date: 19 May 2011
embargo: For immediate release
Responding to the review of rail value for money published today (Thursday) by former Civil Aviation Authority Chairman Sir Roy McNulty, TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:
'The report rightly highlights the increased costs to passengers and taxpayers from the privatisation of our railways. But its prescriptions are wide of the mark and will make conditions worse for both commuters and rail staff.
'Privatisation has failed - as the comparisons with state run rail networks in Europe clearly show - so it is disappointing that little consideration has been given to the benefits of a nationally integrated public rail system.
'Cutting the number of ticket office workers, station staff and train crews is not what passengers want, and there is no link between staff costs and the increasing levels of taxpayer subsidy.
'The same cannot be said for the privatised train operating companies, where profits have risen in direct response to increases in public funding. If the McNulty review is serious in its attempt to protect the taxpayer from bailing out the problems in our rail industry, then it is barking up the wrong tree by targeting staff costs. Average earnings for rail workers have not risen substantially beyond national averages and gains in workforce productivity have been in advance of industry pay rises.
'Fragmentation is a prime reason why our railways are so expensive, so it is bizarre that the report recommends more with the potential break-up of Network Rail. Breaking up signal and track maintenance, last seen in the days of Railtrack, raises real safety fears. Passengers will also be rightly concerned about the implications for ticket prices and services, particularly in rural areas.
'The report makes positive recommendations too. Simpler ticketing is something commuters have been crying out for, and taking a more strategic and joined up approach to procurement offers great potential for supporting UK manufacturing.
'We welcome the call for the rail industry to work together and we look forward to rail unions playing a key role in informing and shaping the industry's response to these recommendations.'
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Issued: 19 May, 2011