Railway Bill in Parliament Tomorrow

30 June 2005

The House of Commons is to discuss further amendments to the Railways Bill tomorrow (Thursday 27 January).

The union has briefed MPs about its particular concerns, and hopes sufficient support will be raised to make the government re-think several parts of its proposals.

In particular:

  • The union argues for MPs to support Labour Party policy and take passenger services back into public ownership at the end of their current franchises. Aslef has made the case for public ownership time and time again – and secured the backing of last year’s Labour Party Conference for exactly this policy. One simple amendment, tabled by John McDonnell MP, would ensure that as each train-operating franchise expires its services would revert to the public sector.
  • Failing that, another amendment would require the Secretary of State or Scottish ministers to transfer services to the public sector if an independent assessment concluded they could be operated more economically and efficiently than by the private franchisee. 
  • Another amendment would oblige the government to maintain public control of South Eastern Trains which, after a year in public hands, has shown consistent improvements in punctuality – ahead of services run by the very franchisees bidding to take South Eastern back down the failed private route. 
  • Aslef also wants to see the removal of a clause which, it says, could pave the way for Passenger Transport Authorities replacing rail with bus services, and calls for the end of a ‘two-tier workforce’ where some drivers have concessionary travel, and other do not.

Acting General Secretary Keith Norman joined RMT’s Bob Crow in saying, “Given the popularity of the call for public ownership – in the Labour heartlands as well as in the electorally critical southeast commuter belt – it would be sad indeed to see Labour MPs being whipped to vote against their own party’s policy.”

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