Railfuture is non-political and this commentary is set against Railfuture’s campaign goal of a bigger, better railway. The aim of this article is to provide Railfuture members with talking points after the election on rail issues when engaging with stakeholders and politicians after most copies of the manifestos have been binned.

Two big changes have occurred, firstly the environment has taken centre stage by all parties and secondly transport has risen up the agenda alongside long standing top tier issues, including health, education etc. The linkage that rail can be a vital solution to environmental concerns is coming but not fully there as yet.

This is therefore a major opportunity for Railfuture members, who start with a good knowledge of what railways but many of the new post-election politicians will not. The striking thing is that the window of opportunity for rail is wide open but will close sooner than many people think. Rail is not moving fast enough on the environmental agenda whereas other mode suppliers in the road and also the aviation industry are on the case, devoting huge research, unlike the railways.

We have a campaigning job to do as we cannot rely on the fact that rail development will automatically emerge as the right choice in addressing many of the nation’s environmental, economic and social issues.

The commentary avoids too much emphasis on costings or affordability as it is clear that the manifesto authors have not either. Such criticism in almost every line is therefore replaced by this general observation that much of what is said is unrealistic or unaffordable and so will be a matter of priorities and huge tax or fare rises. The hardest manifesto to write is that of the party most likely to be in government! In terms of deliverability and feasibility the Monster Raving Loony Party is the most genuine in saying we promise we will not initiate any of our policies!

Nevertheless, if you look at the detail there is some good stuff in these manifestos.

Labour Manifesto “It’s time for Real Change”

Transport is treated in the Green Industrial Revolution section.
  • Labour will build a sustainable, affordable, accessible and integrated transport system, founded on the principle that transport is an essential public service.
This could be lifted straight out of Railfuture’s campaigning material. The question is whether the specific measures advocated will achieve that?

So let us briefly examine this in a little more detail.

  • Labour will ensure that councils can improve bus services by regulating and nationalising bus networks, and we will give them the resources and full legal powers to achieve this cost effectively, thereby ending the race to the bottom in working conditions for bus workers.
Regulation is different from nationalisation, although here both are proposed in the Labour manifesto. The key to regulation to achieving an integrated transport system, which Railfuture actively supports, is devolution ie who will be responsible for providing and co-ordinating the UK’s bus network. A national monolith will not do this so nationalisation does not sit comfortably with this. This suggests that local as well as unitary authorities will be responsible for bus service provision.

Better pay for bus staff is laudable as many are paid far less than rail staff but it will not improve cost efficiency.
  • Where councils take control of the buses, Labour will introduce free bus travel for the under 25s.
This is a massive funding commitment requiring the bus network to be seen as a subsidised service less dependent on fares. In a devolved context this would come from council taxes, in a nationalised context it would come from taxes.
  • We will increase and expand local services, reinstating the 3000 routes that have been cut, particularly hitting rural communities.
It is easy to interpret this as a populist, rather than a viable way of sustaining rural communities, particularly as the majority of bus travel is actually in towns and cities.

  • Labour will deliver improvements for rail passengers by bringing our railways back into public ownership (nationalisation) , using options such as franchise expiry.
If the way to do this is by avoiding compensation to train operators with franchise contracts, it will have to wait a while as many franchises have just been let, as Railfuture members are aware. This suggests that this will not be tackled until during the term of the next parliament. Ironically one of the largest new franchises, the West Coast Main Line commences just four days before the election on December 8th and runs to 2031!
  • This will enable us to make fares simpler and more affordable, rebuild the fragmented railways as a nationally integrated public service, cut the wastage of profit, improve accessibility for disabled people, ensure safe staffing levels and end driver only operation.
Nationalisation will not do any of this per se. Fares can be simplified but this does not imply cheaper fares. The fragmented point is also difficult as we see in London where an integrated fares and service network is achieved by effective regulation by a competent body.

The profit point depends on your politics. Franchise profits are subject to what used to be called the cap and collar mechanism so confining profits to within a + or – 3% range.

Funding of improved accessibility is rigidly controlled and rationed by government through the Accessibility for All scheme. The budget should be larger but this is nothing to do with ownership or nationalisation.


