Wednesday, 18 February 2009

LEAP research for RMT highlights rail fears

LEAP has published research for the RMT union showing the devastating effect that the recession could have on the UK rail network.

View the RMT press release here.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said:

"During the recession in the early 1990s passenger numbers fell for three years after the economy reached its lowest point, which suggests that the worst is yet to come for our railways this time round as well

"The difference is that this time we have private operators that have already squeezed tens of millions of pounds out of the railways straining at the leash to cut services and staff, and to renegotiate their franchise agreements.

"If we are to see the railways play their full potential role in the economy and for the environment it is crucial that the government does not allow any more attacks on rail services and jobs solely to satisfy the short-term selfish interests of shareholders.

"The study we commissioned suggests that passenger numbers will fall, perhaps for as long as three years after the recession bottoms out, and it should be unthinkable to allow the resulting fall in revenue to be paid for in cuts in jobs and services or even higher fares.

"If franchises cannot or will not deliver the services they are contracted to within the terms of their agreements they should be allowed to hand back the keys and the services operated in the public sector."

Download the LEAP research for free. The chart below shows rail passenger use (the pink line) against UK economic growth (the blue line).

Rail jobs under immediate threat:
  • National Express Group is seeking to cut 750 jobs across its East Anglia and East Coast franchises.
  • At least 800 jobs at risk as a result of Network Rail deferring 28 percent of rail renewals, such as laying new track, installing new signals – a decision not related directly to the recession.
  • The UK's main railfreight operator DB Schenker (formally EWS) has announced over 500 jobs losses and that further significant numbers are at risk as a result of Network Rail's deferral of renewals.
  • South West Trains has announced plans to cut at least 660 jobs, including ticket-office and platform staff, despite the partial rejection by the Department for Transport of its plans to reduce ticket-office opening times.
  • 300 as yet unspecified jobs at Southeastern
  • 40 unspecified jobs at First Scotrail
  • Proposed cuts to ticket office opening times at First Capital Connect leaving over 20 posts at risk

Thu Update: Passenger Focus has today published a report showing that UK rail fares are the highest in Europe.

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