Rail season tickets could be 10 per cent cheaper by 2017 if train services were run by the public sector instead of private firms. That's the conclusion of a new study by Action for Rail.
The study found that savings of £1.5 billion could be made over the next few years if lines were brought back under public control.
Passengers would benefit from "massive" savings if money was not paid out to shareholders in the private companies but instead used for the railways said the campaign group. Around £520 million could be saved in shareholder dividends over the next few years, they said.
Several privateer contracts are up for renewal in the next few years. These include the Northern, West Coast, South Eastern, South Western and Wales & Borders. Campaigners say that this offers a good opportunity of returning them to the public sector.
Action for Rail said commuters on the UK's privatised railways could be spending more than twice as much of their salary on rail travel as passengers on publicly-owned railways in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, who also chairs Action for Rail, said: "The UK has the most expensive rail fares in all of Europe. If services were run by the public sector, it would make a big difference to families and hard-pressed commuters, who have suffered year after year of wage-busting fare increases under privatised rail.
"This report highlights once again the huge cost of privatisation to taxpayers and passengers. Money that could be spent on making journeys cheaper is instead being siphoned off into shareholders' pockets and wasted on bidding and other franchising costs.
"The case for an integrated rail network under public ownership is overwhelming."