A new study by Action for Rail has revealed that train commuters in the UK could benefit from 10% cheaper rail fares by 2017 if train services were operated by the public sector.
Carried out by Transport for Quality of Life, the study found that £1.5bn could be saved over the next few years if lines, including the Northern, Transpennine and West Coast Main Line, were brought under public sector control.
Action for Rail chair and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "The UK has the most expensive rail fares in all of Europe.
"If services were run by the public sector, it would make a big difference to families and hard-pressed commuters, who have suffered year after year of wage-busting fare increases under privatised rail."
According to the group, a total of 11 franchisees, including Transpennine, Greater Anglia, West Coast, London Midland, East Midlands, South Eastern, Wales & Borders, Great Western, South Western and Cross Country, are due for contract renewal between 2015 and 2020.
It is estimated that approximately £520m in shareholder dividends alone could be saved if the 11 train lines were run by the public sector when their franchise came to an end.
O’Grady added: "Money that could be spent on making journeys cheaper is instead being siphoned off into shareholders’ pockets and wasted on bidding and other franchising costs."