Train price hike: Jeremy Corbyn calls for public ownership of railways

Labour leader pledges ‘fully staffed trains in all parts of the country at all times’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 02 January 2019 14:01 GMT
Jeremy Corbyn calls for public ownership of railways amid train fare hike

On the day that rail fares across Britain rose by an average of 3.1 per cent, with some inter-city journeys now costing more than £1 per mile, Jeremy Corbyn has demanded the resignation of the transport secretary Chris Grayling.

The Labour leader also called for “a fully publicly owned railway system”.

Speaking at a demonstration against the fares increase outside King’s Cross station in London, he said: “We have the highest rail fares in Europe and they’re going up even more. As a result, commuters have to pay more, and as a result some will stop travelling by train and we’ll have an increase in traffic. The Labour plan is public ownership of railways.”

When asked what he’d like to see change, Mr Corbyn answered: “Chris Grayling not to be transport secretary.”

He also described the increase as a “disgrace” and said Labour would provide free bus travel for everyone under the age of 25.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Chris Grayling said: “I’m not going to take lessons from a party that in its last year in government put up fares by 10 per cent.

“Services will improve on the railways, I hope, on the back of the biggest investment since the steam age.

“The problem with nationalisation is that we ended up with far less investment.”

The transport secretary said that the government was getting rid of “knackered old pacer trains from the British Rail days”.

(Statista (Statista)

Mr Corbyn also said he “absolutely” supported the RMT union in its campaign to keep guards on trains.

Standing next to Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, the leader of the opposition told The Independent: “It’s very much Labour policy that there should be fully staffed trains in all parts of the country at all times.

“There is a safety issue and to encourage more people to travel late at night, and in the evenings and at weekends, then having staff on trains is very important to give people a sense of security.

“Likewise, fully staffed stations are very important.”

Waiting game: the message to applicants for the new 26-30 Railcard (Rail Delivery Group)

Meanwhile the waiting time for the new “Millennial Railcard” rose to over an hour within a minute of the discount card going on sale.

It gives train passengers who were born between 3 January 1988 and 2 January 1993 one-third off most train tickets.

Prospective buyers are being told: “Have something better to do than wait by the screen? Sign up for an email alert when you’re first in the queue.”

The 26-30 Railcard was originally promised in 2017, but went on general sale only today.

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