Private Profits Ring Fenced Whilst Modernisation And Maintenance Ditched

RAIL UNION RMT today accused the government of moving towards a “slash and burn” attack on transport budgets as a barrage of announcements this week confirmed that the profits and subsidies of the private train operating companies are being ring-fenced while key modernisation, maintenance and upgrade works are being ditched in an all-out dash for cuts:

  • Moves announced this morning to haul back the rail carriage procurement programme – following on from the shelving of the planned replacement of the Intercity train fleet earlier this year – flying in the face of government commitments to expand rail capacity.
  • A demand by the regulator – the ORR – that Network Rail speed up and extend its cuts to both rail maintenance and the renewals programme putting hundreds more safety-critical jobs at risk.
  • Expected increases of 6% in passenger fares – linked to the July rate of RPI – blowing apart Lib Dem election pledges to cut fares.
  • A proposal by Network Rail boss Iain Coucher to delay electrification while also saying publicly that Crossrail works have “not gone so far that they could not be stopped”.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said today:

“Just a few weeks into this ConDem administration we can now see their transport policy taking shape – ring-fencing the profits, subsidies and fare increases of the private train operators while passengers are forced to travel in slow-moving, over-crowded cattle trucks on dangerously under-maintained tracks.

“All the warm words of this new government on a high-speed, green future for expanded rail travel are evaporating before our very eyes as transport is seen as a soft-target for early cuts with the private companies given a green light to continue milking profits and subsidies which could be used to invest for the future.

“Meanwhile the rail regulator (the ORR) is setting out a bonus regime for Network Rail chief Iain Coucher and his top brass which is effectively a “Butchers Charter” – the more safety-critical staff you sack, the bigger your bonus.

“As the Potters Bar inquest continues there is no question that this systematic undermining of rail budgets and rail safety makes another major disaster an inevitability and RMT will take whatever action is required to protect jobs, safe working conditions and the safety of the travelling public.”

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