Mick Whelan on Nicholas Soames

16 September 2015

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has spoken out after Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP for Mid Sussex, called for rail companies to be fined for cancellations caused by ‘no shows’ as he put it.

Mick said: ‘It’s typical of the Tories to try and demonise the hard-working people who provide the first-class public service most passengers have come to respect as well as expect.

‘The truth is that the train operating companies do not recruit enough drivers. And that is because of the nature of our privatised, franchised, and fragmented railway.

‘The TOCs are just in it for the profit. They work on their margins, the difference between what they spend and what they get in. So they put fares up and keep costs down. And one way of doing that is by failing to train enough drivers.

‘That’s why they are dependent, to keep the railway running, on rail workers working over and above their booked contract hours.

‘ASLEF has consistently called on the train operating companies to recruit and train enough drivers to provide the proper public service passengers – and taxpayers, who heavily subsidise the railway in this country – have a right to expect.’

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