Push for rail nationalisation hits Commons

Demands for the railways to be brought back into public hands will be made in the Commons later, after Green MP Caroline Lucas added an amendment to a Labour-backed motion.

The amendment says passenger operations could be gradually reintroduced to the public sector as existing franchises expire, saving £1 billion.

"This money could be invested in the railway, delivering better service for passengers while also achieving wider environmental and social goals," it reads.

The amendment comes as parliament reacts to the bruising rise in fares averaging 4.2% after the new year.

Anger at the rise was aimed at the government after rail minister Norman Baker said fares were "not nearly as expensive as is being presented" and that rail was a "premium service".

The increase comes amid permanently gloomy predictions of price and performance for years to come.

Network Rail yesterday said consumers could expect above-inflation fare rises until the end of the decade and that its trains-on-time target for 2014-19 would be identical to the one for 2009-2014, which it is anyway failing to meet.

The Labour motion criticised the government's handling of rail but stopped well short of demanding renationalisation.

The Ed Miliband-authored motion attacked the government for allowing private train operators to raise fares by an additional five per cent beyond the increase set by ministers.