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Preet Kaur Gill MP pledges to back Labour’s rail reforms and get railways in Birmingham back on track


Preet Kaur Gill MP has pledged to get local train services back on track by backing Labour’s plans to overhaul Britain’s broken railways. 


This comes after Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh MP, announced Labour’s detailed plans to reform Britain’s railways.  


Labour’s plans to get Britain moving are crucial to delivering our missions for Government by boosting productivity and driving growth. A growing economy and public services fit for the future need a modern transport system to support the flow of people and goods across the country. 


Under the Conservatives Britain’s broken rail network is simply not delivering: cancellations have soared to record high levels, fares have risen almost twice as fast as wages since 2010, and strikes are costing taxpayers £25m for every day they go ahead, whilst taxpayers fork out huge subsidies to pay for trains that are overcrowded, delayed or cancelled. 


Labour will fold existing private passenger rail contracts into Great British Railways as they expire, without the taxpayer paying a penny in compensation costs, as part of a publicly owned and passenger focused railway. 


Labour’s plans mean an end to the misery Avanti West Coast passengers across the West Midlands face on a weekly basis. 


Since 2016 Avanti West Coast passengers have faced a huge 506% increase in cancelled services since 2016,[i] and only 37.2% of Avanti of trains were on time in October-December last year. [ii] 


This compares to a shocking 61% increase in cancellations across Britain since 2016, with only 62% of services on time in October-December last year.  


During its first term, a Labour Government would:  


  • Put the passenger first, by delivering a best-price ticket guarantee for passengers, and rolling out automatic delay repay and digital season tickets across the network 

  • Establish a powerful new passenger watchdog, the Passenger Standards Authority, to hold Great British Railways to account for passengers 

  • Deliver significant savings to the taxpayer by eliminating fragmentation, waste, bureaucracy and by stopping profits leaking out to private operators 

  • Create a unified, publicly owned, accountable and arm’s length Great British Railways, which will be led by rail experts, not Whitehall 

  • Expect to complete the transition to public ownership within the first term of a Labour Government, by folding existing private passenger rail contracts into the new body as they expire, without the taxpayer paying a penny in compensation costs 

  • Give devolved leaders, including Mayoral Combined Authorities, a statutory role in the rail network, allowing decisions about the railways to be taken closer to the communities they serve 

  • Support successful open access and freight operators to continue to deliver, and set clear objectives and targets for passenger services and freight growth 


Labour’s plans mean delivering a unified, publicly owned rail within the first term of a Labour Government, as franchises are brought in house as contracts expire, meaning taxpayers won’t pay a penny in compensation costs.


Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston said: 


“For too long my constituents have been let down by unreliable and inefficient train services, holding back our economy and stopping people accessing opportunities. 


“That’s I am supporting Labour’s plans to create Great British Railways - a new, publicly owned and expert-led body to run our railways and put the passenger first. 


“Labour’s plans will mean reliable, safe, efficient, accessible, affordable and quality train services, no matter where you live.” 


Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport said:    


“Labour will deliver the biggest overhaul in our railways for a generation, ending the deepening crisis and chaos that passengers have been forced to endure in recent years. 


“Underinvestment, fragmentation, inefficiency, waste and 14 years of tinkering by Conservative Ministers have left our railways unfit to meet the demands of modern Britain.   


“Under Labour, a publicly owned and controlled railway will focus on what matters to passengers.” 



Ends 


  


Notes  


  


Full policy document, ‘Getting Britain Moving: Labour’s Plan to Fix Britain’s Railways’ is available here: labour.org.uk/get-britain-moving 



Ending Misery for Passengers 



For years passengers across the West Midlands have faced misery due to cancelled and delayed services from Avanti West Coast. 



Between 2016 and 2023 cancelled Avanti services have soared by a shocking 506%, as today’s broken rail system has let down passengers across the West Midlands.[iii] 



And the punctuality of Avanti services has failed to improve, with only 37.2% of services on time between October-December last year.[iv] 



Labour’s plans for a publicly owned and passenger focused railway would put an end to this misery.  


We expect to complete the transition to public ownership within the first term of a Labour Government, by folding existing private passenger rail contracts into the new body as they expire, without the taxpayer paying a penny in compensation. 



The State of Britain’s Broken Railways 



Britain’s broken railways are not delivering for passengers or for taxpayers. 


