LABOUR’S PLAN FOR THE RAILWAYS

Our ref: P11

Head Office Circular: NP/108/24

25th April 2024

 

To: The Secretary

ALL BRANCHES

REGIONAL COUNCILS

 

Dear Colleague,

 

LABOUR’S PLAN FOR THE RAILWAYS 

 

Labour has today published its plans for railways if elected. GETTING-BRITAIN-MOVING-Labours-Plan-to-Fix-Britains-Railways.pdf

 

In summary the document states, 

 

  • “An incoming Labour Government will establish a new, arm’s length public body – Great British Railways – which will be a directing mind in charge of Britain’s railway infrastructure and services, responsible for the day-to-day operational delivery of the railways, for ensuring infrastructure and services work together, and for innovations and improvements in the experience of passengers and freight users.”

 

  • The document states all Train Operating companies will be taken into public ownership within the first term of a a Labour government and be integrated within the the new body, with Labour saying that: 

 

“We will fold the contracts currently held by private train operators into this new body, as they expire over the next few years or if they are broken by operators who fail to deliver for passengers. We would therefore expect to complete this process during Labour’s first term in office, without the taxpayer having to pay a penny in compensation to outgoing private operators.”   

 

“Labour’s plan is to create a unified and simplified governance structure that places passengers at the heart of the mission, objectives and incentives for the railway, and places train operators under public ownership and control.”

 

  • While the rail network is “integrated nationally” Labour says the new structure will give devolved nations and mayors “a statutory role” in the rail network including the ability to “agree national and regional services with the unified body”.

 

  • Labour have said open access operators play an “important role” within the rail system and will remain “where they add value and capacity to the network.” Labour have has also ruled out renationalising rolling stock.

 

  • Labour has said the delivery of freight operations on the rail network will remain within the private sector and they will bring the management of freight contracts into Great British Railways and introduce a statutory duty on the organisation to promote the use of rail freight, with an overall growth target.

 

  • With regards to industrial relations Labour have said there will be a “new approach” stating: 

 

“The failed approach to industrial relations pursued by the Conservatives will end once Labour takes office. Labour will reset industrial relations on the railway. Alongside delivering value for money for the taxpayer, we will restore trust and ensure that all rail workers are treated with dignity and respect as the rail system is reformed. 

 

“There is good evidence that fair and decent working conditions improve worker productivity and wellbeing, and constructive industrial relations improve the reliability of service provision. Labour will require and support Great British Railways to create an integrated industrial relations framework and a workforce strategy to tackle longer-term issues proactively, with a focus on the railway workforce as an asset to be nurtured rather than a cost to be cut, minimising the risk of disputes across the entire network. Labour will also ensure individual and collective rights at work are protected and strengthened through our New Deal for Working People. This will help to ensure that all rail workers benefit from positive changes to the network and from their contribution to a growing economy. 

 

“We want to restore their pride in working for Great British Railways as a new, single employer. (Emphasis added) 

 

“We will also work to break down barriers to entry and progression within the rail industry, so that more women, ethnic minorities, and underrepresented groups see rail as a positive career choice for them. In this, we will seek to learn from best practice to date and work with trade unions. Labour’s offer to the dedicated rail professionals and workforce across the rail industry is clear: Your efforts and expertise are fundamental to putting our railways back on track and delivering a service to be proud of. Together, we will work with you to fix this dysfunctional system and give you the freedom to deliver the service that passengers deserve. ”

 

  • In terms of legislative timescales Labour said a Railways Act covering England, Scotland and Wales will be delivered in the first parliamentary session. Whilst an interim organisation will be established within the first six month of a Labour government. 

 

The above only represent a brief summary of the proposals and a more detailed analysis will be undertaken.

 

The Union has welcomed Labour's commitment to bring the train operating companies into a new unified and publicly owned rail network as being in the best interests of railway workers, passengers and the taxpayer.  However, we have made clear that this should be a first step to completely integrating all of our railway into public ownership. We will continue to campaign for the full nationalisation of our railways whoever is in government. 

 

Whilst a Labour government will be inheriting a disastrously costly, complicated, and fragmented system as a result of years of decades failed dogma  and putting it right is not a simple process we firmly believe that that moving towards the integration of all of our railways, including open access passenger services and the strategically vital freight sector,  into public ownership under Great British Railways will provide better value for money and a better railway for passengers, our economy and climate. For the same reasons Great British Railways needs to win control of the manufacturing and ownership of rolling stock and we will be working on a concrete plan and proposals to achieve these objectives.  We will continue to argue for the public ownership of all of our public transport and rail freight network and the end of outsourcing on our network. 

 

RMT will continue to engage constructively and assertively with the Labour Party to protect our members’ interests and there is still much detail that needs to be established.

 

Our absolute priority in the months ahead will be protecting and improving jobs, terms and conditions and pensions for all rail workers, ending outsourcing and arguing for a single publicly owned rail employer that includes real benefits including job security and travel facilities.  

 

I will be placing this matter before the NEC so that we can consider the challenges and opportunities ahead and will keep you advised of developments. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Michael Lynch

General Secretary