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Britain Debates Nationalizing Its Rail System

The Labour Party’s promise to end private ownership of rail services finds broad appeal across the U.K.
A train on the coastal railway near Whitehaven, Northern England
A train on the coastal railway near Whitehaven, Northern EnglandPhil Noble/Reuters

As Britain’s Labour Party closes the gap with its Conservative rivals in the June 8th general election, there’s at least one part of the party’s platform that’s widely popular: nationalizing the railways.

According to the party’s manifesto, a Labour government would end the outsourcing of passenger services to private companies, a practice that began in 1994. The idea might seem complex and expensive, but it has become a significant feature of Britain’s current election campaign—and it’s an idea that many U.K. citizens seem to like a lot: A recent survey found 52 percent of respondents favored renationalization, versus 22 percent against. That makes the idea currently more popular than the party that proposed it.