6 August 2019
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns of private sector stitch-up from “Grayling legacy” Rail Review
RAIL UNION RMT warned today that the long-awaited Government Rail Review – set up on the watch of serial failure Chris Grayling – is set to be a wholesale sell-out to the private operators, tightening their grip on the rail network through the creation of a business-loaded QUANGO designed to push the industry further away from public control and accountability.
The Williams Review was instigated by Grayling purely to hide his own legendary incompetence and litany of failures including rising fares, the timetable chaos of May 2018 and a whole raft of cancelled electrification and essential upgrade projects. The review is now nearly a year into its work and with its recommendations due to be implemented in 2020 the expectation is that its conclusions are due to hit new Transport Secretary Grant Shapps desk soon after the summer break – possibly for release just prior to a snap general election this autumn.
Rather than accepting that privatisation has been a wholescale disaster, top industry boss Keith Williams’ has suggested in speeches and interviews that his answer to the chaos on our railways is to set up an industry dominated and unaccountable body to oversee the railways. He has refused point black to even consider the option of public ownership Under this setup, RMT is warning that passengers will continue to lose out while the Government and private operators are let off the hook.
What makes this idea even worse is that it is nothing new and is instead a reincarnation of the now defunct Strategic Rail Authority. Rather than wasting time and money on something which has already failed RMT is stepping up the campaign to demand that the Government take back the railways into public control and ownership – a policy supported by two thirds of the British people.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
‘Keith Williams was handpicked by Grayling and his cronies in Government to hide the failures of privatisation. He has boasted about ‘cost saving’ at British Airways by replacing staff with self-service kiosks. It is clear that he only has the interests of private business in mind, despite his claims that he has the interests of passengers at the forefront.
“Ignoring the wishes of two thirds of the British people on the central issue of public ownership leaves this whole costly and time-consuming review process stinking of a stitch-up.
“In fact, new Transport Secretary Grant Shapps knows rail privatisation has been a failure as just last year he called for GTR to be immediately stripped of its franchise because of delays and disruption.
“Now he is in post, he has the chance to put his money where his mouth is and fix the broken system once and for all rather than ploughing on regardless with the discredited and damaging Tory ideology of privatisation at any cost.’
Notes for editors
• The Williams Review call for evidence closed on 31 May 2019. The RMT’s response to the review set out why privatisation of rail has been an expensive failure. Privatisation has also led to a complex fragmented system which is confusing and inefficient for passengers.
• As part of the call for evidence, the RMT surveyed rail workers from across the network about their experiences of working on the railway. More than 800 responses were received.
• Findings included:
o 94% of railway workers think that train companies are most motivated by making a profit, rather than delivering a service and value for money for passengers.
o 91% of railway workers believe that the railway would work better as a national single unified organisation, rather than as separate companies.
o 89% of railway workers believe that the current privatised system should be replaced with a publicly owned and nationally integrated railway.
• Full survey results are available at - http://bit.ly/31EtwjJ
• In a speech delivered on 19 March 2019, Keith Williams stated:
‘But it was not only a cost saver, it also brought in several other customer benefits such as self service check in, self service printing of boarding passes, delivery of boarding passes by SMS or email.
At my old airline British Airways we replaced banks and banks of customer service agents firstly with self-service kiosks and then brought in mobile phone check in. I don’t have recent data but when I left the airline a few years ago more than 40% of customers were using mobile check in. It was a win win - easier for them and the cheapest of channels for the airline.’
In May 2018, Grant Shapps called for GTR to be stripped of its franchise for breach of contract - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-44235645