Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/197/8132
New Rail Safety Crisis: Renationalise now! Stop the tube sell-off
ANOTHER WEEK, another train crash. Fortunately, this time a crash in south London avoided fatalities through prompt action by drivers.
But the accident could and would have been avoided altogether if the ATP (Automatic Train Protection) warning system had been installed throughout Britain's railways.
So decrepit is Britain's privatised railway system that Railtrack have virtually admitted they're not up to the job of financing and running a railway. Huge government subsidies of £1 billion - that were not due to be paid until 2006 - were promised to be paid to Railtrack later this year. Now Railtrack says it could run out of cash by September and has gone to the government saying it wants the money earlier with an extra £500 million thrown in upfront for good measure.
This is the reality of Britain's privatised rail system - a crisis-ridden, money-grabbing, inefficient operation to make big bucks for shareholders. Working-class people who end up paying for this legalised robbery through taxes and cuts in other public services also suffer the consequences of having such a rotten system!
A railworker from Bristol told The Socialist: "The railways have never been more fragmented and there is a complete lack of unity and communication. The only link between all these different companies is National Rail Enquiries, who frankly haven't got a clue. People are frustrated, confused and angry at the state of our railways... I am completely in favour of public transport. But what we have is 'private transport' and it just hasn't worked."
But incredibly, this is what New Labour still want to do to London Underground - fragment it and hand it over to City bloodsuckers who don't care about an unsafe and inefficient tube system, all they want is an efficient money-making machine.
Even before the tube has been tossed over to these sharks, the Health and Safety Executive has warned that the Underground is currently very unsafe and needs much work done to it. Private owners won't put the cash in to carry out these works if it cuts down on their profits.
While there are signs that some speculators are getting cold feet and withdrawing from tube privatisation and other government privatisation schemes, our lives are too precious to be left to the whims of greedy capitalists.
That's why we should support the London Underground workers who are striking in defence of safety on 29 March. But we need to mobilise a massive campaign of working-class action to stop tube privatisation and to bring rail back into public ownership.
- Renationalise rail under democratic working-class control and management. No compensation to the fat cats; compensation to small shareholders on the basis of proven need.
- Support the tube workers; stop privatisation of the Underground.
- For a fully funded, environmentally friendly, easily accessible and publicly owned transport system.
In The Socialist 16 March 2001: