Tories and the DfT - here we go again

01 September 2017

Well, here we go again. A party that promised electrification of key areas in 2010, and then truncated the proposals to win votes, has done it again: 2015 electrification, 2017 no mention of reduced investment until after elected. The figures for the comparative investment, in particular rail, per head of population, are a matter of public record and, as we know, do not make good reading if you live outside the south-east, especially when qualified by population density. What can you say to those areas – what we call districts 3, 4, 6, and 7, which make up half our railway – directly impacted by the lack of a long-term strategy? So in the month they announce the end of production of petrol and diesel cars we commit to bi-mode trains for an indeterminate future. The Northern Powerhouse on rail is no more – just minor fixes that only mitigate in certain areas and do not meet economic, social and community needs.


The irony is the announcement of Crossrail 2 (which we welcome as part of a greater long-term strategy) at the same time which highlights the contempt this government holds for rail outside the south-east. As I write the big discussion on Radio 4 is about walking and cycling as the solution for all our transport needs; they have a role but do not drive the economy like rail. And does this government have any plans for the long-term future of freight other than the paths that may be created, years from now, by HS2?


21st century society is not the polite respectful place we would all like it to be and the rise of knife crime and sexual assaults in our industry, with many more unreported, is a major concern. These issues are coming to a head in certain areas, especially in Scotland, and we are calling for additional staff to ensure not only the safety of the travelling public but of those who work on our railway system. It is time for employers to demonstrate their duty of care.


Finally, let’s nail an industry lie – when companies try to deflect criticism of their failure to recruit enough staff by putting out on CIS that it’s down to the drivers. It isn’t. It’s the company’s fault. And if any driver is abused or assaulted because of such company misinformation we will act in the strongest terms.





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