At the People’s Assembly yesterday, Caroline Lucas announced that, this week, she will introduce a private members’ bill to bring Britain’s railways back into public ownership.

Public ownership of the railways is supported by something like 75% of voters, and could be done in a number of ways, including full renationalisation, and the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union’s preferred model of 1/3 worker ownership, 1/3 passenger ownership and 1/3 state ownership.

As the RMT website says:

– Since 1995 the average ticket price has increased by 22% in real terms. Britain has Europe’s highest commuter fares for both day returns and season tickets.
– Privatisation has made the railway more difficult to use. 35% of train users and 64% of non-users don’t understand the rail ticketing system.
– Privatisation has put passengers in the slow lane. Britain lower coverage of electrification and high speed rail compared to similar countries in Europe.
– Privatisation has cost the tax payer more. The cost of running the railway has more than doubled since privatisation from £2.4bn during the five year period 1990/91 – 1994/95 to around 5.4bn per year during 2005 – 2010. It is estimated that privatisation costs the equivalent of £1.2bn a year compared to public ownership.
– Other European countries have better railways and lower fares because on the whole their services are in the public sector. But publicly owned railways are threatened by EU austerity and privatisation. Unless member states object, EU directives will soon come into force that will force countries to tender and break up their rail services.
The People’s Assembly, which the Green Party was among the sponsors of, brought together about 4000 delegates to challenge austerity and discuss the future direction of the movement to defend Britain’s public services.