As further increases to rail fares bite, the Green Party’s prospective MP for Stroud, Chris Jockel, called rail privatisation a costly failure, and for trains and track to be brought back into public ownership for the common good.
Mr Jockel commented:
“The privatised rail system is just another example of free market fundamentalism gone mad. It’s a complete failure. What’s more we are being conned and diddled twice over. As passengers we are burdened with the highest fares in Europe, and as taxpayers we endure costs that are much greater under a privatised system than under a publicly owned one.
Network Rail, the track and infrastructure company, is to all intents and purposes re-nationalised already, though it’s been called something else to hide the failure. The management and operation of trains now also needs to be run for the benefit of the public, rather than private profit.”
Mr Jockel went on to say:
“The amount of public money going into the railways has actually increased since privatisation. Bringing the train services back into public ownership would save taxpayers a huge amount of money as suggested by the government’s own figures. About £1billion a year, or 18% off fares.
Bringing trains and track would improve service for rail users, cut costs for the Treasury and be an important component of a dynamic, enduring and green transport system.”
Ironically, commuters returning to work on Friday were hit by severe disruption to rail services, on the first day after fare rises of up to 2.5% came into force.
If you’d like to read more about the arguments for rail re-nationalisation, please read “Re-building Rail”, a document by Dr Ian Taylor and Dr Lynn Sloman of “Transport for Quality of Life”: available as a .pdf download here. A damning summary of the current state of affairs can also be found in the government-commissioned McNulty review of 2011.