Our Pathway to Public Ownership

11th December 2023 | News

Bring Back British Rail was founded in 2009 to popularise the idea of bringing our railways back into public ownership. We have collected more than 150,000 signatures across various petitions during this time with numerous successes, most notably seeing rail renationalisation reinstated as Labour party policy in 2015.

We also led a successful legal action against the Department for Transport (DfT) which resulted in the EastCoast mainline being taken back into public ownership in May 2018. And our campaign to bring ScotRail back into public ownership (first launched in 2014, then relaunched in 2020 during the pandemic), led to the Scottish Government’s decision to end their contract with Abellio in March 2021.

Seven of Britain’s rail franchises are now back in public ownership. After a decade-and-a-half of campaigning, we can now finally see the end in sight. Labour has pledged to bring the remaining rail franchises “back into public ownership as contracts expire”, and then to re-unify them under once single identity and one ‘guiding mind’.

The next General Election must take place before 28 January 2025. If Labour wins this, as polls suggest, our research shows that all the current contracts with private operators controlled by the DfT (including even the recently agreed Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry contracts) will end either their initial term, or their extension period, under the next parliamentary term.

This presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity which cannot be missed.

DfT rail contract expiration dates:

* Already in public ownership (the ScotRail and Transport for Wales Rail contracts are controlled by their respective devolved governments and are also both now in public ownership).

It’s time to kick FirstGroup out our our railways

19th February 2023 | News

Kick First Out

Did you know that FirstGroup plc is the main player hiding behind four of our failing train operating companies, which have been causing misery for millions of passengers: Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express, South Western Railway and Great Western Railway?

Three or these contracts are up for renewal this year. We cannot allow the Department for Transport to reward First’s failure. Please join our Kick First Out! Avanti & TransPennine Passenger Rally at the DfT of Monday 20 March 2023, 10am

Kick First Out! Avanti & TransPennine Passenger Rally
Monday 20 March 2023, 10am

Department for Transport
33 Horseferry Road

We will be submitting our petition to Bring our West Coast rail services back into public ownership to Transport Secretary Mark Harper MP, so please make sure you sign the petition in advance.

Sign the Petition

Please register on Eventbrite if you’re coming to the Passenger Rally so we can keep track of numbers: kickfirstout.eventbrite.com

Share our #KickFirstOut graphic on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The crisis on Avanti West Coast is escalating

6th September 2022 | News / Petition

Make West Coast Public

The crisis on Avanti West Coast is escalating.

Sign the Petition

On 14 August 2022, Avanti – part-owned by FirstGroup and Trenitalia (Italy’s state-owned rail operator!) – drastically reduced the timetable on our West Coast Main Line.

Avanti is now running less than half of the usual services between London and our big north western cities: Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and more.

On 2 September, Avanti’s £273,000-per-year boss Phil Whittingham announced he was leaving to “pursue other executive leadership opportunities”.

The company is in total disarray.

Meanwhile, on 4 September it was reported that the Department for Transport (DfT) is still planning to renew Avanti’s contract (which expires on 16 October) for another 10-years.

This is not any old rail contract either – it’s the so-called ‘West Coast Partnership’, which could see useless profiteers Avanti handed the keys to run the first services on our new HS2 line that will have been built with close to £100 billion of public money.

This must be stopped. Today our lawyers written to the DfT to demand they take these concerns seriously and act urgently to bring our West Coast Main Line back into public ownership (like LNER, Northern and Southeastern already are).

Sign the Petition

Please help keep the pressure up by signing our petition and sharing details on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

There’s still time to make Great British Railways. . . great!

2nd August 2022 | News

Great British Railways

Did you know that the UK Government is now consulting on the biggest legislative changes to our railways since the disastrous Railways Act 1993, which created privatisation? The deadline is this Thursday 4 August, 11:45pm.

They’ve done their best to keep this consultation hidden – rushing it through in just eight weeks over the summer. But this is a great opportunity to make the case for greater public ownership of rail – enabling direct awards to our publicly-owned operator, which currently runs LNER, Northern and Southeastern – to reduce fragmentation and ensure more of our railways are run in the public interest.

Take action now

Please take time this week to respond to the consultation. Together with our friends at We Own It we’ve put together a handy guide.

Legal action to take Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern back into public hands

27th January 2022 | News

Take Back TSGN

Today we’re launching legal action against the Department for Transport to stop them awarding the disgraced private company Govia a six-year contract to continue running rail services on Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern. Together these form Britain’s biggest rail franchise (known as TSGN), which has been dogged by problems since Govia first took over operations in 2015.

What’s more, the companies that own Govia – the Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%) – are currently under investigation for alleged serious and long-standing fraud on their other neighbouring rail franchise, Southeastern.

The situation on Southeastern became so bad, that the Department for Transport took action to bring it back into public ownership in October 2021.

If Southeastern can be brought back into public ownership, then Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern should be too!

This would provide much better value for money, and be more transparent and accountable to the public. In the long-term, it would also enable us to deliver a re-unified and integrated commuter railway – improving connections with Transport for London and across the SouthEast.

If you’d like to help us #TakeBackTSGN, then please make a pledge on our CrowdJustice page.

Pledge Now

We’re kickstarting this case with the funds left over from our successful legal action to make the East Coast mainline public in 2018.

We’re looking for further contributions from supporters to help us meet our £20,000 target before the deadline on 23 February 2022.

Our Lawyers’ Correspondence

1 February 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
11 February 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
16 February 2022: Department for Transport to Devonshires
2 March 2022: Department for Transport to Devonshires
22 March 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
25 March 2022: Devonshires to Serious Fraud Office
31 March 2022: Department for Transport to Devonshires
7 April 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport

Freedom of Information Requests

25 January 2022: Department for Transport to Bring Back British Rail
4 February 2022: Department for Transport to Association of British Commuters

Media Coverage

• 27 January 2022, ‘New legal campaign to take Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern into public ownership’, Association of British Commuters
• 27 January 2022, ‘Commuters start legal case to re-nationalise Southern Rail’, Inside Croydon
• 3 February 2022, ‘Government faces legal threat over Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern Rail’, ITV News
• 10 February 2022, ‘Details of Go-Ahead rail scandal kept secret’, The Times
• 14 February 2022, ‘Department for Transport hides scandalous report on Go-Ahead fraud investigation’, Association of British Commuters
• 24 February 2022, ‘Dramatic increase to £80m in cost of Southeastern train accounting scandal’, The Guardian
• 24 February 2022, ‘£81.3m fine strengthens case against Southern’s new franchise’, Inside Croydon
• 28 February 2022, Fifteen years of fraud: allegations against The Go-Ahead Group have doubled in scale, Association of British Commuters
• 22 March 2022, Govia Ltd: the biggest rail corruption scandal since privatisation, Association of British Commuters
• 22 March 2022, Government is about to let #SouthernFail off the hook again, Inside Croydon
• 7 April 2022, The Rail Privatisation Scam, Tribune

ScotRail Re-nationalised!

17th March 2021 | News / Petition

Make ScotRail Public

Today Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson finally announced that the ScotRail franchise will be brought back into public ownership from 1 April 2022, when Abellio’s contract ends.

Thanks to everyone who signed our Make ScotRail Public petition, first launched the day after the Independence Referendum in September 2014. It has been a long fight, but we did it! Please share the good news on Facebook and Twitter.