As Green Party members join campaigners at railway stations today calling for public ownership of rail, the Party have slammed a report by Network Rail which concludes that all investment options for creating a resilient railways network in the South West are ‘poor value for money’. Greens say it is the private franchise system that offers poor value for money, both to rail passengers and tax payers, not investment in the region’s railways.
The West of Exeter Route Resilience Study by Network Rail followed an eight week shutdown of the railways west of Exeter due to severe storm damage at Dawlish. The study explored options for new and reopened lines beyond Exeter, including a route via Okehampton; another following the old Teign Valley branch line; and various options for a new direct route between Exeter and Newton Abbot. All the options are considered by Network Rail as ‘poor value for money’.
But with estimates that at least £1 billion a year could be saved by renationalising the railways , the Greens say that the savings made through public ownership could be reinvested in creating a truly resilient railway network in the South West.
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, has lent her support to today’s actions and to taking back private franchises into public ownership. Before being elected as an MEP, she set up an e-petition calling for the Great Western franchise to be taken back into public ownership. She said:
“The Green Group in the European Parliament has been fighting against EU proposals, known as the Fourth Railway Package, that mirror many aspects of the UK model of privatisation. It is ironic that at a time when the idea of taking back our railways into public ownership has never been more popular with the British public, the European Commission is seeking to impose a failed model of privatisation on domestic rail passenger services in EU member states. Greens in the European Parliament will fight hard against any moves to remove the freedom for countries to choose which way they want to run their passenger rail services. For Greens in the UK that means, unequivocally, public ownership of our railways.”
The Green Party in the South West recently submitted a response to the government’s consultation proposals on the future of the Great Western franchise, calling for the franchise to be taken away from First Group and brought back into public ownership.