Labour 'to put communities in the driving seat'


Labour's shadow transport secretary has pledged to nationalise the railways as she set out a transport plan focused on supporting drivers, passengers and communities with more consumer protections, public ownership and devolution.

In her speech at the Labour conference, Louise Haigh promised a new generation of national and municipal public ownership for rail and buses.

'We will put the public back in control of the essential public transport they depend upon. We will give those communities that want it the power to set bus routes and fares and we will end the ideological ban on areas establishing their own municipal bus companies,' she said.

'The days of tinkering around the edges of a system that has clearly failed the public are over. The Labour government will bring an end to the farce on our railways, we will end the failed experiment, we will cast aside the tired dogma that has failed passengers. We will improve services and lower fares and Labour in power will bring our railways back into public ownership.'

Plan for drivers

Speaking to the Telegraph in the run-up to the speech, Ms Haigh (pictured) announced Labour's own plan for drivers, that would 'take action on rip-off prices at the petrol pump…and crack down on unfair car insurance fees hitting people hard'. 

She posted on social media: 'Labour will support drivers with a laser-like focus on the cost of living, saving them up to £685 a year.

'Labour will take action on unfair practices pushing up car insurance costs and set up a tough new fuel watchdog to tackle rip-off prices.'

She pledged to review 'unfair' hidden fees used by car insurance companies on standard policies.

She also announced a plan to set up a watchdog to keep oversight of the cost of petrol and diesel.

HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail

Ms Haigh promised 'to launch an independent review looking at the failures of HS2, and learn lessons on delivering major projects on time and to budget'.

There was also a commitment to 'deliver a credible and transformative programme of transport infrastructure investment, including Northern Powerhouse Rail within our fiscal rules'.

Automotive sector deal

Alongside the speech, Labour released plans for a sector deal for the automotive industry, which aims to generate 'two million electric cars and creating 80,000 high skilled jobs and add £30bn to the economy'.

Alongside, a host of offers, the party pledged to 'accelerate the electric vehicle charge point roll-out by setting new binding targets'.

'These targets will be binding on the government itself to give consumers confidence in future supply. We will then delegate responsibility - tied to existing funding - to regional and local levels to ensure that there is a balanced spread of infrastructure across the whole country.'

Labour said its auto strategy will also deliver:

  • new battery factories with priority planning permission through a new category of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects for growth industries, including gigafactories, to simplify and speed up the approvals process for these critical projects
  • 10-year funding cycles for automotive R&D, to match that given to aerospace
  • clear battery stickers on new electric vehicles giving customers real-life range times
  • standardised battery health tests to help customers buy second-hand electric vehicles with confidence
  • quality standards on data on charging apps to bring all the information needed together in one place
  • tackling uncompetitive energy prices through our mission to make the UK a clean energy superpower delivering a cheaper, zero-carbon electricity system by 2030.
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