NO TUBE AND RAIL CUTS! – ‘Franchising system in its death throes’


ENDING damaging staff cuts, bringing all of London’s Tube back into the public sector and getting the network’s upgrade back on track are more important than the name on the managing director’s door, rail union RMT said yesterday.

Responding to news that London Underground chief Tim O’Toole was stepping down, RMT said that the damaging policies being imposed on the network needed to be reversed.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: ‘A transport chief is only as good as the policies he or she is implementing, and Transport for London has launched an assault on jobs that can only harm service provision.

‘More important than who succeeds Tim O’Toole is the need to scrap attacks on jobs, get rid of what’s left of the PPP and get the Tube’s upgrade back on track in time for 2012.

‘London Underground is a key public service in a key world city and it is no place for failed private-sector experiments, short-sighted cuts or the petty bully-boy management our members increasingly complain of.’

The RMT also insisted yesterday that a cut in regulated rail fares likely to be triggered by the recession under the franchising fares formula should be paid for by a freeze in shareholder dividends, and not by cuts in services and jobs.

Welcoming reports that the government is likely to announce that it has turned down attempts by franchises to renegotiate the formula to protect profits, RMT also urged ministers to ensure that operators do not impose further massive hikes in unregulated fares.

The union has welcomed a motion, signed by three dozen MPs, urging the government to prevent train operators compensating for a fall in fares through cuts in jobs and services.

The Early Day Motion adds that operators not prepared to absorb a decrease in fares and protect jobs and services through a freeze in dividends should relinquish their franchises, with the rail services returned to the public sector.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: ‘We are witnessing the death throes of a franchising system that has proved itself incapable of delivering the railway our economy and environment need – and it would be irresponsible beyond words to allow them to damage the fabric of our rail network as they die.

‘What is needed is a dividend freeze, and if the private operators cannot run our railways in the interests of passengers, the economy and the environment the sooner they hand back the keys and allow them to be run in the public sector again the better.’

In a separate statement, the RMT said that there should be ‘no question of paying telephone-number bonuses to Network Rail executives who are presiding over a massive and dangerous squeeze on track work and a lowering of track standards’.

Network Rail bosses have ordered the deferral of a massive 28 per cent of track renewals, threatening jobs throughout the industry and risking a potentially catastrophic undermining of infrastructure safety – and this must be reversed, the RMT said.