Maintenance Cuts On Mainline 'Hammering Service'

RAIL UNION RMT today called for a halt to planned cuts to Network Rail budgets and staffing levels, and a programme of immediate investment and recruitment in maintenance and renewals, as the regulator, the Office of Rail Regulation, backed the unions case that the cuts are reducing passenger services to tatters.

The ORR, which also sets the Network Rail budget, said that “underspends” [ie cuts] on maintenance work, deferred plans to renew infrastructure, and other factors including engineering works overruns are leading to severe delays for both passenger and freight services.

ORR’s analysis of rail performance highlights that more than half of delays on the network are caused by problems attributed to Network Rail cuts that the ORR themselves have imposed.

The ORR report says:

“Between April and October this year, there were more than nearly 16,000 infrastructure incidents across the network, nearly 5% more than over the same period last year, despite benign weather conditions. These incidents caused almost 1.7 million minutes of delay to trains nationally.”

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“This is an extraordinary report which not only supports everything RMT has been saying about the impact on rail services of cuts to maintenance and renewals but which also blows the lid off the role that the ORR themselves play in imposing cuts, on behalf of the Government, on Network Rail.

“The report makes it clear that major delays to services are wholly bound up with Network Rail’s deferral of works for parts of the rail network such as tracks, level crossings and electrification. That is a shocking indictment on the state of Britain’s railways while the private train operators are creaming off a fortune.

“However, far worse is to come. Only last month the ORR demanded a further £1.7 billion of cuts from Network Rail from 2014, cuts which would hack back skeleton staffing levels and drag back maintenance and renewals even further than the dire conditions identified in today’s report. ORR have got a nerve complaining about the impact of the cuts on one hand and then doling out another bunch with the other.

“This shambles has got to stop. That means ending the profiteering of privatisation and reinvesting that hard cash siphoned off by the private companies back into capacity, staffing and infrastructure. It also means ending the fragmentation and waste of “outsourcing” and contracting and bringing all the works on our railways directly under the control of Network Rail.”

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