Bad weather underlines need for more rail staff and a unified railway network, says RMT

RMT press release, issued today

THE EXTREME weather that has played havoc with Britain’s transport system has underlined the failings of a fragmented rail network and the folly of the long-term reduction in the number of front-line staff, the country’s biggest rail union said today.

As staff struggled to maintain services in worsening weather conditions, RMT contrasted the commitment of front-line workers with train-operating companies that have chipped away at staffing levels since privatisation to boost profits.

“The snowstorms sweeping Britain have highlighted the importance of having enough front-line staff and how the ability to plan for weather emergencies has been undermined by the fragmentation of rail network,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

“In decades past, without the benefit of modern forecasting methods, a publicly owned and unified railway network deploying sufficient front-line staff was better able to mitigate some of the worst effects of winter weather.

“The efforts of rail staff today have been massive, but with the network fragmented and in the hands of private interests that put profit ahead of service, the response has been erratic – and with fewer front-line staff the weather has gained the upper hand sooner than it should have.

“Staffing levels are already pared to the bone, yet today we are fighting plans by train-operating companies to remove even more front-line workers.

“The time has come to restore railway staffing to sensible levels, and if the private operators’ shareholders don’t like it they can simply hand back the keys,” Bob Crow said.ds

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