Railfuture members are aware of how safe our railways are and to imply they are not is disingenuous. Ending Driver Only Operation has considerable consequences on the cost of railways and hence fares, particularly in London and the South East. The largest Driver Only operation is the London Tube, the safest in the world. The manifesto does not state why Driver Only Operation would be ended. The question is how can personal security be improved.
  • Our publicly owned rail company will steer network planning and investment. It will coordinate mainline upgrades, resignalling, rolling stock replacement and major projects.
Network Rail is already publicly owned on the state’s balance sheet and does this already. The strategic oversight to be proposed in the Williams Review should be designed to strengthen the strategic direction of the industry. The manifesto presumably suggests the abolition of the leasing companies, currently a successful element of the rail industry, and replacement by government procurement. Nobody at present can seriously suggest that the government through its agency, the DfT is equipped to effectively undertake procurement.
  • We will implement a full, rolling programme of electrification.
Railfuture advocates such a programme but against a specific purpose ie to enable the doubling of usage of the rail network so addressing environmental issues. The manifesto appears to have forgotten about the environment in the context of railways, a key potential strength.
  • Our model will ensure continuity of skills, jobs and supply chain capacity to reduce costs, improve productivity and support the economic benefits of Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the manifesto will reduce costs and improve productivity. Quite the reverse, many of these measures will increase costs, quite significantly in some cases. There is an argument for better strategic consistency and long term investment plans which could reduce capital costs for long term programmes such as electrification.
  • We will introduce a long term investment plan including delivering Crossrail for the North (now referred to as Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS3 before that) as part of improved connectivity across northern regions
Railfuture has consistently campaigned for investment in the north (and elsewhere) with a specific objective of doubling the capacity of the network so yielding substantial economic and environmental benefits to this and other regions.
  • We will consult with local authorities to reopen branch lines.
Railfuture campaigns to reopen railways against strict criteria in terms of viability and a strong business case. This general statement reads like the similar statement on the 3000 bus routes. There is no particular thought given to how much this would cost and the opportunity cost of doing so versus other investments, such as electrification.
  • We will also unlock capacity and extend high-speed networks by completing the full HS2 route to Scotland taking full account of the environmental impacts of different route options.
It is not clear what this means as it is difficult to reconcile “in full” with “different route options”. Is the intention to go ahead with HS2 but review the route? Adding Scotland into HS2 consideration is sensible and advocated by Railfuture.
  • We will deliver rail electrification across the whole country, including Wales.
This repeats an earlier manifesto commitment listed above but specifically adds Wales, presumably in response to the current government’s cutting back of the London to Swansea electrification to Cardiff requiring bimode trains. No mention of Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • We will ensure that these major infrastructure projects are a model of good employment practice and pay due regard to environmental impact.
To be fair, there are few of these motherhood and apple pie statements in the document.
  • We will promote the use of rail freight in order to reduce carbon emissions, air pollutants and congestion on our roads and expand the provision of publicly owned rail freight services.
This is the first mention of environmental issues in the transport manifesto although much greater benefits accrue from developing the passenger network than freight. Commitment to rail freight is however welcome. Why nationalisation is specifically mentioned here is not clear, as it is widely accepted that privatisation of rail freight is a major success story for the open access rail companies, reversing the previous situation under British Railways. A far more effective manifesto commitment on rail freight would be to facilitate the planning and funding of new rail freight terminals.

Other modes including cycling and walking, road transport and airport capacity

There is an emphasis on funding for cycling and walking and the urban environment, clearly relevant to public transport treated here. Few specific measures are proposed.

There is almost no mention of road transport, by far the biggest transport provider in the country except in the important areas of emissions and road safety. It is difficult to understand a transport manifesto that does not specifically make proposals concerning the motor vehicle, congestion and infrastructure.

Surprisingly the manifesto seems to support the Davies Commission’s assessment on pressures on airport capacity in the South East but emphasises that expansion must meet air quality, climate change pressures. It will not.

There is a separate manifesto section on the environment. It is disappointing that the environment gained such scant attention in terms of the transport section and rail’s potential positive contribution to this area.

The Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2019 – Get Brexit Done. Unleash Britain’s Potential.

You have to get to page 25 of the Manifesto before finding the plans for transport, under We Will Unleash Britain’s Potential
  • To underpin this national investment, we will invest £100bn in additional infrastructure spending – on roads, rail and other ...... , but qualifies it by saying We will ensure that we are always spending what we can afford on borrowing and repayment costs.
This addresses the devolution of transport agenda in some way whilst expressing caution on spending, presumably designed to show prudence given the content of the Labour manifesto.

