Rail profits plummet

23 October 2018

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has spoken out after it was revealed that rail profits have fallen off a cliff, plummeting 80%, as operators grapple with the realities of running a rail service.


Mick said: ‘While I know it’s never a good look to say, “I told you so,” we did! We said privatisation wouldn’t work, and it doesn’t, and we said that the privatised train operating companies would get into trouble, and they have.


The Tories privatised our railway because, they said, they wanted to introduce the rigours of free market competition into the industry. But the railway is a natural monopoly and the only competition is trying to win a franchise. So companies overbid, to win a contract, and then hand back the keys and walk away when they realise – which many of them admit they knew all along – that the numbers simply don’t add up.


‘Privatisation hasn’t worked, doesn’t work, and will not work. The franchise model is broken, whether Chris Grayling can see it or not, and is selling Britain – passengers, taxpayers, and those of who work on the railway – woefully short.


‘In the last 20-odd years, since John Major privatised our industry in the 1990s – a privatisation, incidentally, which even that arch-privateer Margaret Thatcher described as “a privatisation too far” – we have seen our rolling stock get older, our trains get more crowded, and our fares go right through the roof. We now have the highest passenger fares in Western Europe. Why? Because of privatisation!


‘And yet the privateers cannot make enough money! So they will ask the government for a bailout, or try to push up fares yet again. And Chris Grayling wants passengers to pay more, and staff to take less, to protect the pay of his mates, the directors in the boardroom, who are running these companies into the ground, and the dividends of shareholders! The answer is to bring our railway back into public ownership and run it as a public service for passengers and for businesses. That’s the best deal for taxpayers.’

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