Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Railworkers' union demands public takeover of Wrexham and Shropshire rail service

This is from the RMT:

Following the announcement this morning that the “open access” Wrexham and Shopshire service, via Birmingham and in to London, will stop operating on Friday (28th January) RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
"This is a bitter blow to the UK rail industry and it is a scandal that a giant company like Deutsche Bahn can play fast and loose with our rail services in this way and then cut and run when they decide the profit margins aren't fat enough for their liking.
"The UK Government should now step in and nationalise the route to protect both the jobs and the popular Wrexham & Shropshire services and there should be a full inquiry into how this operation, set up with Welsh government and taxpayer support, has been ground into the dust by Deutsche Bahn. Public ownership would protect that public investment rather than allowing the private rail asset strippers to walk away from the wreckage.
"Our immediate priority now is to protect our members caught in the middle of this scandalous private sector failure and we are meeting with the company with the aim of doing just that."
In a further bitter twist the closure of the Wrexham Shropshire service comes on the day that Passenger Focus revealed it has been voted the best operator by passengers with a 96% satisfaction rating.

Bob Crow added:
"With the rug being pulled from Wrexham & Shropshire, this shows conclusively that performance counts for nothing on our railways. All that matters is fat company profits, regardless of quality of services and rip-off fare increases. These figures reinforce the case against privatisation and for public ownership."


W&S is an 'open access' train operator set up about 5 years ago following a successful campaign led by RMT Wrexham branch with support from the Welsh Assembly government and DoT following a sustained campaign by communities and businesses in Mid and North Wales for a direct train to London other than Virgin's West Coast service.

It was owned by a venture capital company, which bought 'Laings Rail' the operator of the Chiltern Line franchise. Chiltern Line was taken over by Deutsche Bahn's regional trains arm, DB Regio in around 2007.

The suspicion was at that time that DB really wanted the franchise operator (Chiltern) in order to enter the UK and European rail franchise market and had to take on the open access operator (W&S) reluctantly as part of the package. W&S has found it impossible to compete with Virgin's VHF service without public sector support.

This is a grim warning ahead of RMT's international conference, 'Future Public Transport - Nationalisation Not Privatisation' planned for Monday 31 Jan that the European Commission's proposed 4th rail package, which seeks to create an EU-wide franchise plus open access operator model for domestic passenger train operations, must be resisted.

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