Campaigners will today (Tuesday) hold protests at over 30 UK rail stations to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Railways Act, which paved the way for the privatisation of the UK’s rail network.
The protests, which have been organised by the TUC’s Action for Rail campaign, will highlight how rail privatisation has failed to deliver for rail users and taxpayers on a number of key tests:
Separate research carried out for rail unions shows that, rather than reducing costs, rail privatisation is costing taxpayers £1.2bn a year as a result of fragmented services, higher costs of borrowing and money leaking out of the service in the form of profits and dividends.
The analysis, carried out by Transport Quality for Life, also shows that eliminating this £1.2bn-a-year wastage could result in an 18 per cent cut in rail fares across the board.
Action for Rail campaigners will be handing out postcards later today at stations across the country, including London Kings Cross, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Newcastle. The postcards will call on MPs to put people before profits and return the railways to public ownership.
A photo op will take place at the main entrance to Euston Station between 8 and 8.30am, at which an Action for Rail banner will be unfurled and postcards handed out. If you would like to attend this, or any of the other station protests, please contact the TUC press office.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rail privatisation has been a colossal market failure. Rather than bringing in the improvements and investment its cheerleaders promised, it has succeeded only in pushing up costs and increasing the burden upon the UK taxpayer.
“Twenty years on from the Railways Act we have a system of corporate welfare with train companies reliant upon the public purse to turn a profit. Virtually all of this ends up in shareholders’ pockets, rather than being used to improve services.
“Tragically the government is refusing to accept that the current model is broken and is recklessly pushing ahead with the re-privatisation of the East Coast Mainline, despite it thriving as a publicly-owned service. Ministers have learnt nothing from the last 20 years of failure.”
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said: “Privatisation has proved to be a disaster for this country. Even Margaret Thatcher, that arch advocate of privatisation, admitted that privatisation of the railway was ‘a privatisation too far’. It was a foolish, ideologically-driven policy by John Major’s government which has, each year for the last twenty years, sold Britain short.
“Private companies should be about investment and about risk. But there is no investment and there is no risk. Because the privatised train companies think the public should pay for the investment, they make a private profit, and then move that profit overseas. It’s a disgrace.
“That’s why we think it’s time to bring the railway back into public ownership so that, like the East Coast, the railway can deliver a proper service to the public, and bring money back to the exchequer.”
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “From the horrific consequences of Railtrack at Hatfield and Potters Bar, to the cold hard truth that British passengers are now paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on overcrowded and unreliable services that have been starved of investment, rail privatisation has been a catalogue of shame.
“For 20 years the political class, of all parties, have failed the British rail passengers and workforce, while overseas state operators have been allowed to plunder our services to keep costs down on their own turf. It is a shocking indictment that £3.5bn has been robbed in private dividends while the essential maintenance backlog stands at around £1bn and profit is placed head and shoulders above safety.
“This week we remember that 20 years of private profiteering and destruction on our railways and we step up the fight to bring the entire network back under public control.”
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: ”Passengers have paid a very high price indeed for this typical piece of political folly from the Conservatives – fares have more than doubled over the past 20 years.
“They are now the highest in Europe and they are due to go up again by more than inflation for the next five years as well.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Action for Rail protests will take place at over 30 stations across the country, including the following mainline stations:
East of England
Chelmsford 0800 – 0900
Ipswich 0730 – 0830
Norwich 0800 – 0900
Burton-on-Trent 1530 – 1645
Derby 0800 – 0930
Ealing Broadway 1730 – 1900
Euston 0730 – 0830
Homerton 0800 – 0900
Honor Oak Park 0800 – 0845
Carlisle 0730 – 0930
Darlington 1600 – 1700
Newcastle Central 0800 – 0900
Crewe 0730 – 0930
Liverpool Lime Street 0730 – 0930
Manchester Victoria 0730 – 0930
Preston 0730 – 0930
Berwick 0700 – 0900
Inverkeithing 0730 – 0830
Chatham 0800 – 0900
Gillingham 0800 – 0900
Reading 1700 – 1800
Rochester 0800 – 0900
Bristol Temple Meads 0730 – 0900
Clifton Down 1300 – 1500
Weymouth 0730 – 0915
Cardiff Queen Street 1600 – 1800
Birmingham New Street 0800 – 0900
Wolverhampton 0730 – 0900
Yorkshire and the Humber
Hebden Bridge 0700 – 0800
Mytholmroyd 0700 – 0800
Scarborough 0730 – 0930
Sheffield 0800 – 0900
Hull Paragon 0800 – 0900
Todmorden 0700 – 0800
Wakefield Westgate 0730 – 0930
York 0745 – 0930
- If you would like to find out whether there is a protest planned in your local area please contact the press office.
- Action for Rail brings together the TUC, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite to work with passenger groups, rail campaigners and environmentalists to campaign against cuts to rail services and staffing and to promote the case for integrated, national rail under public ownership. For more information please visit www.actionforrail.org
- The TUC's campaign plan can be downloaded from www.tuc.org.uk/campaignplan
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews
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