TUC and rail unions lobby on the Rail Bill

27 July 2005

As MPs prepare to debate the government"s Rail Bill today (Monday 6 December), the TUC and rail unions Aslef, RMT and TSSA have outlined the changes they will be seeking to the legislation.

 

"The government"s commitment to railway investment is to be welcomed, as is its intention to streamline the industry, take control of costs and involve the Welsh Assembly, Scottish parliament and Transport for London," says TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O"Grady.

 

"We believe that the changes we are seeking would make all the government"s aims easier to achieve and bring us closer to ending once and for all the fragmented nightmare of privatisation."

 

The TUC and the rail unions will be campaigning for amendments to the Bill that would:

 

  • establish a commitment to the aim of re-nationalisation to create an integrated, publicly owned and publicly accountable railway.

 

  • maintain public ownership of South Eastern Trains, the franchise that has already been back in the public sector for more than a year.

 

  • give the Sectary of State powers to take franchises back into public ownership when they expire or when it is clear that the service could be provided more economically and efficiently than under a franchise agreement

 

  • halt the transfer of the HSE"s rail-safety functions to the Office of Rail Regulation - removing the threat to subordinate safety to commercial considerations identified by Lord Cullen after the Ladbroke Grove rail crash

 

  • establish an industry-wide forum of all rail stakeholders, including unions, passenger groups, employers, government and local authorities

 

  • improve industrial relations in the industry by removing the power to indemnify or waive penalty payments from train-operating companies involved in industrial disputes - a power that effectively uses public money to prolong disputes by removing any incentive from employers to settle them

 

  • require all rail industry employers to provide mutually recognised concessionary travel facilities for all rail workers, ending the two-tier workforce created when the industry was privatised

 

  • remove incentives for funding authorities to replace rail services with buses and remove provisions that would make it easier for funding authorities to close railway lines altogether

 

  • protect the democratic powers and input of the metropolitan Passenger Transport Executives

 

  • ensure that the Strategic Rail Authority"s statutory duty to promote the railways and implement a rail-development and growth plan is maintained when the SRA"s functions are transferred to the Transport Department.

 

 

ASLEF acting general secretary Keith Norman said "It is time to turn back the tide of privatisation and profiteering.

 

We need a renewed culture of safety and public service with the railways the centrepiece of a new strategy of affordable, safe and reliable mass travel."

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