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.