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.

Scrap the fare hikes – we need public ownership now

1st March 2021 | News

Demand publicly owned rail now

Today the UK Government hikes rail fares in England and Wales by 2.6% – the first above inflation increase for seven years.

Meanwhile, they are busy trying to negotiate new ‘National Rail Contracts’ with a host of failed private train operating companies, which could lock us into this broken privatised system for decades to come.

Bringing all rail franchises back into public ownership would be simple, with the publicly-owned ‘Operator of Last Resort’ – which already runs LNER and Northern – ready to go. This could immediately enable fare cuts of 5%, and would ensure that our railways can be run in the interests of passengers and the environment to help get our country moving again as we emerge from the pandemic.

Please take action today by writing to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Take action now

Scrap the fare hikes
End the contract chaos
We need public ownership now

Transport for Wales Rail re-nationalised!

7th February 2021 | News

Transport for Wales Rail re-nationalised

Today we celebrate the Wales & Borders franchise being brought back into public ownership by the Welsh Government, following 25 years of failed privatisation. Announcing the move on 22 October 2020, the Welsh Minister for Transport Ken Skates MS said this would provide the “most stable financial base to manage rail services as we emerge from the pandemic”.

The Welsh Government must have been listening to our #TakeBackOurTrains campaign. We have been saying since the start of this crisis, that returning rail to public ownership is the only sensible response – to prioritise safety, save public money and help improve services in the long-term. As Ken Skates went on to say: “a new publicly owned model… will allow [Transport for Wales] to continue to put customers and communities at the heart of everything they do, with safety as their first priority”.

Now the Scottish Government and the UK’s Department for Transport must stop bailing out the failing private rail companies running Britain’s other rail franchises and follow Wales’ lead.

Time to Take Back Our Trains

16th June 2020 | News

Take Back Our Trains

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.

Take action now


Make ScotRail Public

1st April 2020 | News / Petition

Make ScotRail Public

Five years ago today, Abellio – the company owned by the Dutch government – took over running Scotland’s Railway. After years of poor service, on 18 December 2019, the Scottish Minister for Transport Michael Matheson MSP, finally announced that he would break Abellio’s contract three years’ early (on 31 March 2022).

On 1 April 2020, we re-launched the Make ScotRail Public campaign in collaboration with our friends at Get Glasgow Moving, TSSA and We Own It, to demand that a public sector operator is ready to take over running ScotRail services by 2022.

Sign the petition