Jeremy Corbyn pledges to return railways to public ownership

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the Greenpeace area at Glastonbury Festival. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the Greenpeace area at Glastonbury Festival. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
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The next Labour government will legislate for public ownership of the railways, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged.

The Labour leader, fresh from his appearance at the Glastonbury Festival on Saturday, told rail union leaders that Labour will repeal the Conservatives’ privatisation legislation.

Addressing the annual conference of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in Exeter, he said: “The next Labour government will introduce a Public Ownership of the Railways Bill to repeal the Tories’ 1993 Railways Act that privatised our railways.

“We want our railways run in the public interest with fare rises capped, service levels improved and stations and trains safely staffed.”

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RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is delighted that Jeremy Corbyn, our long-term friend and comrade, has set out a vision for the transport industry in Britain that frees us from the profiteering and fragmentation of privatisation and which would allow the public to own and control the services that they rely on.

“That is a clean break from more than two decades of the privatised rip-off that has consigned Britain to the transport slow lane.

“The mood in the country has very clearly changed since the Tories called the general election.

“Cuts, austerity and privatised greed are on the way out and a Labour government with a programme dedicated to the many and not the few is waiting in the wings.

“RMT will do everything we can to make sure that that Government, committed to public ownership and workers’ rights, arrives sooner rather than later.”

The rail industry is facing another crucial few weeks, with fresh strikes and other forms of industrial action over driver-only operation, and a court case challenging the Government’s handling of the Southern Railway franchise.

The Association of British Commuters will press its case for a judicial review at a hearing on Thursday, the same day that the drivers union Aslef launches an overtime ban against Southern which will disrupt services.

The RMT is planning a series of strikes in the coming weeks against Southern, Merseyrail and Arriva Trains North.