The Labour Party has vowed to begin a franchising review within ten days of taking power, should it do so at the General Election on May 7.
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Michael Dugher told the New Statesman on February 18 that privatisation had been “a disaster for the railways”.
“I’m adamant about putting the whole franchising system, as it stands today, in the bin,” said Dugher. “The public sector will be running sections of our rail network as soon as we can do that.”
But the question of whether Labour politicians will return the railways to a public sector operator has dogged the party for nearly 20 years.
In RAIL 272 (February 14-27 1996) - almost 19 years ago to the day – RAIL Managing Editor Nigel Harris wrote this introduction to his interview with then Shadow Transport Secretary Clare Short:
“If Labour wins the next election - and all the pundits are saying it probably will - Clare Short will be Secretary of State for Transport. She echoes Leader Tony Blair’s colourful promise of a ‘publicly-owned, publicly accountable railway’ - but neither will explain exactly how they’ll achieve this.
“Rail privatisation is the most hated, least successful and most disastrously handled sale of them all. Frequently promised benefits are further away than ever and public discontent is intense. If it could be such a vote-winner, why won’t Labour explain its policy?”
- Read Nigel Harris’ February 1996 interview with Clare Short in full.
Read Nigel Harris’ Comment in RAIL 769, available NOW on the iPad and Android, or from your newsagent on March 4