Rail investment ‘a step forward’, but franchising must end, says RMT
RMT: July 24, 2007
TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT by the government of rail infrastructure projects aimed at increasing capacity were welcomed as “a step in the right direction” by Britain’s biggest rail union.
However, RMT warned that year-on-year fare increases would block increased rail use on the scale demanded by the environment and economy, and that the private franchise system would have to end if the railways were to play their full role in cutting emissions.
“Investment in rail and all public-transport infrastructure is always to be welcomed, but the failed franchise system and year-on-year fares hikes are barriers to the government’s aim of lowering carbon emissions,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
“The infrastructure projects announced today are a step in the right direction, but we also need to see a commitment to a new north-south high-speed link, and the go-ahead for the London Crossrail project, which has been delayed for far too long.
“We need a rail fares system that is going to encourage more people out of their cars and onto trains, but that will not be achieved by signing off franchise agreements that allow massive fares hikes.
“It is the fragmented structure of the industry that stands in the way of achieving the massive shift from road to rail that the environment and economy need.
“Franchising and rolling-stock leasing are huge drains on the network, and returning the industry to the public sector would release at least £800 million a year to be invested in further infrastructure and services,” Bob Crow said.