The railworkers trade Union RMT leafleted on Saturday in opposition to the McNulty Review. This review outlines the government’s plans to wage a serious attack on the rail network, seriously affecting passengers and staff alike. The review is aimed at returning the management, maintenance and infrastructure to private hands. This is despite the failures of Railtrack a private company that was held responsible for fatal train crashes at Hatfield, Ladbroke Grove and Potters Bar due to its profit-driven cost-cutting approach to rail maintenance.
Safety will also be under threat as the review suggests up to 20,000 jobs are ‘at risk’, including staff on trains, including guards and catering staff, in stations, in ticket offices and in safety-critical operations like signalling and maintenance. The government plans that up to a third of ‘savings’ in the rail industry will come from cutting labour costs. The government also proposes closing or reducing opening hours of up to half the ticket offices in the country. As the campaign website www.actionforrail.org points out:
“The loss of thousands of station and train staff also presents real safety concerns. The closure of ticket offices and the loss of platform and other station staff means that many stations will become deserted, particularly during off peak hours and late nights. There are very real threats to personal security arising from these proposals, particularly for vulnerable passengers.
“The removal of guards from trains and the move to make all trains Driver Only Operations means that in the event of accidents and emergencies there will be no other staff on hand to play their critical role in helping passengers.”
Finally, ticket prices could rise by up to 25% in the next three years, as part of government increases and increases charged by train operating companies. Passengers will end up paying more for a poorer service.
The vision of McNulty is one of stations with no staff, just concrete platforms, trains with no conductors or catering staff, and driverless trains wherever possible. It would be a nightmare for passengers and up to one fifth of railway jobs would go – all to enrich the state-dependent rip off merchants who call themselves rail companies.
What is needed is a publicly run transport system that is affordable, efficient and only a publicly run not-for-profit service can deliver this. The railways need to be nationalised and run under democratic workers control in the interests of staff, passengers and the environment not private companies.
Please support the campaign here: www.actionforrail.org