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First Great Western should lose its franchise

5 May 2015

Labour should strip First Great Western of its newly extended franchise if it wins the General Election on Thursday, the TSSA said today.

Ed Miliband should turn the franchise, which taxpayers are spending £7 billion on improving, into the first public sector rail firm as promised under an incoming Labour government.

Union general secretary Manuel Cortes denounced the extension, in the dying days of Coalition, as "another classic behind closed doors" piece of Tory cronyism from outgoing Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

"Despite the fact this beneficiary of £7 billion of taxpayers investment is known as Worst Great Western by many of its passengers, it got a four year extension without any other bidder being allowed inside the room.

"As the public are paying for all the investment over the next four years, they should own it as well rather than see all the cream going to directors like Tim O'Toole (chief executive) who is already on £2 million a year."

The union leader's criticism came after O'Toole carried out his threat to de-recognise the white collar union in a row over jobs and conditions with the axing of buffet cars when the new Hitachi trains are brought into service in two years time.

"Instead of wasting millions advertising 'fine dining' in his first class dining cars in the Sunday supplements and the Economist, this American union buster would be better off talking to the unions about how to improve services for his standard class passengers," he added.

"As a Yank, he is probably a big fan of Downton Abbey. Well that doesn't give him the right to turn the railway clock back to Edwardian England when the toffs dined in fist class and the hoi polloi were left to fend for themselves."

ends

Note to Editors: Tim O'Toole is the second highest paid rail boss after Martin Griffiths, National Express, who earns £2.2 million a year. FGW have seen the biggest increase in fares since privatisation 20 years ago, 246% for peak fares between Bristol and Paddington.

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