HERE we go again, as predicted, train fares increase again from January 1, the biggest increase for five years.

The reasons given by the train operators and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling are massive investment in the rail network.

Yes, that's true in so far as it goes. But it's been a long time coming and long overdue.

GWR are putting on longer trains, newer carriages. The Taunton to Cardiff service, via bristol Temple Meads, which is always so overcrowded, will benefit, or at least that's what they say in the regional and national press.

However, the debate going on - and has been for years - is the success or failure of the whole rail network since the contentious issue of it being privatised.

Seventy per cent of rail passengers travel on trains owned by foreign companies. It's a strange irony that the Tories were hostile to the rail network being state owned in this country, but have allowed the system to be operated by state-owned German, French and Dutch companies. And that includes much of the London Underground.

It makes a mockery of the Tories' version of privatisation and state ownership when European governments can operate the British rail network, but not own our government.

Even more bizarre is that the British rail network in the years 2016 to 2017 were bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of £4.5 billion - double the amount paid by taxpayers when the railways were state-owned.

Any benefits, if there are any, from privatisation would have happened under the state-owned system.

Privatisation creates monopolies, as it has with water, gas and electricity and commuters and consumers still have no choice.

There's a growing consensus among voters of all political parties that all these utilities and the rail network should be brought back into public ownership.

What's the point of privatisation when it's heavily subsidised by taxpayers.

Remember the 1970s, when Ted Heath's Tory government nationalised Rolls Royce?