Posted 20th March 2019 | 5 Comments

‘No clear consensus’ for renationalisation angers RMT

THE possibility of reviving British Rail appears to have been ruled out by Keith Williams, as he launched the second stage of the consultation which is part of his Rail Review for the DfT.

Speaking in London at the Accelerate Rail conference, he said: ‘We asked passengers if changes to ownership would help. There was no clear consensus that public ownership would solve their concerns, primarily because there is little or no confidence that the system would be any better and, some concern that it would be worse.’

Mr Williams has warned that there will have be some compromises, or ‘trade-offs’ when the new structure of the railway industry is worked out: ‘Moving to a customer focused railway won’t be easy and I want to make it absolutely clear that trade-offs will be unavoidable when I come to make my recommendations – for example, between a system that delivers a national network and is responsive to local interests,’ he said.

Although his latest speech contains indications rather than final recommendations, he is also signalling that devolved structures are finding favour, along with greatly improved integration of rail with other transport modes.

He said: ‘The integration of modes could deliver massive benefits to passengers and taxpayers. Doing it successfully will rely on the sector’s ability to innovate and collaborate. Increasing the digitisation of ticketing is an obvious place to start – this would support integration, could deliver major benefits for passengers and costs savings for the industry. But rail is a long way behind.’

The RMT has attacked his apparent conclusions concerning nationalisation.

The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Any review of the rail service that rules out the favoured option of 70 per cent of the British people is a political fix from top to bottom. By ruling out the public ownership model from the off review chief Keith Williams has confirmed exactly what RMT suspected – that this is an exercise in kicking the can down the road while papering over the cracks of an industry in crisis and buying one-man disaster area Chris Grayling a bit of time.

‘No one will be fooled by this nonsense and no amount of chicanery from Chris Grayling will deflect from the union’s core objective of a publicly owned railway.’

The Williams Review consultation has now moved to stage 2. Comments and evidence are being requested by 31 May.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    I think re-nationalising the railways in England, Wales and Scotland is still a good idea. It means that the government can take over rail operators that aren’t improving rail services such as in the North of England where Northern have failed to maintain their services and the strikes have affected all of its passengers as Northern couldn’t control themselves when the strikes continued for couple years.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    As a politically non - aligned "oldie", I remember the Heath / Wilson years and Barbara Castle's attempt ( "In place of strife") to tackle industrial conflict. Please don't take us back to all that.

    Public ownership can take different forms, nationalisation being only one, and it may be best to have public and private enterprise in a "horses for courses / mixed economy" structure. What might make sense for infrastructure / freight / intercity / commuter / leasing could differ.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Oh surprise, the RMT disagrees with something. They disagree with anything so not really news.
    All that bunch of Luddites want to do is live in the past, where they had the power to bring rail services in the entire country to a stop. You're not fooling anyone Mick, the only thing your lot care about is power - power to cause disruption. Do you ever come up with a constructive comment on anything or is blind objection all you;re capable of? Why not stick to your day job, fighting for and protecting your members rights and pay, and get your nose out of political causes.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    Remind me which Political Party the RMT gives loads of money to ?

  • John B, London

    It matters little. Williams will undoubtedly go the same way as McNulty, Laidlaw, Brown and Shaw. Interesting reading but nothing changes. Rod Eddington wasn't keen on high speed rail, yet HS2 still proceeded.