No more price misery for passengers
Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/33499
Renationalize the railways
For many hard-pressed households this Christmas, news of a sharp 3.8% increase in regulated rail fares (the biggest increase since 2013) will add to the prospect of another gloomy new year.
This means that average rail fares on private / government subsidized railways have increased by almost 50% over the past decade. Since privatization in 1996, all rail fares have increased by more than 20% in real terms. But with rail passenger numbers at just 70% of pre-Covid levels, this increase seems like an odd way of attracting the traveling public to trains.
However, the government is keen to recoup public spending, having thrown tons of money at private businesses (especially those owned by their cronies) during the pandemic.
Last year, the transport union RMT found that UK private rail companies to make nearly Â£ 500million in profit emerge from the Covid-19 crisis on British railways over a period of 12 months. But if that money were instead invested in railways, it could mean a 5% reduction in rail fares.
Network Rail, the public body responsible for managing the infrastructure of the rail network, has seen an annual reduction of Â£ 1.5 billion in funding.
The railway unions are preparing to fight the expected attack on jobs, working conditions and services.
And while the government bragged about its âgreenâ credentials at the COP26 climate change summit in November, the fact remains that over the past decade, rail fares have increased in the world. less to the rate of inflation while fuel taxes on gasoline and diesel have declined in real terms.
Privatization and successive government policies have resulted in an expensive and dysfunctional rail industry that is a cash cow for private operators.
Re-nationalization under the democratic control and management of workers, as part of an overall economic production plan, could instead translate into cheaper and more frequent trains via a massive public investment program. This would then encourage motorists to switch to the train.