MORE than half of all passenger journeys on Britain’s rail network are on foreign-owned services, according to official figures.
About a billion trips, 57 per cent of all journeys, in the 12 months to September were taken on franchises run by other countries, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) figures show.
Twenty-three per cent were German-run and London Overground, the busiest rail company fully or partly owned overseas, provided 189 million journeys. It is part of Arriva, a subsidiary of German state-owned Deutsche Bahn.
The Netherlands ran 15 per cent of services. Its state-owned Abellio runs Scotrail, has a majority stake in the Greater Anglia franchise and also owns 70 per cent of the West Midlands franchise.
French company Kelios, which is 70 per cent owned by the state-run SNCF, also has a stake in Southern, which provided 121 million trips in Britain over the year.
Other foreign state-owned services include Hong Kong company MTR, which began running South Western Railway with First Group in August, taking over from British firm Stagecoach’s South West Trains.
And Italian state operator Trenitalia took over the c2c franchise from Birmingham-based National Express in February.
Campaign group Railfuture’s spokesman Bruce Williams described the figures as “perverse.”
He said: “It does raise the question about what is the point of privatising the railway if it’s then going to be owned and operated by the states of other countries.
“It’s OK for the French government to run our railways, but it’s not OK for the British government to run our railways.”
The ORR figures show that £4.2bn of taxpayers’ cash went to the rail industry in 2016-17, more than twice as much as British Rail used to get before privatisation.
Train drivers’ union Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “It is splendidly ironic that the Tory government believes in state ownership of Britain’s railways, as long as they are foreign state-owned companies.
“The only state that cannot, under the Tories, run our railways is the British state. That’s why we believe in bringing Britain’s railways back into public ownership, a policy now popular with Conservative as well as Labour voters.”
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