Rail unions marked 20 years of privatisation yesterday by presenting an "overwhelming" case for renationalisation.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow condemned decades of "spivs and speculators" since Tory legislation paved the way for privatising Britain's rail network in January 1993.
Mr Crow said the anniversary came amid 70 per cent public support for a full return to public ownership.
Since 1995 the average ticket price has increased by 22 per cent in real terms, with Britain's commuters paying the highest rates in Europe for day returns and season tickets.
Mr Crow said the morass of private operators had made ticketing more complex, while the lack of investment in electrification and high speed rail had "put passengers in the slow lane."
Think tank Transport for Quality of Life has found that public spending on railways had more than doubled from £2.4 billion a year before privatisation between 1990 and 1995 to around £5.4bn a year between 2005 to 2010.
It estimates that privatisation had cost an equivalent £1.2bn a year more than public ownership.
Mr Crow said: "It is time for the political class, including the Labour Party, to wake up to some hard truths.
"From the fares rip-off, to the Railtrack disaster and to the £1.2bn bled out of the system every year by the spivs and speculators there is nowhere to hide for the politicians and train operators who have turned Britain's railways into a state-sponsored racket.
"The West Coast Mainline fiasco reinforced what the vast majority of people know - that this privatisation disaster is beyond reform and the return of the railways to public ownership, run as a public service, is the only solution," he said.
RMT pledged to step up the campaign for public ownership.
A spokesman for fellow rail union TSSA said Mr Crow was "obviously" correct.
All three rail unions - the RMT, the TSSA and the drivers' union Aslef - entirely supported renationalisation, he said.
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