08/04/2016 - Bring back British Rail!

Any state can buy into our railways - except our own! The Tory government has just revealed a sell-off shortlist that only included foreign state-owned companies.

Department for Transport (DfT) chiefs announced the three companies in the running for the new West Midlands rail franchise, to start in October 2017.

London and West Midlands Railway is a subsidiary of Govia Ltd - tself 35 per cent owned by French state firm SNCF.

West Midlands Trains is a wholly owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Group, which is owned by Dutch government rail firm Nederlandse Spoorwegen.

MTR Corporation (West ­Midlands) Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of MTR Corporation, majority-owned by the government of Hong Kong.

“It’s time to end this absurdity and return our railways to public ownership,” said Action for Rail campaigner Sharon Sukhram.

This is a move Solidarity and other Unions have also long advocated.

This week, German state-owned Arriva Rail North took over the Northern Rail franchise and will receive £1.6 billion in government subsidies over the maximum contract period of 10 years.

Ms Sukhram said that profits from these companies will be used to improve the transport systems of the home nations.

“Look behind the names of the companies bidding for the West Midland rail franchise and you see the real story of Britain’s railways,” said rail union TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes.

“What we have here is the obscene spectacle of this Tory government opposing the British public’s overwhelming demand to own our own railway.”

An overwhelming majority, close to two-thirds, of respondents to a poll by the Office of Rail and Road this year said they supported the return of Britain’s old state operator British Rail through renationalisation.

“Ministers encourage foreign ownership from practically any other country that wants to make a bid,” Mr Cortes said.

“Foreign companies are here because they can make huge profits which they use to subsidise fares in France, in Holland, in China and now the Japanese are looking to get a share of the profit booty to be made here.

“It’s economic madness and the case for public ownership of railways gets more urgent by the day.”