Labour’s fare cap is a bung to train passengers

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn's pledge to cut commuter rail bills by £1000, Adam Smith Institute Head of Research Ben Southwood said:

Labour’s fare cap is a bung to train passengers which will be paid in higher taxes on those who cycle, drive, or get the bus instead.

Railway improvements cost money. The government already pays around a quarter of the price of a ticket—although very little of this goes to commuters—and the more of the cost they take on, the less money we have to modernise and improve our railways.

Under British Rail, the government chronically underinvested in the railways and they dwindled for decades and half the network had to be mothballed; since we returned operating companies to the private sector passenger journeys have more than doubled. HS2 effectively rebuilds, at great cost, the high speed line that already existed—built by the private sector, and scrapped by the state.

Before privatisation there were 17 trains a day from London to Manchester—now there are 47.

The franchise system isn’t perfect, but nationalisation is a step backwards. To move forwards we must learn from the most successful systems, like Japan’s, where integrating track and train in a private system has unlocked a torrent of investment—newer and faster bullet trains every year.

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