Passenger groups join unions in lobbying MPs against plans to close 600 ticket offices, throwing guards off trains, jacking up fares and cutting maintenance
Rail unions are today joining up with passenger groups and community supporters for a mass rally and lobby of Parliament.
The event is part of the national campaign to stop the government from implementing the recommendations of the McNulty Rail Review.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “McNulty represents the biggest threat to our railways since privatisation. Staff and passengers have a common interest in resisting an attack that would wipe out safety-critical jobs, de-staff trains and stations and jack up fares in the name of private profit. We all have a stake in stopping this carve-up dead in its tracks.”
The government was expected to respond formally to McNulty this month. There is a suspicion that it may have been delayed due to the moving of former Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond to defence in the wake of the Liam Fox scandal but unions are keeping up the campaigning pressure regardless.
McNulty’s core proposals include:
- Axing more than 600 ticket offices, de-staffing stations and turning the network into a criminals paradise.
- Throwing guards off all trains and compromising safety and security on services right across the country
- Jacking up fares, offering train operators even longer “gold-plated” franchises and even more opportunity to mug the travelling public
- Cutting maintenance and lining up infra-structure for a return to the lethal cocktail of conditions under Railtrack that led to Hatfield and Potters Bar.
- Ignoring the cheap and efficient option of returning the railways to public ownership and instead repeating and compounding all the failures of rail privatisation.
TSSA assistant general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The McNulty proposals will worsen passenger services, turn some rail stations into no go areas and hit taxpayers in the pocket as a consequence of adding to the already rising unemployment queues. They make no sense and are driven by political dogma.”
ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman said: “If the McNulty proposals are implemented the railways will become the ‘rich man’s toy’ that Philip Hammond predicted. Speculators will benefit at the expense of the travelling public, tax-payers and staff.’
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “With rail passengers being hit by price hikes and public subsidy increasing, the escalating costs of our dysfunctional privatised rail industry must be addressed. The government has a clear choice. It can follow Europe with more efficient and cheaper rail systems under public ownership. Or it can follow the the McNulty report, cutting jobs and services, increasing the break-up of our rail network, and giving more power to private train operating companies.
“If the government follows McNulty, our railways will be even more skewed towards the interests of shareholders. With three quarters of franchises up for renewal in the next five years, bringing rail services in-house would be a painless process. Europe shows us that integrated, publicly-owned railways eliminate the massive costs and inefficiency of the privatised rail market where shareholders, consultants, executives and lawyers are the winners.
“The choice is simple. We urge the government to put the interests of taxpayers and passengers first and put an end to the disastrous privatisation experiment on our railways.”
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