A Labour government should make a commitment to reforming the UK’s railways and to creating “bold” offers on rail fares, a group of Labour parliamentary candidates has said.
In a letter to the Observer, the group outlined that rail fares in Britain are contributing to the cost-of-living crisis, and claimed that season tickets are now the largest monthly expense for many people, “costing even more than the mortgage or rent”.
The candidates stated that just as Labour has pledged to freeze energy bills and reset the market in order to secure a better deal for customers, so should Labour reform the rail industry to secure a better deal for passengers.
“Train companies walk away with hundreds of millions of pounds every year, despite running monopoly services and benefitting from £4bn of public investment in the rail network every year.
“These profits are even helping keep down rail fares on the continent as many of Britain’s rail services are run by subsidiaries of the state railways of France, Germany and the Netherlands,” the group said.
The group claims that the East Coast line’s not-for-private-profit model, which makes over £1bn in franchise payments to the government while reinvesting its further profit to benefit passengers, should be extended to the rest of the UK’s rail network.
The East Coast mainline became publicly-run in 2009 when its then-owner National Rail ran into financial difficulty.
But the line is due to return to private ownership in 2015, with train companies FirstGroup, Eurostar and French firm Keolis, and Virgin and Stagecoach vying for the opportunity to take over the line.
The current East Coast line model would result in “hundreds of millions [of pounds] currently lost in private profit would be available to fully fund a bold offer on rail fares”, the candidates said.
The group of candidates includes Nancy Platts of Bighton, Kemptown and Peacehaven; Andrew Pakes of Milton Keynes South; Wes Streeting of Ilford North; Clive Lewis Norwich South and Polly Billington of Thurrock.