14 September 2009
The Green Party today welcomed the publication of an RMT-commissioned poll which shows 70% support for rail renationalisation. (1) The party has long argued that the 1993 privatisation was botched, costly, and against the interests of the travelling public, and supports a return to public ownership.
Alan Francis, transport spokesperson for the Green Party, said:
"Rail privatisation has proved the only lasting legacy of the Major government, and the Tories have left us with a fragmented, expensive and inefficient network, one Labour have merely tinkered with for more than a decade. Franchise holders appear to compete with each other to establish the most awkward systems for buying tickets and planning journeys while the needs of passengers remain an afterthought.
"This poll is the latest evidence of clear public support for bringing the railways back under public control, and Greens believe this move is long overdue. I cannot understand why the other parties are still in thrall to outdated Thatcherite ideology over this issue, despite all the evidence.
"We cannot afford to continue as we are, especially given the pressures on the public finances, and prudence requires an end to this costly approach. Taxpayers pay far more to subsidise shareholders than was ever used to fund British Rail, yet rail fares continue to rise and rise.
"We want all aspects of the railway to be brought back into public ownership and re-integrated into one coherent organisation. But the system must be at arms length from the government so that the railways are not subject to day-to-day interference from government and are not subject to short term funding decisions. Each train operating company (TOC) has a franchise for a period between 5 and 15 years. As these franchises expire they are re-let by DfT. Instead of re-letting the franchises they should stay in the public sector. This would cost absolutely nothing and would eventually return all of the TOCs to the public sector.
"Rail must again become the default for long-distance domestic travel, and without an end to the privatised system it will be next to impossible to realise the dream of high-speed rail."