Labour has redrawn its battle lines over the nationalisation of the railways, with shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher taking a more bullish stance than ever.
In a recent interview with the New Statesman, Mr Dugher appeared to say the Party's own policy of having public sector bodies bid alongside private rail operators for new franchises did not go far enough.
‘Privatisation was a disaster for the railways. I’m adamant about putting the whole franchising system, as it stands today, in the bin,’ he said adding, ‘the public sector will be running sections of our rail network as soon as we can do that’.
He went on to assert: ‘I want there to be more public control of the railways and we should just say it because, actually, that’s what the public think as well. We’ve talked about how the only people who have no voice at the moment in the running of the railways are the travelling public, the passengers themselves.’
In a reference to Network Rail being reclassified as a central government body last year, rather than a private sector, not-for-dividend company, and bringing with it a £34bn debt, Mr Dugher said: ‘Network Rail’s on our books, there's huge taxpayer subsidies and investment going into the railways, but the industry want to stitch it up themselves and we’re not having that anymore.’
Separately, Mr Dugher also advanced his programme of ending Labour's so-called ‘war on the motorist’, borrowing language from Conservative communities secretary Eric Pickles in suggesting that action should be taken to stop speed cameras being used as a ‘cash cow’.
The Party has suggested that thousands of speed cameras could be switched off and reforms could be introduced to ban councils and the Highways Agency – soon to be Highways England – from installing CCTV on roads and junctions other than those designated as accident blackspots.
Labour is promising to review guidelines on use of speed cameras if it wins the election. It would also order grey ‘stealth cameras’ to be painted yellow to make them more visible to motorists.
‘Speed cameras should be about slowing drivers down and changing the way people drive. They should not be being used as a cash cow for ministers,’ Mr Dugher said.
More than 115,000 fines of at least £100 were issued by magistrates last year, the highest rate since 2010, official figures show.