Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham calls for nationalisation of British railways

The shadow health secretary launched his campaign manifesto

Andy Burnham, a contender for the leadership of the British Labour party, has defended his plans to renationalise Britain’s railways. Photograph: Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Andy Burnham, a contender for the leadership of the British Labour party, has defended his plans to renationalise Britain’s railways. Photograph: Dave Thompson/Getty Images

 

Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham has defended his plans to renationalise Britain’s railways, insisting the scheme would pay for itself.

The shadow health secretary said that taking lines back into public ownership as the operating franchises expired would enable a future Labour government to keep down fares.

Meanwhile left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn has underlined his commitment to scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent with a promise to redeploy workers engaged on Trident renewal.

Mr Burnham, who was launching his campaign manifesto, said that Britain’s railways now cost 40 per cent more than comparable European networks to run.

“I am not saying you at a stroke of a pen try and renationalise the whole lot. I am saying as franchises expire, we should bring them back under public control,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“We saw that with the east coast, where the public sector ran the line for a period of time,” he said. “What that did is it produced a billion pounds that went back to the Exchequer, that was then used to keep fares lower.

In other measures, Mr Burnham’s manifesto promised a graduate tax to replace tuition fees, the extension of the national living wage to workers of all ages, and a guarantee that everyone can rent or own an “affordable” home.

It also reaffirmed his commitment to link social care with the NHS and provide “good care for all your needs from cradle to grave”, with patients not forced to sell their homes to pay for it.

Unpaid internships would be banned, along with forced zero- hours contracts. People wanting to become apprentices would go through an application system similar to universities and receive financial support.

Mr Corbyn, who was attending an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, said he would create a defence diversification agency to ensure the jobs and skills of workers building replacement Trident submarines were protected after the programme was scrapped.

“Not renewing Trident gives our country an opportunity to invest in industry, innovation and infrastructure that will rebalance our economy and transform it into a high skilled, high-tech world leading economy,” he said.

“It is not only the right thing to do, but a better way to deal with our economic challenges.” – PA