UKIP leadership candidate Raheem Kassam has announced his intentions to open up a discussion about the British railway system and give passengers a voice via a new union.
Mr. Kassam has said he wants to open up a discussion about how the corporate-run, monopolistic railway system back in the hands of the public and see a revitalisation of British Rail, which had been corporatised in 1993.
To counter government overspending and potential recklessness, Kassam has proposed the idea of a passenger union to give customers of railways more say in the quality of service and where taxpayer money is spent.
“Rail passengers across the United Kingdom are getting the worst of both worlds from rail privatisation: none of the efficiencies of the private sector due to the natural monopoly, and none of the accountability of the public sector. It’s time for change,” Kassam said.
“If elected UKIP leader, I would explore the idea of renationalisation with party members and the British public, while also keenly investigating how a passenger union, elected by passengers to represent their concerns, could be brought into the mix,” he added noting the difficulty of balancing the idea of a government monopoly with holding those in charge of the railway accountable to the customers who use it.
Admitting that he had once been against the idea of nationalisation, Mr. Kassam justified the change in his views saying: “I myself had once been against the idea of renationalisation, but my experiences on the UK rail network over the past decade have led me to the belief that the status quo is one purely born out of an ideology of greed.”
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In an interview with radio host Jon Gaunt last week, Kassam said he was saddened by the fact that many Britons’ goals are just to “pay the bills” rather than aspire in the same way as Americans do, for a better life: known as “the American dream”.
Taking a shot at recently re-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who stirred controversy claiming that he was forced to sit on the floor during a train journey, Kassam added: “And no, I don’t intend to sit on the floor of any trains in order to garner publicity for this announcement.”