REPORTER  Dale Haslam continues his regular column about his daily train commute
in and out of Bolton

THERE must be a general election around the corner as politicians seem to be coming up with ideas that might appeal to voters.

The latest comes from Ed Miliband who wants to renationalise the railways.

But the Labour leader cannot, practically speaking, do that as you cannot just go around ripping up contracts with rail providers and do a DIY job.

Instead, his approach seems to be ‘if you cannot get rid of them, join them’ so the opposition wants to create its own train company that, it seems, would bid for contracts and mimic the old British Rail system.

Except it will not. It cannot.

The whole point of British Rail was that it worked as one, massive, nationwide machine and so, if you began a journey in Plymouth and ended it in Inverness, all the rail workers you come across all worked for the same company.

Some weeks ago, I wrote in this column about a nightmare journey I had recently from Bristol to Manchester because six separate companies, which run stations and trains, did not speak to each other.

Surely, under Miliband’s proposal it will just make it worse, as the Government-backed company would just be another firm to deal with along your journey?

Labour also wants to simplify the fare structure, restrict fare rises and make it easier for passengers to buy the cheapest ticket.

Forgive me for being cynical, but I have heard it all before and, while it is commendable that the red rosettes are coming up with some ideas, I cannot applaud them until I see them in action, working for the benefit of passengers.

But if their overall aim is to stop passengers being ripped off, as they say, then good on Labour for discussing it.

If nothing else, it puts pressure on their political opponents to say how they plan to improve the passenger’s lot in the coming years.

Over to you, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg.