Labour: allow public firms to run train services

Public Finance reports that Labour has pledged to reform the rules on rail franchises to allow government-owned firms and cooperatives to bid to run trains.

Speaking in Glasgow today, shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said Labour would look to improve the representation of passenger and taxpayer interests in the franchise-award process. The Scottish shadow transport secretary James Kelly said the party would conduct a similar review in Scotland.

In particular, Creagh said the next Labour government would legislate to allow cooperative firms, as well as public sector companies, to compete ‘on a level playing field’ for UK rail franchises.

The party had previously said the East Coast mainline, which is run by the government’s Directly Operated railways agency, should remain in the public sector, with DOR also allowed to bid for other franchises as a comparator.