Feb 2010 - Popular railways need security, not speculation

01 June 2013

In last month’s Journal, the first of 2010, we celebrated the fact that rail hasn’t been so popular for decades. In this General Election year, Labour and the Tories are vying with each other to say how important it is to expand and improve our network. The climate lobby has nothing but good to say about rail - and even Eddie Stobart’s been convinced of the importance of freight on rail. There are even positive plans - rather than weasel words – about electrification.

The good news just keeps rolling in. Last month Chiltern announced plans for a £250million investment to open the first new rail route in a century between London and a UK city – in this case, Marylebone to Oxford.

The plans also – wonder of wonders! – involve building new track and renovating the Bicester Town to Oxford line.

There are also proposals to improve Chiltern’s main line that will cut the London to Birmingham journey time to an hour and a half.

All these measures emphasise that rail is popular, essential and important for passengers, the economy and the climate. So why is the government not prepared to take the next logical step – and ensure that it controls the industry? That can only be done by taking it back into public ownership. We can encourage franchises to meet targets, but in the end you only control what you own.

ASLEF – and we believe the public – don’t want speculation in rail. Passengers don’t want to have to speculate when the next train is likely to arrive – and neither do they want a service that they rely on to be subject to the whims of speculators.

The only way to guarantee that rail can live up to public expectations is to bite the bullet – and take back the track.

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