Jeremy Corbyn unveils renationalistation transformation plans for Britain's transport system

James Nickerson
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Corbyn said Southern should be brought under public ownership (Source: Getty)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has laid out his plans to rebuild and transform the UK's transport system through renationalisation as the fight for the Labour crown continues.

Corbyn set out how he would "rebuild and transform Britain's transport system", extending public ownership from rail to bus networks.

He said that enough money from public ownership would be raised to cut rail fares by as much as 10 per cent, while more than £500m would be unlocked every year to invest in increasing bus routes and capacity.

In an email to all Labour Party members this morning, Corbyn said: “We have a transport system that doesn't work for passengers or taxpayers. That's got to change. I want to rebuild and transform Britain so that no one and nowhere is left behind. For transport that means that we will 'Put the public back into our economy and services' by expanding our publicly controlled bus network.

“A Labour Government led by me will give all local authorities franchising powers over their bus networks and enable them to establish municipal bus companies and make the national case to do so. The net financial gains would be more than what is needed to restore cuts and ensure support for rural and socially useful services."

Corbyn went on to say that the party's policy on rail "is to end the failed twenty year experiment with rail privatisation, and instead put in place a publicly owned and run rail system at the earliest opportunity. Train operating companies who continue to fail passengers — like Southern Rail — should be stripped of their franchises at the earliest opportunity. A fully public rail system would more efficient and cheaper to use. In Scotland, where transport is devolved, we would support the Scottish Government to take these bold steps too."

Since rail privatisation in 1995, fares have increased by 24 per cent in real terms. People struggle to afford to get to work - or must make tough choices about where they live or work because of the rising cost. Yet the cost of running railways has also risen — more than doubling in real terms since privatisation to approximately £5.4bn per year (2005-06 to 2009-10).

“Almost £3bn in taxpayer support between 2007 and 2011 enabled the top five recipients of public subsidy to make operating profits of £504m, money that should be used to invest in improving and upgrading our railways and to bring down the costs of rail fares. Research by the TUC has shown that a fares cut of up to 10 per cent is possible through publicly running our railways."

Read more: Corbyn wins 84 per cent of Constituency Labour Party nominations

A spokesperson for Owen Smith said: "There is nothing new in what Jeremy is saying - he is simply rehashing existing Labour Party policy.

"Owen has pledged to go further to improve our rail and bus networks by promising a £200bn 'British New Deal' to invest in things like transport services to help get the country moving again."

And Conservative MP Will Quince, member of the transport select committee, said: “Over the last two decades, Britain’s railways have carried more passengers than ever before, on newer and better trains.

“Labour’s backwards looking policy- bought by the trade unions - would cost billions in wasteful new spending, and would kill off vital investment. Labour would take the country back to the bad old days of British Rail sandwiches and the Beeching Axe.

“It would leave less money to spend on improving services, or lead to huge tax hikes and extra borrowing. It’s further proof that Labour are too incompetent and chaotic to build a country that works for everyone.”

Read more: GTR vows to modernise services as talks with RMT end without agreement

Meanwhile, David Leam, infrastructure director of London First, said: "We need a transport system that looks to the future, not the past. Over the last 20 years, private transport operators have brought major improvements and investment to services, and if we want a world-leading transport network we need to put passengers before outdated ideology."

The announcement comes as the RMT union and Southern Rail talks ended without agreement yesterday, with Govia - Southern's parent - pledging to push forward with modernisation.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently called from Transport for London to take control of Southern until the problems are resolved.

Meanwhile, yesterday it was announced that Corbyn won 84 per cent of Constituency Labour Party nominations. They have no direct impact on the leadership vote, but are a good early indication of the support of each candidate.

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