13 October 2014
RMT Press Office
Following the decision to award the Scotrail franchise to Dutch state owned firm Abellio, new RMT research shows the growing domination of foreign state owned rail companies over the UK’s railways.
The research shows that twenty of the UK’s twenty seven private rail contracts, the equivalent of seventy four per cent, are now owned by foreign state owned/ backed railways with the vast majority being from France, Germany and the Netherlands.[i]
The UK’s privatised railway has the highest rail fares in Europe and in advance of Parliament returning from recess this week, MPs from the RMT’s Parliamentary group have called for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into concerns foreign state owned companies are sucking profits from the UK privatised rail industry so that passengers in foreign states are benefiting from lower fares and better services at the expense of UK passengers.
In fact, a German Transport Ministry spokesperson has openly admitted such a strategy in relation to its state operator Deutsche Bahn. “We're skimming profit from the entire Deutsche Bahn and ensuring that it is anchored in our budget - that way we can make sure it is invested in the rail network here in Germany”[ii]
The growing domination of UK railways by foreign states is also demonstrated by additional RMT research which shows that Dutch state firm Abellio now operates a network in Britain over two and a half times the size of the one in Netherlands.[iii]
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said,
“The true scale of the way the railways here in Britain are being used as a cash-cow to hold down fares and improve services across the rest of Europe will shock passengers as they prepare for another week of being crammed into creaking cattle trucks while being bled dry when they pay for their ticket.
“With the planned reprivatisation of the East Coast Mainline by this rotten Government we are rapidly heading towards a situation where almost the entire train operation in Britain is in the hands of overseas companies sucking out profits to benefit their own domestic transport services.
“This outrageous situation is solely down to the right-wing ideology of this Government, clearly shared by the SNP in Scotland, which says you can have state operation of railways in Britain as long as it isn’t by the British state for the benefit of the British people. There must be a full parliamentary inquiry into this appalling racket and the research released today by RMT will be used to fuel our continuing fight for full public ownership of our railways.”
[i] East Coast Excluded from calculation as state operated, not a private contract
[ii] 7 April 2011 – see Rebuilding Rail by Transport for Quality of Life.
[iii] Netherlands railway – 2,886km
Abellio in Britain
Scotrail – 3,032km
Northern – 2,695km
Merseyrail – 120.7km
Greater Anglia – 1600km
Total: 7448 km