Na­tion­al­i­sa­tion

Rail (UK) - - Contents - Richard Clin­nick As­sis­tant Edi­tor richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk

Labour “not able to give a firm state­ment” on na­tion­al­i­sa­tion plans as Prime Min­is­ter an­nounces snap elec­tion.

AS this is­sue of RAIL went to press, only the Lib­eral Democrats had con­firmed their pol­icy re­gard­ing rail­ways for the up­com­ing Gen­eral Elec­tion on June 8.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May made her an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing the snap elec­tion on April 18 (the day be­fore RAIL went to press).

Over the next 24 hours the Con­ser­va­tive party did not com­ment on its plans, but the Lib­eral Democrats said the rail­ways would form part of its cam­paign.

Spokesman Jasper Ger­ard said: “One as­pect will be if the Govern­ment pushes its hard Brexit agenda (sup­ported by Labour), whether we will have the work­ers to de­liver ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects such as this - or in­deed whether the econ­omy will be strong enough to pay for them.”

De­spite al­most two years of claims that it will re­na­tion­alise the fran­chised railway if voted into power ( RAIL 784, 808), Labour told RAIL on April 18 that “it was not able to give a firm state­ment,” re­gard­ing whether this would be an elec­tion man­i­festo. A spokesman said that any poli­cies would be an­nounced in due course.

In Au­gust last year, Shadow Trans­port Sec­re­tary Andy McDonald told RAIL that na­tion­al­is­ing the rail­ways would save money and not lead to additional ex­pen­di­ture ( RAIL 808).

McDonald claimed the cost of run­ning fran­chise com­pe­ti­tions would also end, claim­ing that in 2014-15 tax­pay­ers sub­sidised the railway with £4.8 bil­lion and that pas­sen­ger con­tri­bu­tions of around £9bn in fares have in­creased by 17% since 2010-11. He also claimed that since pri­vati­sa­tion the railway has re­ceived £72.5bn in tax­payer fund­ing. At the time it had no plans to na­tion­alise the rolling stock leas­ing com­pa­nies, nor were there plans to na­tion­alise the freight com­pa­nies.

The Scot­tish Labour party has also said it wants to take the railway back into public own­er­ship ( RAIL 818).

Speak­ing in Liver­pool on Fe­bru­ary 6, Shadow Chan­cel­lor John

McDon­nell said Labour would in­vest to trans­form the North, in­clud­ing rail im­prove­ments, but didn’t men­tion na­tion­al­i­sa­tion.

In De­cem­ber, cur­rent Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling an­nounced plans to bring op­er­a­tion of track and trains un­der one um­brella and mod­ify the way the fran­chises let, start­ing with the East Mid­lands and South Eastern fran­chises ( RAIL 816).

How­ever, Grayling was ac­cused in Jan­uary of politi­cis­ing a de­ci­sion re­gard­ing trans­fer­ring ser­vices to Trans­port for Lon­don. In a de­bate on Jan­uary 12, McDonald ac­cused him of an “ob­ses­sion with keep­ing ser­vices ‘out of the clutches’ of a po­ten­tial Lon­don Mayor”. He was re­fer­ring to a let­ter dated from April 2013, when Grayling had writ­ten to then Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son, ar­gu­ing the cur­rent franchising sys­tem would “mean MPs and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties from out­side the Lon­don area would have a re­mit over train ser­vices in our ar­eas, which I would not like to lose”. @Clin­nick1

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