RMT slams government for the ‘managed decline of railways

RMT slams government for the ‘managed decline of railways

27 March 2023

RMT Press Office

RMT marked the 60th anniversary today of the publication of Dr Beeching’s disastrous report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways' by slamming the continued “managed decline” of our railways under an unsustainable and failing privatised model.

The report published on March 27 1963 led to the decimation of the UK’s railway network with hundreds of stations and railway lines closed.  

RMT points out that railway service levels continue to be significantly below pre-Covid levels despite the Rail Industry Association recently highlighting that national rail passenger numbers have reached over 100 per cent of pre-Covid levels for the first time since March 2020. 

Cancellations have also reached almost 1,000 trains per day in the worst rail performance since rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road began recording performance figures. Significant rail infrastructure projects continue to be downgraded including HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Integrated Rail Plan.  

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it had been 60 years since Dr Beeching took his axe to the railways in one of the single most disastrous acts of vandalism to our public services in history.

“However this government seems hellbent on actively pursuing the managed decline of our railways, cutting investment, slashing services and staff numbers, scrapping vital infrastructure projects and rewarding failed private train operators like Avanti with lucrative contract extensions. 

“With climate change accelerating it is incumbent on the government to recognise the critical importance of rail to reducing carbon emissions and commit to invest  to expand rail services and rail staffing,” he said. 



  1. Train Operators including South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, Avanti West Coast, Trans Pennine Express all continue to run reduced timetables and services.
  2. Rail Industry Association - https://www.riagb.org.uk/RIA/Newsroom/Press_Releases/New_national_rail_passengers.aspx
  3. Passenger Numbers from DfT Figures https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1142810/COVID-19-transport-use-statistics.ods
  4. ORR Rail Performance https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/media/2189/passenger-performance-oct-dec-2022.pdf
  5. Case for Expanding the Rail Network https://bettertransport.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/legacy-files/research-files/case-for-expanding-rail-network.pdf


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Tagged with: Beeching