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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/621/9411

From The Socialist newspaper, 21 April 2010

Volcanic eruption brings travel chaos: Planned and integrated transport system vital

NO, WE will not be able to control the eruption of volcanoes under socialism. But we can make sure that the effects will not lead to a chaotic situation such as we see now as a result of the eruption of a volcano in Iceland.

Sonja Grusch, Austria

As an airline passenger, stranded in London without any help from 'my' airline or officials, one thing is very clear to me: privatisation and 'free competition' under capitalism have lead to the catastrophic situation that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people face all over Europe and beyond.

As the transport systems are divided into national systems and, even further, into different competing companies, no international plan has been drawn up to help stranded passengers.

In nationalised, integrated transport systems, orientated to the needs of people, the situation could be handled much quicker and better. But in today's capitalist system, it is those who are stronger and quicker then others (and especially those who have more money), who find ways to travel - the others are left to fend for themselves.

With international planning to meet the needs of people and not profits, trains, buses and ferries could be coordinated much better then they are now. A nationalised transport system would mean no private companies suddenly increasing their prices to make extra profits and that stranded passengers could be transported for no extra charge to their destinations.

Now, in the present crisis, passengers are totally left on their own. They do not know where to go, how to pay for the accommodation, for trains and other things.

Money is a big problem for many - it is not sure if they will get the money they have spent refunded by the airlines and the insurance companies.

The current chaotic situation should be taken up by trade unions and socialists all over Europe. They should not only demand a halt to privatisation, they should explain the need for nationalised transport systems, for international planning of transport, and the need for a different society - a socialist society where the needs of people are central, not profits.

The article can be read in full on www.socialistworld.net

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