Bombardier will supply and maintain 750 Aventra trains (pictured) for FirstGroup and MTR
Rebecca Wayman

Could British Rail be revived by Labour?

British Rail could be revived under Labour as part of the party’s renationalisation plan.

Management of the network - track, signalling and major stations - was split from train operations during the breakup of British Rail in the last decade of the 20th century.

The trains have since been split into 25 privately owned franchises, and the network is run by Network Rail, a government-operated firm.

Shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, supposedly hinted that Labour would not buy back franchises and compensate their shareholders with government bonds - the system he has suggested for water renationalisation - but rather wait for franchises to expire.

He said: “As the franchises end, we would bring them back into public ownership.

“We want to ensure full integration as best we can, because that will bring efficiencies. It will mean a more effective and a safer railway.”

Industry experts are said to be split over the case for integrating the firm back into society, nevermind nationalising it.

Michael Holden, railway executive who was called to run Directly Operated Railways, has opposed: “I think if it’s done properly, the current system can work well.

“You have train companies which are focused on the passenger, and of a size that you can properly manage. You are not always worried about the infrastructure problems.”

Despite privatisation, the railway network is still heavily reliant on government subsidy, with the government injecting about £3.5bn a year.

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