Unions hope an official review of the railway industry will recommend replacing the “failed” franchise system amid criticism of the way the industry operates.
The Government-commissioned review, headed by Keith Williams, is expected to report in the next few weeks, with expectations that a series of reforms will be suggested.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers union Aslef, speculated that a new model will be outlined, where instead of bidding for a franchise, operators will get a management contract to run services, with the Government more in control of fares.
“That could work in the private sector, under a Tory government, or easily moved into the public sector under a Labour government committed to public ownership,” he said.
“We want a model that works for everyone, and that means we need to manage our own railway.
“Franchising has failed. The railway is a natural monopoly and it should be run as a public service, not for private profit, in a way that works for passengers, businesses, taxpayers and those who work in the industry.”
Rail unions have been stepping up calls for the railways to be re-nationalised, amid a series of industrial disputes and complaints from passengers about delays and cancellations.
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