Latest Rail News


Labour backing for proposals to begin renationalising the railway

The ‘Rebuilding Rail’ report, which suggests gradual rail renationalisation by not re-letting franchises when they end but instead bringing them back into public ownership, has won a firmer than expected endorsement from the Labour Party.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle told the Observer that the report made a “coherent case for reform” and said Labour agreed with many of its ideas, and attacked the current system in which she said subsidiaries of other European countries’ state railways win franchises in theUK, using the profits to subsidise fares and services back home. 

Speaking about the report and Labour’s rail review at the recent Aslef conference, Eagle said: “We need reform to deliver real accountability. When I began this review, I said I would rule nothing in and nothing out. But it is plain that privatisation has not delivered efficiencies. It has delivered higher fares, higher subsidies, excessive bonuses for senior managers, bailouts and declining services. It is the economics of the mad-house.”

The ‘Rebuilding Rail’ report was published by the think tank Transport for Quality of Life, on behalf of the main rail unions: Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite. It sets out a strategy for how public ownership of the railway could be restored and how a future Labour government could reintegrate rail operations and infrastructure.

The report calls for Labour to make a number of commitments: use money saved from reintegration to lower fares; award no new franchises; review all existing franchises to assess whether they should be bought out; reduce ‘dividend leakage’; and campaign against the European Commission’s intention for member states to open domestic passenger services to competition.

Transport for Quality of Life director Dr Ian Taylor called for “proper public control” of the railway and said: “Other countries inEuropestill regard it as quite normal that a public service as important as the railway should be appropriately managed through public ownership in order to realise the broad economic, social and environmental gains which rail can deliver. This report documents in some detail a route to achieve that.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland, said: “It is vital that we bring the rail industry into public ownership. For too long private companies have been profiteering at the expense of the taxpayer and passengers.

“Our railways need to be run in the national interest. This report rightly shows that a publically-owned rail industry serving the needs of communities, businesses, manufacturing and the economy is achievable.”

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan called the research “policy to be actioned”, and Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, stated that the UK’s railways were more expensive and less efficient that those in Europe: “Germany, Italy, France and Spain run affordable publicly owned railways that serve passengers first and last. We should do the same here in theUK.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow claimed that privatisation had done “untold damage” to the industry and added: “Bringing franchises back in-house and re-integrating them with infrastructure in a single, accountable structure offers us a way to reverse the damage done and to save taxpayers £1bn a year that could be invested in an expanding network.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Richard Kelham   14/08/2012 at 10:04

Re-nationalisation is a clear no-brainer, given the will to do it. The only problem is what to do about the RoSCos as buying them out will cost many times what they paid in the 1990s. An added advantage of re-nationalisation would be the ability to re-establish UK-owned train making facilities.

Jb   20/08/2015 at 01:21

Bravo to re-establishing the British locomotive and train building industry! Given our history, its a disgrace and an embarrassment that so many foreign units have been ordered in preference to British products. To my mind, the best way to organise the railway would be to re-establish the pre-nationalisation railway regions empowered with responsibility for all activities within their region (operation, rolling stock and infrastructure). However, there should be greater effort put into marketing than did BR. The pre-war railway companies were good at this. One good thing to come from privatisation was the development of new through services but two bad things were the very complex fares and ticketing structures (you must be on the right train!) and the costly franchising process with its attendant wasteful repainting of trains. Trains should be properly liveried according to their owning region and not subject to the gaudy fads of the 'operators'

Add your comment

Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >