Look to the future now it's only just begun

01 December 2017

I write this column after another week travelling the country where members told me we are entering an era of uncertainty in our industry. We go from a proposal for an all-Wales operation, with the wheels and steel back together, to the current franchisee leaving the bidding process. renewed calls for a Scottish-controlled railway not rejected but not given the courtesy of a response by those currently in power. And the Conservative government reneging on promises of electrification at TPE, the East Midlands, and Wales, and seeking to regurgitate old money under the guise of new investment about connectivity to HS2. Then news – that is not news – of the breakup of the GTR franchise.


I have an apology to make. I did what we advise you not to do; respond to provocation on social media. But, when the RDG put out a tweet about how successful the freight sector is, it had to be shown for the lie that it is. Success? Tell that to the hundreds of drivers made redundant, displaced, or forced into premature retirement, and the many others who fear for their futures. The freight sector is in managed (or mismanaged) decline with no long-term strategy by the FOCs or DfT. We await final decisions on control period six and the Network Rail budget; and fear more cuts, in real terms. Will there be a commitment to do all the works deferred in the last five years first, as indicated in the Hendy report? If there is, look forward to lots of temporary and permanent speed restrictions!


Despite all the negativity swirling round our industry I remain upbeat because of the unity and solidarity shown by you, the ASLEF members, the backbone strength and protectors of the future of rail in this country. In all sectors – passenger, freight, Underground, light rail and other undertakings – there have been many challenges in the last year and, thanks to you, we stood our ground. To all the branch secretaries, local representatives, company councils, and equivalent, our deepest thanks. To the executive committee and officers, again, when difficult decisions needed to be addressed you stood firm. So, to all in ASLEF, thank you for everything you do and, in the hope of a brighter and safer future, here’s to a great Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

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