RMT on Coronavirus bailout bonanza for TOC's

RMT on Coronavirus bailout bonanza for TOC's

22 July 2020

RMT Press Office:

Research reveals that private rail companies stand to make £500 Million from Coronavirus bailouts while passengers and rail unions call for nationalisation.

Britain’s private rail companies stand to make almost £500 million in profits over the next 12 months according to new research, amid widespread speculation that the government is about to extend its Emergency Measures Agreements.

Analysis of ministerial answers to questions in Parliament indicate that the government’s Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs) will see the government hand over around £231 million in operating profits to the train operating companies over a 12 month period. The train operating companies are currently lobbying the government to extend the agreements for a further 18 months.

These same agreements also entail the government ‘picking up the tab’ in full for the lease charges that would be paid by the train operating companies to the rolling stock companies, the ‘ROSCOs’. Analysis of the ROSCOs’ accounts shows that in the last year, they made profits of £241 million. If the government renews the EMAs and continues to bail out the train operating companies, we could see around £500 million in desperately needed public funds leaking out of the railways into private profit.

Groups representing passengers and rail workers have written to MPs from across the political spectrum calling on them to demand proper scrutiny of any government decision on the EMAs and urging them to support nationalisation of the network to stop the scandalous profiteering at public expense. The letter, sent on behalf of rail unions and passenger groups, says that Britain needs a safe, affordable and accessible railway to support public transport and decarbonisation and that every penny of public money should be used to invest in a recovery plan that will get badly needed rail services back on track rather than leaking out into private profit.

RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Lynch said, ‘we desperately need a properly funded rail network to play its crucial role in fighting climate change and to keep the lifeblood of our economy flowing. Now more than ever we need every penny of public money invested in building a safe, affordable, accessible railway, not leeched out of the system by a small group of big businesses with a consistent record of failure.’

Ellen Lees, campaigns officer at We Own It said: "If the government continues to pursue bailouts of the rail industry, they'll once again be ignoring the reality that's staring them straight in the face. No matter how many times they try to prop up a failing system, the private rail companies will always come crawling back cap in hand for more cash.

"It's time we ended this farce. Instead of funneling millions into the pockets of private companies, we should bring our railways into public hands - so they can work for people and the planet, not for private profit."

Emily Yates, Co-Founder of the Association of British Commuters said, ‘Passenger trust is more important than ever, but it has been severely damaged by years of crisis on the railways. Public ownership is now the only way to restore this trust, and start building the integrated, efficient and accountable system we deserve.’

Ellie Harrison, Founder, Bring Back British Rail said, ‘Privatised rail has never worked. 'Natural monopolies' like our railways need to be centrally co-ordinated and run for the public good. Now the coronavirus crisis has laid bare this simple truth. Public transport is an essential public service to get our key workers to their jobs. We must stop the bailouts to failing private rail companies, and seize this opportunity to 'take back our trains' for good.’


Notes for Editors


  • The joint letter to MPs can be found here 
  • The research can be found in full in RMT’s new report ‘Profiteering at a time of crisis’, which can be downloaded here 

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