Labour needs to to broaden its rail strategy, says BBET

Published: 29 April, 2024

Last Thursday the Shadow Cabinet announced that Labour would bring the railways back into public ownership, if elected. Their announcement concerns improvements only in domestic railways, but Bring Back Euro Trains is asking them to think more widely and include international rail in its strategy. Here is the text of our press release:

Bing Back Euro Trains (BBET) Challenges Labour to Broaden Rail Strategy Beyond Domestic Focus
ASHFORD, UK — 29th April 2024

In response to Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh’s recent (25th April 2024) speech unveiling Labour’s plan to ‘fix Britain’s railways and put passengers first’, the campaign group Bring Back Euro Trains (BBET) is advocating for a parallel focus on international rail services. The group contends that while the intentions of this domestic rail strategy are commendable, the omission of Britain’s only existing high-speed line and link to the continent, HS1, and the currently dormant International stations at Ashford and Ebbsfleet, represents a significant oversight.

Bushra Akhtar, Chair of BBET, asserts,“Louise Haigh’s speech was encouraging, particularly her commitment to ‘Mission Driven’ action to improve domestic rail services and the focus on passenger interests. However, we believe this mission-driven approach should also encompass international rail services, and crucially, extend direct international connectivity to areas beyond London, including Ashford and Ebbsfleet.”

The group draws attention to the upcoming 30th anniversary of international cross-channel passenger services this year (2024) and Eurostar’s ongoing monopoly position. Diccon Spain, Political Liaison Officer, Bring Back Euro Trains, offers further insight into the group’s perspective, “We’ve seen the consequences ‘purposeless drift’ can have around domestic rail services, as Louise Haigh pointed out; but where is the corresponding and equally important focus on international rail and international rail travellers? The reality of Eurostar’s 30-year monopoly, coupled with the fact that we have two substantial international rail facilities at Ashford and Ebbsfleet lying dormant, along with underused capacity on our only 67 miles of high-speed line, HS1, and through the Channel Tunnel, is evidence of exactly the kind of drift the Shadow Transport Minister is talking about, but on the international rail side of things. These existing assets—that are already paid for—some dormant, some underused, represent significant opportunities for our country and economy. We need a holistic, pragmatic, and opportunity-maximising strategy that focuses on the interests of both domestic and international passengers.”

“Enhancing international rail isn’t just about convenience, economy, and opportunities, it’s a crucial step in fulfilling our environmental commitments. By promoting the growth of international rail travel over short-haul air travel, we can reduce our carbon footprint by an average of 95% per passenger, and make a substantial contribution to combating climate change.”

BBET, whose petition for the reinstatement of international services to Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations already has over 53,000 signatures, is urging more members of the public to sign their petition to demonstrate the strong demand for direct international train services in Kent. You can also watch their recent webinar on their YouTube channel at

About Bring Back Euro Trains Bring Back Euro Trains campaigns for the return of cross-Channel train services to Kent stations Ashford and Ebbsfleet, which were suspended during the pandemic and never reinstated. The campaign is managed by a small group of dedicated volunteers working together for the good of Ashford and Ebbsfleet, Kent, and cross-Channel international rail networks generally.

Media Contact Diccon Spain, Political Liaison Officer, Bring Back Euro Trains
07770 921103