Ownership is the key says ASLEF

26 July 2005

ASLEF today welcomed government plans to take more power over the running of Britain"s railways but warned that ministerial control without public ownership was a recipe for confusion.

"We welcome the transfer of powers from the Strategic Rail Authority to the transport secretary" said Keith Norman, acting general secretary of ASLEF
"However, we remain concerned that the dominant private ownership of the railways will remain a block on rational planning and management."

"Unless public ownership of Network Rail and the infrastructure is strengthened the deadly mix of privately owned train operating companies and profit hungry infrastructure maintenance and renewal firms will undermine efforts to restore public confidence."

The union reiterated its concerns that the shift in responsibility for railway safety from the HSE to the Office of Rail Regulation could conflict with the ORR"s other responsibility for performance and costs.

"Safety is a stand alone task" said Keith Norman, "Neither train drivers, other railway workers or the public will accept a shift in priorities which would set safety against profitability."

ASLEF welcomed increased responsibilities for devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and London for passenger services and some infrastructure.

And on plans to bring forward a Crossrail Bill to authorise construction Keith Norman said, "London"s transport needs are too pressing to be left to the City and big business. Government must take the initiative with public ownership and control the guarantee of stability and good management."

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