Caroline Lucas today introduces a Bill to bring the rail network back into public hands and claims it could save taxpayers up to £1 billion a year. It will and lead to lower fares and better services, Caroline claimed.
The Railways Bill, due its Second Reading in Parliament later today, would bring the rail network into public ownership step by step. When franchises come up for expiry, or private companies break the terms of their franchise agreements, they would revert to the control of a public body.
Support for public ownership of the railways remains strong both among the public and, increasingly, in Parliament.
The Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, has belatedly committed itself “to a publicly owned railway as the best way to secure a fair deal for rail passengers and taxpayer’. In fact both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are co-sponsors of the Bill.
Caroline presents her bill to Parliament after another week of chaos on the trains in her hometown of Brighton. At a meeting with the Department for Transport on Monday she urged Ministers to redouble efforts to improve the creaking rail network.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “Rail users are sick and tired of paying astronomical prices for a service that simply isn’t up to scratch. We have to put up with overcrowded trains, unreliable services, and we spend up to six times as much on rail tickets as other European passengers.
“The irony is that some of the biggest profiteers are the state-owned rail companies of our European neighbours. Taxpayers’ money that should be reinvested into services is ending up in the hands of overseas shareholders. By taking back each franchise when it expires, the Government could save up to £1 billion a year every year.
“It’s time to end this rip-off and bring our railways back into public ownership.
“This isn’t a call for a throwback to a ‘70s British Rail. The modern, efficient, clean, affordable services enjoyed in other parts of Europe offer a much better blueprint than our own past.”