Rail freight in crisis

18 October 2016

After DB Cargo announced plans to make 893 men and women redundant, Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, spoke out about the race to the bottom in the freight industry.

He said: ‘Freight on rail is collapsing in this country. The news today from DB Cargo that the company plans to make 893 staff redundant – 391 drivers across all depots – is an individual tragedy for each man and woman who loses a job and a collective tragedy for our rail industry.

‘The company – which talk airily about “the business model of the past is not fit for the modern world” –has been extraordinarily slow to adapt to changing conditions. We have been saying for many months now that the loss of coal and steel meant the company needed to find new work. It didn’t. The blame for these job losses is almost entirely the fault of the management of DB Cargo. I say almost because the government has sat on its hands and watched this tragedy unfold. The government took the decisions that paved the way for the work to disappear and so it, too,must shoulder some of the blame.

‘Freight is the only part of the railway that is fully privatised, red in tooth and claw, with the companies cherry picking the best jobs. It’s a race to the bottom. The only way to build freight on rail – which is by far the best, and most environmentally friendly,way of moving freight around the country – is to bring it back into public ownership.’

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