17 October 2021
RMT Press Office
As Southeastern passes into public ownership today, RMT reveals true cost of private sector failure and calls on government to ‘finish the job, cut out the spivs and stop the cuts’
On the day on which the Southeastern franchise passes into public ownership, following the latest catastrophic private sector failure, RMT has revealed the true cost of the government’s slavish devotion to subsidising private profit.
In a new report titled ‘The unbearable cost of failure: Private profiteering on Great British Railways’, the union reveals that
• During the pandemic year, when the taxpayer has taken on the full cost of the railways, Train operating companies and rolling stock companies stand to make more than £1.1 billion in dividend payments to their shareholders;
• If the government continues to prop up the failed private train operators, they will extract more than £950 million in profits to be distributed as dividends between 2020 and 2027, not including the annual suction of around £260 million by the ROSCOs.
• Taking the remaining franchises into public ownership would stop this leakage of profits and in just one year could fund an inflation-matching pay rise for all staff;
• Placing a Windfall Tax of 50% on ROSCO profits would fund a 3.6% fare cut for passengers.
Coming in the same week that the Rail Delivery Group announced its intention to cut thousands of staff jobs from the railway and just ahead of the COP26 summit, the union says the research shows that the government is failing the British people and denying the climate crisis through its addiction to failed dogma.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said,
“Cold, hard reality is staring this government in the face yet its slavish devotion to the profiteers stops it seeing what it blindingly apparent to everyone else.
“Private sector train operation is a write off and Southeastern should be followed by every single remaining franchise coming into public ownership, but instead the government is overseeing service cuts and funding a redundancy programme in a desperate attempt to make rail cheap enough to flog back to the same people who have failed time and time again.
“This is a ludicrous situation. The government should take all the franchises back into public ownership once and for all and use its Spending Review to fund an expansion of rail that can support a mass mode shift in transport.
“Finish the job, cut out the spivs and stop the cuts.”
Notes to editors
1. RMT’s report, ‘The unbearable cost of failure: private sector profiteering on Great British Railways’ can be downloaded in full here: https://bit.ly/3DGYyKk
2. Southeastern joins Northern, the East Coast Mainline, the Wales and Borders and Scotrail franchises in all being run by the Operator of Last Resort, effectively in public ownership, along with the rail infrastructure.