Burnham: I’ll renationalise the railways

4th August, 2015 10:27 pm

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham will this week pledge to renationalise the railways. He will announce the policy on Thursday, as well as support for re-regulation of bus services and support for high speed cross-country east to west rail services.

The leadership candidate will attack the Tories for selling off the East Coast mainline, after the state-run service ran a profit and cut train tickets for customers. In a “personal manifesto” launching this week, Burnham will support bringing rail franchises back into government control once current contracts run out.

In his manifesto, Burnham will say:

“We need a new approach to our railways, one that puts passengers before profit. That’s why I will work to bring the railways back under public control and public ownership.

“Under my leadership, Labour will ensure there is proper and accountable public control of the railways, with passengers’ interests put first – an end to the fragmentation and privatisation.

“I will also campaign for high-speed West to East train links to deliver the connections that are needed to boost the economies of our northern cities, and to improve routes through the South West to Cornwall.”

This is so far the biggest policy announcement from his manifesto, which will be launched on Monday, and is a big shift from current Labour policy to allow public sector operators to bid for franchises when they expire. The Shadow Health Secretary will point to polling which appears to show the popularity of the policy, such as a YouGov poll last year that said 60% of voters supported the move.

Burnham will pledge to found a new National Rail body, which will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport and will offer the cheapest ticket for any journey available. He will also promise to devolve the regulation of bus services to local government.

UPDATE 23.13: Burnham now appears to have clarified his position on Twitter, bringing this policy in line with the one Ed Miliband announced before the election.

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