Government facing 'home truths' over rail future

Network Rail engineers in orange high vis working on rail tracks

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has said the government is facing some 'home truths' after minsters were slammed over the future of rail by the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In a wide-ranging report, MPs on the PAC said the Department for Transport (DfT) "has neither the necessary urgency nor appreciates the scale of the challenge ahead" about the future of rail transport.

They go on to say Grant Shapps' Department "lacks a convincing and timely plan for encouraging passengers back to the railway as part of COVID-19 recovery’, combined with a ‘disappointing lack of progress in agreeing a specific and funded plan for rail electrification."

Manuel Cortes said:

"This report must be a wakeup call for the government – they are being told a series of home truths which can’t be ignored as we begin to move out of the shadow of the pandemic.

"The MPs on the Public Accounts Committee understand that we need our railways to be front and centre of the recovery from Covid and that only by getting people back onto the network can the wider economy function.

"As the committee points out, passengers have been ‘an afterthought’ since the advent of what it rightly describes as ‘failed’ privatisation, something our union has been pointing out for many years.

"Grant Shapps recently outlined his 'Great British Railways' plans for reform. I’m yet to be convinced this is more than papering over the cracks. We have already seen passengers ripped off over so-called flexible season tickets.

"We don’t need spin and charades from government. We need our railways at the very heart of a joined-up, green and fully accessible public transport system, with electrification of the network a key driver to meeting our decarbonisation targets.

"That is why our union is well down the track with our Future of Rail campaign – because we all need railways which work best for passengers, staff and our environment. It’s time for ministers to follow suit."