LABOUR could renationalise key rail routes when franchises come up for renewal, under a plan being considered by shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle.
The suggestion has been inspired by the campaign to keep the East Coast main line in public ownership. For the last four years the route has been run by Directly Operated Railways, a government-owned company, after previous operators failed to meet franchise payments. But Tory transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin wants to return it to the private sector by 2015.
“[The East Coast main line] will have returned £800m to taxpayers by the end of this financial year,” said Eagle. “It should continue as a comparator to private operators so we can judge if that is a model that could work more widely on the network.”
Critics point out East Coast has always been one of the UK’s most profitable railway lines.