|The News Line: Editorial
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Workers must take action to put an end to rail privatisation!
TORY MP Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, told the House of Commons and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday, that the Rail Industry Readiness Board should be ‘taken quietly outside and disposed of’.
He said people’s private lives are being ‘destroyed’ by collapsing rail privatisation, adding: ‘This whole thing is an absolute disaster and must be put right.’ Soames was shocked by the way that rail privatisation has hit the Tory Party for six, after hundreds of thousands of Tory supporters have been prevented from getting to work, by the ‘new timetables’ that have brought the railways in many areas to a standstill.
The process of introducing the new timetable has been overseen for the last two years by an Industry Readiness Board, made up of Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road and the train operators, and an Independent Assurance Panel.
Grayling told the House of Commons yesterday: ‘Both of these groups have told me that they had been given no information to suggest that the new timetable should not be implemented as planned – albeit with some likely early issues as the timetable bedded down. It should have been clear to them that some key parties were not ready. They did not raise this risk.’
They have obviously become used to a privatised network where the bosses cannot make any losses since their deficits are covered by the state, and overseen by their secret contracts. Grayling, who has led the privateers campaign to get guards off trains, throwing safety to the four winds, has now moved onto bringing the system to a near standstill through timetable chaos. He remains in office for the moment only because his resignation would bring the May government down.
Meanwhile, some 25 newspapers across the north of England have joined forces to call on Prime Minister Theresa May to ‘get a grip’ of the chaos on the rail network by calling an emergency summit to resolve the crisis. The Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo and Yorkshire Post were among the titles from three newspaper groups calling for action, including a review of rail franchising, after passengers across the north were hit by crippling disruption following the introduction of a new rail timetable by train operator Northern.
They said the recent chaos ‘made a mockery’ of government claims to be prioritising infrastructure in the cities of the north. However, there is to be no summit. All they have got is a promise from Grayling of a rail inquiry cover-up! In fact, the only consistent supporter of the passengers has been the rail trade unions, particularly the RMT which has led the fight to keep guards on trains and defended passenger safety.
On May 15th the RMT warned of disastrous consequences from the new timetable plans of the ‘basket-case GTR franchise’. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘The planned new timetable on GTR will place massive additional strains on infrastructure and staffing levels that are already struggling to cope with current capacity. The company are winging it with potentially disastrous consequences.
‘RMT has warned repeatedly about the pressure on the central core through the middle of London which is crucial to the delivery of these plans. ‘It also remains a fact that this company have proved themselves unfit to run a railway since they were inflicted on a long suffering public. ‘From attacking their own staff to axing safety-critical guards and ignoring the views of passengers and disability groups their track record is truly shocking.
‘Instead of trusting them with a new timetable they should be stripped of the franchise to make way for an integrated, publicly owned operation that is properly equipped to deliver these services.’
There is only one way out of the crisis that rail privatisation has created for passengers and all workers.`
This is that the RMT and the rail unions must go to the TUC and demand that it call a general strike to bring down the Tories and smash rail privatisation by bringing in a workers government that will renationalise the railway and put the entire system under workers’ management.
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