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Labour needs to nationalise the railways

Labour needs to nationalise the railways

We need some integrated thinking about our railways in this country. And we want the opportunity, under a Labour government, to build a better railway for Britain.

We know that privatisation has proved to be a disaster for this country. Even Margaret Thatcher, that arch-advocate of privatisation, cheerfully described the privatisation of the railway as ‘a privatisation too far’. It was a foolish, ideologically-driven, policy by John Major and it has failed.

The result has been soaring fares, which rise each year way beyond inflation, with hard-pressed passengers forced to pay more, and still more, money for their fares, when wages are stagnating or falling, so the privatised train operating companies can make a handsome profit.

Taxpayer subsidies have risen, too. We are now putting billions more into our railways and billions more into our buses, while the privatised train and bus companies make a private profit at public expense – often moving their money offshore.

The result of privatisation – a flawed business model which has resulted in fragmentation, not integration – has been soaring fares, greater public subsidies, older rolling stock, and more overcrowded trains.

That’s why we want to bring our railways back into public ownership. And it needn’t cost a penny. As the franchises run out, we replicate the success of the East Coast which brings money back to the Treasury.

That is a policy which appeals to passengers who have had enough of soaring fares and privatisation; a policy which will appeal particularly to commuters in the south-east of England, giving Labour the opportunity to win back some of the seats in the south, and east, which the party needs if it is to form a new government in 2015.

That is a policy which will help win the Labour Party the next general election.