A transport revolution

This is the main section of the manifesto detailing specific transport commitments.
  • We will build Northern Powerhouse Rail (Boris’s new name for HS3) between Leeds and Manchester and then focus on Liverpool, Tees Valley, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle.
Railfuture has consistently campaigned for this, properly integrated with HS2
  • We will invest in the Midlands Rail Hub strengthening rail links between Birmingham. Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry, Derby, Hereford and Worcester.
Railfuture has contributed actively into the Midlands Hub Rail proposal so pleased that this has come through into the manifesto.
  • We will also invest in improving train lines in the South West and East Anglia
Again Railfuture policy, but just a feeling of filling in the commitment geography.
  • We will extend contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing to almost 200 more stations in the South East, meaning that 50% of all rail journeys and almost all London commuter journeys can be completed using a contactless card.
Fine, but this is already in current proposals and franchise commitments. No harm in repeating it, particularly as no infrastructure commitments are cited. No mention of Crossrail 2?
  • We will give City regions the funding to upgrade their bus, tram and train services to make them as good as London’s with more frequent, better integrated services, more electrification, modern buses and trains and smart ticketing – such as the vision proposed by Andy Street for the West Midlands.
This is the big ticket item - transport devolution, which Railfuture supports. Citing Andy Street (Conservative Mayor of Birmingham) is valid although Andy Burnham (Labour Mayor of Manchester) has proposed exactly the same vision.
  • The railways need accountability, not nationalisation. So we end the complicated franchising model and create a simpler, more effective rail system, giving metro mayors control over rail services in their areas.
This is the Transport for London Overground model delivered through a concession ie the devolved body specifies what service level and quality it wants, integrates the fares and buys the train set. It is still complicated but the resultant integrated transport system is simpler for the passenger and more attractive, resulting in massive growth in the use of rail transport given that so many journeys also involve other modes. It is not surprising that Boris wants to repeat this experience in other cities.
  • We will make £28.8bn investment in strategic and local roads. We will invest £1bn in completing a fast-charging network to ensure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging station. We will consult on the earliest date we can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars, while minimising the impact on drivers and business.
Such a large capital investment in roads is probably not to every Railfuture members taste, but this section is incredibly carefully written not to scare off the motorist. Most journeys are by car, hence Railfuture’s strong contention that we must double the capacity and number of passengers using our rail system. The actual investment number is just about the current level of spending.
  • We will require that a minimum service operates during transport strikes. Rail workers deserve a fair deal, but it is not fair to let the trade unions undermine the livelihoods of others.
This is a late entry precipitated by the RMT calling frequent and extended rail strikes as the norm rather than the exception, even spanning the election period. Many other countries do this, publishing emergency timetables.
  • HS2 is a great ambition, but will now cost at least £81bn and will not reach Leeds or Manchester until as late as 2040. We will consider the findings of the Oakervee review into costs and timings and work with leaders of the Midlands and the North to decide the outcome.
The findings of the Oakervee Review on the route, as apart from governance issues, have been strategically leaked by government. There is a comprehensive HS2 brief and Oakervee update at AHigh Speed 2 Review.

This beautifully crafted paragraph can be paraphrased as “I will decide on HS2, particularly timing, cost phasing and governance after the election.”
  • Connectivity is not just about the UK’s great cities. To help communities across the country, we will restore many of the Beeching lines reconnecting towns such as Fleetwood and Willenhall that have suffered permanent disadvantage since they were removed from the rail network in the 1960’s
Railfuture campaigns effectively for station and line reopening and has a good track record, where a strong economic and social case can be made, such as with the Fleetwood and Willenhall in the West Midlands examples. It is strange that just these two examples have been singled out to be mentioned in the Manifesto.

