Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled a transport strategy that will transform Britain’s public transport into an integrated, green, efficient and affordable system.
Britain’s public transport system is becoming a national embarrassment. Our railway network is now the most expensive in Europe – whilst taxpayers and passengers get a bad deal. Our bus services are facing cuts which threaten to leave low income and rural communities cut off, with too little local democratic municipal control.
Whether it’s buses or trains, the issue is the same. Transport is something which should be run as a public service for everyone’s benefit. Instead, we’re spending millions every year subsidising the profits of private companies, whilst all too often passengers are left frustrated as their local services are removed or not properly funded, fares keep going up, and staffing levels are cut.
Under the next Labour government, all of that will change.
A plan to rebuild and transform our transport services:
· Bring Britain’s railways into public ownership
· Raise enough money from public ownership to cut rail fares by as much as 10%
· Create an integrated rail system, which is more accessible, more easily understood and in which passengers and staff have a real say
· Shifting from the expensive and wasteful rolling stock leasing system to buying trains outright and using government purchasing to support UK train building.
· Greater public control over new train orders can ensure better value train manufacturing in the long run as well as enabling a more strategic approach to rolling stock that supports UK manufacturing.
· Give all councils the power to set up publicly run municipal bus companies
· Unlock more than £500m every year to invest in increasing bus routes and capacity
· Save 2.8bn over the next decade which would otherwise have gone directly into dividends for private shareholders in private bus companies
These should not be radical policies. In Germany, 88% of local public transport is run by publicly owned companies. A large proportion of Britain’s railways are already run by the state – just publicly owned Train Operating companies from other European countries. Just a few years ago East Coast Rail – having failed drastically in private train operators hands, was run more successfully, more efficiently, and with higher passenger satisfaction levels as a public company. This public rail company also returned record amounts of money back to the Government compared to the previous private operator. Until the Tories re-privatised it. So, it’s just common sense, with a pragmatic, tested model used around the world, that means we can have a People’s Railway our country deserves and which we can all be proud of under a future Labour Government.
An expansion in public transport capacity is essential if we are to tackle climate change, and we will make sure that every pound we invest creates jobs, improves infrastructure and boosts the economy.
We need a Labour government that is willing to do the common sense thing – rebuild and transform Britain’s public transport system by bringing it into public ownership.