Haigh seeks nationalised rail plus 'full' NPR and HS2


Labour’s shadow transport secretary has restated the party’s commitment to bringing rail services into public ownership, as well as delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and HS2 in full.

Although rail nationalisation was officially Labour policy, both leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have recently given equivocal answers when invited to confirm it.


Speaking at the Labour Conference in Liverpool, Louise Haigh (pictured) said her ‘number one priority’ as secretary of state would be to end what she called a ‘spiral of decline on our public transport system’.

She said: ‘Labour in power will bring our railways back into public ownership as contracts expire.’

Ms Haigh said that under the Conservatives, Britain’s railways ‘have become a cash machine for companies and foreign governments, adding: ‘No matter the performance, failure will always be rewarded.’

She said: 'The truth is, the Conservatives still worship the dogma that has let this country down. They will always give the operators one more chance. And shareholders one more pay-day. They will do whatever it takes to prop up a failed system. Because to do anything else would be to admit their ideology is wrong.

‘Conference, the days of tinkering around the edges of a system that has so clearly failed the public are over. That’s why an incoming Labour government will end this farce. We will end this failed experiment. We will cast aside the tired dogma that has failed passengers. We will improve services and lower fares.’

Accusing the Tories of 'flunking' repeated promises to build NPR, she said: ‘We will deliver an Elizabeth Line for the North and build Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full.’

Ms Haigh said it was ‘little short of a miracle’ that so many people had managed to get to Liverpool, ‘given the current state of our public transport – record delays, overcrowding, routes and services slashed week on week’.

In a clear reference to Avanti’s franchise to run the West Coast Mainline, she described a situation ‘where services connecting our major cities are slashed without warning by unaccountable private operators’.

Andy Bagnall, chief executive of Rail Partners, which represents rail firms, said it was 'not unexpected but still disappointing that Labour will contest the next election promising to end the positive contribution of private sector operators to the railway'.

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