ROSCOS: Letter to MP's

7 October 2021

Dear Member of Parliament

Train leasing companies pay dividends of £1 billion during the pandemic year

This morning, my union published a new report showing that the three companies who own and lease trains on our network paid themselves dividends of £950 million last year. That’s equivalent to 50% of passenger revenue last year and 23% of the £8.3 billion the taxpayer put into the industry to keep it afloat. You can read the report in full here:

My members put their lives on the line last year to keep the country moving through the pandemic. Some paid with their lives. Passengers did everything they were asked to, staying away where necessary, travelling when they had so, adapting to radical changes and living with fear. Much of the country pulled together to keep Britain going. 

But for some people the pandemic was just business as usual. For the three rolling stock companies (Roscos) who own the vast majority of Britain’s trains the pandemic has posed, as they say themselves, no risk at all. The government has taken over payment of their lease charges and it has refused to cap either these charges or dividend payments by the rolling stock companies. 

In return for the government’s extraordinary largesse with taxpayers’ money the Roscos have paid out massive dividends during the pandemic year and most of that money will have disappeared into offshore parent companies in Jersey or Luxembourg. 

While the Secretary of State tells my members they should put up with a pay freeze because they’re lucky to have a job, he’s signing blank cheques to people who are shuffling millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into an opaque network of offshore companies. 

The rolling stock industry has been a scandal for years. It is a broken model of train procurement, a relic from a period when the dogma of privatisation reigned supreme and it is high time to put it to an end. The government should be procuring trains and owning them itself not paying extortionate rents to parasites. But in the immediate term, I’m calling for a Windfall tax on the ROSCOs profits, which should be used to help fund a pay rise for staff and a fare rebate for passengers. 

I hope you will support this call and write to the Secretary of State to this effect.

Yours sincerely,


Michael Lynch, 

RMT General Secretary