"Rail privatisation has failed and the government needs to face up to that" said TSSA leader Manuel Cortes in response to a conference appearance by rail revue author Keith Williams.
At this morning’s Rail Recovery Conference, Keith Williams explained that the hotly anticipated Williams Review was being ‘tested’ following the coronavirus pandemic which had decimated passenger numbers and thrown passenger modelling into flux.
Williams said that while “government will always have a major role” in rail he put heavy emphasis on the private sector, saying “private sector needs risk and reward balance” and asked “how can the private sector be incentivised” – both euphemistic terms for private profits.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “Rail privatisation has failed and the government needs to face up to that. Despite not yet publishing the Williams Review, we heard some concerning things from the report’s author today regarding the ‘incentivisation of the private sector’ in our railway.
“There is now a consensus that private sector franchising has failed, but Williams’ comments today advocate significant ongoing private sector involvement. This risks guaranteeing private sector profits at the expense of passenger fares and taxpayer money.
“It was also concerning to hear so much emphasis put on the McNulty review which was heavily focused on thousands of staffing cuts across our railways. You cannot cut your way to safe, reliable and environmentally friendly service which will increase passenger numbers.
“We need a long-term view for our railways which breaks from the failure of privatisation which has sucked profits out of the industry and morphed into an inefficient muddle of operators. Instead we need a simplified, publicly-run railway which delivers for our country.”