A clear majority of Britons (64%) are in favour of the renationalisation of Britain’s railways. Interestingly, BMG’s exclusive poll for The Independent shows that support is almost equally spread between recent rail users, and non-users (65% and 63% in favour respectively).

Whilst just under a fifth of respondents did oppose the idea of renationalisation, strength in support comes at a time where people see privatisation of Britain’s railways as something of a failure, a belief held by 56% of those polled.

Unsurprisingly, Labour supporters were far more likely to support renationalisation than Conservatives, with three quarters of Labour supporters (75%) in favour, compared to just 56% of Conservatives.

It is interesting to note that those who said they had travelled by train within the last three months were more inclined to think that the privatisation of railways had been a success and they were also more likely to oppose renationalisation, than those who hadn’t used a train recently.

However, although more than twice as many recent train users believed that privatisation had been a success (22% of users perceived privatisation to have been a success compared to 10% of non-users), across all respondents a mere 16% believed privatisation had been a success.

These findings could be the result of the perception of poor rail, but readers should be aware that a majority of respondents will not use trains regularly, and so there is a distinct possibility that the results will have been influenced by negative public discourse surrounding rail travel in the media at the moment.

Respondents to our survey were largely in agreement over the proposal of tougher fines on private train companies for failing to provide a good service, with four-fifths of respondents backing the prospect of a tougher line from the government.

This coincides with 64% of respondents saying that the government does not hold private rail companies sufficiently to account. While recent rail users were less critical of privatisation than non-users, a greater proportion of recent rail users (83%) were keen for more stringent punishment of private rail companies who fail to provide an adequate service than non-recent rail users (76%). These findings may indicate that current rail users may be more willing to continue with the private operation of railways, so long as private rail companies are seen to be held to account to a greater extent than they are currently.

Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.



0121 333 6006

Thomas Speed – BMG Summer Placement Student – BMG Research

Dr. Michael Turner – Research Director & Head of Polling – BMG Research

Share this article: