CALUM HIGGINS, Welsh Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has announced that he back the return of publicly run rail services in West Wales.
He says that rail services, including on the ‘Heart of Wales’ line and a re-opened Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line should be re-nationalised. In his opinion, arm’s length public companies or cooperatives could save the taxpayer money and increase investment in the railway network.
Mr Higgins says: “The railways are a fundamental public service, for too long they have been run for a profit despite being funded by a tax payer subsidy. The subsidy allows rail operators to make a profit while increasing fares for service users and pricing some out of using trains. I back the return of publicly run railways, and the Heart of Wales line should be one of the first.”
Mr Higgins is insists that public ownership is not just affordable, but profitable for the taxpayer: “In the last few years the taxpayer has been running the East Coast Mainline from London to Edinburgh. Since 2009 over £1 billion has come back to the treasury in profit, but this Conservative Government has re-privatised it and handed the yearly profit back to private companies. We now know that publicly owned rail services can make money for the tax payer which can be reinvested in the network. The not for profit rail model would provide money to re-open old lines such as the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line.”
He outlined his plans to support a public ownership or cooperative model for the Heart of Wales line: “I really believe that the public are the best people to run a service. The Heart of Wales line franchise is to be renewed in the next couple of years and could be one of the first railways to return to public ownership.
“The Heart of Wales line could be owned by a public interest company or a cooperative, giving local people the biggest say on how it’s run. The line has so much potential and could be a great commuter service between Ammanford, Llandybie, Llandovery, Llanelli, and Swansea. My priority would be to see this happen here, across Wales, and the UK. Let’s put the profits from rail services into improving the service for our rural communities.”