Posted 2nd August 2022 | 4 Comments

Rail union calls for end of private rail industry profit

The general secretary of the TSSA has called for ‘a new financial settlement’ which would end private profit in the rail industry and set ‘fair fares’.

Manual Cortes’ comments were made as all three main unions are planning more walkouts during August in the dispute over pay, working conditions and jobs, which has already led to four national RMT rail strikes, with two more set to follow later this month. The drivers’ union ASLEF is also staging another stoppage at nine passenger operators on 13 August, and TSSA has given notice of a strike or action short of a strike at 11 operators on 18 and 20 August, which will coincide with the RMT action.

As inflation is now in double figures, this has laid the foundation for a record fare increase in January if the current RPI formula is followed.

Mr Cortes said: ‘Rail privatisation with the regular hikes in fares demanded by profiteers has been an albatross around the necks of passengers for far too long. We already have the highest walk on fares in Europe by far and the system by which we finance our railways is not fit for purpose.

‘In the face of the escalating Tory cost of living crisis Ministers must think again and end the profit motive. What’s needed instead is a new financial settlement for our railways.

‘For too long we have seen commuters clobbered by above inflation fare rises while the shareholders of private rail companies laughed all the way to the bank. We need our railways to be fully in public hands and working for all of us as they do elsewhere in Europe.

‘There’s no doubt that yet more steep increases in fares to boost greedy shareholders will simply deter passengers. The net effect would be to drive people into their cars – something which would be a disaster for our country and our fight against climate change.

‘Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister should make a commitment on day one to remove profit from the running of our railways so we can have a fair ticketing regime and also put in place a new financial settlement for our railways which encourages people to move from road to rail.

‘This is vital when so many people who want to use our rail network are priced off, particularly at a time when millions are facing real economic hardship.’

Meanwhile, the chair of the Rail Delivery Group Steve Montgomery has issued an open invitation to ASLEF’s leadership to meet him for ‘meaningful talks’.

Speaking on Friday he said: ‘I am ready and willing to talk to the leadership of ASLEF today, tomorrow or indeed any time next week. We know our people are feeling the pinch and we want to give them a pay rise, but that is only affordable through reforms to deliver a better, safer, and more efficient railway for customers and taxpayers by updating outdated and inflexible working practices, which have seen costs spiral.’

Reader Comments:

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

  • H. Gillies-Smith, South Milford

    What I've noticed is the private operators look to expand their services, of course to make more profit, which the predessors to Northern Trains did. Great benefit to the travelling public I would have thought.
    What we have now, in government hands, cuts to services and some of the travelling public having to make alternative arrangements hence less customers. Does it follow that this means cuts to jobs? What's the expression 'be careful what you wish for.'

  • Steve Alston, Crewe

    All that taxpayers money ending up in the hands of crooks for not running trains. This isn't capitalism or privatisation. It's cronyism.

    DfT must run the lot themselves - they must DOR the whole lot and stop putting £1BN a year into the pockets of shareholders from companies that effectively do nothing - money that could pay for pay rises, and a whopping sum back into the taxpayers pockets.

    The leasing scam companies should go too.

    Those same vocal people, mostly Tories, desperately and religiously defending the taxpayer cash consuming Train Operators need to understand that taxpayers have had enough - that cash belongs in the HM Treasury NOT on the likes of Moir Lockhead's mansion in Banchory.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Qh dear! Back to the future! It did seem the Karl Marx versus Adam Smith war ended around 40 years ago.

    Are we now going to see a railway version of the demise of our automobile industry being played out over however many months / years it might take?

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Is this a prime example of unions living in the past? Cortes says "‘Rail privatisation with the regular hikes in fares demanded by profiteers" and "There’s no doubt that yet more steep increases in fares to boost greedy shareholders", yet isn't it the government that sets these fare increases, and with the franchise model all but dead and buried and fixed operating contracts in place isn't it the government that profits from these fare increases?
    [I think you will find the union is referring to the dividends drawn by the shareholders in the groups which run the operators, but we don't know if the payments to the contracted operators are affected by revenue. The DfT doesn't reveal such details. --Ed.]