Brighton parliamentary candidate Nancy Platts has called for the renationalisation of the railways to bring about more affordable fares and better services.
Ms Platts, the Labour candidate in Brighton Kemptown, was the lead signatory on a letter to the Observer newspaper signed by dozens of fellow party candidates.
And yesterday (Tuesday 6 May) she spoke on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 about the need for a new rail policy.
She said: “People in Brighton tell me they don’t understand how train companies can walk away with £300 million of profits every year while they pay around £4,000 for an annual season ticket.
“I think these profits would be better spent bringing fares down for passengers and we can secure this money by bringing rail franchises back into the public sector as they expire – £70 million going back into the system could take 1 per cent off fares for passengers.
“People are already struggling with rising prices and stagnant wages.
“A policy to reduce rail fares by bringing the railway franchises back into public ownership would help people out who are struggling with the cost of living.
“The East Coast main line has shown that a railway run by the public sector can save money for the taxpayer.
“It has made profits of more than £50 million since 2009 and that has been returned to the taxpayer.
“This policy would fit in perfectly with Labour’s wider offer to reduce the cost of living and put money back in people’s pockets – the freeze on energy bills until 2017, controlling rent increases in the private rented sector and 25 hours free childcare.
“This would be a welcome addition to that cost of living offer.”
She cited a poll by Opinium for the Observer which suggested that more than three times as many people back some form of renationalisation of rail services (55 per cent) as oppose it (18 per cent).
Ms Platts and more than 30 other Labour Party parliamentary candidates signed a letter which was published in the Observer on Sunday (4 May) calling for a bold policy to improve services and control fares.
It said: “Rail fares in Britain are contributing to the cost-of-living crisis, with season tickets now the largest monthly expense for many people, costing even more than the mortgage or rent.
“Just as Labour has pledged to freeze energy bills and reset the market to secure a better deal for customers, so it will be necessary to 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 benefiting from £4 billion 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.
“Yet the not-for-private-profit model that works so well on the East Coast line has shown how there is a better way to run Britain’s rail services.
“As well as making over £1 billion of franchise payments to government, East Coast reinvests all of its further profit to benefit passengers.
“A commitment to extend this successful model to the rest of the rail network, as existing contracts come to an end, would mean that hundreds of millions currently lost in private profit would be available to fully fund a bold offer on rail fares.”
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