Great Britain: MPs criticise railway reform plan

A Commons motion signed by more than 100 MPs has criticised government plans for the railways – warning of declining services, higher fares and job cuts.

“The Railway Command Paper”, published in March 2012, sets out the Government’s vision for the railways. Labour MP John McDonnell urged the government to run the railway as a “public service”, but the government said its plan was to reduce the cost of running the railways.

Rail minister Theresa Villiers said the government’s plan was “to reduce the cost of running the railway by GBP 3.5 Billion (EUR 4.33 Billion) per annum by 2019″. The minister said funds were allocated for thousands of new carriages across the country, electrifying swathes of the rail network, and redeveloping many of the railway stations.
However,  McDonnell said that the plan “will worsen passenger services through the loss of thousands of frontline workers from trains, stations, ticket offices, safety-critical infrastructure and operational roles”.

A Trades Union Congress (TUC)  research, also carried out in March, said fare prices were rising “despite a 50% decline in investment by train operating companies in the railway network over the last five years”. There has been an 80% reduction in investment in stations – while there has been over twice as much spent on back office functions such as IT and web costs. There has also been a 15 % reduction in private investment in new rolling stock and a 100% reduction in funds spent on track and signals, from GBP 105 Million (EUR 130 Million) in 2006-2007 to 0 last year, TUC report shows.


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