No mention of transport in Scotland or Wales as yet. Still hoping!
  • We will invest in Superbus networks with lower fares – flat fares in urban areas – and increased frequency. We will keep bus fares low, bring back and protect rural routes and speed up your journeys. We will invest in electric buses, bringing the UK’s first electric bus town.
This was looked at in some depth in London where removing stops was seen as potentially undermining the existing local network and it was recognised that that low bus speed is a function of congestion and the efficiency of fare collection. Currently it is the bus operators who buy the buses so this would be a major change if the manifesto authors are aware of this.
  • We will launch the biggest ever pot-hole filling programme .....
Very popular with motorists who have to have their tracking adjusted at each MOT service. This is already included in the road maintenance programme advocated.
  • We will support commuter cycling routes.......We will create a new £350m Cycling Infrastructure Fund …… mandatory standards.
Everybody is supporting cycling. Particularly helpful is the mandatory standards element given poor and dangerous application by many local authorities. There is no mention of encouraging and providing for cycling in a rail context for longer distance commuting. Amsterdam Central station is the best example where 30% of rail commuters cycle to and park at their local station and an amazing 10% cycle into the city from the Central station, requiring two bikes as cycles are banned on the trains- not surprising in the Netherlands.
  • Parliament has voted in principle to support a third runway at Heathrow, but it is a private sector project. It is for Heathrow to demonstrate that it can meet its air quality and noise obligations, that the project can be financed and built and the business case is realistic. The scheme will receive no public money. More broadly we will use new air traffic control technology to cut the time aircraft spend waiting to land, reducing delays, noise nuisance and pollution. We will build on Britain’s pioneering work in electric and low-carbon flight.
This is the other hand crafted section like the HS2 section. Paraphrased possibly as I didn’t support Heathrow expansion but parliament did. We are not paying for it. We are aware of environmental issues but hope they will go away.

These issues will not go away and we will pay for mitigation if not the construction itself at Heathrow. The key here is effective rail surface transport links to Heathrow so reducing the dependence on road travel for workers (quoted as 114,000 Heathrow related., or 40,000 direct employees), on account of no night rail services for staff and early flight passengers. Railfuture will continue to campaign for new rail links to Heathrow from the west and south of the airport.


Amazingly, there is no mention of Scotland in the specific railway context.

Railfuture campaigns strongly and effectively in Scotland and indeed Transport Scotland has delivered many rail improvements including now five electrified rail routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our Scottish branch will continue to remind politicians of the contribution railway development can play in the future of Scotland.

The manifesto reads as pre occupied with other political matters in Scotland.

Northern Ireland

There is no specific mention of transport in Northern Ireland either.


Transport gets scant attention and railways get a single mention:
  • Transport. To support our Union, we will upgrade the A55 as the main transport artery for North Wales – improving its capacity and resilience to build connections between Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. A Welsh Conservative Government would deliver the M4 relief road which has been mothballed by the Labour administration.... (repeated for emphasis)
Railfuture would contend that there is another transport artery serving North Wales – the North Wales Main Line to Llandudno and Holyhead which urgently requires a quality and capacity upgrade and electrification. Notice the accent on connections to the rest of the country when many people are also concerned about connectivity within Wales.

The rest of the country connectivity point could also have been raised in Scotland with a specific commitment to extend the Borders Line to Carlisle. It was not.

It is curious that the South Wales Valley lines do not get a mention despite the significant plans for them by other parties.
  • We will also deliver on our commitment to fund the building of the West Wales Parkway Station outside of Swansea.
Whereas Labour say they will electrify every railway in Wales this manifesto does not even commit to electrifying the South Wales main line beyond Cardiff.

The Environment

This manifesto, like the Labour version, has a large section on the environment but again fails to highlight how a significant decent electric transport system carrying vastly more people, attracted from private transport, can contribute to the environment.

Liberal Democrats. STOP BREXIT. Build a brighter future

Transport is initially treated in the Our Plan for a Green Society and a Green Economy section. Given the potential contribution of rail to environmental issues this is good although a specific transport manifesto is included later.

This is what the Manifesto says: Britain’s transport system systems are broken. Commuting by rail is expensive, unreliable and unpleasant, and away from the major commuter routes, buses, trams and trains are so infrequent and expensive that cars are essentially made a necessity. This in turn has made air pollution – mainly caused by cars – one of the biggest cause of preventable illness in the UK, causing at least 40,000 premature deaths a year and costing the NHS £15bn. And surface transport tis now the largest source of greenhouse gas emission sin the UK.with almost no progress in reducing them since 1990.The UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions has risen by almost 80% since 1990.Liberal Democrats will meet this challenge by (then three actions are listed treated separately below).

