Scottish Labour wants 'brighter future' with rail public ownership

25 June 2018, 06:15 | Updated: 25 June 2018, 06:19

Richard Leonard Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour wants a "brighter future" for the railways as the party steps up its campaign for public ownership.

Leader Richard Leonard said the franchise model does not work as the East Coast Main Line returned to public control.

Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) ran services on the route for the final day on Saturday following the failure of the franchise.

The London North Eastern Railway (LNER) brand has been resurrected from the 1940s to operate the service which connects London King's Cross to stations in the North and Scotland including York, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.

VTEC, a joint venture between Stagecoach (90%) and Virgin (10%), began operating in March 2015.

The firms agreed to pay the Government £3.3 billion to run trains until 2023, but the contract was ended prematurely after they failed to achieve revenue targets. Stagecoach lost around £200 million over the course of the contract.

Mr Leonard is to join activists at Glasgow Central station on Monday, as the party campaigns at stations across the country.

He said: "East Coast coming back into public hands should make clear, once and for all, that the franchising model does not work. It is time to nationalise our railways and put public transport back into public hands.

"Getting to work shouldn't be a gamble, but for too many passengers in Scotland the daily commute means an overcrowded, late running, overpriced train - if it turns up at all.

"Some passengers in Scotland are spending up to 20% of their wages on rail fares.

"Labour offers a brighter future for our railways, with public ownership giving passengers more of a say and better services."

Unions are also supporting the campaign and will leaflet train passengers in Edinburgh.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Britain's railways are in crisis and the responsibility for that rests with the rotten private franchising system and the profiteering, short-termism and fragmentation it brings with it.

"In Edinburgh we will be ramming home the point that after three private sector failures the routes should be made public on a permanent basis and in Manchester we will be shining the light on the continued failures of the shambolic Northern franchise."