Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/730/15072
Fare rises and rail cuts: Kick the fat cats off our railways!
Privatised railways don't work. Britain's rail fares - already up to ten times more than those in Italy where the service is state owned - are being increased by between 6% and 11% in January. The First Group's successful bid for the West Coast Main Line franchise has been predicted to result in cuts and increased fairs. The government-supported McNulty report aims to cut £1 billion a year in railway spending - while Network Rail bosses enjoy £18.5 million in bonuses. Virgin boss Richard Branson has 'earned' £204 million from rail since privatisation - no wonder he's bitter about losing the West Coast contract!
RMT leaders Bob Crow and Steve Hedley spoke to the Socialist about why the railways should be renationalised.
A nationalised industry would benefit people who work on the railway; it would give them decent terms and conditions, decent pay and a decent pension.
Steve Hedley, RMT assistant general secretary , photo Suzanne Beishon
It would be far more efficient for the travelling public. Studies have shown that British Rail - for all its faults - was far more reliable.
British Rail was deliberately starved of investment before privatisation.
Taxpayers would benefit from renationalisation because they're funding these private companies through massive subsidies from the government that go straight into the pockets of the executives.
The McNulty report - the pretext for the government to wield a big axe on the railways - itself acknowledged the cost of the private companies is between three and four times as much as it was with British Rail.
First Group won the West Coast Main Line contract by putting in a bid higher than Richard Branson for Virgin, who himself is a very aggressive capitalist. But even Branson said that the only way First can operate on that bid is to cut staff and cut the service to the public. That's what's going to happen right across the railway - high bids to the government paid for by cuts.
We need coordinated ballots across every company - it's the only way that we can defeat the implementation of the McNulty recommendations. It we do it company by company, we'll be picked off one by one - the government will fund the companies for the losses on strike days.
The workers in those companies, if they're all fighting together and realise the strength that they have in a national industry, will be far more keen to fight if they see a strategy that's likely to bring them victory.
Steve Hedley, RMT transport union assistant general secretary elect
Steve Hedley stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the 2012 London Assembly elections. TUSC stands against all cuts and for rail renationalisation. Come to the TUSC 2012 conference - see below
From fare rises to franchises, the exploitation and greed of the private train operators and their supporters at the heart of government has been kicked right to the centre of the stage.
Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT, photo by Sujeeth
The case for renationalisation is now both overwhelming and endorsed by a massive majority of the British people. Labour politicians who whinge about the attacks on the travelling public by the train operators while failing to come out in favour of the public alternative just expose themselves as bound up with the old Blairite agenda. It's down to us in the unions to force the political pace on the renationalisation campaign on this surging tide of public anger."
Bob Crow, RMT transport union general secretary
Bob Crow is one of the speakers at the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC for a 24-hour general strike
Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference
Saturday 22 September 2012
Room B34, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E
Includes an afternoon session, 'For councillors who will stand up to the Con-Dems!', which will discuss TUSC's local election policy platform and preparations for the 2013 local elections.
All welcome. Registration £5 waged/£2 unwaged.
In The Socialist 22 August 2012:
International socialist news and analysis
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party Readers' Comments
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature