THE BLOG

Time to End the Disaster of Rail Privatisation

05/08/2015 18:32 BST | Updated 05/08/2016 10:59 BST

In their final term of 18 years in government, the Tories broke up British Rail, creating the fragmented privatised network that we experience today.

They shouldn't have had the chance to commit this vandalism - a Labour Party divided and hampered by the hard left through the 1980s failed to win, and left the way open for this.

But we must also accept that the Labour Party of more recent years hasn't been bold enough in reversing the Tory mess. This has left us with a railway that is inefficient, reliant on public subsidies, and charging some of the highest fares in Europe.

That is why we argued at the last election that Labour should set out a radical plan to re-create a true national network. But as on issues like social care and tuition fees, Labour had grown too timid to embrace anything but a watered down version of these proposals.

It is time to change that. That is why Andy's manifesto set outs a commitment to a true National Rail - a single, publicly accountable body tasked with bringing together and overseeing the railways to deliver the best deal for passengers and taxpayers.

It will be responsible for managing the overall budget for the railways, long-term infrastructure planning, investment in track and trains, contracting out routes and overseeing stations, ticketing and fares. And, as on the model of Transport for London, National Rail will replace the mess of different branding across trains and stations and end the blame game between operators of tracks, trains and stations.

Together, this will end the fragmentation of our railways and give passengers once more the experience of a single network. And it will end the inefficiencies that see our railways as the most expensive in Europe.

And we will go further, with a progressive renationalisation of the operation of passenger services. We will legislate for a public operator to take on lines, and transform the franchising process to ensure passengers' interests are put first. This will allow the public operator to take over franchises as they come up.

This is a credible plan which works within the law, ensuring that we can progressively take back control of our railways with the public operator proving its record. As the successful publicly operated East Coast Mainline showed, this will be more efficient too; we will save money and end the wasted subsidies for private profit under the Tories.

Labour must be bold again, from integrating social care into the NHS, building social housing and tackling student debts. Progressively renationalising the railways is another bold step, but the whole country will benefit. Proposing, arguing for and winning on the basis of bold policies is our vision for Labour.