Monday 26th September 2016                 Change text size:

Britain’s rail franchises should be run by cooperatives and mutuals, say Labour



high speed train By Tom Page via Flickr

Labour has announced they will give cooperatives and mutually-owned companies the opportunity to operate Britain’s railways, in a “democratic renewal” for a customer driven industry.

In the latest manifesto pledge, the shadow transport team is expected to announce plans to increase the involvement of customers and employees in how rail services should be operated – highlighting the success of England’s East Midlands Train Line, which is state operated.

Although Labour have made a U-turn on plans to completely renationalise train services, fearing this would make the party look anti-business, Labour may instead allow not-for-profit enterprises to bid for control over train franchises – alongside cooperatives and mutuals.

Pressure from trade unions and Labour MPs have prompted the party to engage in changing the current system – with polls suggesting renationalisation as a popular vote winner.

The move will allow for public sector bidders as well as private sector, with an aim to promote greater competition.  Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh, alongside James Kelly, the Scottish Labour party’s transport spokesman, will announce these plans in Glasgow later this week.

Previously, however, Creagh said, “Two decades on from rail privatisation, passengers across the UK are getting a raw deal from many of the rail operators.

“The first priority should be passengers, not profit. That’s why we need a new deal for our railways, in Scotland and across the UK.”

Labour will pilot the scheme in Scotland, but only if the Scottish independence vote keeps Scotland as part of the union, and if Labour win the general election next year.

The Scottish National Party have promised reviews on privately owned rail lines if they are to gain the vote In their favour, alongside the renationalisation of Royal Mail.

Photo source: Tom Page via Flickr

Further Reading:

Labour place railway renationalisation at heart of election manifesto

MPs voice concerns about environmental cost of HS2

Network Rail faces fine after failing to meet punctuality targets

Rail investment will speed up journeys and lower emissions

Regulator tells Network Rail to cut costs by £1.7bn


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