15 August 2014
Please support us this Tuesday 19 August for our national Day of Action for Public Ownership of our Railways, which coincides with the dreaded day when we find out how much our already over-priced train tickets will increase in the New Year.
In rail, as in nearly all of the essential public services and utilities which were privatised in the ’80 and ’90s, we are being ripped off. The inefficiencies of the market coupled with the ‘false’ profits extracted from taxpayer subsidies by the private Train Operating Companies, is wasting £1.2 billion a year. Privatised Rail costs us much more than it ever did, when it was run as one fully integrated public company called British Rail.
For example, Virgin Trains – the joint venture between billionaire Richard Branson and Brian Souter of Stagecoach, which runs our West Coast main line has, since 1997, taken £500 million in profit which could otherwise have been invested for the public good. Arriva Trains Wales – now owned by the German state company Deutsche Bahn – has extracted £75 million in profit since the start of its franchise in 2003 (figures from the 2013 report The Great Train Robbery).
It’s time to make a stand! We simply cannot afford to be throwing away this money. For the sake of the environment, more than anything, we must be investing in and expanding our public transport system, so that it is easy, efficient, affordable and, dare I say, even enjoyable for people as a vital alternative to cars and short-haul flights.
Of all the failures of privatisation, it is in rail where we are making most ground. Since launching Bring Back British Rail in 2009 I have witnessed public support and momentum really grow. Our small passenger-led campaign was joined by the TUC’s Action for Rail in 2012 and Compass’s new All on Board this summer. With signs that Labour is finally starting to admit to failures, now is the time we bring in more new voices to help us really put the pressure on.
We are calling on UK Uncutters to join us on Tuesday at the actions all over the country, and at our big demo in London at King’s Cross Station (see details below). Help us find new ways to draw attention to this important issue, which encompasses economic, social and environmental justice all at once. The re-nationalisation of our railways has the potential to be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ – the carrier for a new political narrative, which, if we can work together to make a reality, could pave the way for the public ownership of all our essential public services and utilities, which should never have been given away.