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Year of Horror 2013

6 November 2012

This Halloween we launch our campaign theme for next year, our Year of Horror 2013. As part of our fight for a better railway, we want to highlight the horror waste in our system and the reasons why we need a publicly owned railway.

Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being shovelled into the profits of shareholders rather than being invested in a better railway that is both affordable and accessible to all. Heard it all before? So have most of the public, with recent polls showing 70 per cent support for public ownership. Yet the pressure felt by politicians has so far been insufficient to convince them that people feel strongly enough about it for them to need to act. That’s why we are launching our Year of Horror 2013, to highlight the horror waste and mismanagement of our railways under a privatised system. We need to organise ourselves and our communities in support of change that will make a better railway, show our anger at the horror cuts being forced through via the franchise process and the government’s agenda to cut, cut, cut!

Fight the Horror Cuts

On October 20 hundreds of TSSA members joined the protests against the Government’s cuts agenda. Whilst many areas of spending are being slashed immediately, their cuts agenda for rail, spelt out in the Command Paper released in March, is more subtle in execution, but still devastating in its results. At the same time, Train Operating Companies have been implementing cuts to that chime with the government agenda –proposing ticket office closures, installing ticket machines to justify further staff cuts and not replacing workers as they leave. These cuts are rarely noticed by the public until fare increases become reality or until their ticket office is closed. But as the West Coast debacle has shown, there are many opportunities to fight the horror cuts to rail before it’s too late.

The Better Rail campaign will focus our fight in the Year of Horror 2013 on our vision of:

  • A Quality Public Service that is publicly owned and accountable with better stations, quality infrastructure and is integrated with other means of transport
  • Better jobs, decent work, career opportunities
  • A highly skilled workforce
  • A railways that is safe to work on, safe to travel on
  • Where the community has a voice and can shape the system
  • Fares that are affordable and the railway is cost effective, delivering value for money
  • Technology that improves the travel experience but is not an alternative to decent work or a quality public service
  • Environmentally friendly transport

We need to highlight the faults in our current system on a local level, reaching out to our colleagues, passengers, community groups, politicians and other decision makers. Our Year of Horror 2013 will provide us with a platform to raise awareness on the crisis in the rail industry – and have fun along the way!

Freddy Cuts

He just doesn’t make sense
Horror Freddy
Potential cuts include closing over 600 ticket offices, with more than a thousand at risk of at least a cut to their opening hours. Tens of thousands of staff are under threat on platforms, in ticket offices and on trains.

How do we make the railway affordable and accessible to all? A quality service for the public? With an infrastructure that will enable our economy to grow? The government’s plan takes us in the opposite direction. That just doesn’t make sense.

Ghosts of the Railway’s Future

Ghost trains and ghost stations are our future unless we act now!
Horror Ghost Train
On the October 20 demonstration we depicted the government’s vision for rail – a ghost train, full of the ghosts of passengers who can no longer afford to travel by rail, heading to ghost stations with no staff, only machines.

TSSA’s campaigns against fare increases and ticket office cuts have received overwhelming support from passengers and community groups who are joining with us to fight for a better railway. We need to further increase the pressure for a properly staffed railway and keep the ghost trains off our network.

Toxic Waste Monster

Fight him to eliminate the waste in our system
Horror waste
Over £1 billion could be saved in our railways each year if the railway was returned to public ownership according to the Rebuilding Rail report.

Taxpayer subsidy of the railways has doubled since privatisation – up from £2.4bn to £5.4bn. Yet when investigating the farce of the franchising system, the government have ruled out even looking at the savings – estimated at over £1bn a year that could be saved by a return to public ownership. Ignoring this waste just doesn’t make sense. In our Year of Horror 2013 we will take this debate back into our communities with vigour, ensuring our politicians and other decision makers understand the answer is not to eliminate jobs and services, but to eliminate the waste in the system.

Vamping-up Fares

Sucking the life from unsuspecting passengers
Horror vampire
The UK has the most expensive fares in Europe – with prices accelerating further and further ahead of wages. In the last two and a half years fares have risen by 12 per cent. By the time of the next general election they will have increased by a staggering 20 to 25 per cent.

Whilst the government are driving forward cuts in the railways, at the same time they are increasing fares at an inflation-busting rate. In our Year of Horror 2013 we will take a stand against unreasonable and unaffordable fares and remind the government that rail travel is a key enabler of the economy and that pricing people away from rail will damage the prospects for growth.

Crazed Ticket Vending Machines

They’re taking over stations near you
Horror machine
The Government Command Paper supports replacing station staff with ticket vending machines.

Our Stations Postcard Campaign has given us the direct proof we need to show that passengers do not want to replace their face-to-face customer service with machines. This research that our members conducted earlier this year identified Ticket Vending Machines as being the least valued of the features we asked people about.

Although we are told how TVMs are a quick and easy way to buy tickets, what is not reported or recorded by TOCs are the queries that Ticket Office staff receive from people who try to use the machines and are presented with errors, or are not offered the full range of tickets, or encounter faults in the machines. Some of our members in a busy London station report spending 40 per cent of their day dealing with queries from people who have tried to use machines and faced a problem. These instances simply show as sales for machines, not as sales or valuable services provided by staff members, thus adding to the arguments the government are using to increase TVMs and decrease staff. This is just one of the barriers TVMs pose to the aim of providing a quality public service. We believe in technology, but not to the exclusion of human contact that’s highly valued by passengers.

Get active in the Year of Horror 2013

Our Better Rail campaign set a new standard this year of holding an average of one action per week. We want to keep to this level of activity by holding one action per week right through 2013! But just in case that's not enough to get the attention of the government and industry decision makers, we will also hold 13 major actions or stunts throughout the year.

What you can do to get active:

  • talk to your branch about what action they would like to do and pledge an action on
  • pledge to do the Better Rail workplace survey, contact Nadine Rae on
  • get involved in our fares campaign, contact Sam Tarry on
  • send your spooky action ideas to

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