3 November 2015
RMT Press Office
"Rail North" cuts campaigners to take protest to National Rail Conference in Leeds on Thursday.
RMT union protestors, fighting plans to axe jobs, services and safety on rail services across the North, will be protesting at the National Rail Conference in Leeds this Thursday – 5th November – where current rail minister Claire Perry and former Tory transport secretary Steven Norris are amongst the key speakers.
The union protest will between 8am and 9.30 outside the Queens Hotel in City Square Leeds where the National Rail Conference is being held.
The on-going RMT union fight across the North is building support for the campaign to shine a light on the shadowy “Rail North” and will be exposing the lies and hype around George Osbornes “Northern Powerhouse” claims – claims that are expected to be re-hashed and spat out again by both current and former Tory ministers at Thursday’s conference in Leeds.
Britain’s largest rail union has said that the promises of a Northern Power House have become “a sick joke with thousands of skilled rail jobs and passenger safety under threat in the North”.
RMT says that the latest threat to jobs comes in proposals for the new Northern and Transpennine Express rail franchises due to start on 1st April. The franchises will be jointly managed by a new body “Rail North” - chaired by Sir Richard Leese - and comprising of representatives of 29 northern councils / combined authorities and the Department for Transport.
In a letter to Rail North Councillors the union has warned train guards will be axed from rail services across the north resulting in “Driver Only Trains.” The letter states,
“at the moment railway regulations guarantee that passenger’s in the North always have a Guard / Conductor on their train. In addition to the driver, passengers know there will always be a highly trained Guard to protect the safe operation of the train and deal with emergencies, such as fire, derailments and driver incapacity. The Guard also provides general assurance to passengers, ticket and travel advice and revenue protection.” Astonishingly the proposed rail franchise agreements mean passengers will no longer have this protection.”
The union also warns that there is no guarantee that current ticket offices and station staffing will be retained on the new franchise.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“On Thursday George Osborne’s Tory outriders will be spinning their message of cuts, privatisation and profiteering right at the heart of the North where the public know only too well what a load of hot-air the transport “Northern Powerhouse” lie really is. RMT will be there to set the record straight.
“According to Rail North’s own estimates passenger demand for the North’s railway will soar by 50% over the next fifteen years. This will also mean a huge increase in revenues which should be used to take on more, much needed rail staff, not cut them.
“ The union will at the National Rail Conference on Thursday to send out the message that it is not only passenger safety and services that will be affected by the Rail North carve-up, so will our economy and communities. Thousands of decent rail jobs will be under threat, deskilled and casualised. Cuts to rail jobs are always a false economy and make a nonsense of the Government’s hot air about a “Northern Power House.” We will be there right on their doorstep on Thursday.”