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Corbyn’s ambitious Transport Tuesday

Just as the Office of National Statistics sparked national outrage as it revealed the RPI figure will hike regulated rail fares by 1.9% next year, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined unions outside London Bridge to call for the renationalisation of the railways.

The pledge is nothing new – it was his first official policy when he became leader last year – but will now serve as part of his formal transport pledge against rival Owen Smith as both contenders gear up for another party election next month.

He first spoke at a demonstration at London Bridge station organised by rail unions RMT and TSSA, with further transport rallies booked in the Midlands in what the Corbyn camp has branded “Transport Tuesday”.

The current leader claims that bringing the railways under public ownership once again could shave 10% off regulated passenger fares and rebuild the trust damaged by private operators – citing Southern’s “rail debacle” as an example of how companies “cannot be trusted” with passengers’ best interests.

“Public ownership of our railways is needed now to fix the transport nightmare we are currently faced with, and we know there is overwhelming support among the British public for a people’s railway,” he said.

“It is only by bringing the railways back under public ownership as the contracts expire, that we will fix the rail crisis and I’m pleased that even some Tory politicians are now joining us in calling for Southern rail to immediately be brought under public ownership.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, reinforces his leader’s message after the RPI figure was unveiled this morning, arguing that renationalisation is the “best way to secure a fair deal” for commuters and a “long-term investment for a modern railway system”.

Corbyn’s leadership contender has also come out in favour of renationalisation, but has focused on other major issues so far, particularly health.

Whilst it is unclear exactly how feasible or realistic his plans are in the current rail landscape, with private funding being a major driver of large-scale infrastructure projects in the country, it is clear that Corbyn will not back down without a fight.

His keen interest in rail politics, proved by the consistent limelight he gives to industry issues, will likely fuel a long-term battle with operators and privateers should he be made prime minister in the future – and his current support across constituency Labour party nominations make that possibility ever greater.

(Top image c. Yui Mok, PA Wire)


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Martin T   16/08/2016 at 16:33

The large tangerine ticket in the photo "higher fares, bigger profits" is a joke. The reality is "higher fares, yet more above-inflation increases for staff." There has been above-inflation increases for train staff for every year for the last 20. The staff are guaranteed above-inflation increases. The TOCs are not. Their owners are not. Their shareholders are not. I'm not asking for sympathy for the TOCs but I'd like to see some acknowledgement of the enormous political bias (distortion) from the left over this.

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