Labour releases figures on 25 years of rail privatisation

 

Figures released from Labour to mark the 25th anniversary of rail privatisation suggest direct Government subsidy of the railways is around £5bn per year, an increase of over 200% since privatisation.

The figure on government subsidy comes from Full Fact, an independent fact checking charity.

The organisation said in February: 'Britain’s privatised railways have been getting around £5bn on average in government support over the last five years. In the last five years of the 1980s—the earliest period we have figures for before privatisation—it was an average of £1.6bn in today’s money.'

On top of this, an additional £4.1bn per year of public money is pumped into the railways as increased debt for Network Rail, Labour said.

Network Rail’s debt now stands at £51.2bn compared with £30.35bn in 2013, an extra additional input of around £20.8bn, a yearly average of over £4.1bn.

Labour also highlighted that fares across all operators are 20% higher in real terms than they were in January 1995.

Over this time the network has also seen a huge expansion in passenger journeys.

The number of passenger kilometres increased from 32.1 billion in 1996-97 to 66 billion in 2016-17 according to the Office of Rail and Road, while the number of passenger journeys more than doubled from 0.7 billion in 1994-95 to 1.7 billion in 2016-17 - the highest since records began in 1950.

Fares on selected routes have seen particularly high increases.

A peak time single from London to Manchester has gone up by 238%, from £50 in 1995 to £169 today, and a single to Exeter was £37.50 but is now £129.50 - a rise of 245%, Labour figures suggest.

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said: 'Twenty-five years on it’s clear that rail privatisation has been a catastrophic failure, with the taxpayer putting in even more money to the privatised system than when it was nationalised.

'Labour will take our railways into public ownership to improve services and cap fares, running them in the interest of passengers, not for private profit.'

The 1993 Railway Act received Royal Assent on 5 November 1993.

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