Paul Plummer in The Times

21 November 2016

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, has written to The Times in response to a letter published in the paper this morning [on page 30] and picked up as a news story [page 6] and as the second leader [page 31]. The tendentious letter, from Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, and sent in what was clearly a concerted campaign by the RDG, was co-signed by Martin Griffiths of Stagecoach; Mark Carne of Network Rail; Karen Boswell of Hitachi; David Higgins of HS2; Russell Mears of Freightliner; David Begg of Transport Times and, according to the paper, 'a further 20 names'.

Mick said: ‘It’s a shame that Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, and the other signatories of his letter in today’s Times doesn’t know what he’s talking about. What Mr Plummer (who, with his background in accounting, has no operational experience of Britain’s railways)  mendaciously refers to as ‘modern technology’ is in fact nothing of the sort; it is technology designed in the 1970s, and introduced in the 1980s, which is palpably unfit for the number of passengers we have in the 21 century. We are told, after several recent high profile incidents, that we cannot rely on the old technology that underpins our infrastructure. So what is he talking about?

‘What Mr Plummer disingenuously refers to as ‘smarter working’ is, in fact, a desire to cut corners, and cut costs, and bring in zero hours contracts, in order to drive up profits for the privatised train operating companies that he represents.

‘As the trade union which represents Britain’s train drivers, we, too, believe in investment in the railways; but investment in what should be a public service, run properly and efficiently for passengers and businesses and taxpayers, not for the TOCs which, as we see every day on Southern Railways, are manifestly failing passengers as well as staff.

‘We would be willing to debate this publicly with Mr Plummer, any time, any place.’

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