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Services and jobs in the North’s railways are under threat, trade unionists have warned at a rally today (Thursday) in Manchester.

Services and jobs in the North’s railways are under threat, trade unionists have warned at a rally today (Thursday) in Manchester.

Figures revealed in a recent parliamentary question show that state funding for Northern Rail over the next decade is set to fall by over 85%, a drop of £236 million in real terms.

The Northern Rail franchise will be taken over on 1 April by Arriva Rail North, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn.

Trade unions have warned that the new franchise will feature worse services, fewer jobs and poorer passenger safety.

For example, 50% of trains under the new franchise will only have a driver, with no guard to maintain safety and security or assist passengers with disabilities.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“So much for the Northern powerhouse. Drastic cuts to rail services can only mean increased fares, worse services, or job losses. The government needs to invest in a publicly-owned railway we can be proud of.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

“It is a national scandal that our rail system is being starved of investment while hundreds of millions of pounds are used by foreign state operators to keep fares down in Berlin and other parts of Europe.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said:

“Osborne's Northern Powerhouse has so far meant asset stripping of the North's infrastructure. A new, integrated economic plan of public-investment and public ownership of rail wouldn't just benefit passengers, it could support the North's steel industry and turn the North's power supply back on.”

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said:

“This should be an opportunity to kick-start a brighter economic future in local communities. Our fear is that job cuts may be the reality. Who could possibly believe that making the railway less safe, less accessible and more expensive is the right thing to do?”

Unite national officer for rail Tony Murphy said:

“The Northern Powerhouse will never leave the sidings without sufficient investment in infrastructure. Passengers using the Northern Rail routes could face higher fares as subsidies are set to be slashed over the next decade, while the bizarre privatisation merry-go-round continues. The sooner that rail services are taken back into public ownership, the better for passengers, business and those employed on the railways.”

The rally is a joint event organised by the RMT, TSSA, ASLEF, Unite and TUC, all part of the Action for Rail campaign group.

The rally is being held at the Mechanics Institute, 103 Princess Street, Manchester M1 6DD on Thursday 31 March 2016, 18:00-20:00. It is open to journalists and members of the public. Speakers include Andy McDonald MP (shadow rail minister), Lisa Nandy MP (shadow energy and climate change minister), and the general secretaries of the RMT, ASLEF and the TSSA.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- Figures for the cut in state subsidy for Northern Rail come from a parliamentary question by Lillian Greenwood MP, answered in January 2016 by Andrew Jones MP

Year

£M

   

Nominal

Real – 2015/16 prices

Year 1

2016/17

281

275

Year 2

2017/18

276

262

Year 3

2018/19

282

260

Year 4

2019/20

247

221

Year 5

2020/21

204

177

Year 6

2021/22

158

134

Year 7

2022/23

136

113

Year 8

2023/24

114

92

Year 9

2024/25

92

73

Year 10

2025/26

53

39

- A 2013 survey for Action for Rail found that 93% of disabled passengers thought that staff provided personal security and safety on trains or at stations.
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews