Chaos and confusion

01 September 2019

We have never been in the game of having preferences in contractual negotiations for franchises, even having different standards of industrial relations within certain groups. Our issue is, and always has been, with the model. Never has this been clearer than now, when we might have expected a period of calm after Mr Grayling going and Mr Shapps taking over. 


Alas, that is not the case. Confusion reigns.


The number of questions we have had over what has been announced continues to grow. Apparently, Southeastern is to be run again as the conditions aren't right; Stagecoach and Arriva can take legal action over being excluded. Then First Trenitalia wins the former Virgin bid because it meets Williams – a report we have not yet had – and contains element of the old cap and collar process that means the franchisee cannot lose. 


Compounding this, Mr Shapps is looking into the viability of HS2 but the new West Coast franchise has been let to deliver elements of it. So why has it been let? It's nice to know it's business as usual – chaos and confusion remaining the order of the day – but Mr Shapps did complain about his constituency only having six services a day so let's hope when he addresses that he will also address all those communities that have a limited service and deal with the double whammy because bus deregulation is losing 90 million journeys a year.


Mr Freeman, another transport minister, went on the media to complain that his train was late and his connection was not held. Obviously, he does not understand the fractionalised penalty driven privatised world. And, with the current mantra from Mr Shapps and Mr Williams, punctuality will only exacerbate this issue.


The annual RPI fare rise has been announced to universal condemnation from those forced to travel who have suffered years of austerity and no – or below RPI – pay rises.


We should encourage travel to grow our local and national economies at the core of regenerating Britain as a public service. Mr Johnson's aversion to truth hasn’t changed with 20,000 'extra' police promised – exactly the number who will retire over the next five years and would have been required, anyway. New money for the NHS is not new money at all and £1 billion less than required because of previous Tory cuts.


A threat to prorogue Parliament to drive through his no deal Brexit by a man who will – with his two immediate predecessors – go down as the three worst premiers in history after Lord North. Whatever our views on Brexit, the democratic process must underpin what is done in all our names or civil unrest will be the result.


Yours fraternally


Mick Whelan, general secretary

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