Many of our train services are publicly owned. Now the not so good bit: They are publicly owned by members of public from other European countries. They saw our great idea of public ownership, copied it, watched us sell it all off, helped themselves to it and now return MILLIONS AND MILLIONS in dividends back to their countries.
About 1.7 BILLION passenger rail journeys were made in the past 12 months, compared with 801m in 1997. The figures come from analysis by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, and is based on data from the auditors KPMG.
The study found that people make an average of 24.7 train journeys each a year, a 60% increase from 1998, when private operators took over running UK train services from British Rail. The growth in journeys is faster than in France at 25%, Germany at 23% and the Netherlands at 10% over the same period.
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.
The cost of running the railways has more than DOUBLED, from £2.4 billion from 1990-95 to around £5.4 billion per year from 2005-10. It gets worse. According to the Tories own data the cost of running Britain’s railways for 2014/15 was a staggering £13.6 BILLION!
Since privatisation, the average price of a train journey has increased by 23.5% in real terms. Fares on some routes have increased by 245%! That really is quite incredible. It gets worse. We pay, on average, around 30% MORE for rail travel than any other country in Europe.
The big problem here is obvious to most people. Public ownership of our railways would save us £1.2bn every year. This would be enough to offer an 18% cut on the cost of train tickets. That’s not the sort of cuts the Tory Party like to talk about. This is because they have shareholders to keep happy.
Tory MP James Brokenshire is a fine example of stupidity personified. He has spent years voting for privatisation (pictured) and against capping fares private providers can charge, like most of his Tory colleagues. He wants the privateers to make as much cash as possible out of you, despite running the risk of being overwhelmed by the stench of urine when you dare venture for a luke-warm coffee and a cheap tasting chocolate muffin (yours for the national debt of Greece)
So you can imagine my surprise when I came across this letter from James, complaining of the “appalling” service, sent to the big boss of Southeastern Rail. For some reason James didn’t oppose Southeastern being handed another franchise.
Anyway, I can go on about Tory hypocrisy for hours on end, quite literally.
I want to suggest a solution.
We know there is OVERWHELMING SUPPORT from the British people for a People’s Railway, better and more efficient services, proper integration and fairer fares, starting from the principle that franchises will be brought into public ownership when they expire. One by one, line by line.
As the last link to the YouGov poll shows, re-nationalising British railways is popular with the British public. Most want it returned to public ownership because they believe they should be accountable to taxpayers rather than shareholders.
Not really the most radical notion ever, is it?
More about the solution.
I think you may have guessed by now? Nice man, in his 60’s, beard. No, not Santa Claus.
Scoff all you like non-believers. Even a majority of Tories support the Corbyn Policy of rail renationalisation. What’s not to like? Its a clear vote winner, and with Jeremy Corbyn this isn’t a Blairite jump on a bandwagon moment, this belief runs to the very core of him. In fact it was his first policy announcement after his first vistory in the Labour leadership contest. In short, Jeremy Corbyn wants to ensure that billions of pounds of taxpayers money is not creamed off by privateer shareholders. He even wants to make sure the hardworking staff are looked after! That gets my vote Jeremy.
Don’t forget, Mr Branson went for Jeremy Corbyn for a very specific reason. The same reason that the billionaire media moguls and political establishment go for him. He is a threat to the billionaires and their vested interests. In Branson’s case its trains and healthcare, the latter for which Virgin Care pay NO TAX in The UK whatsoever.
I’ll end by saying public ownership is more than possible, 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 had a 91% 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 Tories re-privatised the East Coast line in 2015, handing it to Virgin Trains, who else? But this example shows that if the railways were run for people not profit they could keep passengers happy and save us all lots and lots money.
Only Jeremy Corbyn can deliver on this vision.