Fixing Britain's Railways

Rail fares are going through the roof - going by train just isn't affordable any more, it's a luxury. With such poor service, this needs to stop. The Lib Dems will freeze season ticket prices for five years to give us time to fix our broken railways and make sure we're getting what we pay for.

Amongst other improvements we'll:

  • Convert the rail network to ultra-low-emission technology
  • Allow public sector and not-for-profit companies to run trains
  • Sack train operators if they fail to provide a high-quality public service


There is enormous scope to improve Britain’s railways, providing reliable and affordable train services and cutting emissions. The Tories’ and Labour’s ideological obsessions – the former with privatisation, the latter with nationalisation – only serve to get in the way of making real improvements through investment and regulation. We will improve the railways, reform the franchising system and improve services to customers. We will:

  • Freeze rail fares for commuters and season ticket holders for a parliament, while we fix our railways.
  • Extend Britain’s rail network, improve stations, reopen smaller stations and restore twin-track lines to major routes.
  • Convert the rail network to ultra-low-emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035, and provide funding for light rail and trams.
  • Support High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East-West Rail and Crossrail 2, but ensure far tighter financial controls and increased accountability to ensure that these projects are value for money, and address problems with implementation to ensure that HS2 opens as early as possible to meet our decarbonisation goals while minimising the destruction of precious UK habitats and woodland.
  • Start a revolution in rail franchising by opening up the bidding process to public sector companies, local or combined authorities, not-for-profits and mutuals – which have the potential to deliver much better services than private operators.
  • Build into new rail franchise agreements a stronger focus on customers, including investment in new stations, lines and modern trains.
  • Create a new Railways Agency to oversee the operations of the railway network, removing the Department for Transport from day-to-day decision-making.
  • Be far more proactive in sanctioning and ultimately sacking train operators if they fail to provide a high-quality public service to their customers.
  • Improve the experience of people who rely on the railways for work by investing in commuter routes and the integration of rail, bus and cycle routes.
  • Fix the broken fares and ticketing system so that it provides better value for money.
  • Improve disabled access to public transport via the Access for All programme.

Read more about our plan for a brighter future

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