BOTH prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) have backed Ed Miliband’s proposal to put the railways back in government hands.
In a letter to the Observer, a large number of Labour PPCs undersigned Mr Miliband’s proposals.
Mr Miliband said Labour was looking at all options but would not “go back to old-style British Rail”.
The Conservatives said recent estimates suggested renationalising the railways would add “at least £10bn” to the UK’s budget deficit.
The Labour candidates, including Mike Le-Surf and Polly Billington said profits could fund “a bold offer on rail fares”.
In their letter, the Labour candidates said rail fares were contributing to a “cost-of-living crisis” and claimed season tickets were now the largest monthly expense for many commuters.
YT asked both candidates to expand on what was said in the letter.
South Basildon and East Thurrock PPC, Mike Le-Surf said: “I was more than happy to add my name to the letter asking a future Labour government to commit to expanding on successes of the directly owned provider running the East Coast Line.
“This not-for-profit model has worked well and has returned over £1 billion to the government while customer satisfaction is high. As a commuter to London myself, I know that rail fares across Britain have gone up 20% since 2010 and citizens are right to expect far better than they are currently receiving from the private companies.
“It is incredible that other governments across Europe are falling over themselves to run our railways, and consequently keep rail fares down on the continent, while this failed Tory-led coalition would rather put profits in the pockets of shareholders.
Thurrock PPC Polly Billington said: “With train companies’ profits and prices soaring, the people losing out from the current privatised railways are passengers and the taxpayer.
We now can see there is another way. The East Coast Main Line has been run by a publicly owned company successfully, giving profits back to the taxpayer rather than it going into private companies’ pockets. Yet this Tory-led government is trying to sell it off as soon as possible, refusing to build on its success.
They’re obsessed with privatisation rather than what will deliver decent rail services. As one of Thurrock’s 20,000 commuters, I experience the eye-watering cost of the season ticket into London, and would welcome a way to keep those prices down and put profits back into the railways rather then creaming them off.”