Union seeks assurances and calls for radical approaches as franchises change

18 October 2005

ASLEF General Secretary Keith Norman said that the union has two major objectives after today’s government announcement about revised rail franchises. ‘Firstly we will protect the employment, income and pensions of all our members; and secondly we will hold the government to the pledge it reiterated today about ‘a growing railway, not a shrinking railway’

‘We will also ensure that Mr Darling keeps to his undertaking that this is ‘not about removing routes.’

The union said it expected to be invited to discuss the details of the franchising offers, as a major stakeholder – but Keith proposed a more radical and logical approach.

‘The sensible thing to do is to take the franchises back into public ownership when they expire in two years’ time,’ he said. ‘This is, after all, the policy endorsed by the Labour Party itself.’

The union also points out that the central innovation introduced today – cutting franchises from four to three – is an indication that the government accepts the inevitability of monopolies developing in the industry.

‘This underlines our contention that the railways are a natural monopoly,’ Keith says. ‘If you accept this, the logical conclusion is that it should be under public ownership.'

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