Tuesday, 4 May 2010

More rail cuts ahead

In January 2009 LEAP published RMT-commissioned research on the UK rail system.

We said that our findings raised "serious questions about the viability of the Department for Transport's (DfT) franchise model in a period of recession."

We elaborated that, we expected rail companies to attempt "to renegotiate franchise agreements, which could include ... cutting services on less profitable routes".

Today, the Daily Telegraph reports that proposals to give rail operators an incentive to cut unprofitable routes was drawn up not by rail operators, but by the DfT in January.

Of course the ludicrous franchising system means that operators receive subsidies to operate these routes, and with no party guaranteeing transport funding it is of course the DfT who would initially benefit by not having to pay the subsidies. However, the rail companies would also benefit, since they could lease less rolling stock and roster fewer staff as they would be running fewer services.

But what about the government's other policies (i.e. apart from cutting the deficit)?

In our January 2009 report, we identified the following government policies that would be threatened by rail cuts:

1. Modal shift from road to rail to reduce carbon emissions;
2. Social exclusion – increased rail fares will drive poorer farepayers with no alternative private transport options from the railways;
3. Increasing employment towards a target of 80%;
4. Improving passenger safety at rail stations and reducing staff assaults

All of which will be sacrificed if DfT plans go ahead it seems.

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