Posted 28th May 2019 | 7 Comments

Poll claims most people oppose rail privatisation

A NEW opinion poll has found that fewer than one in three people support proposals for increased competition on the railways.

Various groups say that more competing operators would improve the service, with one of the more radical proposals coming from Virgin Group. In a submission to Keith Williams’ Rail Review, Virgin called for intercity franchises to be replaced by a system of slots for which operators could bid. All intercity journeys would need to be booked in advance.

The Rail Delivery Group also says that competition between operators on intercity routes would provide more choice.

However the poll, commissioned by campaign group We Own It, found that only 29 per cent of people surveyed thought that more competition would result in improvements.

The poll also found that 51 per cent believe the railways would be better value for money if they were publicly owned.

Trust in the railway has fallen in recent times, particularly after the disruption which followed the introduction of new timetables in May last year, and the poll organisers Survation report that 44 per cent of the people it asked do not believe that the privatised operators have their best interests at heart’.

Ellen Lees, who is campaigns officer at We Own It, said: ‘Private rail companies have been lobbying hard for more private involvement and increased competition on our railways. This new poll shows just how out of touch the rail industry is. The public doesn’t want more competition, they want a railway they can trust, with cheaper fares that provide good value for money.

‘This is only possible if the railway is brought into public hands. After endless delays, cancellations and crowded trains, people are sick and tired of privatisation. So it’s absolutely vital that with the Williams Rail Review coming to an end, Keith Williams makes the right call on the future of our railways.’

The deadline for submissions to the Williams Review is 31 May.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    Does that include re-nationalising the railways in the UK. Rather than our railways being taken over by foreign rail franchises ie-Abellio, MTR, Trenitalia etc. Including HS2 that could be taken over by SNCF as they have their own high speed rail lines in France. As well other European countries that also has high speed rail lines.

  • jak jaye, surrey

    What the people who slag off the 'old' BR forget is that they had to run everything,trains,stations,track,signalling,build the rolling stock not to mention hotels and shipping all on a budget of what couple of billion? compare that with the cost of the scandal that is HS2 yes they made mistakes but taking everything into account did a decent job.
    My own local train service the joke that is GTR cannot hold a candle to the old Southern Region ditto the shambles that is First Great Western and their rancid 800 IETs

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    This poll is meaningless drivel. For a start, the only views that matter are those of rail users.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Perhaps another way in which the reality is "horses for courses", with a need for different structures for intercity , commuter / urban, rural, etc.

    Could it be that the popularity of privatisation varies a lot between these different categories, and indeed between different operators ?

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    Has a Poll been done of Rail Users and Commuters ? Apparently only 8% of people regularly use the Trains. I think their views would be different to those of the General Public who rely on scare Tabloid Headlines for their information on the Railways. I can't see anyone in Reading with our £1 Billion investment in the new Station - and frequent Electric Service - voting for re-Nationalisation.

  • king arthur, Buckley

    How was the railway better pre 1997? I'd be surprised if Ellen Lees ever actually travelled on a train back then.

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham

    Usual caveat applies with opinion polls: wait for Survation to publish the tables before drawing conclusions. Pollsters have to publish all their information they polled on, but the people who commission polls are free to cherry-pick whatever figures suit them.

    That said, I can believe that Richard Branson's latest ideas are unpopular - but then, I've never really trusted Branson's supposed expertise in the railways. I always thought the Virgin Group got off too lightly for its part in the WCML fiasco - they heavily pushed for Railtrack to commit to the upgrades with an unworkable time and budget; Railtrack went bankrupt, Virgin carried on like nothing had happened. Branson's enthusiasm for hyperloop (which is unicorn science to anyone with the slightest grasp of civil engineering projects) is also highly questionable.

    In short: I wouldn't trust the promise of competing rail services from anyone, but Virgin Trains are the last people I'd trust.