Comment: Renationalising the Railway

Comment by Alex Docherty

LNER food supply workers will be striking again next month. LNER is the operator from the Department of Transport which was brought in after Virgin Trains East Coast found they could not make enough profit from the East Coast InterCity Line in 2018. LNER have subcontracted a private company do supply food on their trains – these workers are striking. This could have been avoided if supplying food had not been contracted out to a for profit company.

Student can pay for Student Rail Cards that cannot be used during peak times – therefore in most cases cannot actually be used to travel to University. These Student Rail cards may at face value seem like a good deal – they are an empty promise once you realise you cannot use them to get any discount with them during times when most students are traveling – despite the fact that you have already given Scot Rail money in order to get a student rail card.

I believe that these student rail cards exist not in order to help students – but instead to try to encourage to travel by train instead of buses when available – so that they can feel like they are getting use of the rail card that they paid for before they realised that they couldn’t use it during hours they would actually be traveling to university.

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© Alex Docherty 2017

The problem isn’t that the railways don’t generate enough profit, the problem is railways should not be for profit. They should be run for the people.

Ticket prices increase every year but services do not improve, Abellio, the Dutch Operator of ScotRail is making millions of pounds from Scotland, which got reinvested in their home country – and not being reinvested in Scotland, this money could instead be getting used to create new routes and modernise the railway.

Britain’s railways have not always been operated by for-profit companies. There wasn’t always so many different companies, most of Britain’s railways were operated by just one, and it was publicly owned.  On April Fools Day 1994 – then Prime Minister John Major’s Government’s 1993 Railways Act came into force – it has since become one of the most heavily amended in British history.

Despite the fact that they have all been sold to private companies the railways are now costing the taxpayer over twice as much.

Increasing rail fares can be a source of anxiety and serious barrier for those in insecure work. An increasing amount of people are finding themselves on zero hour contracts – many of these jobs can involve working in different locations as and when needed this can mean having only short notice to plan journeys to new places. You won’t know the price of journeys you are unfamiliar with –  people may not be able to afford a train ticket therefore may not get to work on time, which would make it harder for them to keep a job.

Having the railways run by a publicly owned operator would mean ticket prices could be capped and – this could boost the economy, as people would be able to travel further for work and education. Its people who already cannot afford cars who are being effected the most by these price increases.

Maintenance of Track in the UK already had to be renationalised in 2002, after a number of fatal accidents in the late 90s and early 00s. Track and infrastructure is now maintained by state-controlled non-profit Network Rail.

It is time to Renationalise all aspects of the Railway.

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