The three policy mentions are general cover-all as if the author wants us to move on swiftly to other environmental issues. These are:
  • Investing in Public transport, buses, trams and railways to enable people to travel more easily while reducing their impact on the environment.
Good, but unquantified general statement with no specifics, no electrification, no mention of HS2. Nothing (until the later transport specific section).
  • Plans for a far higher priority on encouraging walking and cycling – the healthiest forms of transport
No specifics here either on how this would be achieved.
  • Accelerating the transition to ultra-low emission transport – cars, buses and trains through taxation, subsidy and regulation.
Fiscal measures can affect modal choice but the key point that this requires investment such as rail electrification and massively increased capacity is missed completely at this introductory stage.

Still searching for anything specific on rail it is worth looking at the Clean and Green section. Plenty on electric road vehicles here. There is a brief section on rail freight in here.
  • Shift more freight from road to rail , including electrification lines leading from major ports as an urgent priority, and amend the current HGV road user levy to take account of carbon emissions.
The manifesto sees rail freight in the context of imports through major ports and cites electrification here. The issues on rail from the ports are about rail capacity, such as from Felixstowe for example, and on the need to facilitate inland rail freight terminals, also missed in the Labour and Conservative manifestos. Electrification is however covered in the detailed tactical transport section.

On air, the manifesto wants to tax regular business air travel and no new runway capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted or indeed, Boris Island. It does not cite improving international rail links to provide an alternative to short distance air travel without taxing business.

There is also a section entitled Reducing the Need for Car Travel

This section advocates devolution, mentions light rail (where the others don’t), but does not even mention rail – a missed opportunity.

And then, we find a section Fixing Britain’s Railways. This section is examined with commentary below.
  • Freeze rail fares for commuters and season ticket holders for a parliament, while we fix our railways
A populist measure as adopted in London leading to a shortage of capital. The railways need capital spend on capacity.
  • Extend Britain’s rail network, improve stations, reopen smaller stations and restore twin track lines to major routes.
Not sure what twin track lines to major routes means but Railfuture advocates sustainable reopening and investment in network rail capacity.
  • Convert the rail network to ultra low emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035 and provide funding for light rail and trams
Railfuture supports electrification and also hydrogen if it can be produced in an energy efficient way as it does light rail, the latter ignored by the main parties. The industry does not have the capacity to complete this by 2035.
  • Support HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East West Rail and Crossrail 2 but ensure far tighter financial controls to meet our decarbonisation goals while minimising the destruction of precious UK habitats and woodlands.
This is the full list of major rail schemes currently under development and includes East – West Rail which Railfuture contends must carry rail freight.
  • Create a new Railways Agency to oversee the operations of the railway network removing the Department for Transport from day to day decision making.
This is to be proposed in the Williams Rail Review but the review goes further proposing a move from the Department for Transport including rail service contracts.
  • Be far more proactive in sanctioning and ultimately sacking train operators if they fail to provide high quality public service to their customers.
This will be incorporated into the remit of the new rail agency.
  • 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.
The key issue here is capacity on the primary commuter routes where service is currently constrained by infrastructure eg the Great Eastern Main Line and in the North and the Midlands.
  • Fix the broken fares and ticketing system so that it provides better value for money.
The trap here as rail users know is that fares simplification does not automatically lead to cheaper fares.
  • Improve disabled access to public transport via the Access for All programme.
The key to this is to have an Access for All budget that is big enough to be meaningful so the scheme is not perceived as a way of rationing money to be spent on such schemes as it is now.

The Scottish National Party SNP

Although the SNP agenda is heavily dominated by the independence and fighting Brexit issues this is what the SNP is saying about transport. A lot of this also is in the context of devolution.
  • SNP MPs will fight for better, greener public transport.

  • Westminster’s division of Scotland’s rail system has gone on far too long....SNP will demand full control of Scotland’s railway system to be devolved to the Scottish parliament – so we can put Scotland’s railways in public hands....
This refers to Network Rail being controlled from Westminster although Network Rail has very recently devolved infrastructure projects to Scotland to go with the Scottish Rail Alliance. This presumably anticipates an inevitable Scottish railway, albeit open to other long distance passenger and freight operators.
  • The SNP will push to make our railways significantly more efficient, faster and greener .....
This acknowledges that Scotland is already investing record sums in public transport but specifically cites HS2 to link London with Scotland.

There is a commitment to decarbonising Scotland’s railways to reach net zero by 2035 and zero emission city centres by 2030 and the world’s first zero emission aviation region in the Highlands and Islands by 2030. This is the first public commitment to air beating rail to zero carbon by 5 years.

