Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said the rail industry would be completely renationalised within five years, at no up-front cost, under a Labour government.
The 2017 Labour manifesto pledged to ‘bring private rail companies back into public ownership as their franchises expire’.
However, Mr McDonnell said Labour was looking at whether it could activate break clauses in contracts that would allow rail franchises to be taken into public hands before they expired.
He suggested the array of franchises across Britain could be nationalised in the first term of a Labour government.
‘We are doing the detailed work and I am confident we can bring it back into public ownership promptly and then have an efficient service. I tell you why, because people are demanding it. They have had enough of being ripped off from high fares and a poor service,’ he said.
When questioned by Sky News, the shadow chancellor said there would be no up-front costs or borrowing required to renationalise rail - ‘no, for rail, not at all’.
The Centre for Policy Studies has estimated Labour’s full nationalisation programme would cost £176bn in total, although the shadow chancellor said this was ‘laughable’.
‘They are pursuing their own political agenda.’