16th June 2020 | News
We have been campaigning for radical reform of our broken privatised railway system for more than a decade, amassing more than 150,000 supporters on our way. As passengers and employees it was clear that privatisation has left us with a more expensive, confusing and less reliable service, that costs taxpayers double to run (in real terms) than it ever did as publicly-owned British Rail.
The coronavirus crisis has thrown everything up in the air. With passengers being instructed to make essential journeys only. Suddenly the real absurdity of running our railway via multiple for-profit businesses was laid bare. On 23 March 2020, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had to step in with Emergency Measures Agreements – further bailouts to the private Train Operating Companies – just to keep essential services running for our keyworkers.
These EMAs are up for renewal this September. We cannot afford to throw more and more public money away into broken privatised rail. The crisis provides the opportunity we have been waiting for to #TakeBackOurTrains. This will enable us to prioritise safety without needing to put profit-making ahead of social distancing. This will save public money, with the cost of extending EMAs likely to be far more than running services in-house under the ‘Operator of Last Resort’, which currently runs LNER and Northern after those franchises failed. And it will enable us to improve services in the long-term.
With all our Train Operating Companies finally back in public ownership, we can begin the long-overdue project of re-unifying our railways under one public company. This will allow us to provide the affordable, coherent and reliable service that our country needs to recover from this coronavirus crisis: rebuilding our economy and society, addressing the climate emergency and ensuring carbon emissions and air pollution never return to the toxic pre-lockdown levels.