RMT says plans are “recipe for exploitation” while TSSA says railways will become a “rich man’s toy”
Government plans to reform the railways have been condemned by unions which say passengers will be the real losers.
The RMT described the proposals as “a recipe for exploitation” while the TSSA said they would turn the railways into a “rich man’s toy’.
Transport minister Justine Greening accepted many reforms suggested in the McNulty Report, in which former civil servant Sir Roy McNulty criticised the level of rail workers’ wages, saying she wanted to make £3.5bn annual efficiency savings.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “This government rail plan isn’t a recipe for efficiency, it’s a recipe for exploitation with the train operators given the green light to rob passengers blind to travel on overcrowded and unsafe trains in the name of private profit.
“Axing ticket offices and guards will turn stations and trains into a criminals paradise. For passengers it will mean the double scandal of being mugged by those who set the fares and then running the risk of being mugged by yobbos using the de-staffed services as a cover for violence and assaults.
“This plan also sets us on course for a return to the dark and dangerous days of Railtrack that led to the disasters of Hatfield and Potters Bar. For the first time since the creation of a nationalised Network Rail the way is being paved for private companies to run localised, mini-Railtrack concessions in the name of greed and profit.
“At least 12,000 jobs are placed at risk as a result of this industrial vandalism on the tracks and RMT has conference policy stating that the assault on jobs and working conditions set up by McNulty, and now mirrored by the Government, will be met by a national campaign of resistance including industrial action.”
“This whole Command Paper could have been written by the private train operators who want longer franchises and the right to jack up fares and to seize control of infrastructure so that they can continue to rack up billions of pounds of profits and dividends while charging the highest fares in Europe to travel on the worst services.
“If the government wants to save 30% of the current rail costs they could do it at a stroke by ending the fragmentation and exploitation which is enshrined in privatisation and by returning to a railway run under public ownership as a public service.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said plans to sell rail tickets like lottery tickets in corner shops will produce rocketing fares and millions of losers, including passengers and booking office staff who will see hundreds of ticket offices shut across the country.
He said: “By turning rail ticket sales into a lottery, this profit-obsessed government will produce millions of losers every day, just like the real Lottery.
“Private rail companies will be able to inflict inflation busting fares rises every year on passengers who will have no proper advice about what ticket to buy at their local shop, library or post office.
“This will be a rip off charter for the private operators at the expense of passengers who are already paying the highest fares in Europe.
“We saw fares jump 6% just ten weeks ago and they will jump by another 14% over the next two years under the Coalition’s plans to increases fares by RPI plus 3% in 2013 and 2014.”
He warned that over 700 smaller ticket offices could also now close with the government giving the train operating companies the green light to close offices which open for fewer than 12 hours a day in today’s Rail Command Paper.
“This is a missed opportunity by Ministers who are putting the interests of the private train companies ahead of millions of passengers.
“By green lighting higher super peak fares, they are in danger of turning the railways into a rich man’s toy, to use Philip Hammond’s very own graphic phrase.
“Rail bosses like Sir Richard Branson and Sir Brian Souter do not need further help from ministers to make even more millions- it is the passenger who needs protection from these modern day highwaymen.”
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