Minister slams Corbyn’s public railway promise

Lauren Fedor
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THE GOVERNMENT is using new data out today on the rail industry to take issue with the newly-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn has argued for renationalising the railways, saying that returning the train system to public ownership would lead to lower fares and better services.

But a new report out today from the Rail Delivery Group claims that since 1997, there has been a “huge” increase in passenger and freight journeys, combined with greater industry efficiency and improved safety and customer satisfaction.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin welcomed the industry group’s report, saying: “This research shows just how dangerous Jeremy Corbyn’s ideas are for people who use the railways.”

“His backwards-facing, union-demanded ideas would stop all the benefits passengers are beginning to get, while hitting the taxpayer hard,” McLoughlin said, adding, “The billions needed to buy the assets would mean less money for improving journeys and giving customers a fairer deal.”

Using data compiled by KPMG, the Rail Delivery Group found that in 1997, when rail franchising was introduced, the railway network was spending £2bn more in costs than it was generating in revenue. Today, the network covers “almost all of its daily operating costs”, the group said.

The group also pointed to figures showing that the number of people riding the train each year has increased, on average, by four per cent since 1997, compared to a 0.4 per cent growth rate in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, a separate report last week showed overcrowding was rampant in London, with services to the capital 4.1 per cent over-capacity, with 139,000 commuters still standing by the time they arrived in London.