The Bring Back British Rail campaign was founded in 2009 by Ellie Harrison after years of delayed journeys, endless complaining and general disgruntlement with train travel in-and-around the UK.
As a frequent passenger, Ellie identified two main failings in the current rail system. Firstly, that the bitty franchise system seems to allow individual companies to easily shirk responsibility by passing the blame for delays and bad service onto someone else. An atmosphere of competition rather than cooperation between franchises leads to the buck-being-passed and costs-being-cut, whilst the service continually fails to improve.
And secondly that, whilst in private ownership, passengers always have to play second fiddle to shareholders, knowing that the extortionate prices they are paying for tickets are not going towards improving the service, but are instead lining the pockets of a wealthy minority who do not even rely on the public transport system.
In order to rectify these failings the Bring Back British Rail campaign is advocating the reintegration of the country’s rail network so that it is unified as one organisation with a common goal of providing the best value, most efficient and reliable public transport system possible. By moving to a not-for-profit structure, both passengers and employees can begin to feel ownership and pride in their rail network, knowing that their fares and hard work are continually helping to improve the system, for everyone.
The Bring Back British Rail campaign is not nostalgic, harking back to the British Rail of old. Instead it is very forward-thinking. At its heart is the acknowledgement that rail travel provides the best possible transport solution for the UK in the new age of environmental responsibility. In order to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by encouraging more people to leave their cars in favour of the train, the rail network must continue to expand and improve. By being both publicly-funded, but also run at arm’s length from government, a new British Rail can operate autonomously, ensuring funds are reinvested within the train network and that the passengers always come first.