Andy Burnham, whose politics seem not so much a movable feast as a packed lunch, seeks to appear leftwing. But bringing the railways under state control is not a radical policy. It would bring us into line with the European norm, and it is consistently supported by majorities in opinion polls.
Ellie Harrison, an artist and teacher, runs the Bring Back British Rail campaign from her flat in Glasgow. Its Facebook page has more than 100,000 likes. “We have support from across the spectrum,” she says. “One of the administrators of the page was a Conservative candidate in the general election. He didn’t win because the seat was in Scotland.” She identifies many motives among the likers. “For some it’s the ridiculous cost of season tickets. For some it’s the environmental thing. And then there’s a nostalgia for British Rail.”