Labour shadow secretary hands out 'Tory rail mayhem' scratchcards at Northampton station as part of nationalisation bid

Shadow secretary for international trade Barry Gardiner and Northampton South Labour candidate Gareth Eales hold up a large version of the 'Tory Rail Mayhem' scratchcard they were seen handing out to passengers in Northampton yesterday.
Shadow secretary for international trade Barry Gardiner and Northampton South Labour candidate Gareth Eales hold up a large version of the 'Tory Rail Mayhem' scratchcard they were seen handing out to passengers in Northampton yesterday.

Northampton train passengers were handed a 'unique' scratchcard on their daily commute yesterday - as part of Labour's bid to see the railways re-nationalised.

Shadow secretary of state for international trade, Barry Gardiner, joined Labour's Northampton South parliamentary candidate Gareth Eales at the Black Lion Hill station yesterday morning to meet commuters - on the same day the East Coast line was handed back to public ownership.

Labour wants to re-nationalise rail services in the UK.

Labour wants to re-nationalise rail services in the UK.

The opposition members gave passengers a scratchcard that, once scratched, revealed the 'mayhem' of privitaisation across the country.

"What we want of our rail service is a decent, modern rail service for the public benefit," said Mr Gardiner.

"Where the trains are clean and on time and are servicing stations that are not currently being so."

And speaking about his conversations with Northampton passengers, Mr Gardiner said: "Everybody we talk to recognises the problems with the rail.

"The amazing thing is, up and down the country, people are, on balance, saying we want to take it back in-house."

In the run-up to last year's General Election Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the party would seek to re-nationalise trains, the Royal Mail and the energy industry.

But he has faced strong criticism over whether the country could afford to bring the three sectors back in-house, with the Tories claiming rail alone would cost £100 billion.

Currently, West Midlands Trains Ltd holds the franchise for the West Coast Mainline, which serves Northampton.

But Mr Gardiner said the current model for running trains in the UK was about "maximising profits" for company shareholders rather than looking after passengers.

He said the Government would not have to buy any of the franchises as they would all automatically return to public hands as soon as the currently held contracts end.

He also claimed a nationalised railway service would effectively pay for itself in the long-run.

"The thing about a nationalised railway service is, you take the profits from the profitable lines and you use them to pay for the less profitable ones - not the shareholders," he said.

Gareth Eales said Northampton passengers were fed up with the cost of travelling by rail.

"We spoke to two people that commute to London," he said. One person was paying £10,000 a year to get there - that's prohibitive.

"Another person said to us they were worried nationalisation would take us back to the 70s.

"But look at the East Coast franchise. That has failed under private ownership and now generates money.

"If we weren't paying shareholder dividends we could put a cap on fairs."