National Policy Commission proposes greater public control over bus and rail services as shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle appeals to operators

The Labour Party has set out proposals for the most wide and far-reaching reform of public transport in Great Britain since the privatisation of the bus and rail industries in the 1980s and 1990s.

While an apparent softening in support for HS2 stole the headlines at this week’s Labour Party conference in Brighton, the party’s National Policy Commission published a range of proposals that would significantly curtail the private sector’s role in UK public transport.

The main proposals include:

  • keeping the East Coast franchise in public hands and creating a new brand for all InterCity operations;
  • giving Scotland and Wales the freedom to ditch rail franchising and deliver rail services through not-for-profit alternatives;
  • making it easier for English local authorities to reverse the deregulation of local bus services, and enabling them to set up
  • their own local bus companies;
  • and raising fuel tax for England’s bus operators and passing the extra revenues to local authorities.

Addressing the Labour Party conference, Maria Eagle said: “Isn’t it time to end the racket on our railways, and once again put passengers before profit?”

Eagle urged train operating companies to voluntarily cap fare rises in January, and she called on bus companies to drop their opposition to re-regulation of local bus services.

However, Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “It is time the myths about East Coast and the ideology of publicly-operated railways were put back in the same history box labelled ‘The Earth is flat’.

 

Further coverage of the Labour Party conference can be found inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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