cross-posted from: https://feddit.uk/post/10932557

Labour will fully nationalise the train network within five years of coming to power, with a pledge to guarantee the cheapest fares as part of “the biggest reform of our railways for a generation”.

One of Labour’s first major acts in government will bring all passenger rail into national ownership under Great British Railways as contracts with private operators expire, a plan endorsed by the architect of the Conservatives’ own rail plan.

Labour will announce it plans to cut waste and claw back shareholder dividends, saving £2.2bn. It will establish a watchdog, the Passenger Standards Authority, to scrutinise the new system. Passengers will be offered best-price ticket guarantees, automatic delay repay and digital season tickets across the network.

bIn a speech on Thursday, the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, will say renationalisation “is not going to be easy and it will take hard graft, but it will be my mission to get us to the right destination and to deliver for the Great British passenger”.

Labour insiders hailed the announcement as the moment the party would begin to champion its more radical proposals in the run-up to an election campaign, after a number of U-turns including over green investment.

  • @wewbull
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    192 months ago

    The linked post says…

    …but not rolling stock.

    So just the building and maintenance of the rail network. Not the franchises that run on the rail network.

    SMH!

    • TWeaK
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      92 months ago

      Exactly. The rolling stock is where all the money goes, meanwhile the public-facing train companies you buy tickets from (who rent rolling stock) operate at or near a loss. This way the train companies can negotiate better contracts with local governments - “Look, we’re barely making any money, we have to charge ludicrously high fares for piss poor service!”

    • @Jaccident@lemm.ee
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      52 months ago

      I think you may have misunderstood. Rolling stock means just the physical trains themselves. The franchises (one of the two major profit extraction points) will go. The rolling stock firms will still exist but after a time be negotiating with a unified British Rail with a unified plan to negotiate prices.

      • @wewbull
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        42 months ago

        I’ll be honest. I thought the franchises owned the rolling stock. This does sound less anaemic than I first thought.

    • @blackn1ght
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      22 months ago

      Isn’t network rail already a state owned company? This policy is talking about replacing the private operators.

  • ᴇᴍᴘᴇʀᴏʀ 帝OPA
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    182 months ago

    That sounds like a bold policy that would be popular with the electorate. Am I dreaming or will there be some.rapid overnight rewrites of the speech?

    • flamingos-cant
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      142 months ago

      Sounds like someone’s been visited by three ghosts.

      • ᴇᴍᴘᴇʀᴏʀ 帝OPA
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        112 months ago

        I don’t think it’d need The Ghost of Britain Future to demonstrate that Labour need to get cracking fixing the mess the Tories have got us into. I am surprised it’s taken this long and/or they didn’t wait until after the election.

        • Echo Dot
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          92 months ago

          They’re only announcing this because it’s a bit too big for the Tories to steal.

  • @Nighed@sffa.community
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    2 months ago

    A policy! And I thought they were just campaigning on “we’re not the Tories”!?

    This is more just confirming a rough policy they have had for ages right? Just let the contracts age out and take them over when they do?

    I do wonder if just allowing the operators to actually compete on the same lines might help though (within reason)

    • Echo Dot
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      2 months ago

      It’s what the airlines do. There are multiple airlines at all run more or less the same routes and you choose whether or not you want to be treated like crap for a cheap price or not.

      • @HumanPenguin
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        22 months ago

        Sorta hard to do when only one train can run a route at a time. Choice would only apply if no time line is required.

        will not work for commuters.

  • @mannycalavera
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    112 months ago

    My early morning brain is too slow to understand these plans. It has the word Renationalise and that’s great but what’s actually going to happen?

    The government takes over the running of the railways but not the ownership of the physical trains is that right? So what happens to those? They get leased back to the government?

    Can someone explain for a simpleton like me how the these things now relate to each other? The train tracks and signals, the train stock, the ticket offices and stations, the various railway operators.

    Ta.

    • Palacegalleryratio [he/him]
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      132 months ago

      So the rail infrastructure (tracks, signals etc) is owned by network rail. The government tried having it run for profit by a company called RailTrack. However it turns out that rail infrastructure maintenance and the profit motive are not easy bed fellows and the profit motive part won out, and then Ladbrook Grove, Southall and Hatfield rail crashes happened due to railtracks negligent maintenance. So now it is run by the government owned and funded network rail. However Network Rail contract out most of the maintenance to other civils contractors to actually do the work.

      The train operators compete to run trains on a route. They take revenue from ticket sales. On the route they are obliged to maintain a minimum service even on unprofitable lines (e.g. rural commuter lines), their reward for doing so is they get the profits from the productive lines e.g. intercity lines. However post COVID contracts have been restructured away from a share of ticket sales, towards a ‘cost plus’ system that is independent of passenger volume.

      The trains and other rolling stock are owned by Rolling Stock companies and leased to the Train Operating Companies. This means if the government wants to strip an operator of its franchise they can without having to get the franchise to sell the trains to their successor/competitor, they just re-lease the same trains from the Rolling Stock Company. However mostly the rolling stock operating companies exist to extract value from the system and deliver it to shareholders, they add no value over if the trains were owned by network rail. It’s wild that that is the bit Labour doesn’t want to nationalise, it’s a pointless rent seeking middle man.

      The Train Operating Companies run the stations in their regions (with some exceptions for the busiest, most important stations that are run by Network Rail) however the stations are owned by Network Rail.

      • @FarceOfWill@infosec.pub
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        2 months ago

        Once the train operator contracts expire and revert to the government the rolling stock companies will find they’re negotiating prices with a single very informed, very long term customer who can essentially set the price.

        They’ll be begging to sell up. Itll be after the next GE by the timeline labour have put though so I’d expect it in that manifesto

        • Palacegalleryratio [he/him]
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          62 months ago

          To add onto my previous reply, buying trains isn’t like you or I buying groceries or even the NHS buying pharmaceuticals. If you or I don’t like Tesco’s products or prices we can cross the road and go to Asda (or Morrisons or Aldi or Waitrose etc) with no consequences or interruption of supply at all for us.

          Likewise for the NHS if they don’t like the terms for a drug from generic supplier A, they can buy from generic supplier B. And for many drugs produced as generics there are large manufacturers who are kitted out to do this at reasonably short timeframes with shortfalls from switching suppliers that can be covered from strategic supplies.

          Trains on the other hand have working lifespans in decades (sometimes too many decades!). We don’t have spares just sat about as they’re hugely expensive assets, so if you want a different one you have to buy a new one. Buying new ones is a lengthy process that takes years for development, manufacturing, testing, driver training and modifications to infrastructure (power requirements, clearances, platforms alterations etc). You can’t be without trains either as the country requires the trains to run reasonably reliably for a huge amount of economic activity. So it isn’t a simple matter of deciding one is leaving of one train supplier and just going to another. So they kind of have you over a barrel in that sense. It’s a very poor negotiating position.

        • Palacegalleryratio [he/him]
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          52 months ago

          They kinda already do though. The government tells them what trains they can buy for which routes, and then tells them what they can charge. And they’re still drawing a profit today.

        • @Jaccident@lemm.ee
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          32 months ago

          This is a point I hadn’t considered, and a good one at that.

          I also considered that there is decent amounts of rolling stock that need modernisation, and a push to remove diesel locomotives from remaining routes; both might be opportunities for BR to buy their own stock, in place of rentals.

    • @Nighed@sffa.community
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      2 months ago

      How it generally works now is that the operators win a contract from the government to run a line for X years. They pay the government for that contract, then have (as a for profit company) to make enough money to make a profit on top of that. There are various rules though on the fare increases allowed (hah!) and the contracts generally include minimum service levels etc.

      The actual tracks and signals are run by network rail who are a state owned company that own most of the infrastructure (replaced Railtrack who were an actual public company that went bust!)

      The stations are managed as part of the operator contracts I believe? Unsure on their ownership.

