Network Rail was founded in 2002 with a £6.3 billion debt. It’s investing hugely in essential rail modernisation and expansion but is now £30.4 billion in debt and paying over £1.5 billion a year in interest.
The Coalition plans to blow £100 billion replacing Trident and £50 billion building HS2. If it cancelled Trident, HS2 and Network Rail’s debt, Britain would have £120 billion in hand and could put some of that into better public transport investments. Here’s my 10-point plan to invest some of that £120 billion:
* Build longer trains to take more people, and longer platforms to take longer trains.
* Reverse the spiteful cut in bus fuel duty rebate. Local public transport does most for social and economic inclusion.
* Help operators replace old, polluting buses with new low-emission, disabled-accessible ones.
* Reinstate tram plans for Leeds, Liverpool, Southampton–Portsmouth and Bristol. Extend the Birmingham & Sheffield tramways. Bring trams to Bradford, Coventry, Hull, Leicester, Stoke, Wolverhampton, Cardiff, Glasgow etc.
* Build more trains in Britain and open a tram factory in Britain. Britain imports all its trams but it could build its own.
* Reopen local rail lines, as they do more for economic & social inclusion: Leicester–Burton, Ashington–Newcastle, Leigh–Manchester, Pelaw–Durham, Lewes–Uckfield, Wisbech–March, Portishead–Bristol, Witney–Oxford, Bedford–Cambridge, Aylesbury–Rugby, Rugby–Leicester, Corby–Leicester, Melton–Nottingham, etc.
* Plan a better high speed rail network than HS2, properly integrated to existing rail lines, concentrating on linking regional cities to each other, not just London. Build it parallel with the M1, not through the Chilterns AONB.
* Keep enlarging rail freight capacity. HGVs wreck road surfaces, so the more we cut road freight, the longer roads would last and the easier it would be to catch up with road repairs.
*Keep electrifying more lines. Even with fossil fuel power stations, electric trains use 30% less fuel.
* Bah, humbug. Merry Christmas!