Journey times: the real problem

23 August 2017

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to act to bring down journey times in Britain. He was speaking after Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that ‘rail journeys today take as long as they did in the 1960s.’


Mick said: ‘The problem is privatisation and the failed system of rail franchises. When John Major privatised the railway he promised three things – competition, innovation, and investment. There is no competition – the privatised train companies have protected routes, private monopolies – there is precious little innovation and investment in the industry comes from central government.


‘Fares have gone up, not down – we now have the highest rail fares in Europe – while trains have got more and more crowded and journey times, in the main, have got no faster. I know why the train operating companies like privatisation – when they talk about “risk and reward” they mean there is no risk, it’s all reward – but the model is broken. It’s no way to run a railway in the 21st century.


‘We need better – much better than this – from the Secretary of State for Transport. It’s up to the government – and his department – to solve the connectivity crisis in Britain. And it’s time for Chris Grayling to stop blaming everyone else for the failings of his department.’

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