Mick hits out at RDG

01 July 2014

The RDG said: ‘Journeys on Britain’s railway have grown by 4% a year, on average, since the late 1990s. Rail’s transformation comes from a winning combination of private sector innovation and government policy. Operators have used commercial acumen to attract passengers, and the growth in revenue has played a crucial role in enabling government to invest record sums through Network Rail.’

But Mick said: ‘The public clamour for bringing the railways back into public ownership has made the privatised train operating companies very nervous. They know that people hate the fragmentation of our railway network, and hate the fact that the TOCs and FOCs take money out, rather than putting money in, to our vital industry.’

He added: ‘We’re delighted that more passengers are using the railway network, and more companies are choosing to send freight by rail, but that’s not down to the train and freight operating companies. It’s down to social and economic mobility, to the price of petrol and congestion on the roads, to the price of housing in our major cities and the concentration of jobs in urban centres.

‘It’s strange to say, “Yet even with this growth, government funding for the railway at £4 billion was the same in 2012-13 as in 1994-95 in real terms.” You’d expect increased passenger numbers to mean less government support as ticket revenues would increase! Especially as capacity has not been properly invested in which is why passengers complain about overcrowding.

‘The RDG’s main brag appears to be that government subsidy is, approximately, the same now, in real terms, as it was before the railway was privatised. They neglect to say that all that has happened is that fares have increased enormously instead! Although rail subsidy is now around £4 billion, it has spent many of the years since privatisation at a far higher level.

‘The companies talk about the money returned to the taxpayer. But only two TOCs actually returned funds to the DfT in 2012-13 when you factor in their subsidy. East Coast (who are publically owned) and returned £16 million and South West Trains who returned £5 million. Every other TOC took net finances from the taxpayer’s pocket.

‘ORR figures show that in 2012-13 the amount of money going into the railway above the cost of running the network was £707million. £204 million of this was dividends. What happens to the rest? This money could be reinvested in rail, taken off fares or used for other public services in a nationalised railway.

‘The implication that the network is more efficient because of the private sector is laughable. The burden has simply shifted to passengers who are paying huge sums to allow private companies to profiteer while stuck on overcrowded trains.’

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