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Labour transport chief pledges better rail infrastructure under public ownership

Shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood has told Labour Party members it is time for railways to come under public ownership - and for better rail infrastructure outside the capital.

She told delegates at the party’s annual conference in Brighton that the UK’s railways were fragmented, and the franchise system was broken.

“It is time for our railways to be run under public ownership, in the public interest, with affordable fares for all,” she said.

“I want a new deal for the railways, with a strong voice for passengers, a modern intercity identity, an expanded London Overground and devolution for other local networks, putting commuters first.

“And as part of a modern railway, we need to build 21st Century infrastructure to revolutionise the links between the cities of the Midlands and the North, to free up space for new commuter services, and take more lorries off our congested roads.

“So let’s invest in high speed rail – and let’s make sure it can be run under public ownership, as a public service: an integrated national asset that the country can be proud of.”

In the speech she claimed that the Conservatives were already planning the privatisation of Network Rail.

“We remember the disaster that was Railtrack, and the danger it posed to passengers,” she added. “We know that more fragmentation and more privatisation are the last things that passengers need.”

Former regional official for trade union Unison, Greenwood was shadow rail minister from January 2013 until her promotion by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn this month.

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