Railways: Sky poll suggests majority backs renationalising network

14 November 2019, 00:40 | Updated: 14 November 2019, 08:41

The clear majority of people would support taking rail companies back into public ownership, a Sky News poll suggests.

When asked whether they were in favour of nationalising the network 56% said they were. A fifth of those asked said they were opposed to the idea.

The strongest support came from Labour voters, 72% of whom supported re-nationalisation. Less than half, 45%, of Conservative voters said they supported it.

With weeks away until the nation goes to the polls the future of the railways remains a key issue with voters.

Passengers face regular delays to services and trains are often overcrowded at peak times.

Commuters in Birmingham who packed on to over-crowded West Midlands Trains service this week spoke of their frustration.

Nearly a quarter of people on West Midlands Trains services - 23.7% - had to stand on a morning during 2018 on services to and from Birmingham.

Further analysis shows how the total number of passengers standing rose during the year, the first since West Midlands Trains took over services from London Midland, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Paul Dyson, an architect, told Sky News: "This service hasn't improved in the ten years I've been getting this train. It's got worse."

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Ghazala Begum commutes every day and is not surprised the train is packed. She said: "There aren't enough train carriages and there are too many people. That's the basic problem."

A spokesperson for West Midlands Railway said: "Demand for rail travel in the West Midlands is growing faster than anywhere else in the country. That is why we are investing £1bn in our network to create better trains, better stations and better journeys.

"This includes increasing the size of our train fleet by 25% by 2021.

"The West Midlands has some of the lowest train fares in the country. The average cost of a journey is just over £2, comparing very favourably with other means of transport."

One of the biggest flash points in the run-up to 12 December will be the future of HS2, the high speed rail line from London to Birmingham, Manchester to Leeds.

People are split on whether it is a good idea with 39% saying they supported HS2 and 38% opposing, according to our poll.

The Conservatives have commissioned their own review which is due to be completed at the end of the year and have refused to rule out scrapping HS2 altogether.

Although leaked reports suggest spiralling costs which would exceed £80bn, triple the original estimate, Labour and the Lib Dems have both committed themselves to completing HS2.

Questions are now being asked about the the running of the existing rail network which has been dogged by timetabling chaos and financial woes.

Labour says its plans to renationalise the entire railway would boost investment and cap fares.

The Tories and Lib Dems want to maintain private involvement but take control outside Whitehall to a new body while devolving more powers to the regions.