I agree that the government’s current model of rail franchising is not delivering the best deal for passengers or taxpayers and I believe that the whole franchising process should be reviewed.
Rail fares have risen by 20 per cent on average since 2010 and British passengers are now paying the highest rail fares in Europe. The government’s chaotic franchising system has seen millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money lost through the West Coast Main Line franchising process while the successful East Coast franchise has been sold off despite returning £1 billion to the UK taxpayer while in public control.
The government has also recently dropped promised improvements to the rail network such as the electrification of the Midland Main Line and the Trans-Pennine route between Leeds and Manchester, which I know will add to the frustration of passengers that use these lines.
I believe the government urgently need to tackle rising fares, get a better deal for passengers and ensure the franchising system delivers better value for taxpayers’ money. I also believe that a public sector operator should be able to take on lines and challenge private train companies on a level playing field.
I know there is real public concern about this extremely important issue and I hope the government listen to and respond to the Action for Rail campaign.
At the last election, I was proud to stand on a manifesto that pledged to legislate so that a public sector operator is allowed to take on lines and challenge the private train operating companies on a level playing field. You may also have seen Andy Burnham’s manifesto includes a policy to provide affordable and reliable transport for all, through a policy of progressive re-nationalisation of our railways and re-regulation of our buses. I am supporting Andy in the leadership contest.