RAILWAYS must be brought back into public ownership to finally bring to an end the “gamble” of overcrowded, late-running trains, Labour has demanded on the week the East Coast Mainline was taken out of private hands.

Services on the newly renationalised route began running yesterday morning following the collapse of the private franchise which took over three years ago.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the failure of Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) “should make clear, once and for all, that the franchising model does not work”.

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He said: “Getting to work shouldn’t be a gamble, but for too many passengers in Scotland the daily commute means an overcrowded, late running, overpriced train – if it turns up at all.

“Some passengers in Scotland are spending up to 20 per cent of their wages on rail fares. Labour offers a brighter future for our railways, with public ownership giving passengers more of a say and better services.”

He will join activists at Glasgow Central station today to launch a new ‘scratch card’ style leaflet, as the party renews its push for nationalisation.

It will also target commuters during rush hour with an online advert highlighting “SNP rail failures” and outlining Labour’s plans for public ownership.

The drive is part of 200 planned “rail mayhem” events across the UK to mark the first working day of the East Coast Mainline returning to public control.

Trains on the vital route between London and Scotland are being run by the Department for Transport's (DfT) Operator of Last Resort, branded as London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

It comes after VTEC – a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin – was forced to axe its contract early after failing to meet cash targets. It is the third private operator to fail to complete the full length of a contract to run East Coast services.

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But UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling refuted accusations from Labour and trade unions that his decision to end VTEC's franchise early was a "bailout" worth £2 billion.

LNER will operate until a public-private partnership takes responsibility for both trains and track operations in 2020.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted all railway lines “should be run in the interests of passengers and taxpayers, not private profit”.

He said: “Passengers, our economy and our environment need affordable fares and reliable services, which Tory policy is failing to deliver.

“The next Labour government will take our railways back into public ownership as franchises expire, using savings to cap fares, and would upgrade and expand the rail network.”

Meanwhile, Manuel Cortes, general secretary of transport union TSSA, slammed UK ministers for failing to include Scottish representatives on the board of LNER, which serves stations including Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Inverness.

He said: “It is typical of the pure anti-public sentiment held by privateer Tory Grayling that LNER will be running trains across Scotland without any Scottish representation on its board.”

Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf is currently drawing up a public sector bid to take over the running of Scotland’s railways from current operator Abellio.

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He said: “We should also not lose sight of the transformational process underway on our railways in terms of infrastructure enhancements, as well as the introduction of new and fully re-furbished rolling stock with the additional services that they will provide

“Meanwhile, I am already delivering on our very clear commitment to ensure there can be a public sector bid for future rail franchises and will give an update shortly.

“Labour would be better thanking railway staff for their efforts in helping build the best railway Scotland has ever had, rather than talk it down.”

A ScotRail spokesman said the most recent published figures showed nine out of ten trains met their punctuality target.