Plaid Cymru manifesto 2019

The manifesto is formatted into 11 key policies, one of which concerns railways. This is examined below.
  • Electrify Wales’s main lines by 2030. South Wales Valleys electrification would be completed followed by the Wales Coast Line.
Commitment to electrification of both main lines, the Valley Lines network, a new Swansea Bay and Western Valleys Network is welcomed by Railfuture.
Other rail policy commitments on infrastructure are listed as:
  • Moving Chester depot into Wales, and a new North East Wales metro network.

  • A new trans Wales railway along the west Wales Coast achieved by reopening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line

  • A Cross Rail for the Valleys from Porth to Pontypool
The aim of these is to create a self contained, as far as possible, rail network within Wales.

The BREXIT Party

The Brexit party manifesto is focussed on Brexit with no involvement in European institutions and also a fixation on immigration presumably from Nigel Farage’s UKIP roots. There is no listed transport policy other than to scrap HS2.
There are consequences of no involvement in European institutions for transport, but in this context it is all about Brexit without any thought or analysis on more complex transport regulatory issues and any benefits that involvement with European organisations might bring. This is a subject for later analysis.

The Green Party If not now, when?

Much of the environmental commitment space has been closed in on by the other parties, particularly the Lib Dems whose manifesto is formatted around the green agenda. The Green Party manifesto is more traditional in format and contains an extremely comprehensive transport strategy – The Green Deal for Transport.
Following the introduction on the move away from carbon the emphasis is on public transport, walking and cycling so wherever possible people are not forced to use the car (as apart from being forced to use public transport.)
  • Spending £2,5bn a year on new cycleways and footpaths, built using sustainable materials, such as woodchips and sawdust.
Raifuture’s view is that sustainable access to the railway is critical to growth and that bigger and bigger and more expensive station car parks are not the priority.
  • Making travelling by public transport cheaper than travelling by car, reducing the cost of travelling by train and bus. Coach travel will also be encouraged, with new routes for electric coaches across the country.
There is no mention of how lower fares will be achieved, consistent with large scale investment. This is the first and only mention of an Inter City Coach network.
  • Creating a new golden age of train by opening new connections that remove bottlenecks, increase railfreight capacity, improve journey times and frequencies, enhance capacity in the South West, Midlands and the North, and connect currently unconnected urban areas. We would also look, where possible, to open closed stations. These rail improvements will benefit from funding switched from the damaging HS2 scheme, which we will cancel – ending wasteful spending
Readers will have their own views about the trade off between junking HS2 and these upgrades. It depends whether HS2 is considered as a capacity scheme integrated into the rail network or a free standing high speed railway. Railfuture’s view is that HS2 should be a vehicle to unleash rail capacity and provide an integrated rail network carrying twice as many passengers as now.
  • Electrifying all railway lines that connect cities, improving punctuality.
Electrification is key but the objectives are about capacity, efficiency and the environment, not punctuality.
  • Creating a government owned rolling stock company which would invest in a fleet of electric trains to run on newly electrified lines.
No deep understanding here. The rolling stock companies are essentially banks. There is a huge surplus of electric trains at present, over 2000 vehicles. The problem is electric railways to run them on. Similarly there is a deficit of diesel trains stunting growth prospects where again electrification is the answer.
  • Giving responsibility for running short distance passenger rail franchises to councils or groups of councils.....
This is the devolution agenda. Presumably they mean concessions not franchises.
  • We will bring all railways back into public ownership over ten years
Presumably this means nationalisation achieved by non-renewal of franchises after expiry. It looks like automatic nationalisation as apart from asking a national railway operator to compete.
  • Giving all local authorities control over bus services,...restoration of lost bus routes.... bus priority...better bus stops...public toilets.... disabled facilities....tramway development.
This cites the London example where buses are planned and controlled by TfL. There is a clear need for bus regulation in urban areas and properly planned integration with rail services. All manifestos seem to miss the integration point.
There are also a series of measures proposed on electric cars, traffic reduction neighbourhoods and a default 40 mph speed limit in non residential areas except on major roads. The default road speed limit is currently 60mph on single carriageway roads and 70 mph on dual carriageways, although many single carriageway roads have 50 mph speed limits away from urban areas. There are also sections on planning housing with good transport access and also the old stay at home and work chestnut.