McNulty goes off the rails

31st March 2012

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes assesses the McNulty Review, the effect it will have on the railways and why it should be opposed.

The Government recently published its response to Sir Roy McNulty’s deeply flawed review of our railways. Introducing it as a Command Paper is a fundamentally undemocratic move. It means the changes it proposes will not be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. This shows that the Government is deeply worried about the continuing unpopularity of rail privatisation.

About 20 years ago, a Tory Transport Secretary said that privatisation would lead to cheaper fares and a lower level of public subsidy. Justine Greening, to no-one’s great surprise, admitted that this was not the case. You would have thought that she would have admitted that privatisation had failed and backed the glaringly obvious alternative: public ownership! Unfortunately, humility plays no part in the Tories’ DNA. She is now simply proposing to tinker, yet again, around the edges.

Even though the document is light in detail, it is extremely clear who the winners and losers will be:

  • Winners: Private train operators who will be given greater freedom to make even more money for their fat cat directors and shareholders.
  • Losers: Passengers who face ever increasing fares (including new ‘super peak’ ones), fewer booking offices, more unstaffed stations, more driver-only trains and private maintenance companies being unleashed once again even though the last time round this led to Hatfield and Potters Bar.
  • Losers: Railway workers who will pay with their jobs and attacks on terms and conditions.

Even though McNulty’s conclusions are deeply flawed, his analysis was spot on. He rightly identified that the fragmented nature of our railways lies at the heart of its ills. However, his prescription was rather odd: introducing yet more fragmentation. That is why the rail unions commissioned a study that unsurprisingly backs McNulty’s analysis but provides very different solutions. It shows that savings of over £1 billion pounds per year can be achieved through re-integrating our railways and removing the profit motive. Unlike the Command Paper’s proposals, this can be done without sacking a single rail worker.

Sadly, one in four booking offices in England and Wales are now threatened with the axe. TSSA is working hard with the communities that our members serve to defeat these proposals. You can find out how you can play your part in this campaign at www.togetherfortransport.com. We also need to ensure that the next Labour Government boots out the privateers from our railways!

RMT briefing ‘Save our Railways: Why the Government should reject the McNulty report’

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