The Queen's Speech and Rail Reform

14 October 2019

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, has spoken out after the announcement in Parliament today about the future of rail franchising.


He said: 'I suppose we should be happy that a Tory Prime Minister has finally admitted what those of us who work in the rail industry have always known – that privatisation has failed.


'Today's announcement, though, does not go anywhere near far enough. What this Tory Prime Minister is suggesting – 25 years after another Tory Prime Minister, John Major, made the major mistake of privatising our railway – is just another commercial model. It might put the wheels and the steel back together – which we have called for and which we would welcome – but it must be in the public, not the private, sector.


'The railway is a natural monopoly and it should be run as a public service, not for private profit. In a way that works for passengers, for businesses, for taxpayers, and for those of who work in the industry as drivers and station staff.


'The details appear to have been left for the Williams Review, which will report next month. So this is just a soft launch to take our minds off Brexit! The franchise model is broken – it hasn't worked in the interests of the travelling public – and it might be that Williams will suggest a model that could stay in the private sector, under another Conservative government, or easily be moved into the public sector, under a Labour government committed to public ownership. I know what we want – a model which works for everyone, and that means we need to manage our own railway.'


ASLEF has called on Keith Williams, Chair of the Williams Review, to propose a nationalised model of operation for the railway, fully integrated and run for people, not profit. Click here to read our response to the consultation.

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