Labour & Co-operative MP and Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman MP, previews our fringe at Labour Party Conference in Liverpool next week.

Increasing numbers of people travel by rail yet there are major question marks over whether the current system delivers value for money for taxpayers or passengers, and businesses ask why more freight cannot go by train.

The voice of the passenger is not adequately considered, while fares continue to increase (RPI+3%) and overcrowding persists. There are continual complaints about problems accessing the cheap fares that do exist.

The McNulty Report points out how the UK’s rail system costs 40% more to run than its European counterparts and suggests major changes.

What should be done? It is vital that reforms are about genuine efficiencies and are not a cover for cuts!

Is rail investment adequate and is it linked with integrated transport at a local as well as national level? Should we look at changing the way the Train Operating Companies and Network Rail operate or are there more radical, mutual, solutions?

The Co-operative Party has already brought forward proposals for Network Rail in its campaign for the ‘People’s Rail’ and there is currently much work looking at mutuals elsewhere in the rail industry, as referenced by Ed Miliband in his speech to the TUC last week.

These issues, and others, will be debated in what promises to be a lively meeting!

The event Tying people to the railways: an accountable rail network takes place on Tuesday 27th September, 7.30pm – 9.00pm at the ACC – BT Convention Centre, Concourse Room 2. The speakers are Andrew Gwynne MP, Shadow Rail Minister; Louise Ellman MP, Chair, Transport Select Committee; National Officer, ASLEF; Paul Salveson, Transport writer & commentator; chaired by Joe Fortune, the Co-operative Party & SERA – the Labour Environment Campaign.