Labour Party conference

21 September 2013

Mick Whelan has welcomed statements by Ed Miliband and Maria Eagle on the future of Britain’s railways. Speaking on the eve of the Labour Party conference in Brighton, he said: ‘It’s fair to say that comments by Ed and Maria are a big step forward from where the party was only twelve months ago. We look forward to continue working with the Labour Party in developing a progressive rail policy which will benefit passengers, and freight customers, as well as the employees in the industry.’

The Labour leader, during a Q&A at the TUC last week, said: ‘The reality about the East Coast is that it’s been successful in public ownership. We’re not going to be hidebound by the dogma of the past which says that private is always good and public is always bad.’

Ed will tell conference that, after the success of the East Coast mainline, a state not-for-profit operation should be able to bid whenever a franchise comes up for renewal.

And the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, when she addresses conference on Tuesday morning, will pick up where the living standards and sustainability commission of the National Policy Forum leaves off.

It says in its report it will ‘continue to look at the rail industry structure, specifically issues such as the fragmented structure ofthe industry, the extent to which private companies are subsidised to make substantial profits from running services, and the long term priorities for investment in the rail network.’

Mick said: ‘Privatisation of the railways has failed. Even Margaret Thatcher admitted it was one privatisation too far. Since privatisation fares have soared, taxpayer subsidies have risen,rolling stock has got older and overcrowding got worse.

‘We need – and the people in this country deserve – a properly integrated, properly managed, publicly owned railway.’
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