- Campaign launched by West Midlands Socialist Party
The performance of West Midlands Trains – the current franchise holder for rail services in the West Midlands – is talked about everywhere; in newspapers, on radio and TV and of course among rail travellers.
The Mayor of the West Midlands, Tory Andy Street, also put his oar in. Apparently, he does not have enough to keep him busy in his £79,000-a-year job. He thinks he can run the railway as well, but there is also an election coming up.
What has been lacking is any action. So West Midlands Socialist Party has launched a campaign – ‘Cancel the franchise, not our trains’ – to offer a way to get involved in the debate over the future of rail and to offer a socialist alternative to the profits-first approach.
We call for public ownership and democratic workers’ control. We say a new body should run the system – made up of one-third from rail workers and their unions, one-third from rail users, and one-third from the local authorities.
We know that a change of control and leadership would be only a start. The problems of the rail industry include lack of capacity, outdated equipment such as semaphore signalling (first used in the 1840s), overcrowding, and a “shortage of train crew” caused by the profit-before-everything approach of the private operators.
We will be out campaigning on this issue. We call for the current franchise to end on 16 May, the next timetable change. We want democratic control and accountability from the people who work on, travel on and otherwise rely on a safe, reliable and affordable railway.