Our trains are a currently a tangled mess of cancellations, cuts and chaos - and the excuses offered by the operators are pitifully weak.

So passengers are angry, anxious and frustrated.

I don't know who's surprised. Anyone who's travelled by train much over the last 25 years is well used to it.

At one time I used to pass through Birmingham New Street on occasional weekends. Every time I did, someone from Virgin Trains would stand there with a stack of complaint forms, handing them out to all passengers, in the same way someone might hand out religious tracts or leaflets about a shop sale.

I take fewer weekend trains these days. So instead of anger, anxiety and frustration the news has left me with a sort of wistful nostalgia, as I reflected on the many years when I travelled on them two weekends every month.

I used to maintain a long-term and long-distance relationship with someone who lived three and a half hours away by train - when they ran on time.

More often than not they were badly delayed. I got a lot more reading done in those days.

The other half of the relationship used to take trains to visit me, until she calculated that it was cheaper to drive. The train tickets cost more than the petrol.

I didn't blame her at all. But it seemed all wrong. Public transport is the environmentally friendly option and all politicians like to say they're committed to pose as eco-friendly.

So why were we being pushed off the trains and into cars? David Cameron had promised to lead "the greenest government ever". It soon became clear that his environmentalism extended no further than changing his party logo to a tree.

Then train tickets are always going to be pricey as long as the trains are run by private operators.

We won't ever cut congestion and car carbon emissions until we cut fares. And that won't happen until trains are back under public ownership.

There are many crazinesses about rail privatisation. One is that the private operators get far more taxpayers' money now than the old British Rail ever got. Money that could go on cheaper tickets goes to shareholders.

There's also the fact that many of the private rail companies are now in state ownership anyway - but by foreign states.

The state operators in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and most recently China have bought up some of the firms operating UK rail services. Apparently you can still have state ownership of the railways - as long as it isn't the British state.

If the Brexiteers are keen on "taking back control" maybe they could start with the trains.

I don't argue that everything should be nationalised. The Government doesn't necessarily need to make cars, ships or aircraft.

But when it comes to the services that everyone relies on - water, electricity, gas or railways - then there's a strong case for keeping them in public hands.

Poll after poll show that most of the population agree, including most Conservative voters. Once private interests get involved, profit will always override service.

The current fiasco is one example. If you want another, look at the fares paid by commuters to London.

According to Action for Rail, people travelling between Luton and the capital spend 14 per cent of their average wage on a £387 monthly train pass.

A monthly pass for the same length of journey in France costs £61, which is 2.4 per cent of the average monthly wage. In Italy it costs £62 - 3.1 per cent of the monthly wage.

And every year ticket prices get hiked up beyond inflation. When it comes to fares, Britain is still leading the world.

So here's an idea. The East Coast Mainline is back under public ownership again.

Let's carefully compare services there with the West Coast Mainline and see which does better.

If the west is more successful then let's leave it in private hands. If the east works out better, then the case for renationalisation is proved.

I'd put money on east beating west.