Stephen Hepburn MP: ‘Don’t blame staff for chaos on our railways’

A Northern Rail service.
A Northern Rail service.

Every day up here we see why trains should be owned and run by the people of Great Britain.

Northern is a disgrace for cancelling so many services and packing passengers in like sardines, the company regarding seats as an optional extra which don’t come with the price of a ticket no matter how much you pay.

And it surely deserves to be three strikes and out for the profit-hungry corporations who have crashed off the East Coast line not once, not twice but three times in less than a dozen years.

Virgin and its Stagecoach partner after National Express and before them GNER, means a hat-trick of public rescues for the privatised routes down to London and up to Aberdeen.

There must be no fourth gamble on an unreliable private franchise and Northern must be taken back from Arriva, which is German owned, to recreate a railway controlled and operated for passengers not greedy ‘Fat Cat Controllers’ and speculators.

I pledge here and now that Labour will build public services in the public interest, including rail and health, kicking out the expensive, incompetent privateers.

Don’t blame staff at Northern or the East Coast trains for chaos. They’re not to blame. Workers, from drivers and guards to platform and engineering staff, are with us and want rail back under public ownership.

So too do their magnificent trade unions: Aslef, RMT and TSSA.

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The blame rests with madcap Conservatives obsessed with a failed privatisation ideology and a gravy train of private companies syphoning off money for profits when it should keep down fares and be invested back into the industry.

My marra from Middlesbrough, Labour’s transport spokesman Andy McDonald, and our party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, are on the right track in promising to put back together what the Tories stupidly smashed into 100 pieces.

British Rail wasn’t perfect and we pledge better in future, but the old BR was cheaper and an improvement on the mess we’re lumbered with at the moment at much greater cost.

Labour will put a stop to the billions being leeched out of our railways and invest it to provide better services and lower the cost of fares.

Labour will restore public ownership in the national interest.

Not just for our railways, but for the rest of our public services too.

Only Labour is committed to building a country for the millions not the millionaires.

It’s about time working and middle class families had a fair crack of the whip.

And we’ll get the trains running on time again.