Conference, it’s fantastic to be together again.
I have to say, it’s little short of a miracle so many of you managed to get to Liverpool this weekend given the current state of our public transport.
Record delays, overcrowding, routes and services slashed week on week.
We have a system where the public have come last for too long.
And we know there is too much at stake for the country and for the climate to carry on with this shambles.
Where broken promises on public transport hold our country back, where services connecting our major cities are slashed without warning by unaccountable private operators.
And where the public pay ever more for less.
Because if many millions – let down by services they can no longer rely on – cannot or will not use public transport then – quite simply – there is no path to net zero.
And we will never build the fairer, greener future our country demands.
That’s why my number one priority as your Secretary of State will be ending this spiral of decline on our public transport system.
When the Victorians laid the foundations for our modern railway, it was a vote of confidence in Britain’s future.
Today there are new challenges that demand that same ambition.
No less than sixty times the Conservatives promised to connect our great Northern towns and cities and deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail.
A once-in-a-century chance to invest in public transport – to transform opportunity across the whole country, rebalance the economy, and take millions of cars off the roads.
And they flunked it.
While the Tories fail our country.
Labour will seize this opportunity, and lay the foundations for the century to come.
We will build an Elizabeth Line for the North and deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full.
But we also know – we can only build a fairer, greener future by taking power from failing private operators and putting it back in the hands of the public.
Avanti West Coast has become just the latest poster boy of the failing status quo.
The worst performing operator in the country.
Half of all trains late.
And what have the Tories done in response?
They handed them £19m including – and you could not make this up – £4m in performance bonuses.
Out of the pockets of the public, and directly into the hands of shareholders.
Instead of holding those responsible to account for this fiasco – the Tories played their tired, old tune.
They blamed the workers who keep our rail network going.
But we know the truth conference.
The workers aren’t failing the British public – the Tories and their disastrous rail system has catastrophically failed us all.
Under the Conservatives, British railways have become a cash machine for companies and foreign governments.
Where not matter the performance, failure will always be rewarded.
Because the truth is, the Conservatives still worship the dogma that has let this country down.
They will always give the operators one more chance.
They will always give shareholders one more pay-day.
They will do whatever it takes to prop up a failed system.
Because to do anything else would be to admit their ideology is wrong.
Right across our transport system, we see that same failed dogma.
No other country in the developed world allows private bus operators the power they enjoy here – to pick what routes they want and charge passengers whatever they wish.
Entire communities cut off by decisions taken far away from the people they affect.
5,000 bus services slashed since the Conservatives came to power.
Fares have risen twice as fast as wages.
And who rely on buses more than anyone else – the poorest in our society.
This cannot go on.
Things must change.
And Labour in government will make sure they will.
We will put the public back in control of the essential public transport they depend upon.
We will give those communities that want it the power to set bus routes and fares, following the path set by our brilliant Mayor’s.
And we will end the ideological ban on areas establishing their own municipal bus companies.
The days of tinkering around the edges of a system that has so clearly failed the public are over.
The Labour Government we will form will end the farce on our railways.
We will end the failed experiment.
We will cast aside the tired dogma that has failed passengers.
We will improve services and lower fares.
And yes conference, Labour in power will bring our railways back into public ownership where they belong.
Because Conference we believe in a public transport system where power in the hands of the public.
A system that serves– above all else – the public interest.
Where lower fares, and more reliable services help reverse the spiral of decline.
A system that can deliver economic, social and climate justice.
Together we can build it.
So, let’s get out there, win power and make it happen!