A Bill to amend the 1993 Railways Act to permit public sector railway operators passed the first reading in the House of Commons. Introducing the Bill under the 10-minute rule, Labour/Co-op MP Andy Sawford said an incoming Labour government would also explore co-operative and mutual options.
“As a Co-operative MP, I am pleased that we have pledged that the next Labour Government will explore co-operative and mutual solutions and the benefits of co-operative principles, and increase the involvement of passengers and employees in transport by giving them a much greater say in the industry.
He said: “As a localist, I am pleased that Labour is committed to devolving decisions across all areas of the UK on the running of regional and local services, so that areas can bring trains, buses, ferries and trams together into a single network.”
Mr Sawford added that Labour would bring Network Rail together with a representative passenger rail body to “contract routes, co-ordinate services and skills in the industry, oversee stations, fares and tickets and ensure that there is customer satisfaction.” Labour plans to ease pressure on fare payers by capping annual fare rises on every route, simplifying fare structures and creating a new legal right to the cheapest ticket.
Criticised by some Conservative MPs for setting forward a plan that would be “costly” and “an additional burden to the taxpayer”, the Bill passed the first reading with 196 votes in favour and 38 against. A second reading will take place on 16 January.
Commenting on the Bill, Karin Christiansen, general secretary of the Co-operative Party, said: “The Co-operative Party believes that Britain’s railways should be run in the interests of passengers, employees and communities not of private shareholders. That is why we have championed the need for significant reform which creates a not for profit alternative which sees any surplus reinvested into the network and gives passengers and employees a real say. Under a future Labour Government there is now a real chance of making this happen.”