End rail franchising and stop the squeeze on passengers, says RMT
RMT: July 23 2007
RAIL PASSENGERS and the environment cannot afford a future of endless massive fares hikes, Britain’s biggest rail union says today.
Ahead of tomorrow’s publication of the government’s draft 30-year plan for Britain’s railways, RMT says that the fragmented, expensive and failed franchising system has to be ended if we are to see increased rail use on the scale that the environment and economy need.
While welcoming the expected commitment to increasing capacity on Britain’s railway network, the union warned that expecting passengers to absorb ever-increasing fares hikes to pay for it was the “elephant in the room” that would force people onto the roads.
“Rail passengers are already paying through the nose to subsidise the profit habits of fat-cat franchisees and train-leasing companies,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
“Investment in a growing rail network is always to be welcomed, but if the aim is to get people out of their cars and onto trains, the franchising and rolling-stock leasing systems have to go, and a fares system introduced that encourages people off the roads.
“Our rail fares are already among the most expensive in Europe, and the ludicrous franchise deals signed off in recent months will mean massive hikes year on year. That is the reverse of what should be happening, and it has to stop.
“The spending already announced to increase capacity is welcome, but it can only be a small start towards the massive expansion we need to see if the railways are to play their part in reducing carbon emissions.
“Removing the privateers from the equation and bringing train operations back into the public sector will release at least half a billion extra a year for investment in a growing rail network that should include a new north-south high-speed line and Crossrail,” Bob Crow said.