RMT fights plans to jack up Birmingham taxi access charges

RMT fights plans to jack up Birmingham taxi access charges

29 July 2015

RMT Press Office

Taxi union RMT said today that it will be launching a major campaign to fight the hike in access charges for drivers serving the public at Birmingham New Street station – charges that would lump members with charges as high as £1000 a year.

As part of the campaign RMT will be taking the message to passengers, politicians and Network Rail that Birmingham taxis provide an important public service – with both drivers and vehicles being fully vetted as fit and safe to carry passengers.

Maintaining the service to the specified standards is expensive  - for example, all taxis are wheelchair accessible. It is also time-consuming as background and vehicle checks are onerous. Now, with increasing competition from operators such as Uber, taxi drivers’ incomes are being unfairly undercut – meaning that their margins are now thinner than ever making it increasingly difficult to make a living.

Due to construction, access to Birmingham New Street station has been problematic for the past five years.  Although this has had a negative impact on drivers’ income, throughout this time, taxi drivers have patiently endured the disruption and been accommodating of the works.

Taxi drivers did so in the knowledge that they have become stakeholders in the efficient operation of the station. And accordingly, they looked forward to the grand opening of the refurbished New Street , which is scheduled to take place on 20 September. However, the event has been soured as drivers have been told that they are to be hit with massive additional fees that will impact seriously on their livelihoods.

Birmingham taxi drivers already pay a fee to the station operators Network Rail each time they pick up passengers. In addition to this usage-based fee, Network Rail consultants have now devised an additional way of extracting revenue, proposing an annual licence to be able to pick up passengers. The fee would be as much as £1,000 per year.

Not only does Network Rail wish to sweep away established arrangements without even attempting to consult the union, it is also unreasonably trying to skim more money off hard-pressed drivers.

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary will be meeting with Network Rail to explain that the fees will not be acceptable to drivers. He said today:

“None of our taxi driver members will accept Network Rail’s terms. They are all united and determined that no-one will pay this extortionate fee.”

“Instead, drivers will be forced to ply for hire near the station, meaning that Network Rail’s actions will simply inconvenience passengers by making them walk further to pick up a taxi. This will have serious consequences and create severe congestion throughout the surrounding area.

“Bearing in mind that £75 million has been spent refurbishing New Street station to benefit passengers, it is appalling that one of the results will be to disrupt and inconvenience passengers with onward  travel needs as taxi drivers are unfairly penalised.”


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