THE CHAIRMAN of Bromsgrove Rail User Group has backed calls from the Green Party for the UK’s railways to be renationalised.
Mike Ponsonby was speaking after Bromsgrove’s Green candidate Giovanni ‘Spoz’ Esposito joined trade union activists and campaigners to make a combined plea, 21 years after the industry was privatised.
Mr Ponsonby said the problem was that British Rail was broken up into 134 different companies which meant from having one board of directors, there were an extra 133 boards.
And, he added, that ‘fragmented’ railway system needed a lot more profit to be generated to pay its shareholders and, because there were more companies, they needed a much bigger subsidy.
Mr Ponsonby said at the last count, the exchequer was paying out £500million-a-year for the railways and, at a time when the country’s defecit needed to be cut, renationalisation could help contribute to bringing about a reduction.
“Renationalising Britain’s railways will turn a fragmented system into a unified one.
“I actually think the Green Party’s idea is a very good one and I fully support it.”
Spoz said public transport should be for the interest of passengers and workers, not as a ‘quick profit for rail bosses and shareholders’.
“Twenty-one years on, with a billion pounds per year wasted since privatisation, it’s time to bring our railways back into public ownership.
“We’ve some of the most expensive train fares in Europe, with ticket prices rising faster than wages.
“Yet rail companies are receiving massive pay-outs, pocketing billions in subsidies from taxpayers.
“The average rail boss earns a £1million pay packet, whilst money leaks out into shareholder profits.”
He said almost all passenger train services in Europe were provided by the public sector.
“Ludicrously though, much of the UK’s rail is operated by foreign state-owned railways.
“Privatisation has failed. Public ownership would create a much fairer and efficient system, saving cash for taxpayers and passengers. It’s time for radical reform of our railways. We need a system that benefits passengers, taxpayers, the economy and environment.”
And he pointed out a YouGov poll showed two thirds of people backed bringing railways back into public ownership.
But Conservative Parliamentary candidate Sajid Javid rubbished the claims.
He said: “Since privatisation we’ve had more investment, leading to more trains taking more passengers to more destinations more quickly.
“Our railways no longer struggle to attract investment as they did in the days of British Rail.
“Plans to nationalise the railways would put all the improvements made so far at risk, and cost the taxpayer. They would mean the financial risk for rail franchises being taken on by the taxpayer, rather than the shareholders of private companies.”
And he said – in the last five years – there had been unprecedented local rail investment locally, including a new station for Bromsgrove, the electrification of the line and upgrades to stations in Barnt Green, Hagley and Alvechurch.
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