PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Passengers demand public ownership as government gears up for big decision
Nearly 18,000 emails have been sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, demanding that the railway be brought into public ownership. This comes at the launch of the 'Take Back Our Trains' campaign in response to the news that train company bailouts have cost at least £3.5 billion so far. The campaign is coordinated by rail passenger groups including the Association of British Commuters, Bring Back British Rail and We Own It.
The bailout - costing £900 million a month - was intended to be a temporary solution, but train companies are now demanding a 12-18 month extension to the bailout. Campaigners claim this would lock passengers and taxpayers into an expensive and dysfunctional system for the long-term, as experts say that nearly all rail franchises would financially collapse on even 80% of the passenger numbers they had before.
They also claim that public ownership is the only feasible alternative, and the government has already prepared sufficient backup operators to take over every franchise in the country, adding that the 'Operator of Last Resort' is well-resourced, and would provide the flexibility and cost-efficiency needed to adjust services in response to passenger numbers and the changing needs of public health.
Emily Yates from the passenger advocacy group Association of British Commuters, said:
"The dysfunctional system of privatised rail has been failing passengers for years, yet all promises of reform have come to nothing.
"The need to start building an integrated, efficient and accountable railway was urgent even before the corona pandemic. Public ownership is now the only way to succeed with the public health and economic challenges we're facing.”
Campaigners anticipate that the government will make a decision on whether to renationalise or extend the bailout at the end of June. They stress that public ownership of the railway has the overwhelming support of the public - with one opinion poll putting support at 76%.
Ellie Harrison, founder of passenger-led campaign Bring Back British Rail said:
"Privatised rail has never worked. 'Natural monopolies' like our railways need to be centrally co-ordinated.
"Now the coronavirus crisis has laid bare this simple truth. Public transport is an essential public service to get our key workers to their jobs, and it cannot be run for profit while 'social distancing' measures remain in place."
Ellen Lees, campaigns officer at We Own It said:
"Rail privatisation was imploding long before coronavirus hit, with private rail companies collapsing left, right and centre. The government can't keep funnelling billions into a broken system which only benefits shareholders - so why not take the opportunity to build something better out of the ashes of privatised rail?
"Passengers, workers and the public all want public ownership - to keep us safe, to save money, and to build a public transport network fit for a greener, post-COVID future."
The launch of the #TakeBackOurTrains campaign comes as Shapps is due to appear at the Transport Select Committee today (Wednesday 24 June 2020).
For more information and further comment, please contact:
Chris Jarvis - email@example.com 07506792751
The #TakeBackOurTrains campaign is a collaboration between Bring Back British Rail, We Own It, the Association of British Commuters and NOR4NOR
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