Wales: school students late and hungry due to privatised trains

Commuter trains are packed, unreliable and overpriced, photo Kurtis Garbutt (Creative Commons)

Commuter trains are packed, unreliable and overpriced, photo Kurtis Garbutt (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Neil Stonelake, Socialist Party Wales

Just weeks after Jeremy Corbyn was taken to task by the media for highlighting overcrowding on trains under privatisation, more evidence has emerged of its effects.

Treorchy Comprehensive lies in the Rhondda Valley in south Wales. It is one of the Welsh government’s flagship schools. It has been marked out as a “centre of sixth form excellence” by the Labour-led administration in Cardiff.

Now students complain their education is suffering as a result of overcrowding and poor service on Arriva, the privatised company paid a whacking subsidy to get pupils to school on time.

Passengers in the morning are frequently forced by overcrowding to stand in the toilets. Pupils have been forced to spend their dinner money on bus fares if they are not to be late. Carriages have been cut from four to two at the busiest times.

Angry students and their parents have started a campaign following the decision to end free bus passes and charge up to £32.90 a term for a season ticket.

One parent commented: “They have us both ways. The Government in Cardiff subsidises the railways, then the companies clean up on fare increases, no matter how abysmal the service is.”

At the same time, transport union RMT is in dispute with Arriva over plans to further compromise safety and passenger welfare with more cuts to staffing. Investment, not cuts, is what’s needed. The patchwork of privatised bus networks add to the problem.

The Socialist Party fights for immediate public ownership of the transport system under democratic workers’ control and management. Pay compensation to owners only on the basis of proven need.