Transport select committee

07 June 2016

ASLEF has submitted its evidence to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into rail franchising.

We say the failures of franchising have never been clearer or greater than they are now.Two decades of profiteering by private companies have starved the system of money which should have been reinvested in rail operations. The structural failings of the system are now so great – and so obvious – that the legitimacy of the model have now been called into question. Privatisation has led to fragmentation and inefficiency. The railways are – or should be – a public service, not an opportunity for private greed. There should be no profit motive on Britain’s railways. Proposals by the Competition and Markets Authority to amend a deeply flawed system will only make the situation worse. To drive real efficiency we must end the franchising system and bring the entire network back into public ownership.

Mick Whelan, general secretary, said: ‘Franchising has failed and no amount of tinkering with the current system will change that. The franchise system is fundamentally flawed and is now beyond repair. From the beginning it has been unattractive and costly to passengers and taxpayers. It is now becoming unattractive to operators. The railway needs long-term strategic planning and should be considered as a holistic entity. But this is impossible under the current structure.’

Mick added: ‘There must be significant questions over the DfT’s ability to manage so many franchise competitions over the next two years considering the staggering cuts to its budget. If the department was ill-equipped to deal with the West Coast debacle before these cuts, it’s hard to see how it will be able to cope any better with the huge number of competitions on a far reduced budget. It’s another expensive cock-up waiting to happen.’

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