'Bring South Western railway into public sector' says Green MEP

Stroud News and Journal: The franchise is up for renewal in 2015 The franchise is up for renewal in 2015

The Green Party are campaigning for a revival of public rail ownership in the South West.

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato is strongly opposed to the government’s intention to renew the South West franchise with train operator First Great Western, which is set to expire in 2015. Dr Cato said: “With regular overcrowding, some of the highest fares in Europe, often poor weekend services and difficult connections with services, the end of the franchise provides a fantastic opportunity to take Great Western into public ownership and get our railways back on track.”

Dr Cato pointed the example of how the East Coast mainline has raised £600 million for the treasury since coming into public ownership.

However First Great Western spokesman James Davis commented: “We believe the current system is the best for both passengers and rail growth since privatisation has been spectacular, far outstripping economic growth.

“Private operators have consistently delivered an attractive range of discounted, value for money advance tickets for many years. Almost 80% of passengers travel from London to Bristol, for example, for less than £30.” Mr Davis also said East Coast’s profits had been significantly smaller than private operators, since the line came into the public sector.

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