      Because the operator’s contracts are time limited the operators can change over time, when that happens though the rolling stock (trains) are generally transferred with that, either through being sold to the new operator or leased. (It’s not like you can order a new fleet of trains and get them delivered on short notice!)

      My understanding is that labour is mostly going to take over the running of each contract as it runs out instead of buying them out. I assume they are then leasing the trains to avoid the up front expense of buying them all. As they won’t be trying to make a profit it (should) be possible to run a cheaper service and could/should allow the lines to be run for the public good instead. (That’s where people opinion of public ownership comes in)

      There are already some lines run like this as the operator went bust and it defaulted back to government control.

    • Echo Dot
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      62 months ago

      It sounds like the plan is that the government will renationalize the railways but behind the scenes companies will own the trains and like you say lease them to the government. They won’t actually operate the trains they’ll be done by government employees.

      Presumably there will be some kind of price cap on how much the government is prepared to pay per train. But with the emphasis on making money removed it’s possible we’ll see all those little lines that don’t really make any profit reopen.

      This is actually good, trying to make money from public infrastructure is a dumb idea as it leads to cost cutting measures that essentially make the infrastructure useless. The profit turns up in other areas of society.

    • TWeaK
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      2 months ago

      Currently Network Rail owns and operates (nearly) all the railways, signals and ticket offices. Not sure about stations. Train companies rent rail stock, but they pay a high price for this and subsequently pass that onto the consumer, while maintaining that it’s necessary to charge expensive fares because their costs are so high.

      The government owns Network Rail. The government will take over the rail companies, and this will probably end up staggered as different companies have different contract dates. The rail stock itself will probably remain under the same ownership with more or less the same ridiculous rental charges.

      So all in all this probably won’t make that much difference.

    • @HumanPenguin
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      22 months ago

      Rail track is owned by network rail. Under the government but run privately.

      Stations are run by train companies.

      Trains used to be owned by banks. And rented to train companies. Not sure its still banks. But def rented from a privrate company.

      So this would start to see arenationalised network rail (minor changes to how its run basically) renationalisation of stations as contracts to run them expire. They already belong to government/nation

      And renationalisation of routes as contracts run out. Renting the same trains the current companies rent. Of course currently those companies have to kit out the trains themselves. They literally rent empty carriages. So its likely the renationalised company will have to consider that.

  • TWeaK
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    112 months ago

    “Promises”.

    • XIIIesq
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      32 months ago

      Come on now, it’s not like Starmer to bait the left wing and then abandon the pledge as soon as he needs to impress some Thatcher lovers.

  • Chaotic Entropy
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    2 months ago

    Bullshit. Give it a week tops for it to be walked back, or for it to come to light that it is just a massive handout to the rail companies.

  • AutoTL;DRB
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    22 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:


    Labour will fully nationalise the train network within five years of coming to power, with a pledge to guarantee the cheapest fares as part of “the biggest reform of our railways for a generation”.

    In a speech on Thursday, the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, will say renationalisation “is not going to be easy and it will take hard graft, but it will be my mission to get us to the right destination and to deliver for the Great British passenger”.

    Labour insiders hailed the announcement as the moment the party would begin to champion its more radical proposals in the run-up to an election campaign, after a number of U-turns including over green investment.

    Haigh, one of the most left-leaning remaining members of the shadow cabinet with close links to the unions, has been able to protect her renationalisation policy despite intense lobbying efforts to water it down.

    Mick Whelan, its general secretary, said: “The commitment delivers for the economy, for the taxpayer, for passengers and for staff,” adding that privatisation had “allowed a few companies to make enormous profits, which have taken much-needed money out of the sector”.

    Labour underlined that it would not extend renationalisation to the ownership of the actual trains, as urged by unions including the RMT, by publicising an endorsement by Mary Grant, the highly paid chief executive of the rolling stock leasing firm Porterbrook.


    The original article contains 897 words, the summary contains 231 words. Saved 74%. I’m a bot and I’m open source!