20 Nov 2013

Reclaiming the Trains

When the Great Western current rail franchise operated by First Group comes up for renewal in 2015, what will happen to it? More of the same, perhaps. The Green Party in the south west proposes that the Great Western franchise should revert to the control of the Secretary of State, who will allocate it to a public body? We would like to see vital infrastructure go back into public ownership so that it can be run for public benefit rather than private gain.

East Coast Mainline, which was taken into public control in 2009 following the failure of a private franchise, has been a great success. Under public control, Directly Operated Railways has delivered £600 million to the Treasury, increased passenger numbers, improved efficiency and consistently scored highly in surveys on passenger satisfaction. There seems to be nothing but benefit for the country here.

We believe the private franchise model has failed. Passengers pay some of the highest fares in Europe but have to endure overcrowded trains and unreliable services. Since privatisation, the cost of train travel has risen by 23% in real terms, and the drain on the public purse has more than doubled.

We want to see affordable train travel, a reduction in overcrowding that is not achieved by forcing passengers to travel by other means. We want far more reliable services that respond to need rather than focusing primarily on profit. We know from the East Coast Mainline that we can have improved services and make a profit for the Treasury. We are currently propping up a rail network that makes profit for the private sector at the expense of both the state and the public, whilst failing to deliver what is needed. We demand change.

Please sign a petition created by Molly Scott Cato (pictured above), lead Green Party candidate for the South West and leader of the Green group of councillors on Stroud District Council - hopefully top 1,000 signatures today: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/56244

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