by John Millington
RAIL unions campaigning against greater fragmentation and privatisation of the railways brought their campaign to Bristol last night.
As part of the ‘Action For Rail’ http://actionforrail.org/ campaign that kicked off this week the TUC wide campaign will visit over 40 towns and cities across the country.
Peter Hammond, leader of Bristol City Council Labour Group, Alex Gordon, National President of rail union RMT and speakers from ASLEF and TSSA explained how the McNulty Review of rail costs proscribed a cocktail of lethal cuts to rail staff dealing with passengers, more fragmentation of rail infrastructure and engineering and carte blanche for private train companies to ramp up rail fares and cut train services.
RMT president Alex Gordon told the Dreadnaught:
“The government Rail Command paper a ‘Beeching Report Mark 2’ wrapped up in an exercise in re-privatising rail infrastructure that repeats the tragic mistakes of the Tory rail privatisation of the 1990s.
“In the 1960s we lost a third of our rail network to senseless cuts. In the 1990s we lost an integrated, efficient, nationalised rail network to Tory dogma. Now the ConDems want to blame rail workers for the waste, profiteering and inefficiency of the rotten rail privatisation structure they created, while giving a carte blanche to rail privateers to ramp up rail fares and cut train services.
“Under the proposals contained in the McNulty Report, hundreds of ticket offices will close, station staff will disappear from most of the rail network and Guards will disappear from passenger trains. The effect for rail users will be more expensive, less safe and less secure rail transport. Disabled passengers, children, the elderly, women travelling alone and anyone who values the efficiency and security that railway staff provide, all fear the butchery of rail jobs proposed by McNulty.”
He added: “RMT pledges our determination to work with other rail unions, rail users and public representatives to ensure these proposals are defeated and that the government is forced into another U-turn. What Britain needs is more public-ownership and public service, not more European Union rail privatisation.”