22 May 2023
The Green Party has said the privatised rail industry has reached the end of the line as FirstGroup’s contract to run Transpennine Express comes to an end following months of cancellations and delays on the main intercity rail line in the North of England.
Earlier this month, Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, confirmed FirstGroup – which runs the Transpennine Express – will be stripped of the franchise when its contract ends on Sunday 28 May and services will be run by an Operator of Last Resort.
Matt Edwards, Green Party spokesperson for Transport and Leader of the Green Party on Bradford Council, said:
“The shambolic levels of service on this crucial rail line has not only caused misery to passengers but has caused serious economic damage to towns and cities across the North of England.
“FirstGroup has consistently refused to take responsibility for the service and consistently used loopholes to try and hide just how bad a job they were doing (1).
“The privatisation and fragmentation of our railways just hasn’t worked. The government is spending more money now subsidising the railways than it was in the 90s.
“Instead of delivering improvements, large amounts of money have just been handed to private companies to give to their shareholders whilst rail fares have gone up and service has gone down.”
The Green Party spokesperson also called for a complete rethink of how the railways are operated and funded.
“For decades now we have talked about our railways like they are a business that must be profitable. The truth is that our rail network is a public service that needs to benefit everyone. To do that it must be brought back into public ownership.
“Giving people affordable and reliable public transport as an alternative to driving will reduce congestion on our roads which will help tackle air pollution and reduce carbon emissions.
“We don’t expect our roads to make a profit. Why are the railways different?”
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