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Train companies accused of resurrecting the ghost of Beeching

27 March 2013

Rail campaigners will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Beeching Report today (Wednesday) by holding protests at over 35 stations throughout the UK against planned new cuts to services and staff.

The protests, which have been organised by the TUC’s Action for Rail campaign, come as train operating companies prepare to embark upon a new programme of cost-cutting over the next six years that could see:

  • over 20,000 railway jobs put at risk,
  • the closure of 675 ticket offices and
  • a 50 per cent increase in the number of unstaffed stations.

Train companies are driving through the cuts in an attempt to find £3.5bn in efficiency savings by 2019, as requested by the government.
 
If the cuts go ahead one in ten staff currently working on the railways – including train guards, maintenance workers, and ticket office staff – could lose their jobs and around three-quarters of all the UK’s railway stations could become unstaffed, says the TUC.
 
Action for Rail says the scale of the proposed cuts are frightening and plans to use Wednesday’s demonstrations to highlight how train are using Beeching-style tactics to slim down local services in a bid to make short-term savings.
 
Campaigners plan to hand out cards with a message about staff and servicing cuts at over 35 train stations across the UK – on Wednesday morning and evening.
 
The cards’ message reminds train travellers that in return for paying the most expensive train fares in Europe they can look forward to service cuts, and ticket office closures.
 
Action for Rail campaigners will use the cards to encourage commuters to tell their local MPs their concern over what is happening to the UK’s railways. The cards urge MPs to back a policy of investment, fair fares and a publicly-owned railway that puts people and commuter safety before profits.
 
In London RMT General Secretary Bob Crow, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes and ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan will join campaigners at 8am at Euston station.

TSSA General Secretary Manual Cortes said: “Our railways are a success story despite the repeated attacks by the government, Beeching 50 years ago, privatisation twenty years ago and now McNulty which will see the closure of hundreds of booking offices and thousands of job losses.
 
“Further cuts are not the answer, as Beeching proved so comprehensively five decades ago. We need an affordable, socially-owned railway like the rest of Europe where passengers always come first.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rail firms seem intent on resurrecting the ghost of Dr Beeching, by embarking upon a new era of swingeing railway cuts.
 
“At a time when passengers are being forced to pay the most expensive train fares in Europe, they also face the prospect of unstaffed stations and guardless trains.
 
“Instead of chomping at the bit to save money, train operating companies should be looking to improve vital services at stations and on trains. There is no fairness in asking commuters to pay more for less.”
 
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said: “Beeching’s vandalism was the worse example of the malaise of short-term thinking that has beleaguered our industry throughout its history.
 
“A successful rail network is planned carefully for decades ahead. It isn’t subjected to short-term, utterly-unimaginative sticking-plaster solutions like letting franchises, reducing services, poking up fares and cutting staff.”
 
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “Beeching got it badly wrong half a century ago on the future of rail as a popular mode of travel. His butchery of rail services has been matched by more recent generations of politicians in the fragmentation and exploitation of privatisation.
 
“Now is the time to right the wrongs of the past and put an expanded, integrated and publicly-owned railway at the heart of future transport policy.”
 

 


NOTES TO EDITORS:
The the following levels of jobs are at risk under different categories of rail worker:

Job type Jobs at risk
Ticket office staff at small (category D and E) stations 2,000
Station staff 5,500
Non-driver on-train staff 6,800
Network Rail maintenance, signalling and operations 6,300
Total 20,600


Rail protests will be held at:
London
Euston: 8am – 9am
Paddington: 9am – 11am
Victoria: 8am – 9.30am
Ealing Broadway: 5.30pm – 7pm
Bromley South: 4.15pm – 5.15pm

East of England
Bedford: 6am – 8am
Cambridge: 7.30am – 8.45am
Chelmsford: 7am – 9am
Ipswich: 7.30am – 8.30am
Northampton: 6.30am – 8am
Norwich: 7am – 9am
Peterborough: 7am – 8am

East Midlands
Nottingham: 7am – 9am
Derby: 7am – 9am

North East
Newcastle Central: 8am – 10am

North West
Crewe: 6.30am – 9am
Lancaster: 4pm – 6pm
Liverpool Moorfields: 7am – 9.30am
Manchester Victoria: 7am – 9.30am
Southport: 7.30am – 9am
Preston: 7am – 9.30am

South East
Andover: 5pm – 8pm
Reading: 7am – 9pm

South West
Barnstaple: 7am – 8am
Bristol Temple Meads: 7.30am – 930am

West Midlands
Birmingham New Street: 7.30am – 9am
Birmingham Snow Hill: 4pm – 6pm
Stourbridge: 7am – 9am
Wolverhampton: 7am – 8am

Yorkshire and Humber
Doncaster: 7.30am – 9.30am
Leeds: 8am – 9.30am
Hull Paragon: 9am – 10am
Scarborough: 7am – 10am

Scotland
Berwick upon Tweed: 6.45am – 7.30am
Edinburgh Haymarket: 7am – 8am
Edinburgh Waverley: 7am – 8am
Glasgow Queen Street: 8am – 9.30am
 

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