From: Keith Taylor
Green Party MEP for the South East
Govia Thameslink is responsible for the Southern route that has caused untold misery for commuters across the South East.
A damning National Audit Office (NAO) report released this week highlights so much of the Southern rail misery passengers and staff know only too well. Ultimately, it finds that the privatisation of the route has been an avoidable nightmare and delivered poor value for money.
In response, the Government has tried to deflect the report’s criticism of its handling of the franchise by trying to blame workers for the failings. In deploying this line of defence, however, Ministers have overlooked just one fact: the NAO found the Government and Govia Thameslink at fault for failing passengers and staff.
Govia Thameslink made huge profits in 2017 despite taking a massive multi-million-pound taxpayer handout. Yet the firm has tried to cut costs by consistently understaffing its trains. And the Government should have seen the resultant issues coming a mile off, the report finds.
Southern is just the latest example of a failed Tory privatisation programme. Only a few weeks ago Virgin and Stagecoach were rewarded for their failures on the, formerly publicly-owned, East Coast Mainline route with an eye-watering £2bn bailout.
Ministers must finally take a sober and ideology-free look at the case for putting our railways back in public hands - starting with Southern. A weak Government can’t afford to ignore the overwhelming support for the public ownership our railways - a longstanding Green Party policy.