Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher yesterday ramped up Labour’s rhetoric against rail franchises, suggesting the party could move contracts from private sector firms back to the state sector if it gains power after May’s General Election.
“The public sector will be running sections of our rail network as soon as we can do that,” Dugher said.
Dugher insisted that Labour does not plan on “going back to a 70s, 80s model of British Rail”, but told the New Statesman there will be a review into franchises and said he will scrap the Rail Delivery Group – a coalition of rail firms and Network Rail.
The Rail Delivery Group’s boss Michael Roberts hit back: “Britain’s railway has been transformed into Europe’s fastest growing and safest network,” he said.
A Tory spokesman slammed Labour’s proposals, claiming “these woolly ideas would create chaos on infrastructure that is so vital to passengers and our economy.”
Some City analysts also criticised Labour’s stance, Shore Capital’s Martin Brown describing Dugher’s plan as “one of the most ridiculous policies I’ve ever heard of.” Brown told City A.M. that the average increase in ticket prices between 1996 and 2011 was, at 1.3 per cent, less than half the rate during the final 20 years of British Rail (2.7 per cent).