The case for taking the nation’s railways back into public ownership grows every year, according to Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas.
The Green Party MP says putting the railways back into public hands would improve the service for passengers.
Lucas, whose party has long supported public ownership of the railways, has tabled a Private Members Bill in Parliament on the issue.
The Railways Bill 2015-16 is listed as: ‘A Bill to require the Secretary of State to assume control of passenger rail franchises when they come up for renewal’.
It is due to have its second reading in Parliament on January 22.
Lucas is set to take par tin the rail summit with Railways Minister Claire Perry and train companies on January 18.
She said: “The case for public ownership of our railways grows every year. As prices continue to soar, many services are failing woefully.
“If the government really wants to make savings and improve our transport network for everyone, it should recognise that privatisation has failed and take steps to return the railways to public ownership.
“By taking back individual franchises when they expire or when a company fails to meet its franchise conditions, the state could save over £1 billion a year every year – an amount that can be spent on improving services and reducing rail fares.”
Green Party member Dr Peter Wemyss-Gorman made the same points this week, in response to Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames’ call for under-performing rail firms to lose their franchieses [Mid Sussex Times, 28/12/15].
He said Sir Nicholas’s demand was ‘both timely and welcome’, but added: “You do not, however, report him as having suggested any alternative.
“The Green Party believes that the rail system, including track and operators, needs to be publicly owned, and would seek to bring the service back into public ownership.
“The division of rail and track companies into a competitive rather than a cooperative organisation, and the fragmentation of the rail industry into 100 companies by privatisation, has been disastrous for safety and reliability and the provision of an integrated service.
“The Green Party would overcome this through public ownership but also by making the rail service more democratically accountable at local and regional levels. (Interested readers can easily find the details of our transport policies by following the link https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/tr.html
“The Green Party has campaigned for this for some years; it was in our election manifesto and our MP Caroline Lucas has presented a Private Member’s Bill to parliament providing for the reversion to the control of the Secretary of State of private rail franchises when they come up for renewal. The Labour Party’s recent conversion to the same commitment is welcome if belated.
“I am sure many of the long-suffering commuters of Mid Sussex will wish to support this initiative, or at least to press Sir Nicholas and the Government to suggest viable alternatives. More of the same is not among their options.”
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