Greens step up campaign to take back Great Western franchise into public ownership in wake of fares rise
Members of South West Green Party are to leaflet passengers outside railway stations across the region on Thursday, the day above inflationary fares rises come into force . The Green Party is urging the public to support their campaign to take back the Great Western franchise into public ownership, when the franchise expires in two years time. An e-petition calling for renationalisation of the franchise, launched last October, has already received 1200 signatures .
Greens argue that a publicly-owned railway would lead to lower fares and lower subsidies from the taxpayer. They point to the success of the publicly owned Directly Operated Railways Company which operates the East Coast mainline franchise. The company has delivered £600 million to the Treasury and, while raising regulated fares by 3.1% under instruction from the government, their unregulated fares are only rising by an average 0.8%, a cut in real terms.
The petition to take back the Great Western franchise into public ownership was created by Professor Molly Scott Cato, lead Green Party European candidate in the South West. She said:
“Yet again passengers are being hit with above inflationary rises in rail fares at a time when wages are stagnant and passengers in the UK are already paying some of the highest fares in Europe. For that they have to endure overcrowded trains and unreliable services. Ironically, profits from railway companies in the UK are skimmed off to be invested in trains and tracks in other countries. For example, train operating company Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn, which is in turn owned by the German government.”
“There is now less than two years until the First Great Western franchise expires. This will provide the ideal opportunity to take back the franchise into public ownership. Taking back individual franchises when they expire, or when companies fail to meet their conditions, could save the Government over £1 billion a year every year. This is money that could and should be reinvested in services, and also used to reduce fares. We urge the public to support our campaign and sign our petition; it’s time to get our railways back on the right track and working for the common good.”
The Green Party is the only political party fully committed to the renationalisation of the railways. In the House of Commons, the Green MP Caroline Lucas has a Private Members’ Bill aimed at achieving renationalisation which is listed for its second reading on February 28th 2014 .
 Green Party members will be leafleting at Bristol Temple Meads, Swindon, Stroud, Taunton, Exeter St David’s and Exeter Central stations.
 e-petition: Take back the Great Western franchise into public ownership http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/56244
 Caroline Lucas Private Members’ Bill: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0081/14081.pdf