What a way to run the railway!

14 August 2018

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has slammed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for ‘nodding through’ another big increase in rail fares for hard-pressed passengers.

‘It’s a bit rich, isn’t it?’ said Mick. ‘Mr Grayling wants passengers to pay more for a poorer service. That’s not a great offer, is it? For passengers – or voters at the next election.

‘Commuters complain about persistent delays and cancellations, the consumer group Which? says the privatised train operators are one of this country’s least-trusted groups – beaten to bottom place only by second-hand car dealers – wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and yet Mr Grayling is pushing up prices yet again! What a way to run the railway…’

Labour has called on the government to freeze fares on routes affected by timetable changes – run by Govia Thameslink, Arriva Rail North and TransPennine Express – as a ‘small gesture of goodwill for passengers’.

‘And Labour is right,’ said Mick. ‘The train companies should be punished – not rewarded – for their failure to deliver. But Chris Grayling, a man who clearly couldn’t run a model train set, let alone Britain’s complex railway industry, is nodding through another whopping increase in prices for passengers.

‘The trouble is that the privatised train companies aren’t interested in delivering a proper public service for passengers, only in delivering a private profit for their shareholders. The Transport Secretary is turning a blind eye to the problems while the companies are laughing all the way to the bank.’

Mick added: ‘Passengers are paying the penalty fare for privatisation, a flawed and failing model that everyone can see doesn’t work. Hundreds of millions of pounds are haemhorraging from our industry every year – money desperately needed to improve our infrastructure, to continue with electrification, and reduce passenger fares which are among the highest in the world.’

The increase in regulated rail fares will be announced tomorrow [Wednesday] when official inflation figures, used to set the price rise, are published. Economists say the Retail Prices Index measure of inflation is expected to be 3.5% and the privatised train operating companies have been lobbying Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for a 3.5% increase ‘in line with inflation’. Campaigners and consumer groups have been calling on the government to use a different measure, the Consumer Prices Index, which does not take into account mortgage repayments and is usually lower than RPI.


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