Rebuilding Rail

Today sees the publication of a major new report – Rebuilding Rail – from Transport for Quality of Life.

Commissioned by the rail unions involved in the Action for Rail campaign, this report  sets out a route to bring our rail system back to world-leading standards, in a way that is both affordable and compliant with EU rail regulations.   

 The Rebuilding Rail research sets out a strategy for a future Labour government to re-integrate rail operations and infrastructure, phase out franchising and give a democratic role to passengers, the workforce and elected local and regional authorities.

The report documents how the present system is failing taxpayers and passengers to the benefit of private train operators, for whom franchises guarantee support from the public purse if income falls below expectations. 

The authors conservatively estimate that £1.2 billion of public money is lost each year as a direct result of privatisation and fragmentation – enough to fund an 18 per cent fares cut if those sources of wastage were removed by reunifying the railway under public control.  

And the report shows that the private sector has failed to deliver the promised innovation, investment, or efficiency.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said:  “This isn’t research to be filed.  It’s policy to be actioned.  This report demonstrates the wasteful folly of rail privatisation and points the way forward not just for Labour, but for any open-minded and rational government or political party.  Sadly, that probably means the travelling public will have to wait until the next Labour government.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:  “Privatisation has done untold damage to the rail industry, undermined safety and handed guaranteed, risk-free profits to operators for whom dividends are the only priority.  Bringing franchises back in-house and re-integrating them with infrastructure in a single, accountable structure offers us a way to reverse the damage done and to save taxpayers £1 billion a year that could be invested in an expanding network.  This report is a welcome antidote to the current government’s plan to fragment the railways still further, hand more control to the privateers, fleece passengers and sack thousands of staff.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “It is not only in football that Britain is lagging behind our European partners, our railways are far more expensive and also less efficient.   Germany, Italy, France and Spain run affordable publicly owned railways that serve passengers first and last.  We should do the same here in the UK.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said:  “It is vital that we bring the rail industry into public ownership. For too long private companies have been profiteering at the expense of the taxpayer and passengers.  Our railways need to be run in the national interest. Public ownership would bring a political commitment to ensure that rail plays a part in advancing broader public policies, such as the environment, social mobility, poverty and housing.  This report rightly shows that a publically-owned rail industry serving the needs of communities, businesses, manufacturing and the economy is achievable.”