TSSA has backed a new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) which calls for a radical increase in government spending on public transport across England and Wales to tackle the climate emergency.
The union’s Interim General Secretary, Peter Pendle, described the report - ‘Public transport fit for the climate emergency’, which TSSA contributed to, as an opportunity to “address climate change through revolutionising our public transport system.”
The report released by the TUC, argues for a radical increase in investment – calling for £18bn more a year to be spent on operating trains, trams and buses to help cut car use by 20 per cent while improving the quality of life and boosting the national economy.
In shaping the report TSSA pointed to the fact ridership on the railways is now back at around 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, and that still more people will choose to use the network if the delays, cancelations and expense caused by failed private companies such as Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express, can be overcome.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Manchester, Peter Pendle said: “We’re currently in the unenviable grip of three crises running in parallel – the climate is heating up at an unprecedented rate leading to increased extreme weather disasters and the country is coming out of the pandemic into an ever-deepening Tory cost of living crisis, with inflation and costs up.
“Wage increases are only being secured after industrial action in the face of employers, and the government, insisting on strings that will cut jobs, pay and conditions.
“Despite the dire warnings about climate change, our year-on-year record breaking heatwaves and floods, Scotland hosting the Glasgow COP in 2021 and promises to reduce fossil fuel consumption, the UK government is using the pandemic as an excuse to run down the railway.
“Not ones to waste a good crisis, the government started the call for job cuts almost as soon as the pandemic started. We know we need a commuter railway, because it ran all through the pandemic getting key workers into work every day.
“But now we’re in a climate crisis which could be out of control unless emissions are rapidly restricted by 2030.
“Investing in public transport is a no brainer if we are to be serious about tackling the climate crisis. A revolution in public transport is required if we are to meet the climate crisis – a revolution that can only take place if our communities are provided with a truly integrated system – with services that meet demand – and are affordable for people to use.
“[The report] gives us the opportunity for climate campaigners and trade union activists to work together to show what is needed and how we can make a difference to our nation’s future by addressing climate change through revolutionising our public transport system so that people want to use it and can use it in preference to their polluting cars.
“The report's message is clear – we need investment in public transport now, and we need that investment to protect the environment.”
*Report launch event: The report was launched today at an event in Manchester, with speakers including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, and general secretaries from UK transport unions. More information about the event can be found on the TUC's website.
*The TSSA also points out that the level of emissions attributable to transport is 27 per cent in the UK abut just 4 per cent comes from trains and buses. Investment in rail electrification and a better bus network would all enable emissions to drop drastically overall if people were able to use regular services with reasonably affordable fares.
One freight train cab takes 76 HGV journeys off the road.
*TSSA is an independent trade union for the transport and travel industries. We have thousands of members right across the UK and Ireland, working for the railways and associated companies, as well as ferries, bus services and the travel trade.