Government rail plan means job cuts and fare increases

CommutersThe Government is to publish a "rail command paper" which transport unions believe will lead to fare rises and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Launched by Transport Secretary Justine Greening, the paper will contain the Government's response to the Whitehall-commissioned review of rail costs by Sir Roy McNulty.
Published last May, Sir Roy's report said some fares might increase and also called for a review of many aspects of staffing and working practices. He said rail wages were too high, rail working hours were too short and some ticket offices may have to be "done away with".

Before the command paper's publication, the RMT and TSSA transport unions have expressed their concerns, with the RMT saying that as many as 12,000 jobs could be lost. Both unions say they are particularly worried about the ticket office situation and also about fare rises.

TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said Ms Greening was expected to allow train companies to charge more for off-peak fares immediately after morning and evening peak-travel times.

Mr Cortes continued: "We already have the highest fares in Europe and the Secretary of State will be making a huge mistake if she believes the industry's problems will be solved by allowing the private train companies to make even more money at the expense of passengers."

TSSA has launched a Save our Stations campaign to stop the possible axing of 675 smaller ticket offices across England and Wales. Mr Cortes said: "If the local booking office goes, then the station itself will not be far behind it."

The RMT union said the Government could announce the axing of 12,000 jobs "in a first tranche of cuts, with the closure of ticket offices, removal of guards from trains and slashing signals and infrastructure staffing levels".

The union also said train companies would be allowed to impose "inflation-busting increases year on year". RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "We are in no doubt that the Government's plans for rail will be cast in the image of their plans for the NHS: smashing up what's left of a national system and allowing the private train companies to run riot in the name of profit and at the expense of passenger safety.

"If the Government want to cut the costs of running Britain's railways, they could do it at a stroke by returning them to public ownership and eliminating the waste of fragmentation and profiteering that has bled the network dry. Instead they are prescribing more of the same."

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