Cancellations have soared to record high levels,[v] constant delays are damaging faith in the rail network,[vi] fares have risen almost twice as fast as wages since 2010,[vii] and strikes are costing taxpayers £25m for every day they go ahead.[viii] 



Progress has been held back by the complex mess of today’s rail network. For instance, hundreds of people are employed full-time to argue over whose fault delays ar Group https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/about-us/publications/12839-2021-04-assessing-the-value-of-rail-freight/ e;[ix] passengers have to navigate 55 million different ticket options;[x] and 75 different types of train are in passenger service on today’s network.[xi] 



Yet nothing is being done to address the chaos on Britain’s railways, as the Tories refuse to bring forward long-delayed rail reforms ahead of the general election.[xii] 



Labour will deliver a Railways Act for England, Scotland, and Wales to establish Great British Railways and enable the full benefits of a unified railway. 



Delivering Improvements for Passengers 



Labour will have six key objectives for rail reforms: Delivering rail services that are reliable, affordable, efficient, quality, accessible, and safe. 



Labour will merge functions and resources from existing bodies to establish a powerful new passenger watchdog – the Passenger Standards Authority – to independently monitor standards and champion improvement in service performance against a range of measures. 



Labour’s plans will deliver clear improvements for passengers including:


 

  • Automatic delay and cancellation refunds 

  • Increased integration of timetables, ticketing, and fares 

  • An ambition to introduce a best-price guarantee, like Transport for London offers which ensures you automatically pay the lowest possible amount for tickets when making contactless payments 

  • Digital season tickets 

  • Clear standards that need to be met by all services 

  • Better mobile connectivity, including moving towards 5G 

  • Better integration with other modes, such as buses and cycle hire 

  


Driving Down Costs for Taxpayers 


Labour’s plans to fold existing private passenger rail contracts into Great British Railways as they expire mean taxpayers will not have to pay a penny in compensation costs to outgoing private operators. 



Labour’s plans will reduce waste, drive up standards for passengers and bring down costs for taxpayers.


 


The Government’s analysis in the Williams Review estimated that the savings generated by ending inefficiency and fragmentation on the railways is equivalent to £1.5 billion a year after an initial five-year implementation period.[xiii]  



Labour’s plans will go further, and internal analysis suggests significant additional savings could be achieved through public ownership. This includes savings from franchise bidding costs, less duplication of resources and less friction between operators. 



Empowering Local Leaders 



Under Labour, national and regional governments and mayors will be empowered to integrate local railways with other transport modes, delivering London-style integrated transport networks across the country. 


Devolved leaders in Scotland, Wales, and in Mayoral Combined Authorities will have a statutory role in the rail network. National and regional transport bodies will have the ability to agree national and regional rail services with Great British Railways. 



Open Access Operators 



Labour’s plans to fix Britain’s railways are pragmatic. The current model of passenger rail services has clearly failed passengers and taxpayers, but there will still be a role for the private sector on Britain’s railways under Labour where it is proven to deliver. 



Open access operators, like Hull Trains and Lumo, will be able to continue to compete to improve the offer to passengers wherever there is a case that open access adds value and capacity to the network.



Supporting Rail Freight 



Labour will seize on the huge economic potential of rail freight. Rail freight already contributes an estimated £2.45 billion to the UK economy,[xiv] and a single freight train can carry as much as 129 lorries[xv] – reducing the traffic clogging up our roads and bringing down carbon emissions. 



Rail freight will remain within the private sector, but Labour will introduce a statutory duty on Great British Railways to promote the use of rail freight, and targets for growing the use of rail freight will be set by the Secretary of State for Transport. 


  


Sources 


 


 



[ii] Office of Rail and Road punctuality data (accessed April 2024): https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/performance/passenger-rail-performance/  


[iii][iii] Office of Rail and Road cancellation data (accessed April 2024): https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/media/2177/table-3123-trains-planned-and-cancellations-by-operator-and-cause.ods  


[iv] Office of Rail and Road punctuality data (accessed April 2024): https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/performance/passenger-rail-performance/ 










[xiii] Gov.uk, ‘Great British Railways: The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail’ (May 2021), p8: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/60cb29dde90e0743ae8c29c1/gbr-williams-shapps-plan-for-rail.pdf Quoting efficiencies based on internal unpublished DfT analysis; Table 7223 – Franchised passenger train operator finances by franchise, ORR: https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/finance/rail-industry-finance/table-7223-franchised-passenger-train-operator-finances-by-franchise-latest-year/  


[xiv] Deloitte (2021) “Assessing the Value of Rail Freight”, a report for the Rail Delivery Group https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/about-us/publications/12839-2021-04-assessing-the-value-of-rail-freight/  


[xv] Deloitte (2021) “Assessing the Value of Rail Freight”, a report for the Rail Delivery

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