coast - bring it into public ownership!
Virgin Trains East Coast, run by Stagecoach and Virgin, has failed. Now, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, says he will give in to their demands and bail them out to the tune of £2 billion.
East Coast was run successfully in public ownership from 2009 to 2015 after the last private company failure - but then it was reprivatised. 76% of us want public ownership and it would save us money.
Chris Grayling, put taxpayers and passengers first - don't give Virgin Trains East Coast a free ticket to ruin our railway.
Bring East Coast into public ownership now!
Last signature: Peter, Bournemouth, 38 min 19 sec ago
Find out more
This report finds that £1.2 billion could be saved by bringing the railways into public ownership - which equates to an 18% fare cut across the board.
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader, explains why and how we should bring the railways into public ownership.
In a new video for We Own It, John McDonnell explains Labour's promise to bring rail, water, energy and the Royal Mail back into public ownership.